A (Personal ) Report from the first “June 30 Strike” assembly

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raw
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May 24 2011 22:32
A (Personal ) Report from the first “June 30 Strike” assembly

Following on from the call for an open assembly to discuss, propose and organise for the first round of co-ordinated strike actions on June 30th, over 100 people turned up and squeezed into the Marchmont Centre in Bloomsbury on Monday 23rd May. Public sector workers, parents, carers, workers, unemployed, teachers, precarious workers were joined by spanish students who had been, since May 15th, holding self-organised assemblies as part of a new international movement that has seen hundreds of thousands take to the streets occupying main squares across Spain and beyond against crippling austerity and raising unemployment.

The purpose of the meeting was to focus on the June 30th public sectors strikes and how those of us “officially” on strike can connect with the rest of the population, to generalise the strike as a day of action for all those fighting against the cuts and the wider austerity measures. There was a implicit understanding that we should be calling for people not to go to work in solidarity ( taking day off work, calling in sick..etc ) to enable a bigger participation on the various pickets, actions and demonstrations.

Hundreds of thousands of workers could be involved in strike action, from as many as four or five different unions including NUT, PCS, UCU and ATL, possibly involving over 800,000 workers fighting against pension reforms, an integral part of the coalition governments austerity measures.

A brief overview was given by a teacher at an FE college about the effect the pension reforms will have ( pay more for less ), understandable a growing anger is being felt by many in the public sector who have worked all their lives in the hope that they can live in dignity when they retire. All this is being threatened, consequences of which would not be felt on younger generations until its too late.

School students from secondary to FE colleges were also spoken about and the need to encourage walk outs from schools in solidarity with their teachers, which could link into more vibrant localised demonstrations in the morning. Individuals from NCAFC and EAN which were instrumental in calling demonstrations during the student rebellion in November/December 2010 were keen to follow this up so that students continue to be a key feature of this movement.

This first assembly reached consensus on the following:

To mobilise and support early morning pickets of striking workers
To organise local initiatives to link up pickets with marches between different sites.
To promote diverse forms of actions to publicise and circulate the struggles
Promote economic blockades/disruption as being one form of action we are calling for to happen

To take these decisions forward, those in the meeting who live or worked in the same boroughs will be put in contact with each other and were encouraged to meet up and work within local anti-cuts campaigns who have already started to publicise the 30th.

The items we couldn't reach consensus on were felt to be important to continue discussing including ideas to call to participate on the main trade union demo in Central London - tentatively being organised by the PCS. Several suggestions to organise various feeder marches and possibly a mass action later on in the day against a specific target were also discussed. There were also proposals to hold on public assemblies, in similar fashion to the recent events in Spain, that could further open up inclusivity and participation than perhaps less engaging forms of actions. These ideas could be included as suggestions for local initiatives. An idea of a all night camp was also talked about. There was no consensus on us organising public assemblies or a camp – and there were concerns that such ideas had failed in the past due to police repression - but it is an idea that will be revisited in future meetings. Economic blockades were also discussed through the meeting as possible forms of actions, no doubt this too will be revisited at future assemblies.

There were a wide ranging participation from radical left, anarchist, autonomist and socialist tendencies as well as people from no “political position” at the meeting but the meeting itself was one of the most respectful, dynamic and inspirational meetings for a long time. We hope to continue with this spirit in the lead up to June 30th with the sole intention to generalise the strikes in London and across the UK, radicalising many more people into taking action for their future.

The next assembly will be held at 7pm Monday June 6th ( University venue tbc ) in a bigger venue. We encourage everyone interested, engaged and up for it to come down and get involved. We especially like more workers who will potentially be on strike ( baring in mind that at this stage strike ballots have yet to be taken ) to attend and help us organise towards June 30th.

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May 25 2011 00:16

I think economic blockades were discussed and allot of people wantted to do it but it wasn't complete consensus. The general feeling was that things along those lines should occur later in the day and what exactly happens later in the day will be discussed and agreed on at the next meeting.

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May 25 2011 00:34

There was a clear moment in the meeting were the things RAW mentioned were offered up and agreed on, I might be confused about the time thing but economic blockades came up (amongst countless other tactics, maybe thats why i'm confused) in the general ideas discussion but it wasn't agreed on properly at the end of the meeting when proposals were being talked through. I know only one person opposed it on the grounds of police repression but there were many other ideas that also got widespread support but only one or two people opposed and they weren't properly decided on. I think supporting of pickets and having moving pickets perhaps forming into local marches was clearly decided by the assembly at the end but not the numorous other things mentioned like community assemblies for example.

This is by the by since this is going to come up at the next meeting and economic blockades I think will be agreed on.

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May 25 2011 01:33
Quote:
This really did feel like one person blocking a consensus and if that's the case I'm not sure what the point is with the meetings.
.

I don't think economic blockades are in any sense of the table because one person had one criticism of it, i just genuinely think that a hard decision wasn't made, there was lots of debate and confusion about the best way to carry out economic blockades regardless of whether I got the time thing wrong. I'm not trying to pick a fight with people who support economic blockades here.

Other tactics did have widespread agreement with only one or two people voicing opposition and they weren't decided on because more discussion was needed (which is understandable when you have near 100 people from various political backgrounds trying to come to a decision in the first meeting). For example UK Uncut style occupations of buildings got widespread support throughout the room and I can't recall any opposition to that tactic specifically being voiced but it doesn't mean that it was completely decided, occupation of bridges was also spoken about in the same way.

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May 25 2011 05:00

Can I ask for a little background about the meeting and its function. Was the meeting a group of people saying 'we, as a group, are going to get together and decide what to do together and stick to that' or was it more a brainstorming/contact making session, and people will go away after and do what appeals to them regardless of the overall actions of the group. If the former, why was consensus decision making used? If the latter, why was any decision making used at all (rather than, say, a show of hands to see who'd be interested in a given proposal)?

raw
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May 25 2011 08:14
RedEd wrote:
Can I ask for a little background about the meeting and its function. Was the meeting a group of people saying 'we, as a group, are going to get together and decide what to do together and stick to that' or was it more a brainstorming/contact making session, and people will go away after and do what appeals to them regardless of the overall actions of the group. If the former, why was consensus decision making used? If the latter, why was any decision making used at all (rather than, say, a show of hands to see who'd be interested in a given proposal)?

It was made clear that there was a difference between "nice ideas" and what we will call for and make attempts to physically organise. The agreements we made will be practically looked at in the next assembly.

raw
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May 25 2011 08:16
Ellar wrote:
There was a clear moment in the meeting were the things RAW mentioned were offered up and agreed on, I might be confused about the time thing but economic blockades came up (amongst countless other tactics, maybe thats why i'm confused) in the general ideas discussion but it wasn't agreed on properly at the end of the meeting when proposals were being talked through. I know only one person opposed it on the grounds of police repression but there were many other ideas that also got widespread support but only one or two people opposed and they weren't properly decided on. I think supporting of pickets and having moving pickets perhaps forming into local marches was clearly decided by the assembly at the end but not the numorous other things mentioned like community assemblies for example.

This is by the by since this is going to come up at the next meeting and economic blockades I think will be agreed on.

Ellar is right, though there was a general consensus about the use of economic blockades but no specifics i.e. We are going to be organising economic blockades.

As for the process, Ellar is spot on again. Come to the next assembly with a much clearer proposal on economic blockades - how they can be organised, how they can mobilise support for...etc.

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May 25 2011 08:29

Can I ask what the term 'economic blockades' actually means?

Devrim

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Joseph Kay
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May 25 2011 11:08
Devrim wrote:
Can I ask what the term 'economic blockades' actually means?

Devrim

targetted economic disruption by non-strikers, such as blocking roads (piqueteros), transport hubs (anti-CPE) or other economically significant targets (the non-symbolic UK Uncut occupations/blockades fall under this too). obviously the ideal would be for workers in said places to come out on sympathy strikes. but we are where we are.

posi
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May 25 2011 13:05

Thread on economic blockades here, including links to analyses of their use in France: http://libcom.org/forums/organise/economic-blockades-31032011

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May 25 2011 14:47

Thanks for the report back raw

Caiman del Barrio
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May 25 2011 18:16

It wasn't a half bad meeting actually, considering the logistical difficulties and whatnot. There were some worthless proposals, such as this weird fetish that some folk (not so much younger festival goers, but older, seasoned activists) have for camping in Trafalgar Square. I honestly must question their motives. I wanted to make a point in rebuttal about national context (as Chili pointed out to me, Millbank didn't happen in Spain) but kinda wanted to starve their abject liberalism of oxygen. Also it was largely rebuked as a notion by other attendees.

More problematic was the continued insistence on big setpiece media spectacles "in like Canary Wharf...or maybe Oxford Street?". Again this wasn't so much from newly radicalised students but some familiar faces who well remember G20 and March 26.

However, I did leave feeling energised cos most folk seemed keen to invigorate blockades and economic disruption in their boroughs, with all sorts of potential, concrete ideas swimming through the shite about supporting the unions (ie Serwotka), a public assembly (!!!), etc, etc...

All in all, much better than what I expected!

Caiman del Barrio
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May 25 2011 18:15

Also, someone - Broder? - was taking emails. Could I have all the Lewisham contacts (although I think we already knew them, but just in case)? Hopefully setting up a Lewisham meeting as a result of this.

raw
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May 25 2011 19:33
Caiman del Barrio wrote:
Also, someone - Broder? - was taking emails. Could I have all the Lewisham contacts (although I think we already knew them, but just in case)? Hopefully setting up a Lewisham meeting as a result of this.

facebook me your email and I can forward them on

raw
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May 27 2011 06:57

New facebook J30 event - please attend and network

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=100787720014939

alan on tyneside
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May 27 2011 07:25

@Raw, still making progress in Newcastle, but having to work with other groups to set it up. Need one more meeting on Weds. before we can formally launch FB page & stuff. People already planning, so things will happen. Not helped by RTW calling a June30 rally on &7th June without consulting anyone else much; bit of a hi-jack attempt, but we can use it. My head hurts!

raw
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May 27 2011 09:10
alan on tyneside wrote:
@Raw, still making progress in Newcastle, but having to work with other groups to set it up. Need one more meeting on Weds. before we can formally launch FB page & stuff. People already planning, so things will happen. Not helped by RTW calling a June30 rally on &7th June without consulting anyone else much; bit of a hi-jack attempt, but we can use it. My head hurts!

hey mate,

great stuff. yeah same thing happening in London with many left rally already been organised. The main thing is to focus on practical organising for june 30 and mobilising people outside of the trade unions to show solidarity as well as organise autonomous actions i.e. expand the strike.

Will PM you my number then we can chat more.

cheers

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May 27 2011 15:06

NLSF report back:

This past Monday saw well over a-hundred radical workers and student activists gather in the Marchmont Community Centre to hold a 'public assembly' on the upcoming June 30th strikes.

SolFed was well represented with a combined total of about ten members in attendance from both London Locals. The main topics of discussion was how to make June 30th an effective day of action in support of striking teachers and civil servants and how to generalise the struggle and take effective actions against the budget cuts and austerity being forced on our class. Although different groups and individuals had different ideas of what the term meant, direct action seemed to be the order of the day. While many in attendance were obviously enthused by the occupations and assemblies being held in Spain (a sentiment we can certainly agree with!), SolFed's call for 'economic blockades' were very well received. Beyond this, preliminary plans were hatched to have roving marches from picket line to picket line and to collectively reach out to private sector workers and non-unionised public sector workers. To this end, SolFed's leaflet “All Out for June 30th” received a welcome reception. We also promoted our upcoming “Don't Cross Picket Lines” and the not-yet-finished student leaflet designed to encourage school walkouts and students strikes on the 30th. As SFers made clear to the meeting, such leaflets are tools to begin a conversation. The real work of organising isn't simply leaving leaflets around, it's one-on-one conversations and group meetings with workmates, coursemates, and parents.

The meeting itself was well-chaired. This limited the influence of Trots who were there to promote the trade unions and push the party line. As stated earlier, direct action and self-organisation (the hallmark of last Autumn's student movement) and the involvement of non-unionised workers were consistent themes. There seemed to be a healthy scepticism toward what SolFed would call “mediating” institutions like trade unions, political parties and politicians.

Overall, a very positive meeting. Some good ideas and discussion came out of it as well as London-wide and borough-specific networking. The next meeting is set for Monday June 6th at 7:00pm (university venue tbc).

http://solfed.org.uk/?q=report-back-from-london-public-assembly-on-the-june-30th-strikes