Radical Workers’ Bloc at Tolpuddle 2014.
This will be our fourth bloc on the Martyrs Festival and rally; from an inauspicious start with seven of us and a black hanky on a stick, we’ve more than doubled each year to about seventy-five in 2013, from as far afield as Wales, France and the Midlands. Our commitment is to the original spirit of the Martyrs: working class self-organisation in the face of a hostile bourgeois state, more relevant today than ever, owing to the abject failure of political and industrial representation to meet the needs of the people, and the increasingly repressive reaction of the state to autonomous protest and resistance.
Once again we have a stall in the Martyrs Marquee; we will be carrying stock from Freedom Books, Britain’s oldest anarchist publisher, plus flags, badges, zines and pamphlets for donations, and loads of free stuff. If you’d like to take part and help run the stall, or if you have literature you’d like to give away or accept donations for please get in touch.
For those who are staying for the weekend festival, an advance party will arrive on Friday afternoon to pitch tents; we corral them together so that people can get to know each other, exchange contacts and ideas, plan and plot another year of class struggle.
As the entire world knows by now, Ulwell Cottage Caravan Park in Swanage, Dorset, is a terrible employer taking advantage of struggling precarious workers, treating them with disrespect and dismissing them when they complain.
in October 2012 Ulwell sacked a swimming pool attendant for drawing attention to breaches of health and safety and working time regulations and for union membership. A contract manager named Neil Long further threatened him with local blacklisting – don’t they ever learn?
This worker just happened to be part of two of the south’s keenest class-struggle groupings, Bristol IWW GMB and Wessex Solidarity; we have friends in low places, and supported by the SolFed and Dorset Socialists our communications blockade was spread to 4 continents by social media.
Not much point picketing a holiday camp in November so we waited for a busy Saturday in August and assembled at the site in the charmingly named ‘Darkie Lane’ – I shit you not! We’re looking into this now and will get it changed if it’s the last thing we ever do. Any historical background on this would be much appreciated but we suspect Dorset’s murky past involvement with the slave trade, the Drax family being notorious culprits. That association doesn’t seem to bother Ulwell park but the irony was not lost on us; we expect we can shame the council into doing something about it, get in touch if you’d like to help.
Our call out was answered by 17 assorted Anarchists and Socialists with a fantastic age and gender balance, some taking direct action for the first time. By chance we met a member of Surrey and Hants AFed. Had it not been for the sudden fascist manifestation in Portsmouth we would have had twice that number, some did both. See here for a log of one very militant day.
Crap employers take note, we stand ready to do this for each and any employee you mistreat, an injury to one is an injury to all.
If you exploit us we will shut you down!
Radical workers’ bloc at Tolpuddle; come and meet the Anarchists! Martyrs’ festival and rally 19th-21st July 2013
In 2011 an anarchist-inspired black bloc stole the TUC’s thunder and dominated the ‘March for the alternative’. For a couple of hours, as Miliband set out his vision for saving capitalism – surrounded by bodyguards in case anyone remembered the last Labour government – militant workers in Oxford Street made a little piece of the country ungovernable.
At that year’s Tolpuddle festival a lonely red and black flag fluttered over the campsite. A small group of anarchists, who had basically come for the music, decided to join the Martyrs’ rally on the Sunday, but not wishing to march under the hammer and sickle or the Labour Party banner, scrounged a length of garden cane and tied a piece of plain black cloth to it. This image appeared on the front page of the Tolpuddle website.
The following year we decided to do it properly; local troublemakers Wessex Solidarity put out the following call through social media:
“Calling on Anarchists, Anarchosyndicalists, Libertarian Socialists, Revolutionary Unionists, Platformists, Wobblies, non-aligned working class radicals and all those who want to celebrate 200 years of class struggle without marching under the banner of a political party or the business unions that affiliate to them. Bring your red/black/(A)/pirate flags and let’s start putting the libertarian left back into the consciousness of our class. We’re portrayed as a disorganised rabble – show ‘em we can get organised and march together as a group.”
The annual celebration of working class struggle is meaningless without us, and allows reformists and reactionaries to claim the union movement as their own. Despite initial hysteria from some of the organisers, we conducted ourselves with dignity, even behaving magnanimously towards a bunch of tankies who pushed in front of us, they have only the past; we’ll take the future.
On the day, we were joined by members of the Anarchist Federation, Solidarity Federation, IWW, Class War and non-aligned Anarchist groups, from as far afield as Brighton, Bognor, Portsmouth, Thames Valley, Swindon, Bath, Bristol and the Midlands, many of us fresh from the counter – EDL action in Bristol. We also picked up some supporters along the way and got the thumbs up from quite a few people.
The 2013 bloc is going to be massive; this initiative has the formal support of AFed and SolFed and other groups are making plans to take part – with a bit of effort we could easily be the largest contingent there.
Stop by our stall in the Martyrs Marquee, or see us on the campsite for a cup of tea and a chat, and march with us on Sunday. If you or your group want to get involved, get in touch via the contact forms on SolFed or the Wessex Solidarity blog.
“Crowned heads, wealth and privilege may well tremble should ever again the Black and Red unite!” – Otto von Bismarck
At our national delegate council on 24/01/13, the Solidarity Federation officially recognised three new locals, in Calderdale, Hastings and the Solent. We also recognised a Belfast local as being in-formation prior to reaching a formal decision at national conference in April.
We also agreed to make regular donations to the Sparrow’s Nest library in Nottingham which holds the collection of one of our members which stretches back to the Syndicalist Workers’ Federation and is an important record of British anarcho-syndicalism. We will also be making a donation to the London anarchist bookfair collective and encourage others to do the same.
The new Solent local has members from Bournemouth to Bognor and all stations in between, if you are interested, use the contact form on SolFed’s website. The server is undergoing maintenance at the moment so if you can’t get on it contact Wessex Solidarity and we’ll pass it on.
from Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty:
Protestors blockaded and occupied both British Heart Foundation and Superdrug in Edinburgh today Saturday 8 December, in opposition to their participation in the government’s workfare schemes.
A huge banner declaring IF YOU EXPLOIT US WE WILL SHUT YOU DOWN blocked the entrance to the BHF furniture store in Leith’s Kirkgate centre as demonstrators occupied the shop. Impromptu speeches were given inside and out, explaining that although BHF had claimed to be “moving away” from workfare, they were still taking on new compulsory placements.
Bristol Anti-cuts alliance:
On Wednesday November 14th, the European Trade Union Confederation has called a European Day of Action and Solidarity against austerity. Workers in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus & Malta are staging an International General Strike. In other countries workers will take action. At the initiative of Greeks and Spaniards living and working in Bristol, local activists and trades unionists are holding a solidarity protest on the Centre near Neptune’s statue from 5pm.
Please come if you can. Bring banners. All welcome.
For more information email admin@bristolanticutsalliance.
Bristol Solidarity Federation are planning to hold a protest picket against stores that continue to use the Workfare programme to recruit unpaid labour.
This will be held on Sunday 18th November 2012. Commencing 11.30am and we plan to finish at 1.00pm. We asking people to gather outside Poundland, 42 – 46 East Street, Bedminster. As part of our on-going campaign we are nationally targeting Poundland but we also recognise that other stores continue to profit from this source of free labour. Others that operate in Bedminster include Asda, Greggs, McDonald’s, Poundstretcher, Savers, Shoe Zone, Super Drug and Wilkinsons.
We would like to call on your support to apply pressure to these stores.
Bristol Solidarity Federation.
Calling on Anarchists, Anarchosyndicalists, Libertarian Socialists, Revolutionary Unionists, Platformists, Wobblies, non-aligned working class radicals and all those who want to celebrate 200 years of class struggle without marching under the banner of a political party or the business unions that affiliate to them. Bring your red/black/(A)/pirate flags and let’s start putting the libertarian left back into the consciousness of our class. We’re portrayed as a disorganised rabble – show ‘em we can get organised and march together as a group.
We urge all who can to go to Bristol on Saturday 14th to oppose the EDL.