ACORN NORWICH – THE UNION TAKING ON DODGY LANDLORDS

By Sean Meleady

Norwich may call itself a ‘fine city’, but this isn’t always the case for renters. Despite some positive stories, such as the Goldsmith Street social housing project, many tenants find life in the city tough.

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KEEP CALM & WORK YOURSELF TO DEATH

pension work dwp

by Jonathan Lee

New pension plans to work till you die are no cause for alarmsays arch-Tory overlord Ian Duncan Smith. A recent report from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), the Tory think-tank which brought us Universal Credit, has recommended the government raise the retirement age from 65 to 70 by 2028, and to 75 by 2035.

The Tories are not content to simply make workers’ lives as miserable as possible through underfunding schools, unaffordable housing, food poverty, and the greatest devaluation of wages in modern history. They now seek to steal the last golden years of life from the majority of working class people who cannot afford a private pension in order to retire early.Continue Reading

JUSTICE FOR CLEANERS AT KING’S COLLEGE LONDON

By KCL Justice for Cleaners Campaign

Content warning: mentions sexual harassment, homophobic abuse

This week, the KCL Justice for Cleaners Campaign released a short film revealing the struggles of migrant cleaners at King’s College London, a day before management made a recommendation to the College Council as to whether to end the outsourcing of cleaning. Through the film, cleaners speak in their own words about the violence of the outsourcing model and how mistreatment at KCL is normalised.

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EDUCATION AS EMANCIPATION – BEYOND TUITION FEES #7

By Michael Kyriacou

It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.

The traditional arguments for ‘free education’ focus on reducing the upfront price of university courses to zero. Rather than HE being a commodity to be traded on the open market, it becomes a good paid for by the government. This kind of argument rests on a contradiction: we cannot solve the commodification of HE by continuing to assert the existence of HE as commodity, even a nationalised one. Abolishing tuition fees is undoubtedly a good thing, but to move beyond their legacy we must understand HE as devoid not only of its price but also its status as a commodity. We need to explore the potential for HE grounded not in classification or institution but in the fundamental equality of intelligences – HE without the degree.

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WHAT ARE UNIVERSITY COMMUNITIES MADE OF? – BEYOND TUITION FEES #6

By Ellen Musgrove and Max Savage

It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.

At any demonstration concerning the anti-marketisation or -commodification of education and the university you will hear the phrase “We are not consumers – we are a community.” The motive behind this message is a good one, bearing positive and uplifting implications for the demonstrators. However, to those outside the demo space, be they apathetic students passing by or workers who may not have the freedom to stop and participate as readily as an academic might, calling ourselves a community means very little in a practical sense.

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WHY WAGES MATTER

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by Edward Grierson

It goes without saying that the current wage situation in the UK is not good. Following the disastrous speculation on the banks’ behalf that led to the recession, real wages for UK workers fell by 10.4% from 2007-2015, a decline only matched by Greece. Even worse has been the combination of this wage drop with the continued pay gap between employees and the people who employ them: as of 2015, the salary of a UK CEO was nearly 130 times that of the average UK worker’s salary.

The reason why this is a concern, why we should be worried about falling wages, surely is obvious.Continue Reading

CULTURAL CRITICISM AND YOUTUBE RANTS – PART 2

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by Eli Lambe

In Part One, I looked at how right-wing Youtubers use and abuse the idea of freedom of speech in constructing their worldview, and the connection between their celebration of abusive behaviour and feelings of humiliation. I used Adorno’s Cultural Criticism and Society to frame my observations. In this part, I will look at divisions within the workforce and how this creates vulnerabilities to right wing punditry – still using Adorno as a frame.

Adorno argues that labour is divided into “manual” and “intellectual” labour. However “manual” labour encompasses a lot more than working with your hands. It’s probably more accurate to use “menial” labour, which includes factory, construction, custodial and agricultural labour (what is usually covered by manual) as well as the huge number of exploitative customer service, food service and sales jobs. These distinctions are sometimes blurry, and stink of classist value judgements, but can still provide a useful way of addressing structural divisions and how those divisions impact on solidarity and belief.

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BRITAIN AS A CO-OPERATIVE ECONOMY: A MISSED OPPORTUNITY?

by Oliver Steward

The UK’s free-market economy as a whole is facing one crisis after another.  That is why policy makers and businesses need to consider the co-operative option which offers products and services to our economy. Our corporate and political culture’s lack of innovation and strict adherence to the neoliberal free market means this is sadly more of a dream than reality. However, other nations have successfully replicated this alternative economic model to adapt to their own individual needs.Continue Reading

REVIVING CAMPUS ACTIVISM – A ROADMAP

by Bradley Allsop

We live in turbulent times. The political establishment has been rocked again and again this last year. The government is embattled in a way it hasn’t been for 7 years and that rarest of things in British politics, change, is peeking its head above the parapet. What’s more, for the first time in my lifetime, it seems my generation is willing to be an active participant in all this. June’s election saw the highest rise in youth turnout in British political history – it reached its highest absolute level since 1992. It falls to those of us already engaged to fan this flame and help it spread beyond the ballot box, building the political courage and competencies of our fellows. Nowhere offers a better opportunity for us to do this than on university campuses.

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THE URGENCY AND STATE OF SISTERHOOD IN 2017

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by Sunetra Senior

It’s becoming a popular thought in public consciousness that women ought to focus on their own autonomy and watch out for co-dependence on their closest female friends. It’s a third/fourth wave feminist philosophy that gained momentum through the hopeful nineties years, evidenced in such films as teenage clique critique ‘The Craft (1996). And surely, the thinker will say, a continued focus on personal freedom for women can only good? To these people I say: please remember we’re living in an unhinged, manipulative age.

With the infamous/illicit (?) inauguration on 20th January, we’ve just had Trumpeted to us social regression by at least 20 or so years so if the good fight for feminism is to keep up we must adapt the strategy accordingly. This means once again pushing for a support-group, grass-roots sort of approach – not unlike the Suffragettes who fought for the women’s right to vote in the early 19th century – whereupon more women not only campaign together, but sincerely support each other in their private relationships.  Continue Reading

BRITAIN’S FUTURE PROSPERITY REQUIRES REVOLUTION. A RENEWABLES REVOLUTION.

By Natasha Senior

It’s high time we talked about our future. Forget about border control or the free market, they offer no insight. If we want this tumultuous, divisive year to mean something, we need to think bigger, bolder and shape our decisions around our vision. Let’s talk about an end to the draconian sweatshop conditions, imposed by the likes of Sports Direct, who have exploited free movement of labour to keep profits high and wages low. Immigration control is a quick fix and a distraction. They will always find a way to exploit and profit. What if instead we did away with these common low-skilled low-wage jobs, altogether. What if we put our faith in British industry again, but instead of labourers going down into the stuffy pits, lining their lungs with coal dust, they were breathing the cool, crisp air on the surface on a wind farm. I am talking about creating a thriving, prosperous renewable energy industry.Continue Reading

DEMONETIZATION: IS MODI’S MOVE ON THE MONEY?

by Srishti Dutta Chowdhury

India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced the demonetization of 500 and 1000 rupee notes in the country from after midnight of 9th November, a surprising move that has left billions scrambling to exchange bigger denominations to legal notes. What are some of the possible reasons and effects of such an announcement?Continue Reading

THE EASTER RISING: ‘WE SERVE NEITHER KING NOR KAISER’

by John Sillett

Ireland was Britain’s first colony and British imperialism has done all it can to hang on to it. The Easter Rising of April 24th1916 followed a long history of the Irish seeking to be a free nation through armed rebellion. However the 1916 rising, although a failure in itself, had distinct traits that previous rebellions did not have.

The method of subjugation of Ireland by the British was Landlordism and the use of planters — the bringing in of English and Scottish Protestant settlers to work the land in what was a Catholic country. Surpluses from the country estates were sent to absentee landlords in Britain. Attempts before 1916 to free the country from foreign rule rested on a leadership by the Irish gentry and middle class traders and farmers. This nascent native ruling class — which also included settlers who had assimilated into Irish culture — proved unable to lead a decisive struggle for national liberty.Continue Reading

THE LONDON TUBE STRIKE: CRAB LOGIC AT ITS MOST CRABBIEST

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by Alex Hort-Francis

Last week saw a 24 hour strike by London Underground staff, with commuters and tourists left to make their own way across the city. The dispute centred on a new, much-heralded night-time service, which unions claim would impose changes to the working conditions of Underground staff without proper consultation. Union members voted overwhelmingly for strike action, with concerns about safety on the Underground voiced.

Watching people’s responses to the Tube strike is an exercise in forced deja-vu, with the same arguments repeated across the web: ‘plenty of people work harder for more hours and less pay’, ‘if they adon’t like it they’re free to find another line of work’ and the classic ‘they should suck it up and work harder like the rest of us’. The common denominator being that because the striking workers already have better pay and conditions than many of the city’s commuters they aren’t justified to take action to stop these conditions changing without their consent.

There is actually already a term for this: ‘crab mentality’ (although I happen to think ‘crab logic’ is a bit snappier).Continue Reading

STUDENTS: END AUSTERITY NOW! JOIN THE NATIONAL DEMONSTRATION

by Liam McCafferty

Over the last five years, students have felt the impact of austerity. With the recent election shock of a Conservative majority, we can expect further hardship: more cuts, more pain. But how exactly have students been affected by austerity, and why should we care?

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DIVIDE AND RULE: UKIP’S DAMAGE TO THE WORKING CLASS

by Katherine Lucas

Since its formation in 1993, UKIP has prided itself on its anti-system rhetoric.

Under Nigel Farage’s wisdom, UKIP has latched onto fears about immigration, and in doing so, has done enormous damage to the working classes. Put simply, inciting racial tension is in no way beneficial to a social group that includes people who come from all over the world.

Perhaps it should be of little surprise that a party run by a former inner-city London stock broker do not have the interests of the working classes at heart, but that is certainly not in line with his promises. Through exercising ‘divide and rule’, Farage has injected tension among those who previously stood a better chance of securing change through collective action.

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NORWICH FASHION WEEK 2015 – THE CITY NEVER LOOKED SO UGLY

by Adam Edwards

The start of spring brings with it one of the fixtures of Norwich’s cultural landscape. Norwich Fashion Week 2015 is now drawing to a close, and the more I reflect on it, the uglier it seems.

I’m sure I’m not alone in the reservations I have about this, or any other event that tries to promote fashion as a force for good in our communities, lives and world. That said, I’d also like to try to move the debate beyond the realms of body idealism, anti-feminism and classism that are inherent in the fashion industry, and not remotely obfuscated in provincial events such as our city’s. I want to progress the argument into the realm of the truly terrifying, into which Norwich Fashion Week readily transports us.

We’re all aware of the uncomfortable truths that tremble at the edge of thought when we consider disposable fashion, but I want those truths dragged under the light of scrutiny.

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LIVING WAGE: NOT AN ACT OF CHARITY

by Katy Quigley, UEA Unison Equalities Rep

Over the last six weeks a campaign has slowly taken shape for the Living Wage to be introduced at UEA. Whilst this mainly affects the trade union Unison’s members, the two other trade unions on campus – UCU and Unite – as well as the Union of UEA students, have all begun to work together to ensure that those at the lowest end of the pay scale are paid a fair wage.

With the minimum wage set at £6.50 for those aged 21 and over, many people are confused about the point of a Living Wage campaign, or even what the Living Wage would mean in real terms. The reality is that the minimum wage simply does not pay enough to provide what members of the public, according to research undertaken by the University of Loughborough, deem an ‘acceptable standard of living’. At the moment this is set at £7.85. The Living Wage is not an act of charity: paying workers a fair wage for their living gives them dignity, reduces sickness and absence rates, and improves staff retention rates.  When a business does not pay the Living Wage it is local support groups, council services, and national welfare that pick up more of the bill to top up the worker’s income.

Employers who do not pay the Living Wage are therefore asking people to earn their poverty, and the University of East Anglia is unfortunately one of the culprits.

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GRASSROOTS UNIONS: NORWICH BARTENDERS’ AND HOSPITALITY UNION

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by Ella Gilbert and Francis Bell

Bartenders, waiters, baristas and other hospitality workers have one thing above all else in common: we are over-worked, under-paid and misrepresented. We are both bartenders, and we deal with drunken idiots, entitled twats, and aggressive yobs on a daily basis. Woman bartenders also have to deal with unwanted sexual advances and harassment, comments about our clothing choice, and implicit assertions about who we are and what we’re doing there. Despite all of this, we value our work, and we want to do it well – for those that actually appreciate what we’re doing, and for those that are well-behaved and fun to spend time with.

All of these things were important at the inception of the Norwich Bartenders’ and Hospitality Union. Norwich has a pub for every night of the year, as well as its fair share of cafés, restaurants, hotels and other service industry employers. We are committed to a multi-faceted approach to the hospitality industry: we want to improve our members’ skills and create a pool of people who are committed to, and good at, their jobs. We also want to challenge the daily issues faced by workers in the sector – discrimination, low pay, difficult customers, demanding management and limited employment rights. On top of that, we want to educate people in the sector on their rights and represent them in any employment disputes or grievances that arise with their employers. In that regard, we’re committed to forming positive relationships with management, rather than antagonising them, and demonstrating that the NBHU is a collection of workers who really care, and are the kind of employees you want, and need, to run a business in Norwich.

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NORWICH CLAIMANTS UNION

by Norwich Claimants Union (NCU)

The Norwich Claimants Union represents the coming together of claimants, workers, union representatives and city councillors to oppose and intervene in government policy regarding the deliberate and calculated erosion of the welfare state. To achieve this, the government supported by the mainstream has demonised claimants. They have become the scapegoat for our failing economy and societal degradation.

Since the recession of 2008 this campaign against claimants has gathered momentum. However it is worth remembering that the recession, bank bailouts and austerity programs was the result of the miss selling of financial products, namely derivatives. The effect was to transfer wealth away from our financial system and into the hands of a relatively small number of ruling capitalist elite.Continue Reading

CAN BUSINESS BE RADICAL?

by Matilda Carter.

Business seems to be the very opposite of a radical political strategy. Businesses are, after all, the primary unit of the way capitalists view the world and are, by virtue of their definition, intrinsically linked into the capitalist system. When left-wing radicals talk about how goods and services would be distributed in a post-capitalist world, they focus on need rather than profit, and social good rather than endless innovation. In the long-term, businesses as we know them are terrible for our livelihoods, our understanding of each other as people and for the majority of the human race. However, given the distinction between short-term and long-term strategies I laid out in my last article, the question remains: can business be part of a short-term radical political movement?Continue Reading

LIVING WAGE: ‘WHAT’S GOING ON?’

by Mark Hughes

‘What’s going on’? Was a questioned asked by Marvin Gaye in 1971, when his same titled album was released. It was a question that Gaye raised in his own mind after coming to the conclusion that American society after the Vietnam war had descended into a catalogue of civil right abuses, injustice, and inequality.

In today’s Britain it will not be surprising if the same rhetorical question as once asked by Gaye is still not prevalent amongst the workers of Gt Britain. Standing dazed and blinking as they witness a wave of attacks upon their living standards, pension rights, housing costs, and a whole raft of government measures designed to remove the security of the welfare state. The working people of Gt Britain cannot be blamed for asking the same question, ‘what is going on’?Continue Reading

NORFOLK PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY SUPPORTS THE 10TH JULY STRIKE

by Dan Swain

Norfolk People’s Assembly will join hundreds of others at a march and rally in support of the July 10th strikes for fair pay in the public sector. Nearly 1.5 million workers across the country will be on strike across 8 different trade unions. In Norwich, workers and supporters will meet at 12 noon in Chapelfield Gardens for a mass march and rally. People’s Assembly supporters will also be visiting picket lines across Norwich, beginning with the Unison picket outside the City Library.

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