Official video for the new campaign single for the Blacklist Support Group. Multinational building contractors have for decades compiled a secret database of union members in the UK construction industry.
Union members were denied work over many years because they had been stewards or safety reps on previous building projects. Contractors recently had to pay out over £50 million in compensation to workers on the blacklist after a sustained campaign involving direct action, strikes and demos – but they are still being denied work. The campaign will continue until those workers are back where they belong – organising on building sites. More information: www.hazards.org/blacklistblog, or on Facebook: Blacklist Support Group
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.
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….
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.
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.
On their second national day of strike action for a decent pay rise, workers in higher education are joined by workers in further education taking their first day of strike action. Both sets of workers have effectively had a pay cut of up to 15% over the past 4 years, while bosses have had huge pay rises and the colleges are sitting on a massive surpluses. Over 4,000 workers in higher education alone are still not even earning a living wage. The action should escalate in the new year…
The title of this year’s Tory conference is ‘For Hard Working People’ which seems like an attempt at irony coming from such avid fans of both tax evasion and inherited wealth. Meanwhile outside the Manchester GMEX Centre over 55,000 hard working people demonstrated their disgust at the privatisation of the NHS. The protest called by the TUC was most heavily supported by members of UNISON which was unsurprising given their status as the biggest union in NHS. There were also large turnouts from the PCS, UNITE and GMB.
On Saturday Sept 7th the racist English Defence League (EDL) had promised to bring thousands of its intellectually challenged supporters to the multi-faith East London borough of Tower Hamlets. Their previous attempt to march past the East London Mosque in 2011 had ended in failure with the EDL being kept out of the area, harassed by anti fascists around Liverpool street and one of their coaches being trashed. This time they announced that they would rally in Altab Ali park, a community space named after a Bangladeshi textile worker whom was killed in a racist attack in 1978.
A broad range of organisations including East End United, London Anti Fascists and Unite Against fascism vowed to stop them entering Tower Hamlets supported by the TUC, RMT, CWU, UNITE and various other trade unions and faith groups. By 11am thousands of people were in the park while the EDL (who numbered between 5 & 700) gathered south of London bridge. The racist mobilisation was far smaller than the recent gathering of the EDL in Birmingham despite the murder of Lee Rigby in South East London and the date having no domestic football fixtures, which would have boosted the EDL’s hooligan contingent.
The previous attempt by EDL leaders to enter Tower Hamlets had ended in humiliation with their self-styled leader Tommy Robinson getting arrested while crying to the police after being smacked by an anti fascist. This time the EDL were prevented by the police from entering the borough after seeing the size of the opposition to their presence. Robinson (aka former BNP organiser Stephen Yaxley-Lennon) was arrested again, this time for breaching his bail conditions and incitement.
A determined group of militant anti fascists attempt to confront the EDL as they crossed Tower bridge but were detained by a massive police operation. Meanwhile anti racist groups and local people left Altab Ali park and blocked the main route through Whitechapel to ensure the EDL’s non attendance. They then marched to East London Mosque after the EDL had been escorted back across the river in defeat. By this stage it was clear that anti fascists were outnumbering the EDL by at least 3-1.
Meanwhile the police detained everyone who had left the designated protest area in two ‘kettles’ for several hours. They then systematically arrested all the detainees and put them onto buses that had been clearly prepared for the occasion. They had employed similar tactics back in June when the UAF and South London Antifascists had ruined their plans to facilitate a march by the fascist BNP from parliament to Whitehall.
In the end over 280 antifascists were arrested. Most of them released after a few hours with bail conditions that prevent them from going near racist and fascist organisations.
More worryingly the police also arrested Legal Observers from Legal Defence and Monitoring Group (LDMG) treating them with the same measures as the demonstrators. In the past the police have not exactly be pleased to see the volunteers from LDMG but have allowed them to do their job and recognised their role as observers rather than participants.
The behaviour of the police towards the detained protestors and legal observers raises several questions about civil liberties. If no charges against the detained are pressed or they are found not guilty then legal action against the police is very likely. It is possible that the European Convention on Human Rights was violated in several areas including article 10 (freedom of expression) and article 11 (freedom of assembly). Meanwhile the confiscation (and no doubt copying) the legal observers notes is in contravention to article 6 (right to a fair trial).
The arrest of five clearly identifiable legal observers in the Mansell street kettle has resulted in an angry statement from LDMG with more expected to follow. Tony Martin one of the coordinators said “The arrest of five Legal Observers is outrageous. Although we have had individual Legal Observers arrested before, this is a very rare occurrence. What is different on this occasion is that the decision was taken at a very senior level of the Metropolitan Police.”
Huge strides for the campaign against the illegal blacklistng of trade unionists over the past 18 months; the sparks victory in the BESNA dispute, the Scottish affairs select committee report, the high court conspiracy trial coming up against Sir Robert McAlpine, numerous tribunals and actions in the European court of human rights, and now UNITE and GMB putting serous resources into the campaign.Now everything is centring on the Crossrail project, where 17 of the 38 known blacklisters are operating. Join the campaign and get blacklisted trade unionists back where they belong – on sites organising.