Manslaughter on the Crossrail Express: reactions to the Rene Tkacik verdict

A post from the Blacklist Support Group which seems like it deserves to be seen more widely:

“Anguish at insulting fine for Crossrail death

The family of Rene Tkacik, the construction worker killed when a tonne of cement fell on him in a Crossrail tunnel, expressed their anguish yesterday after the BFK consortium, comprising the companies BAM, Ferrovial and Kier pleaded guilty in Southwark Crown Court.

BFK were fined £300,000 for the death of Rene. In total the court fined the consortium £1million, which included other Health & Safety breaches which had resulted in serious accidents including a near fatal electrocution.

There has been a great deal of anger as Rene’s family and their lawyer, Helen Clifford from McMillan Williams Solicitors only found out about the trial date by chance when they contacted the HSE for an update on the case earlier this week.

Ms Clifford read out a statement on behalf of Marta Tkacik and the rest of the family in open court yesterday. Rene’s mother’s statement told how receiving the phone call about her son’s death “was the most devestating news in my life. My heart was literally ripped out”.

Marta Tcacik donated her £6000 court expenses to the Construction Safety Campaign.

Lee James Fowler, blacklisted safety rep from the Blacklist Support Group, travelled from Liverpool to attend the sentencing and commented:
“Rene’s death is a tragedy but it was totally avoidable if BFK had put proper safety measures in place. But instead, the Health & Safety at Work Act was breached and at the same time the companies were victimising Frank Morris after he raised concerns about safety on the project. Blacklisting may have been a contributory factor not just in Rene’s death but a series of other near fatal accidents on Crossrail”.

It has now emerged that the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) originally intended to prosecute the three companies in their own names but lawyers acting for the Crossrail contractors agreed to plead guilty if the BFK temporary Joint Venture was charged instead. By BFK pleading guilty, it means that Bam, Ferrovial and Kier escape convictions, which may have potentially affected future public sector contracts.

Keith Dobie, blacklisted construction worker from Tottenham commented after the sentencing:
“£300,000 for a man’s life. That will cost the three multinationals £100k each – which is probably less that the bonuses that their senior managers will receive on the project. To add insult to injury, the companies even had the cheek to ask for time to pay the fine. It’s time to put people before profit”.”

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Justice for Daz: March against police killing in Nuneaton, Saturday 29th July

Friends and family of Darren “Daz” Cumberbatch, a young black man who died after coming into contact with Nuneaton police, will be marching on Nuneaton police station at 1pm on Saturday 29th July.

They state:

1pm We meet outside Nuneaton Train Station

1.30pm we depart to Mclntyre House 125 Edward street, Nuneaton CV11 5RD

2pm We commence to Nuneaton Police station Vicarage street, CV11 4JU

We rally outside police station where family members will speak also local and national campaigners.

We demand the following:

We demand to know how our son and brother Darren Cumberbatch sustained multiple serious injuries after contact with the Police that lead to his death

We demand a swift open and transparent investigation.

We demand the immediate suspension of all officers involved in our son/brothers death

#Justice4Daz #JusticeOrElse4Daz

See the Justice4Daz page for more.

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Solidarity with the Hamburg G20 defendants!

The G20 summit in Hamburg earlier this month saw fierce, determined resistance in the streets, as chronicled by CrimethInc, Mark Bray on the Final Straw, …umz Ganze! and Plan C, among others. It sounds like the police tactics were based around beatings and street violence more than making arrests, but there are still a number of people who were arrested and now face charges for allegedly participating in the actions. United We Stand is a new initiative to support those facing repression as a result of the events in Hamburg; they don’t have a huge amount of English-language info yet, but here’s a list of the prisoners, along with a short machine translation of the blurb:

RICCARDO LUPANO (09/06/1985)
JVA Billwerder
Dweerlandweg n° 100
22113 Hamburg

EMILIANO PULEO (02/02/1987)
JVA Billwerder
Dweerlandweg n° 100
22113 Hamburg

JVA Billwerder
Dweerlandweg n° 100
22113 Hamburg

JVA Billwerder
Dweerlandweg n° 100
22113 Hamburg

MARIA ROCCO (05/02/1994)
Jva Billwerder
Dweerlandweg n° 100
22113 Hamburg

FABIO VETTOREL (02/12/1998)
JVA Hahnöfersand
Hinterbrack 25
21635 Jork

There are so many things you need when locked in a cell.

You need wine, sunsets, you need wind and hugs.

But above all, you need words.

Words to fill a long silence and break your isolation.

Very young companions and young comrades are still locked up without trial in Hamburg’s prison after the G20. They are sunny and alone, they have no cell phone, no computers, they can only make one phone call every day.

Our job is to be on their side, to share with them the aseptic space of a cell of a distant nation.

When we say ours, we talk about all of us, who was there and who did not go to Hamburg.

With a little effort each of us can be the breath of the entourage.

We write and send a letter to those still in prison for the G20 in Hamburg.

Solidarity on social networks unfortunately does not come to the hell of the prison, in the hours running all the same, endless.

Spend a few pounds in stamps to send a script, a greeting, a poem, a song, a letter, whatever is a precious act of care, a revolutionary act.


The interview with Radio Onda d’Urto at Italo Di Sabato , of the Observatory Repression , Listen or Download Here

In arrests validating hearings, only one eighteen-year-old companion received the ok for the release, subject to a security deposit of 10,000 euros. Fabio – will remain in prison: the Hamburg Public Prosecutor’s Office has in fact brought an immediate appeal, which was accepted by the Court of First Instance.

The other four comrades and a companion are still in prison awaiting trial. The same thing happened to almost every other international: the pretext would be the danger of escape. The German arrestees were largely released, but around 30 protesters remain in prison.

Now, Legal Team lawyers will present a new release announcement next week, then wait for the process that could begin in August.

From Hamburg upgrading the hearings and conditions of detention of Italian comrades and others arrested with the lawyer’s lawyer Maja Beisenhertz Listen or Download

Solidarity is a weapon, but sometimes a pen.

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July 29th: national day of action against union-busting at Picturehouse

A call-out has gone out for Saturday 29th July to be a national day of action against Picturehouse/Cineworld, the cinema chain that recently suspended four workers for being involved in an organising campaign to demand the living wage.

The organisers say:

Cineworld is one of the world’s biggest cinema chains, which made over £90 million in post-tax profit last year. Workers at several Picturehouse cinemas, part of a chain owned by Cineworld, have been striking to win the London Living Wage of £9.75/hour, decent sick pay, company maternity/paternity pay and union recogntion, among other demands.

As supporters of the strikes, we’re calling a day of action in solidarity with the workers, to demand:

* Living wages now!
* Recognise the union
* Stop union-busting: reinstate the sacked reps

We’re calling on activists to leaflet both outside (customers) and inside (workers) your local Picturehouse and Cineworld sites. Specific leaflets will be available to download and print from this page.

Picturehouse workers have called a boycott of all sites, so you can make customers aware of this and encourage them to take their business elsewhere until Cineworld/Picturehouse pays a Living Wage and stops union busting.

If there are lots of you, you can have a big, noisy presence with placards and flags. But even if there’s only two of you, leafleting customers, passersby, and workers inside the cinema, and taking a photo outside with posters/placards supporting the strike, will still be a valuable and worthwhile activity.

We encourage anyone organising an action to (subtly) go into the cinema first and leaflet all the workers you can find, before starting leafleting outside.

We’d like anyone who does an action to take a photo of it; post them here, and tweet them with the hashtag #PHDayOfAction, tagging the following accounts:

* @RitzyLivingWage
* @HPHLivingWage
* @CPHLivingWage
* @CEPHLivingWage
* @EDPHLivingWage
* @UnioniseDukes



We welcome support for this callout from trade union branches, local Labour Parties, Momentum groups, socialist and anarchist organisations, and other left-wing and radical campaigning groups. If your local group sets up an event as part of this day of action, post a link here and let us know.”

So far, there’s events confirmed for Greenwich, Brixton, Hackney, Crouch End, Clapham, East Dulwich, Glasgow, Birmingham, Stevenage and Edinburgh, with ones for Brighton, Nottingham, and Bradford meant to be on the way. If you fancy taking part, you can download leaflets and posters to print off here.

And while I’m on the subject: surely I can’t be the only person to have noticed how much the phrase “Boycott the Ritzy” is crying out to be set to music? Something along the lines of “boycott the Ritzy/OK, I never much liked going there anyway/said they only wanted well-behaved boys/do they think screens and projectors are just fucking toys…” etc etc?

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One less barrier for workers: tribunal fees struck down in court!

An unexpected piece of good news from the courts today, as the introduction of fees for workplace tribunals, a move that discouraged countless workers from attempting to challenge unjust treatement, was struck down. Of course, the tribunal system as a whole is still based in employment law, which is massively stacked in favour of the employer, and the strongest protection is still solidarity from other workers, but still: getting to have your case heard for free, no matter how unsatisfactory the outcome may be, is an awful lot better at having to pay a grand for it. The accounts of this story from Unison and the general secretary of the IWGB say pretty much everything that need to be said from a simple trade unionist position; I don’t have a huge amount more to add myself, except to note that this is especially satisfying when we remember that the introduction of tribunal fees was followed by the even more short-lived criminal courts chargewho would have thought, back in, say, May 2015, that both would be gone so soon?

Posted in Unions, Work | Tagged | 1 Comment

July 25th: international day of solidarity with anti-fascist prisoners

A few suggestions for things you can do to mark the international day of solidarity with anti-fascist prisoners on July 25th:

If you’re in the UK, you might want to contact Kent Anti-Racism Network to see if there’s anything you can do to support their comrade who was jailed earlier this year for confronting nazis in Dover.

Mike Williams is currently being held in Sacramento jail awaiting trial on charges related to his alleged participation in a clash with fascist groups last year. You can donate to help bail him out here (his bail was initially set at a totally ludicrous amount, but that’s hopefully being changed to something more realistic), or send him a letter or card at

Michael Williams X-313910 8E313A
Sacramento County Main Jail
651 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

It’s always wise to remember that post going into jails and prisons is monitored, but that goes double for people who are awaiting trial – please be careful not to say anything that could potentially be useful to prosecutors, or that you wouldn’t like to hear read out in court.

There’s also a list of other antifa prisoners here you can write to.

Jock Palfreeman has requested that people mark the occasion by doing something to help the prison union he’s involved with, the Bulgarian Prisoners’ Association. The absolute easiest way to do that is by just sharing their facebook page to boost their visibility, but if you feel able to donate to help their work, you can send a few euros via paypal to (or use the donation button on their site). He also requests that “supporters write letters to the Vice-Minister of Justice urging him to meet with and work with our outside representative of the Bulgarian Prisoners’ Association, Head Secretary Valentin Ivanov” – you can send letters to

Nikolai Prodanov, Vice-Minister of Justice
Ministry of Justice,
Slaviyanska 1 Street,
1000, Sofia

These email addresses should hopefully go to someone in the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice:,,


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Justice for Rash – police killing in Hackney

News is coming in that police officers killed a young black man in Hackney last night. See the #justiceforrash hashtag for more updates as they come in. The video of the killing is available here, if you feel you need to see it. Yesterday also saw a fundraiser for Justice for Edson, the last young black man to be killed by the Met.

Posted in Racism, Repression | Tagged , | 1 Comment