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Mayday, International Workers' Day, fell on a Saturday this year, and was celebrated in Nottingham by a march from Victoria Park to Speakers' Corner in the centre of town and back. It was followed by a rally with speakers from local campaigns and music and dance. The theme of this year's event was fighting against the public sector cuts that all of the major parties are planning to bail the country out of the recession. It was attended by over 100 trade unionists, socialists, anarchists and environmentalists.
There was also a rally at Derby Silk Mill on the Saturday, attended by hundreds of trade unionists. The region's biggest Mayday celebrations were held in Chesterfield on bank holiday Monday.
In the run up to Mayday, Nottingham Free School held a discussion on the issues surrounding Mayday, such as the gendered nature of work, critiques of paid work and the workplace as a site of resistance to capitalism. These discussion events are set to continue.
Newswire: Mayday edition of the Nottingham Sparrow | Notts Indypendent: New Nottingham community newsletter | Chesterfield Mayday 2010 | Nottingham Mayday 2010 | Nottingham Free School's May Day Discussion | The Future Of Protest In Nottingham : Whose streets? Our streets!
Previous feature: Whose streets? Our streets?
Mayday, 1st May, is a day of anti-capitalist workers' struggle. Traditionally, Nottingham's contribution has been a march through the town centre and a rally of anti-capitalist campaigns and agitators. For the past few years, this gathering has taken place in Brewhouse Yard near Nottingham castle. However, this year the City Council have been putting all manner of obstacles in the organisers' way.
Permission for a rally in Brewhouse Yard was refused because "there were going to be Robin Hood activities in other places"! Permission was finally granted for the rally in Victoria Park on the St Ann's end of town but only subject to restrictive conditions such as displaying the Council logo on all publicity, displaying Council banners and was subject to a charge... all for using a 'public' park. In addition, organisers are having to pay to get roads closed for the march.
All of this has led one of the organisers to question whether the streets and public spaces of Nottingham really do belong to the people or are just an extension of the City Council's private fiefdom. These restrictions have very serious impacts on people's freedom to protest and assemble, as demonstrated by recent police crackdowns on festivals, such as the Strawberry Fair in Cambridge.
MayDay rally and march from 11am, Victoria Park, Bath Street.
On March 8th, Nottingham City Council met to approve the 2010/11 budget. Like many council budgets this included a series of cuts to services, in this case amounting to £18.8 million. Nottingham City Unison called a lunchtime protest outside the Council House to show their opposition. Disabled campaigners blocked the tram to express their anger at the proposals.
Council plans to close Victoria Leisure Centre, which were brought forward to save money, have also faced opposition and their is growing dissent about plans to close libraries in Wilford and Beechdale.
Unison's protest coincided with the first day of a forty-eight hour national strike by members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) over attacks on their redundancy scheme. In Nottingham strikers marched from Castle Meadow to the International Community Centre (ICC) for a rally.
In the early hours of February 26th, Nottinghamshire County Council voted to endorse a controversial budget which will see jobs cut, care homes sold off to the private sector and the cost of services for the elderly and disabled increased. Campaigners opposed to the plans rallied in Mansfield and outside County Hall to show their anger at the proposals and council workers are currently being balloted for industrial action (but not a strike) against a related attack on terms and conditions.
The county council's programme of cuts comes in a political climate in which all the main political parties have expressed their belief in the need for cuts to public sectors in light of the economic damage wrought by the banking collapse and subsequent bailout. The Labour-run city council are also planning to cut staff as well as closing Victoria Baths along with libraries in Wilford and Beechdale.
" It's important that we don't give up in the face of increasing economic uncertainty, an ever more authoritarian government, rampantly cruel capitalism and looming environmental disaster. Together, we can fight these monsters. I hope the positive, defiant atmosphere of May 2nd will help us keep strong to continue our struggles. "
We gathered at Brewhouse Yard on Saturday morning. Gazebos were hurried erected, and flags set flying. There was a large number of stalls from a variety of campaigning organisations and trade unions. Marchers were serenaded by the socialist Clarion Choir, and then set off for a short march along Maid Marian Way, Friar Lane, and along the side of the Square, returning by the castle and Robin Hood. The mood was upbeat as, preceded by a samba band, we waved banners, flags and placards as we marched. The welcome presence of a large contingent from the Communication Workers' Union, fighting to keep the mail public, and ably supported by Postman Pat, gave us a good presence on the streets.
On Monday 9th March, city council workers protested in Market Square against proposed cuts at the council which would see some 400 people laid off. The protest was several hundred strong and attracted particular attention in the local media because of the presence of film actor Samantha Morton, who was herself brought up in one of the council's children homes.
The evening after the protest and with no apparent regard for it whatsoever, Councillors passed the budget without amendment, confirming that 366 jobs would be cut with a further 333 vacant positions being axed. Inevitably, the council is now actively engaged in spinning the budget as an investment, an interpretation rejected by the unions.
Previous Features: Credit Crunch Hits Nottingham | Local Government Workers in Notts Join National Strike | Notts Workers Join National Strike | Nottingham City Council: Mired in Corruption | Library Staff Speak Out Against Uniforms and Management Bullying | Public service workers out to protect pensions
Construction workers at the site of a new gas fired power station at Staythorpe near Newark, Nottinghamshire have joined workers across the country in striking against the use of foreign contractors. The issue has been contentious for some time, with unemployed workers holding protests outside the site since November. The issue was reignited after workers at the Total oil refinery at Lindsey in Lincolnshire walked out over similar concerns.
On Monday, all 300 British workers at the site walked out for several hours. They returned to work on Tue 3rd Feb, but within an hour, around 60 staged an unofficial walkout in solidarity with others in the construction industry across the country. A ballot held amongst those who had walked out showed a majority in support of staying out on Wednesday, which they duly did. A protest also took place outside the London offices of contractor Alstom on Thursday 5th.
National Feature Victory for wildcat strikers
Newswire: Staythorpe Power Station Demonstration | Staythorpe walkout | Oil and Power strikes: News, Resources and analysis | Wildcat strikes in Newark | Today's wildcat strikes in the UK oil and now nuke business | Wildcat strikes - an open letter to the anarchist/anti-authoritarian movement
Staff members belonging to the University and College Union (UCU) at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) were on strike yesterday, in protest against the university's derecognition of their union and plans to cut facility time for union representatives. Derecognition is an extreme move by the university authorities and is seen by the strikers as an attack on their right to organise independently.
Over three-quarters (77%) of members voted for the strike, which is supported by the UCU nationally. The action follows a rally on 6th Oct attended by UCU members from across the country which challenged the university's vice-chancellor's address to new students.
Newswire: Workers on strike at Nottingham Trent University | Demo by University & College Union, derecognised at Nottingham Trent University | UCU members vote for industrial action at Nottingham Trent University | UCU to ballot on strike action at Nottingham Trent University
On Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 July, local government workers in Unison and Unite took part in a 48 hour strike. The action was in response to the "final" 2.45% pay offer made by the employers (which, given the current rate of inflation, constitutes a real terms pay cut) and part of a wider struggle being waged against the public sector against what the government call "pay restraint."
In Nottinghamshire there were picket lines at various council offices and 82 schools were shut as caretakers, teaching assistants, admin staff and midday supervisors walked out. There was a march from the Forest Recreation ground to a rally in the Market Square on the first of the two days.
Previous Feature: Notts Workers Join National Strike
National Feature: Local Government Workers Strike Over Pay
Mayday has been celebrated in one form or another for thousands of years. Pagans marked the day as the end of the hardships of winter. Following the struggle amongst American workers for the eight hour day and the murder by the US state of four anarchists involved in that struggle in 1886, the day has come to be marked as International Workers' Day.
In Nottingham this year, there were two Mayday events, both organised by the Mayday Organising Committee, an off-shoot of the Nottingham Refugee Campaign Group. As has happened for the past few years, there was a march and rally, starting and ending at the Brewhouse Yard on the Saturday May 3. The second event was a public meeting held on May 1 itself, addressed by local asylum seeker Amdani Juma and former Guantanamo Bay detainee Moazzam Begg.
On April 24, teachers, further education lecturers and civil servants took coordinated national strike action against the public sector pay freeze. The decision by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) to call the first national teachers' strike in twenty-one years, attracted the most interest, but they were also joined by the University and Colleges Union (UCU) and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS).
The strikes follow a central government directive to keep annual cost of living pay increases below 2% at a time when the Retail Price Index places inflation at over 4%, meaning in effect that public sector workers are expected to take a pay cut.
In Nottinghamshire, dozens of schools were closed by strike action, with many more partially closed. While their were few pickets of schools, there was a presence at a number of colleges and outside government offices in the city. A march from the Forest Recreation Ground to the Congregation Hall, Church Gate for a rally was well attended despite the inclement weather
Over a year ago, a rumour was doing the rounds in Nottingham libraries about the introduction of uniforms for library staff. The union reps looked into it and it was brushed aside as 'not going to happen for ages'. A couple of months ago they were surpised to hear that the uniforms would suddenly be introduced by March. No consultation, no advanced notice. So why does the council feel there is a need for uniformed staff in our libraries? And why does it threaten its own staff members with dismissal if they were to speak openly about these changes?
One library assistant did decide to speak out. Barbara, who's identity we cannot reveal, has worked in Nottingham's libraries for many years. She told Notts Indymedia in an interview about her anger over the decision by the City Council to introduce uniforms. In addition, she talked about the depletion of library service resources and the bully tactics employed by City Council managers to keep its staff in line.
Nottingham university students have been campaigning tirelessly over the last few weeks to get their University to get Starbucks off campus, and stop them selling their unethical beverages in the Hallward Library. Students were shocked when, a few weeks ago, their café in the main library on campus suddenly started serving Starbucks coffee. In a move that has upset a large part of the student body the university decided to change coffee supplier without any sort of student consultation and now the students are up in arms.
For the last two weeks students have manned an ‘anti-Starbucks’ stall outside the Hallward Library where the Starbucks coffee is being served (at nearly double its pre-Starbucks price). The movement against the corporatisation of our educational facilities has been swift; nearly 700 people have joined the Facebook group against Starbucks, hundreds of people have signed the petition and loads of cups of tea and coffee have been sold from a makehift stall outside the library to students who don’t want to pay £1.45 for a coffee.
Mayday was celebrated properly in Nottingham. On the 1st May the PCS civil service union celebrated by going on strike, picketing and marching, including through Nottingham to a rally in the Congregational Hall. Picket lines sprung up with the sunshine all over Nottingham this May Day. Besides the main civil service workplaces (Revenue and Customs, Department of Work and Pensions, Driving Standards Agency) all sorts of office blocks in the City, housing a civil service work unit, sprouted a PCS picket in the door way: many experienced pickets; many first time pickets. Read full report.
On 5th May another Mayday march decended upon the city. Marchers rallied in the Brewhouse Yard, just around the corner from Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, departing just before one. The march was led by a samba band followed by the No Borders, No Nations, No Deportations banner. A good few hundred people made their way up Castle Boulevard, onto Maid Marian Way and then down Friar Lane. After having been at the Market Square and once back in at the rallying point, marchers were addressed by speakers talking about Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the occupation of Iraq, the rise of the BNP, the PCS strike last week and ID cards. There was also music by bands from Zimbabwe, Kurdistan and even Birmingham. Read full report.
On the newswire: May 5th: Mayday 2007 | May Day in Nottingham (Round One) | Mayday in Nottingham (Round Two) | Nottingham Mayday 1 Event Pictures | Nottingham Mayday 2 Parade Pictures | Mayday Events at the ASBO Centre 1, Day Events | Mayday Events at the ASBO Centre 2, Night Events |
Mayday was celebrated in a variety of ways around the Nottinghamshire/East Midlands area. From organised marches to Pagan festivities.
Saturday saw a May Day march and rally in Nottingham and a May Fayre in Leicester. Sunday saw the Mayday minus one event at the Sumac Centre in Nottingham. Monday saw a large Mayday march and rally in Chesterfield.
Click here for a full round up of all the Mayday events that happened UK wide.
There was a large turnout for East Midlands rallys supporting public service workers’ day of action to protect their pensions. In Nottingham hundreds marched from the Forest recreation ground to a city centre rally, while in Derby strikers picketed their workplaces. The actions were called as part of what was hailed as the biggest industrial action since the General Strike in 1926.
A demonstration outside the power station at 7am on the 28/2/06 had Amicus stewards from Electricity Distribution in Mansfield, A Unison branch secretary from Ashfield, a couple of car loads of students from Nottingham, and supporters from as far off as Scunthorpe, turning up to join the picket line. They've gone back to raise money and other solid support.
50 construction workers, members of the GMB and Amicus, at Cottam Power Station near Lincoln are into the second week of an all-out unofficial strike. The issue is very simple: multinational companies are moving workers around the EU to undercut wages - in this case, as laid down in the Construction Industry "Blue Book". (Download PDF). They're trying to do an Irish Ferries on construction workers in Britain.
Notts County Council is planning £21m of budget cuts, resulting in hundreds of redundancies and cuts in services to some of the most vulnerable people in the County. Workers and community groups will lobby the Council meeting on Thurs 23 Feb at 1pm outside County Hall, West Bridgford, Nottingham.
The lobby is part of a series of actions designed to make the Council re-think its plans to make sweeping cuts to jobs and services.Up for the axe are around 500 jobs and a dramatic reduction to meals at homes for older people, home care and economic regeneration initiatives. Notinghamshire County Council is claiming that the cuts are necessary to meet budgetary pressures, but it masks a wider political agenda to privatise services.
See: http://www.nottsunison.org.uk for more info
Euripides Jance has worked for Coca-Cola in Colombia for 21 years in Barranquilla, a major city on the Caribbean coast. He also works for Colombia's food and drink union Sinaltrainal and is coming to Nottingham on the 1st of December to do a talk on the Boycott Coke Campaign.
Barranquilla is a city under paramilitary control. In 2002, a Coke worker and Sinaltrainal member was assassinated there, and in July 2005, 4 students who were involved in a protest outside the Coke plant were kidnapped and tortured by paramilitaries. Like all Sinaltrainal activists in the city, Euripides works in the constant shadow of violence. Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for trade unionists. In 2001 at least 160 trade union leaders and activists were murdered, including two key colleagues from UNISON’s sister union - the municipal worker’s union SINTRAEMCALI. Many other trade unionists were abducted, ‘disappeared’ or received death threats.
PUBLIC MEETING: Thursday 1st Dec, 7.30pm, The Mechanics, 3 North Sherwood Street, Nottingham