News about Workers' Organisations, Struggles and Precarity
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
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!
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
By now the glad tidings that ninety of her majesty's most loyal subjects were happy to celebrate 60 years of her reign by kipping under a bridge before a joyful thirteen hour shift of telling union-jack-sporting buffoons the way to the big river in the middle of London without being paid has been splashed all over the papers. But it's just the tip of the iceberg.
On the newswire: Liverpool Workfare Walk of Shame Occupies City Centre Exploiters| Mayday workfare demo shuts Oxford Street stores| Workfare actions around Birmingham in April| Workfare conference cancelled due to protest | Workfare Unravels | 'It's exploitation and it's repellent' | Tesco’s Secret Workfare Slaves | Demo shuts Westminster Tesco | GMB Union Promotes Workfare as Answer | DWP Locks Down FOI Responses | Legal Challenge to Government’s slave labour scheme
From Corporate Watch: Benefit claimant forced to accept Jubilee steward position for less than minimum wage | To pay or not to pay: Asda and Argos choose workfare over work | Regulating workfare (or not)| 'It's exploitation and it's repellent': Retailers, councils and charities benefiting from workfare | Unemployed people bullied into work
Protests took place outside stores across Britain on 3rd March 2012 as campaigners stepped up their opposition to the ConDem workfare slavery scheme, (started under Labour,) by taking the online campaigns, which have resulted in many firms pulling out, onto the streets .
In Edinburgh two Tescos were 'invaded' and pickets were mounted outside a Poundland and British Heart Foundation store. The Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty delivered a letter to the BHF store insisting “that BHF withdraws completely from the Work Programme and all workfare schemes”
Bristol cops arrested two protestors at a picket of a McDonalds, and a solidarity action was held outside Trinity Road cop-shop later in the day. In Birmingham about 50 campaigners stopped off at Sainsburies and Superdrug to congratulate them on pulling out the scheme, whilst pickets were held at Poundland and McDonalds. In Sheffield campaigners who were chucked out of a Tesco on West Street, continued their tour with visits to stores which included Marks and Spencers, McDonalds and Primark. Nottingham campaigners picketed Wilkinsons before moving on to other stores
In Lewisham, McDonalds, Boots, Greggs, BHS and Primark werre targeted by a group of about 30, whilst Oxford Street saw a few dozen campaigners target outlets including McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Holiday Inn in a game of cat and mouse awith the police. On Friday Ian Duncan-Smith was challenged by protestors as he arrived at a conference in Tottenham. He insisted that "workfare is a brilliant scheme".
Newswire: Workfare conference cancelled due to protest | Workfare Unravels | 'It's exploitation and it's repellent' | Tesco’s Secret Workfare Slaves | Demo shuts Westminster Tesco | GMB Union Promotes Workfare as Answer | DWP Locks Down FOI Responses | Legal Challenge to Government’s slave labour scheme
On 4th Feburary 2012 Sheffield Pizza Hut Workers Union, part of the IWW, held a protest outside Pizza Hut in Crookes, Sheffield over their ongoing dispute over workers terms and conditions. Solidarity potests were held in Brighton, Bradford, Glasgow, London, Birmingham, Bristol [1, 2], Hull, Liverpool, Calais, Portland, Vancouver and Berlin.
The dispute centers on several specifics aspect of the workers terms and conditions, pay for working on bank holidays, mileage rates and also recognition of the union. Whilst it has been standard practice to pay workers an enhanced rate for working bank holidays, Pizza Hut has decided that it will only pay the standard rate. Delivery drivers who use their own vehicles are given an allowance of 60p per delivery, a static rate which has remained unchanged for several years despite the soaring cost of fuel. Furthermore, "The Pizza Hut Workers Union also has concerns outside of this dispute, including delivery staffs safety gear, a decreasing pay packet that falls behind inflation and a demand for a real living wage for all Pizza Hut workers."
Newswire: Pizza Hut Workers Demand A Proper Slice | Solidarity Picket Glasgow With IWW Pizza Hut Workers Report | London Wobs' Solidarity Picket with IWW Pizza Hut | Pizza Hut Solidarity in Bradford | SchNEWS: Gimme A Slice OF The Action | Pizza Hut solidarity in Brighton | Solidarity Picket in Bristol with IWW Pizza Hut Workers | Birmingham IWW Solidarity Picket with IWW Pizza Hut Union
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
Wednesday's N30 strikes saw 2 million public sector workers striking and hundreds of thousands marching in Britain's streets all over the country, marking the biggest strike in a generation.
Demonstrations and pickets were held in nearly every major town across the UK, with the largest gatherings seeing 30,000 in London, 20,000 in Manchester, 15,000 in Birmingham and 10,000 in Edinburgh and Glasgow. More than 6 out of 10 schools were closed for the day and some activists from Occupy London stormed the offices of the UK's highest paid CEO, Mick Davis, head of Xstrata mining corporation. Reports are of 75 arrests in total, most of them around the occupation of the Xstrata office and in Hackney, after some demonstrators were kettled for four hours, then taken into custody on 'suspicion of breach of the peace'. [More]
From the Newswires: Link to Video | Birmingham: Video | Brum Strike and Protest | Photos 1 | Photos 2 | Stirchley and Cotteridge report | Nottingham: Feature | NUJ discuss BBC cuts | The march | The speeches | Ready to march | Prof Samir Amin at N30 | N30 critical mass | More on Critical Mass | | County Hall picket | N30 march | London: Cop punches protester in face | Report and audio from pickets and march | Undercover cop spotted | banners at #N30 | Dalston 37 re-arrested | Hackney arrests update | N30 Photos | Occupy lsx march | Occupy lsx N30 report | My Day Out on Strike | Fuck total policing | Photos | N30 in Brixton | Shut the City | Banner drop | London feature | Riot cops at Peckham social centre | Panton House occupation | Storming of Panton House | Panton House arrests | Occupy lsx on Panton House action | Video link | Aberdeen: N30 Big Breakfast | Wrexham: N30 in Wrexham | Report and photos | Sheffield: N30 strike action | Occupation solidarity statement | Photos from the Strike Rally | Picket line anthems | Occupation | Oldham:: Morning of N30 | March and rally | St. Andrews: N30 action | Anarchist bloc | Bristol: Huge turnout | Santa arrested | More on the santa attack | Swindon: 1000 march | Oxford: My march | What a brilliant day! | West Yorkshire: Solfed report | Newcastle: March | Brighton: 6,000 march | Cambridge: Thousands take to streets | Milton Keynes: Photo | Photos and video | Herefordshire: Report
Strike analysis and announcements: But how could we win? | Major success | Anarchist Federation Analysis | Message for the Chancellor | N30 Strike Bristol | N30 Strike Notts | Gabber Solidarity Sounds | N30 in the North-west | Jeremy Clarkson's comments | Responses to Clarkson