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

A reply to the blogger kittysjones: “The ultimate aim of the “allthesame” lie is division and disempowerment of the Left.”

What a fucking cop out!

What follows was posted as a reply to the blog post here: twice; we then asked the blogger whether our comment had been censored, as we could see other, more sycophantic comments had since been approved by the admin; that reply didn’t appear either. It doesn’t auger well for a future under labour if even their supporting bloggers seek to stifle mild dissent.

From the anti-capitalist point of view of course they’re all the same, – should the turkey vote for Christmas? The Chartist and suffragette campaigns were not primarily about the right to vote, that was just a means to an end. They were an attempt to bring the selfish and greedy ruling class to heel, and they weren’t afraid to fight. But it was too late, they let us have the vote once they had completed the theft of our means of production, and condemned every single one of us to wage labour, which however you dress it up, is an abusive relationship; an abomination. The labour party gave the working class someone to vote for that could speak politely for it in the corridors of power then take its seat again without ever altering the balance of that power.

The worst thing about voting is that it’s an excuse for not doing anything, it reinforces the idea that someone, somewhere, is in control and it’s up to them to solve the problems they created, it isn’t, it’s up to us. People waste their time and energy campaigning in an election and then sit back on their arses as if they’ve done something worthwhile. What a fucking cop out. The working class has power, governments claim to have it; government is a conspiracy between rulers and ruled. Your reward for allowing yourself to be governed is absolution from responsibility for the misery created by the society you inhabit. Recent history has shown that whilst elected governments must bend to corporate interests a handful of determined militants can thwart their best laid plans. An example of the futility of parliamentary democracy can be found here: yet generations of leftists have defeated themselves in this arena. Read how the labour member respects our enemies for their ability to frustrate us.

What if labour do get elected? A thinly-veiled corporatism is sold to us on the basis that it will be slightly kinder; and to the bourgeoisie on the premise that it will be more stable than their cut-throat piracy (in other words we will be persuaded to collaborate in our own exploitation). When we start kicking off, wildcatting, blockading fracking sites, stopping evictions and deportations, closing down exploiters, actually hurting our capitalist enemies, they’ll tell us to stop rocking the boat or we’ll let the tories in again, just like they did in the 70’s. Anyway, here’s our original reply:

“All three parties are fighting this election under false pretences, the idea that countries must balance their books like petty bourgeois households and that abstract debts created in computer programmes exert some moral obligation over real people – much less the working class, who even built their wretched computers for them. The idea that there is a shortage of work and money when in fact there is too much of both. There is plenty to do; to be sure, saving the bloody planet for a start, but the only activity that will earn you a qualified right to exist in their world is one that adds value to someone else’s capital thereby enhancing the fetishised status of the socially useless. A true socialist would have the courage to say so.

Of course the tories are despicable and wish to enslave the working class, but need I remind you the last labour government introduced workfare and lied to the United Nations to start a war in which a million people died, despite an unprecedented and inarguable level of active public opposition. Short of taking up arms against the state the British people were powerless to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe engineered by Tony Blair on behalf of his sponsors in the oil industry – Halliburton – who were at the time running the United States. They’ve got form for this; the Wilson government took a solemn decision in cabinet to lie to the U.N. over Diego Garcia which it had sold to the U.S. for a military base, had the population forcibly removed and left to stave to death on a rock.

Now Miliband will pander to the moral panic painstakingly created by the corporate media over immigration; curiously the public service broadcaster has led the way in this. The BBC incessantly prompts callers for reactionary comments, reassuring wavering racists that it’s understandable to be scared of foreigners. Any fool knows that economic migration is not controlled by governments but by the bourgeoisie, who use it to lower the wages and conditions at the bottom, whilst ‘quality immigration’ – importing I.T. specialists from India or doctors from the Philippines is just a shameful pillage of the education systems of the poorest countries by the richest – primitive accumulation. National borders are of no use to us, being only necessary to maintain differentials in prices and wages to the benefit of the employing class. A true socialist would have the courage to say so.

A ‘Labour’ party would stand for the working class regardless of nationality and expose the concept of national interest for the scam it has always been. It would stop lying about the realities of economics, stop apologising for the excesses of global capitalism, stop trying to fix the economy, stop polishing the turd. If we want an end to capitalism we have to stop trying to make it work. The economy is the mechanism that maintains the dominance of the few over the many and we must push it until it breaks.

We don’t want a different government we need expropriation of private property and to take control of the infrastructure to institute sustainable demand-led production. No political party is going to do that for us, the emancipation of the exploited is the task of the exploited themselves, not some lily-livered apologist for the exploiters.”

Mal C x

BEING LABELLED A WOMAN…

Re-blogged from irate

Being a feminist for me didn’t come from reading academic theory. It also didn’t come from a hatred of men. It just came about from being a woman in this society and not understanding the way I was treated on a day to day basis; from the casual sexism of school playgrounds to being ignored in meetings as an adult, talked over, patronised and put down. It may sound simplistic, even trivial, but living in a world where women are constantly undermined and under-represented, makes those everyday ‘soft sexisms’ really hard to bear. Often too difficult to prove, often too vague to explain, often too complex to tackle, but always extremely difficult to bear.

These everyday manifestations of a male dominated society are at the thin end of a large social wedge, where the majority of low paid exploited workers are women, where women still take on the majority of care and household responsibilities, one in four women will suffer from domestic violence and one in three are raped. We are bombarded with unhealthy images, which make us hate our own bodies; made to feel guilty for controlling our reproduction; dirty for enjoying sex; and perhaps worst of all, labelled hysterical or monstrous, when we demand our rights.

Faced with this, it’s all too easy to see women as the passive victims of society but in doing so we forget that throughout history women have actually been at the forefront of political struggle. We must not fall in to the trap of rendering women and women’s labour invisible. Whether it be the early trade unionists like the Match Girl Strikers of 1888, the suffragettes fighting for their right to vote, women demanding abortion provision, the Women Against Pit Closures, the Wages for Housework Campaign, the Grunwick Strikers and the more recent Gate Gourmet workers, time and time again women have heroically fought to improve their lives, often faced with the most difficult circumstances. The fight for women’s liberation is, and has always been, at the heart of the labour and anti-capitalist movements’ fight for a world in which we can all realise our true potential, living in a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many not the few.

So what is the role now for feminists? Well for most women, it’s not enough simply to get more women to parliament, as New Labour has smugly delivered, or espouse rhetoric supporting increasing women’s representation, which even now the Tories have donned. Questions about whether or not we should wear high heels and how ‘to have it all’ (being a successful professional, perfect mother and style icon all at the same time) as important as they are, fail to fully deal with the reality of most women’s lives – not least that of the cleaner or nanny employed by these middle class women to ‘free’ them from household drudgery. Admittedly, it is a victory of some kind that this type of feminism is quite prominent in the media now (from columnists like Julie Birchell and Susan Moore to ‘pop’ politics books by the likes of Caitlin Moran and Kat Banyard) – signifying that it is no longer acceptable that issues arising from gender are completely silenced.

Yet we know that the career or liberal feminist outraged pursuit of legal equality is woefully inadequate. Different people have different access to (and indeed, some explicitly denied) these ‘human rights’. Popularism for these feminists invariable means opportunism. More importantly, whatever value their otherwise often valid and accurate analysis has to offer, is tragically diminished by their illusions in ‘tinkering’ around the edges of society’s structures, changing laws; reforming capitalism to included women. And of course, what this in the end becomes, is to fight to include white middle class women, who indeed are still oppressed in relation to their male counter-parts, in to the system. Why can’t they be rich and powerful too?

This is not to say that engaging in these reformist campaigns are superfluous, when, in fact, they impact greatly on our lives. Only, lessons of the Women’s Liberation Movement, have shed light on the tendency of certain ‘feminists’ to silence difference through their ‘universalising’ narrative. A story based on their own unrepresentative experience. The ones who get to speak on behalf of us all. To be ‘heard’ loudly and clearly – becoming the columnists, academics, lawyers, journalists (and so forth) – as the establishment accepts them more readily because in many ways they are from the establishment (or at least less of a threat). Feminism in this light becomes alienating and excluding for anyone who can not relate, or indeed have diametrically opposing interests, to this middle class white privilege.

Of course the conditions created by capitalism create and utilise a myriad of complicated oppressions which divide us. Oppression and exploitation are linked in a whole host of ways – there is always something of the idealogical in exploitation and something material in oppression. Arguably capitalism did not just inherit systems of oppression from previous societies but that these systems have actually helped to shape its social manifestation. As a result we socially and personally negotiate complex and unique identities. There is a constant struggle between being defined and defining ourselves. It seems crucial that these processes are engaged with and that we all need to reflect – consciously, sensitively, individually and collectively – on both our own and other’s sense of self (and how we relate to each other). Diversity is a massive resource of our movement and yet it goes to waste as we often reproduce the crushing limitations that oppression inflicts on individual lives.

On the other-hand we want to resist fetishing and exotising difference by creating mysterious unknowable others. Not only can become very unhelpful but is often leads to pointless (in my opinion) competitions about who is more oppressed. Most importantly of all, we need to understand our society in order to change it. Understand what drives these oppressions; what drives everything. It is Marxism that offers us not just a ‘critique’ of the material reality but more importantly a future. A way forward beyond lifestyle individualism.

We need a type of feminism which is able to address the conditions in which the majority of women live. One that is able to take account of the multiple different oppressions people experience (from race to disability to gender to sexuality and so on) and represent our multiple identities. One that goes beyond a, far too often limited, critique of patriarchy but has the capacity to imagine and create a fundamentally different society. It is becoming increasingly clear to many, that we need revolution not reform and only an anti-capitalist intersectional feminist movement will be able to truly deliver.

CLASS WAR PRESS RELEASE: London’s longest running protest is under threat from the Met – & National ‘Call A Copper A Cunt Day’.

Picture by Dave Amis Creative Digital Photography, links to site.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For more information contact

The weekly Poor Doors protests outside No.1 Commercial Street in Aldgate have been ongoing over the past eight months. But last Thursday, organisers Class War were told to remove their banner featuring the four major party leaders with ‘ALL FUCKING WANKERS’ slogan underneath or face arrest.

Although eager to carry out arrests over the banner, Met backed down in apparent confusion over the legalities. The clash between the Met’s reliance on public order legislation against protests and the protesters’ on European rights rulings means the outcome will have far reaching implications for protest. The Met allege the banner was offensive but despite canvassing passers by could not find anyone other than themselves who were offended – a requirement under the legislation.

Class War’s Ian Bone said: “The Met morality appears stuck in a 1960s Lady Chattersley’s Lover era – where offence is taken on behalf of one’s servants. Do they have a remit on English language usage?

“Only four years ago a photographer was acquitted after cops raided his house of a Class War ‘Cameron wanker’ poster in the window. More recently a judge ruled that swearing at a policeman was not a crime because they heard it so often.

“We like swearing and swear that we will continue to swear in public….at policemen. Defend swearing. Tell the cops to fuck off!”

Class War argue that Articles 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act give them the right to display the banner in a public place. Case law pertaining to section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 also suggests that use of swear words alone is insufficient reason to arrest. See Harvey v Director of Public Prosecutions [2011] All ER (D) 143 (Nov).

DEFEND FREE SPEECH – OUR RIGHTS TO SWEAR ARE BEING ATTACKED

NO.1 COMMERCIAL STREET THURSDAY MARCH 5TH 6pm

sweary