Office Angels pickets spread to Brighton

Brighton SolFed today answered the call for solidarity from South London SolFed, who have been organising pickets against employment agency Office Angels over a non-payment dispute at their Wimbledon branch. Dan worked for Office Angels for three days in December of last year. He was assured by the company that the lack of a time-sheet would 'not be a problem'. However, Office Angels are refusing to pay him the wages he is owed - falsely claiming he only worked for one day, despite them having called him at work on his third day. After completely ripping him off, they had the nerve to harass him for seeking advice on an internet discussion forum.

Vodafone: tax dodgers AND union-busters

Also available as a pdf file.

Vodafone, the world’s biggest mobile telecoms service, has incurred widespread public anger for its tax-dodging activities in the UK. Led by the UK Uncut movement, direct actions at Vodafone outlets have disrupted the company economically and have raised awareness of the company’s avoidance of an estimated £4.2 billion in tax since 2000.

In Spain Vodafone transfers its products and its image to Internity-Avenir Telecom, who in February fired a CNT delegate for informing the company about the establishment of a trade union there. The CNT are the Spanish section of the International Workers Association and are active in the struggle for workers’ rights.

National Conference 2011

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.

National day of action against benefits cuts in Brighton

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.

A letter to UK Uncutters from the 'violent minority'

We're writing this to you to try and prevent the anti-cuts struggle being split up and weakened by the media.

We are anarchists (well, anarcho-syndicalists, technically) – a word that is much misunderstood and misrepresented. We are also students, workers and shop stewards. We co-organised a 'Radical Workers Bloc' on the South London feeder march. The aim was to provide a highly visible radical presence within the workers movement of which we are a part, advocating strikes, occupations and civil disobedience.

Solidarity on the picket lines at Sussex university

As part of a national strike day, members of UCU at Sussex university have been picketing. They were joined by other education workers and students at the entrance to campus who expressed their support for industrial action. 

UCU are involved in a series of rolling strikes across the UK which started last week in Scotland and culminate in a FE and HE strike on Thursday. Strikes are nominally over changes to the pension scheme, however at Sussex it was clear that strikers see this as part of the wider fight against austerity. This was also in evidence from the solidarity from students and education workers well beyond the UCU membership.

Brighton SolFed to join Radical Workers on March 26

On Saturday 26th March the Trades Union Congress has called for a march against the cuts, and there is going to be a South London feeder march starting at Kennington Park which we will be joining. We are calling on anarchists, libertarian communists and militant workers from across the country who agree with the principles of solidarity, direct action, and self-organisation to join us on the demonstration to provide a visible presence and a revolutionary alternative to the reformism of the TUC.

Organising in the Workplace with SolFed

This past weekend saw a number of members of the North London Local of the Solidarity Federation travel to lovely Brighton to attend a day-long SolFed workplace organiser training hosted by the Brighton Solidarity Federation.  The training, which focuses heavily on the practicalities of organising at work, not only gave us the chance to network with other SolFedders and interested workplace militants, but to have strategic conversations about establishing an organising committee in each of our workplaces.  We look forward to keeping in touch and putting the training to good use.  Bosses beware!

If you're interested in getting trained up, please send an email to training (at) solfed.org.uk

Brighton homeless housing farce

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.

Beware all vanguards!

Way back in the midst of time (or the mid 19th century to be precise) was an organisation called the first International Working Mens Association - or First International for short, which declared that "the emancipation of the working class is the task of the workers themselves". We would do well to remember those words as we struggle against austerity, as there's no shortage of would-be vanguards vying to substitute themselves for mass collective action.

The paradox of reformism - a call for economic blockades

Neoliberal ideology is a crock of shit and everyone left of Labour knows it. Critics have pointed out its flawed assumptions regarding perfect competition, consumer access to information, human nature and a host of other factors that nowhere apply in the real world. They’ve also pointed out that where neoliberal policies have been applied, the results have often been disastrous and rarely matched the promised outcomes of prosperity for the rich and trickle down for the poor. One famous example was the so-called J-curve model for transitioning the former USSR to Western-style capitalism. The ‘J’, a small downswing in transition followed by a long upswing when neoliberal policies worked their magic, turned into something more resembling an ‘L’, plunging millions into worse poverty than before.

And then there’s the cuts.

Workplace rights drive visits Brighton retailers

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.

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:

Breaking glass, building solidarity?

A campaign of demonisation has started against the students who trashed Tory HQ on Wednesday, who are being portrayed as unthinking thugs. We re-publish here an article about what happened at Millbank by one of the participants.

Breaking glass, building solidarity?

 

Yesterday was glorious. It was inspiring, fun and yes, ‘anarchic.’ I spent most of it laughing and hollering into the brisk air on those sunlit streets. Scary, huh? The news reports seemed to think it was very serious. That may have been because of the seriousness of the cause for which the demonstration was organised, and indeed the violence of the attack on education by the politicians, directors of institutions and the rest, is far greater than anything demonstrators could have dreamed of doing, even the absolute plank who chucked a fire extinguisher from the roof.

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We are an anarcho-syndicalist union based in Brighton. We have ongoing campaigns in Hospitality and in Health & social care, but we aim to organise with workers of all industries and none. We also have a very active housing union.

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