Here is the pdf for the latest issue of the Forest Fields Fire. An 8 page bumper issue by way of an apologize for missing a couple of months.
We got stories about police harassment, prison solidarity and much much more.
Autonomous Notts have been teaming up with Stop G8 Nottingham and spreading the word about next years G8 which takes place in the UK.
First some of the leaflet (see below were distributed at the TUC demo in London at the weekend, and then today a handful of us spent the late morning and early afternoon handing out leaflets in the center of town encouraging people to come to the next Stop G8 Notts meeting at the Peacock on the 29th October at 7pm. Plenty of people were all “Stop Capitalism, fuck yeah lets do it”, so maybe we got a chance after all. We’ll be doing shit loads of leafletting over the coming months as we work with and alongside the Stop G8 Notts group. Distributing material which ties together the G8 and capitalisms role in everything from the struggles of people without papers to the struggles of the students, from environmental issues to those of austerity, from poverty to the pigs. It’s going to be a long and lengthy mobilization process to resist the G8 and an even longer one to build a movement which can stop capitalism and take us into a more beautiful world.
The last couple of weeks has seen Autonomous Nottingham teaming up with Notts Against Workfare and have been picketing the job centre on station street. We’ll be continuing with this over the next few months, once a week, striking at a different time and place like the flexible ninjas we are. The leaflets we’ve been distributing (see below) are intended as both practical solidarity offering some hints and tip so people don’t get screwed into workfare, but also a rallying cry. Now more than ever those of us who are precarious workers need to be coming together and acting in collective self-defence of our interests. We’ve seen too many Unions come out in support of workfare, which must make the rank and file question what the hell their leaders are up to. Workfare makes jobs that exist now less likely to exist in six months time, and a rise in precarious workers across the board a certainty. We’ve been having some good chats with our fellow dolees from the state of the job marke, to the sheer inherent evilness of Atos. It’s starting to get colder so next week we’ll handing out the teas and coffees as well as the leaflets.
Autonomous Notts hosted the first Stop G8 local meeting, it went pretty well with many people exhibiting strong commitment to organising around resisting the G8 next year whether it happens in London or in the Lake District. A new group, imaganativly called Stop G8 was formed and another meeting was called for on October 29th at 7pm upstairs at the peacock pub in town. You should come along get involved there’s shit loads of exciting things to do as we plan sticking it to those managers of capitalism, those fucking enermies of ours.
No justice, no peace.
Over the last three months we’ve put out another two issues of the Forest Fields Fire, to if not universal acclaim then at least begrudging acknowledgement that it does fit through letter boxes.
Here are the pdf’s
Another one is due out this month, and you’ll be at least 2,001th to here about it.
Today a group of anti-workfare activists took to the streets of Nottingham to picket some of the corporate workfare profiteers and to highlight why workfare is such a dangerous idea. We visited Burton, Barnardo’s, Primark, Greggs and Superdrug before we got through all of our leaflets and decided to call it a day. On the whole, the public responded positively to our message including several who agreed to boycott particular shops as a result of getting a flyer.
Workfare is the name given to various government programmes that force benefit claimants to work full-time jobs just to get their dole money. Various companies have signed up to get this very attractive (for them) workers that don’t have to be paid. It is obviously bad for the unemployed because they are being exploited and don’t get any reward, but it is also bad for paid workers who might be replaced by free labour from the Job Centre.
We met at the left lion in Market Square and were sent off with an anti-workfare speech from a local anti-austerity campaigner who had a stall. Despite the somewhat pro-state slant of his words, it was good to receive some solidarity.
We were well equipped with a sound system in a pushchair pumping out revolutionary hip hop and our “Workfare ain’t fair” banner as well as a stack of fliers. We walked and wheeled across the square to our first stop, Burtons. Burtons is part of notorious tax dodger Philip Green’s Arcadia group, which has a policy of using workfare. The Burtons management immediately threw a massive tantrum, shutting up all but one of the doors to the shop and then standing in the remaining one snarling at us and chuntering on about how they had nothing to do with workfare and spent their whole days helping the sick and needy by giving them free suits, etc. All they managed to do was make their shop very unwelcoming for the time that we were there.
Next stop was the Barnardo’s charity shop a few doors up. Barnardo’s is one of many high street charities which is supplementing their volunteers with forced labour from the Job Centre. The workers were, perhaps unsurprisingly, much more sympathetic to and interested in our protest and read our leaflets. Some PCSOs came along to ask whether we were a peaceful protest and what time we were leaving so they could “update the control centre”. When they went in to let the staff know we weren’t dangerous psychopaths, we slipped off to Primark.
Primark was a bit mental. There were just too many people rushing in and out of those doors. We didn’t stay long.
Next stop was Greggs on Clumber Street. There was more space to stop and have decent interactions with people and people had time to read our leaflets in the queue. One man went in taking a leaflet and then emerged a few minutes later without having bought anything thanking us all for letting him know about Greggs exploitative practices. Another man took a leaflet and said “I won’t be buying anything in there then” and a group of kids in hoodies tutted a bit and then were overheard saying they wouldn’t be going in again.
For our last stop we moved over to Superdrug on the other side of the road and gave out the last of our leaflets. One man stopped to have a conversation with me about how he’d seen this coming with the New Deal and previous government attacks on the unemployed and how his son was involved in anti-workfare campaigning in Plymouth. “Why aren’t there more of you?” he asked.
We will back and we hope that next time more people will join us. There are plenty of shops on our list that we didn’t get to visit today, including Wilkinsons, Argos, Poundland, Miss Selfridge and Tescos. We know that anti-workfare campaigning is working: earlier in the year Holland & Barrett pulled out of workfare after sustained, nationnwide pickets of its stores. We just need to keep up the pressure.
Another issue of our newsletter, delivered to 2000 houses in Forest Fields. This month we’ve got stories of police brutality, workfare and Nottingham Solidarity Network campaign updates
Autonomous Nottingham have decided not to release a collective statement about this year’s May Day, primarily because the individuals involved in the collective disagree with one another. We’ve discussed it at length amongst ourselves and whilst we agree that Alan Meale is a class enemy for the reasons we outlined in our joint statement with AFed, we have different opinions on the actions to stop him speaking. Here’s a conversation between 3 of the group.
A- I was there, I joined in and was delighted we stopped him speaking. It hadn’t been planned, but I reckon that was due more to our limited view on our own competency then anything else. Anyway, now that we know we can do it, I think we should keep on no platforming Labour MPs. We could do it to all MPs but allowing Labour to position themselves as the alternative is allowing this democratic sham to continue, and we shouldn’t be having any of that.
B- It’s not as if I don’t see where you’re coming from, but part of me can’t help but think that getting dragged into petty arguments with political parties is going to distract us from organising within our communities. And that’s pretty much my view on the disruption at the TUC rally. We’d planned a workfare action, hoping to involve others who had attended the rally, but weren’t able to because of the ensuing chaos. Granted the TUC were idiots in inviting Meale, but whilst there may have been 300 people on the march, there were less than a hundred there for the rally, a quarter of them anarcho types, who weren’t going to pay any mind to Meale. Even if the rest had believed every word out of his mouth, which I doubt, there were still a shit load of people outside the rally we could have been engaging with. The others who marched out of some connection with the idea of workers struggle, but didn’t want to listen to a lot of dour rhetoric could have been worth engaging with.
C- I like the focus you’ve made on the irrelevancy and mediocrity of the TUC. I don’t think it can be stressed enough what a pathetic group they are. It’s bad and sad enough that trade unions in this country are a diminished force, without a group of self-selected leaders banging on about their non-existent strength. Personally I can’t decide whether or not letting him speak was really worth while. On the one hand, fuck him, he probably could have spoken had he really wanted – as others have said he’s a seasoned public speaker who could have managed. The only reason he didn’t was because he only turned up to bolster his “labour” credentials. On the other hand, maybe it was enough that we’d voiced opinion, maybe getting out the way and making it clear he could speak would have given everyone the opportunity to see him for what he is. A bag of shit, a class enemy.
A- But if someone from the BNP, Con-Dems or EDL tried to speak at a May Day event we’d no platform them. And for my money Labour politicians are from the same pig pen. Their language might be different, but they accept state control over workers autonomy and they facilitate the maintenance of capitalism. All of them are down with diminishing migrant rights, they’ve all trotted out policies and ideas which are deeply racist, homophobic and sexist. So, why the fuck would we let them speak on May Day?
B- Because I’m a little bored of the sectarianism of the broad left, or more accurately the hostile sectarianism, why don’t we just stay out of each others’ way? We disagree on so much, the TUC think that cozying up to the Labour party will be of some benefit down the line, let them think that. They’re a tiny fraction of the working class. Trade unionism has failed, and it’ll keep failing because of the way the workforce is now constituted. People don’t stay in one trade for their whole lives, if they have a trade, they move from one menial job to another. Trade Unions are a feeble way of organising a small number of people, why don’t we just leave them to it, let them have their rally? Instead we pissed a few people off, and for anyone looking in from the outside we probably all looked like identical muppets having a fight over nothing.
C- That’s certainly not a bad point and it kinda brings us to the crux of the matter. It was all a bit daft really, and a little bit irrelevant. I don’t really think anyone else is paying the slightest bit of attention, really all that happened was that the TUC disrespected workers struggles, anarchists got carried away, and an MP didn’t speak. And the ensuing discussions have merely been a spectacle to distract us for a little while. I mean it’s all been interesting and debate is healthy, but a distraction from the things that must be done in retaliation to austerity measures and capitalism itself.
On Saturday after the comedy, chaos and acrimony of the May Day rally, Autonomous Nottingham and friends from Afed and elsewhere descended onto the Saturday city streets to do a wee bit of spread the word about the ruling classes latest attack on us precarious workers and unemployed. They like to call it Workfare, we call it another pile of steaming crap.
These were the leaflets we were handing out, about 1,000 got distributed in all, and fuck yeah it’s class war. The people at the top end of this capitalist system have been at it for a while now and over the last thirty years partly under the cover of the welfare state they’ve been ripping the working poor a new one. Atomizing our social life, individualizing political lives and turning the cultures we create into commodities to make profit for their markets. The cuts, the recent austerity measures they’re all part of this. Having fragmented our communities and attempted to end collectivity and solidarity amongst us. Having destroyed local industries, having beaten the artisans and craftspeople to the margins. Having filled our cities and neighborhoods and cities with plastic crap we never thought we’d need. They’re now trying to make us work for less 1/4 of minimum wage.
To be fair to this mysterious “they” they’re only pushing capitalism to it’s logical conclusion and they’re so indoctrinated into this system, having been spoon fed it since birth in the ways it will make them happy, that it’s hardly surprising they push and they push it no matter what damage it does to others. The tories are at it now, and it was labour before them who started this Workfare bullshit. And that’s why some of us went around some of the shops listed in the leaflet.
Some of the conversations we had on the street were positive, with people surprised and angry that this was going on, some of the shop workers and managers professed not to have a clue that it was happening. And in eagerness to report what happened we gotta say that one dude said he’d been put on workfare and had got a job out of it, so it was okay by him. It’s not however okay for everyone, and it wouldn’t be financially viable for this shops to start paying wage so each person who they could be getting for free if they kept them on through the workfare program. It was clear that some people shared our view, because outside Poundland we asked to our bafflement who had dropped the stick bombs in the shop. We all assumed that stick bombs went out with the Beano and Dandy, but apparently some folks are still using them. More power to them, use whatever weapons you got whenever you got them I say.
The workfare program must be stopped in its tracks, it’s already affecting hundreds of individuals who are now having being forced to work for their benefits, some of whom will have recently been forced off incapacity benefit due to the latest Atos Origin propelled attack on the sick. We have to crush this program before it crushes us, the more people are forced to work for their benefits the less waged work there is, which means more go onto JSA and are then forced to work for their benefits. Slowly but surely corporations will have a labour force they don’t have to pay for. We have to work out a way to stop this, precarious workers and the unemployed together. This month we’ll be organising a meeting to talk about how we’re going to do this if you’re interested drop us email and let us know. Likewise if you’ve got any workfare related stories, the more we know about how and where it’s been operating the better able we will be to beat it back.