Another quick roundup of news and events:
In workplace news, the CWU’s appeal has been defeated and the courts have upheld the ruling blocking them from taking strike action on the back of their massive strike vote. It’s worth stressing how serious this is: first the law blocks strike action in cases where there isn’t a big turnout on the ballot, and now the courts are ruling that any effective campaign to get a big strike vote out becomes “improper interference”, leading to a situation where workers are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
On a more positive note, plans to outsource the jobs of NHS staff in Bradford and Frimley have been defeated. While no date has yet been set, members of both GMB and Unison working for the road gritting department of Carmathenshire County Council have voted to strike over pay, with yet another union, Unite, still balloting other workers in the service.
On a UK prison note, there’s an action alert for Kevan Thackrar, who is being confined in extremely stressful and inhumane conditions without access to mental health support and legal advice, and is close to having spent a full decade in the dehumanising conditions of the Close Supervision Centre. You can complain to the Governor by emailing email@example.com, or by ringing 01759 475100.
In international repression/legal news, there’s been developments in a few different cases. Over in Belarus, Dzmitry Paliyenka, an anarchist who’s faced continuous state harassment, has had his latest case heard and been given three years of house arrest, which seems like a reasonably positive outcome overall, especially since he was being held in pre-trial detention and has now been released. In France, Vincenzo Vecchi, an Italian anarchist who’s still being prosecuted for his participation in the anti-G8 protests in Genoa 2001, has been released from prison. In the US, there’s been a string of more-or-less positive developments, with Nina Droz Franco being released after serving a prison sentence for her participation in a Puerto Rican May Day demo in 2017, Scott Warren being found not guilty on charges of “harbouring” undocumented migrants for his work with No More Deaths, and the three defendants facing charges from an antifascist action in Sacramento in 2016 taking a non-cooperating plea deal that means none will have to serve any time.
Elsewhere, Norwegian antifascists are running a fundraiser after 28 people were hit with heavy fines for blockading a racist event in Oslo, Russian police have carried out raids against an antifascist martial arts tournament in Moscow, and in Madrid, Rodridgo Lanza, an anarchist on trial for allegedly killing a fascist who had been racially abusing him, has been acquitted of murder but convicted of “homicide with serious imprudence”, with sentencing to follow. And to round this list off, I’d just like to mention again that one very easy anti-repression act you can do is to write to New York antifascist prisoner David Campbell by filling in this online form.
Looking ahead, the UCU strikes are set to continue from Monday 2nd-Wednesday 4th. If you’ll be visiting the picket lines, you might want to print off a few copies of the University Worker, a rank-and-file strike bulletin hosted by Notes from Below. There will be various student occupations and things going on, I’ve not seen a full round-up but I know Exeter and Edinburgh have occupied, along with students blockading a management building in Liverpool.
Monday also sees the start of a strike on South Western Railway that’ll cover almost all of December, as the company is refusing to engage with the RMT’s concerns about safety and keeping the guard’s role on trains. Elsewhere, Bradford library and museum staff will be starting a week of strike action in defence of the service against threatened cuts. And over in Merseyside, outsourced cleaners at HMRC will striking from Monday-Wednesday for a living wage, job security, and improved conditions, while up in Durham there’s a free screening of the blacklisting film Solidarity, and a UCU strike fundraiser happening in Cardiff.
Monday is also “cyber Monday”, when online retailers such as Amazon will be offering big deals, and the GMB are using the day to promote their organising efforts among Amazon warehouse workers, with a demo at Amazon’s HQ in central London along with others at Amazon sites in Coalville, Bristol/Avonmouth and Warrington. These events seem to be very much external union-led recruiting events rather than being self-organised by Amazon workers, but at the same time any attempt to encourage organisation among Amazon workers is better than nothing.
On Tuesday 3rd, there’s a demo at City Library in Bradford in support of the library strikes, staff at the Wallace Collection in London are holding a protest to demand a living wage, and in the evening Waltham Forest Trades Council are holding a meeting where CWU General Secretary Dave Ward will provide an update on what’s happening with the Royal Mail dispute.
On Wednesday 4th, outsourced workers like cleaners and porters who’ve organised through the IWGB will be striking alongside academic staff in UCU at University College London. Meanwhile, up in Salford, FE college staff will be striking on the 4th and 5th over management refusing to honour a national pay award.
On Thursday 5th, PCS members working at Ealing tax office will be taking a half-day of strike action in defence of their jobs, and on Friday there’s another demo in support of the Bradford library and museum strikes, this time at Cliffe Castle.
On Saturday, RMT members will be striking on West Midlands Trains in defence of the guard’s role, there’s the Manchester & Salford Anarchist Bookfair, and in Barnsley the Orgreave Truth & Justice Campaign are asking anyone with stories to share from the great miners’ strike to come and have them recorded for an upcoming film.
Further ahead, on Tuesday 10th, cleaners at Highgate Wood School who’ve organised through CAIWU are striking for the London Living Wage and a number of other issues, and Salford college staff will be starting another two days of strike action. On Wednesday 11th, the blacklisting film Solidarity gets a showing in Oxford.