First off, there’s a few upcoming events this week that look worthwhile:
Throughout the whole week, the Universities and Colleges Union will be taking local actions as part of their ongoing pay dispute. The week of 11-15 July sees Edge Hill and Exeter out on the Monday, Open Uni, Rose Burford College, Arts Uni Bournemouth and Keele and Tuesday 12th, Roehampton on Wednesday 13th, Canterbury Christ Church on the 14th, and Teesside and Swansea on Friday 15th. If you don’t have plans, Fighting Against Casualisation in Education or the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts might potentially be doing interesting stuff to support the strikes in your area.
On Wednesday 13th, there’ll be action against the companies that carry out assessments for Personal Independence Payment, the new benefit that was brought in to replace Disability Living Allowance, in 16 towns and cities. There are events confirmed so far in London (Westminster), Ipswich, Norwich, Leicester, Glasgow, Sheffield, Manchester, London (Vauxhall), Brighton, Northampton, Derby, Chesterfield, Liverpool, Birmingham, Southampton and Edinburgh.
Wednesday 13th will also see another demo at 100 Wood Street in the City of London, in support of the cleaners who will have reached their 36th day of all-out strike action. You can also donate to their strike fund here, and they also have a benefit gig coming up on Saturday 23rd July.
And the next day, Thursday 14th, there’s a defend the NHS protest setting off from St Bartholemew’s Hospital at 5, which will hopefully cause a bit of disruption when it gets to the City of London.
In other workplace news, the big story has been the BMA membership voting to reject the latest contract offer, which means the doctors’ dispute is very much live again. The National Union of Teachers had a national strike on July 5th, including some memorable images of striking teachers blocking Westminster Bridge.
On the local level, Brighton SolFed/Hospitality Workers continue to get up to great stuff, and have recently won victories for ex-employees of both the Amsterdam Hotel and the Cheese & Toast cafe who’d had wages stolen. If you’re interested, you can read more about what they’ve been up to in this interview they did with the Vienna Workers’ Union.
While the amazing strike by migrant cleaners organised in the United Voices of the World union is probably the most impressive action going at the moment, it’s certainly not the only workplace organising happening among either cleaners or migrant workers. Cleaners are currently pursuing disputes through the Industrial Workers of the World in both London (at Liberty Global-Virgin Media) and Birmingham (at Deusche Bank). Meanwhile, up in Edinburgh, a solidarity group for Spanish workers have teamed up with the Edinburgh Campaign Against Poverty to launch Justice4Carers, a new campaign aimed at organising in the private care sector. In passing, it’s worth noting that Tribe of Moles, “a new weekly column reflecting struggles against benefits sanctions, austerity attacks and state repression – encouraging resistance, counter-power and autonomy” looks very much worth keeping an eye on.
In repression and legal news, Tony Cox ended up getting a conviction for “threatening behaviour” for accompanying a woman to her Work Capacity Assessment (a case that was also very well described on the Tribe of Moles). Sentencing has been postponed for four weeks while a criminal justice social work report is prepared. Aiden Aslin, the alleged YPG volunteer who’s facing potential charges for allegedly fighting with the Kurdish resistance against ISIS, is due in court in Nottingham on July 20th to find out if he’s being charged, if anyone in the Midlands can make it over to support him then. Over in Sweden, the court case of the “Kungsam 15” has now finished, with five antifascists being sentenced to jail. And, on a similar note, the second international day of solidarity with antifascist prisoners is coming up on July 25th.
And finally, further congratulations are due to everyone involved with the UCL Rent Strike, which has now declared victory, a victory they say is worth over £1 million in concessions. Any rent reduction in London is a pretty serious win.
A few highlights from their press release are:
Student housing campaigns set to spread across the country, amid emergence of ‘Cut-the-Rent’ groups emulating UCL-CTR tactics and an NUS backed speakers tour adding weight to calls for coordinated action to oppose high rents; campaigners pledge “This is just the beginning”…
Ben Beach, a member of the Radical Housing Network Rent Strike group, who supported the student strikers, stated:
“As the housing catastrophe continues to hold millions in poverty, this inspiring victory demonstrates that by working together, rent strikes enable tenants to hold even the most powerful landlords to account. With ‘Brexit’ suggesting the housing crisis will only intensify, it is likely Rent Strikes will become increasingly important tools in taking back control of our homes from financial markets; a tool the housing movement cannot afford to ignore.”