Download RESISTANCE bulletin issue #139 March 2012 [PDF]: http://www.afed.org.uk/res/resist139.pdf
Subscribe to receive Resistance in print for a year, or join one of our free mailing lists to receive PDF or text by email.
Also available: Organise! magazine no. 77 – Winter 2011
The Anarchist Federation: http://www.afed.org.uk
Full contents of RESISTANCE bulletin issue #139 March 2012
•Pizza Hut Workers Demand A Proper Slice
•Direct action gets the goods! Victory in less than a week for newly reformed Glasgow Solidarity Network
• Two Greek hospitals under Workers’ Control
• Over 100 attend Greece solidarity demonstration in Edinburgh
• Report of the Fuel Poverty Action Warm-Ups Weekend across the UK
• Protestors tell Lansley what they think of NHS Privatisation
• Vita Cortex sit in
• Communities Fight to Stop Library Closures
• Week of action against Ryanair
• 125th anniversary celebrations for founding of Anti-Authoritarian International
• Demonstration Against ATOS & Police Repression
• Australian Prison Riot
Pizza Hut Workers Demand A Proper Slice
Twenty Pizza Hut workers and their supporters in Sheffield braved freezing temperatures and billowing snow to stage a protest against what they say are “insulting” conditions and pay.
Supporters, including members of the Anarchist Federation, staged solidarity protests around the world in Birmingham, Glasgow ,London, Wessex, Bradford , Hull, Brighton, Liverpool, Bristol and abroad in Richmond and Portland, USA and in Germany.
Members of the Pizza Hut Worker’s Union surrounded the company’s tiny store in Crookes, Sheffield carrying placards and leaflets that demanded management return to the negotiating table to discuss their frustrations over holiday pay and mileage rates.
Contrary to traditional practice, Pizza Hut workers do not receive the customary time and a half for working unsociable hours. This is despite many staff working late into the night and Bank Holidays, including Christmas Day.
Meanwhile, despite the staggering increases in petrol prices, Pizza Hut drivers still receive as little as 10p per mile in petrol money from the international franchise.
Despite the perceived downward trend in spending, take aways like Pizza Hut have been bucking the trend and continue to make huge profits. Workers are angry that this boom in business has not been reflected in their own pay. A Pizza Hut Workers Union member said: “Despite our best attempts to talk to management, we feel like we aren’t getting anywhere. It’s a joke that as Pizza Hut’s business continues to grow, the people that work the hardest and who are feeling the pinch are still receiving the bare minimum the company can get away with paying.”
The Pizza Hut Worker’s Union is part of the anti-capitalist IWW (Industrial Workers of the World).
Direct action gets the goods! Victory in less than a week for newly reformed Glasgow Solidarity Network
Glasgow Solidarity Network has demonstrated how direct action gets the goods with a successful conclusion to its first fight. Two members of the Glasgow Anarchist Federation and their flatmate discovered that it is illegal in Scotland for letting agents to charge tenants fees apart from rent and deposits. Their letting agent, Martin & Co, had charged the three of them them a substantial £250 “check-in” fee before they had even paid their deposit. They first submitted an official complaint but received only the receipt listing the fees they had paid as a reply. Shelter advised them that they could go to the small claims court, but the court fee would have been £65 with no guarantee of a win! So instead, on 3rd February, they and 15 friends from the Glasgow Solidarity Network delivered a letter in person to the head of the Martin & Co West End office (to the amusement of other staff) giving the company two weeks to return the money. They left quickly, took a picture outside for posterity, and dispersed, some to the pub. The manager must have called the police, because two officers came by the flat on Saturday to have a friendly chat, but thanks to helpful information from the Scottish Activist Legal Project, Solidarity Network members know their rights, and the police left without even taking names. On Tuesday 7th February, just four days later, the tenants received a cheque for the money in full.
Don’t let letting agents get away with charging illegal fees! Don’t let landlords take advantage of you! Join us! DEPOSIT STOLEN? WAGES STOLEN?
JOIN GLASGOW SOLIDARITY NETWORK
COLLECTIVE DIRECT ACTION AGAINST LANDLORDS AND BOSSES
LEAVE A MESSAGE:
Two Greek hospitals under Workers’ Control
“We occupy our public hospitals for deep and meaningful democratisation, which will make society competent to decide its own future again.”
Confronted with a dire economic situation and having witnessed major social and economic changes in their country, health workers in Greecehave occupied two public hospitals, opposing the harsh austerity measures adopted by the Greek government in the last two years.
The public hospital in Kilkis (northern Greece) has been under full workers’ control since the 6th of February: The employees underline that “with full awareness of our social mission and moral commitments associated with our office, we will protect the health of citizens attending the hospital, providing free care to those in need.” At the same time, they ask the government to “finally take its responsibilities, surpassing even this last hour its immeasurable social insensitivity.”
Workers at the General Hospital of Kilkis stress that the occupation of the hospital will not end until the full payment of their accruals and the return of their salaries to pre-cut levels. They state that they “respond to the fascist-isation with democracy” by putting the hospital “under the direct and complete control” of the workers where “the only responsible decision-making body of an administrative nature will be the General Assembly of workers in it.”
ne week later on February 13th the Rethymnon (Crete) Hospital Doctors Association and the Association of Workers also began the occupation and self-management of their local general hospital in response to the degradation induced by the merger of the hospital of Chania. Commenting on the proposed merger , the Doctors Association says the Chania hospital has been designated for regional Western Crete and this automatically leads to the reduction of hospital operations in Rethymnon. According to government documents, the merger provides for the operation of departments and units in only one of the two hospitals and involves closing sections of the hospital of Rethymnon. It also provides for the transfer of patients for treatment and diagnosis in the neighbouring county since there is no corresponding section for further medical treatment and patients with urgent problems would have to move to Chania. Finally, the merger involves the transfer of administrative and other services to cover staff shortages in the central hospital.
The workers stress that “the above description gives the exact operating conditions of the merged hospital and once again mocks the sick and residents of that county.” Furthermore, they consider “unwanted” the political “representatives of the county and each political spokesman defending the survival of banks against the lives of humans” and they state that the hospital will remain under their Assembly’s control until the overthrow of the neo-liberal policy.
Last but not least, the workers in both occupied public hospitals ask for every possible support and call on the society and workers affected by the financial crisis to take similar action, “until our final victory against the economic-political elite which is now oppressing the country and destroys the world.”
Over 100 attend Greece solidarity demonstration in Edinburgh
Despite the freezing weather, and an unexpected snow storm in the middle of the sunny afternoon, over 100 people gathered outside the City Chambers on Saturday 18th February to show solidarity with workers in Greece, who’s government has just voted to approve IMF and European Bank-approved austerity measures, which will have disastrous consequences for the working class.
The demonstration was well-received by passers by, and had a strong internationalist and anti-capitalist message: it is capitalism, not Greece, which is in crisis! It’s not our crisis, it’s capitalism!
Slogans such as “From Scotland to Spain, the problem is the same! From Scotland to Greece, no justice, no peace!” were chanted, and a live link to a Greek radio station was established. The protest in Edinburgh was one of many around Europe and the world to mark an international day of solidarity with Greek workers, which included hundreds of Spanish protesters on the streets under the banner ‘Estamos Con Grecia’ – we are with Greece.
Report of the Fuel Poverty Action Warm-Ups Weekend across the UK
Friday 27th – Monday 30th January saw hundreds of people in cities across the country come out of their cold homes to Warm-up together at the buildings and offices that house those responsible for fuel poverty and have left millions with a choice between heating and eating.
The Warm-ups are just the beginning. Fuel Poverty Action will becontinuing to challenge the energy companies monopoly and the government’s complicity, and keeping up the push for an energy system that works for people’s needs, not corporate greed.
For more information and updates about Fuel Poverty Action, check our website ( fuelpovertyaction.wordpress.com), follow us on Twitter @FuelPovAction and find us on Facebook (http://on.fb.me/v8pXT0).
*LEWISHAM, LONDON: TOWN HALL*
30-40 activists and residents from Lewisham occupied and Warmed-up inside Lewisham Town Hall. They staged a peoples’ forum inside, where people shared their experiences of unaffordable energy bills and expressed their anger at the profiteering energy companies and complicit government. People discussed the many examples of community controlled renewable energy projects across the country and how we might transition Lewisham and, more broadly, the UK, to a democratic energy system that works for people’s needs. After the peoples’ forum, people moved outside and got even more toasty around a bonfire of burning energy bills!
LEEDS: COUNCIL OFFICES
A group of a dozen activists from Leeds Fuel Poverty Action and local residents staged a Winter Warm Up protest at Leeds City Council’s Leonardo Building which houses the Sustainable Development Unit. The group used the morning to discuss how to achieve a fair and more equitable energy economy that no longer forces bill payers to choose between ‘eating or heating’. The group later moved to the Merrion Centre where they handed out leaflets and talked to members of the public, but were forcibly removed within minutes. In addition, the Leeds Fuel Poverty Action campaign has linked up with church, resident and community groups across the city to involve those who are most affected by the issue.
SWINDON: NPOWER HQ
A group of fuel poverty activists from Oxford played a game of giant-sized Corporate Monopoly right outside Npower Headquarters. Puzzled employees and passers-by received a flyer that outlined why they were there. The game demonstrated that we could all have a better, fairer energy system by managing affordable fuel for ourselves. On the other hand, Npower is hiking prices whilst failing to invest enough in green energy. Through community action we can all get out of the cold and create an energy system that works for public interest and not for private gain.
Billboards in Manchester were transformed in protest over the Big Six energy companies’ pricing and climate policies.
LONDON: EDF HQ
Anti-nuclear campaign group, Boycott EDF (http://boycottedf.org.uk/), targeted the UK headquarters of EDF Energy. French energy giant EDF Energy are making record profits from pushing up our energy bills while spearheading the government’s drive to build eight new nuclear power stations around England, starting with Hinkley Point in Somerset. Activists grouped outside EDF’s HQ with banners and leaflets saying ‘EDF Energy: exploiting the poor, polluting the planet’.
A dozen activists from the Energy, Equity and Environment group of Occupy London made themselves at home in a carpeted Fleet St branch of RBS, enjoying its leather chairs and even an open fire. They held an assembly in the bank, pointing out that while RBS, bailed out with billions of pounds of public money, was handing over a million in a bonus to their chief executive, thousands of people were dying of cold because they couldn’t afford to heat their homes – or couldn’t afford a home in the first place! RBS is also the biggest financial investor in fossil fuels. Death from fuel poverty and death from climate change were two sides of the same filthy RBS coin.
Anti-poverty campaigners from Cambridge performed a street theatre protest to call attention to the 5000 Cambridge households suffering from fuel poverty. The campaigners performed a short improvised sketch in which those dressed as large energy companies ‘beat up’ other campaigners dressed as the Earth and as local residents. They highlighted the predicted deaths of 2,700 people in the UK due to fuel poverty this winter, as well as the five-year record profit of over 700% per customer of the Big Six energy companies.
HARINGEY: WOOD GREEN SHOPPING CITY
Fifteen Haringey residents take part in the Warm Up action in Wood Green Shopping City mall. The Warm-up was organised by Haringey Solidarity Group, supported by Haringey Housing Action Group and the Haringey Alliance for Public Services. The activists set up an advice stall on the first floor, held banners reading ‘No More Deaths From Cold’ and ‘Gas Bills Kill – Fuel Poverty Action’, distributed 500 leaflets and created a friendly space to encourage people to come and sit and share free hot drinks and snacks.
HACKNEY, LONDON: TOWN HALL
Hackney residents warmed up at the Hackney Town Hall. Protestors gathered with their sleeping bags and duvets, joining thousands of other people nationwide accusing the government and energy companies of a “deadly obsession with making money.”
STAINES: BRITISH GAS HQ
Six activists barricaded themselves into meeting rooms on two floors of British Gas offices in Staines, Middlesex. For a short time they streamed the occupation live on the internet, with a ‘Heat or Eat’ comedy quiz played by the occupiers, and audience participation over Twitter.
The Warm-ups brought a glimpse of the community action that will be needed to tackle the Big Six’s monopoly and the government’s complicity. The weekend came as part of a growing movement for energy democracy and energy justice, emerging across the world from Nigeria to Russia to Greece. As corporations continue their drive to extract profit at all costs and governments sit comfortably in their pockets, people are becoming ever more cold and ever more angry. Together, we will Warm-up and fight back!
Protestors tell Lansley what they think of NHS Privatisation
Tory Health Secretary Andrew Lansley visited Edinburgh’s Royal College of Surgeons on the 9th February to bolster support for his NHS reforms. Instead he found out just what people think of his privatisation plans as protestors surrounded the building, making him two hours late for a press conference at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. The Con-Dem Government’s plans to open the NHS up to competition from the private sector represent the biggest threat that public healthcare has faced since the NHS was founded 64 years ago. Andrew Lansley’s plans will see GPs put in charge of local NHS budgets with a new competition commision to ensure that low cost private companies get priority in delivering services.
Doctors, nurses and patient’s organisations have opposed Lansley’s plans and as he spoke in front of the Royal College of Surgeons protestors surrounded the building, closing all the exits. After a two hour stand-off and negotiations between police and demonstrators the health secretary was allowed to leave via a back door to shouts of ‘SCUM!’ as police held back protestors.
Andrew Lansley has come under increasing scrutiny after revelations that he received a donation of £21,000 from Care UK, a private healthcare company that stands to gain from his NHS reforms. One Tory insider commented on his handling of the affair “he should be taken out and shot”, a policy they may have more chance of building consensus on.
Vita Cortex sit in
Vita Cortex announced it was closing its plant in Cork, Republic of Ireland, September 2011. When the workers finally got issued their notice in December they discovered that the bosses had screwed them out of their redundancy payments. The workers occupied the factory, and have remained there since. Their occupation continues. They are refusing to leave until the bosses cough up what they owe.
For many of the workers Vita Cortex is all they have known. The 32 occupiers have worked for the company for a combined total of 847 years. They now face little chance of finding alternative work as there are over 25,000 unemployed people currently living in and around Cork.
In a typical bosses trick, Vita Cortex has shifted money here, there, and everywhere, passing assets between companies making it difficult for anyone to get at it.
In a show of solidarity, the local fire brigade has been delivering food to the occupiers, and a taxi firm has been offering their services free of charge.
On February 12th over 5,000 people marched through Cork in support of the occupation. It was the biggest demonstration that Cork has seen in years.
Communities Fight to Stop Library Closures
Across London local communities have been fighting back against the cuts, demanding that their libraries stay, stating that they are a vital part of the local infrastructure. Brent is the latest council to act, where the ‘SOS Libraries’ campaigners have been refused permission to take the council to the Supreme Court this week. This was after a strong community action of 24-hour vigils, but still six libraries will close. Other campaigns around Kensal Rise and Preston are also struggling to win, but will continue to fight.
This is despite a consultation into the proposals showing that 82% of respondents were against the closures, the council announced in April last year that Barham Park, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston and Tokyngton libraries would shut. Brent Council announced plans to close six out of Brent’s 12 libraries to save £1 million in 2010. Residents united by their anger formed Brent SOS Libraries to stop the closures and took their fight to the High Court and Appeal Court but lost.
The council began stripping bare the libraries before Christmas but undeterred the campaigners formed pop-up libraries outside the closed reading rooms including Kensal Rise Library which was opened 111 years ago by American author Mark Twain.
Over the coming year it is estimated that as many as 600 libraries could close although so far, due to the public anger, only 32 have actually been shut down. Some are being handed over to local communities to control and others are being privatised. Even where the fight back is successful the staff are being cut back to a minimum.
Prisoners in Kyrgyzstan, Central Asian, went on hunger strike at the end of January. 1,197 prisoners stitched their mouths shut using staples and thread in a way that allowed only liquids to be consumed. The massive protest was against the terrible conditions in the jails that are notoriously overcrowded and teeming with disease.
Altogether around 7,000 prisoners went on a hunger strike. The prison population of Kyrgyzstan is more than 15,000. Prisoners’ rights campaigner Tolekan Ismailova said, “Those on hunger strike are against inhumane conditions,” “They don’t have medicine, normal food, linen or soap. Their illnesses are not treated because there are not enough doctors.”
Even Kyrgyzstan’s ombudsman, Tursunbek Akun, said that prisoners “are complaining of beatings and mistreatment by the prison personnel, and are demanding to receive what is rightfully theirs.” Since 2005, prisoners in the former Soviet republic have frequently staged protests and mutilated themselves to denounce jail conditions. The authorities often blame these acts of resistance on organised crime groups.
Check The Campaign Against Prison Slavery for more info, links, news and analysis on prisoners’ resistance.
Week of action against Ryanair
Support the call-out for an International Week of Action against Ryanair, on the 12-18 March Hold pickets of airports where Ryanair put on flights, offices of Ryanair and agencies / recruitment fairs through which they hire staff.
Picket the Cheltenham Festival, which Ryanair sponsors, and particularly the Ryanair Chase on Thursday 15 March.
Phone, fax and email Ryanair to complain about exploitative recruitment practices.
To contact Ryanair and complain about their practices, below are the easiest ways to contact them.
Phone: +353 1 812 1212
Fax: +353 1 812 1676
125th anniversary celebrations for founding of Anti-Authoritarian International
In August 2012 anarchists from all over the world will be gathering in St Imier, Switzerland for a week of events to mark the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Anarchist International- a major split with the authoritarian international of Karl Marx. This split represents a fundamental divide between those who believe that communism can be imposed from above, and those who believe that we can only have true communism if we have freedom as well. How we get where we want to go is as important as where we want to go.
As part of the process of building up to the summer event, the AF is hosting a series of meetings around the country. The theme of the meetings is the struggle against authoritarianism- from St Imier to today. The following issues will be discussed:
• The background to St Imier and what was involved in the split
• How the struggle against authoritarianism continued in key revolutions such as Russia and Spain
• The debate about human ‘nature’ and why humans do not need authority to flourish
• The role of authoritarian tendencies in struggles today eg the cuts movement, the strikes in the public sector, the student movement and within the anarchist movement itself
• Examples of organising without authority
Demonstration Against ATOS & Police Repression
On Friday 3rd February, campaigners returned to Atos Healthcare’s offices in Notttingham. ATOS (poverty pimps) are the multinational company with a £500 million contract from the government to carry out the tests which are central to deciding whether or not people get sickness benefits.
This is all part of the wider attack on the majority of us, to try and make us pay for the greed of the rich This was the first protest there since a demonstration on September 30th last year, part of a national day of action, which ended with two of the participants being arrested, and subsequently charged, with aggravated trespass.
While the charges were dropped in January, the protest was a reminder to Atos that people have not been intimidated by the arrests and that protests will continue as long as they are making people’s lives a misery.
There were around 30 people, an impressive turnout given the extreme cold. There were two brief speeches. The first delivered by one of the “Atos Two” was about their own experience of the criminal justice system and the need to continue the fight against both Atos and the economic system of which it is a product.
The second speech focussed on the policing of protest (touching on the publication the previous day of the HMIC report into this matter), arguing that the police would always be used to render protest ineffective in a class system and that this would only become more obvious as the government sought to impose “austerity” on an unwilling populace.
Australian Prison Riot
A riot broke out on January 18th at Fulham Correctional Centre in Sale, east of Melbourne in Australia. About 30 prisoners managed to sabotage prison equipment including setting fire to rubbish bins. Arming themselves with gym equipment and gardening tools they succeeded in climbing onto a roof of the jail and stayed there for about 12 hours. The prison was locked-down for three days. Police used tear gas in an attempt to get the prisoners off the roof. The authorities at the medium-security prison had imposed new regulations including stricter uniform rules and the scrapping of pay television. Robert Hastings who is an ex cop and the current Corrections Victoria Commissioner said, “What we had is a young group of males who decided that they would be disruptive and destructive and wouldn’t comply with what prison authorities wanted to do”. Fulham Prison was built to accommodate 650 prisoners now 840 people are in the jail.