When the UK Border Agency (UKBA) carried out a raid on 6 January 2011 they did so under several pretexts. While immigration raids are carried out on a regular basis across London, the size and scale of the raid at Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital suggests a concerted campaign to flush out a number of illegals who were working there under quite appalling conditions. These attacks on the migrant community have to be seen in light of NHS ‘reforms’ and the forcing of the unemployed into compulsory work and the low-pay economy.
This past weekend saw over one-third of the active membership of the North London Local of the Solidarity Federation take the train to Northampton to join approximately one-third of the total of the national organization for a weekend of strategizing, comradely debate, and hearty discussion. With topics ranging from an anarcho-syndicalist approach to opposing the cuts to website development, the meeting allowed for networking and a honing of organizational strategy.
We met up with ‘old-timers’ who’d been in SolFed since the 1970s (before SolFed was even SolFed!) and new members, including a majority of the recently founded Thames Valley Local. With lots of productive conversation, the meeting will help locals not only craft motions for our upcoming national conference but, organizationally, to galvanize both local and national initiatives.
Solidarity Federation members joined a good sizable demo of more than 200 souls who braved the cold to ensure the pressure was kept on Islington Council. Thursday evening (17 February) the council was due to reside over a council budget meeting to determine the nature of cuts in the public services in the borough. The anger from the demo spilled over, and the 'public consultation' in the council building allowing for the hearing to be observed resulted quite rightly in the retreat of the councilors under heckles and 60 protestors being removed by heavy handed means by the police. Massive turn around in fortunes have seen Labour Councilor Catherine West the previous week leading protests of over 1000 protestors to now calling on the police to turn on protestors! How the tables turn when your being held to account, eh Catherine...
Around 500 people turned out in the rain yesterday to show their dislike of Hackney Council's propsed service losses, as it struggles with some of the heaviest austerity cuts to its budget of any local authority in Britain.
North London Solfed members joined the rally, which was organised by Hackney Alliance Against Cuts, as it marched from Stoke Newington on a two hour route through to the centre of the borough to highlight the potential impact of a 8.9 per cent drop in funding.
Council estimates suggest around 800 jobs would go on the back of the losses, which would drain money and jobs out of some of the most impoverished areas of the country.
This article was written by a Thames Valley Solidarity Federation member for Issue 3 of The Oxfly, a local anarchist newsletter produced and distributed in Oxford. It argues that winning the argument is all very well but society "is not a debating chamber but a power struggle between different groups with competing interests" - and we should fightback accordingly.
There has been a lot of talk in the anti-cuts movement about the importance of ‘winning the argument’. This strategy holds that the best way to go about fighting attacks on wages, living conditions and services is to point out the flaws in the pro-cuts arguments and suggest alternative policies which would avoid the need for cuts.
Joe Anderson, the leader of Liverpool City Council, is trying to paint himself as some kind of anti-cuts rebel. On 29th January he joined an anti-cuts march in Liverpool, not long after he wrote to David Cameron to withdraw Liverpool from the Big Society, and now he is asking people to march against the cuts this Sunday. This is nothing more than cheap political opportunism, and it should be rejected.
He tells us that the council is "bracing itself" for the cuts. He "warns" us that compulsory redundancies in the council will come. He is "incensed" by Liberal Democrats accusing him of having a "politically motivated" approach to job cuts.
Where are the St Thomas' disappeared?
Where are our workmates?
Last month 72 workers disappeared from Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals. They were part of the hospitals’ ancillary staff. They are migrants. Where did they disappear to? The economic crisis means their cheap labour is not as useful anymore – at least for the moment. So the UK Border Agency was called in to get rid of them. The NHS trust complied. The workers were either arrested or deported.
The workers who clean the hospital and feed the patients earn around the minimum wage. And due to the UKBA the workers are not even always paid for their hard work. Isn’t this slavery?
Some workers cheated by the OTTO temp agency are fighting back!
They don't get the conditions promised to them in their contracts and job interviews and the company makes money off a system of fines used at the workers' "hotels". The end result - people work and don't get paid, or they wind up paying too much money for substandard housing which does not meet the standards of the collective labour agreement OTTO is supposed to be following.
After some Polish colleagues working in Holland were cheated by the agency, they decided to take action. The Vrije Bond in Holland, ZSP in Poland and Priama Akcia in Slovakia have all started taking action to both inform workers of their rights and encourage them to organize and take action.
Guides for getting organised
If you would like to support us, you can donate to the Solidarity Federation. You can use your your debit/credit card, or a PayPal account if you have one. Donations will be used to support our work, including our free newspaper Catalyst and our workplace organiser training programme.