London Trans+ Pride will march for liberation for all

Posted on: July 11th, 2024 by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
trans Tories JK Rowling

At London Trans+ Pride last year (Picture: Guy Smallman)

The sixth London Trans+ Pride, set for Saturday 27 July, calls for justice and liberation under the slogan, “None of us are free until all of us are free.”

Trans+ Pride was due to meet at Trafalgar Square. But organisers have moved the start point after Nazi Tommy Robinson announced his hate march will also depart from the location on the same day.

London Trans+ Pride will instead assemble at Langham Place, near the BBC, then march down Regent Street and Piccadilly to Wellington Arch.

Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) has called a counter-protest against Robinson, and many anti-fascists plan to join London Trans+ Pride afterwards.

The previous London Trans+ Prides—a radical alternative to the corporatised London Pride—have been a show of resistance to the Tories’ attacks. Marchers celebrate gender expression and sexuality while defying the relentless hate from the top. They have grown each year, with 25,000 people marching in 2023.

On recent trans+ prides trade unionists have also organised a bloc—their presence is vital to make sure unions commit to supporting trans+ people. The bloc also shows that fighting against oppression and for liberation is a working class issue.

The Tories’ scapegoating of trans+ people has had a violent reality with hate crimes rising by 11 percent in 2023—hitting a record high. This has given confidence to thugs like Robinson to organise their fascist rallies at the same time as pride.

Robinson and Nazis like him are the enemy of trans+ people, as well as other minorities who have been the target of attacks, from Muslims to migrants.

His supporters beat up a trans woman at an anti-racist protest in Cheshire in 2019. And Robinson himself believes “there are only two genders” and endorses any who attack trans+ people.

His mates like Laurence Fox—who shared the stage at his last rally—called Pride month an “indoctrination” of children. Fox regularly calls drag queen paedophiles and trans+ healthcare “child mutilation”.

Now, in the first month of a Labour government, it’s even more important that this year’s pride is the biggest yet.

Keir Starmer’s government is no friend to trans+ people—and he won’t stop the likes of Robinson from growing in confidence. Health secretary Wes Streeting has said Labour would “modernise and reform” gender laws. But Labour will not remove the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria.

Labour also plans to implement the backwards Cass review that effectively bans healthcare for trans+ youth.

Days after the hated Cass Review was released, Streeting immediately said he was wrong to “write off” gender-critical bigots. And, after “self-criticism and reflection”, he said he was wrong to have previously agreed that “trans men are men, trans women are women”.

Starmer himself said he would not reverse the Tories’ education ban that blocks schools from even mentioning transgender people or identities. “I’m not in favour of ideology being taught in our schools on gender,” he said. He also “hopes” to meet with vicious transphobes like JK Rowling.

Asked this year whether trans people should have access to single-sex spaces Starmer said, “No. They don’t have that right. They shouldn’t.”

These attacks and rollbacks only encourage fascists and bigots to spread their bile and violence. 

Anti-racists, LGBT+ activists and trade unionists must mobilise for 27 July. Fascists cannot be allowed to intimidate trans+ people in the streets—or anywhere else. And activists have to demand more of the Labour government in the face of rising hate.

  • Unite against Tommy Robinson on 27 July, assemble at Russell Square 12pm to march to Trafalgar Square WC1B. Called by Stand Up To Racism. More details can be found at standuptoracism.org.uk 
  • Gather for London Trans+ Pride at 1pm at Langham Place outside the BBC, W1A 1AA to march at 2pm. Donate to London Trans+ Pride 

Starmer’s Labour promises cash for generals, poverty for children

Posted on: July 11th, 2024 by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
A crowd short of Labour MPs illustrating an article about Labour and the two-child benefit cap

How many Labour MPs will rebel against the government over the child benefit cap? (Picture: Keir Starmer on Twitter/X)

The government’s two-child benefit limit hit more than 1.6 million children this year. That’s an increase of 8.5 percent over the past year, emphasising why Labour is wrong not to scrap the limit.

The policy restricts child welfare payments to the first two children in most families. It means families, with a third or more child born after April 2017 miss out on up to £3,500 per year per child. That means deeper poverty.

The limit is a product of the vile Tory idea that the poor are to blame for their hardship because they are over-breeding beyond “normal” limits.

Senior figures from children’s charities and even the Church of England called for the policy to be scrapped following the publication of the new figures.

“We know that the two-child limit is a failing policy that actively pushes families into poverty,” said Joseph Howes, chair of the End Child Poverty group. He added that scrapping the policy would move “the needle on child poverty overnight”.

Charity Save The Children said it is an “outrage” that so many youngsters are affected and called for immediate action.

The limit is supposedly justified because it means families on benefits are “‘forced to face the same financial choices as those in work”, as the Tories used to say. But data released last month showed that 81 percent of two-parent families affected by the limit have at least one working parent.

Rosie is a single mother of three children, whose benefit payments are reduced by this policy. She said, “We often hear that the two-child limit is a necessary policy, because it ensures that families like mine have to make the same financial choices as families who are in work.

“Yet I work, and still this cap is applied to my benefit payments. I am a single parent. There will only ever be one salary coming into my home, and still the cap is applied to my benefit payments.”

To show how “tough” it is—towards the poor—Keir Starmer deliberately refused during the election campaign that his government would abolish the limit. He said he would not make “unfunded” spending commitments.

But Starmer has already said he will set out a “road map” to extra spending on the military—an early “unfunded” present to the generals and imperialist allies.

With Labour there’s cash for guns and missiles, but not to draw hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.

Labour committed in its manifesto to a review of the Universal Credit welfare system. But it has not guaranteed it will abolish a policy that deputy prime minister Angela Rayner said in 2020 was “obscene and inhumane”.

Torsten Bell, the former director of the Resolution Foundation, was elected as a Labour MP this month. He described the policy as “immoral” this April, arguing that it came close to creating “a poverty guarantee”.

Removing the two-child cap would cost £3.4 billion a year, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank. That’s small change in overall terms.

A 2 percent wealth tax on assets over £10 million could generate nearly £24 billion a year and affect just 0.04 percent of the population.

Some Labour MPs say they will move an amendment removing the limit to the King’s Speech which is scheduled for Wednesday next week.

It will be an early test for the government and every MP. But the key is campaigning from below. Every union leader should be telling Labour to scrap the limit immediately as part of a strategy of fighting Starmer from day one.


Who does the two-child limit hit?
  • By the end of the parliament in 2029 more than half of children in large families will be living in relative poverty, defined as 60 percent of average household income. 
  • The Resolution Foundation think-tank projects that 750,000 families will be affected by 2035, when all children in families of three or more will be captured by the policy.
  • A fifth all households impacted by the two-child limit are families with at least one disabled child, that is just over 87,500 households.
  • A quarter of all families impacted by the two-child limit are single-parent households, with a child under three.
  • The limit disproportionately hits black and Asian families.

Soas pro-Palestine students face threats from management and cops

Posted on: July 10th, 2024 by TTE
a picture of seven students in front of a police station illustrating a story about Soas student encampment

The seven Soas students after their release (Picture: Soas Liberated Zone)

Soas university in central London is on the verge of expelling a student for his pro-Palestine campaigning.

And on top of this, the police arrested seven students at the encampment on Monday night, after the activists defended themselves from a Zionist attack

The university has set a disciplinary hearing for Abel Harive-Clark that will confirm or drop the expulsion for Thursday.

Abel, who is a member of the Soas student encampment for Gaza, said, “I have been targeted for my political activism by Adam Habib, the vice chancellor at Soas.

He added, “Adam Habib’s complaint against me alleges harassment and abuse. This is a pathetic attempt to silence the many voices who have chanted his name and named him as accountable for Soas’s support for the ongoing genocide in Gaza.”

“This is despite, or actually because, I am due to take office as a full time elected officer in the students union.”

Abel has recently been elected as the student union officer for democracy and education. The university is also trying to charge Abel with “operation obstruction”. He distributed flyers with the demands of the student encampment to members of the board of trustees as they attended a meeting in May.

Security guards prevented Abel from doing so, pushing him to the ground and dragging him away. But the university is now trying to use a brief CCTV clip to claim that Abel assaulted a security guard.

Abel said in response to this, “When the full CCTV footage is released, it will show how private security, hired by Soas, racially targeted and attacked protesters. The allegations against me are because I sought to prevent fellow protesters being physically beaten by those private security.”

The university’s allegations are aiming to single out Abel, as all actions could be applied to countless other students. Management is trying to make an example out of Abel, as someone who has been unwilling to accept attempts at intimidation.

Abel also argued that the university management is seeking “to undermine student democracy and deny students the chance to choose their elected representatives”.

But the university’s intimidation tactics aren’t new. Soas suspended Abel and three others in October for organising and attending a pro-Palestine solidarity rally outside the university building on 9 October. But Abel returned to campus in 2024 and won his election for the student union on a platform of student democracy, the right to protest and Palestinian liberation.

So far university management has given ten students disciplinary notices, while four others are under formal investigation. A statement from the Soas encampment said, “We will not allow Soas to wrongfully target a student and continue its repressive tactics.

“Nor will we be intimidated as we continue to escalate until… our demands are met and until the expulsion against Abel is dropped.”

Abel was defiant against the charges, saying, “Neither I, nor our movement will be intimidated. Our commitment is to Palestinian liberation, to end the genocide and to see a free Palestine from the river to the sea.”


Hackney campaigners defend themselves from Zionists 

Around 200 Gaza campaigners faced down 30 pro-Israel supporters outside Hackney Town Hall, east London, on Tuesday night.

The Zionists had turned up to disrupt a lobby of the council pensions committee.

Labour-run Hackney council has millions invested in Israel through its pension fund. It is also twinned with the Israeli city of Haifa.

The lobby was supported by Hackney council workers’ Unison union branch and by Hackney NEU education union branch. Both unions represent workers whose pensions are invested in Israel and who want those investments withdrawn.

Hackney council’s Labour group has prevaricated over disinvestment for months.

Dave Davies, Hackney NEU secretary, said, “The council have been given a chance to end their complicity in genocide. Now we are going to take the fight to them. Palestine will be free.”

Mike Simons

Israel massacres Palestinians in air strikes on schools

Posted on: July 10th, 2024 by TTE
Damaged buildings in the aftermath of an Israeli air strike on a school

An Israeli air strike on a school (Picture: Unrwa)

There’s talk of deals and ceasefires, but the Israeli military forces are stepping up massacres.

In Abbasan, southern Gaza, an Israeli air attack on the al-Awdah school killed at least 30 people and wounded 53, many of them children, on Tuesday. It’s the fourth time in a week that Israel has blasted schools being used by desperate people as shelters.

Footage from the school, obtained by Al Jazeera news, shows young Palestinians playing football in the building’s yard as dozens of people watch on.

The BBC has spoken to witnesses who said the area was teeming with displaced people at the time, and who recounted the bloody aftermath in graphic detail.

The explosions scattered body parts across the site and injured many people staying in tents outside the school.

Ayman Al-Dahma said there had been as many as 3,000 people packed into the area at the time, which he said housed a market and residential buildings. Describing the number of casualties as “unimaginable”, he said he had seen people whose limbs had been severed by the blast.

He added, “They said it was a safe place—that there were water and food, there were schools and everything. Suddenly a rocket comes down on you and all the people around you.”

Mohamed Awadeh Anzeh told the BBC the area had been busy with people and market traders “going about their normal lives” when the strike hit.

A Palestinian boy told Al Jazeera he lost several relatives in the attack. “We were sitting and a missile fell and destroyed everything,” he said, sobbing. “I lost my uncle, my cousins and my relatives.!

The attacks come as United States CIA spy chief William Burns and Israel’s Mossad spy chief David Barnea met in Qatar on Wednesday.

In an effort to secure a ceasefire deal, Hamas is reported to have made concessions last week. They included dropping a key demand that Israel commit—in advance—to an end to the war before signing an agreement. Instead, Hamas said it would push for the move in negotiations planned during an initial six-week ceasefire.

But Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the group, said on Monday that Israel’s escalating assault has threatened talks at a crucial time and could bring negotiations “back to square one”.

Haniyeh, who spoke with Qatari and Egyptian mediators, issued a statement. It warned “of the disastrous repercussions of what is happening in Gaza City, Rafah and other areas across the Gaza Strip”.

He stressed that Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and “his army bear full responsibility for the collapse of this negotiation path”.

Meanwhile, in northern Gaza City, residents said Israeli tanks had pushed into the Tal al-Hawa, Shujayea and Sabra neighbourhoods. They shelled roads and buildings, and forced people to flee their homes.

Again, as has happened repeatedly, these are areas the Israelis declared clear of Hajmas fighters. But the resistance returns.

The armed wings of Hamas and its ally, Islamic Jihad, said their fighters were battling Israeli forces with machine guns, mortar fire and anti-tank missiles.


Three previous Israeli strikes on schools

  • Israel killed 16 people last Saturday in a missile strike on a UN-run school in the urban Nuseirat refugee camp, in central Gaza. It was home to about 2,000 displaced people, according to Gaza’s health ministry
  • An Israeli attack last Sunday on a church-run school in Gaza City killed four people.
  • On Monday night, several people were wounded in a strike on another UN-run school in Nuseirat.

Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general of the Unrwa refugee agency said, “Four schools hit in the last four days. Since the war began, two-thirds of Unrwa schools in Gaza have been hit, some were bombed out, many severely damaged.

“Schools have gone from safe places of education and hope for children to overcrowded shelters and often ending up a place of death and misery.

“Nine months in, under our watch, the relentless, endless killings, destruction and despair continue. Gaza is no place for children.

“The blatant disregard of international humanitarian law cannot become the new normal. Ceasefire now before we lose what is left of our common humanity.”

No honeymoon for new Labour government

Posted on: July 9th, 2024 by Thomas Foster
Keir Starmer holds first cabinet under new Labour government

Keir Starmer holds the first cabinet of the new Labour government (Picture: Number 10)

Labour’s first acts in government were to reassure bosses and generals. It underlined that workers and the left have to organise to fight now against a government that will serve big business and imperialism.

Addressing hundreds of supporters gathered at the Tate Modern in central London last Friday morning, Keir Starmer said, “We ran a changed Labour party and we will govern as a changed Labour party.” His words were a deliberate echo of Tony Blair’s promise in his 1997 election victory speech that said, “We ran for office as New Labour, we will govern as New Labour.”

On Monday chancellor Rachel Reeves cheered up construction firm executives by underlining that private builders will be at the centre of housing targets. Such moves are why Labour’s win was greeted by a big vote of confidence—from bankers and financial speculators.

Normally the kings of finance watch nervously for the results of elections where the left is set to win. But Starmer produces no such anxiety.

There was never any danger of the “run on the pound” that generally greets a setback for the Tories. There is a long list of what urgently needs to change.

The new government has to be fought over breaking with Israel, opposing war, fighting deportations, repealing racist laws and pushing for above inflation increases in pay and benefits. There has to be agitation over defending jobs, demanding environmental action, fully funding the NHS, mass council housing, winning trans and women’s rights—and more.

The threadbare ranks of the Labour left and many union leaders will call for cooperation with Starmer. Instead there has to be a struggle against it.

Labour’s very limited plans for more money for public services will be linked to attempts to hold down pay—unless workers fight. TUC union federation president and FBU union leader Matt Wrack said, “If there is a honeymoon for Labour, it could be short-lived unless the government responds to the pent-up anger after 14 years of pay restraint.”

But that needs to be turned into action. An early test will come over teachers’ pay where the government must soon react to the review body.

There’s also an early test over anti-union laws, some of which Labour pledged to dump. Dangerously Wrack added that Labour could buy itself some time on pay provided it moved quickly to deliver on workers’ rights.

There can be no delay in demanding restoration after 14 years of real terms pay cuts for millions of workers. We say no “honeymoon” with Labour.

The government has a very narrow base. The energy and scale of the Palestinian movement—which produced the votes for Independents—has to be a central part of an offensive on every front for working class people to win real gains.


Repeal union laws

Labour’s manifesto said, “Labour will stop the chaos and turn the page to create a partnership between business and trade unions, by implementing ‘Labour’s Plan to Make Work Pay—Delivering a New Deal for Working People’ in full—introducing legislation within 100 days.”

Labour’s Plan to Make Work Pay: Delivering a New Deal for Working People said, “Over the past 14 years, the Conservatives have consistently attacked rights at work, including through the Trade Union Act 2016, the Minimum Service Levels (Strikes) Bill and the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2022—all of which Labour will repeal.”

The 2016 act brought in the 50 percent turnout requirement for strike ballots. It will take a battle to have that, and the rest of the 2016 act, wiped out.

Labour says it will consult with bosses before it comes up with its plans. One leading trade union expert told Socialist Worker, “I think it intends to repeal the act but keep some threshold that will be ‘sweetened’ by allowing e-balloting rather than postal balloting.”

Letters—We all have to unite to defend our protest rights

Posted on: July 9th, 2024 by Daire Cumiskey
Five protesters were also arrested on last Saturday's 16th National demonstration (Picture: Richard Bayfield)

Five protesters were also arrested on last Saturday’s 16th National demonstration (Picture: Richard Bayfield)

Recent arrests of protesters are shocking examples of the powers the police now have to suppress dissent.

They grabbed Just Stop Oil activists before airport protests and Palestine activists against alleged attempts to disrupt the Pride march under the Public Order Act 2023.

Such repression is targeted at people fighting the companies who are complicit in the mass slaughter of Palestinians and fueling climate chaos.

The Public Order Act 2023 was designed with the explicit goal of breaking the climate justice movement.

In particular, it was the government response to the very effective mass protests organised by Extinction Rebellion in 2019.

But the use of this new power by the police is not simply limited to climate justice activists who would block roads.

It has been used against trade unionists and activists from other movements as we have seen recently. This is a major assault by the state against all our rights.

Rather than address the problems that caused people to protest or take industrial action, the government devotes a huge amount of its time and resources to suppress dissent and double down on its reactionary politics.

The state’s objective is to take away our agency and our ability to change society for the better. This must be resisted by all of us. The state wants to make us feel powerless. But state action can and must be challenged.

It needs a collective response from all of us, whether we are gay or straight, black or white, trade unionists or climate activists. Unfortunately, Labour is not going to repeal this legislation.

The only way we are going to defeat this attack on our right to protest is if we all come together on the streets. The state can pick us off individually, but it can’t defeat us if we come together in our millions.

John Sinha

North London


Are there ‘No kings in the US’?

Millions of people were shocked to learn of the United States supreme court’s recent ruling that presidents have immunity from prosecution for official actions made during their time in office.

It is a lifeline from a Republican-dominated court for Donald Trump who faces multiple ongoing court cases.

Not surprisingly, Trump celebrated wildly on social media. US president Joe Biden declared that this undermined the cherished idea that there are “no kings in America” and that presidents were “above the law”.

Liberals like Biden see it as a betrayal of their fundamental principles. The truth is that US presidents have always been able to find ways of putting themselves above the law.

Richard Nixon, facing impeachment for the Watergate scandal, was pardoned by his former vice-president Gerald Ford immediately after Ford became president.

Biden need never worry about being on trial for US war crimes such as supplying arms to Israel while it bombs Gaza. No US president should be above the law.

But the law is never applied equally. The system always looks after the rich and powerful. We need an entirely new justice system—and that will come from mass movements from below, not relying on the entirely unjust US justice system.

Michael Dudley

Manchester


Help arrives after pigs stole my cameras

I was recently photographing a theatrical protest at the enormous mansion owned by our former prime minister and his wife.

The protesters were making a point about Rishi Sunak’s imminent departure and also the ongoing scandal of raw sewage being tipped into our waterways.

After identifying myself to a uniformed cop with my press card while on a public footpath, he then arrested all of us for aggravated trespass.

The police held me for 12 hours and announced that all my equipment was being kept as evidence to be reviewed in mid- September.

This will effectively prevent me from working until then. I’m extremely grateful to friends and colleagues who launched a Crowdfund to raise £4,500 to purchase some basic second hand camera equipment.

That target has been met. When the police return my equipment, I will donate the temporary gear to the Palestinian Journalist Syndicate (PJS).

Journalists in Gaza are facing the most extreme conditions imaginable, over 100 of them have lost their lives since 7 October.

Guy Smallman

South London


We were right to be on strike on election day

As an adult mental health social worker in Barnet, north London, I’ve been on strike for over 70 days.

The Labour-controlled council has yet to address our demands for better recruitment and retention.

This ongoing strike isn’t just about wages. It’s about ensuring we can provide the best possible care for our community.

Striking on election day highlighted the critical intersection between workers’ rights and political accountability.

We need people in elected office who are willing to engage with and support essential workers, not just during elections
but every day.

Our strike is a call for action, urging voters to consider the real impacts of their choices at the ballot box.

It’s well overdue for Barnet council to step up and negotiate in good faith. Our community demands better.

Medina Hussein

East London


Struggle for open borders

The recent detention and deportation of 100 Chinese refugees from the United States is brutal but not surprising.

It highlights the infuriating trend of centrist political figures imitating the far right— only encouraging them more.

Recent mobilisations of anti-raid activists combined with building anti-racist organisations like Stand Up To Racism are essential to mobilising a movement capable of smashing racism.

Mark Penman

Glasgow


Do not look at The Sun

The Sun, the rag, that has backed every rotten Tory government last week backed Keir Starmer for Number 10.

This endorsement should be a warning to anyone who was holding onto hope that Labour would bring any real change. Of course spineless Starmer was “delighted” to have its backing.

Jim Webb

Newcastle


Clear out all the profiteers

It’s encouraging to see the supreme court ruling that the Manchester Ship Canal Company can sue United Utilities for dumping raw sewage into the canal.

Now every climate activist should redouble campaigns to stop the rampant polluting of rivers and seas.

The courts will only decide to act when judges feel pressure from below that’s too powerful to ignore.

Frank Reed

Norfolk


Don’t forget a new Nakba

Around 90 percent of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been displaced since Israel began its brutal assault last October.

The United Nations OCHA agency also found that many had been forced to move more than once.

Let’s keep up the fight against Israel’s genocide under this new government.

Julia Ryder

Worcestershire

Harmondsworth migrant detention centre is a hellhole

Posted on: July 9th, 2024 by Arthur T
Harmondsworth migrant detention centre, near London

Harmondsworth migrant detention centre, near London

“Truly shocking” and “chaos”. That’s what an inspection this year into the hellhole removal centre Harmondsworth near London’s Heathrow airport found.

Dirty, dilapidated and unsafe—the HM Inspectorate of Prisons said the conditions were “the worst they have seen in immigration detention”.

The prisons inspector last visited in 2017 and deemed the situation to be “critical”—yet conditions have deteriorated further.

Some 48 percent of those caged felt suicidal during their stay, with one suicide attempt taking place during the inspection. 

The centre had not taken full action to stop suicide attempts. It had not implemented recommendations from “near-miss” investigations, such as the removal of ligature points that had been used repeatedly in suicide attempts.

“Self-harm prevention work was generally poor,” the report found. One man, who had been placed on constant watch because he was assessed to be at imminent risk of self-harm, was not watched by anyone.

Chief inspector Charlie Taylor was so concerned that he wrote to then home secretary James Cleverley shortly after the inspection in February.

Cleverly ignored him.

The report said detainees freeze inside their cells at the 658-bed centre, the largest of its kind in Europe.

One man died in a hotel after he was released—he had previously been exploited for sex work and forced labour. Another man was stretchered in despite the Home Office accepting he wasn’t fit to be detained.

Assaults had doubled since the last inspection in 2017 and nearly two thirds of those detained said they had felt unsafe.

The centre also had doubled up cells to hold more men. Staff dressed in full personal protective equipment took those who refused to share a room to the separation unit until they agreed to share.  

Meanwhile staff hide in their offices behind “no entry” tapes while detainees complain of violence by staff. Mitie Care and Custody runs the centre despite a “shambolic retendering process” run by the Home Office.

The purpose of the centre is to hold people who are set to be kicked out of the country. Yet 60 percent of detainees are released from the centre, meaning they’re trapped in hell for no reason.

Now Labour is in charge—and it must act. But former Labour prime minister Tony Blair has advised for harsher measures on migrants.

He warned Keir Starmer to “close off the avenues” of the populist right like Reform UK by keeping tough controls on immigration.

Blair told the Guardian newspaper, “The populist usually doesn’t invent a grievance, they exploit the grievance. If you want to close off their avenues for increasing support, you’ve got to deal with the grievance.

“That’s why Keir is absolute right in saying you’ve got to have controls on immigration.”

In fact, conceding to racism encourages and builds the far right.

This week Labour diverted £75 million from the Rwanda scheme to set up the new Border Security Command. It will draw together intelligence agencies, police, border enforcement and border forces.

The new government is already working on a bill to create counter-terror powers aimed at tackling people coming across the Channel.  

Within hours of his election win Starmer called the Rwanda scheme “dead and buried”. His reasoning? It was “never a deterrent” and had “the complete opposite effect”.

Starmer and Cooper will be working hard to be tough on immigration and pick up where the Tories failed—stopping refugees entering Britain and deporting more people.

Rather than repelling refugees, Cooper needs to close the wretched Harmondsworth detention centre—and all others like it.  

Industrial round-up: Striking school workers out to fight against cuts

Posted on: July 9th, 2024 by Arthur T
School workers picket in Hastings (Photo: Simon Hester)

School workers strike in Hastings (Photo: Simon Hester)

NEU Union members at five schools in the University of Brighton Academy Trust (Ubat) were set to strike on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week.

Workers are demanding that Ubat keeps less money for central services and passes more on to schools to save jobs and reduce workloads.

This is the first academy wide dispute in the country.

It shines a spotlight on the lack of financial transparency and democratic accountability inherent in the academy system.

The dispute started in April when Hastings Academy announced job cuts. In response an emergency NEU meeting called for strikes.

That same week, it was revealed that Ubat takes more than double the proportion of funding for central services than most academy chains.

Ubat then announced further cuts at other schools including the loss of teachers, teaching assistants and site staff, and closure of the Trust’s Alternative Learning Provision unit.

The NEU swiftly organised meetings in all the affected schools. The union coordinated a formal strike ballot across five trust schools.

These are The Hastings Academy, The St Leonards Academy, The Baird Primary Academy, Burgess Hill Academy and Robsack Wood Primary Academy.

On a 74 percent turnout, members voted 93 percent Yes for strikes.

Two further schools are balloting to join action in September if the issue is not resolved.

In the course of this dispute, NEU membership has increased by around 50 percent across the five schools. Our new membership is overwhelmingly support staff, who have joined the NEU because they want a union that fights.

Jenny Sutton, NEU Hastings district secretary


Strikes to stop school closures and for better pay 

School workers at three schools in Lambeth, south London, are set to strike next Thursday against the council’s plans to merge six schools and close two more amid falling school numbers.

At St John’s Angell Town primary school, workers voted 100 percent Yes to strike on a 91 percent turnout.

At Holy Trinity primary, workers voted 100 percent yes on a 100 percent turnout.

At St Saviour’s primary, there was a 71 percent yes vote and a 100 percent turnout.

One teacher in Lambeth argued the falling school numbers have “been driven by the excessive cost of living in London and the ‘social cleansing’ that is coming with it”.

Instead of closing, schools could shift to smaller class sizes.

It’s a move that would benefit children’s education. The closures aren’t necessary, but are a political choice.

The council should not close a single school and not a single job should be lost.

  • Teachers at Oulton Academy in Leeds were set to strike on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Leeds NEU union said the action follows a meeting with Adrian Kneeshaw, CEO of Carlton Academy Trust, which runs the school.

The NEU said the CEO refused to incorporate national terms into new contracts for academy staff.

  • Workers at Benson Community School in Birmingham are striking over management practices.

NEU members said that management bullied staff. Workers were set to strike on Wednesday of this week.

  • School workers at St Anne’s School and Sixth Form College in Hessle, near Hull, were set to strike this week from Tuesday to Friday. They are striking over a new pay system that doesn’t cover extra duties and responsibilities.

The school provides provision for children with special educational needs and disabilities. NEU union members struck from Tuesday to Friday last week.


Security guards strike to secure better pay

Outsourced security guards working in Jobcentres across England have been battling against their employer G4S.

More than 300 members of the PCS union voted for strikes in June.

Joint picket lines of GMB and PCS union members increased the size of the picket lines, putting greater pressure on their employer.

Workers are fighting for better benefits, more sick and primarily a long overdue pay raise. Workers are now paid the minimum wage of £11.44 an hour.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has given G4S £211 million since December 2022.

Natasha, who has worked as a security guard in Stratford, east London, for 20 years and is a member of both GMB and PCS, spoke to Socialist Worker. “We have to stand all day and it can be exhausting so we want to be fully paid for the work we do,” she said.

These workers struck on election day, laying down the gauntlet rather a red carpet for the new government. Some 16 pickets across England forced several Jobcentres to close during seven days of strikes last week.

At a Jobcentre in Watford, striker Jon told Socialist Worker, “G4S blame DWP and DWP blame G4S. We will keep striking until they pay us a living wage.”

Stuart, another guard at the Watford site, said, “I’ve worked for G4S for 14 years—and without a decent wage for most of that time.”

  • Thanks to Jon Gamble for speaking to strikers at the picket line in Watford

Merseyside bus drivers could go to all out strike

Almost 500 Stagecoach bus drivers on Merseyside walked out on Friday last week until Monday of this week. They plan four more days of action from Friday this week.

The drivers want to end the pay disparity between them and Arriva Liverpool drivers who get £1.40 more an hour. This equates to £3,000 extra a year.

The drivers have threatened all-out action.

Stagecoach offered a 4.3 percent pay rise, but this wasn’t enough to match the drivers’ demands.

Meanwhile, Unite union leaders called off a strike of 140 drivers for Cambus, a subsidiary of Stagecoach, in Bedfordshire.

As a “gesture of goodwill”, Unite cancelled action to allow members to vote on a new deal.

The workers had planned to strike for five days from Tuesday this week and eight more days across July and the beginning of August.

Cambus drivers earn just £13.46 per hour while other companies in the area pay over £15.

A previous offer would have reduced sick pay, removed the pay offer backdated to 4 April and removed overtime rates.

Unite members should be ready to reject the deal if it doesn’t match what they want.

And Stagecoach bus drivers in Swindon have won a 17 percent, two-year pay deal.

The Unite members had voted to strike but resolved their dispute before taking action.

The deal increases pay by more than 11 percent in the first year and six percent in the second—a victory for workers in Swindon.


Don’t rely on Labour to save steel workers’ jobs

On the day of the general election, bosses closed Blast Furnace 5—operating since 1959—at Tata’s steel plant in Port Talbot, south Wales.

The new Labour government said last weekend that it was in talks to save jobs.

Some 2,800 jobs are under threat from this closure and if bosses shut the second blast furnace in September. New business secretary Jonathan Reynolds said there was “a better deal available” on the future of the plant, but said newer technologies would employ fewer people.

The Unite union called off an indefinite strike that should have started on Monday this week. That would have put far more pressure on Tata management.

The unions have put all their faith in Labour.

If the government doesn’t guarantee all the jobs then there have to be strikes and demands for nationalisation.