UK Social Struggles Feature Archive
Zimbabweans from across the UK led a huge demonstration in Leeds on Saturday 16 September against the resumption of deportations of refused asylum seekers back to Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe [see report]. The protest, called by the Zimbabwe Refugee Community Organisation with the backing of the Refugee Council (Yorkshire and Humberside) and campaign group Leeds No Borders, began outside Leeds Central Library at 12pm. It was addressed by, among others Mafungasei Maikokera, one of the famous Yarls Wood hunger strikers who resisted deportation on a plane bound for Harare. Hundreds of people then spontaneously marched into the main shopping precinct to the sound of samba and song.
The demonstration was called in response to a legal ruling in August that 'refused' asylum seekers no longer automatically face persecution if returned to Zimbabwe - despite the UK government's own very public condemnation of human rights abuses by the Mugagbe regime. These Zimbabweans now face the possibility of imminent deportation. Only last Wednesday in Zimbabwe, the country's main trade union leader was arrested by police for attempting to hold a demonstration which the government had earlier banned. Wellington Chibebe was beaten with batons and rifle butts as the police arrested him and 15 others. Zimbabweans are not alone - the Home Office has recently stepped up its efforts to forcibly remove asylum seekers en masse back to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Read: Demo call out | Report of Original Ruling, October 2005 | Recent legal ruling, August 2006, & Report | Refugee Council briefing | Zimbabwe Situation | Amnesty International Country Overview | Satellite images of Mugabe's community destruction scheme
Links: Coalition to Stop Deportations to Iraq | International Federation of Iraqi Refugees | National Coalition of Anti- Deportation Campaigns | Noborders UK communication channels | No Borders | Asylum Policy.info | Barbed Wire Britain | Peter Tatchell
Defend the NHS! March and rally - Sat 23rd Sept - 11am Forest Recreation Ground (assemble 10am) Nottingham.
This year the East Midlands faces 5,000 job losses (with 1,200 to go in Nottingham), £200 million worth of cuts, the sale of NHS Logistics, hospital ward closures, a review of NHS Direct and Patient Transport Services, and operations undertaken by private health firms run solely for the profit of shareholders. We say it's time the Government stepped in to stop thee cuts and end privatisation of our local NHS. Join us!
Links: Unison website | Download flyer | UK Indymedia health topic page | NHS England | Download 'Nottingham Trade Union Solidarity - Issue 5' | Mischief Makers build giant syringe in support of NHS march on Saturday
A community and youth centre in Sparkbrook, closed by Birmingham City Council last year, has been occupied by a group of activists, who, along with local people, aim to put the building back into community use. The Cottage of Content had been boarded up in May 2005 and scheduled for auction, allegedly for the old occupiers' failure to pay the rent and bills, 22 years after the Council stopped its funding.
Contrary to popular stereotypes about squatters and squats, the occupation was enthusiastically received by local people. A lot of 'neighbours', especially the youth, have been dropping in and attending meetings and workshops.
Whilst building up a campaign to compel the Council to re-instate the community's youth and community centre, the space is being used, as a social centre, for a wide range of activities, from DIY and educational workshops, screenings and socials, to a meeting place for various grassroots groups. Regular, open meetings are held every Monday at 7:30pm.
Read more: The Cottage of Content reclaimed | What lead to the closure of The Cottage | Disused buildings have no shortage of occupants | Social Centre occupation seeks to bring abandoned building back to community use | The Nursery Social Centre | Indymedia UK's Freespaces topic page
With another climate chaos summer very much upon us, what better time to air your genuine grievances and take strike action or protest against the bosses?
Many workers on Merseyside are making the most of the weather and getting out into the streets. Their causes are varied, but in each case they are fighting back against attempts to get more work out of people for less money. This is a battle that is being fought in every single workplace, so every wage slave should be organising amongst their colleagues for better pay and conditions. Together we are stronger than the bosses. United, the workers will never be defeated! Divided, we fall!
Liverpool Indymedia reports: Wildcat Walkout in Ellesmere Port! | Shit Treatment for Bootle Civil Servants | Mersey Firefighters to Fight Service Cuts | Mersey Ambulance Strike More Likely | Ambulance Staff Strike Back | Angry hospital staff protest in Southport | 48 Hour Ambulance Strike This Weekend! | Ex-Firefighters To Stand With Bosses On Cuts Agenda? | Taxing Times for Inland Revenue Strikers | Solidarity with Prison Guards! Solidarity with Class War Prisoners! | Fifth Strike for Mersey Ambulance Workers | Bosses Adopt Bullying Tactics Against Striking Ambulance Workers | Three Day Strike For Merseyside Ambulance Workers | Breathtaking Hypocrisy of Mersey Fire Authority | Firefighters to Strike Over Cuts | Eight Day Strike For Liverpool Lives | The NHS? We'll Take It From Here! | Day 12 of Mersey Fire Strike: Massive March and Rally in Liverpool
Hospital Trusts on Merseyside are beginning to set out their plans for cuts in the National Health Service. The overwhelming majority of people rely on the NHS for healthcare, so the changes being made seem set to threaten the lives of many, and severely reduce the quality of life for many more. The only people to benefit will be shareholders in private companies.
Liverpool Indymedia reports: FTSE 100 company to 'help' run Liverpool hospital | Wirral NHS Cuts Boost Private Sector | Mersey Ambulance Staff Fight Employers' Hypocrisy | More McHospitals for Merseyside! | Patients Must Travel Further To See GPs | Private GP Surgery criticised in Liverpool | Patients Dying To Balance Books in Southport and Ormskirk|
Since the beginning of this week, members of the AA Caravan have been working with students at the Politecnik University in Athens. The students have occupied their university in solidarity with their striking tutors as well as raising their concern over the proposed changes to the education law and privatisation of the Greek educational system. In the last few weeks almost all of the universities and colleges in Greece have been occupied by the majority of their students. After lectures and teachers went on a national strike in a long lasting dispute over pay, students around the country took over more than 300 buildings and university grounds.
Last week demonstrations took place all over Greece. In the city of Tessaloniky over 5000 students took to the street, in Athens over 7000, when other protests happenend in smaller cities and towns across the country. Many demonstrations were marred by police violence in an attempt to portray the students in a bad light. A few days ago student assemblies agreed to continue their occupations and a 15.000 strong demonstration in Athens on Thursday (June 8th) was met with huge quantities of tear gas.
Photos: AA Caravan starts workshops with students in Athens, Greece | Photos from the 15.000 strong student demonstration in Athens | Radical wall art - Politecnik University, Athens | More photos from the occupied universities and last weeks demonstrations | Last weeks student demonstrations in Athens, Thessaloniki and Heraklion (Crete) | Online map showing all occupations | Photo-essay from Thessaloniki's Occupations | Photos from demonstrations in: Ioannena | Patras | Volos
Links: AA Caravan Indymedia | Athens Indymedia | Article by AA Caravan member in German | Greek Embassy in Paris is occupied in solidarity with the Greek Students | A description of the proposed changes | Statement of the Plenary Meeting of Greek Student Assemblies | During the last 3 weeks there is quite some unrest in Greek universities
Sheffield Welfare Action Network (SWAN) is one of the lead organisations in the campaign against the proposed welfare reforms. They are organising the forthcoming People's March and Rally Against the IB cuts, a national demonstration on the 17th June being held in Sheffield. SWAN has been steadily helping build the campaign and seen opposition grow to the draconian welfare reforms as their implications become clear. There is also a benefit concert in aid of SWAN on the 20th May.
The long weekend beginning 29th April was a very active one for Merseyside activists. On the Saturday, a number of different groups gathered in Liverpool city centre and set out various stalls in an attempt to 'Make Our Streets Political'. Sunday evening saw Liverpool Social Forum host the first 'Free Screen' film night. And of course Monday the 1st was May Day itself, when hundreds made their way to Princes Park in Toxteth for a rally and family fun day.
May Day Report Mersey May Day 2006
Click here for a round up of Mayday events UK wide.
Monday May the 1st saw the culmination of the MayDay weekend 2006. A series of demonstrations and protests took place all over the UK and beyond. In London up to 4000 people marched from Clerkenwell Green to Trafalgar square in the traditional TUC march. One of the largest blocs of the march was the Autonomous Bloc which consisted of up to 800 people, marching on the issues of precarity and migration. Meanwhile, the Space Hijackers were having a 'police victory party' outside the Bank of England [Pics: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4]
The march went off peacefully until the Autonomous bloc tried to bring its soundsystem into Trafalgar Square to be used as an open microphone for speeches and discussion. At that point police snatched the pedal powered soundsystem from the crowd and prevented the Autonomous Bloc from assembling in the square. It was not until the march finished that the soundsystem was given back. Whilst this was taking place thousands of people listened to speeches at the rally in Trafalgar Square. After 4pm, people dispersed.
Other May Day demonstrations and protests around Britain included:
A Workers Memorial Day demonstration in London to commemorate those people who have been killed at work. In Manchester, a Chaos Mass bike ride took place, as well as a May Day march, an anti-nuclear demonstration [Video] to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, and a picnic against capitalism. A march [more] also took place in Cambridge against the privatisation of public services, as well as an 'Extra tea for mayday' action where activists visited ASDA to give extra tea breaks to the workers forced to work on Mayday.
In Newcastle a contingent from Tyneside Community Action for Refugees marched demanding the right to work for refugees and asylum seekers, in Liverpool the Merseyside May Day celebrations included a march and a rally in Princes Park, and in Nottingham a march and rally [more] also took place. In Scotland there was the traditional May Day march and rally in Edinburgh, and a MayDay parade in Glasgow.
For reports of the massive demonstrations in the US and the several Euro MayDay Parades in Europe, as well as the full UK's Mayday 06 events listing click at the 'Full Article' link on top.
Crisis can be an overused word, but in the case of the NHS it’s difficult to get across the scale of the problem without using it. Three quarters of the NHS trusts in the UK are reporting that financial deficits are forcing them to make some form of cut backs this financial year.
But, hold on. The government says it’s putting more money into the NHS than ever before. For once the government is telling the truth - they are spending far more on the NHS than ever, but the cuts are still taking place... how on earth can they both be true?
The answer is simple, it's not a question of how much money, but where it goes. Private companies have become more deeply entrenched in the health service than ever before, on a level that would have been unimaginable even under the Tories.
Thousands of people employeed by Sheffield Council and Sheffield Hallam University and others struck on 28th March 2006 in defence of their pension agreements. There were picket lines in front of buildings across the city and there was a rally on the Town Hall steps at lunch time. The strike was supported by the Trades Council.
This one day strike was part of a national day of action and further strike are possible if the government doesn't back down. Some activists are concerned that the union leaders are prepared to sell out future employees by just looking at securing protection for the pensions of existing employees.
Tuesday 28th March 2006 saw over a million workers take part in the largest one day strike in Britain since the general strike of 1926. Every town, borough and city in the country saw workers set up multiple picket lines to defend their pension rights. This attack on pension rights is part of the global neo-liberal attack on welfare, employment rights and the environment that is provoking a wave of global resistance. On the same day just across the channel in France millions of workers were also on the streets and on strike.
This massive one-day show of strength comes after decades of defeat for the trade union movement in Britain, but on 28th March over a million trades unionists stood together and caught a glimpse of their potential power to change the world.
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.
French unions and student bodies have called for a general strike and massive protests throughout France on 28th March.
On Saturday 18th March: Over one Million people demonstrated against the CPE in France following weeks of student unrest. Clashes with police broke out after the CPE demos. For breaking news see French IMCs: Paris | Lille | Toulouse | Marseille | Nantes | Liege | Auvergne | Grenoble and Libcom Blog
Since the start of March, protests, occupations and direct action against the new CPE employment law in France have been increasing, with university and school students leading the dissent. Railways have been blockaded, airports disrupted, and up to two thirds of France's universities have been occupied or disrupted, as well as many schools. Clashes with police have occured throughout the country.
On Thursday 16th March well over 300,000 people took part in growing protests throughout France [report and pics] as more universities were occupied, roads blockaded and the town hall in Rennes was occupied. In Paris up to 120,000 protested [report and pics | gallery] followed by clashes with police using tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon [report and pics | gallery]. Around 150 arrests were made in Paris bringing the total to around 300, with over 40 police injured. (See also Censier University occupation report and pics).
Much international publicity came from the occupation and violent eviction by riot police of the Sorbonne university in Paris on Saturday 10th March [Video | Report + Pics | Gallery 1 2]. On Tuesday 14th the protests escalated as a student day of action saw thousands of school students taking part in occupations and blockades [report and pics | gallery] as well as more street fighting around the Sorbonne area [gallery].
The CPE is a new employment contract due to take effect in April. The CPE would allow firms to hire people aged under 26 for a two-year trial period, during which they could be easily dismissed without a reason. Students and others complain this will only increase the precarity of everyday life in France where unemployment currently runs at 10% and 50% in some areas.
See other reports [1 | 2 | 3 | 4 ] Plus recent features at IMC Germany | Poland | March 22nd London CPE report back | STOPCPE | UNEF
The Nottingham Palestine Solidarity Campaign group have decided to show its solidarity with the people of Jenin by establishing friendship links between the two cities with the eventual aim of twinning. The first step is to send representatives from Nottingham to the UK Palestine Twinning Conference to make links with the University, with schools, with Trade Unions and with local people in Jenin.
There are 2 events leading up to these representatives going out to Jenin , both of which hope to Raise awareness of the issues and realities of Occupation in Palestine – especially in Jenin and to raise funds to make this Link between these cities Possible: There is a ‘Solidarity Festival’ 12noon - 11pm, on the 25th March of Music, films, poetry, art, workshops, food and fun being held hat the Sneinton Community Centre (Old School Hall) and there is a ‘Evening for Palestine’ 7pm, Thursday 30th March being held at the Kashmir Centre – live music – Palestine Dinner and Yvonne Ridley Speaking.
'Building bridges in Palestine' - party and exhibition - Middle East Party - Sunday 19th March, Wax Bar, Broad Street, Nottingham, 4-8pm. An exhibition of drawings, photographs and paintings from Palestine by Paul Gent + speakers. Live music from long Journey Home. Exhibition runs from 5th - 24th march 2006
Links: Download 'Evening for Palestine' flyer (PDF) | Building bridges in Palestine - party and exhibition | Palestine Eye Witness Reports and UK/Palestine Twinning | Palestine Solidarity Campaign | Wikipedia on Jenin | How to get to the Old School Hall
After four contested ballots, £millions of taxpayers money spent and five years of resistance to Leeds City Council's drive to demolish 435 council homes and replace them with private housing, the moment of truth has finally arrived for tenants of the Little London housing estate. The Council has just announced in a press statement that tenants have overwhelmingly backed controversial plans for an £85m regeneration scheme under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) after a highly disputed door-to-door consultation process in February. Despite consistent opposition from both the Little London Tenants and Residents Association and the Save Little London Campaign, Council officers are now expected to make their recommendation to the Council Executive in April to go ahead with the controversial 'Comprehensive Regeneration Option'.
But the PFI scheme is far from a done deal. At a community action day last Sunday (5 March), local residents and campaigners vowed ‘to fight on and win’ regardless of the Council’s decision. Possible courses of action include standing independent candidates in the May local elections, a legal challenge to the alleged irregularities and bias of the Council's consultation process, and alternative proposals for regenerating the area. As part of the fightback, this Tuesday (14 March) at midday, a lobby of tenants and campaigners will march from Little London Community Centre to Leeds Town Hall to make their voices heard outside a Stakeholders Meeting between the Council and tenants representatives.
- Full Story and background
- Short campaign film 'Little London - the story so far'
- Eye witness account of biased consultation
- Campaign reports: January Picket of Council and Call out; Save Little London Community Day, 5 March
- Anger of Leeds Council tenants at alleged corruption
- Mainstream media reports: Council accuses 'left-wingers of misleading tenants'; Campaigners reply 'Tenants misled over Little London'
- Related stories about Leeds City Gentrification: 'City Flats to Become Height of Fashion'
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.
Hundreds of people gathered on Sunday for a day of talks, information, discussion and workshops on the theme of peace.
The Nottingham Students Peace Movement's conference welcomed Sam Azad (International Federation of Iranian Refugees), author Milan Rai and Alan Simpson MP to lead a discussion on "justice not vengeance." They were followed by lecturers Richard Keeble and Beryl Aldridge and Notts Indymedia's Wietse talking about combating media bias. Both sessions welcomed extensive audience contributions. Various workshops were later held on alternative media, creative campaigning, civil rights and black activism.
On Monday 20th of February, local activists from Hackney, London, occupied three Victorian and Georgian buildings in order to stop the threat of demolition. The intention is to turn them into a community and social centre, instead of seeing the buildings sold off to private developers. The site consists of the Victorian Dalston Theatre and a pair of Georgian townhouses. Although some officials argue they are in a derelict state, members of the community are convinced that the theatre has a big potential as a cultural, social and community resource [Photos and Report]
At about 8am, council officers turned up and told the occupiers that they had to vacate the building by 9 or they would send in the police to evict them. Later in the morning, workmen from Byline (the contractors hired by Hackney Council) and police forced entry to the occupied theatre. Activists then climbed to the buidling's rooftops to defend the occupation, and have been up there to the day. [Read thoughts from the people resisting the demolition]
On Wednesday March 1st the case went to the High Court in a drive by Hackney council to rush the eviction. The Court unexpectedly refused to decide on the case, and ruled that the Council's claim for possession "should be transferred to the County Court" [report] On Friday March 3rd Shoreditch County Court issued an Interim Possession Order, which gives 24 hours to the occupiers to vacate the buildings. On Saturday 4th, a Guerrilla Screening and Open meeting were organised in the street outside the Theatre.
An eviction can now happen at any time, and the occupiers call for everyone to go down there and support the resistance when it happens. Call 07919998567 for the latest info.
- Tuesday March 14th (Occupant's statement at Shoreditch County Court)
- Saturday March 4th (Guerrilla Screening and Open meeting ... resistance to the eviction starts)
- Friday March 3rd (Theatre faces an imminent eviction following Interim Possession Order)
- Wednesday March 1st (Occupation wins in High Court but eviction proceedings continue)
- Tuesday 28th (To the people of Dalston, Why we are here)
- Monday 27th (Social Centre opens ... all welcome)
- Saturday 25th
- Tuesday 21st [more and pics]
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