Posts Tagged ‘strike’

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The victims of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster have finally had their day in court. Not yet, though, the miners who were brutally assaulted five years earlier outside the Orgreave coking plant.

Yesterday, at long last, a jury found that 96 Liverpool soccer fans at the match at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England had been “unlawfully killed” and the victims of what proved to be fatal police mistakes.

Last year, unfortunately, the Independent Police Complaints Commission ruled that the police would not be investigated for charges of assault and misconduct against the 8,000-10,000 miners who went on strike leading up to the June 1984 “Battle of Orgreave.”

Dave Smith, a former miner and former president of Dinnington NUM was at Orgreave on 18 June 1984.

He said it was a hot day and they had been playing football, but the police arrived and all “hell let loose.”

“Horses came out, short shields came out; we tried to defend ourselves as best we could.

“Most of us were running like hell. We finished up down embankments, on to railway lines with dogs chasing us.

“People were seriously injured and I mean seriously injured, and left by the police.

“That’s not helping, that’s attacking, and we were attacked.”

Football obviously (and, not surprisingly, for the British working-class) connects the two tragedies. So, too, does the extensive evidence of police violence and subsequent coverup (which, as we know from recent events in the United States, is not confined to England). But, even more important, both groups of victims—the fans who were steered into overcrowded pens at Hillsborough Stadium and the miners who went to picket lorry drivers supplying coke to the steel industry and were subsequently attacked by police with short shields and truncheons (the first time they were ever used in Britain)—were treated as the “enemy within.”

Both events, remember, took place during the heyday of Thatcherism, which combined a free-market economic strategy with authoritarian populism. Or, as Stuart Hall succinctly put it (in Drifting into a Law and Order Society): “Make no mistake about it: under this regime, the market is to be Free; the people are to be Disciplined.”

Hillsborough (where the families and friends of the victims have won a victory) and Orgreave (where they have not, at least yet), each in their different way, represent attempts to impose that discipline.

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Bernie Sanders [ht: sm] walked the picket line, as he’s done so many times over the years, when he joined some of the nearly 40,000 Verizon workers who are currently on strike.

The Democratic presidential candidate was greeted with cheers when he showed up unexpectedly on the picket line in Brooklyn to show solidarity with striking landline and cable workers.

“Brothers and sisters, thank you for your courage in standing up for justice against corporate greed,” Sanders said to loud applause.

Protest of the day

Posted: 18 February 2016 in Uncategorized
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Workers in Ciudad Juárez are protesting Lexmark’s decision to fire about 75 workers who had submitted a formal request to form a union.

Lexmark, a Kentucky-based corporate leader in laser printers, is worth around $2bn and has the support of Mexico’s political establishment and apparently also its media and Catholic hierarchy, notwithstanding Pope Francis’s visit to Juárez on Wednesday.

The elites wish to snuff out defiance and stop rebellious contagion spreading across this industrial city, according to those inside the shack.

“We’re living on charity, and it’s tough, but we’re still here,” said Susana Prieto Terrazas, a lawyer representing the protesters, as she huddled by a wood-burning stove. “We’re going forward. This is a system of modern slavery and we have to fight.”

The fight here is largely without precedent.

Ciudad Juárez, a gritty city of around one and a half million across the border from El Paso, Texas, is a global economy workshop. About 300 factories with headquarters in the US, Europe, China and elsewhere employ about 300,000 Mexicans. There are virtually no independent unions and, until now, little sign of worker mobilisation. Historically low wages are changing that.

“Conditions have become insufficient for survival,” said Elizabeth Flores, director of Pastoral Obrera, a labour and human rights advocacy group. “It has been a time bomb. This protest is an enormous opportunity.”

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, a cook in the U.S. Senate cafeteria, explains why he went on strike with hundreds of other federal contract workers in the nation’s capital today.

Every day, I serve food to some of the most powerful people on earth, including many of the senators who are running for president: I’m a cook for the federal contractor that runs the US Senate cafeteria. But today, they’ll have to get their meals from someone else’s hands, because I’m on strike.

I am walking off my job because I want the presidential hopefuls to know that I live in poverty. Many senators canvas the country giving speeches about creating “opportunity” for workers and helping our kids achieve the “American dream” – most don’t seem to notice or care that workers in their own building are struggling to survive.

I’m a single father and I only make $12 an hour; I had to take a second job at a grocery store to make ends meet. But even though I work seven days a week – putting in 70 hours between my two jobs – I can’t manage to pay the rent, buy school supplies for my kids or even put food on the table. I hate to admit it, but I have to use food stamps so that my kids don’t go to bed hungry.

I’ve done everything that politicians say you need to do to get ahead and stay ahead: I work hard and play by the rules; I even graduated from college and worked as a substitute teacher for five years. But I got laid-off and I now I’m stuck trying to make ends meet with dead-end service jobs.

A National Employment Law Project survey of federal contract workers [pdf] found that, of the workers they interviewed, 74 percent of these workers earned under $10 per hour; nearly 60 percent received no job benefits; and 14 percent are forced to rely on foods stamps to make ends meet.

Protest of the day

Posted: 12 December 2014 in Uncategorized
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Italian workers in more than 50 cities across the country are participating in a general strike today to stop the center-left government’s attempt to “loosen” existing labor laws.

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Belgian workers have opened a month of intermittent strike action by paralyzing the port of Antwerp and slowing train traffic through much of the country.

Monday’s protest action targeted measures by the nation’s business-friendly government to cut into employees’ income, extend working time and restrict social services.

On their first of three Mondays of regional strikes, the unions targeted Antwerp, with Europe’s second biggest port, and made sure no ships could enter of leave the docks. Port workers have been particularly angered by measures to extend the start of pensions by two years.

Port worker Frank Verhulst complained it would force them to work until the age of 67. “But it is a very hard job here,” he said.

Labor action is to culminate in a nationwide strike on Dec. 15.

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Fast-food workers are planning to go on strike this coming Thursday, with a nationwide walkout to protest low wages, poor healthcare, and employers’ attempts to block unionization.

The strike is the latest in a series of increasingly heated confrontations between fast food firms and their workers. Pressure is also mounting on McDonald’s, the largest fast food company, over its relations with its workers and franchisees.

Workers from McDonald’s, Burger King, Pizza Hut and other large chains will strike on Thursday and are planning protests outside stores nationwide, in states including California, Missouri, Wisconsin and New York.

The day of disruption is being coordinated by local coalitions and Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15, union-backed pressure groups which have called for the raising of the minimum wage to $15 an hour for the nation’s four million fast-food workers.