Parliament passed the third reading of the Tories’ anti-strike bill on Monday 30 January, meaning that only the House of Lords can stop it now. But workers around the country are unfazed. A “megastrike” of half a million workers will take place on 1 February, which includes the National Education Union (NEU) strike. All the details are below, including an easy way of finding out where your nearest picket or protest is so you can support our trade unions. As LabourList reported, MPs passed the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill by 315 votes to 246, with no amendments – meaning the bill got through in its original form. As the Canary previously reported, the bill: will force trade unions in certain industries to make sure some people work during strikes – defeating the object of industrial action entirely… The law will force unions to give in to what the government and/or employers say minimum service levels should be – depending on the sector. Business secretary Grant Shapps will be deciding what a minimum service level looks like for emergency and transport services.
The climate crisis, the energy crisis in Europe and rising power bills are inspiring many people to rethink where their power comes from and imagine possible alternatives for their energy needs. One artist and filmmaker couple in London are focused on the street where they live. Hilary Powell and Dan Edelstyn live in a narrow brick house on Lynmouth Road in the Northeast London neighborhood of Walthamstow and they’ve begun transforming their street into a solar power station. Their Power Station project intends to help as many of their neighbors switch from relying on fossil fuel power plants to generate their electricity to solar power through a series of local actions. “POWER is a ‘show and do’ project building a solar POWER STATION across the rooftops (streets, schools, community buildings) of North East London via enacting a grassroots Green New Deal – working with art and infrastructure to tackle the interlinked climate/energy/cost of living crises.
The Global Firepower ranking was published on January 6. The annual report classifies the world’s strongest militaries based on over 60 factors, including size, spending and technological advancements. The report, which placed the United States military on top, followed by Russia, China, India and the UK, raised more questions than answers, with some accusing GFP, the organization that compiled the report, of being biased, sloppy and highly politicized. For example, while Russia maintained its former position as the second strongest military in the world, Ukraine jumped by seven spots, to occupy the 15th position. This raises questions: how did GFP possibly estimate the current capabilities of the Ukrainian military nearly a year after a devastating war that destroyed much of Kyiv’s original military hardware, especially when the Pentagon itself is still unable to track the massive shipments of weapons delivered to Ukraine since the start of the war?
We are very excited about a new collaboration with Ecological Land Cooperative and the Landworkers Alliance. The purpose of the project is to identify the barriers that BPOC face when considering a land based livelihood in Britain, to map existing and prospective BPOC led land-based businesses and organisations and to discover what challenges they face and how they seek to overcome them. Building off the initial research we completed for Rootz Into Food Growing, but expanding to the wider country to collect stories from across Britain. The research findings will be discussed with a wide range of organisations in the agroecology sector to identify ways to support BPOC new entrants to farming. The final intention of the collective effort is to strengthen LION’s capacity to become a community land trust, so that we can provide practical solutions for BPOC land stewards including access to land.
The United Kingdom has teetered on the edge of a ‘de facto general strike’ for months as workers protest an intensifying cost-of-living crisis. But rather than meeting the workers’ demands for adequate pay and benefits, the government has simply decided to outlaw the right to strike for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of workers. The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill, introduced in Parliament on January 10, would affect workers across six sectors of the U.K. economy — health, fire and rescue services, education, transport, nuclear decommissioning, and border security. Under this law, the government could force these workers to cross their own picket lines to provide “minimum levels” of service on strike days. If they fail to comply, workers could be instantly dismissed and their unions slapped with ruinous lawsuits.
Industrial action looks set to intensify after Britain’s largest teaching union announced walkouts over pay. Meanwhile, the government is seeking to limit strikes with a controversial bill. The National Education Union (NEU) said its members “voted overwhelmingly” to strike on 1 February, with more than 90% voting yes. Its demands call for an above-inflation pay rise to meet soaring prices and energy bills. Following the day of national strike action at the start of February, the union will also hold a series of more-regional strikes over six other days in February and March. The NEU said strikes will impact each school for up to four days. It will affect state school teachers in England and Wales, support staff in Wales, and sixth-form teachers in England. The NEU’s leaders will meet with education minister Gillian Keegan on 18 January.
Climate assemblies are increasingly being used across the world to help decide how we tackle the climate crisis. As they have become more common, so has interest in their impact. However very few studies have looked at the long-term impact of taking part on assembly members themselves. As one of the leads for Climate Assembly UK, my attention was therefore caught when assembly members began to talk about changes they had made in their own lives. These ranged from buying an electric car, to running for office for the first time, to setting-up a climate-friendly business. But were these the exception, or had lots of assembly members made similar changes. We teamed up with Stephen Elstub and Jayne Carrick from Newcastle University to find out, sending assembly members two additional research surveys – one in April 2021 roughly a year after the end of the assembly events, and the second in September 2022 two years after the launch of the assembly’s final report.
This is a time of year when we have space to reflect and to make resolutions for the coming twelve months, to stop, dream and reorient ourselves. Similarly, in all the work I’ve done over the last couple of years on the importance of imagination, I keep coming back to how vitally important it is to create space for the imagination, what I call ‘What If spaces’, whether in our own lives, our organisations or our communities. In this article, I want to share some examples of what this can unlock, and some thoughts from people doing this work on the ground on how to do it well. One great example of a successful What If space is the work of ‘Think and Do’ in Camden in London. Think and Do grew out of the work of Camden Council in organising one of the UK’s first Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change, in July 2019, the first output from their declaration of a climate emergency a few months earlier.
The Tory government in the UK under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is mulling new anti-strike legislation that aims to crack down on the growing worker unrest spreading throughout the country. Faced with a historic cost-of-living crisis, workers across the UK made 2022 the busiest year for strikes and worker actions since the 1980s. The National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) have been at the forefront of Britain’s strike wave, as TRNN previously reported. They have been joined by countless workers across multiple industries, from university lecturers to mail carriers. The new anti-strike law in Parliament would force workers to cross their own picket lines to uphold a standard of “minimum service” while striking, effectively squashing the ability of workers to withhold their labor.
As student housing reaches crisis point in the UK, one organisation is determined to break the mould – and the grip of rogue landlords – by creating co-operatives to run accommodation. Housing for university students is in chaos. As the Guardian reported, charities are saying it’s the worst crisis since the 1970s. Housing for university students is in chaos. As the Guardian reported, charities are saying it’s the worst crisis since the 1970s. It noted that the company StuRents did research that: suggests there is a shortfall of 207,000 student beds, and 19 towns and cities where there is more than a 10% undersupply of beds, ranging from 28% in Preston and 25% in Bristol to 10% in Birmingham and Swansea. Martin Blakey from the charity Unipol told the Guardian: purpose-built student accommodation has stopped expanding to the extent it was, and we don’t think that’s going to change. At the same time we think there’s a significant decrease in shared houses – [landlords] are moving back to renting to professionals or leaving the market. The reason for the chaos is fairly obvious: government-driven privatisation of the sector.
Two trials are starting this week, of people who took direct action against Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. Elbit supplies the majority of the drones that the Israeli military use to murder Palestinians. Last year The Canary wrote: Elbit manufactures around 85% of Israel’s drones which have been used to massacre Palestinians in Gaza.For example – during Israel’s 51 day attack on Gaza in 2014 – Israeli drones killed 840 Palestinians. Drones were also used extensively in Israel’s 11 day attack on Gaza in 2021. People have long tried to push the company out of the UK. And, the campaign to shut down Israeli arms companies operating in the UK stepped up after Palestine Action launched in 2020. nit This week the case of two people who blocked the doorway of Elbit’s London office is underway. Their protest was one of a series of disruptive actions that eventually contributed to the closure of Elbit’s London HQ.
In England, the government has announced plans to ban single-use plastic dinnerware, including closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam trays (commonly referred to as the brand name Styrofoam), plastic utensils and plastic plates. The announcement follows similar bans in Scotland and Wales. Scotland’s ban on single-use plastics took effect in August 2022, and Wales recently passed a single-use plastics ban in December 2022 that will take effect in fall of this year. England’s Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey confirmed the ban, noting that it would preserve the environment for future generations, as reported by the BBC. The announcement follows a consultation that ran from November 2021 to February 2022 on single-use plastics by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), with results expected to be shared on January 14, 2023.
Anthony Johnson of Nurses United UK explains the reasons for the historic strike by nurses in December. He notes that the strike is not just about the cost of living crisis and pay hikes but also about saving the NHS from privatization. He explains how over the decades, successive governments have shrunk the health service, leading to poor working conditions and staff vacancies. He also talks about the impact of the wrecking of the NHS on the British people and health professionals in other parts of the world.
On December 6th, The Grayzone revealed how British military and intelligence agencies were deploying technology created by shadowy private intelligence firm Anomaly 6 to illegally spy on citizens across the globe. The company’s technology effectively transforms every individual on Earth into a potential target for surveillance and/or asset recruitment by monitoring the movements of their smartphone. Anomaly 6 embeds tracking software in popular applications, then slices through layers of theoretically anonymous data to uncover a wealth of sensitive information about a device’s owner. Anomaly 6’s services are provided to Britain’s soldiers and spies through Prevail Partners, a private military company which The Grayzone has exposed as Whitehall’s arm’s-length cutout for prosecuting its proxy war in Ukraine.
Even as 2022 is drawing to a close, the strike wave that swept the UK this year, with hundreds of thousands of workers in the public and private sector downing tools to fight for better conditions, is showing no signs of slowing down. On Saturday, December 31, over 1,000 members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT) who are working on contract as cleaners in the railways are set to walkout in the first national strike of its kind. Workers at private companies including Atalian Servest, Churchill, and Mitie are fighting for a £15 ($18.04) per hour wage, company sick pay, good pensions, and “decent holidays.” They will join ISS cleaners on Docklands Light Railway (DLR), who will enter their second day on strike on Saturday over issues including over pay, working conditions, and imposed rosters.