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

radicalworkerspx
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!

SCBU

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!

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

Autonomy film show in Bridport, Sat. 2nd May 2015.

1505 Four Horsemen (1)

Events organised by others.

23rd April.
Frome Friends of Palestine. Peace Building in our Community – Stories from three Palestinians. The Ammerdown Centre, Ammerdown Park, Radstock, Somerset, BA3 5SW Tel: 01761 433709

Between Frome and Radstock.

Bar opens 7.30, starts 8:00. Admission free.

​Sat 25th April.
38 Degrees NHS Day: Meet Bucky-Do Square at 11am to leaflet and get signatures for petition*, drawing attention to what is happening to the NHS and to encourage Election candidates to see the groundswell against privatization.​

*didn’t we do all that 5 years ago? – ed.

28th April
South Somerset Peace Group. Journalism and Solidarity, Passion and Bias. Minster Rooms, Ilminster. 7.30pm ; all welcome – £3 appreciated, including tea/coffee .

Industrial dispute at Refresco-Gerber, Bridgwater, Somerset: Press release from Unite the Union. Support needed!

Please support this major strike in a Somerset manufacturing plant in any way you can. This is a David and Goliath struggle against a vicious multi-national company going all out to weaken or smash trade union organisation. Please share far and wide.

Don’t vote, picket!

Picture by Roy Winter

Press release from Unite the Union: Friday 13th March 2015
Angry strikers set to escalate dispute:

250 Bridgwater fruit-juice makers resolve to see out their David and Goliath struggle against foreign-owned company to bitter end

Picture by Roy Winter

Fifty Unite the Union demonstrators, a familiar sight at the Express Park roundabout at the north end of the Bristol Rd in Bridgwater for months now, were still in determined mood yesterday. This was their seventh 36-hour strike protest against plans by Refresco-Gerber to radically worsen pay and conditions at the factory, which produces household-name fruit juices. At least three more stoppages have been planned for the next two weeks. Unite the Union officer Roy Winter said:

“Our members contribute their working lives to this factory, which makes a handsome profit for Refresco-Gerber. Unfortunately, under new owners whose HQ is now in Rotterdam, those profits are not enough: the plan is to double or treble them at the expense of Unite members sick pay, shift allowances, pay protection. We are talking here of corporate greed, nothing more or less. Refresco-Gerber is making a bad mistake. There has been a recognised union organisation here for nearly fifty years: Unite the Union will not walk away from this dispute until the company agree an acceptable settlement.”

Picture by Roy Winter

Two mass meetings will be held on the 16th & 17th March to inform Unite members involved in the dispute of the latest negotiations.

Future 36-hour strikes are set for:

  • Wednesday /Thursday the 18th/19th March, 0645am to 1900pm;
  • Tuesday/Wednesday 24th/25th March, 0645am to 1900pm;
  • Wednesday/Thursday 1st /2nd April, 0645am to 1900pm.

Trades unionists are welcome at picket lines, key times are 7am/7pm. For further information please contact Roy Winter on 07720 705078 roy.winter@unitetheunion.org

Autonomy Films and Bridport UNITE Community Group film show Saturday 28th March 6:45 for 7:30pm

1503 Sell Off

Other Events locally

19th March 2015.

Film – Life in Hebron. 7:30pm St Catharine’s Hall, Park Road, Frome BA11 1EU. Bradford on Avon friends of Palestine. £3 Proceeds go to bringing the Freedom Theatre of Jenin to Frome.

21st March.

Demonstration – UN Anti-Racism Day. Assemble 12 noon at the Town Pump, march to the war memorial and brief rally. Dorchester, Weymouth and Portland TUC, Unite Against Fascism Dorset Socialists and Dorset IWW.

CAAT conference. 10am – 5pm, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL, UK £7 waged / £3 unwaged (Includes tea, coffee and a light vegetarian lunch).

24th March. Talk – Democracy and War Today. 7:30pm, Minster Rooms, Ilminster. South Somerset Peace Group. All welcome – £3 appreciated, including tea/coffee.

25th March. Public First – Local democracy petition, signature gathering, South Street, Dorchester.

28th March. Disco – Frolic for the NHS at the Con Club, North Street, Bridport 9.30pm.

2nd April. Transition Town Bridport – Talk with Carloine Walker ‘The Circular Economy’. WI, North Street, Bridport. 7.30pm. £3 or £1+2Nets.

8th April. From Page to Screen – The Grapes of Wrath. 11am Bridport Arts Centre. £6/£4.

14th April. Hustings with all local electoral candidates, on human rights and general issues at Woodroffe School, Lyme Regis 7pm

15th April. Hustings with all local electoral candidates, on environmental issues at Thomas Hardy School, Dorchester 7.30pm

Autonomy film show in Bridport Saturday 10th Jan 2015

Saturday 10th Jan 2015 6:45 for 7:30pm, The Town Hall, Central Bridport. Sell Off. The Abolition of Your NHS. Plus Reel News short film, 20mins.

1501 Sell Off

Our future film dates:

Saturday February 14th.

Saturday March 7th. International Women’s Day

19th January. Bus Action Group Demonstration outside the council offices in Dorchester, 9:30am. Details; Bus Action Group (West Dorset), Facebook page.