Defiance over Blair’s demo ban
About 150 people assembled in Parliament Square at midday on Sunday in defiance of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, which makes it illegal to protest within 1 kilometre of parliament.
People came from a variety of groups including Voices in the Wilderness, Stop the War Coalition, CND, Respect, the Green Party, the Rebel Clown Army, various Christian and peace groups and the Socialist Workers Party.
Police allowed the protest to take place for about an hour before serving protesters with a “notice of an unauthorised demonstration”. They then made five arrests.
Keith Shilson, president of Middlesex University Students Union said, “People are really angry that Tony Blair is trying to silence them from saying that the bombings in London are the result of the war in Iraq. People should be able to protest about that outside parliament.”
Council housing must top agenda
Labour MP Austin Mitchell is encouraging individual members of the party and trade unions to press for discussion of council housing at the party conference next month.
Defend Council Housing will be holding fringe meetings at the TUC and Labour Party conferences and has produced a new eight page newspaper. Go to www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk.
Last year’s Labour conference voted eight to one for a “level playing field” for council housing. But deputy prime minister John Prescott has withdrawn a commitment he gave then to hold an inquiry into the issue.
Leeds Mela festival says no to clampdown
Leeds Respect organised its first stall at the city’s Mela festival on Sunday.
Many people stopped to sign our petition which called for troops out of Iraq, opposed Tony Blair’s attacks on civil liberties and his attempts to blame the Muslim community for the London bombings.
We distributed over 500 “Hands up for Peace” leaflets, plus over 500 Leeds Stop the War leaflets building for a rally next month. Lots of people said they would like to be informed of future events and left their contact details, which we will be following up as we build the rally and the national demonstration on 24 September.
For a decent pay package
Members of the GMB union who work for DHL Express parcels voted overwhelmingly in a consultative ballot last week for industrial action.
The workers are based in 140 depots across Britain. The union is now moving to hold a full strike ballot in support of the pay claim.
Industrial action is likely to be scheduled in the run up to the Christmas shopping rush, which begins during September in the parcel delivery industry.
Jeld-Wen, one of Lowestoft’s biggest factories, has announced immediate job cuts of around half the workforce — with the closure of the plant by Christmas.
Over 300 workers will lose their jobs.
Jeld-Wen bought out the original carpentry firm, Boulton & Paul, a few years ago. Suspicions about the buy out at the time have now been realised.
The GMB union should have pressed for action over a year ago.
Instead, Lowestoft workers are now faced with Christmas on the dole and a shadow hanging over the future of all jobs in the town with rumours Unilever’s major Birds Eye factory will close soon.