In four days I was on two protests when noise has been a central element of the action.
Defend the Ritzy workers
I spent time last Friday evening as part of a picket line at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton. It was an unusual action because none of us were there in our capacity as workers but as users – but we were there to support those working inside.
Workers in Picturehouse cinemas, of which the Ritzy is one, are waging an struggle for a Living Wage, decent sick pay, company maternity/paternity pay and union recognition. They have been on strike over fifty times in the last year, and are an inspiration to everyone organising precarious workers.
In an outrageous attack on trade unionists, Picturehouse cinemas has taken punitive action against all the BECTU reps at the Ritzy – the site where the dispute first started. Three have been sacked and the fourth suspended.
To keep up the pressure on management as well as continuing with days of strike action, local activists are organising consumer picket lines. On June 30 a dozen or so of us with the aid of 3 pairs of spoons a plastic hooter and our voices turned away dozens of potential visitors – including some who had already bought cinema tickets – and cut short the visit of others.
This was followed on July 1 by a day of strike action and a support rally addressed by John McDonnell who came straight to Brixton from the People’s Assembly rally in Trafalgar Square, together with local MP Helen Hayes as well as Owen Jones.
If your trade union, trades council, Labour Party or other organisation wants to donate to our strike fund email firstname.lastname@example.org to get details of the account
Individuals can donate here: www.crowdpac.co.uk/campaigns/250/picturehousestrike
No social cleansing – Stop the HDV
Then on Monday night I was in Haringey chanting ‘No social cleansing’ alongside around 500 people with pots and pans and whistles. as inside the Council Cabinet were agreeing a profoundly reactionary deal to sell off give away huge swathes of the boroughs land – and the lives of the people whose homes are there – to a private company jointly owned by the Council and a developer.
The council will put in public assets worth many millions which include housing estates, schools, public facilities and private housing acquired through compulsory purchase orders.
It was the first time Id been in Haringey for a political event for a long time and it brought back lots of powerful memories. In the 1980’s Duckett’s Common where we assembled last night and Haringey Civic Centre where we ended up, were places I knew very well.
The Labour left in Haringey were at the forefront of the fight against ratecapping and cuts, the latter then as now often being imposed by Labour councils doing the bidding of a Tory government. But the Labour left in the borough, particularly those organised through Labour Briefing were also at the cutting edge of campaigns on other questions too; against racism and for the self organisation of black people, on LGBT rights. on Ireland. It was good to be back.
But unlike thousands of others who have drawn the lesson from the Grenfell tragedy that deregulation and privatisation are killers, the majority of Labour councillors in the London borough are signing up to a deal where the borough will run a a 50/50 partnership with developers Lendlease which will result in the bulldozing of more than 500 homes in seven estates and the devastation of communities.
This is despite the opposition of the two local Labour parties and the two MPs, David Lammy and Catherine West who sent a very detailed and hardhitting appeal to Council leader, Claire Kober and other councillors asking them to put the project on hold.
The deal was agreed last night, despite the fact that key advocate of the project,Councillor Alan Strickland said he could give “no guarantee” about the possibility of infamous “poor doors” on “redeveloped” estates.
But the fact that the deal was agreed by Cabinet certainly doesn’t mean the campaign is over. Trade unionists, Labour party members, housing campaigners and local residents are not going to take this lying down.