Victimised RMT rep found NOT guilty

Today victimised RMT rep Mark Harding was found not guilty of what was a serious (if absurd) charge under the Industrial Relations Act. He has endured 3 months of uncertainty not least because a guilty verdict could have resulted in 6 months jail and/or serious implications for his career.

The charge arose from the highly successful RMT/TSSA dispute of London Underground in February. Mark was accused of intimidation after verbally appealing to a scab not to cross his picket line at Hammersmith. He was arrested after a spurious complaint was made and then held for an astonishing 13 hours before being given bail conditions that effectively banned him from Trade Union activity. The RMTs legal team got the conditions overturned but the charges remained. Todays verdict was clearly a massive relief for all involved.

Steve Hedley RMT assistant General Secretary said outside the court: “This is an important victory not just for us but for all trade unionists. We believe that the ongoing threat of industrial action by our staff caused the state to bring this case. We have successfully defended our right to peacefully picket.”

Mark was vindicated but sadly so were the authorities. The magistrate went out of her way to exonerate the cops in what was an outrageous, vindictive and utterly blatant case of political policing.

Lambeth College and Brixton Ritzy strikers fight for our future

96% yes vote for an all out indefinite strike against cuts to sick pay and holidays, and increased hours – so Lambeth college’s management run to the courts to get an injunction to stop them. This was already a local issue of national importance, with other colleges threatening similar attacks. Now Lambeth college principal Mark Silverman has turned it into an issue for the entire trade union movement by denying his employees their democratic right to protest.

lambeth college strikeThe changes to contracts will mean an extra 5 weeks work a year with no extra pay, and a cut in sick pay from 6 months on full pay and 6 months on half pay, to 4 months on full pay and 2 months on half pay. The only figure management can come up with for how much this will save the college is £20,000 for the cut in sick pay – a facility only used by workers in extremely difficult circumstances, for example cancer. So management are saying they are no longer prepared to support staff in such difficulties – but they are happy to spend £35,000 refurbishing an office for Silverman that he only uses for a maximum of one day a week. Meanwhile many lecturers report having to go to the stationers themselves to buy pens and paper for the students out of their own money.

This is all happening against a backdrop of management plans to shut down the 100 year old Brixton centre of the college, which is being sold off to make way for the Trinity Academy free school – a school run by people who are openly looking to attract children from the influx of rich white newcomers to Brixton.
Lecturers in the University and College Union (UCU) are now reballoting for all out indefinite strike action, and support workers in UNISON are doing the same.

lambeth college strike2Footage from the strike on Mayday, culminating in Lambeth college strikers marching with Brixton Ritzy strikers fighting for the London living wage. As resentment grows against the rapid gentrification of Lambeth and the fastest rising house prices in Britain, more and more locals are drawing a line in the sand and saying: Enough is enough.

Bob Crow 1961 – 2014

It is with great sadness that we have learned of the sudden death of RMT General Secretary Bob Crow at the age of just 52. He was a trade union leader like no other constantly fighting and winning for his members.

Bob came from a humble background leaving school at 16 to work on the railways. He progressed through the forerunners of the RMT becoming a national officer and then General Secretary of the RMT in 2002. For ten years he led the union never giving an inch to the bosses. From the tunnels of the London Underground to the oil rigs of the North Sea, workers represented by Bob had enormous respect for his methods as they saw their pay and conditions improve under his leadership.

Aside from his Trade Union work Bob was passionate about international issues and local social justice. He supoorted the Tomlinson family after Ian (a fellow supporter of his beloved Millwall) was killed by the Police at the G20 protests in London. He was also an outspoken supporter of the Palestinian cause and a vociferous critic of the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

RMT organiser Mac McKenna who spoke at our last REEL NEWS monthly event said: “They hated him; the chancers and the spivs, the privatisers and the bullies, the toffs and the Tories, they all despised him, cos he wouldn’t be ‘reasonable’, he wouldn’t be ‘modern’, he wouldn’t accept that ‘the market’ was best. Instead, he led a trade union that tried, very successfully at times, to defend its members interests, save jobs, push up pay and improve conditions. At a time of stagnating or declining trade union membership, the RMT grew; and it grew because workers could see the RMT was prepared to fight. Proper fight. Not just words and resolutions, but strike action, and Bob would go on TV and defend his members for taking strike action and lay the blame firmly on the bosses. When a Circle line train driver was sacked for playing squash while off sick, Bob turned up at his press conference and presented the driver with a new squash racquet. It was that sort of ‘fuck you’ that made it worth being in the RMT. So long Bob, it was a privilege to be a part of the fight with you.”

Bob leaves behind a proud legacy. Although his life was cut painfully short, his last great battle to save jobs and ticket offices on London Underground saw massive public support and tory mayor Boris Johnson humiliated. His example will be the toughest of acts to follow. Our thoughts are with his family and comrades.

Blacklisted workers serve arrest warrant on Cullum McAlpine

Today the Blacklist Support Group marked five years of inaction by the police by attempting to uphold the law themselves. Dave Smith, Helen Steele and a group of supporters visited the London offices of construction giant Sir Robert McAlpine Limited to make a citizens arrest. This weekend is the 5th anniversary of the raid by the Information
Commissioner’s Office that discovered the illegal building industry blacklist.
The target for arrest today by the protesters was millionaire construction boss Cullum McAlpine. When giving evidence to a Select Committee investigation into blacklisting Cullum McAlpine was forced to admit that he was the first chairman of the Consulting Association conspiracy (a post he held for 3 years) and that the first meetings of the shady organisation were actually held in his office at the Sir Robert McAlpine Limited offices in Grosvenor Crescent, Victoria.
It has to be said that staff at the aforementioned offices were not exactly thrilled by the arrival of Dave and his supporters. The only woman present amongst the Blacklist Supporters group, was assaulted by office staff for filming the proceedings on a mobile. The  same staff expressed far less interest in stopping two male journalists from filming and photographing the proceedings. They called the Police who arrived in what can only be described as serious numbers in six vehicles. Though they expressed little interest in the illegal activities that had been plotted in this very building.
The illegal blacklist database compiled in these offices held secret files on 3213 individuals which included information such as name, address, national insurance number, phone numbers, car registration and particularly recorded trade union membership and incidents where workers had complained about health & safety on building sites. Those workers that appeared on the blacklist suffered years of unemployment, repeated dismissals and financial hardship. Dave Smith was one such individual who was victimised and blacklisted for his activities as a trade union health and safety rep.
During the building of the Olympics Stadium in 2008-9, Sir Robert McAlpine was invoiced in excess of £28,000 for blacklisting name checks – which equates to 65 name checks a day, 7 days a week for the period. So the irony of finding an original framed, signed newspaper cartoon on the wall of the office depicting the Olympic project was not lost on the activists present.
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The Independent Police Complaints Commission is presently investigating police involvement in blacklisting and has already confirmed that Special Branch “routinely provided information about prospective employees”. This perhaps explains how hundreds of environmental protesters with little or no involvement in the construction industry have ended up on the list.
Dave Smith, secretary of the Blacklist Support Group said: “Blacklisted workers have lost their houses and our kids were on free school meals while Cullum McApline is the lord of the Manor in his £4.5million Grade 1 Listed Mansion in Cold Ashton. In any civilized society, McAlpine and his co-conspirators would be behind bars .We visited the birthplace of the Consulting Association to carry out a citizens arrest. We were pleased when the Met Police arrived and assisted in our search for Cullum McAlpine. It shows how seriously the authorities are taking corporate crime.”
Blacklisted activist Helen Steele said, “It has been 5 years since this conspiracy between big business and the police was discovered. Trade unionists and environmental activists have had their human rights violated. But 5 years later, no one has been brought to justice for the crimes they have committed. Its about time Cullum McAlpine was in the dock” Sir Robert McAlpine and seven other major construction firms involved in blacklisting are joint defendants in the High Court conspiracy case – next
court date April. The other companies in the High Court action are: Skanska, Costains, Laing O’Rourke, Kier, Vinci, Carillion and Balfour Beatty.

Underground strike is solid as RMT & TSSA walk out over cuts.

The strike by RMT and TSSA station staff on London underground is looking solid as it goes into its second day. The only line working appears to be the Northern Line, which is running a very limited service relying on ASLEF drivers and members who are not part of the dispute.

Last night a strike rally was held outside Euston station just before the dispute began. RMT Deputy General Secretary Steve Hedley told the assembled crowd that Transport For London had refused to negotiate and made the strike inevitable. He also commented on the hypocrisy of the media who had hailed station staff as heroes when they had rescued people trapped in tunnels during the 7/7 bombings but were now saying they were surplus to requirements.

This morning commuters were walking across central London bridges in their droves to get to work. Many more were waiting for a very long time for overcrowded buses. There were also chaotic scenes at many major stations.

The mainstream media have steadfastly refused to report on the real issues surrounding the dispute. Instead papers like the Mail and Sun have run irrelevant and childish stories about the holiday and living arrangements of RMT leader Bob Crow. Also complaining about his “fat cat salary”. Rank hypocrisy coming from news outlets whose owners earn billions while avoiding their taxes.

The strike centres around a plan by London Mayor Boris Johnson to close London Underground ticket offices losing nearly 1,000 jobs. This is against his own election pledge when he stood for mayor. Many campaigners fear that this will make public transport less accessible to the elderly, disabled and also foreign visitors on whom the London economy is so reliant. This morning Boris evaded many of the key questions being put to him by the media at London Bridge station while talking up the idea of a fully automated underground system.

The strike is due to run until 9.30 pm on Thursday with more action planned for next week.

FBU bring their anger straight to Downing street 16-10-13

Today thousands of Fire and Rescue Service workers came from across Britain to protest at the government’s plans for their workplaces. The national demo was called by the Fire Brigades Union and exceeded the expected numbers despite the torrential rain.

Their main grievances are the raising of fire fighters working age to 60 which many see as ridiculous given the very physical nature of the work. The closure of fire stations in city areas which many believe will increase response times and therefore cost lives. Also the attack on members pensions is seen as a cynical move by a government prepared to spend billions bailing out banks.

As the protest passed through Whitehall hundreds of Firefighters broke from the route and mobbed around Downing Street. Seven very nervous police stood between them and the gates though the protest remained peaceful and good humored if extremely loud. Recent protests by Fire Fighters in Belgium have reminded many of the potential that they have to humiliate the state and its agents.

Photos by Guy Smallman

Into The Fire to be broadcast on the occupied ERT station

Funeral of Shehzad Luqman in Kotzia square in Athens. 19-1-13 The 26 year old Pakistani migrant was stabbed to death in a racially motivated murder on January 16th as he was cycling to work. His family and friends from the local Pakistani community met in

Journalists across Europe were shocked when The Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation in Greece (their national media service) was closed by the government at a few hours notice. Since the shock closure, staff at the station have gone into occupation and continued to broadcast online.

REEL NEWS is pleased to announce that they will show our documentary Into The Fire at 8pm on Friday July 19th. We are pleased for this opportunity to support the workers at the station and their struggle to save their jobs and this important national institution. We are also pleased at this opportunity to shine a light of the plight of refugees and migrants in Greece and to infuriate the Greek government, Golden Dawn and the Greek Police.

Issue 35, March 2013

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  1. Into the Fire – The Forgotten Victims of Austerity in Greece (Reel News, 38:50) Refugees and Migrants in Greece.
  2. Somonte – Land and Freedom (Reel News, 13:50) Trade Unionists occupy a 400 hectar farm in Andalucia to grow food and create jobs.
  3. Palace of Varieties: Vincent Figgins and Vicky (Reel News, 2:42)
  4. Save Lewisham Hospital (Reel News, 14:42) Huge Protest in South London as privatisation of NHS accelerates.
  5. Palace of Varieties: Riverdance (Reel News, 2:16)
  6. 3 Cosas – Sickpay, Holiday, Pensions Now! (Reel News, 23:50) Outsourced workers at the University of London increase the pressure for basic rights.
  7. Palace of Varieties: Don Tempi (Reel News, 2:21)

 

Issue 34, November 2012

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 1: Spain – Indignados: 25-S (Reel News) 15:41

Spain’s indignados kick start a hot autumn by surrounding Congress.

2: Spain – Trade union march (Reel News) 10:10

A week after the indignados’ actions, Spain’s trade unions call for a Europe-wide general strike.

3: London Met: Don’t deport our classmates (Reel News) 11:38

Students, lecturers and support staff unite to stop attacks on international students.

4: Blacklisting at Crossrail (Reel News) 12:54

Sparks demand the reinstatement of 28 union members sacked for raising serious health & safety concerns.

5: TUC demo (Reel News) 10:49

The demonstration is dominated by calls for a general strike.

6: Crossrail dispute: Green Paint (Reel News) 15:33

featuring Frank Morris’s now legendary response to violence and intimidation by security. ***PLAY***

7: N14: European Day of Action (Reel News) 10:51

As millions struck all over Europe, only a few in Britain took action – respect to those sparks and civil servants who did.

8: Defend the 4: Victory! (Reel News) 11:49

Finally, success for the campaign within UNISON to stop the witchhunt of four Socialist Party members.  ***PLAY***

9: 3 Cosas campaign (Reel News) 8:25

Having won the London living wage, outsourced workers at the University of London are now fighting for pensions, sick pay and more holidays.

 

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Let us know if you want the DVDs

 

TUC march dominated by calls for a general strike

London, 20.10.12: over 150,000 march against austerity. Many if them were demanding a general strike, a call echoed at the rally by the general secretaries of PCS, RMT and the biggest union in Britain, UNITE. Now we just need to make it happen.
November 14th will see a coordinated European general strike against austerity, the first such strike in history. At the very least we need protests and demonstrations in Britain – if we could get walkouts too that would be a great start to building the resistance.