Grimethorpe school staff win against redundancies, Birkenhead shipyard strike begins

In Ladywood, near Barnsley in South Yorkshire, school staff are returning to work with their heads held high after their all-out strike beat attempts to sack a number of dinner ladies and get teaching assistants to cover their work. Having said that, there are threats that the issue could arise again soon, as the school stated that “The budget projections for 2020/21 still indicate a deficit position and therefore a further review of the staffing structure will be required in the near future.

Meanwhile, workers at the Cammell Laird shipyard in Birkenhead are launching a bold strike against redundancies, with three weeks of action starting from Monday 26th coordinated between the GMB and Unite. They have a strike fund you can donate to here, and for anyone in the Merseyside region there’s going to be a fundraiser gig in New Brighton on Friday 7th December.

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Posted in Strikes, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

National day of action against Universal Credit, Saturday 1st December

Unite Community have finally started confirming some of the details for their upcoming day of action against Universal Credit. Obviously, this is all pretty inadequate, especially the late notice, since these events would be a lot more powerful if they were properly promoted at jobcentres and managed to attract claimants from outside the usual activist circles, which is unlikely at this kind of timescale; but any kind of resistance around social issues like Universal Credit is better than just passively watching the latest developments in the Brexit soap opera. If you’re interested in helping plan serious resistance around welfare reform, it might be worth going along and seeing if anyone there might be up for organising something more concerted than just a badly-promoted day of action once or twice a year.

And as a quick reminder, other stuff coming up this week includes:

Thursday 29th: Electricians’ meeting in London, rally to support striking Ladywood school staff in South Yorkshire, support Northern guards public meeting in Liverpool.

Friday 30th: CAIWU campaigning for the reinstatement of a sacked cleaner at Ofcom, Up the Elephant anti-gentrification/regeneration fundraiser, unofficial alternative xmas do outside the official TDL event, all in London.

Saturday December 1st: Manchester and Salford anarchist bookfair, RMT strikes on Northern and South-Western to keep the guard on the train, CWU national day of action in defence of the post office.

Anyway, the events confirmed so far are:

East Midlands – Contact Shaun Pender 07885 803449
  • Glossop, Glossop High Street, Market entrance – Carol concert 11:00–12:30
  • Northampton – Market Square Leafleting between 11:00-13:00
  • West Bridgford – street stall 11:00-13:00
  • Bulwell Market Place – Choir 11:00-13:00
  • Netherfield – outside the Coop 11:00-13:00 street stall and leafleting
  • Shirebrook – Xmas market- Christmas Crisis Carol Concert 11.00
  • Leicester – TBC
  • Derby – TBC
  • Belper – Belper High Street – leafleting and street stall
London & Eastern – contact Vic Paulino 07791 113806
  • Norwich City Centre stall/protest outside Tesco (NR2 1JH) from 11:00-13:00 close to the Job Centre
  • Ipswich – Alternate Carol Service on between 13:00-15:00 at The La Tour Cafe at 7, Waterfront, Ipswich (IP4 1FT)
  • Colchester- Carol Singing at 16:00 outside the Town Hall to raise Universal Credit awareness, songbooks provided
  • Woolwich Stall in Woolwich Town Centr DLR Station in Powis St/Woolwich Market (SE18 6AY) from 11:00
  • Brixton tube station from 11:00-13:00
  • Ladbroke Grove – Underground Station, London (W10 6HJ) Carol singing – 14:00
  • Chingford Chingford Mount, London (E4 8LG). 11:00 at Protesting in constituency of Iain Duncan Smith, the architect of Universal Credit misery.
  • Camden Town – outside the tube station at 11:00
  • Wisbech outside the local Job Centre Plus, Wisbech, (PE13 1AN) Friday 7 December 2018
  • Tottenham Job Centre, Carol Singing, Friday 7 December 2018
North East, Yorkshire & Humberside – contact Liane Groves 07793 661657
Northern Ireland – Contact Albert Hewitt 07711 375537
North West – contact Sheila Coleman 07711 375538
  • Manchester – five stalls in five different locations TBC
  • Liverpool – Bottom of Bold St, Liverpool City Centre, from 11:00.
  • Carlisle – outside HSBC bank, Carlisle city centre. From 11:00.
Scotland contact Jamie Caldwell 07980 721417
  • Glasgow, stall Govan Cross (795 Govan Rd, Glasgow, G51 3JW) 11:00
  • Edinburgh Newkirkgate Leith, 11:00
  • Dundee, Dundee Meet Boots Corner, Reform Street. 13:00
  • Falkirk – The Steeple in Falkirk High Street
  • Fife – The Mercat Kircaldy 11:00
  • 30 November  >> Irvine – Bridgegate Irvine 12.00
  • 30 November  >> Greenock – Greenock Town Centre, Corner of Blackhall and West St – 12.00
  • 30 November  >> Clydebank – Job Centre, 245 Kilbowie Rd, Clydebank G81 2JN stall 10.30
  • 30 November  >> Kilmarnock – Cross Kilmarnock 15:00
  • 3 December >> Glasgow, Shettleston Job Centre (955 Shettleston Rd, Glasgow G32 7NY) 10:00
  • 3 December >> North Lanarkshire, Brandon Parade Motherwell outside MacDonalds – stall 12:00
South East – contact Kelly Tomlinson 07941 342835
  • Brighton – London Road/Anne Street corner (opposite Boots) 14:00-16:00
  • Chesham – Chesham Broadway 10:00-12:00
  • Cosham Cosham high street (near Tesco’s) 12:00-14:00
  • Crawley Outside the main post office, Crawley 10:00–12.00
  • Dover Dover High Street (outside old M&S) 11:00-13:00
  • Eastbourne Corner of Cornfield Rd & Terminus Rd 11:00-13:00
  • Hastings Outside Nationwide, town centre 11:00-13:00
  • Havant & Waterlooville Waterlooville market square, the Clock House (Friday 30 November) 10:30-12:30
  • Isle of Wight St James Square, Newport – 12:00-14:00
  • Maidenhead Outside Maidenhead Library (Friday 30th) 11:00-13:00
  • Milton Keynes Midsummer Blvd crossing (between the Food Hall and John Lewis) 11:00-13:00
  • Oxford Bonn Square, Oxford 11:00-13:00
  • Ramsgate High street (outside HSBC bank), Ramsgate 11:00-13:00
  • Sheerness Town Centre (meet at clock tower), Sheerness 10:00-12:00
  • Sittingbourne High street (outside entrance to forum) 10:00-12:00
  • Slough outside the cinema, Slough Town Square 11:00-13:00
  • Southampton – Bitterne Precinct, Near West End Rd, (SO18 5RS) 10:45 – March to Tory MP, Royston Smith’s constituency office, at 11:45 (70 Dean Rd, SO18 6AN) demand the end Universal Credit. 12.15 Public meeting music & refreshments, RC Church Hall, Commercial St (SO18 6LY)
South West – contact Brett Sparkes 07718 666593
  • Bristol, East St Bedminster BS3 4HD 14:00-17:00
  • Bath – Bottom of Milsom Street – 13:00 Christmas carols
  • Bournemouth – TBC
  • Taunton, Taunton High St, by the Tourist Visitor Centre – 11:00-13:00
  • Cheddar Labour stall, location TBC 11:00-13:00
  • Gloucester TBC
  • Truro TBC
  • North Devon TBC
West Midlands – Contact Shaun Pender 07885 803449
  • Newcastle under Lyme Town Centre 11.00-13.00
  • Shrewsbury Town Centre (Pride Hill) 14:00-16:00
  • Wellington Square 11.00-13.00
  • Birmingham, outside Waterstones Bookshop City centre 11.00–13:00
  • Worcester High Street – 11.00-13:00
  • Burton, Burton High Street 11:00-13:00
Wales – contact Ian Swan 07850 649699
  • Bangor, outside Bank, opposite the clock tower. 11.00-13.00
  • Caernarfon, TBC. 11.00-13.00
  • Holyhead, outside the old Woolworths building. 11.00-13.00
  • Llangefni, at the Clock, Market Square. 11.00-13.00
  • Wrexham, by miner’s statue, city centre. 11.00–13.00
  • Cardiff – Stall at Canton, Cowbridge Road 12:00-14:00
  • Newport – TBC 11.00–13.00
  • Swansea – TBC 11.00–13.00
Posted in Unemployment/claimants and welfare | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Amabsolutely afabulous: again with the gender binary

Jane Clare Jones recently published a reply to my comments on her analysis of the gender binary. A further review of the points of disagreement, to see if we can clear anything up*:

One of the points I made was that her analysis seemed to skate over the way that the gender binary has to mutilate pretty much everyone in order to get them to fit into restrictive categories of “masculinity” or “femininity”: “Binaries are bad not just because they’re hierarchical, but because they deny everything outside those hierarchical categories.”

Jones seems to interpret the “not just” here as saying that the hierarchical part isn’t that important, which certainly wasn’t my intention. I can see why it might come across as dismissive, but I really can’t think of many ways of saying “you have described part of the problem, but not the whole of the problem” that can’t potentially be interpreted as minimising one part or another.

Anyway, tucked away in a footnote, Jones acknowledges that she actually agrees with the broad point I was making:

“let’s just scrap the analogy and take the claim as, ‘the gender binary is bad not only because it is a hierarchy but because it erases multiple gender presentations.’ In that case I’m going to agree.”

But, while apparently in agreement with my actual argument, Jones seems keen to dismiss it, paraphrasing it as “not granting existence to female people isn’t really very important. What is far more important is that binaries don’t represent multiplicity correctly.” Which seems a bit daft, because, if we can agree that “female people” do not represent a single homogenous lump, surely “granting existence” and recognition to them requires an ability to represent multiplicity correctly. I stand by my claim that winning a world where people assigned female or male at birth aren’t expected to live up to some rigid, restrictive ideal of femininity or masculinity would be a greater victory than just rebalancing the amount of social status connected to those respective ideals.

Jones objects that her strategy of insisting on “natural differences” to undermine binaries doesn’t actually mean that she endorses race science, because “the gender binary and racial binaries don’t map exactly onto each other”. Which is fair enough, but I’m not the one who introduced that equivalence; it was Jones who defined the binary as “a process by which the white male subject defines his others – women, and the non-white – as an inferior negation of himself”.

Jones insists the gender binary is different because it “is laid on top of the biological difference between male and female people” – so, a cultural construct based around the observance of physical features. Jones wants to say that these make it entirely different to race, which is a social construct – but where things fall apart is that both are social constructs which seem natural because they can point to observable physical features. After all, it really is true that some people have more melanin and some people have less, some people have blue eyes and others don’t, things like sickle cell anemia and high blood pressure are much more common among certain ethnic groups than others, and so on. Of course, the particular form of politics Jones follows wants to stress the biological differences that gender is built on as important, while not seeing blonde hair and blue eyes as having inherent political significance in the same way; but that’s a political choice to stress the importance of some physical features over others, it’s not because one set is biological and the other isn’t.

In a footnote on this point, Jones acknowledges that “You could, at a push, argue that the ‘real’ problem with the racial binary is that it flattens the differences between various types of ‘non-whiteness’… What this would amount to then is something like the claim that the ‘real’ problem with the negative construction of ‘Blackness’ is that is doesn’t include Latino/as.” Again, this is missing the point of what erasure actually involves, and why the recognition of multiplicity is important – talking about the erasure of “various types of ‘non-whiteness’” isn’t just about comparing “Black” and “Latinx” people, but about highlighting the way that the colonial processes that made it possible to understand people as “Black”, “Latinx”, “Native” and so on were incredibly violent efforts that aimed at the annihilation of a whole variety of ways of being, and of understanding oneself, outside of colonial categories. I would’ve thought this was obvious, but perhaps not.

Trying to summarise my critique, Jones says that it’s based on “the claim that the ‘real’ harm of the gender binary is that it erases the other ‘natural’ differences it’s laid on top of – i.e. that it erases the people who are neither male or female, which would be, actually, nobody.”

Which is wrong twice over – it’s Jones who thinks that all politics needs to be based around “natural differences”, my whole position is that such ahistorical categories are suspicious at best. And, to the extent that I’m making a claim about “natural differences”, it’s much more about the difference between human beings in all their variety and the restrictive, limiting expectations based around the gender roles of “man” and “woman” – so, my problem is more that the patriarchal binary is harmful to people who don’t live up to the role of either Real Men or Real Women, which would be, actually, pretty much everybody.

Following on from this, Jones claims that the big problem is the removal of “female people’s cultural power to define themselves for themselves”. Here, I think, we’re getting on to one of the crucial problems with Jones’ argument. I wouldn’t use the term “female people” myself, I think a term like “people assigned female at birth”, while clunkier, is better at respecting the fact that not all people who are labelled female would describe themselves as such. And here is the big question: do such people – trans men, non-binary/genderqueer people and so on – have the right, or should they have the cultural power, to define themselves for themselves? Because insisting on lumping them into the category of “female people” seems to be precisely a denial of that.

Anyway, Jones claims that, to defeat the patriarchal gender binary, we have to realise that “the greatest challenge to that narcissistic structure comes from the irreducibility of sexual difference”. At this point, I have to admit to being completely lost as to what this actually means in practical terms. I think that the most important thing to happen in the UK recently, in terms of challenging patriarchal power structures, was the massive women’s strike in Glasgow where thousands of predominantly female workers exercised their collective power and caused a huge amount of disruption across the city in pursuit of their equal pay claim. I’d hope that their significance of their action should be self-explanatory, but if I need to translate it into academicese, then I guess that you could say they disrupted the chain of signification linking “women’s work”, care and femininity to being underpaid and undervalued, or something like that.

Anyway, the point is that I really cannot for the life of me imagine what “the irreducibility of sexual difference” has to offer in a situation like Glasgow, where, to the extent that people were mobilising around a shared identity as “women”, it was very clearly a social/cultural – and indeed economic – category linked to social roles, not some physical/biological category.

Even looking at the Irish abortion campaign, which might seem to be an example of mobilisation much more closely linked to “sexual difference”, it’s notable that many people involved, both in the Irish campaign itself and in overseas solidarity, were basing their politics less on sweeping biological claims and more on a perspective that genuinely respects the right of people to define the meaning of their own bodies.

Moving on to the question of essentialism**, Jones says that what she’s actually talking about is “the importance of female people producing their own definitions, and their own cultural significations, for themselves. It should be obvious that this isn’t an assertion of ‘eternal feminine essence,’ but it seems it’s really not.” But surely the confusion here comes precisely from the fact that Jones doesn’t consistently talk about people producing their own cultural significations, but continually attempts to muddy the waters by insisting that it’s actually about “the existence of sexual difference”, “the irreducibility of sexual difference”, and so on, which would appear to be something completely different – making claims about “sexual difference” is a conversation about essentialist, ahistorical categories, talking about “cultural significations” is to talk about social-historical categories. If you want people to stop calling you essentialist because you just want to talk about culture, then maybe just stick to talking about culture and stop telling everyone you’re talking about biology.

Another point of contention comes up when Jones says “The place where I depart from a straight-forward gender-abolitionist account is that I think we are cultural creatures, and I don’t think the abolition of patriarchal gender would consist of there being no cultural meaning attached to sexed-bodies. I think rather it would consist of a culture in which the meaning of female bodies – and the forms of social life occupied by female bodies – was defined by female people.”

There’s a lot to say about this, but I think the crucial point is whether we’re talking about “the meaning of female bodies”, or whether it’s actually about “meanings”, plural – which Jones seems to lean more towards earlier in the essay, when she says “Which is not to say that there would be a singular definition of what ‘being female’ means to female people”.

And that’s the thing – if we’re talking about a singular, fixed meaning that all “female people” are expected to participate in, then what’s being discussed is another system of oppression, erasure and all the rest of it; perhaps a nicer system than the current set-up, but certainly not freedom or self-determination in any meaningful sense. But then, if there’s isn’t a singular definition, if we’re talking about a multitude of freely-chosen roles that people are able to opt into or out of as they see fit – if no-one is insisting that the people who are currently assigned female at birth have to go on being described as female if that’s not how they see themselves – then that sounds far more compatible with genuine self-determination, but at the point that such a role becomes freely chosen, rather than imposed on everyone with a certain body type, then it’s no longer meaningfully possible to talk about “the meaning of female bodies”, “the irreducibility of sexual difference” and so on.

And, by the way, this question of whether there’s more than one correct way to be female is certainly not just some abstraction to be settled after the feminist revolution, but a live issue here and now – consider the various cases of butch or androgynous cis women being harrassed in toilets for not appearing “female enough”.  The “irreducibility of sexual difference” doesn’t seem to have done much for these women, any more than it helped save Caster Semenya from her public humiliation a few years ago – or from ongoing attempts by athletics bodies to regulate who exactly is female enough to count. Contrary to the ideology that claims “natural sex differences” are always so obvious and self-evident that stricter policing of these borders can only be a good thing for cis women – let alone “female people” – in reality calls to insist upon sexual difference are always used as cudgels against those women whose bodies are too black, or too fat, or too muscular, or too tall, or who just present in ways that doesn’t make it clear what side of the sex distinction they fall upon.

Jones claims that the unpopularity of her position, among “both allies and critics, is evidence, I think, of the absolute dominance of masculine signification.” Obviously, the fact that me and Jones disagree strongly has already been established; what’s more interesting here is the contempt she seems to hold for other trans-exclusionary feminists who are closer to “a straight-forward gender-abolitionist account”. By Jones’ own account, many of her allies actually have their perspectives fatally compromised by “masculine signification.” Of course, anti-trans politics contains many strange bedfellows already, but it’s still interesting to notice how low Jones’ opinion of other trans-exclusionary feminists is.

Still claiming not to be an essentialist, Jones points out that “We recognise that an assertion of ‘Blackness’ by a Black artist isn’t an assertion of ‘eternal Black essence’ because we recognise that there is Black culture.” But again, this is an example of Jones refusing to own the full weird implications of her own claims – the real equivalent to Jones’ politics would be a Black artist claiming that their Blackness was rooted in “the irreducibility of racial difference”, and that these differences existed outside of and prior to white supremacy. Which I think probably would raise a few eyebrows, and could be not unfairly described as essentialist.

In closing, Jones asserts again that her whole project is about how liberation must consist of “female people… signifying their own being”. At which point, it must be asked once again: do trans men and non-binary people have the power to decide what their own bodies mean, or are they to be corralled and shoehorned back into the category of “female people”? And if trans men and afab non-binary people can be trusted with signifying their own being, then on what possible grounds would you deny the same right to trans women and amab non-binary people?

 

*another writer, Izabe Clare, has also written a reply to Jones’ comments, although I have to admit that I didn’t find it particularly easy to follow myself.

** As a side-note, when approaching the question of essentialism, Jones asserts that “it’s not a matter of simply stating that some humans are of the sex-class capable of bearing young (I’m not going with ‘having wombs’ (or vaginas even…))” This is interesting as an example of how shaky the category of “female people” can be, as there are many cis women who, while they may possess wombs, are not “capable of bearing young” for whatever reason. Of course, I’m sure that Jones would object that she’s not actually talking about the ability to give birth, but rather about people who belong to “the sex-class capable of…”, but, if this is a category that consists of some people who can give birth and some people who can’t, then that just underlines the fact that we’re talking about human-created categories imposed on reality to make sense of it, categories that involve paying attention to some differences while passing over others, not just neutrally recording natural biological facts.

Posted in Bit more thinky, Debate, Gender, Stuff that I don't think is very useful | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Recent workplace wins: TGI Fridays, Bolton NHS and a London climbing centre

A few recent workplace victories I forgot to include in my last round-up:

At TGI Fridays, the recent strikes have led to some gains. “A series of well-publicized strikes (click here, here and here for more) over tipping and minimum wage abuses by workers at TGI Fridays in the UK and a sustained campaign by Unite supported by the IUF have achieved important initial results.

TGI Fridays management has announced it will reinstate staff meals and pay for unpaid workplace trials and online training. The Tronc/Tips Committee will be re-established and the division of tips between waiting and kitchen staff, one of the issues which ignited the strikes, re-adjusted.”

Of course, since the original issue involved tips being taken from waiting staff to make up for the low pay of kitchen staff, then just readjusting the distribution of tips without fixing the underlying low pay issue won’t solve that much, but it sounds like a gain of a sort. See here for a detailed, academicy/autonomist write-up of the TGI Fridays dispute from Notes From Below.

In Bolton, outsourced hospital staff including cleaners, porters, catering staff and security guards have won the full NHS pay rate after taking strike action, meaning some workers will see a boost from £7.83 to £8.95 an hour.

Finally, the IWW have a report on how London climbing centre workers were able to organise and win a pay rise from £8.80 to the London Living Wage of £10.20 an hour.

Also, as a quick reminder, here’s the list of upcoming events for the next two weeks from my previous round-up:

Tuesday 20th: Mental Health Resistance Network presenting service users’ demands to NHS bosses, outsourced staff organised through IWGB making a fuss at a fancy University of London ceremony.

Wednesday 21st: Feminist antifascist stuff in Huddersfield and Manchester.

Friday 23rd, and regularly every Friday: CAIWU fighting for the reinstatement of a victimised member at Ofcom.

Saturday 24th, and regularly every Saturday: RMT strikes to keep train guards on Northern and South-Western trains.

Sunday 25th: Feminists against fascism demo, London

Monday 26th: London meeting in solidarity with Russian anarchists and antifascists

Thursday 29th: Electricians’ meeting in London, rally to support striking Ladywood school staff in South Yorkshire, support Northern guards public meeting in Liverpool.

Friday 30th: Up the Elephant anti-gentrification/regeneration fundraiser, unofficial alternative xmas do outside the official TDL event, both in London.

Saturday December 1st: Manchester and Salford anarchist bookfair, national days of action against universal credit and in defence of the post office.

Posted in Strikes, Stuff that I think is pretty awesome, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Mid-November round-up of UK workplace and social struggles, and upcoming events

In mainstream union news, the Communication Workers’ Union are calling for people to join a day of action in defence of post offices on December 1st, with events currently planned for Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh, London, Aberdeen, Crawley, Nottingham, Chester, Basingstoke, York, and Bristol. The post service seems to be seeing something of a wave of rank-and-file militancy at the moment, with walkouts reported at Hamilton, South Lanarkshire and Tarporley, Cheshire, joining other recent actions in places like Wigan and Maidstone.

In Derbyshire, workers at a crane factory are striking over a pay claim, with further action planned for November 19th and 26th and December 3rd. Taxi firm Addison Lee have lost an appeal against a tribunal ruling finding that their drivers are workers with employment rights, not self-employed contractors, in a case that may be relevant to other gig economy workers.

RMT members continue to take strike action on Northern and South-Western trains in the “keep the guard on the train” dispute against driver-only operation, with further action planned for next Saturday and probably ongoing weekly after that. Most of the public meetings in support of the Northern dispute have now happened, but there’s still an upcoming one in Liverpool on November 29th. Down South, Ben Frederick, a guard and RMT member who was facing management victimisation, has now been reinstated.

In Bath and other Somerset towns, care workers employed by Sirona have been striking against an attempted pay cut by management. Canteen staff and teaching assistants at Ladywood school, Grimethorpe, South Yorkshire are striking against job cuts, with support rallies called for Monday 19th and Thursday 29th. Messages of support can be sent to branchoffice@unisonbarnsleylg.org

In grassroots union news, the IWGB union are calling for a protest in support of low-paid outsourced staff outside a fancy ceremony organised by the University of London on Tuesday 20th, and in response to The Doctors Laboratory excluding courier staff from their works xmas do, couriers organised through the IWGB will be holding an alternative party outside, saying “bring your black tie & your red flag”. On Thursday 29th, the IWGB’s electrical workers’ branch will be holding a meeting in London to discuss the state of the industry and the ways that workers can organise to change it.

Meanwhile, another of London’s grassroots unions, the United Voices of the World, are inviting people to protest outside Justice Minister David Gauke’s private drinks on Monday 19th (assuming he’s still in the job by then) in support of outsourced cleaners and security guards fighting for a living wage at the Ministry of Justice. And on December 7th, the Women’s Strike Assembly and other socialist feminists are organising a “red christmas” fundraiser do for the UVW’s organising efforts among sex workers.

Meanwhile, the cleaners’ union CAIWU continue with weekly protests every Friday calling for the reinstatement of one of their members at Ofcom, and are involved in disputes against the sacking of cleaners at posh-sounding Croydon Catholic school Virgo Fidelis and the mistreatment of staff at nearly-bankrupt high-end bun-mongers Patisserie Valerie.

In more general social struggles, the campaign to stop nursery closures in Salford had another demo, which was attended by representatives of similar campaigns in Tower Hamlets and Nottingham, so they’re now looking at ways to link up nationally. The Stansted trial of people facing terrorism charges for taking direct action to stop deportation continues. The Focus E15 campaign will be paying a visit to a talk by former Mayor of Newham, Robin Wales, on Monday 19th, to remind everyone about his disastrous record of demolishing social housing while in office. On Tuesday 20th, the Mental Health Resistance Network will be gathering to make service users’ voices heard at the Westminister Health Forum, where NHS bosses and the like will be discussing the future of mental health services.

On Monday 26th, there’s a meeting in London to organise solidarity with Russian antifascists and anarchists. You can read a recent solidarity appeal from Russian comrades here. On Friday 30th, the “Up the Elephant” campaign against the development/regeneration/gentrification of Elephant & Castle will be holding a fundraiser night. The first weekend of December sees the Manchester & Salford anarchist bookfair, and Unite Community are calling for a national day of action against the introduction of Universal Credit. Further into December, the campaign against spycop-turned-politician Andy Coles will be holding another demo in Peterborough on December 12th.

Finally, there’s a few different upcoming events in the next few weeks aimed at developing a feminist antifascist movement, with an antifascist strategy meeting hosted by Plan C in Manchester on the 21st, a discussion in Huddersfield on “how do we continue to build an anti-racist feminist movement that can confront and defeat the far-right on these issues, and actually prevent, challenge and get justice for sexual violence in our communities” the same day, and a “feminists against fascism” demo in London on Sunday 25th.

That’s a fairly massive list of upcoming events, so for convenience’s sake, here it is in date order:

Monday 19th: Focus E15 vs former Mayor of Newham and cleaners, security guards and UVW vs Justice Minister in London, solidarity with school staff striking against job cuts near Barnsley.

Tuesday 20th: Mental Health Resistance Network presenting service users’ demands to NHS bosses, outsourced staff organised through IWGB making a fuss at a fancy University of London ceremony.

Wednesday 21st: Feminist antifascist stuff in Huddersfield and Manchester.

Friday 23rd, and regularly every Friday: CAIWU fighting for the reinstatement of a victimised member at Ofcom.

Saturday 24th, and regularly every Saturday: RMT strikes to keep train guards on Northern and South-Western trains.

Sunday 25th: Feminists against fascism demo, London

Monday 26th: London meeting in solidarity with Russian anarchists and antifascists

Thursday 29th: Electricians’ meeting in London, rally to support striking Ladywood school staff in South Yorkshire, support Northern guards public meeting in Liverpool.

Friday 30th: Up the Elephant anti-gentrification/regeneration fundraiser, unofficial alternative xmas do outside the official TDL event, both in London.

Saturday December 1st: Manchester and Salford anarchist bookfair, national days of action against universal credit and in defence of the post office.

Friday December 7th: Red Christmas do raising funds for the UVW’s organising, London.

Wednesday 12th: demo against sleazy spycop Andy Coles, Peterborough.

Posted in Anarchists, Gender, Protests, Strikes, Unemployment/claimants and welfare, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Against 4Chan Stalinism

For quite a while now, I’ve been amazed at the amount of tolerance that’s been shown for Red London, a “communist” meme page known for taking nazi 4chan memes and literally just replacing the word “Hitler” with “Stalin”, as well as for obsessive, personalised vitriol against their opponents on the left, such as posting fake screenshots of people’s posts and editing them to include references to child pornography. It seems that the Red London crew may have finally pushed their luck too far and generated something of a backlash; while I have no particular fondness for the Clarion/AWL lot who wrote the following statement, I think they’re are absolutely right in saying that the kind of spiteful bullying that Red London practice has no place in any movement for a better world. A lot of Red London’s influence is in the Labour left, and it’s frankly not my place to join in with Labour’s internal debates, as if anyone even cares what I have to say; but I would encourage people active in trade unions, Kurdish/Rojava solidarity and anti-fascism to discuss how we should relate to each other and what standards of behaviour we expect. And to make it very clear to these 4chan chekist-wannabes that they can go piss on their own floors in future, or maybe go through another miraculous political transformation and emerge as centrists or something.

“We the undersigned, coming from a variety of political viewpoints on the left, strongly oppose the politics of the ‘Red London’ Facebook page and the wider culture of lying and harassment it has promoted and contributed to, poisoning the environment of the left.

Under the guise of “banter”, Red London bullies and harasses, targeting their opponents on the left – particularly Trotskyists, anarchists, feminists. They use out-and-out slander, for example making accusations of support for child abuse. They denigrate “identity politics” while promoting a toxic version of white male identity politics under the false label of class politics, serving to excuse nasty and abusive attitudes. They produce memes and use language conveying racist, sexist, homophobic and transphobic messages. They are or pose as English nationalists. They consistently and crudely glorify Stalin, Kim Jong-un, Enver Hoxha, Bashar al-Assad and similar.

Such politics and methods pollute the left and weaken the fight to transform society – as does any collaboration with them. Any serious leftist who in any way has links or cooperates with Red London will break that off and speak out against them and what they represent.

We need a democratic left and labour movement in which differences, even sharp ones, are debated honestly and in a comradely way, not responded to with slander and abuse.”

[note: I haven’t formally added my name to the statement because I try to avoid using my legal name for this kind of stuff, and I don’t think that an anonymous anarchist’s pseudonym would carry that much weight in this context, but the authors are welcome to list it if they’d like.]

Posted in Stuff that I don't think is very useful, The left | Tagged | 3 Comments

Late October round-up of UK work and social struggles and international repression news

In UK workplace-related news, the 30th of October saw simultaneous precarious workers’ demos in London and Glasgow, while security guards at the Ministry of Justice, organising through the grassroots UVW union, have just voted to strike for a living wage.

There was a massive strike for equal pay by council workers in Glasgow on the 23rd and 24th, although it’s surprisingly hard to find much in the way of radical analysis of the situation – there’s a write-up on the IWW Scotland site looking at the SNP’s attempts to shift blame onto past Labour councils, and the Morning Star have an article on the council’s attempts to use legal threats against strikers, but I haven’t seen much beyond that.

Post workers in Maidstone apparently followed in the steps of those in Wigan by staging a wildcat strike in defence of a victimised colleague, but again it’s very hard to find anything in the way of coverage.

The RMT’s “keep the guard on the train” dispute continues with regular action every Saturday on Northern Rail and strikes also continuing on South-Western. They’ve organised a series of meetings throughout November in Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool (spanning the entire length and breadth of the civilised world, in other words), and the New Syndicalist blog recently put up an interview about the dispute. The RMT are also balloting for action on the Paddington line over the victimisation of one of their members.

In broader UK social struggle news, the Stansted 15 trial continues, although the court’s been having a break for a few days now, and Bristol recently saw both mass resistance to a Home Office immigration raid and a successful eviction defence that drove bailiffs off.

Coming up, an environmental group called Rising Up/Extinction Rebellion are calling for actions on Halloween and in November – their perspective seems a bit stuck in a dogmatic “non-violent direct action” mindset, but any attempt to revive mass action against climate change has to be welcomed. The film Nae Pasaran!, telling the story of the Scottish factory workers who took on Pinochet, is finally getting shown in some UK cinemas. There are upcoming anti-fascist callouts against the “Frontline Patriots” in Liverpool on November the 3rd and against the far-right German party Alternative fur Deutschland, who Oxford university debating society dickheads have invited because they love doing that sort of thing, on the 7th. The Anarchist Communist Group will be hosting an allday discussion event in London on the 3rd.

Finally, a quick look at some international repression news: the International Anarchist Defence Fund have produced their second quarterly report and are asking for volunteers across the world to help share information relevant to their project, four Food not Bombs activists have apparently been killed in the Phillipines, with another jailedPalang Hitam Indonesia report that some of the Yogyakarta May Day prisoners have been released, and encourage people to send messages to the remaining prisoners via their email address at civilrebellion@riseup.net. In Mexico, anarchist prisoner Miguel Peralta has now been sentenced, while the Rupression project continues to provide updates on the attempted frame-up of Russian anarchists and anti-fascists.

Up in the US, the prisoners targetted for alleged participation in the Vaughn rebellion are now on trial. Lucasville inmate Greg Curry has written a statement of solidarity, and has also now been moved out of the supermax, while his fellow defendant Keith LaMar has written a statement responding to the state’s attempt to execute him, as well as the Kavanaugh hearings. Jason Walker has written a new expose on abusive staff in the Texas prison system, while fellow Texas prison organizer Keith “Malik” Washington has gone on a hunger strike after being subjected to unbearable conditions in an attempt to break his spirit.

Posted in Anarchists, Climate Change, Housing, Protests, Racism, Repression, Strikes, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments