This morning the weekly protests got very lively as the rank and file electricians occupied the Grattes Brothers HQ. With only a few days left of the ballot for strike action, we gathered at 6.30 outside the gates of the building site at Kings X. Electricians and supporters leafletted the workers going in and there was a short attempt to block the gate but the police kept a pathway open so people could still go in to work.
The electricians had called a national day of action for the same day as the student protest of November 9th, which looked like it could have a lot of possibilities. Would these two very different movements be able to link up?
In recent months cleaners at Guildhall in the city of London, and Senate House, University of London have gone on strike and held protests over unpaid wages, working conditions and victimisation.
The North and South London Locals of the Solidarity Federation extend our solidarity to the workers at Queen Mary University. With the threat of redundancies across campus, workers have become energised, linked up with students, and exhibited a growing degree of organisation. In response, university management have suspended the Queen Mary UNISON branch secretary on trumped up disciplinary charges.
While the Solidarity Federation recognises the power of the union rests not in its officials, but in an active and self-organised membership, management clearly believe they can defeat their workforce by 'beheading' the union. Such attacks must be resisted.
As we speak, hundreds of thousands of people are gathering in city centres across the world in order to stand against the status quo. We’re all here to voice our discontent with the way that our society and economy are organised, and the suffering and damage this causes to our lives, but what do we want to put in its place? And how will we get there?
On the evening of 29th September, a number of SolFed members trekked to the swanky West End of London to stand in solidarity with the Spanish working class.
We arrived, banners in hand, first to the Spanish Consulate and then to the Embassy. Our arrival coincided with a national day of action called by a coalition of radical Spanish unions, including SF's sister organisation, the CNT. With events planned all over Spain, these militant workers and militant workers' organisations are calling for a general strike to overcome the brutal austerity cuts the Spanish state is attempting to force on Spain's working class.
A leaflet in support of Queen Mary staff and against the cuts there. Designed to be given out to students and the public.
Today at 7.30 am electricians briefly occupied a building site in protest at attempts to cut their pay and conditions.
The conflict is because the “Big 8” of construction employers want to withdraw from the JIB (Joint Industry Board) agreement on pay, grading and seniority. They want to bring in new grades of semiskilled electricians earning £10.50 and £14 an hour instead of the current hourly JIB rate of £16.25. The protests against this change have been going on for several weeks now all across the country. Last week at the Olympic site workers blocked the site entrance for some time but, as the site is so huge, the management just moved people coming in to work to a different gate, so the protesters blocked the main road near the site for twenty minutes. The demo today was bigger, maybe 250- 300 people, and started out next to Farringdon Station.
Guildhall cleaners and their supporters, including SF members, held a 5.30am protest yesterday after a union rep was suspended. Sodexho, a company with interests in private prisons and detention centres, took over the cleaning contract on Monday. On Wednesday they suspended the union rep. At one point management even tried to lock him in a room.
The protest was loud and defiant and management called the police three times to try and stop us from using drums and megaphones. Passers by were sympathetic with one person commenting that the cleaners in her building had also had problems with being paid late. She took leaflets to give them.
Today saw SolFedders join with some 100 members of the public to support an unofficial strike by University of London cleaners at Senate House. The cleaners, who are primarily Latin American immigrants and who are employed by the privateer Balfour Beatty, struck over unpaid wages. With some cleaners not having been paid for three months, it was decided yesterday that official union channels weren’t working and the workers called for a strike to begin today at 8am.