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…

View map Download flyer

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!

Public Consultation on Slyer’s Lane wind farm, closes 20th December 2014

From West Dorset Pro Wind Facebook group

Application Number: WD/D/14/002611 Case Officer: Andrew Martin Tel: 01305 252227

For the application & to comment online West Dorset District Council “Planning Application Search”
http://webapps.westdorset-dc.gov.uk/PlanningApps/Pages/Planning.aspx?App=WD/D/14/002611

By post: Mr Martin, Case Officer, Planning Department , West Dorset District Council, South Walks House, South Walks, Dorchester DT1 1UZ

If you are writing your own letter make sure you include the application number and your address. Everyone 18 and over in your household can have his/her own say. You can use the same envelope or email address. Save a copy of what you write and use it to contact your local councillors and your MP. Check out the documents online or view at the Council offices on request.

It is an election year. With UKIP and others, there is a new level of climate change denial, a threat to cancel all targets on greenhouse gas emissions and plans to stop the development of renewables both wind and solar in its tracks.

Victory for Dorset Health Campaign! Community rejects pathology privatisation.

The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it” – Aneurin Bevan.

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The people of Dorset have seen off the piratisation parasites and foiled attempts to flog off the Dorset county hospital’s pathology lab to private contractors out of the county.

Bridport Unite Community Branch performed ‘NHS versus capitalists’ street theatre outside Dorchester hospital ahead of its board meeting on Wednesday. Watch it on youtube

The directors caved in to the avalanche of public outrage over the profiteering scheme. Demonstrations have been taking place outside the hospital for a year and a petition gathered over 11,000 signatures. This is one up the shitter for ‘evil Oliver’ Letwin the bloodsucking M.P. for West Dorset whose manifestation is anticipated in Bridport next month.

Discussions began in July 2013 to sub-contract the service to South West Pathology Services in Taunton – See more:

In August, 24 Dorset G.P.s wrote to the Echo:

“The innovation of electronic reporting means we can receive a result in the late afternoon from a sample taken in the morning. This is great for patient care. There is no intention from local GPs to destabilise or undermine our local service by forcing competition and making a market where none is needed.”

In September a row erupted over a proposal to spend three and a half grand training the governors and appoint a spokesperson to stop them giving the game away to the media.

On Monday midwives at Dorset County Hospital will strike over an ‘insulting’ one percent pay rise. The Royal College of Midwives estimate that if their members, who rely on food banks to survive, began billing the NHS for the 13 hours of overtime they clock up on average over a few weeks, it would increase their pay packets by one percent anyway.

The NHS was built by the working class for the working class. Drugs and medical equipment are made by workers not capitalists. Cleaners, doctors, nurses, midwives, porters and technicians are workers. It belongs to us, it’s not a source of revenue for the socially useless. Keep your filthy grasping bourgeois hands off it!

Dorset Eye report

To celebrate, here’s a song about vampires:

Bournemouth mobilises against fascism! 23rd August.

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Oppose the racist English Defence League in Bournemouth on 23rd August!

Once again this bizarre right-wing cult threatens one of the most peaceful and diverse communities in the south. Their proposed ‘Bournemouth against the Islamification of Britain’ march is a crude provocation to a section of the population that has been here since before most of them were born.

A broad-based coalition, ‘We are Bournemouth’ comprising unions, community organisations, traders and individuals from all walks of life has called for a massive, inclusive, family-friendly counter demonstration against racism and fascism.

Local antifascist groups such as BHstopEDL, StopEDL Bournemouth and of course ourselves will also be out and about on the day, something for everyone. Bournemouth EDL has a history of importing fascists from elsewhere, notably Southampton and Portsmouth, as the blighters have been quite effectively blocked in their own areas, so we call on antifascists from across the south to join us on the day – who knows, you might get to spot one of your local boneheads!

The EDL, which mostly focuses its hatred on Muslims but attracts every kind of bigot has suffered badly in recent years from defections, criminal convictions and internal splits, but has somehow stayed under the radar in Dorset – mainly because most people have never heard of it or are unaware of its fascist origins and sinister agenda, and because there are few racial tensions here to exploit – let’s keep it that way. Their new chairman Tim Ablitt, who was Dorset organiser for the BNP splinter group ‘British Freedom Party’, lives at Fitzworth Avenue in Poole.

Now, we didn’t make this up, honestly.

berksIt was a response to Bournemouth fascist Gary Hazel‘s plea on farcebook for a field where out-of-towners could get heavily refreshed the night before. The cops having refused the fascists permission to use public campsites – not that any would have them – after telling them they aren’t allowed to cook a pig on the beach.

Details will follow as both march routes are being challenged by the locals, we’ve been forwarding e mail enquiries to BHstopEDL

See you on the streets – they shall not pass!

Tolpuddle 2014.

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Photo by Wheelz.

We take a moment to salute our illustrious comrade John Flower (see below 4th July) who passed away in June, we left a small memorial to him at the annual International Brigades ceremony and antifascists from Wessex, Portsmouth and Southampton attended his funeral.

But life is for the living and we had another cracking weekend! We were delighted to welcome four comrades from CNT-AIT Caen this year.

Minor drama on Saturday when some prat tried to trash the stall after a specious argument about royalties. His objection was to our use of the ubiquitous John Harris photograph of Lesley Boulton at Orgreave, on this the 30th anniversary of the Miners’ Strike, which could be seen adorning T shirts all over the site. He was safely and efficiently restrained by one of the older members of our group, who also happens to be a photojournalist. We have several NUJ members in the collective who questioned him about his motives. All became clear when we visited his stall which carried similar images at four quid a pop! It turned out he was just some bourgeois flogging lefty posters for the benefit of no one but himself, and he was upset that we were giving away something he was trying to sell.

The unseemly fracas didn’t do us any harm as people queued up to tell us – and him, what a prick he was, and our now slightly disheveled literature flew off the stall. He approached the organisers (not us) to offer an apology, and we replied that since he cares so much about money, he could make amends by sticking some in our donations jar, this he failed to do.

The stuff we carry on the stall is only there because we want people to read it; we produce it ourselves and we only take donations for it to cover our costs so we can do it again next year. The cash we take for Freedom goes to Freedom. Revenge was foregone as we were reluctant to relinquish the moral high ground we occupied, but if you’re doing a class-based event keep an eye out for this arsehole who just might decide to barge in and fuck shit up. Stocky bloke with white hair, gold-rimmed glasses and beige trousers. This is from his web site, ‘Past Pixels’ click on it to go there:

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Numbers on the march down a bit on last year but it was good to welcome some new faces.

Radical Workers’ Bloc at Tolpuddle 2014.

Radical Workers’ Bloc at Tolpuddle 2014.

Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival and Rally, Friday 18th July to Sunday 20th July 2014

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Tolpuddle 2013 Radical Workers’ Bloc: the weekend in pictures.

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.

If you’re just marching with us on Sunday 20th July, Meet up as usual 1:30 pm outside the Martyrs Museum; bring your flags and banners. View map  Farcebook event

A4 Flyer     2xA5 Flyer To get involved, contact: wsol@riseup.net

Freedom Press

50% pay cut for ex-NHS carers in Dorset.

A personal account from a Dorset care worker:

In 2011 approximately 160 adults with severe learning disabilities and challenging behaviour were transferred from long stay hospital units and moved into their own homes. The private sector stepped in to provide care for these people and staff were personally matched and TUPE transferred with each individual. The promise was that any private care provider bidding for one of our clients had to show they could ensure our contracts for 2 years minimum, employ new staff on the same pay as the NHS workers to avoid a 2 tier workforce, and help with retention of new staff. A few weeks after the transfer it became apparent this was not the case; providers were employing colleagues at a much lower rate.

By October 2012 the provider ‘Dimensions’ had cut one third of staff’s salary in the form of lost enhancements, change to overtime rate, reduction in annual leave, loss of sick pay, reduced maternity leave etc.. Staff on average lost between £300 and £500 per month in take home pay. For one reason only, many staff accepted the cut at that time while others were dismissed and re-engaged. This reason being respect for those we care for. In Dorset many of us have worked for decades with these people, and have seen them uprooted and socially isolated in their own homes, often with strangers (agency staff) coming in to care, having lost day care provision and suitable transport, we felt so soon after this monumental change in their lives it would be beyond heart-breaking to remove the stability of those they had grown to trust over the decades, so we bit the bullet and continued to provide good care for our clients with the facilities we have.

‘Lifeways’, another of these providers, early in 2014 not only cut their staff’s wage in a similar fashion to Dimensions, they also reduced the hourly rate by 20% at the same time leading to huge reductions in take home pay. For example, a single parent of 3 previously took home £950 per month for part time hours – for these same hours she will now take home £389 – less than her mortgage payment alone and that is after 27 years in the service.  Again those that did not sign to accept this cut were ruthlessly dismissed and re-engaged.

In March 2014 Dimensions staff received a further letter stating their hourly rate would be cut by £1.90 (a 20% drop this time). This is going to force the long term staff to search for work elsewhere a choice they cannot take lightly but for reasons of survival will be forced to, having devastating effects for those we care for. Stability is essential for their quality of life and the staff realise this as we have, in many cases, dedicated our lives to the vocation.

Both Dimensions and Lifeways insist the cuts are only necessary because the local authorities who commission the work to such companies have cut the budget and they cannot survive as businesses unless they do. This appears to be their priority – survival as a business – rather than the devastation they are about to unleash on staff and vulnerable people.

That said, other private providers locally receiving the same amount of money from the authorities have kept their ex NHS staff on their original terms and conditions without going out of business. Despite staff arguing that the cut of £1.90 per hour to 42 Dimensions staff in the area, will result in recruitment and training costs higher than the saving made, Dimensions are well aware of this and stated they are looking at the long term stability of the company, so to us as staff this devastating upheaval is completely unnecessary, especially when you learn extra directors with huge salaries have been employed, managers have been cut in number but received an increase, deputy managers have been put in place  and a bonus will be paid to all staff in April due to a profit share scheme.

In what world can carers and those we care for be treated this way – in a tory world where profit is put before people time and time again, I would ask everyone reading this to imagine losing 50% of their wage within 2 years, through no fault of their own and in fact for taking more responsibility now than we ever did as a care worker in the hospital units.

Where does this leave me? Other than fighting against this cut I cannot look the gentleman I have looked after since 1999 in the eye for fear of how I am about to let him down, let alone his family and how they will feel when those staff they trust implicitly are priced out of the job. Not to mention how to pay my bills and care for my own children.

Join the “CARE CUTS HURT” demo outside Poole Council meeting. 22 April 17:45

Dorset Socialists organise against deportation 24/03/14

The Verne ex-prison on Portland is due to open its doors to detainees on Monday 24/03/14.

The opening of the Verne as a Detention Centre has been postponed, but the MOJ has declared it will house detainees there from Monday whilst it is still a prison, according to the Echo.

Dorset Socialists have collaborated with Detention Action and others to help set up Dorset Against Deportation.

1/. There will be an Anti-Deportation vigil to mark the opening on the roundabout at Victoria Square on Portland from 17:00 to 18:00 on 24/03/14, followed by
2/. the inaugural meeting of DAD in Osprey Quay nearby from 18:30 to 20:00. This will be addressed by Bill Mackeith from the Campsfield campaign and Oxford TUC. Banners and placards welcome.

All welcome.

Train carries straight on from Dorchester to Weymouth. It is a no1 bus to Portland from Debenhams.