Friday, 02 March 2012 17:54
Across London local communities have been fighting back against the cuts, demanding that their libraries stay, stating that they are a vital part of the local infrastructure. Brent is the latest council to act, where the ‘SOS Libraries’ campaigners have been refused permission to take the council to the Supreme Court this week. This was after a strong community action of 24-hour vigils, but still six libraries will close. Other campaigns around Kensal Rise and Preston are also struggling to win, but will continue to fight. This is despite a consultation into the proposals showing that 82% of respondents were against the closures, the council announced in April last year that Barham Park, Cricklewood, Kensal Rise, Neasden, Preston and Tokyngton libraries would shut. Brent Council announced plans to close six out of Brent’s 12 libraries to save £1 million in 2010. Residents united by their anger formed Brent SOS Libraries to stop the closures and took their fight to the High Court and Appeal Court but lost. The council began stripping bare the libraries before Christmas but undeterred the campaigners formed pop-up libraries outside the closed reading rooms including Kensal Rise Library which was opened 111 years ago by American author Mark Twain. Over the coming year it is estimated that as many as 600 libraries could close although so far, due to the public anger, only 32 have actually been shut down. Some are being handed over to local communities to control and others are being privatised. Even where the fight back is successful the staff are being cut back to a minimum.
Friday, 02 March 2012 17:54
Vita Cortex announced it was closing its plant in Cork, Republic of Ireland, September 2011. When the workers finally got issued their notice in December they discovered that the bosses had screwed them out of their redundancy payments. The workers occupied the factory, and have remained there since. Their occupation continues. They are refusing to leave until the bosses cough up what they owe. For many of the workers Vita Cortex is all they have known. The 32 occupiers have worked for the company for a combined total of 847 years. They now face little chance of finding alternative work as there are over 25,000 unemployed people currently living in and around Cork. In a typical bosses trick, Vita Cortex has shifted money here, there, and everywhere, passing assets between companies making it difficult for anyone to get at it. In a show of solidarity, the local fire brigade has been delivering food to the occupiers, and a taxi firm has been offering their services free of charge. On February 12th over 5,000 people marched through Cork in support of the occupation. It was the biggest demonstration that Cork has seen in years. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Support-the-Vita-Cortex-Workers/212225242192914
Friday, 02 March 2012 17:53
Friday 27th – Monday 30th January saw hundreds of people in cities across the country come out of their cold homes to Warm-up together at the buildings and offices that house those responsible for fuel poverty and have left millions with a choice between heating and eating. The Warm-ups are just the beginning. Fuel Poverty Action will becontinuing to challenge the energy companies monopoly and the government’s complicity, and keeping up the push for an energy system that works for people’s needs, not corporate greed. For more information and updates about Fuel Poverty Action, check our website ( fuelpovertyaction.wordpress.com), follow us on Twitter @FuelPovAction and find us on Facebook (http://on.fb.me/v8pXT0). *LEWISHAM, LONDON: TOWN HALL* 30-40 activists and residents from Lewisham occupied and Warmed-up inside Lewisham Town Hall. They staged a peoples’ forum inside, where people shared their experiences of unaffordable energy bills and expressed their anger at the profiteering energy companies and complicit government. People discussed the many examples of community controlled renewable energy projects across the country and how we might transition Lewisham and, more broadly, the UK, to a democratic energy system that works for people’s needs. After the peoples’ forum, people moved outside and got even more toasty around a bonfire of burning energy bills! LEEDS: COUNCIL OFFICES A group of a dozen activists from Leeds Fuel Poverty Action and local residents staged a Winter Warm Up protest at Leeds City Council’s Leonardo Building which houses the Sustainable Development Unit. The group used the morning to discuss how to achieve a fair and more equitable energy economy that no longer forces bill payers to choose between ‘eating or heating’. The group later moved to the Merrion Centre where they handed out leaflets and talked to members of the public, but were forcibly removed within minutes. In addition, the Leeds Fuel Poverty Action campaign has linked up with church, resident and community groups across the city to involve those who are most affected by the issue. SWINDON: NPOWER HQ A group of fuel poverty activists from Oxford played a game of giant-sized Corporate Monopoly right outside Npower Headquarters. Puzzled employees and passers-by received a flyer that outlined why they were there. The game demonstrated that we could all have a better, fairer energy system by managing affordable fuel for ourselves. On the other hand, Npower is hiking prices whilst failing to invest enough in green energy. Through community action we can all get out of the cold and create an energy system that works for public interest and not for private gain. MANCHESTER: BILLBOARDS Billboards in Manchester were transformed in protest over the Big Six energy companies’ pricing and climate policies. LONDON: EDF HQ Anti-nuclear campaign group, Boycott EDF (http://boycottedf.org.uk/), targeted the UK headquarters of EDF Energy. French energy giant EDF Energy are making record profits from pushing up our energy bills while spearheading the government’s drive to build eight new nuclear power stations around England, starting with Hinkley Point in Somerset. Activists grouped outside EDF’s HQ with banners and leaflets saying ‘EDF Energy: exploiting the poor, polluting the planet’. LONDON: RBS A dozen activists from the Energy, Equity and Environment group of Occupy London made themselves at home in a carpeted Fleet St branch of RBS, enjoying its leather chairs and even an open fire. They held an assembly in the bank, pointing out that while RBS, bailed out with billions of pounds of public money, was handing over a million in a bonus to their chief executive, thousands of people were dying of cold because they couldn’t afford to heat their homes – or couldn’t afford a home in the first place! RBS is also the biggest financial investor in fossil fuels. Death from fuel poverty and death from climate change were two sides of the same filthy RBS coin. CAMBRIDGE Anti-poverty campaigners from Cambridge performed a street theatre protest to call attention to the 5000 Cambridge households suffering from fuel poverty. The campaigners performed a short improvised sketch in which those dressed as large energy companies ‘beat up’ other campaigners dressed as the Earth and as local residents. They highlighted the predicted deaths of 2,700 people in the UK due to fuel poverty this winter, as well as the five-year record profit of over 700% per customer of the Big Six energy companies. HARINGEY: WOOD GREEN SHOPPING CITY Fifteen Haringey residents take part in the Warm Up action in Wood Green Shopping City mall. The Warm-up was organised by Haringey Solidarity Group, supported by Haringey Housing Action Group and the Haringey Alliance for Public Services. The activists set up an advice stall on the first floor, held banners reading ‘No More Deaths From Cold’ and ‘Gas Bills Kill - Fuel Poverty Action’, distributed 500 leaflets and created a friendly space to encourage people to come and sit and share free hot drinks and snacks. HACKNEY, LONDON: TOWN HALL Hackney residents warmed up at the Hackney Town Hall. Protestors gathered with their sleeping bags and duvets, joining thousands of other people nationwide accusing the government and energy companies of a “deadly obsession with making money.” STAINES: BRITISH GAS HQ Six activists barricaded themselves into meeting rooms on two floors of British Gas offices in Staines, Middlesex. For a short time they streamed the occupation live on the internet, with a ‘Heat or Eat’ comedy quiz played by the occupiers, and audience participation over Twitter. The Warm-ups brought a glimpse of the community action that will be needed to tackle the Big Six’s monopoly and the government’s complicity. The weekend came as part of a growing movement for energy democracy and energy justice, emerging across the world from Nigeria to Russia to Greece. As corporations continue their drive to extract profit at all costs and governments sit comfortably in their pockets, people are becoming ever more cold and ever more angry. Together, we will Warm-up and fight back!
Friday, 02 March 2012 17:52
Despite the freezing weather, and an unexpected snow storm in the middle of the sunny afternoon, over 100 people gathered outside the City Chambers on Saturday 18th February to show solidarity with workers in Greece, who’s government has just voted to approve IMF and European Bank-approved austerity measures, which will have disastrous consequences for the working class. The demonstration was well-received by passers by, and had a strong internationalist and anti-capitalist message: it is capitalism, not Greece, which is in crisis! It's not our crisis, it's capitalism! Slogans such as “From Scotland to Spain, the problem is the same! From Scotland to Greece, no justice, no peace!” were chanted, and a live link to a Greek radio station was established. The protest in Edinburgh was one of many around Europe and the world to mark an international day of solidarity with Greek workers, which included hundreds of Spanish protesters on the streets under the banner ‘Estamos Con Grecia’ – we are with Greece.
Friday, 02 March 2012 17:52
“We occupy our public hospitals for deep and meaningful democratisation, which will make society competent to decide its own future again.” Confronted with a dire economic situation and having witnessed major social and economic changes in their country, health workers in Greecehave occupied two public hospitals, opposing the harsh austerity measures adopted by the Greek government in the last two years. The public hospital in Kilkis (northern Greece) has been under full workers’ control since the 6th of February: The employees underline that “with full awareness of our social mission and moral commitments associated with our office, we will protect the health of citizens attending the hospital, providing free care to those in need.” At the same time, they ask the government to “finally take its responsibilities, surpassing even this last hour its immeasurable social insensitivity.” Workers at the General Hospital of Kilkis stress that the occupation of the hospital will not end until the full payment of their accruals and the return of their salaries to pre-cut levels. They state that they “respond to the fascist-isation with democracy” by putting the hospital “under the direct and complete control” of the workers where “the only responsible decision-making body of an administrative nature will be the General Assembly of workers in it.” ne week later on February 13th the Rethymnon (Crete) Hospital Doctors Association and the Association of Workers also began the occupation and self-management of their local general hospital in response to the degradation induced by the merger of the hospital of Chania. Commenting on the proposed merger , the Doctors Association says the Chania hospital has been designated for regional Western Crete and this automatically leads to the reduction of hospital operations in Rethymnon. According to government documents, the merger provides for the operation of departments and units in only one of the two hospitals and involves closing sections of the hospital of Rethymnon. It also provides for the transfer of patients for treatment and diagnosis in the neighbouring county since there is no corresponding section for further medical treatment and patients with urgent problems would have to move to Chania. Finally, the merger involves the transfer of administrative and other services to cover staff shortages in the central hospital. The workers stress that “the above description gives the exact operating conditions of the merged hospital and once again mocks the sick and residents of that county.” Furthermore, they consider “unwanted” the political “representatives of the county and each political spokesman defending the survival of banks against the lives of humans” and they state that the hospital will remain under their Assembly’s control until the overthrow of the neo-liberal policy. Last but not least, the workers in both occupied public hospitals ask for every possible support and call on the society and workers affected by the financial crisis to take similar action, “until our final victory against the economic-political elite which is now oppressing the country and destroys the world.”
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