Archive for Blog

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition launches election campaign

tusc1The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is contesting 3 seats in the Nottinghamshire County Council elections on 2nd May. We will be standing in Mansfield North, Hucknall and Carlton East.

We are standing as the only anti-cuts alternative to the three main parties. If you can help with the campaign, please contact nottstusc@gmail.com.

PCS takes further action against austerity

pcs2PCS members walked out on strike on Friday 5th April as part of their rolling programme of action against the governments attacks on jobs, pay & terms and conditions. PCS members working at HMRC also took half a day’s strike action on Monday 8th April.

 

High support for NUJ strike at BBC Nottingham

nuj1National Union of Journalists (NUJ) members working for the BBC took strike action to defend jobs and against bullying management on Thursday 30th March. Many people walked out of work in Nottingham and they were also supported by workers in the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU).

 

PCS budget day strike

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embers of the Public & Commercial Services union (PCS) took strike action (in the snow!) on 20th March, the same day that Osborne announced further attacks on working class people in his budget.

Rape is No Joke!

All photos taken by Lewis Stainer

A night of “Comedy without Misogyny” was organised in Nottingham last Thursday (7th Feb). Cathy Meadows talks to local organiser Becci Heagney about the event and the campaign.

What prompted you to organise around this issue?

There has been an increase in comments made by politicians, people in the media and stand-up comedians that either trivialise rape and sexual assault or try to categorise ‘different types’ with some being less serious than others. All violence against women is serious. The Slutwalk movement was an inspirational one in making a stand against victim blaming which is a big issue when it comes to rape. The victim is never to blame and this is something that needs to be challenged.

Where did you start in terms of organising?

The first step was to contact groups who might, on the one hand, be interested in supporting the campaign, and on the other, we could find out more from about the situation facing women. So as this campaign was set up by Socialist Students, we contacted the Students’ Union Women’s Officers at the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University who were both keen to get their Women’s Networks behind the campaign. We also went to Nottingham Women’s Centre which is an amazing place that provides classes and groups for all kinds of women across the city and also lets out space in its building to Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid. They fully supported to campaign and helped a lot with publicising it.

Where did the idea for the comedy night come from?

Jokes about rape is not the only issue, or even the most important issue, facing women in Britain today. However, it is one part of the sexism we face in our everyday lives. We know women are facing the brunt of the cuts to jobs and services, still face sexual harassment and unequal pay in the workplace, are objectified within the media and popular culture. But a comedian telling a joke about rape could be the thing that a woman will get the most angry about when it’s on top of everything else. We wanted to hold a night of comedy without misogyny to show that comedians can be funny without resorting to sexism.

Was the comedy night a success?

It was a big success! With a lot of help from people and groups around us, especially from the Nottinghamshire Trades Union Council which made a donation to help us fund the campaign, we had four comedians, various speakers and about 50 people at the event. The comedians all showed that comedy could challenge reactionary ideas in a progressive and funny way – including one fantastic impression of the Canadian police officer whose comment had sparked off the Slutwalk movement, complete with a moustache and police hat!

Speakers from Rape Crisis and Nottingham Women’s Centre outlined why they supported the campaign and also the challenges they are facing because of the funding cuts. Jackie Meht from Rape Crisis spoke passionately about how the minimum number of staff they have are being cut and how they rely mostly on volunteers. But she summed up the mood of the night well when she said, “We’re going to keep fighting it. We’ve been fighting for over 30 years and we’re not going to stop now!”

Has anything else come out of the organising so far?

We’ve met a lot of good people who want to do more with the campaign. We have a public meeting next week to discuss how we can build a movement against rape, drawing on the protests in India and Egypt. Even though the campaign is about comedy, it’s also a campaign that can bring together different women from different places who all want to fight on these issues.

Why are socialists taking up this issue?

Socialists support this campaign because we realise that joking about rape in a way that blames the victim isn’t an isolated issue; it’s an attitude that permeates throughout society. This is because of the historical, inferior position of women in a class society. Women are treated in class society as objects that can be traded and are there for the benefit of men. Rape is one manifestation this, shown by how in Britain marital rape only became illegal in 1991 – as if by marrying someone you are giving consent forever. Rape jokes serve to add to a culture that sees violence against women as something inevitable if they act in a certain way. We want to fight all the cuts to the services that women rely on but we also want to fight to change attitudes towards women. If we are going to get rid of inequality altogether, working class men and women need to unite to change society and Rape is No Joke is one way we can work towards that.

 

Public meeting: Women Fighting Back! How do we build a movement against rape?
Wednesday, 13 February, 7pm International Community Centre, 61b Mansfield Road, Nottingham NG1 4FB

Women across the world, in Britain, the US, Egypt and India, are protesting and taking a stand against sexual harassment and assault – how can these protests be successful? What affect is austerity having on women? How can we organise to build a movement against sexism, discrimination and cuts?
All welcome to come and join the debate. Hosted by Rape is No Joke.

Nottingham students oppose intimidating pro-life protest

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Abort67, a ‘pro-life’ group that campaigns for all abortions to be made illegal, held a protest at the University of Nottingham on Tuesday. In the same way that they have picketed abortion clinics in Brighton, they stood on the campus with large banners depicting abortions in an attempt to intimidate women who face a very difficult choice.

The Women’s Network at the university organised a successful counter protest which involved using placards and posters to cover Abort67’s and promote a pro-choice position. The Women’s Network’s excellent statement can be read here.

Abort67 are intentionally provocative and are not interested in discussing the issues surrounding abortion. Instead they use their pictures and plastic models of foetuses to threaten women entering abortion clinics. They are visiting universities in an attempt to target student doctors and female students in general, who they consider to be ‘ignorant’ and ‘uneducated’ about what an abortion is. They compare abortion to the holocaust and accused the students at the counter-protest of being Nazis.

The Women’s Network have also launched a petition which can be signed online here calling on the university to oppose this group protesting on the university campus. Socialist Students has repeatedly been removed by campus security when leafeting or protesting about tuition fees and cuts to education but this group which is causing distress to students has been allowed to protest.

The counter protest was successful in that after an hour, Abort67 packed their banners away and got back into their van, citing the reason they were leaving as being because of the rain!

Socialist Students and the Socialist Party completely opposes Abort67 and its tactics. We campaign for women to have a real choice. We should have the right to a free abortion at the point of use and decent services provided by a publicly owned NHS which can provide the support and impartial, fact based advice that is needed. But also the right to decent benefits, child care, maternity leave and other support if they choose to go ahead with their pregnancy. We also campaign for free and easily accessible contraception and sex and relationship education. It should be a woman’s choice when and whether to have children and abortion rights should be defended.

PCS steps up fight to save nurseries at HMRC

Another protest was held on Wednesday 17th October at HMRC in Nottingham against the proposed closure of the workplace nurseries which many workers rely on, as part of a national day of action to save nurseries at eight sites.

PCS members and supporters collected signatures on a petition that were given in to Parliament during a lobby later on in the day.

Protesters had been given a confidence boost by the extension granted to the nurseries on two HMRC sites at Cardiff and East Kilbride, as a result of high profile campaigns.

The protest received a lot of support, with the majority of people working on the site signing the petition and taking leaflets.

Youth Fight for Jobs protest to bring back EMA!

Youth Fight for Jobs held a protest on Tuesday 16th October in Nottingham City Centre to call on the city council to provide EMA for students, as part of a national fortnight of action. We collected many signatures on our petition and handed out YFJ leaflets advertising our public meeting next week.

On Thursday 18th October, we will be holding a protest against workfare outside Poundland on Clumber St.

The Youth Fight for Jobs public meeting will be on Wednesday 24th October at 7.30pm in the ICC (YMCA) on Mansfield Road.

Students support unions taking a 24 hour general strike

Socialist Students were at the freshers’ fairs of both University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University getting signatures on a petition to support the unions taking a 24 hour general strike.

The TUC Congress in September voted to “look at the practicalities of organising a general strike” against the government’s austerity measures. Socialist Students has been calling on students to support this and pledge to walk out on the same day as the strike.

There was also a lot of interest in the 20th October TUC demonstration in London, which Socialist Students is encouraging students to attend.

Hundreds of students signed the petition and many students signed up to join Socialist Students, which will be organising regular activity on the university campuses to campaign against tuition fees and cutbacks.

Young campaigners holding protest fortnight of action against government cuts

Young people from the campaign Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) have organised a fortnight of action against government cut-backs. In towns up and down the country there will be protests to stop the attacks on education, job opportunities and benefits.

In Nottingham, there will be a protest to bring back EMA (Educational Maintenance Allowance) in the Market Square at 12pm on Tuesday 16th October. There will also be a lobby of Poundland (Clumber Street) on Thursday 18th October at 12pm against the company’s participation in the government’s ‘workfare’ scheme – where young people are forced to work 30 hours a week for their 56.25 Job Seekers Allowance.

Starting on Saturday 13th October and ending on Saturday 27th October, the fortnight of action will incorporate the TUC’s ‘March for a Future that Works’ in London on 20th October, where YFJ will be joining hundreds of thousands of trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners in a united demonstration against austerity.

The campaign is also holding an open meeting on Wednesday 24th October at the ICC (YMCA), Mansfield Road at 7pm, with speakers including student activists, young campaigners and trade unionists.

Rich Redmore, YFJ activist in Nottingham, said:

These protests come a week after the Tory Party conference where young people have been offered more years of austerity. Not content with pricing many of us out of education and watching the unemployment rate rise, they now want to take away our ability to live independently by cutting housing benefit for under-25’s.

We will not sit back and allow this government of millionaires to take away our future. We urge all young people, trade unionists, community campaigners and everyone else angry at the coalition’s cuts to join our fortnight of action.”

This action is supported by Nottinghamshire Trades Council, who have encouraged their affiliated members to support the protests.