Category Archives : Uncategorized


CALL OUT: Fight the Cuts – Fight for our Future

The cuts of the last five years have devastated people’s lives and are destroying our society. And they’re about to get much, much worse. The ruthless millionaires in charge are planning to cut another £12 billion, on top of the £25 billion they’ve already cut. We need to fight back with all of our energy, creativity and courage, to defend our public services and bring down the architects of austerity.

The new government will be sworn in on the 27th May. Join us on Saturday 30th May to send a loud and clear message that we’re going to continue to fight the cuts every step of the way. It’s going to be a fun, creative direct action, so invite everyone you know (and everyone you don’t) and bring the kids too!

They tell us there’s no alternative to austerity. BUT THAT’S A LIE! There’s loads of money, it’s just in the hands of a few. The Tories have let the mega-rich get away with dodging BILLIONS in tax – £100 billion a year! Handed out £85 billion a year in corporate subsidies. Handed the banks hundreds of billions. Allowed bankers’ pay and bonuses to rocket, and cut tax for the rich. They claim cutting public services is to reduce the deficit, yet spending has increased under their rule! Let’s expose their cruelty and their lies.

The cuts are political choice, not an economic necessity. This government wants to destroy the welfare state and privatise our vital public services. Austerity is just an excuse to transfer public services into private hands, to protect the rich and punish the poor. It’s really that simple. It doesn’t help our economy or our society.

We can’t stop this by asking nicely. If we want to win the fight – and we can win – then we must make it impossible to ignore our arguments and our demands. We need to take direct action and build a powerful grassroots mass movement. We can create a different future – it doesn’t have to be this way – but we, the people, are going to have to create that for ourselves. Let’s bring together all the inspiring struggles and groups that have formed against the cuts and unite against austerity! It’s time to get organised, get creative and fight for our future.

Watch this space for more details coming soon. In the meantime – join the London Facebook event here. If you want to set up your own action in your area, set up a Facebook event and email the link to ukuncut@gmail.com and we’ll add it to our Facebook page and the website.

See you on the streets!

 


GUEST BLOG POST: Why localism harms domestic violence services

On Monday the Sisters will take to the streets to demand that women’s needs are met and that cuts to domestic violence services are reversed and more – that they are properly funded.

We have just a few days left to the election and we are tired of the politics on offer. We are here to demand an end to austerity and to call on the government to stop colluding with the violence inflicted on women.

Next week, we may see a new political agenda. But at this point it’s crucial for us to remember the last five years: to understand the vicious, brutal and lasting impact of austerity on women. I have firsthand experience of how the cuts have devastated domestic violence services, and I believe that if more people understood what’s happened, they would be as furious as I am about it.

Local authority budget cuts
Austerity has been enacted in a number of ways. Firstly, local authority budgets have been decimated – this has led to less money to spend on services and thus a rise in cheaper service provision and closures. Specialist services have been cut and the life-saving professionals in them have been replaced with untrained agency workers. Deskilling and low pay of those working in services has been a common theme; wages for refuge workers, for example, have significantly decreased in the past five years. This has also lead to cuts in one of the biggest employers of women – the public sector – and the cuts mean a loss in women’s employment.

Localism
Austerity has gone hand-in-hand with localism. The 2011 Localism Act was heralded by central government as bringing innovation to local communities – finally allowing local authorities to trade as if they were individuals and thus create a context for competition in services. Local communities, we were told, would be empowered to make choices around spending.

Yet the consequences of competition have been brutal for those seeking help for domestic violence: instead of rising standards, we’re seeing a vicious race to the bottom: services are being run on a shoe-string by non-specialist agencies, short term contracts mean at any time a service could lose its funding and be withdrawn. And the women who use these services? Well, they lose access to lifesaving specialist support in an instant.

A culture of blame
Austerity has cut more than money. It has gone hand-in-hand with an insidious and creeping language of blame: blame women for not leaving, blame bad parenting, blame the poor, blame immigrants, blame teenage mothers, blame feckless youth. Austerity’s cultural consequence has apportioned blame on those who are the victims of an increasingly unequal society.

Look no further than the cuts to domestic violence services, where the biggest cuts have been to specialist services: services for BME women and those with disabilities, where specialist expertise saves women’s lives. Austerity has driven up inequality in everyway possible.

Localism has created a cycle of blame within politics as well – it’s given central government a means of diminishing their responsibility – by pointing out that cuts were being enacted at the local level. Yet, it also handed local authorities a get out of jail free card – they can blame central government for cutting budgets and minimize their own agency in the cuts, allowing them to ignore the communities they pertained to serve. In the midst of this are individuals who are trying to live their lives in under the tyranny of domestic violence.

State collusion with perpetrators
Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviour that, at its core, takes away the rights of those on whom it is enacted; it is a brutal, dehumanizing and calculated effort to rip away the self of the person it is inflicted on. The language used by perpetrators of abuse is one of minimization and blame – it holds the victim / survivor responsible for the violence inflicted on them. In cutting domestic violence services in the name of austerity, the government, both local and national, have colluded with every perpetrator. They’ve created the cultural conditions for the oppression of women in the most violent way.

I’ve seen this oppression happen first hand. When the economic crash hit, I’d just begun working on the national domestic violence helpline. In the last seven years I have continued to work in this field: as an advocate supporting women through the courts, with young women facing violence and exploitation and now in trying to improve service responses to women’s needs. In the last seven years within the sector, I’ve seen the violent erosion of women’s rights, I’ve seen doors close, I’ve seen women brutalized, harmed and shamed by a system that should be there to help them. I’ve seen the language of austerity offer a violent mouthpiece to those that wish to do women harm, to blame us for the violence inflicted on us and to refuse to hold perpetrators to account.

Yet amongst this violence I’ve seen incredible resistance – for some women it was resistance of the mind, for others it was managing to call a friend while a perpetrator was out, or to learn English or to take public transport for the first time. In those defiant acts that women took against those who wished to control them I was nourished, I was empowered to know that if women can resist such brutality then we can stand and rise to the mass brutality being inflicted against us now.

With a week to go to the election the Sisters are left with no choice. Not one of the main Westminster parties have shown themselves willing to grasp the violence of the inequality that women face. For them cuts equate to services being farmed out for the profits of the few. For women cuts mean death.

On Monday, Sisters Uncut are taking to the streets to say that no longer will we be silenced by a politics that refuses to take our needs seriously. No longer will we accept the excuses of national and local government. We will fight and resist because we have a right to stand up to the violence inflicted by those that wish to control and punish us for who we are.

Sisters Uncut will be taking direct action against cuts to domestic violence services on Monday 4th May – join us at the scoop, Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2DB at 13:00pm https://www.facebook.com/events/883360388398243/


Guest blog: Fees have failed, we demand free education!

This is a guest blog from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.

CALL OUT: Fees have failed, we demand free education!

On November 19, thousands of students will march on Parliament to demand an end to tuition fees and education cuts as well as the abolition of student debt. Sounds optimistic? No: Germany became the most recent in a long line of countries to abolish university fees and if they can do it, so can we.

Education is something that benefits all of society. It is only just that it be publicly funded at every level, by progressive taxation. This means taxing the rich and those who own vast amounts of property, as well as cracking down on the tax avoided by big businesses.

We don’t just want to scrap tuition fees though; we want a radically transformed education system; a liberated curriculum which is democratically controlled by workers and students and living grants and living wages for all, at all levels of education.

BRITAIN-EDUCATION-POLITICS-DEMOWe will not win this alone, and we will not win it just by passing policy in student unions; we will win with a movement which joins with others in society, and we will win by occupying, organising and agitating in our colleges, schools, communities and workplaces.

We ask you to join us to take part in non-violent direct action during the National Demonstration for Free Education on November 19.

The demo is only the beginning.

187790-london-student-protests

We need local waves of action which involve a far broader section of the community than a national demonstration. Get active on your campuses: occupy, blockade and resist on December 3.

Organise in your workplace and your college and bring the fight to your hometown; work with Unions and local groups to march on your city on December 6. We can win this, but we have to do it together.


Guest blog: National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts

This is a guest blog from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.

On November 19th, thousands of students will march through London in what is likely to be the biggest demonstration in several years. We could well be on the verge of a new wave of student activism.

But we all know from experience that A to B marches are never enough. In order to build a serious campaign for free education, the national demo has to be the beginning of a mass campaign in the streets and on campuses.

That is why the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts is calling two more days of action in early December to provide a focus for mobilisation.

NCAFC

Wednesday December 3rd

On Wednesday 3rd December (facebook event HERE), we are calling for a day of action and walkouts. This will involve:

  • Walking out of lectures and classes
  • Launching occupations
  • Protesting in your local area

Use the time between the national demo and the day of action to build for it on your campus. Put on meetings and rallies, hold campus demos, occupy, run stalls and spread the word. If you want help to build on your campus, we’re always here to help: email againstfeesandcuts@gmail.com

For the facebook event, click here. Post your activities into it and we’ll list them in the description.

 

Saturday December 6th

On Saturday 6th December (facebook event HERE), we are calling for marches for education in local areas. Wherever you are, take over your town centre: make noise, make a fuss and be visible.

Most importantly, this is the chance to get a wider layer of people involved in the campaign. Don’t just focus on students, get the community out with you. Contact local trade unions, trades councils and community groups. We want parents, teachers and workers to march with us for free education! Now is the time to start building this: put up a facebook event up now!

Post your activities into the facebook event, or email us, and we’ll list them in the description.

 

December 13th and 14th

We will be hosting a national conference on 13th and 14th December – a national meeting  for everyone involved in the free education movement to plan the next steps. This will be a democratic assembly: everyone will have a vote and we will decide on things collectively and elect a new national committee. We’ll also plan a strategy, and have lots of discussions and workshops about the student movement. Click here for the facebook event.


Guest blog: Open Letter from a Firefighter

This is a guest blog from a Firefighter. The letter was written before firefighters in England took part in 96 hours of industrial action last weekend. The original letter can be seen in full here. You can also see a follow up article following the strike action here

 

Dear Citizen of the United Kingdom,

It is with a heavy heart that I feel I have to write to you. I am a Firefighter and I feel it’s my duty to explain to you why I have chosen to take Industrial Action. This I’m afraid is the only option I have left. I have spent my working life serving you. I have seen and done things that nobody should ever have to, but I do it and live with the scars because I am Firefighter, it’s what I do. I am there when you need me the most, willing to lay my life on the line to help you and your family in your darkest hour. I am not a hero, in fact I resent that title. I am a human being just like you, only a human who has dedicated their life to train and train and train again for any situation. Who has fought through heat and smoke to be there when you need me the most. Who has studied for hours numerous cars to know the best way to cut you free. Who has swum in icy lakes to save you from drowning. This is to name but a few.  I don’t do it for thanks, I don’t do it for praise, I don’t do it for money,  I do it because I am a Firefighter. It’s what I do. The only thing I ask, which I never thought I’d have to, is to be treated fairly and with respect.

The current Government have decided that since the financial crisis, people like me will have to pay for it. People who are easy targets. This not only includes nurses, teachers, police, ambulance staff and other essential  services, but people who rely on benefits through no fault of their own to survive. We continue to be penalised while the real crooks get away with it. The Government have decided my future and I must accept whatever decision they seem fit.  No negotiation, no looking at any evidence provided, just dictating what I must concede to. This I can not do. It is not in my nature to lie down and accept what is unfair and unjust.  I am a Firefighter, the clue is in my title, I will fight for what I feel is right just as much as I would fight for you or your family’s life.

FBUThis weekend sees 96 hours of Industrial Action been taken all over England. In Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, Industrial Action will be avoided as negotiations have taken place and the relevant authorities have seen sense in sitting round a table and compromising to find a solution.  I am bitterly disappointed that the current Conservative Government, particularly Eric Pickles along with the current Fire Minister Penny Mordaunt  and former Fire Minister Brandon Lewis, think so little of us that this has not been an option.

It has become apparent that members of the public think that I am asking for more pension and more pay. This is certainly not the case, even if the Government let you believe this. I am not asking for a single penny more.  Just what I signed up to and what I was told I was guaranteed. The Government have started to lay new pension regulations which will be unattainable for many Firefighters’. The Fire Brigade Union has plenty of evidence to back this up*. In my 50’s, I will be asked to take a fitness test which hasn’t been laid out in writing, so I have no idea what it will involve. If I fail the unknown test I will face the choice of dismissal or a heavily reduced pension.  A decision I feel is immoral for just getting older. The Government are also taking more pension contributions for longer and then paying out less.  This is unacceptable without any negotiation.The last time I checked we were in a Democracy, not a Dictatorship. My message to the Government is simple. Negotiate with us, don’t put us in a situation where we have no choice but to strike. It’s not fair on Firefighters or the Public. You have a responsibility to all of us. Take it seriously. This is not a game.

Please do not think that the decision to take Industrial Action has been taken lightly. It pains me that this has been our only option and even now the Government refuse to negotiate. I wish for no lives to be endangered, but this is only the beginning of our fight. More cuts are to come. You will have less and less Firefighters, less and less Fire Stations.The Government will try to tell you Fires are a thing of the past. This is not true. We still face overwhelmingly difficult fires on a daily basis across the UK. The Government however fail to tell you that flooding has significantly increased. They fail to tell you how the Fire and Rescue Service have had to face new threats with Terrorism as 7/7 showed. We face new challenges with more and more chemicals that are used in the modern world. The Government don’t tell you that much of what I do isn’t in my ‘role map’ but I do it voluntary so I can deal with anything thrown at me. We may be called Firefighters, but fires are only the start of it.

I implore you to speak to your MP and tell them your feelings. You can find them here http://findyourmp.parliament.uk. Go out and show your support on the picket lines. Speak to a Firefighter, they will be happy to answer any questions you have. We need you!  Help us to stand up for the future of not only ourselves, but the future of the Fire and Rescue Service in England.

Thank you for reading.

Yours sincerely

A Firefighter of England.

* http://www.fbu.org.uk/


Guest blog: #stopMIPIM

This is a guest blog from Digs, a grass roots group supporting and empowering Hackney renters. Digs are one of the groups involved in organising #stopMIPIM. These actions are part of a week of strikes and protests that are seeing people reclaim the political agenda after the political party conference season. Join in this Saturday at the big demo in London.

 

Why does London have 344,000 people on council waiting lists? Why is homelessness soaring despite Boris Johnson’s promise to rid London of rough sleeping? And why are more and more people pushed into bad housing in an exploitative private rented sector?

These are the kind of questions politicians are finding it more and more difficult to ignore, as peoples’ chance of decent, secure housing is torn apart by a historically brutal housing crisis.

For answers to these questions, more people are looking to the dark, murky world of property investment, represented in perhaps its most odious form by MIPIM, the world’s largest property fair. This is the prestigious annual event where wealthy, profit-hungry developers rub shoulders with local councils and public bodies to sell off public land.

MIPIMMany of the ‘regeneration’ projects which have left local people displaced and short changed can be traced back to MIPIM conferences of previous years. And these deals have led to terrible results for local people as they are forcibly removed from their homes and communities into housing that is neither secure nor affordable. Social housing units are replaced with luxury flats. And meanwhile leaseholders are forced by developers to sell their homes at significantly less than market value.

Boris Johnson, who opened MIPIM this morning, argues we need to build our way out of this housing crisis. But build what, and for whom?

The vast majority of new housing stock being built in London is sold to investors seeking lucrative returns. Unsurprisingly, this isn’t producing the genuinely affordable housing people of London so desperately need. MIPIM normally happens in Cannes, France but this year it comes to London for the first time. An error of scheduling you might think when you consider the movement for housing justice growing so rapidly across the capital.

This year’s #stopMIPIM actions promise to be bigger and louder than previous years. The devastation wreaked by the current housing crisis has acted as a tidal wave pulling more and more people into action. People who have never seen themselves as political before are tired of standing by while their homes and communities are sold from underneath them.

As well as the swell of grass roots activism that MIPIM has inspired, local councils have been boycotting the event, voicing their opposition to the housing policies MIPIM represents. Tower Hamlet, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham and Islington Council are among those who’ve confirmed they won’t be attending MIPIM.

Here’s some of the ways you can get involved:


Crash Cameron’s Conference Speech

It’s time for Dave’s big speech, and time for us to take action. We’ve had enough of being attacked by a cabinet of millionaires. At 11:30am today let’s tell Cameron what we think of four years of Tory government, and show them we’re going to fight them all the way.

On Twitter:

At 11:30am click these links to tweet at him, or make up your own. Tweet .@David_Cameron and use #CPC14 and #UKUncut

Hands off our NHS

Let’s talk about the real ‘scroungers’

Dave’s tax dodging chums

Sick of Cameron’s lies

On Facebook:

At 11:30am go to the Conservatives facebook page and comment under their latest post. Be creative, and tell them what you think of the Tory government. Or you can copy and paste these comments below:

1.

David Cameron we’re sick of your lies. You told us “we’re all in this together”. You told us “we’ll cut the deficit, not the NHS”. You told us “those with the broadest shoulders will bear the brunt of the cuts”. You lied. In the world’s sixth biggest economy, nearly 1 million people have been driven to food banks to feed themselves while in the last five years  the wealth of the richest 1,000 people in the UK has more than doubled and super-rich tax dodgers avoid over £100bn every year.

2.

We’ve had enough of your austerity economics. Stop hammering poor people, and start doing something about the real ‘scroungers’ – the super-rich tax dodgers, the bankers that caused the financial crisis, the companies that pay poverty wages to workers.

This is only going to work if everyone gets involved, so join in.

See you online


CALL OUT: Crash The Conferences

Change is in the air. With less than a year to go until the general election it’s time to tell the agents of austerity that we demand and deserve change.

In the next three weeks UK Uncut are going to CRASH THE CONFERENCES.

8

The three biggest political parties are gathering their members for their annual conferences. It’s the big chance for Cameron, Clegg and Miliband to tell their parties and the country what they’re standing for. But we don’t want to hear more about austerity, about tightening our belts, about getting our house in order. Because we know that the house they want to order is one that works only for the super rich, for big corporations and for private companies.

We’re tired of hearing about cuts to our vital public services while the greedy super-rich get away with dodging tax. We’re tired of the poor getting punished for the financial crisis caused by the banks. We’re bored of politicians saying the same old things and not addressing real problems. We think it’s time the politicians stop talking and start listening.

Scotland made Westminster quake – they showed that when enough people speak up, politicians have to listen. But it’s just the start. We have to keep fighting and keep our voices heard. It’s time that people take back politics.

On the day that each party leader makes their speech, get on social media and together we will crash their conferences. It’s only going to work if lots of people get stuck in.

Labour’s Conference is first up.

More details coming soon.

See you online

Labour Party Conference: Sunday 21 to Wednesday 24 September

Conservative Party Conference: Sunday 28 September to Wednesday 1 October

Lib Dem Conference: Saturday 4 to Wednesday 8 October


Guest blog: an apology

This is a guest blog from the organisers of the VodaHome action in London in July

At our recent Vodafone protest in Central London, where along with a number of other activists and campaigners we closed down the Vodafone London flagship store, there was an incident which occurred that was unacceptable, and something the UK Uncut London group would like to publicly apologise for. This blog has been written collectively by the organisers of the London action, and is just one step we’re taking to try and reconcile and apologise for this incident.

A person who was attending the action, was wrongly identified as an undercover police officer, and this was done over a microphone in front of all the people present. Not only was this a dangerous and irresponsible thing to do, which put this man at risk of reprisal from other people; it was also a racist act, as he was a black man in a predominantly white group of campaigners, and the people who accused him were also white.

Subsequent discussions with the man who was wrongly accused, made it clear this incident is another in a lifetime of systematic racism he has experienced, where he has been singled out because of his ethnicity.

We also found out after this incident, that the man who’d been accused of being an undercover police officer, was actually a dedicated and veteran anti-fascist campaigner; and someone who has been targeted consistently by the police throughout his life for being black. Furthermore, that he has close personal experience of police targeting black people and the police brutality which goes hand in hand with that.

We want to take this opportunity to formally and publicly apologise as a group for what happened. We fully accept this was a racist act and it should not have happened. It put you at risk, singled you out as a black man and further marginalised you. We take full responsibility for this.

We also apologise for not doing enough immediately after this happened. We should have ensured a full apology was made to you over the mic, so other people there would have heard too. We realise this lack of appropriate response must have left you feeling even more alienated and excluded.

We also want to assure you how seriously we take this. We recognise that this incident has been extremely difficult for the man who attended the protest and has also effected people of colour who were part of organising the Vodafone London action. As a group we are currently taking steps to learn from what happened. This is an ongoing process and one which we are committed to.

We’ve put together some resources that we’ve found useful since dealing with this, we wanted to share them with anyone else interested in these issues:

1) Unpacking White Privilege www.nymbp.org/reference/WhitePrivilege.pdf

2) How to Deal With Being Called Out: http://thinkanddiethinking.tumblr.com/post/38480374534/how-to-deal-with-being-called-out-from-the

3) Tools for White Guys: http://www.starhawk.org/activism/trainer-resources/tools-whiteguys.html


Action Call Out Focus E15

Call Out


Sunday 21st September Focus E15 Anniversary Party followed by Top Secret Housing Action!


Focus E15 campaigners are inviting people to join a day of fun and music on the almost empty Carpenters Estate in Stratford. Later in the afternoon, party goers will become activists as they will be led to a Top Secret Housing Action in the Newham area. Together we can put an end to social cleansing!

We started in September 2013 when some of us as young mothers were served eviction notices by East Thames Housing Association after Newham Council cut its funding to the Focus E15 hostel for young homeless people. Our campaign now includes ALL people facing housing crisis because

THE BIGGER WE GROW THE LOUDER WE BECOME

If you’re angry about homelessness and social cleansing, come and join Focus E15 as we tell Newham Council:

SOCIAL HOUSING NOT SOCIAL CLEANSING

 Our campaign has gained no sympathy from our Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, whose behaviour is currently the subject of an internal investigation after a complaint was sent to the council about his disgusting behaviour towards Focus E15 campaigners at the Newham Mayor’s Show in July. This video shows what he did when one of the E15 mothers tried to give him a leaflet!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsPxancNiqk

If you’re fuming about unaffordable rents, the bedroom tax, housing benefit cuts, social cleansing, empty houses and millions being left without safe and secure homes, then take action! If it makes you sick that our Labour Mayor thinks he can get away with treating us like dirt then take action!

Its an outrage that people are being shipped out of London while there are thousands of empty homes on the Carpenters Estate and all over the city!

Join us from 2pm-6pm 21st September
Londis Supermarket, Wilmer Lea Close, Carpenters Estate, London E15 2HR

Join the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1487181911524713/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming

Like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Focus-E15-Mothers/602860129757343

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/search?q=focus%20e15&src=typd