Brief personal report on the Birmingham November 30th Strike demo today.
Today I joined thousands* on the strike demo in Birmingham city centre as part of the latest round of strikes touted as being about pensions, more generally against 'austerity' measures, and ultimately about the majority of people being shafted day in day out. Tens of thousands were on strike across the city, with up to 500 schools in Brum & Black Country closed because of the strike.
My own school was closed and the will wasn't there for a picket - most people were just happy to have a day off and do Christmas shopping. I was somewhat ambivalent about this, and it's something I'd like to discuss with others.
I was disappointed we didn't have a picket as there were rumbles that two or three selfish scabs would turn up to work, in an almost empty building, collect a days pay just so they could catch up on paperwork or whatever the fuck, cos they didn't wanna lose a days pay. The 'pension reforms' mean you'll lose a days pay, EVERY MONTH, FOR THE REST OF YOUR FUCKING CAREER!
While I was disappointed we didn't picket, the alienating nature of work anyway, never mind the stressful nature of teaching meant I completely understand why people would rather go and do christmas shopping - at least they actually went on strike!
So in the absence of a picket at work, I got up and did a tour of a few local pickets in south Brum - chatting to admin staff from Unison striking at the local cop-shop, teachers & their co-workers at a local secondary school that just defeated plans to turn them into an academy, the local university and an ambulance station.
People on the pickets were in a good mood and glad to have people up chatting with them and lots of passers-by tooting their horns, bus-passengers waving out windows and generally showing their support. I had a good chat with the teachers at a Bournville school - was really impressed with their campaign against becoming an academy.
A local ambulance station opposite Univ. of Birmingham also had a large, buoyant demo, while the university itself had pickets on all its entrances - but there are so many access points that they seemed spread a bit thin. I think there was a 'teach-out' there too but I didn't get a chance to have a look. There was a trot presence at all the pickets I attended, and union control of all was dominant with all slogans and banners being union material.
The city centre demo looked huge to me, but as a new person in the city, I wasn't able to compare to June 30th or others - chatting to people they said it was the biggest here for years.
I didn't see much of an anarcho presence (not to say there wasn't one, I just couldn't see any, as hard as I looked) and ended up sticking with the NUT lot all the way up to the NIA, chatting to some Anti-Academies Alliance people along the way.
Having heard the shit slogans from trots and bureaucrats along the way I decided against sticking around for the TUC assembly speeches. I'm hoping the positive chatter along the way about a general strike and 'everyone out next time' catches on, fuck knows it needs to!
* EDIT - estimates vary, BBC website said over 4000 this afternoon, while BBC 10oclock News said 30,000 and others have said 15,000 - lets just says SHITLOADS ;)