Radical Roundup: 10 stories that have got buried – Week 3, May 2022

The news you didn't see this week...

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1. Unite calls for restraint on boardroom greed, not workers’ pay

As inflation hits 9% (and significantly higher for the poorest households), the Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey has once again called for pay restraint for workers to manage inflation.

The Unite trade union has hit out at Bailey, arguing that if anyone needs to have their pay reigned in, it is the bosses of major companies.

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said, “The alarm bells are ringing very loudly now. Earnings are being pummelled, the government is, shamefully, turning its back on those in need and employers are squeezing wages. So, we will absolutely take no more lectures on pay restraint from the millionaire governor of the Bank of England.

“If Andrew Bailey wants to lecture anyone about belt-tightening, he should direct his attention to the CEOs of the UK’s top 100 companies who have seen their wages swell by an average of 34 per cent to an astonishing £4.1 million a year. Ask them to pause to reflect about the scale of their corporate greed.

“Workers, on the other hand, are at least £70 worse off than this time last year and are being battered by spiralling food and energy costs. Telling them to pay for a crisis which is absolutely not of their making is obscene and totally unacceptable to Unite.”

2. Extinction Rebellion disrupt Africa Oil Conference

Climate campaigners disrupted a major conference attended by African heads of state and major oil executives on May 17. Activists, from Extinction Rebellion and other groups, gained access to the conference suite where the Africa Oil Conference was being held.

The campaigners hung banners reading ‘End Oil Colonialism’ and ‘Justice for Africa’ from the hotel’s porch and lobby, blocking the delegates’ entrances and disrupting proceedings with audio recordings of African activists protesting new oil deals.

Sunny Morgan, climate justice activist with XR South Africa said, “Modern day oil colonialists apportioning up Africa into blocks for oil exploration and extraction are reminiscent of the Berlin Conference of 1885. Stop Fossil Fuel Colonialism.”

3. Green Party condemns ‘smashing’ of Northern Ireland protocol

This week, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss confirmed that the government plans to abandon the Northern Ireland Brexit protocol, a move that has been met with widespread criticism.

Among those opposing the move is the Green Party of England and Wales. The party’s co-leader Carla Denyer accused the government of ‘smashing’ the protocol.

Denyer said, “At least this government is consistent. They make rules and agree to laws and then routinely break them. From breaking Covid lockdown rules to unlawfully suspending Parliament, this is a government that has form when it comes to law breaking. But today’s decision to smash the Northern Ireland protocol takes this corrupt government to new depths. It has demonstrated that even international law – which the government itself signed up to – is not beyond flouting.”

4. Palestine Action occupies Israeli defence company Elbit Systems’ premises

Pro-Palestine campaigners this week occupied the Bristol premises of the Israeli defence company Elbit Systems. Activists linked to the direct action network Palestine Action broke into the company’s offices in Bristol, smashing windows, causing damage to the building’s interior, dismantling officers and barricading themselves inside.

The action coincided with the 74th annual Nakba Day, an annual commemoration of the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians during the 1947-49 Palestine War.

Speaking on the occupation, Palestine Action said, “We aim to permanently disrupt the Britsh-Israeli weapons trade by haulting Elbit’s production of weapons on British shores. Our mission to #ShutElbitDown will continue to target every Elbit location and complicit party, across Britain. As the ongoing Nakba continues, so do our efforts to dismantle Britain’s role in supporting Israeli apartheid.”

Nine arrests were made following the occupation.

5. Workers win victory against fire and rehire in Sandwell

Leisure workers in Sandwell have secured a victory against fire and rehire. The Sandwell Leisure Trust has announced that it will return its workers to national pay, terms and conditions. This follows claims from the UNISON union that the Trust sought to fire and rehire the workers in March 2021.

The victory comes after a protracted dispute between UNISON and the employer, which has included strike action and demonstrations.

Sandwell UNISON branch secretary Tony Barnsley said, “This decision is great news for all the staff working at Sandwell Leisure Trust. It is the culmination of the hard work and dedication by UNISON at a branch and regional level.”

6. Climate campaigners confront Kwasi Kwarteng over fossil fuels and cost of living crisis

Climate campaigners have confronted the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy over the cost of living crisis and the government’s commitment to fossil fuels. In a stunt as part of the Green New Deal Rising campaign, the campaigners disrupted a business lunch Kwarteng was attending.

In a video of the action, campaigners can be seen claiming “millions of people are choosing between heating and eating”, and “millions are struggling to survive due to rising energy bills”.

The campaigners go on to criticise the government for failing to back a windfall tax on fossil fuel companies and for supporting the establishment of new oil fields.

7. ASLEF and FBU reject calls to disaffiliate from the Labour Party

Two trade unions have rejected calls to disaffiliate from the Labour Party. Both the railway union ASLEF and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) voted against motions calling for the unions to break their links to Labour.

89% of delegates at an ASLEF conference voted to keep the link with Labour, and reports suggest around 75% of delegates at an FBU conference voted the same way.

ASLEF and the FBU are among the 11 trade unions affiliated to the Labour Party. While these unions have voted to maintain their affiliation, the BFAWU disaffiliated from Labour in 2021, breaking a century long relationship.

Speaking ahead of the vote of ASLEF delegates, the union’s general secretary Mick Whelan said, “The only game in town for working people, and their families, is if we stay with the party. We stay in the Labour Party and we support.”

8. Campaigners condemn government over private water companies and sewage pollution

The UK government has rejected a recommendation from the Environmental Audit Committee that would require private water companies to measure the amount of sewage poured into waterways.

Anti-privatisation campaign group We Own It has slammed the decision, branding it ‘shameful’. In a tweet, the group said, “Shameful: The government just rejected the Environmental Audit Committee’s plan to force private water companies to measure how much raw sewage they pump out”. It continued, “Private water companies are destroying our rivers. The solution is clear – we need public ownership of water”.

9. RMT members to ballot for industrial action at wind farm company Orsted

The RMT trade union is balloting all members at Osted Walney Operations for indsurtial action, claiming one of its members has faced victimisation for raising questions over health and safety concerns.

The union alleges pay has been withheld for nine months and reasonable adjustments have not been made.

RMT General Secretary Michael Lynch said, “It is the right of all workers to work in a safe environment. They should not live in fear of the employer for attempting to raise concerns to protect fellow workers.

“We are sending a clear message to Orsted that enough is enough and their appalling practices will not be tolerated.”

10. Greens and SNP agree working arrangement to run Glasgow City Council

Following May’s local elections, the Scottish Greens and the SNP have forged a working agreement on the running of Glasgow City Council. This will see the SNP form a minority administration and the Greens take a number of key roles within the Council. The Greens will hold chair positions on two committees responsible for addressing the climate crisis.

Co-convenor of the Glasgow City Council Green Group said, “The recent election result clearly showed us that the people of Glasgow agreed with our vision for a more effective, more democratic and forward-looking council. With our largest ever group of Green councillors, we will hold a minority SNP administration to account while working collaboratively across party lines to deliver a fairer, greener and more inclusive Glasgow and to bring about the change that people voted for.”

Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward

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