Read full article for a round-up of J30 action: a day of protest against pension cuts and more
See also regional features (links below) and the J30 topic.
Round-up of J30 action: a day of protest against pension cuts and more
There were pickets all over the place this morning, starting early and generally continuing until people headed off for local rallies, marches, assemblies etc. Support for the striking workers started early too, as UK Uncut provided Big Society Breakfasts. At Euston tower, for instance, activists cooked full English breakfasts for striking HMRC workers. An early report from Leeds commented on very light rush-hour traffic, but a lack of obvious political presence outside local schools. Back in London, civilian employees of the Metropolitan Police walked out en masse: 75% at the Palace of Westminster (Parliament) and 90% of those who take 999 calls didn't show up today, according to the BBC. This meant that there were fewer cops on the streets of London today, which can only have been a good thing, judging by the usual repressive behaviour of those who were out and about, including many apparently random searches and arrests, attempts to kettle and so on. [More photos and Report and pics from rikki]. Fewer cops but more cyclists, as a Critical Mass special J30 action conducted a tour of picket lines and actions, offering support and solidarity and reporting as they went [Another report and photos]. In Wrexham, the cycling mass was some way short of critical, but a couple of cyclists visited some picket lines before heading to Queen's Square for the rally [Photos 1 | 2 ].
There was J30 solidarity action in Nottingham even before the pickets were set up, with the locks of Jobcentre Plus and Atos Origin superglued shut during the night. Courts, jobcentres and schools were among the many sites picketed across Notts, many strikers being visited and brought food supplies by Notts Uncut. The march numbered somewhere between 1,000 and 2,500 and the rally afterwards offered the working classes a chance to throw wet sponges at David Cameron [Report and photos 1 | 2 | 3 ]. There was also a lobby at County Hall as councillors met to vote on slashing the Supporting People and daycare budgets. In Sheffield the turnout for the rally was so high that it had to be moved from the Peace Gardens to Barkers Pool. This was followed by a march through the centre of Sheffield, finishing off with a second rally. Numbers at the Manchester march were estimated at 3,000. Unlike previous occasions, the march wasn't forced into back streets but went along the main thoroughfare of Deansgate ending in a rally at Castlefields with only one obvious FIT photographer present, who was urged to stop filming and join in [Reports/photos 1 | 2 ]. Actions in Cardiff included Busk Against the Cuts, a Food Not Bombs stall and various UK Uncut actions involving occupations of BHS, Vodafone and Miss Selfridge. Cambridge saw its biggest demonstration since Iraq War protests, with schools and offices closed and over 1,500 taking part in a march through town and rally afterwards [Report and photos 1 | 2 ].
This section was written before the J30 Strike
The J30 website describes the nation-wide strike on 30 June as: "Hundreds of thousands of workers in strike action, from as many as four different unions: NUT, PCS, UCU and ATL." Four unions... and all the rest. J30 is going to involve strike action and plenty more besides as workers, students, claimants, users of public services and other angry folk respond to the call to 'generalise the strike' and protest government cuts in public spending and public services. Bailing out the bankers, letting off rich tax dodgers and continuing to pour billions into illegal wars of aggression, all at the expense of public sector workers and public services like health, welfare and education isn't going down well.
There have been calls for action by black bloc, while the Anarchist Federation has issued a statement calling for everyone affected by cuts to join picket lines in their localities, for non-striking workers in all sectors to phone in sick and for a range of other solidarity actions. Brighton activists have occupied a building in the town's biggest shopping centre, which will "be used to form links between the striking public sector workers and other members of the public who are affected by the government’s public sector cuts, such as students, benefits claimants and private sector workers." In Birmingham, an Open Assembly was held last Friday to plan collective action: "From early morning pickets, direct actions, occupations & demonstrations - whatever you're into - lets all do it on June 30th and amplify the resistance to austerity." Two days before J30, a public meeting in Edinburgh addressed the question of how to 'Unite the Resistance'. On the day, a People's Assembly will be held outside Westminster Central Hall after the strike rally inside.
Many claimants will join J30 marches and other actions. In Bristol, for instance, there is a feeder march: "We won't put up with being labeled as scroungers, pushed into poverty or being forced into slave labour 'workfare' schemes." UK Uncut has called a day of action in solidarity with the strikers. Critical mass cyclists in London will visit pickets and tour other actions around the capital. A variety of Cyberstrikes also seem likely.
There will no doubt be many more as the day unfolds, but a list of planned actions compiled before the event looked like this.
Police repression has already started, with an activist in Glasgow arrested ahead of J30 by English cops and charged with an offence dating from the 26 March protests.
Elsewhere, there have been two days of rioting during a general strike in Greece in protest at the government's agreement to take further 'austerity measures' (including tax hikes and more public spending cuts) and privatise pretty much everything in return for a second EU/IMF bail-out.
IMC UK Features