A round-up of a few ongoing struggles and upcoming events:
The Smash IPP campaign to free the prisoners condemned to endless sentences by a particularly cruel and ill-thought-out Blair government policy is keeping busy. They’re currently asking people to email Penny Barker, the chief executive of Lancaster & Cumbria Probation, at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask her to let IPP prisoner Ian Hartley go directly to rehab, rather than putting him back into an open prison where he’ll be at much greater risk of relapsing – there’s a template here, but they ask people use their own words if possible. If you’re in the Manchester area, they’re holding a protest to free Ian and all the other IPP prisoners outside Manchester probation office on the 16th. They’ve also put out an anti-fascist statement condemning EDL founder Tommy Robinson’s attempts to get publicity by co-opting the cases of IPP prisoners, and “asking for practical support and solidarity to resist the co-option of working class struggle against prisons in the UK by fascists.”
Also on a legal note, the public inquiry into spycops is slowly rolling on, but becoming increasingly farcical – Helen Steel, one of the people deceived into a relationship with an undercover cop, complains that the police are “being allowed to set the pace and direction of this inquiry”, and a particularly glaring example of that has come with the inquiry ruling that the fake cover name used by an officer known as N7 shouldn’t be released, so the people N7 spied on still have no idea that they were targeted in the first place. In Peterborough, there’s going to be a public meeting about Andy Coles, the spycop-turned-Tory-councillor who was casually outed by his 80s-synthpop-star-turned-vicar brother, on September 16th.
And one more bit of police/court related news: while the DSEi arms fair, which has attracted a lot of opposition, is coming to an end, the criminal case against two people who attempted to disarm warplanes being sold to Saudi Arabia is continuing, with the trial being scheduled to start on 23 October in Burnley, if anyone can make it down to support then.
The Barts Health hospital strike continues, with staff currently striking up till the 13th, and then more action scheduled for September 15th to 20th. Supporters of the strike will be making some noise at the Barts Health AGM on Wednesday 13th. The Birmingham bin strike also looks to be back on after the council sent out 100 redundancy notices to workers. You can follow the action at the strikers’ twitter account, and they’ll be holding a mass demo in Birmingham on Sunday 17th. More info on the strike here.
There’s been some progress in the campaign against blacklisting at Crossrail: weirdly, Chuka Umuna has actually been making himself useful by raising the issue in Parliament, and now there are calls for blacklisting scumbags Robert McAlpine to be stripped of a huge Big Ben contract.
The Angry Workers of the World collective have a pair of exciting events coming up in mid-September, as they’ll be hosting a talk with New River Workers’ Power, who just managed to get a Target manager sacked by staging a wildcat strike, on the 15th at Mayday Rooms, and they’ll also be having a joint meeting with the IWW about a warehouse organising campaign on the 17th at the same location.
Other upcoming events include the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair on the 16th and Radical History Festival on the 17th, the IWGB’s “precarious labour strikes back” event on the 27th, a victory fiesta celebrating successful struggles by outsourced workers at SOAS on the 30th, and then the Orgreave Campaign’s Halloween event in Sheffield at the end of October.
In housing news, renters’ union ACORN have been staying busy in Sheffield: they pressured one neglectful landlord into making repairs and paying up £300 in compensation, got another to back down on a threat to evict a tenant, and on the 14th they’ll be going down the pub, if you’re in that part of the world and fancy having a pint and a chat with some organised tenants. They also promise regular video reports going forward, so keep an eye on their facebook page if you’re into that sort of thing.
Other class struggle news of interest includes this recent episode of trade union podcast Labour Days, which features an interview with a striking McDonald’s worker and a discussion of the old McDonald’s Workers’ Resistance group (but, I would add, neglects to mention that one former member of MWR used the experience as material for a brilliant novel) and this reportback from a community day of solidarity with the Picturehouse workers, featuring some managers being idiots.
Over in the US prison system, long-standing black liberation prisoner Robert Seth Hayes is still in danger from medical neglect and so could use some people putting pressure on the authorities to get him the monitor he needs for his insulin pump, while Jalil Muntaqim is asking people to help pressure New York Governor Cuomo to get him out by tweeting him at @NYGovCuomo on Wednesday 13th. There’s also an update from the support network for Ramsey Orta, who filmed the police killing of Eric Garner and was then subjected to a campaign of harassment from the NYPD in revenge, leading to his being jailed on dodgy charges. Just as a note to add on that point, Ramsey’s birthday is on September 18th, or 9/18 as Americans would say, and his address is Ramsey Orta, 16A4200, Franklin Correctional Facility, P.O. Box 10, Malone, New York 12953-0010, USA, if you fancy sending him a card. Also in US prison news, the Michigan Abolition and Prison Solidarity folks have put together a compilation of audio recordings by prisoners involved in the Kinross uprising last year, which looks to be an amazing first-hand document from that historic revolt.
Finally, an update from South Yorkshire Women’s Aid:
“We are currently organizing some fund raising and awareness building activities as DMBC have announced that they intend to withdraw funding from our service at the end of the year.
We run a free phone line, provide support, and run courses for domestic abuse victims. There is an urgent need to keep open.
There have been over 6,500 incidents of domestic violence already this year in Doncaster alone.
We receive hundreds of calls for help each month.
Our Women’s Aid organisation is the last one in all South Yorkshire.
Women’s Aid is one of the only specialist Domestic Violence services that focuses exclusively on women.
There is a growing need for support, please support us so that we can continue to serve the women and children of Doncaster and South Yorkshire.
What can YOU do to help?
- Invite us to send a speaker to your union, group, organisation meetings.
- Print off one of the campaign slogans, “Save Women’s Aid, Which side are you on?” take selfies on your own or your entire group, and tweet the photos to : @SaveWomensAid …Don’t forget to tag Doncaster Council @myDoncaster in your tweets.
- Collect and donate toiletries and sanitary products. Often when someone flees their abuser they are left with only the clothes that they are standing in.
- Collect and Donate raffle prizes, anything exciting or interesting that someone would feel encouraged to buy a ticket for. The more unusual the better!
- Hold a collection for us at your meetings. We really need you support to keep the rent paid and the phone line running. For financial donations, here is the link to our crowd fund page: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/savesywa Or you can pass donations physically to the campaign in person.
- Send us your Solidarity. We are holding our heads up but this is a very emotional campaign for us all and we will appreciate any and every message of support.
- Keep an eye out for upcoming emails with details of events and demonstrations and please share the information via your online networks.”
You can keep up with the campaign on facebook or twitter, or you can email them at womenslivesmatteryorkshire (at) gmail (dot) com, and if you’re in the South Yorkshire area they’ll be having a big lobby of Doncaster council on September 21st.