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Reports round-up: action into autumn for the climate change movement

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A calendar of climate change direct action beginning in September, plus news in brief from workers’ struggle
Issue 2818
Sixteen members of Extinction Rebellion take action with a banner reading 'Vanguard = Death in the Amazon' and another reading 'All investors complicit in ecocide'

Extinction rebellion members take action against investment company Vanguard (Picture: Extinction Rebellion)

Climate activist groups Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Just Stop Oil plan programmes of action from late summer and into early autumn. XR plans to begin its latest rebellion in London next month.

It is set to run from Saturday 10 to Tuesday 13 September. XR plans for activists to occupy different spaces across the city and set up camp there.

It describes this latest rebellion as having “people power and mass mobilisation at the heart.” After three days, the group plans to drive “rebellion buses” to locations across Britain for regional mobilisations.

Activists plan to kick off the action at 10am at Marble Arch on Saturday 10 September. From 1 October Just Stop Oil is set to begin an open-ended “campaign of civil disobedience” that will include occupying space around Westminster, central London.

It also plans direct action to block fossil fuel infrastructure. XR has announced that it will protest at Westminster on 14 October to demand an immediate end to fossil fuel use.

Every socialist should join XR and Just Stop Oil on the streets to communicate to those in power that something must be done about climate change.

  • Register for Just Stop Oil’s organising Zoom call at
  • Join the Telegram broadcast group for the XR rebellion. Contact @rebellionbroadcast on Telegram

Felixstowe strike can show workers’ power

Almost 2,000 workers were set to strike at Britain’s biggest container port on Sunday after rejecting a below-inflation pay offer. The strike by Unite union members is set to continue until Monday 29 August.

Workers voted to strike after bosses offered a 7 percent increase. Bosses then tried to avert action by offering a further £500 lump sum. Talks between Unite officials and the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company ended without a deal last week.

Strikes could bring the docks to a standstill and create a shock wave down supply chains across the country. The dock handles 40 percent of containers leaving and entering Britain carrying goods such as clothes and food.

The Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company is extremely profitable. Its most recent accounts show that it made pre-tax profits of £61 million in 2020, when it also paid out £99 million in dividends.

Workers should not have to sit back and watch wages reduce due to inflation and then suffer listening to bosses claiming they can’t afford to pay fairly. Dockers also worked throughout the pandemic to make record profits, but were given just a 1.4 percent pay offer last year.

Successful strikes in Felixstowe would cause havoc for bosses and the Tories, and pump real strength into the class fightback.

Criminal barristers could escalate to all out action

Criminal barristers who have been striking on alternative weeks are potentially moving to “uninterrupted strike action”. They are pushing for a 25 percent increase in fees, for the defence of legal aid and wider access to the justice system.

Their ballot was set to close on Sunday this week and an all-out strike would start on 5 September if barristers back it. Barristers began their latest strike on Monday for a week.

The possible escalation comes some four months after the criminal bar first implemented a “no returns” policy. This means barristers refused to accept cases returned by colleagues who had a diary clash.

Then from 27 June Criminal Bar Association (CBA) members began escalating walkouts, with barristers protesting outside court buildings across England.

The CBA said, “Whether the majority view is to maintain the current level of action or, alternatively, to escalate it, any action will continue indefinitely unless and until there is a substantial positive movement from government that would warrant a review of the CBA’s position by way of a further ballot.”

Fight back on in Dundee

Workers at the University of Dundee are set for a continuous strike from 25 August. Unite union members voted 83 percent to strike on a turnout of 66 percent.

In March last year the university proposed replacing the defined benefits pensions scheme with a defined contributions scheme. This would mean low paid workers losing up to 50 percent of their pension.

Some university workers could even lose as much as £5,700 a year. After 11 days of strikes last October the university withdrew its proposals. But Unite has seen “insufficient movement”.

Exam board workers hope strike gets good results

Workers at the AQA exam board are ramping up their programme of strikes over decent pay. Their action is set to have a massive impact as workers prepare to walk out in the busiest period of the year.

Bosses have tabled a pathetic 3 percent pay offer and are threatening to sack workers and employ them on worse conditions. With AQA workers receiving a pay rise of just 0.6 percent last year, they are right to strike over yet another savage real terms pay cut.

The Unison union members also want managers to back off from threats to fire and rehire workers. Some 180 workers struck for four days from 15 August and plan to walk out for a five-day strike from Wednesday.

It follows a previous three-day strike in July. A striking AQA worker said, “The longer this goes on, the more determined my colleagues are becoming.

“Managers are using aggressive fire and rehire tactics to intimidate staff, which doesn’t help anyone.”

The action is set to hit A Levels results day, as workers who would normally be fielding calls from schools will instead be on a picket line.

Red Funnel workers stand solid

Strikes have disrupted Red Funnel ferries between Southampton and Cowes, Isle of White—and look set to continue for another two weeks. Some 120 members of the Unite union rejected a 4.5 to 6.5 percent pay offer and announced 12 days of strikes between 27 July and 29 August.

One worker, Kimberly said, “We are trained to save lives—the work is hard and breaks are short. We try to give first class services but it’s not first class pay.”

Unite says the customer service staff, shunters and ratings are increasingly struggling to pay increased rents. Some are turning to food banks to keep bills down. 

Bus workers dealt double-edged-sword 

Continuous strikes by 170 Go North East bus workers at the Chester le Street garage have been called off after a deal was agreed to close the depot. Workers will be given a £2,250 bonus while keeping their jobs at other depots—up to 14 miles away.

One worker said, “It’s a double-edged sword. It’s the best outcome for the drivers who are displaced but a hammer blow to Chester-le-Street that all staff working on site are upset by.”

The workers are right to have put up a fight and likely wouldn’t have this deal without it—but more strikes could have kept the depot open.

Another victory for anti-racists
A group of protesers, some holding Stand Up To Racism placards, surround an unmarked white van

Protesters block the Home Office van

Militant protest has won another victory against deportations. Immigration officers tried to seize a worker from a restaurant in Chorlton, south Manchester, on Friday of last week, a day before the Caribbean Carnival.

A call issued by Stand Up to Racism mobilised 150 people to block the Home Office van. The individual targeted was released to their home and the police and immigration officers left. It follows other similar victories in Glasgow, Edinburgh, east and south London, and in other places.

Anti-raids groups, Stand Up To Racism and other organisations are showing what can be won by confronting the state’s racist offensive.

Cleaners fight on after a victory

Outsourced cleaners, porters, post-room and security staff at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have been brought in-house. But the members of the IWGB union say the fight isn’t over.

They are demanding that they are paid the same as those with similar responsibilities, from £14.38. Currently, cleaners at the university are paid £11.30 an hour.

Oil bosses pay up for security guards

Security guards at Fawley Oil Refinery in Southampton have accepted an above inflation pay rise that will see some staff receive as much as a 31 percent pay rise.

David McMullen, GMB union organising assistant, said, “Given the vast profits generated by the oil industry it is excellent to see some of this wealth finally trickling down to our members who rightly deserve a fair pay rise. “

Harrods threatens horrid tactics

Workers at luxury department store Harrods in London are balloting for strikes after rejecting a 5 percent pay offer.

In response, bosses wrote to workers warning they would use agency scabs to break any strike after Tories changed the law. The ballot by 150 Unite union members is set to end on Thursday 1 September.

Ballot to make bosses shell out

Medics who work on oil giant Shell’s platforms are being balloted for strikes after rejecting a 3.5 percent pay offer.

The Unite union members are employed by United Healthcare Global Medial. Their ballot will run until 8 September.

Construction strike off after offer

Strikes at construction companies Birtley Group and Bowater Doors have been suspended after a pay offer.

Both companies share premises in Chester le Street owned by Hill & Smith Holdings PLC. If the offer is rejected the scheduled 16 days of action will begin on 4 September.

Strikes could be death of pay cut

Unite union members who work in the manufacture of coffins for Cooperative Funeral Care have voted for strikes against a 3 percent pay offer. Strikes were set to run from Monday of next week until Monday 29 August.

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