Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Support Fremantle Care Workers!

The following is from Labourstart ("Where trade unionists start their day on the net") about the Fremantle Care Workers dispute in North London:

On 1 April 2007 Fremantle Trust cut low paid care workers pay by up to 30%. The workers were told -- "accept these terms or be sacked"! The members involved in the dispute provide residential and day care to the elderly and vulnerable residents in Barnet's old peoples' homes, in north London. Fremantle Trust is a not-for-profit company that took over care home contracts five years ago. The cuts include lower wages, increased hours, no sick pay, shorter holidays and reduced payment for working unsocial hours. Even pensions to which contributions have been made during the workers' service are to be dramatically cut by more than one third. In response to these attacks our members voted to take strike action. Care workers need to be properly trained, decently paid and most importantly, valued members of society. This is an all too familiar story of privatisation, where companies pledge to keep delivering the same service but under-cut the in-house provision by attacking the conditions of the workforce. UNISON is asking for the widest possible support for the Fremantle workers. It’s not just about pay and conditions – it's about dignity and respect.

Labourstart has a letter that you can send to the Fremantle Chief Executive supporting the care workers and demanding that she reverse her decision reducing pay and conditions here.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Save Our Blood Service Updates

I have had this message from my contact at Save Our Blood Services that I am passing on:

Hi everyone

The Save Our Blood Service blog has some new updates, with more due in the next couple of days.
Please visit it at:

+ also please forward the link to your contacts to up the traffic.

Signatures on the online petition have unfortunately slowed down a bit, so
we would appreciate if you could also do the same for this - please sign if
you haven't yet done so, + encourage your friends, family + contacts to as

Thanks a lot!

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Latest Imagine Magazine Available

The latest issue of Imagine, the magazine of Republic, is available now. The front cover shows Claire Rayner and Peter Tatchell (of the Green Party and Green Left) at one of Republic's recent public events.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Jenny Jones on the Green leader debate

An excellent article by Green Party London Assembly member Jenny Jones in the Independent today. Jenny lays out some of the key Green Empowerment messages and responds to last week's pro-single leader article by Caroline Lucas. This is part of the debate prior to the referendum to be held in November on whether the Green Party of England and Wales will drop its traditional collective leadership and Principal Speakers model in favour of a more conventional leader and deputy, or "worst of both worlds" co-leader option.

As someone very much on the Green Empowerment side of the debate and against a single leader and cults of personality I welcome Jenny's contribution and would urge all like-minded Greens to visit the Green Empowerment Site and sign up to the petition if they have not already done so.

The Green Party of England and Wales - punching well above its' weight in terms of numbers of members - is a great example of how progress can be made with collective leadership and empowerment rather than the cult of personality and top-down, hierarchical structures. The Party can certainly be improved - particularly by moves to increase membership figures, but imitating the Grey parties is not the way to do it.

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Preparing for anti-arms trade action

Got the following e-mailed to me recently which I felt was well worth publicising:

Disarm DSEi public meeting- Saturday Sept 1
London UK
Resist DSEi September 11-14, Excel Centre
Europe's largest arms fair

Saturday September 1 is the last London public meeting before the Arms Dealers and kindred mass murderers invade Canning Town for their bi-annual Death Fest.
Your chance to find out what's happening, come up with ideas, and talk to other resisters.

Meet at 2pm at RampART Social Centre, 15/17 Rampart St, London E1.

There'll be cops and photographers outside. Don't let them intimidate you. You may want to cover up in this unpredictable weather!

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Weekly Links - 26/08/07

We are always ready to learn from other political currents here at GOO, and I am happy to say that there are a lot of interesting things now being posted on the IWCA (Independent Working Class Association) website after it seemed dormant for quite a while. In particular this article on the state of politics in Britain with the Brown accession caught my eye. They also have a stimulating controversial opinion piece on the current media focus of youth crime and anti-social behaviour.

Over at the International Viewpoint site the Trotskyists have published a piece by ecosocialist Joel Kovel in preparation for the international conference in Paris this Autumn. And speaking of Trotskyists and France, Dave's Part reported this week on moves by the LCR in France to form a new anti-capitalist party.

Over at Another Green World, Derek has been looking at the work of Professor Andrew Dobson.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

NHS March and Rally - Birmingham, 8 September

I attended the equivalent event to this last year, and recommend that any of my readers from the Midlands who can get along tries to give the event their support.

Demonstration and Rally, Birmingham
Saturday 8 September.
Assemble 1pm, St Phillips Cathedral Grounds, Colmore Row, Birmingham
March with Jazz Band
Rally at Carrs Lane Church Centre 2-4pm

John Mcdonnell MP
Peter Fisher Consultant Keep Our NHS Public
Judith Whalley nurse RCN
Ron Dorman WMPC
Dot Gibson Vice President NPC

A suitable build up to the national demonstration on 3rd November.

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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Weekly Links - 19/08/07

One of the best sources for information on the Climate Camp of the last week has been the UK Indymedia site. Regular updates have been posted on the UK Indymedia News Ticker.

Out in Blogland, Derek Wall was impressed by the Eco-loos after his visit to the camp. Ian Angus at Climate and Capitalism reports on the hoo-ha over the NASA error which the corporatist right and contrarians have seized upon, pointing out that the single error does nothing to alter the overall shape of the relevant graphs.

Dave's Part covers a Council by-election at Stonebridge in Brent. Good luck to the Green candidate, Brian Orr, who posts on the Green Left lists.

Molly at her Gaian Economics blog reflected earlier in the month on financial crises - newly relevant in the light of recent events. These recent events also drew comment on the Lenin's Tomb blog. Bringing things full circle, Lenin's Tomb also had a report from the Climate Camp.

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Saturday 18th August - Starbucks Day of Action

The campaign group, No Sweat, and international union organising amongst coffee shop workers, the IWW, are having a day of action on Starbucks on Saturday 18th August.
More information on the UK IWW site here.
Look out for action at your local coffee shop!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Camp For Climate Action and Reaction

The Camp For Climate Action has been achieving media attention beyond what the organisers could have reasonably hoped at this stage, due in part to the over-reaction of BAA and the Police and also to the topicality of the issues around climate change, aviation and holidays in the mainstream media. The media spokespeople for the camp have done an excellent job in countering the attempts to present the events as a killjoy attack on once-a-year-holidaymakers. The message that it is about BAA, their expansion plans and the corporations driving emissions targets-busting aviation expansion has been getting a better hearing than might have been suspected, and his has been largely due to the effective media handling.

The response from some sections of British society has revealed something of the unpleasant authoritarian underbelly and (to be frank) vicious bigotry and fascism that lay beneath thin layers of Daily Mail respectability, social conformism and Clarksonite "laddishness". The comment sections on BBC and British newspaper websites have been filled with bile, hatred and wishes for violent retribution and repression to befall the climate campers.

Remember, the Climate Campers are people from different backgrounds and viewpoints who have come together to take a stand on what is perhaps the most pressing issue of our time, risking arrest and possible victimisation in work or in the community for daring to be different and express a controversial viewpoint. The bigots who post on the Daily Mail and other sites see only "workshy hippies" and can only think of calling for benefit snoopers and police repression, and in some cases "shipping them off to Guantanamo for an extended stay" Nice......not!

Most rightist posts are more concerned with stereotyping and spewing out their resentment that they are at work in crappy, boring jobs ("so why should anyone else get off lightly?" - they demand equality of misery, if nothing else!) than seriously debating issues around climate change, social change or anything else. Spattered amongst these posts are the posts of the usual corporate bottom-feeders of the climate contrarian ilk spouting about "eco-fascism". Methinks they should look closer to home for far right views.

The Guardian's temporary Climate Camp blog linked to a very tasteful armed forces discussion board where posts discuss 'clusterbombing' the site or 'crashing a plane' into it. So, different ideas about dress, food and economic priorities, and daring to protest about something are now a pretext for "jokily" advocating mass murder? It is somewhat ironic that the peaceful protesters have been subject to harassment under anti-terrorist legislation while members of HM Forces advocate terrorist acts against them.

Of course this is nothing new. It is just rare to see such concentrated outbursts of fear, hate and resentment in Britain. ITV4 is currently running the 1970s Nigel Kneale Quatermass sci-fi serial starring John Mills on Sunday nights. In the 70s the British right and the establishment really thought they were losing to the forces of anarchy/communism/whatever other bogeyman they imagined over G&Ts at the golf club. Kneale, by then a rather paranoid and bitter old man, envisaged a society where the old order had collapsed into chaos and gang warfare. Their are similarities with "A Clockwork Orange" (incidentally, the name given to one of the 1970s para-political plots) In the 1979 Quatermass along comes an alien power (that has been responsible for turning all the kids bad), lures all the young and troublesome elements (thinly disguised caricatures of the left, punks, hippies and skinheads called "Badders","Planet People" and "Blue Brigades") into large gatherings in stadiums and stone circles and incinerates them with a death ray. Old Prof. Quatermass of course saves the day and the world returns to 'normal', minus all the inconvenient people, of course.

Now one does not have to be a psychologist to see the bourgeois reactionary wish fulfillment there! We are talking about a time when right wing regimes were actually rounding people up and "disappearing them" in sports stadia in South America and elsewhere, a time when private armies and coup plots were being considered by significant elements of the ruling class. The threat of authoritarianism or fascism in Britain have not gone away, and will likely re-emerge with renewed crises. The responses to the Climate Campers bear witness to this.

All this reveals that the climate issue, but also any attempts to protest or take action on any issue that upsets the status quo raise far more issues than are at first evident. They raise issues about the control of media (where do the vast majority of the hate-filled bigots get their stereotypes and misinformation from?)- but ultimately about power in society and where it lies - chiefly with corporate entities and financial institutions, with elites and "armed bodies of men".

These are the issues which take us beyond environmentalism or civil liberties into the discussion of ecosocialism, anti-fascism, broad struggle and social change.

Let us hope that after the media circus has died down, the civil disobedience is carried out, and the impotent rage of the reactionaries is moved to the next convenient scapegoat, then those participating in and sympathising with the viewpoint of the Camp will continue and expand the debate about how we move forward to build a movement equal to the challenges.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Links on Sunday 12/08/07

The (now much trailed in sections of the mainstream media) Camp for Climate Action near Heathrow Airport in the UK is underway, (BBC report) several days earlier than originally announced, presumably to secure the site before any counter action. The Camp's homepage has (suspiciously) gone down today, but the Climate Change Action blogspot is keeping an eye on things and posting updates. The site has been set up between the villages of Sipson and Harlington next to Heathrow. Sipson is threatened with destruction by the proposed construction of another runway at the airport.

This is from the Camp For Climate Action Website -

Camp for Climate Action comes to Heathrow this summer

Aviation is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, and all our efforts to tackle climate change in other sectors are undone by the massive growth in air travel. Holding the camp at Heathrow aims to highlight the lunacy of the government's airport expansion plans, target industry giants profiteering from the climate crisis, and raise awareness of the need to fly less. The camp will also support local residents in their long-term struggle against the building of a third runway and the destruction of their communities.

There will be a day of mass direct action aiming to disrupt the activities of the airport and the aviation industry, but in the interests of public safety there will be no attempt to blockade runways.

Although the location is different, the philosophy of the camp remains the same: to be a place for the burgeoning network of people taking radical action on climate change around the country to come together for a week of low-impact living, education, debate, networking, strategising, celebration, and direct action. The camp will feature over 100 workshops covering topics such as climate change impacts, carbon offsetting, biofuels, peak oil, permaculture, practical renewables, campaign strategy, skills for direct action, and much more. Run without leaders by everyone who comes along, it will be a working ecological village using renewable energy, composting waste and sourcing food locally.

It all comes down to us, now. We are the last generation that can do anything about climate change. In 20 or 30 years' time, should we not change our ways, we'll be committed to emissions increases that will see forests burn, soils decay, oceans rise, and millions of people die. If we don't get this issue right, so much else is lost too.

We still have time, but not for long. Make it count.

Derek Wall, Green Party Male Principal Speaker, (who will be speaking at the camp) has posted hints for those planning on attending on his blog, Another Green World. Discussions and talks will take place in the week with non-violent direct action planned for the weekend.

The best of luck to all those participating, let us hope the message gets across. The movement for meaningful action on the threat posed by climate change continues to grow. The big demo planned for December 8th is the main climate related event planned for London later this year as part of a global day of action, a flyer can be downloaded from the Campaign Against Climate Change site.

Elsewhere, Jim reports an attack on union organisation by Newham Council in London.
Speaking of attacks on workers and their Unions, solidarity is needed by IWW members in Providence, Rhode Island, USA, who were subject to a heavy handed and vicious Police attack.
Also this week we saw suspension of strike action in the UK Postal service pending "further negotiation" as reported on the Socialist Unity blog.

Tony Wilson died last week, prompting comment and discussion on the Cedar Lounge blog

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Friday, August 10, 2007

University and College Union Call For "Greening of The Curriculum"

This interesting press release is from the UK University and College Union (UCU)

Lecturers back college call for 'greening' of the curriculum

10 August 2007

Amidst growing concern about climate change, the University and College Union (UCU) today endorsed a call by colleges for more environmental education in the college curriculum.

UCU was responding to the results of a survey by the Association of Colleges (AoC) which revealed that 88% of colleges believe sustainability should feature in all curriculum areas. In a related report, the AoC also highlighted the growth and variety of environment related courses.

UCU, which represents lecturers in colleges and universities, and researchers and academic related staff in universities, welcomed the findings and said it would be seeking ways of working with colleges and universities to promote greater understanding of environmental concerns such as climate change.

At UCU's founding congress in May this year, the union adopted - with unanimous support - a policy calling on it to promote sustainable workplace practices and to 'green the curriculum'. The policy was praised by Sir David King, the government's chief scientific advisor, who addressed the congress on the threat of climate change.

UCU also committed itself to exploring ways of reducing its own 'carbon footprint'. Other unions are also developing such policies.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said:

'Lecturers will welcome the AoC's efforts to improve sustainability awareness and environmental skills. Many of our members already teach environment related courses in colleges and universities and the growth of such studies is encouraging. However, the implications of climate change are so challenging that they must be understood by people studying everything from Advertising to Zoology. Environmental awareness should permeate all education, whether in courses for scientists or for secretaries.

'UCU will be encouraging members to look for opportunities to integrate sustainability into their teaching. We will also try to cooperate with employers in colleges and universities on other green initiatives. Climate change requires new ways of working and living and lecturers are well placed to contribute to solutions.'


1)AoC Reports

2) UCU policy adopted unanimously at its first annual congress, this year:

This congress recognises:
1. The ecological impact of national and global policies and activities which are damaging the ecosystem
2. The need for the adoption of the principles of sustainability to combat these policies.
3. The positive role which the education sector can play in promoting sustainability.

Congress therefore commits UCU to:
1. Promoting action at institution level to develop sustainable workplace polices and practices, such as 'greening the campus'.
2. Developing the environmental role of union reps and campaign to extend legal rights to paid release for their duties and training.
3. Contributing to efforts to promote sustainability via all elements of the curriculum.
4. Support appropriate organisations and campaigns in pursuit of these objectives.
5. Instruct UCU NEC to organise a fringe meeting on the environment at the 2008 UCU Congress.
6. Explore the policy options for reducing the 'environmental footprint' of UCU.


3)UCU Environment newsletter

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

National Demo To Support Postal Workers - 21st August

I am pleased to say that my local Trades Council has agreed a £300 donation towards transport costs to the National Demonstration being planned for 21st August in London. I was sad to hear that managers in our area have been using various trumped up charges and draconian techniques to victimise increasing numbers of postal workers involved in the dispute. The postal workers deserve the support of all other workers who understand the truth of the phrase "an injury to one is an injury to all".

Those wishing to support the demonstration on 21st August should assemble at 12.00 noon at Clerkenwell Green and depart on the march at 12.30 (Nearest Tube, Farringdon) The rally is at 1.30 on Clerkenwell Green.

The event is part of the CWU's ongoing campaign in defence of postal workers and postal services. More details can be accessed from the CWU website under "Campaigns" - Royal Mail Dispute.

It would be good if some Green Party TU Group, Green Left people, other radicals, Wobblies and syndicalists could get along to show our support for our fellow workers.


UPDATE - 18/08/2007 - The CWU have announced that the demo is postponed pending the result of the current negotiations.

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Blogs and Links on Sunday

Back from getting the sand between my toes on the beautiful (and climate change threatened) Norfolk coast it is time for this week's crop of interesting links and blogs. First up are the excellent Scientists for Global Responsibility - to be found at SGR describe themselves as a UK based membership organisation that promotes ethical science, design and technology. They research the influence of vested interests in the science and technology field and produce briefings on ethical careers to help students looking for career options that contribute to peace, social justice and environmental sustainability rather than work against them. Membership is open to scientists, engineers, computing and IT professionals, designers and architects and others in related or interdisciplinary areas. Associate membership is open to concerned members of the public. Among the sponsors of SGR is perhaps the most famous living British scientist, Professor Stephen Hawking. I will add SGR to my resources section of the links column.

In blogs this week, Green Party of England and Wales Male Principal Speaker Derek Wall reports on the controversy within the Irish Green Party over the historic site threatened by motorway building. He also reports on what may be a significant radical move by the climate change action group Rising Tide.

Dave Osler has an interesting piece on the NHS Pay Offer.

The Socialist Unity Blog has current posts on Tommy Sheridan, the response of the SWP and SP to the Postal dispute and the Thaksin Shinawatra/Manchester City situation.

Finally, reflecting on the main news story across the pond this week, Renegade Eye posted an article by Nick Coleman on the Minneapolis Bridge Disaster that is getting quite a lot of comments.

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