Mayday weekend saw the Solidarity Federation's National Conference come to Brighton. The annual conference is the most important decision-making event in the SolFed calendar, serving to make federation-wide decisions, mandate and hear reports from national officers and commissions and to share ideas and tactics. Delegates from Brighton, Liverpool, Manchester, Northampton, North London, South London, Thames Valley and West Yorkshire locals attended, with only Bristol not represented due to their delegate being ill. This year saw an unprecedented number of motions, reflecting increased activity and membership over the past 12-18 months.
Members of Brighton SolFed supported a 20-30 strong protest and picket at ATOS healthcare in Brighton today as part of a national day of action against benefits cuts. The protest was organised by the Brighton Benefits Campaign (BBC), a group of claimants and workers fighting the cuts to welfare provision. ATOS is a private company paid millions of pounds to stop sick and disabled peoples benefits by declaring them 'fit to work' via a computer programme, which has given absurd diagnoses such as describing hand amputations as 'mild' and thus no barrier to work.
The number of homes standing empty in Brighton and Hove outnumber the number of homeless families ten to one - but a Tory MP is leading calls to criminalise squatting. Brighton and Hove Council accepts responsibility for housing 368 homeless households, while 3,655 homes sit empty. Despite this, Tory MP Mike Weatherly wants to criminalise squatting, putting the interests of landlords and property speculators before those of the homeless. Home repossessions peaked last year following an increase in defaults on mortgages and rent during the recession.
A postgraduate student at Sussex university assesses the future facing graduates.
With workers facing across-the-board cutbacks, members of Brighton SolFed today hit the streets to talk to retail staff about their rights. After the UKUncut protests have shifted attention to the multi-million pound tax dodging of several high street names, we went to talk to retail workers, encouraging them to get organised to prevent bosses cutting costs by cutting their conditions. We’ll be back again in a couple of weeks to keep the issue topical, and keep local bosses on notice that attacks on workers’ conditions won’t go unnoticed!
You can download a copy of SolFed’s basic workplace rights leaflet, 'the Stuff Your Boss doesn’t want you to know' here.
Initial reports and images from Liverpool London, Brighton and elsewhere on today's events, where Solidarity Federation has a presence for the student anti-fees protests:
Initial estimates suggested a turnout of thousands who brought Lime Street to a standstill, with a fast moving march featuring an attempted sit-down in Castle Street.
While most commenters are agreeing that the protest has been peaceful, police brought out dogs and horses and there have been complaints of "intimidating behaviour." The march was largely halted as of 1pm but quickly got moving again and reached the town hall at around 1.30pm. Hundreds of people filled all levels of the Liverpool One shopping centre, and the protest broke up at around 2.30pm.
Newsletter for a 2010 anti-cuts demo : fighting cuts, view of a 'benefits scrounger, restaurant tips
This is the page of Brighton SolFed, the local anarcho-syndicalist union based in Brighton. We also have members in Hastings and Worthing. We have ongoing campaigns in hospitality and in health&social care, but we support workers in all industries. If you want to get in touch with us, see our contact details to the right.
A special edition of ‘Brighton & Hove Solidarity’ – the bulletin of Brighton Solidarity Federation is now available to download, to coincide with the announcement of the emergency austerity budget today. You can download a pdf here. Contents includes: Class war budget, strikes off and redundancies on at Sussex Uni, a local teacher’s view on academy schools, local council cuts and an article on the hidden side of the World Cup – workers’ exploitation and resistance.
Following on from the attacks detailed in last issue of Catalyst, refuse workers in Leeds and Brighton have won significant victories defeating attempts to slash their pay under the twisted logic of ‘equal pay’.
In Leeds, following a mass meeting at which 79% of the GMB and Unison members voted to accept management’s offer, the 11 week Leeds City Council bin strike ended on 24 November 2009 when victorious bin crews and street cleaners marched back to work at Cross Green and Yeadon depots.
The workers had gone on strike on September 7, sparked by a new union-negotiated pay and grading structure agreed under the auspices of the NJC Single Status Agreement, that entailed loss of bonuses and weekend rates -leaving them facing a massive £4,500 cut to their £17,500 annual pay.