Radical Workers’ Bloc at Tolpuddle: Martyrs Festival and rally: 17-19 July 2015

Radical Workers’ Bloc at Tolpuddle: Martyrs Festival and rally: 17-19 July 2015

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Radical Workers’ Bloc at Tolpuddle 2014, photo by Wheelz.

It’s our fifth anniversary! Usual deal: scaring the taxpayers, winding up the Tankies – Winning friends, influencing people and impressing them with our revolutionary praxis. Every year we welcome comrades from as far afield as Wales, France, Spain and the Midlands; we enjoy frank but good-natured debate with fellow trade unionists and activists alike. A small contingent doesn’t want us there, but sod ‘em – The Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers was an example of working-class self-organisation – Stalin would have had them shot. Still we hope to extend our safe spaces policy to all festival-goers; their kids will learn to swear without our help and please be kind to the cosplay cops, the council would charge a fortune to close the public highway.

Visit our stall in the Martyrs Marquee, if you’d like to help run it, or you have anything you’d like to give away / accept donations for please contact us An advance party will pitch tents on Friday afternoon, we corral them together so that people can get to know each other. If you’re just marching with us on Sunday 19th July, Meet up as usual 1:30 pm outside the Martyrs Museum; bring your flags and banners, this year’s theme will be politicians heads on spikes…

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Freedom Press

A good start – Kingfisher rising!

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Just got back from Dorchester where a couple of thousand people marched against the closure of the Kingfisher children’s ward at Dorset County Hospital; estimates vary between one and three thousand. Unless you believe the Echo who put it in the hundreds, odd since they are publicly supporting the campaign.

Conspicuous by his absence was ‘Evil Oliver’ Letwin, who has been hedging his bets, he would not have had a pleasant experience, we think. The march was good-natured but shows the strength of feeling in West Dorset about keeping our health services local, it was organised in a week and people required little prompting to turn out.

This is a grass-roots phenomenon bubbling up from the ground. The left are running to catch up; what will it take to get the unions to put their weight behind this? The workers at the hospital would be a good place to start. It’s all very well going to the capital a couple of times a year and trudging round in a giant police kettle, which just confirms the centralisation of power and frankly, is an exercise in hand-wringing. Here is an opportunity to strike back against austerity and let’s face it, save lives.

A couple of things have occurred to us and need to be widely appreciated:

  • It’ been pointed out by a comrade who is a practising midwife that the loss of Paediatric services and the Special Care Baby Unit will make the maternity ward untenable.
  • Next to close will be A & E.
  • They can then have another go at shutting the pathology lab which was only saved after a similar public outcry last year.
  • Then why not just sell off the rest?
  • We are under no illusions. This is a planned, progressive asset-strip. Letwin would not dream of associating himself with this campaign if he didn’t personally believe it was doomed to failure, so the decision has already been taken, somewhere, and the consultation exercise is just to soften up the public.

That doesn’t mean we are going to allow it to happen, if enough people get out to stop it. The health service is a pyramid with a three-cornered base. At its apex are the managers, politicians and ultimately, their corporate masters. At the base are the medical staff, support staff and the patients – all workers and taxpayers. Unite the base and we will cut the top off!

HKCTU June 4th Declaration on 2015

HKCTU June 4th Declaration on 2015

Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions

Under the one-party dictatorship, workers in China are still deprived of the three labour rights: freedom of association, the right to strike, and the right to collective bargaining. Their struggles for labour rights often lead to oppression from government officials and employers. Meanwhile, due to the undemocratic political system and collusion between government and enterprises, workers in Hong Kong are similarly deprived of standard working hours and the right to collective bargaining.

As Chinese workers become aware of their legal rights, they are more courageous in their struggles which are also becoming more frequent. In the meantime, apart from forcing labour organizations to close down their offices, local governments are gradually turning to the use of violence and detention as repressive means against workers who are often forced to accept resignation compensation which is much lower than what is stipulated in the law. In the first six months of 2015, there were at least three cases of labour disputes in which police broke into the venues where workers were meeting. They beat up and arbitrarily arrested staff of labour organizations and workers representatives. At least 7 labour activists are now in prison (see name list below). Some of them are serving life or long term imprisonment due to their support of the 1989 Democratic Movement or organizing independent labour movement. There are also innumerable but undocumented cases of labour activists who are detained or criminalized.

Since the second half of 2014, the Chinese government has been tightening its surveillance of mainland NGOs that receive overseas funding and are stifling the development of the civic society and the labour movement. On June 16th, 2014, the Guangzhou Government passed the ordinance of “Community Organizations Management Directives”, stipulating that any NGO primarily funded by an overseas NGO would be defined as a branch of the overseas NGO, allowing its activities to be restricted or even banned. The draft Foreign NGOs Management Law and the National Security Law will be reviewed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress this year. The purpose of the new laws is to block mainland NGOs from building connections and receiving support from overseas. Under the new laws, Chinese people’s right to free association will be further curtailed.

We call on the Hong Kong and International Community to continue to focus on labour rights in China and urge the Chinese Government to immediately:

  1. Release all imprisoned labour activists, and stop all suppression and violent acts against labour organizations and workers’ representatives;
  2. Ratify ILO Conventions No. 87 and No. 98; namely the implementation of the right to organize trade unions and collective bargaining, the elimination of severe constraints on domestic NGOs, the protection of the freedom of association and the establishment of the three labour rights;
  3. Implement strict law enforcement to severely penalize enterprises for labour rights infringement and to protect labour rights

Anarchist Action Network website SSL certificate.

The AAN website has been updated and new content is being added all the time, however the SSL certificate has expired which means a new one must be purchased and installed, this is being sorted by the collective. In the meantime you will see a ‘security warning’ that depending on the browser you are using will look something like the examples below. You will then have to jump through a few hoops to access the site, ignoring all their dire warnings, and we hope you will; it’s perfectly safe and fortune favours the bold!

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In that case you have to click on ‘advanced’ to proceed to the site.

East London Rising

AANThe Anarchist Action Network is appealing for funds to help it put on a temporary anarchist space in East London during the first week of August 2015.

The network, which consists of individuals and autonomous local groups, based in towns and cities across the UK and further afield, says: “During the first week of August we plan to rent a space in East London, give away free food every day and hold workshops, talks and discussions about anarchism, anti-capitalism, anti-racism, feminism, ecology, housing, austerity, workplace and claimant struggles.”

The event follows the AAN’s Newport Rising event last year – see this report on indymedia.

To donate what you can to help make East London Rising happen, go to http://gogetfunding.com/east-london-rising

The fight is on to save Dorset County Hospital’s children’s ward; updated.

Sabo CatA group of around 30 mothers came together today for a flash demo at Vespasian House, Dorchester, outside a meeting of the Clinical Commissioning Group. The protest, which was self-organised through social media, is over a plot to close the Kingfisher children’s ward and Special Care Baby Unit at Dorset County Hospital and move the service to Poole or Bournemouth They were supported by a member of the local Unite community branch and the driver of a bus stopped to show his support.

The protesters were met by someone calling himself an ‘engagement director’, who suggested a small delegation might be admitted to the meeting – and get fobbed off by a gang of suits – but the women were having none of it. The Unite rep told him: “Looks like you’ve got a Spartacus situation on your hands”

Picture from Dorset Echo
Picture from Dorset Echo

We hope the campaigners will stick to their guns and not allow themselves to be split up, intimidated, or worse, co-opted by political interests. The most effective movements come from the ground up. More on this as it develops.

The hospital’s website says: “We have a philosophy of family–centred care in which we see each child as an individual as well as being part of a family.” And: “We encourage parents to stay with their child and there are no restrictions on visiting times.”

Residents in West Dorset are suffering from cuts to their bus services that make it hard enough to get to Dorchester let alone Poole or Bournemouth, there is no longer an evening service and some villages have only two buses a day.

A recent attempt to flog off the pathology service at the hospital was foiled after a public outcry.

West Dorset’s M.P. Oliver Letwin is the author of ‘Privatising the World’ and Britain’s biggest enterprise; his blueprint for selling the NHS.

A fair writeup from Dorset Echo

The bitter harvest: Human trafficking, child abuse and union busting by British American Tobacco.

Further to the post below, here is the report on the slave-like conditions in North Carolina tobacco farms, published on behalf of the Farm Labour Organising Committee by Unite:

BATslaves

“Why do we ban cigarettes to minors, but somehow it’s perfectly OK to have 12-year-olds getting nicotine poisoning in the fields?”

Article: Why Are Children Working in American Tobacco Fields?

Clicktivism: Spam the fuckers!

FLOC Presents Alternative Shareholders Report at BAT Annual Meeting, Outlining Labour Abuses in North Carolina

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FLOC PRESENTS ALTERNATIVE SHAREHOLDERS REPORT AT BAT ANNUAL MEETING, OUTLINING LABOUR ABUSES IN NORTH CAROLINA

Arriving in the pouring rain, representatives of FLOC, IUF, Unite, and Rev. Singh of the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility, attended the British American Tobacco annual meeting on the 29th of April. Outside the BAT AGM were a group of young activists protesting BAT policies with regards to child labour and youth smoking. Pres. Velasquez met with them and reported the conditions of tobacco farm workers that FLOC is trying to change.

Full story.