The latest news and analysis from SF locals

Warsaw Rent Strike: Community Organizing in the Context of Social Atomization

In Warsaw a rent strike has been going on since Oct.1. Despite the fact that the issues may effect up to a quarter of a million people in Poland's capital city, we cannot say that a significant percent of public housing tenants have joined. This is mainly due to a lack of tradition and the extreme social atomization of the population - something typical in many post-Soviet bloc era countries. There is also the issue of a minuscule grassroots social movement and the disdain of the left for anything radical and outside the realms of reformist and party politics. [1]

An open letter to parents and school staff from a local teacher

We're publishing here a letter to parents and school staff that we received from a local teacher.

Protests by college and school students on November 24th and 30th were an exuberant festival of disorder. Young people threw down a challenge to adults facing threats to our livelihoods from the all-party cuts currently starting to kick in. Students as young as twelve got out on the streets, stepping out of their allotted roles and creating a vibrant, positive response to the vicious attacks that their generation are facing. At one Brighton school over 550 pupils walked out - a third of the total school population - as well as hundreds from other Brighton schools and Lewes Priory.

Notes on the violent minority

The Millbank riot and some of the subsequent student protests have been widely condemned in the media as the actions of a 'violent minority'. NUS president Aaron Porter infamously described the riot as ‘despicable’. Property destruction, we were told, undermined the message of the NUS’ peaceful protest. This was the behaviour of ‘anarchists’, outsiders hijacking what would otherwise be respectable political protest in a liberal democracy. But liberals would do well to reflect on their own glass house before casting such rhetorical stones.

Liberalism: doctrine of the violent minority

Liberalism in fact is nothing but the ideology of minority violence par excellence. Margaret Thatcher’s favourite thinker, Adam Smith, was refreshingly frank about this back in the 18th century:

I'd rather be a picket than a scab!

Liverpool Solidarity Federation members joined a picket line today to show support for comrades in the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union. The aim of the picket was to try and prevent scabbing by workers defying an overtime ban voted for by union members to defend civil service jobs.

Q&A with a SolFed member and PCS activist

What’s this action all about?
PCS have been in dispute with the government for some time now over proposed changes to the Civil Service Compensation Scheme [CSCS]. This is the scheme which says how much compensation members get if made redundant, and naturally with job losses on the horizon they want to lessen the cost. It was the previous government’s refusal to negotiate on this matter that necessitated the 3-day strike in March and the court case, which PCS won.

Tremough Campus occupation, Falmouth

Tremough Campus occupation report (university of exeter)

30 of us are currently in the busy lower stannary building occupying and sitting in against the education cuts. We are refusing by direct action to pay for the crisis of the bankers and greedy politicians who are ruthlessly putting profits before people. Students in the occupation understand that this action must be followed by a wider workers movement against education cuts and the public sector massacre in general. Falmouth is already one of the poorest cities in the European Union, and this university is at the heart of its local economy and culture, brutal cut backs now will throw back all the progress made in the area back into a bleak era of thatcherism.

Lewisham council lobby

On the 29th November, Lewisham held its full council meeting to agree its first tranche of cuts, involving over 400 job losses, cuts to services and the closure of a children's centre. Not yet agreed were proposals to close five libraries.

What students should realise

According to the Independent, Aaron Porter, NUS president is reported  to have said "Despite repeated dismissals by Nick Clegg that these are uninformed protesters, students are intelligent, articulate people who are not being listened to by those in whom they placed their hope for a different politics."

But we say...

What the students... should learn is that if they really want a new politics, they need to look further than voting Lib Dem, a party which, unsurprisingly, has demonstrated that it is, when all is said and done, just more of the same old.

The need to look to a truly new politics: not the capitalist joke of a 'democratic' system we live under now.

Protest Outside Camden Town Hall

Residents of Camden protested outside the Town Hall against the Labour-run council proposed, and voted through, cuts of £100 million to local services. People are angry at the threat of 1000 lost jobs, closure of libraries, sports facilities and increased rents.

A wide cross-section of the local population were present, with students and workers of all ages assembling together. The resulting changes to be enacted include; cuts to free nursery and after school provision and special needs education, rents to be increased by 7%, an increased to marry, the Talacre sports centre to be farmed out to an outside contractor, Mornington Crescent sports centre will close, all non-essential building works cancelled, street cleaning scaled back and even hours of street lighting reduced.