When doing a general class-struggle round-up, it’d be a serious omission to not have anything about the doctors’ strike, but I also don’t have anything particularly new to say about it either: you know where your nearest hospitals are, and if there’s any more action you’ll probably know when it happens. I can’t claim to have any great insights into how the dispute can be won, so I’ll just take a moment to wish them the best of luck and then move on.
In prison news, Sarah Reed’s death in Holloway Prison has generated quite a bit of anger, and there’s a facebook group you can join to keep up with what’s going on with that case. Elsewhere, Shilan Ozcelik has now been released to house arrest on an electronic tag, an email address has been set up to let people write to Kim, one of the two London antifascists currently serving two months inside, and Kevan Thackrar is asking for people to demonstrate outside the prison service headquarters on Thursday 18th February to demand his release from the Close Supervision Centre punishment system.
There’s been a few stories in the last few weeks that have made me think of past deeds coming back to haunt bosses and coppers: first, there’s the announcement that blacklisting firms have agreed to pay out £5.6 million in compensation to 71 of the workers they victimised, although it’s important to remember that this is just for the ones who’ve settled out of court, and the real drama will come with the court case for those who’ve refused to settle, which will hopefully bring more information to light about exactly who knew – and who did – what. There’s also been the continuing saga of the Pitchford inquiry into undercover policing, with the latest news being 133 of the 179 spied-upon core participants signing an open letter demanding the names of all undercovers and their targets. On that note, the Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair, which is coming up on Saturday the 20th, will have sessions on both spycops and blacklisting, along with loads of other interesting-sounding stuff.
Staying with the theme of the past, this radio documentary about a “social haunting” project investigating how traces of the past show up in former coalmining communities in Yorkshire and Lancashire is worth a listen if you have a spare half hour or so.
It’s been a while since I’ve covered benefit and welfare reform stuff in any kind of detail. This isn’t going to be a particularly in-depth analysis or anything, but just to highlight a few things: workfare campaigners in Manchester have successfully pressured the charity Mustard Tree into pulling out of Mandatory Work Activity, Ipswich Unemployed report on a new FoI request confirming that you don’t have to sign any provider documents while participating in a mandatory scheme (the comments are also worth reading, especially the ones from Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty), and Johnny Void exposes how Islington Council is bringing DWP staff into doctors’ surgeries, a development that’s being resisted by an upcoming demo on the 4th of March at City Road Surgery. The week after the Islington “jobcentre out of the NHS” demo, on the 9th of March, Unite are calling for a national day of action against benefit sanctions, although there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of specific details on the website or facebook page so far.
In other miscellaneous news, the next anti-fascist call-out is for Manchester on the 27th, which could be interesting, as it’s not a city that’s been particularly welcoming to the far-right in the past, and the Angry Workers of the World collective continue their organising in West London, with a new issue of their local paper, a free film showing and discussion about rent strikes and tenants’ organising happening on Friday the 19th*, and a new online forum for workers in West London to share experiences about jobs, benefits, housing and all the rest.
* the details in that link say February’s film showing will be about Amazon, but the paper says it’ll be the housing one, and that looks more up-to-date… whatever, if you’re in that area I’m sure it’ll be worth it either way.