UK Social Struggles Feature Archive
The Reclaim the Fields International Action Camp, attended by 100-150 people, ran from 28th August to the 2nd September 2015 and was hosted by a local anti-fracking site. Workshops explored the links between land struggles, prison abolition and other issues including gender, animal liberation and freedom of movement.
People held evening noise demos at three prisons in the region in solidarity with those inside, leafletted the local town, and picketed several companies involved in the mega-prison. Finally a blockade of the construction site held up lorries for over 4 hours without any arrests.
As anyone with experience of them knows, prisons are abusive places used to control and threaten people, particularly those of us who are working class, people of colour, or disobedient. We need justice processes based on strong, vibrant communities, not more prisons and cops harming our communities.
The new prison would be the biggest in the UK, and the second biggest in Europe. It aims to open in 2017 and would give the State enough cages to lock up an extra 2100 people.
Meanwhile, Robert King of the Angola 3 will give a talk on struggle and revolution in the US prison system, on Wed 16 Sep in Dundee.
26 May - 1 June, Newport.
Organised by Anarchist Action Network, Stop NATO Cymru and South Wales Anarchists, the festival runs all week at 95-96 Commercial Street, Newport NP20 1LU. Sharing ideas and skills, celebrating resistance & organising to win. All welcome. Workshops and skill shares all week, free cafe all day and free meal every evening.
The NATO Summit comes to Newport at the beginning of September. Come along this week and prepare for the Stop NATO week of action 30 August - 5 September and take part in some of the many talks, sessions and workshops. Something for everyone! All welcome (except cops and mainstream journalists, who will be asked to stay outside). The venue is an alcohol & drug free space.
If you can only manage one day and want to get clued up on NATO and what's planned for August & September, come along on Sunday:
Sunday 1 June. 4pm: Talk - Resisting the NATO Summit. 6.30pm: Meeting to build resistance against the NATO Summit.
On the newswire: Protest & Street Theatre | Banner drops | Photos from Newport Rising | Anarchists Shut Cardiff Barclays | Anarchist Travelling Circus Presents Newport Rising | Protest the NATO Summit | Antimilitarists Block NATO Conference | NATO Uncut Call-out | Stop NATO Cymru Statement
***STOP PRESS 13th March: The Metropolitan Police has withdrawn its application to strike out women's case as the legal battle continues. Solidarity picket on Tuesday 18th March will go ahead as planned.***
Five of the eight women taking legal action against the Metropolitan Police, due to undercover police officers deceiving them into long term intimate relationships, will be opposing Scotland Yard's attempt to have their cases struck out on Tuesday 18th March. The women and their Police Spies Out of Lives support group have called for a solidarity picket outside the Royal Court of Justice, The Strand, at 9am on Tuesday 18th, as part of a week of action (17th - 21st March).
On the Newswire: Outrage as High Court permits secrecy over undercover policing | Abuse of women by undercover police must stop now! | Three undercover political Police unmasked | Undercover and over-the-top: The collapse of the Ratcliffe trial | Mark 'Stone/Kennedy' exposed as undercover police officer
Section 144 of LASPO may prove unenforceable in practice
Resistance to s.144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (LASPO) 2012 that outlaws squatting in residential buildings is growing. Ultimately, the law may prove unworkable and unenforceable. There have been a number of successful prosecutions under the new law, including the widely publicised conviction and imprisonment of 21 year old Alex Haigh who came to London looking for work and stayed in an unoccupied housing association flat. He pleaded guilty, but it has since become clear that where a not guilty plea is entered by defendant, it may be difficult if not impossible for the prosecution to prove the charge. After some notable acquittals, we have a better idea about the obstacles facing hapless prosecutors and some of the ways in which well-informed residential squatters might go about successfully defending themselves in court. Read on.
On the newswire: Brighton acquittals 1 | Brighton acquittals 2 | Moelfre acquittal | Squatting as protest in Southwark | Mike Weatherley is a coward case | Alex Haigh conviction | Henry: Bristol's first victim of squatting criminalisation
Other links: Squatters Legal Network | Advisory Service for Squatters | Rooftop Resistance | SQUASH
On Saturday 2nd November 2013 a fundraising benefit gig for the family of imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning, organised by WISE Up Action, at The Casa in Liverpool, a pub set up by sacked Liverpool Dockers, suffered multiple violent attacks.
The day before the physical and verbal attacks on the anti-war activist organisers and The Casa staff, a statement on Adam Ford's blog, "from a group of activists who will be supporting Chelsea Manning but opposing Ciaron O'Reilly at an event in Liverpool tomorrow" claimed that "Ciaron O'Reilly - a main organiser of tonight's event - does not support Chelsea Manning in the same way that we do" and said that they "intend to protest against that". Ten days before the attack an article opposing the event, published on the blog of a member of the Liverpool Solidarity Federation and reproduced the next day on Libcom, claimed that Ciaron O’Reilly was a "vile misogynist and transphobic shitbag" and that "O’Reilly’s fundraiser in Liverpool will be challenged on the basis of his behaviour towards women and on the basis of his support for Julian Assange." Ciaron O’Reilly refutes the allegations against him, in response to the accusation that he made some sexist remarks he has said "I am not sure I have" and in response to the charge that that he refers to Chelsea Manning using her previous name of Bradley, he has made it clear that he does "not refuse to use the name Chelsea".
On 19th October 2013, outside the Anarchist bookfair in London Ciaron O’Reilly was physically and verbally assaulted because of his ongoing support and solidarity work for Julian Assange of WikiLeaks who has been sheltering from persecution in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for over a year.
Links: Catholic among the Pigeons | Solidarity gigs/events for US prisoner of conscience Private Manning | Drunk Attack on Chelsea Manning's Family Fundraiser in Liverpool | Weekend of Solidarity with Chelsea Manning's Family - the good news! | Photos and audio from Chelsea Manning's Family Fundraiser in Liverpool
StopG8 have organised a week of action in London from 8th to 15th June, ahead of the UK G8 summit. Tuesday June 11th will be the big day, The #J11 Carnival Against Capitalism mass action will start at 12 noon on Tuesday June 11th, the meet-up points will be:
- North: Oxford Circus.
- South: Piccadilly Circus.
The action will finish with a ‘street party’ at 5:30pm, the location will be announced on the day.
Anti-capitalists have been gearing up for the protests against the G8 Summit with Mayday actions across the country. The focus was on Primark and other businesses profiting from the global slave labour system which led to the death of 700 people in Bangladesh. There were angry protests in central London, Hackney, Lewisham, Birmingham, Brighton and Bristol, with the clear message going out that the disaster was not an accident but the inevitable consequence of the callous capitalist system. Stop G8 is holding another organising meeting in London on May 25 and May 26, before the big week of action in the capital from June 10 to June 14, featuring the #J11 Carnival Against Capitalism.On the Newswire: Mayday protest in central London | Mayday protest in Glasgow | Mayday protests in Birmingham, Hackney and Lewisham | Mayday protest in Bristol | Mayday protest in Brighton | Squatted social centre in Lewes | Guillotine in Worthing | Oxford Stop G8 meeting | Call-out for J11 | Call-out for week of action
On the morning of Tuesday 26th February at 7:30am a group of Save Birmingham activists blockaded the entrance to the Council House underground car park. Later that day the annual budget meeting would take place where over £100m worth of cuts would be voted through. Save Birmingham, who had previously occupied the balcony of the Council House in the lead up to the budget meeting, along with other anti-cuts groups had called for a public blockade of the Council House at 11:00am to prevent the councillors from entering the building and voting through the cuts. When 11:00 arrived the car park blockaders were joined by hundreds of people from around Birmingham angry at the way the cuts are being undemocratically forced onto the city by the council. Soon all major entrances to the Council House had been blockaded just in time for the councillors to start arriving. Police tried to break up and force councillors through but eventually resorted to sneaking councillors into the Council House via secret doors in the Art Museum which is connected to the Council House. When the meeting finally got under-way activists twice managed to gain entry to the building to disrupt the meeting.
On the Newswire: Video of Blockaded: Birmingham Council House cuts meeting | Council House Blockaded | Photos from Birmingham Council House blockade | More photos of Council House Blockade | Council Have Voted Through £102m Cuts – Blockade & Demonstration Is Not The End | It’s Time To Shut The City Down – Day Of Action Against Council Cuts | Save Birmingham - Blockade the Council House
Previous features: Anti-Cuts protesters occupy Birmingham Council House
Links: Save Birmingham
At 1:30pm on Monday 4th February a group of 20 protesters from the Save Birmingham campaign walked into the Council House and occupied the balcony overlooking Victoria Square. The group had previously sent two letters to every councillor in Birmingham the last letter with over 200 signatures but with no response from the council. The Save Birmingham campaign has been steadily growing over the past few months, from rooms packed full of people opposed to the proposed cuts at several of the councils own consultations to a meeting of 175 people called by Communities Against the Cuts to organise a grass roots movement to fight back against the cuts. This led to the day of action on the 4th, the day the Labour Group who have a majority on the Council had a private meeting to agree on the £625m cuts to Birmingham which will be voted through at the budget meeting on 26th February. The day started with a small silent protest in Victoria Square outside the Council House, which was followed by the occupation of the Council House later in the afternoon. The balcony occupation lasted five hours and ended after more than 200 anti-cuts activists arrived in Victoria Square after marching from the Bullring.
On the Newswire: Save Birmingham March on the Council House - Don't let them vote through the cuts | Birmingham Council House Occupied | Photos from yesterdays Birmingham Council House Occupation and Demonstration | Birmingham Council House Balcony protest
Links: Save Birmingham
Update! A week of direct action against Bexhill link road.
“We were caught out and a lot of damage has been done – but people have been amazing and now we've have a set of established tree defences and work has stopped for the day at least. We really need support and all the usual wish-list stuff, tools, tarps, ropes etc. So come and give us a Christmas visit” - Combe Haven Defender
Maps of the planned road (scroll down!) - the camp is at Adams Farm
Anti-road protestors in Bexhill were ambushed by an early start to the tree felling on the controversial Bexhill-Hastings link road this week, but they rallied and a week of constant direct action has put a spanner in the works, with no work reported today (Saturday 22nd). Work wasn't expected to begin until early January but as soon as East Sussex County Council acquired the land (by compulsory purchase) the chainsaw gangs were set to work.
From the newswire: Hastings/|Bexhill anti-road camp needs you! | Help Needed Immediately | Anti-road campaigners high in trees at Bexhill and are prepared to stay | Brighton: Emergency meeting | Second Battle of Hastings: Day One... Protestors 10, Road builders 0 | Protestors Take To Trees To Stop Chainsaws
Saturday 8th December saw two separate days of action happening across the country. The first was the start of a week of action against the governments Workfare scheme. Workfare replaces jobs and undermines wages, this can be seen by Superdrug in Brighton not hiring any Christmas temps because they have free labour from the job centre. The Work Programme actually reduces your chances of finding a job, whilst the Mandatory Work Activity has had no effect on unemployment levels. Since 3rd December, disabled people can now be sent on time unlimited workfare placements. If they say no, their benefits will be cut to £28/week indefinitely. Unemployed people who refuse can have their job seekers allowance cut for up to 3 years.
The second day of action was against Starbucks tax avoidance. Starbucks have not paid any corporation tax in the past 3 years, and only £8.6m in the 14 years they’ve been trading in this country. Costa Coffee, whose turnover last year was £377m, just £21m less than Starbucks paid £15m in corporation tax.
On the newswire: Workfare’s Christmas Bonus For The Bosses | 100 people at #Sheffield @ukuncut #Starbucks Action | UK Uncut protest against tax dodgers Starbucks | Anti-Austerity Protest, Manchester Report and Pics | small determined workfare demo in holloway, london yesterday | islington starbucks ukuncut actions yesterday - report & pics 1 of 2 | islington starbucks ukuncut actions yesterday - report & pics 2 of 2 | Bath Anti-Starbucks Demo | Boycott Workfare day of action | Anti-Workfare Pickets Glasgow Report | Boycott Workfare Video | Starbucks action in Cambridge by UK Uncut
Previous Features: Workfare: Enslave us and we'll shut you down!
The month began with the successful eviction resistance of the squatted social centre Gremlin Alley on October 4th, when bailiffs turned up faced with a barricaded building and a supportive crowd outside, eventually realising they had no hope of gaining access. The gremlins occupying the centre spent the rest of the day having a black bloc style party on the roof, while supporters partied to a local band who turned up to play, and cops kept their distance but remained present for most of the day. A communique followed the next day, expressing solidarity with imprisoned squatter Alex Haigh and the Cuts Cafe crew in London who were raided by TSG on the same evening. A video commmunique was then released the following week, in English and Welsh, explaining the reason for resisting, as well as expressing general disgust for the state and the increased criminalisation of homeless.
After a busy two weeks improving barricades by gremlins and supporters, the first attempt to deport the Saleh family occured on Thursday 18th, with their home being raided by UKBA officers and two activists being arrested for obstruction. While solidarity was shown for the activists at Cardiff Bay police station, others made an attempt to block the detainees coach on the motorway sliproad, followed by a successful communications blockade of Egypt Air’s telephone lines and their facebook page. The family avoided deportation that day due to a security mix-up, and were instead taken to Cedars detention centre in West Sussex. By the morning, Friday 18th, UKBA offices in Cardiff had its windows smashed – no doubt in response to the attempted deportation, signifying more resistance to come.
Related articles: Gremlin Alley EVICTION RESISTANCE happening now (UPDATE - 3pm) | Communique :: The Gremlins are still resisting in Cardiff | Video Communique from the Gremlins | Timeline of anti-deportation resistance in support of the Saleh family | Shroukie’s family LATEST: coach blocked for 5 hours, fingers crossed ... | Prisoner Art Tour Launch Night This Friday in Cardiff | Legal Training Evening @ Red & Black Umbrella | Red & Black Umbrella 1 Year Anniversary Halloween Bash + Gig!
Links: Gremlin Alley Social Centre | No Borders South Wales on Saleh Family | NCADC on Saleh Family | Save Mrs S and Her Two Children @ 38 Degrees | Save the Saleh Family | Cardiff Anarchist Black Cross | Cardiff Defendant Solidarity | Red & Black Umbrella
Saturday’s October 20th "March for a future that works" demonstration organised by the TUC saw over 150,000 out on the streets of London to protest the government's cuts and austerity measures. It's been almost a year since the TUC leadership tried to look like they were actively opposing the cuts and well over a year since the last big demo. The organisers sent out a somewhat mixed message by first calling for a general strike but then allowing Ed Miliband a platform to announce he'll carry on cutting where the Tories leave off if elected.
The demonstration also saw hundreds of black bloc and Boycott Workfare activists target Oxford Street stores that use workfare and tax avoidance, whilst DPAC activists successfully blockaded Park Lane.
On the Newswire: October 20: The view from Oxford Circus | #Oct20 150,000 on TUC demo PHOTOS | unions cuts march and london anti-workfare actions - pics & report | Oct20: we got work to do ... | March For A Future That Works
Previous Features: SchNEWS: One Strike and You're Out? | "You Can Shove Your Rubber Bullets Up Your Arse!": 'Total Policing' of N9 Demos | Anti-cuts protesters take over London | March 26th - All out against the cuts
The Conservative Party Conference came to Birmingham this week and was met with almost daily protests from angry plebs. But whilst the protests where going on outside, inside the class warfare was turned up a notch after it was announced that a further £10billion will be cut from welfare and that the government plan on scrapping workers rights in exchange for offering them "shares" by their employer. These rights such as protection from unlawful dismissal, flexible working time and maternity leave have been won by workers struggling hard over the past 100 years for a decent standard of living. To add salt to the wound, the announcement delivered by George Osborne came with the Orwellian Doublespeak "workers of the world unite". Well if that’s what he wants …
On the Newswire: Welcome The Tories To Birmingham | Lobby Tory Conference re Ballymurphy Massacre | Picket the Bigots - Tory Party Conference | Badger Cull Tory Conference | Hunt Saboteurs protest against badger cull at Tory Party Conference | Remploy Demonstration At Tory Party Conference – 8:30am Wednesday | Tory Conference Demo | Badger Cull Campaigners to Target Conservative Party Conference | Sacked Remploy Workers Demonstrate For Their Jobs
Birmingham Tenants & Homeless Action Group have occupied an abandoned council house with the intention of handing it over to a homeless person. They've contacted the council and demanded that they put the property back into use as low cost social housing and then do the same with the other nearly 12,000 empty properties around the city. Otherwise they have said that despite changes to the law on squatting they will continue with occupations of the other empty properties with the intention of handing them over to the homeless. With 11,924 empty properties, the highest rate of homelessness in the country and an estimate by city planners that Birmingham is currently short of 11,000 affordable homes, putting the abandoned houses back into use is the only logical step
Previous Features: Birmingham's Homeless Crises
On the newswire: Tenants & Homeless seize abandoned council house | Birmingham Tenants & Homeless Action Group - What we are doing | Squatting sleepover! Homeless but not helpless! | Police arresting homeless in Birmingham | First eviction protest for B.E.R.N | VIDEO Birmingham Eviction Resistance Network first eviction protest | Birmingham Eviction Resistance Network meeting | Food not Bombs every Sunday at Holloway Circus | VIDEO FNB in Victoria Square
Update 19/8/12: Police arresting homeless in Birmingham
On the Newswire: Brum FnB at the Birmingham Social Centre | First eviction protest for B.E.R.N | BERN BABY BERN fundraiser for Birmingham Eviction Resistance Network | Birmingham Eviction Resistance Network meeting | Food is a right not a privilege – statement of solidarity | Food not Bombs every Sunday at Holloway Circus | Birmingham Food Not Bombs is back
The Pebble Mill social centre is the latest squatted social centre project by the Birmingham Social Centre collective. Last year the group made up of local squatters and activists took over the Whit Marley, an unused factory in Stirchley and reclaimed it for the local community.
The Pebble Mill Social Club was part of the BBC Pebble Mill studios site in Edgbaston, Birmingham and has been left empty for 8 years. The building has now been reclaimed and hosts regular events.
Update 14/07/12: Pebble Mill Social Centre Evicted
Newswire: Birmingham Social Centre is back | Brum FnB at the Birmingham Social Centre | Garden day @ Brum Social Centre – This Saturday 12pm onwards | Pebble Mill Social Centre survives flash flooding | Support The Spanish Miners Benefit - Fri 13th July
Links: Brum Social Centre
Activists protesting against the Welfare Reform Bill and cuts to disability benefits and services blockaded Oxford Street on 28th January 2012. Activists from UK Uncut and Disabled People Against the Cuts (DPAC), The Black Triangle Campaign and other disability rights groups stopped traffic on Regents Street North after a number of wheelchair users chained themselves together at around midday. A while later they were joined by people who had responded to the callout issued earlier this week.
One campaigner vividly described the effects of the state and corporate media propaganda campaign about benefit claiments in an interview:
I’m here because I want to protest against the cruel cuts that are hitting the disabled horrendously in this country, that and the horrible horrible propaganda that’s been coming out from our government trying to villainise genuinely disabled people as being scroungers as being parasites, and a 75% rise in hate crimes that’s come along with that, that I experience daily. Just going out shopping people come up to me and they ask me “Do you really need to be in that wheelchair? or are you, you know, just doing it for the benefits?” Like no, no, I don’t know why anybody would want to in this day and age, even the pavements aren’t accessible half of the time in the UK.
Recent reports have shown that as a result of the bill 500,000 families stand to lose their homes while others will become ‘imprisoned in them’. Nearly half a million people would lose their Disability Living Allowance, including disabled children. People with terminal illnesses would be forced into work, and 3.2 million will be put through demanding tests that have already pushed some to take their own lives. According to their own research, the government’s flagship reform will push 100,000 children into poverty.
Earlier this month, disability rights campaigners released the Spartacus Report, which found that the government's consultation on DLA reforms was flawed and failed to meet the state's own code of practice for consultations. furthermore, 74% of respondents in the consultation were opposed to the plans.
On arrival, the police seemed at a loss for what to do, and formed lines in front of their vans whilst busses were backed up along Regent Street. Generally those present described the coalition between anti-cuts campaigners and disability rights activists as welcome and encouraging, and calls were issued for more such actions to take place across the country. After two hours the activists decided to leave together, describing the action as an 'amazing success'
From the newswires: stop the welfare reforms - civil disobedience | 'Spartacus' Report | callout for action | Protest Outside the Disabled Rights UK Conference | ATOS macht Frei | National Day of Action against ATOS: Oxford | Nottingham
Over the New Year period, a number of actions took place outside prisons and immigration detention centres (migrant prisons) around the world, following a global call-out. The actions were in solidarity with prisoners, and against the Prison-Industrial Complex
UK actions included a noise demo at Holloway women's prison and young offenders' unit, a flashmob at Gatwick detention centres, solidarity demos at Brixton Prison and Bristol's Horfield Prison, and a banner drop and noise demo outside Cardiff Prison. The protests were generally well received by the prisoners, and not welcomed by police
International actions included a noise demo outside the Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney Australia, firework displays outside a Nantes youth prison and Montpelier Prison in France, Hamburg Prison in Germany and an Athens prison in Greece. At least two prisons were graffiti'd in Brussels, Belgium.
Wednesdays N30 strike was the biggest strike since the general strike of 1926 with 2 million public sector workers taking part and thousands marching on demonstrations across the country. In Birmingham 15,000 marched through the city centre with hundreds more on picket lines and rally's throughout the city.
Birmingham City council had tried to sabotage the event by demanding the organisers pay over £8,000 to cover costs despite only charging a few hundred for previous demonstrations. The march went ahead anyway with up to 15,000 public sector workers taking to the streets. They were joined by students, the unemployed and protesters from Occupy Birmingham whose camp is located near the end point of the march. The march started in Lionel Street Car Park went past St Philip's Cathedral, down Corporation Street and past New St Station and the Mailbox before ended at the NIA where there was a series of speeches.
On the newswire: Video: N30 Birmingham demonstration | Photos: Part 1 | Part 2 | Nov-30 Brum Strike and Protest | Reports: Stirchley and Cotteridge Against the Cuts N30 Report | Birmingham City Council tries to sabotage N30 demo | Wednesday's Strike Is About More Than Pensions and Cuts | N30 List of Pickets, Demonstrations and Rallies
Around 300 English Defence League members descended on Centenary Square in the city centre on Saturday 29th October. Although there were divisions from as far afield as Essex their numbers still fell well short of predictions - there were nowhere near the 1200 the EDL (claimed/forecast). There was a vast police presence throughout the city with officers stationed all the way up New Street and Paradise Forum as well as in Centenary Square. The police pre-emptively fenced off the Occupy Birmingham encampment in Victoria Square for the duration of the day.
The demo was largely peaceful in comparison with previous years however there were definite tensions between the police and the EDL, at one point there was a surge of chanting protesters which almost broke the police line and sent press and onlookers sprinting for safety. The protesters were throwing bottles and fireworks were set off. After this the police presence was greatly heightened and there were three lines of riot police and dogs separating the general public and the EDL after this extra deployment the demo was peaceful. A counter demo was held in Chamberlain Square called Unity and celebration of differences. The event was supported by many unions and was well attended. There was live music, DJ's and talkers promoting anti fascism.On the newswire: Call Out: Oppose The EDL In Birmingham 29th Oct | Details of coach companies ferrying EDL racists to Birmingham | EDL Official Website Hacked By Anti Fascist Hackers - 09 Feb 2011 | Richard Price EDL Co-ordinator - Placed on the sex offenders register
Previous West Midlands EDL demos: Dudley EDL members sent to prison | SchNEWS Issue 687 - Fash Get The Brum Rush | No march for EDL in Wolverhampton | English Defence League animal abusers put pigs head on Mosque walls in Dudley
Several empty buildings in Oxford have recently been opened as squatted social centres. In August an empty industrial workshop on Randolph Street was squatted. After several "Free Uni" events (sharing skills and ideas), community meals, film and info-nights the court process provided only a short delay and then eviction. The building now remains unused.
Undeterred, the social centre, known as "Plebs' College" due to the focus on free education, has re-opened on Union Street, with a multitude of weekly events. Again they are under threat of eviction from a landlord keen to demolish the place and build student flats. This space where people can gather, meet, organise and learn, as equals, free of the usual commercial or bureaucratic pressures, may be a glimpse of another society.
For hints of a more brutal future, we can look at the recent eviction of Dale Farm: an entire community made homeless, while those who resist are kicked, tasered, batoned, pressured-pointed, or beaten, and the media continue their lies.
Which path we take could depend on the actions we all take in the next few years.
Fat Cat bosses from the eight largest construction businesses are seekingto further expand profit margins through moves that would see industry workers lose up to a third of their take home pay. The employers seek to withdraw from various agreements including the Joint Industrial Board (J.I.B.) agreement, and to impose new contracts which would downgrade safety and skill levels. Earlier this month, Balfour Beatty issued 1700 termination notices to workers, and began sacking those who took part in protests and refused to cross picket lines.
Rank and file electricians, calling themselves 'The Sparks' have challenged both their employers and the UNITE union by launching their own wildcat actions whilst remaining in the union. London actions to date include two blockades of Blackfriars station construction site, a picket outside Stratford's new Westfield Shopping Centre and most recently an attempt to blockade 110 Cannon Street, a site run by Gratte Brothers. On arrival the Sparks found that management had already closed the site, and headed for Cannon Street Tube where they held a short rally before marching to the #OccupyLSX camp outside St. Pauls. Outside of London actions have taken place at Sellafield, Grangemouth and Ratcliffe power stations, and Lindsey oil refinery.
Next Wednesday the Sparks will be joined by plumbers, and heating and ventilation engineers from across the country. They plan to assemble at the Shard near London Bridge at 11.30am before marching to the Blackfriars Station site and then on to parliament.
Also taking place on the day, will be the national demonstration against fees, cuts and privatisation which will bring together university, further education and school students from across the country to stage the biggest education protest in the capital since last December. Also planned is a mass walkout of schools, FE colleges and universities by students in support of the demo. The “March on the City” will see thousands descending on the streets of London, starting at the University of London Union, Malet Street through Trafalgar Square and up the Strand, before passing #OccupyLSX camp outside St. Pauls and ending at London Metropolitan University Moorgate campus next to the City of London, the heart of the financial capital. The day of protest is aimed at the government’s education reform bill which is a crude attempt to corporatise the education sector.
On the newswire: Sparks blockade Blackfriars station site | Siteworkers and OccupyLSX blockade Blackfriars | Latest London sparks protest | Electricians/Sparks Protest in Newcastle | Proposed Electricians Pay Cut Sparks Resistance | Manchester support the Sparks! | National Construction Industry action Nov 9th
After the ‘March for the Alternative’ in London on March 26th, thousands of people joined the TUC ‘Birmingham for the Alternative’ march on the Lib Dem conference on Sunday September 18th. There was a wide range of trade union participation, especially from public sector unions who recently announced a new wave of national strikes for November 30th. Student activists were also present, with a banner drop by the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts reminding conference delegates of Nick Clegg’s broken promises of opposing rises in tuition fees.
Plans for a third TUC demonstration, the Manchester ‘March for the Alternative’, are underway for the first day of the Conservative Party conference on October 2nd. Tens of thousands are expected to march past the conference centre and the ‘ring of steel’ around it, protesting against an agenda of cuts and austerity for the benefit of the rich. A coalition of anarchists, socialists, trade union activists, student unions and democracy campaigners, dubbed Occupy! Manchester, are also calling for an occupation of Albert Square, outside Manchester Town Hall, to create an assembly of protest on the doorstep of the Tory’s conference, and a place for real debate and discussion about the alternatives.
Plans for occupations and assemblies in Britain have been inspired by the large and vibrant student protests that took place last winter and by the popular demonstrations elsewhere. In New York, people’s assemblies were held on Wall Street on September 17th, the occupation there is on-going with a 24 hour camp in Liberty Plaza. a ‘March to Brussels’ has so far reached Paris. In London, another national student demonstration has been called for November 9th.
As arms companies add the last touches to their macabre exhibits, and military representatives from repressive regimes begin entering the country, activists are preparing to launch a wave of disruptive actions against Europe's largest Arms fair. DSEi will hold its 6th Arms Fair at the Excel Centre in London's Docklands from September 13th to 16th.
Last Thursday, activists from CAAT picketed the RBS in Bishopsgate, which was the advertised location for a pre-DSEI event crassly entitled "Middle East: A vast market for defence and security companies". After the protest was advertised on Indymedia, twitter and Facebook, the organisers claimed the event had been cancelled and removed the advert from the web. However, the event did go ahead at another location.
On the same day, two banks in Bristol, Lloyds TSB and Halifax Broadmead announced that they would not open on Saturday because of an advertised protest by Bristol Against DSEi.
On Saturday activists in kayaks disrupted the journey of the naval Destroyer HMS Dauntless as it attempted to sail from Tilbury Docks to the Excel Centre. The size of the ship means that it can only navigate the river at high tide, and its progress was disrupted for about four hours after the kayakers' intervention. The ship is due to be used as a reception space and for demonstrations during the event.
A coalition of groups under the umbrella of Stop The Arms Fair have promised a wave of actions during the event, with a day of action called for the opening day on the 13th. Planned actions include a Critical Mass in the morning followed by a call to be at Custom House en masse at 10am, an action at the Clarion Defence and Security offices in Earls Court, Bubbles Not Bombs, Sparkles Not Shrapnel, disruption of DLR trains taking delegates to the event, a mass lobby, and a die-in outside BAE at 5pm.
The Arms Dealers Dinner will this year take place, on Thursday 15th, inside the Excel compound, and a Critical mass will leave Bank at 3.30pm to meet up with other protesters.
Disarm DSEi, one of the groups organising the protests said "Tell the arms dealers what you think of their deadly wares and show them that their journey to DSEi will not be an easy ride. It's time to stop the arms dealers in their tracks and make DSEi 2011 a year to remember"Past coverage: 2001 | 2003 | 2005 | 2007| 2009
Links: Stop The Arms Fair | Disarm DSEi | Space Hijackers | Smash EDO | CAAT | London CAAT
On the third day of rioting in London riots were being reported as spreading all over the capital with police resources being stretched to breaking point meaning they were unable to respond to all the incidents. It wasn’t until riots were reported in Birmingham however that it became clear that this was now a country wide issue and not just confined to London and, that the underlying issues causing the riots had gone beyond anger over the murder of Mark Duggan by armed police on Thursday.