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Reports round-up: Australia bushfire protest, opposition to Stratford development and more

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Issue 2687
Rebels gathered outside the Australian High Commission in central London last Friday to demand urgent action on the wildfire crisis. Organised by Extinction Rebellion, the lobby was called in solidarity with huge protests that swept Australia
Rebels gathered outside the Australian High Commission in central London last Friday to demand urgent action on the wildfire crisis. Organised by Extinction Rebellion, the lobby was called in solidarity with huge protests that swept Australia (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Stratford protesters want homes, not vanity projects

Developer Madison Square Gardens (MSG) plans to build a vast new 25,000-capacity venue and night club in Stratford, east London.

The campaign to stop the MSG has made clear objections from the start.

It has raised questions over the crowds, air pollution, the 24 hour LED lighting constituting the brightest, largest advertising megastructure ever constructed in Britain, the traffic chaos and more. 

Campaigners also unearthed correspondence between MSG and the supposedly neutral planning body, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC).

It contains discussion on how to deal with “local resistance”. Unelected LLDC members frequently outvote elected council representatives.

Local MP Lyn Brown has asked London mayor Sadiq Khan for LLDC’s planning powers to be returned to London councils. Newham needs homes not monstrous vanity entertainment projects.

The LLDC held what it plans will be its last public consultation event on Thursday of last week.

It was a very lively evening. Over 60 people came, overwhelmingly opposed to the project.

Campaigners were well-organised, at one point taking over the stage in front of the LLDC powerpoint to chant, “Stop the MSG”.

The LLDC had to abandon its plan to come round the audience for individual chats, and instead have a full meeting question and answer session.

Members of Newham XR joined the protest, asking how the LLDC was advising MSG investors in the light of the climate emergency. Construction in the Thames flood plain could well mean buildings would be under water by 2030.

The feeling on Thursday was that this development will face a lot more local resistance if the project proceeds.

Miriam Scharf

Formal objections to the MSG can be sent to [email protected] by 31 Jan. Details of the campign at

Protesters gathered outside the Indian consulate in Birmingham last Saturday to protest against president Narendra Modi’s racist laws.

India’s parliament passed a new citizenship law on 11December.

Protesters said it discriminates against Muslims and undermines India’s secular constitution.

The demonstration was organised by the Indian Workers Association-GB and campaign groups Sameeksha UK, Chethana, Kranthi and the Progressive Workers Association.

A protest spokesperson said the new law, “stokes widespread fear amongst sections of society.

“In tandem with the National Register of Citizens this is a very dangerous step by the RSS-BJP central government towards creating an exclusive and divisive ‘Hindu nation’ in India.

Workers employed by Rail Gourmet catering firm struck for 24 hours last Friday.

Workers are fighting a host of issues around workplace justice and safety.

RMT union members at the Paddington depot, in London are fighting rostering practices, incorrect allowance and bonus payments, and the failure to replace faulty equipment.

The latest action follow strikes last year.

Workers strike over Ealing office closure

Workers at a west London tax office were set to embark on their latest round of action in defence of their jobs on Wednesday of this week.

PCS union members at the HMRC office in Ealing planned a walkout at 12 noon.

They have scheduled more half day strikes on Wednesday of next week and Wednesday 29 January, and then a full day on Friday 31 January.

HMRC bosses want to close their office and relocate it to south or east London—too far away for many of the workers in Ealing to travel daily.

Revolt at Harrods posh people’s shop

Security officers and CCTV operators at the Harrods store in Knightsbridge, central London, began a strike ballot on Monday over pay and unpaid work.

The workers who are members of the Unite union, are angry that management imposed a below-inflation pay increase.

They overwhelmingly rejected the pay offer in a consultative ballot.

The dispute is also a result of the workers being required to work half an hour unpaid every day.

Voting ends on 29 January.

Custody officers want to bar low pay

Custody officers responsible for moving people between Scotland’s prisons and courts have begun voting on whether to take action over low wages.

The ballot for around 200 custody officers working for GeoAmey continues until 24 January. The members of GMB Scotland face a basic hourly pay rate of £9.60 for 2020 and £9.85 for 2021.

New strike move in West Dunbartonshire

Social workers have renewed a strike ballot to keep pressure on bosses to fix the service in West Dunbartonshire.

Unison union members in the children and families unit voted overwhelmingly for a strike as they continue to fight for more staff.

They first voted to strike in May last year but suspended action after the council said it would make improvements.

Unison said 99 percent of those balloted this year voted for a strike.

Flybe air collapse could hit 2,000 jobs

Reports this week that airline Flybe may be facing renewed financial difficulties—creating fears of another jobs disaster similar to Thomas Cook last year.

Unions must fight any job cuts.

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