We may have been exaggerating a little with the title, but yesterday was a step in the right direction. Members of Bristol AFed visited our groups most popular destination (yes, it really is) to take part in the first ever Swindon Radical Bookfair. It was a great opportunity for radicals from the town and the wider region to meet up and share information and a chance for other Swindon locals to get involved and find out about their cities radical past, present and (fingers crossed) future.
For the past month cleaners and other staff at the GBH hospital in Swindon have been campaigning against racism, bullying, and unfair treatment by their employer carillion. The campaign has included 12 days of strike action by over 100 workers in the GMB union and numerous demonstrations. On Saturday, as the workers are set to enter another week of strikes, they held their largest demonstration to date. They were joined by locals from Swindon including the National Union of Teachers, Unite, and Swindon anarchists; aswell as groups from around the region such as Bristol Anarchist Federation, SWP and SP.
The demo was lively as the cleaners and their supporters (totalling around 350 people) marched and danced their way through the streets of Swindon. There was unanimous support for the strikers amongst all the passers by we spoke to, with some showing particular interest in the fact strikes were spreading from the public sector to the private sector.
The dispute began due to the mostly Goan cleaners facing constant bullying and harassment from Carillion, despite 109 individual complaints the company refuses to accept and deal with what the cleaners have described as institutional racism. There are also demands for the right to take their holiday in blocks larger than ten days to allow people to visit their families, and accusations of corruption amongst the Carillion management. Whilst the company seems to think it can ride out the dispute with scab labour bussed in from other sites, the GMB is digging in for a long fight and they have the passion, energy and drive to see this through.
For more information or to get involved in the continuing actions get in touch with Swindon anarchists: email@example.com
Around 100 people gathered in Swindon town centre on Saturday March 5th for a local demo against the cuts. After listening to a range of speakers from various unions, community groups (and even one from the Anarchist federation), people planned to move around the corner for a mass leafletting session. A 20-30 strong contingent of radicals, predominantley anarchists moved off as a group, defying police stipulation that the demo would remain static. It was hoped that more people would join the spontaneous march, but an early, heavy handed police reaction dettered many. As soon as the group began chanting and marching, the police began pushing at the front banner, trying to confiscate banners and labelling the march ‘illegal’. After a short, slightly comical scuffle (the highpoint being an angry cop getting wrapped up in an ‘anarchists aginst the cuts’ banner), and lots of chanting, the breakaway group split into 2, congregating 10 minutes later to hand out leaflets and do tax-dodger actions at Vodafone and Topshop.
Overall, the day was a success for the local movement against the cuts, with a large, well attended rally, thousands of leaflets given out, and a large, noisy and determined breakaway group showing that when they say ‘cut back’, we really do mean ‘fight back’!
The day ended with the movement gaining much vocal support from a diverse cross section of the community, a few tax dodgers losing a bit of revenue, and the cops (who have tried their hardest to intimidate and stifle the campaign from the outset) bleating about a ‘breakdown in trust’! All in all a good day, and a launch pad for more actions in the future.
At least 5 coaches are being organised from swindon to the big TUC demo in London on March 26th. For more info, drop the local campaign an email at firstname.lastname@example.org