The bastards are dropping like flies. A string of victories have been won this week as people at the sharp end of austerity have shown that we don’t need giant trade unions or insincere political parties to do politics for us.
In East London, property developers Redrow have announced they are selling their £46.75m stake in 1 Commercial Street, the luxury tower block in East London. This building has been the target of an 18 week campaign against the ‘poor doors’ which force people in the so-called affordable properties to use a different entrance to those living in the posh flats. Rowdy weekly demonstrations have brought chaos to this busy part of London and enjoyed huge local support. The protests are set to continue with a victory celebration next Wednesday 19th November from 6pm.
Meanwhile in Hackney the tenants on the New Era estate have driven the vile Benyon family to sell their investment in the estate where residents have been threatened with huge rent hikes. This decision followed a lively protest when hundreds of people marched on the Benyon Estate offices and served a mock eviction on the company which is co-owned by Tory MP Richard Benyon – believed to be Britain’s richest elected politician. Suddenly London’s property market is not looking like such a lucrative investment as everywhere people are starting to organise against soaring rents, gentrification, social segregation and evictions.*
A stunning triumph against workfare has also taken place in Liverpool where the city’s branch of the IWW Union had called a demonstration against the use of workfare by council sub-contractors Bulky Bobs. Not only did the threat of this protest cause the organisation to pull out of unpaid work and agree to sign the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement, but they have also issued one of the strongest statements yet against Jobcentre workfare schemes. Quoted on the Liverpool IWW website, Bulky Bobs say: “We are happy to support Liverpool IWW in their efforts to persuade the DWP to scrap Workfare and would urge any other business involved in the scheme to withdraw at once.”
Resistance to forced work has been strong in Liverpool, with regular protests being held and volunteer agencies in the city condemning workfare. Liverpool Council have also pledged to boycott George Osborne’s Help To Work scheme which forces claimants to work for six months without pay or face losing meagre benefits. Liverpool could soon become the first workfare free city, which would be pretty fucking funny given that Merseyside contains the constituency of Employment Minister Esther McVey.
There was a further victory against workfare in Motherwell after LAMH Recycling also announced they would be ending their involvement with the scheme. This social enterprise hit the headlines after local unemployed man John McArthur had his benefits stopped for refusing to work without pay at the organisation where he had previously been a paid employee. John had held weekly protests outside the company leading to them finally withdrawing from forced labour. Following the announcment McArthur took to twitter to thank the “extraordinary kindness of people whom I have never met but who have contacted me offering assistance. They keep alive the true spirit of charity, i.e caritas (love), and giving without seeking a fee (or free labour)”.
Finally a resurgent Class War, who also instigated the Poor Doors protests, chased Iain Duncan Smith across his leafy Chingford constituency yesterday. Unfortunately they didn’t manage to catch the bastard but they did discover that the only way he could get people to attend his self-publicising jobs fair was to threaten to take their benefits away if they didn’t show up. Pitiful.
At times it feels like the onslaught of shit is relentless. But these events show that when we fight back we can win. Don’t wait for political parties, the TUC or the growing band of celebrity lefties to tell you what to do. Find a weak spot, organise, and kick it till it fucking breaks.
*UPDATE: 16/11/14 The tenants are reporting on twitter that Westbrook Partners who now control the estate are now threatening them with eviction. Follow the campaign @newera4all for the latest news.
This blog has no sources of funding so here’s a quick reminder that you can help ensure it continues by making a donation.
Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid