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ULEZ and Just Transition Debate

By staff - Greener Jobs Alliance, March 8, 2023

This Blog contains a number of statements and briefings on the Ultra Low Emissions Zone extension.

  • Editor’s view (pers cap)
  • Health impacts of Polluted Air in Outer London – Imperial College
  • Mum’s for Lungs view
  • Trade Union Clean Air Network (TUCAN) statement
  • Friends of the Earth Briefing
  • The truth about Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – Possible

Making Positive Demands to clean up our air and cut car dependence

Anyone who watched the London Mayor’s Question Time from Ealing last week will not have missed the atmosphere of fear and loathing that make this issue almost as toxic as the air we breathe.

There are four overlapping imperatives when dealing with transport in cities.

That greenhouse gas emissions from transport are a quarter of the UK’s total and have not declined for ten years because, while car engines have become more efficient, more people are driving them, and the models they are driving are heavier. This has to be cut hard and fast to allow us to survive as a society.

People have to get around and, overall, cars are becoming more of a problem than a solution. If the 40% of people in London who don’t have cars did, no one would be able to get anywhere; because the streets would be gridlocked. The individual “aspiration” to own a car becomes socially dystopian if universally realised. For freer flowing, quieter, safer streets, we need fewer cars and fewer car journeys. We will have less of a need to travel inconvenient distances if we enrich our immediate neighbourhoods. 

We need cleaner air for our health and life expectancy. 90% of people want it. Some people drive. Everybody breathes. 

Some people are locked into car use, because they can’t afford to live near work and need concrete affordable alternatives as they are understandably anxious about how they are going to cope.

How To Combat The Cumbria Coalmine and Other Retrograde Energy Projects

Support for rail strikes from Just Transition Partnership

By staff - Just Transition Partnership, August 18, 2022

The Just Transition Partnership sends solidarity to RMT, TSSA and ASLEF members taking industrial action to protect their pay, jobs and working conditions, and in the wider fight for a sustainable public transport system run for people and the planet, not private greed. Billions are being cut from our transport system at a time when increasing investment is vital to ensure a fully public, affordable, integrated and sustainable transport system.

Our railways are already being impacted by the effects of climate change, putting additional demands on a stretched workforce providing an essential public service. We need a well-paid transport workforce with secure conditions and it is indefensible to expect transport and other workers to take an effective pay cut as inflation and the costs of energy rise, especially while the profits of oil companies soar.

The UK government is failing on the climate crisis and the cost of living crisis. It has no integrated transport plans, favouring private companies which make vast profits rather than making transport affordable and our air breathable; in Scotland as well as the rest of the UK train and bus services are being cut. These actions are symptomatic of disregard for the concerns of climate, environment and workers.

The solutions to these crises have the same foundations – public investment into decarbonised and high-quality services using both taxation and legal duties on private companies; all delivered by a well-paid, skilled and secure workforce. These things won’t happen without workers in their trade unions organising to defend their wages, their jobs, their future and their rights through the power of collective bargaining. The workers movement and the climate justice movement need to build our collective power if we are to defend our future, that is why we send our solidarity to the workers on strike.

London IWW Statement of Solidarity with UK Rail Workers

By branch - London IWW, August 1, 2022

The London Branch of the IWW stands with the rail workers in their ongoing dispute. They are fighting not just for themselves, but for us all: as well as their livelihoods, the safety standards of the British rail network are under threat. The government-backed rail operators are attempting to reduce staffing levels on platforms, trains, and tracks in order to drive down wages, which they see simply as an overhead cost. Further, they intend to rehire many workers on zero-hours agency contracts in order to circumnavigate labour rights such as paid leave for holiday, sickness, and parenthood as well as allowing them to dismiss workers without notice or redundancy pay.

The transport industry is one of the few remaining industries in Britain with high union membership. This attempt to break it up by dividing the workforce is a direct attempt to weaken the unions, and the labour movement as a whole.

On top of it all, comes a slap in the face: during this period of exaggerated cost of living, and while the shareholders take home millions in profit, they are offering the workers that they aren’t trying to sack a real-terms pay cut.

However, the workers are standing strong: in the face of an endless torrent of vitriol from the British government and press, they are taking every opportunity to expose the inequalities and injustice that they face. Members of our branch have been proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with these workers on the picket lines, and we will continue to offer our support until the dispute is won. As long as we continue to stand together, we can tip the balance in the favour of workers around the world.

Mutual aid is the currency of solidarity; direct support for the striking worker is crucial to their success. As such, the IWW London branch are setting a budget to allow members to donate food and drinks to workers on the picket lines, and we encourage any members or supporters with the means to make a donation to the strike funds.

The momentum of the union movement is growing once again in Britain after half a century of targeted assault. Public support is on the rise, and workers in unions across the country are balloting to take action and stand up for their rights and their dignity. The doubling-down on anti-union rhetoric by the government and press is evidence that they are aware of the power that a unionised workforce wields, and that they are threatened by it.

The IWW welcomes any and all workers both in and out of employment and of any nation, race, gender, or creed. Together we stand for a fairer world.

Solidarity forever.

Can Ecosocialist Praxis be a Real Alternative?

By Gordon Peters - London Left Green Blog, December 17, 2017

How can ecosocialism respond to the operation of power in capitalist accumulation and reproduction? Does ecosocialism help provide answers to struggles taking place in the local state and in sites of contest?

I want to suggest that it does in 4 broad ways:

1] The Refusal Strategy

This has a long lineage in class struggles in many different ways, but came to be articulated by the Italian Autonomists. Here I can only draw together some links from very different places in recent times and which all have as their distinct characteristics a refusal to yield to the capitalist logic and to say no to displacement.

For instance, indigenous struggles in Latin America particularly against mining, deforestation and land grabbing demand an anti-capitalist sustainability and in Bolivia were enshrined in the Cochabamba Declaration and the Rights of Mother Earth.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement when applied to fossil fuels and Leave It in the Ground, anti-fracking protests in southern England and in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and campaigns on housing rights against estate demolition are increasingly confronting the demands of corporate capital and in their own sites of struggle re-framing demands in terms of rights to land, community, place to live, clean air and water, and freedoms, which are essentially ecosocialist.

The housing struggles in London are having to resist speculation and maximising value from land which depends on further debt creation and the actual emisseration of working class people by displacement of social housing, and in some cases further polarising class relations by building blocks with separate entries for ‘affordable’ and higher price housing.

I am involved in Haringey with the StopHDV campaign where the local state and the multi-national corporation Lendlease aim to establish a financial nexus worth several billion pounds as a 'development vehicle’ and in the process re-make Tottenham and Wood Green thereby displacing thousands of people.

As the plaintiff in a Judicial Review I have taken this struggle into the High Court, along with a broad coalition of people on the ground. Marching and protesting against the Council we refuse to accept the Haringey Development Vehicle, and in the court our final submission to the Council/corporate argument is ‘we say not so’.

This is the Refusal Strategy and it echoes to some degree the methods of 'In and Against the State’, in the 1970s, where workers were employed by but refused to be co-opted by the local state. It is however broader and puts much more emphasis on the protection of place and the right to a decent environment, mobilising residents as well as trades unionists.

RMT union puts anarchist in charge of London

By anonymous - Freedom, January 15, 2017

Freedom has received the following, written by an anonymous railway worker with the RMT union

At the beginning of this year the RMT elected Andy Littlechild (pictured right), a longstanding anarchist and member of the Solidarity Federation (Solfed), to the RMT union’s National Executive Council as its London transport representative.

The role, which lasts for three years, takes responsibility for the entire battlezone of London Underground including trains, stations, engineers, all ancillary staff and contracted companies, along with Transport for London, Docklands Light Railway, Black Cabs and even Boris Bikes.

Andy, who’s worked for many years as a Tube track worker and union rep, stood unopposed for the position and was duly elected after receiving nominations from every RMT branch in the constituency. His unopposed win was generally linked to Andy’s perceived militancy and non-sectarian approach to organising, which endeared him to RMT’s London activist base and gave him a clear run.

Being elected in this way is not without its downside as it meant there was no election involving the members; and is equally controversial given a general trend of anarchist disdain for full-time union positions, not least within SolFed itself, which bars full-time union officers from membership.

Ed’s note: SolFed, and other anarchist groups, see trade union bureaucracy as taking agency out of the hands of workers and transferring it to people who are not at the site of, or affected by, the struggle taking place. The full-timer’s wages and community ties are linked to a national-level body removed from direct struggle, and their role is therefore based on what’s best for the institution, rather than the workers.
(For more on SolFed and anarcho-syndicalist thinking, try Fighting For Ourselves online|book)

Whether Andy’s decision to engage with the RMT’s executive will be productive or not is yet to be seen. The test will be in how and whether he manages to preserve his class-based anarchist politics in practice against the relentless industrial and political warfare in London, especially on the Tube where he has walked straight into the bitter, escalating dispute and strike activity around staffing stations, as well as several smaller skirmishes which are developing there as I write — and how Andy preserves his politics likewise in his dealings within the hierarchy of the RMT.

One thing we can say is only the RMT would put a known anarchist in charge of London.

Edit: There is one other union which has elected an openly anarchist member to a major position in recent times — Donnacha DeLong was president of the National Union of Journalists from 2011-12 and still sits on its NEC.

UK London Tube Strike: "It's Not About The Money"

By ReelNews - YouTube, August 10, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Don't believe the lies from London Undeground management - this strike is about safety and work-life balance, as all four tube unions take unprecedented joint action against the imposition of night tube shifts which will endanger passengers and drastically reduce the time workers can spend with their family and friends.

The Fine Print I:

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