Mass pickets at the Wilton Centre, near Redcar bring traffic chaos and local approval as UNITE, GMB and UCATT members take joint action for the first time in 20 years. They are now on their 16th Friday of direct action and civil disobedience against the conditions on a new construction project, run by SITA UK.
SITA UK are exploiting foreign workers and marginalising local workers at the project by paying foreign workers as little as 6 – 8 euros an hour – way short of the £16.10 an hour they should be paying according to the NAECI national industry agreement.
The pickets are demanding that everyone is treated equally – pay the foreign workers the proper rate, and give the many experienced local workers a chance of employment. This is a major dispute – and in the words of one picket, “it needs to go national.”
Blacklisted workers have made a complaint to Kent police after being assaulted during a peaceful protest at the Dartford headquarters of Laing O’Rourke. The incident happened at 1pm today (Wed 15th October) when 20 activists from the Blacklist Support Group attempted to distribute leaflets about the role of the construction giant in the Consulting Association blacklisting conspiracy.
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.
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.
The 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.
Footage 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.
Please share this video as widely as possible – not only to support the people of Vitoria’s fight for justice, but so that more people can learn the lessons from rank and file organisation which ultimately led to the legalisation of trade unions in Spain.
1976, the Basque Country: under threat from a growing all-out strike amongst the factories of Vitoria, a dying fascist state orders the police to open fire on a peaceful assembly in a church during a general strike of the whole city, murdering 5 workers and seriously wounding over 100. 38 years on, no-one has been brought to justice for the cowardly attack on one of the greatest rank and file movements ever seen.
“We’re not afraid of you anymore! The more you attack us, the stronger we become!” says Lenin Escudero, UNISON rep for the SOAS cleaners who are demanding to be brought back inhouse and enjoy the same pensions, sick pay and holidays as the rest of the staff. More strike action to come…
We’ve finally found a venue to host a regular film night in North London – and hopefully reclaim a bit of Stoke Newington from the horrendous gentrification that’s happened in Church Street over the past twenty years. Come and join us every second Thursday of the month for films, discussion, music and drinks – FREE!
THIS MONTH: 75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR, PLUS TEACHERS STRIKE
2014 sees the 75th anniversary of the end of the Spanish civil war, when a fragile democracy was allowed to be overturned by the combined forces of European Fascist regimes. Much has been written about the atoricities committed as General Franco took power, but very little about the social movements that rose up in the 60s and 70s that brought an end to the fascist state.
MASSACRE IN VITORIA (36:00)
Tonight, we’ll be showing a new Reel News film telling the story of one of the greatest rank and file movements ever seen – an all out indefinite strike in 1976 of factory workers in Vitoria in the Basque Country, which culminated in a general strike of the entire city. The Spanish state, petrified by what seemed to be a soviet developing, ordered the police to open fire on a peaceful strikers’ assembly, murdering 5 workers and wounding over 100.
No-one has ever been brought to justice for this atrocity, as with many other atrocities from the late Franco era and the period of transition to “democracy”. Watch the full incredible story and then join in the discussion on how we can mark the 75th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War by providing some international solidarity with the people of Vitoria’s struggle for justice.
PLUS: TEACHERS STRIKE (10:28)
As the campaign against Gove’s attempt to destroy education as we know it gets serious, we’ll be showing a video of the recent NUT strike and having a discussion with local teachers and parents about how to escalate the action and what form that should take.
A solid two day strike as outsourced workers at the University of SOAS in London demand to be brought back in house. If the bosses are still not prepared to give the workers the same terms and conditions as the directly employed workers, the strike action will get really serious….
On March 3 1976, police attacked a peaceful assembly of strikers during a general strike, murdering 5 workers and seriously injuring over 100 in a desperate attempt to stop one of the greatest rank and file movements ever seen.
Every year on March 3 in Vitoria there is a march to remember the dead and continue the fight for justice. If you’re reading this today, the march is not until 7pm – messages of international solidarity would really help.
Please send solidarity messages to: email@example.com, and watch out for the full Reel News film later this week – the whole incredible story, told by striking workers themselves.
This will be the latest in a series of films being produced by Reel News to help build international solidarity with the “Querella Argentina”: where Franco’s fascist regime is being put on trial in Argentina for the crimes it committed, and to get justice and reparations for the victims.
Although there has been a lot of information published about the atrocities committed by Franco’s fascist regime during and immediately after the Spanish civil war, little has been said about the intensification of repression by Franco’s regime in the 60s and 70s against the social movements that grew, demanding liberty and basic human rights and ultimately defeating fascism.
The atrocities, continued during the period of transition to “democracy” from 1975-1981. Many of the culprits are still alive and holding positions in the police, the army, the civil service and the judiciary – and for this reason we’re concentrating on this period. Not only do these people need bringing to justice, but they need to be purged from the Spanish state if another world is to be truly possible.
We will need to make trips to other parts of Spain in order to help in this crucial struggle for justice – but we need money to do it. Obviously there is no funding for a project of this sort in Spain, and with the brutal austerity measures, our fellow film makers in Madrid have no money either. If you can help, please click the donate button below.