Recent times have proven extremely busy for the Edinburgh GMB of the IWW. Wobblies from the Edinburgh Branch have attended a number of high profile events of late.
On the 16th of February in Edinburgh, there was a protest against the Edinburgh City Council who were on that morning voting through £22 million pounds cut which will absolutely devastate the worst off in the city as always. The protest outside the City chambers received prominent media coverage and though (unsurprisingly) not feature in the news paper, a small group of Edinburgh Wobblies were present. The branch banner was in pride of place and the members managed to win a small victory by blocking the car of a councillor from the so called Labour Party who had turned up to approve the budget cuts.
The next Wobbly outing was the 25th of February. Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty(ECAP) our ally had put a call out for a solidarity demo in response to Scottish Unemployed Workers Network (SUWN) activist Tony Cox being up in court. Tony Cox had been arrested and charged after representing a disabled job seeker at the local job centre in Arbroath and trying to convince the DWP to remove the claimant from the Universal Job Match. They refused but arranged another meeting to discuss the matter. As Tony Cox left the job centre he was met by the police who arrested him and charged him with ‘breach of the peace’, ‘resisting arrest’ and ‘refusing to give him name and arrest’. It’s obvious to anyone observer that his case is part of increasing intimidation of those who seek to accompany or represent claimants. This comes on the back of increasing cases of the job centre sanctioning and cutting benefits for claimants and refusing to tell them of their rights. Recognising this as an attack on the unemployed and the working class more broadly the IWW was more than happy to get involved.
As Tony Cox himself acknowledges, the IWW was at the forefront of the solidarity demo. The Edinburgh Branch was able to contact a number of other UK branches and while we do not claim complete responsibility, I think it’s fair to say we did our bit in spreading the word. There were protests in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, London, Derby in Liverpool, Nottingham(Nottingham IWW), Birmingham, Bournemouth, Dorset and Cardiff. In all these places mention, IWW Branch members were present.
Fellow workers and our allies were out across the UK along with organisations like Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, Scottish Unemployed Workers’ Network,Dundee Against Welfare Sanctions, Class War, Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights and the Dorset People’s assembly. Here in Edinburgh, we were at Job centres across the city and into the Lothians.
We were shocked and surprised by the amount of supportive messages we received from places such as France, Greece and New South Wales in Australia. This makes true the slogan ” An Injury to one is an injury to all” and shows that directly democratic and grass roots organising can spread and build genuine solidarity. We should be extremely proud of the quick response the IWW showed across the UK.
In Edinburgh outside one job centre we spoke to a woman who had been told by the Job Centre that she wasn’t allowed to accompany her partner even if a non-representative role. This was literally minutes after us giving her a leaflet. We told her this was wrong and told her she was well within her rights to accompany someone. She was very sympathetic and supportive to us and we were able to tell her about the culture of benefit targets, ATOS/Work Capability assessments and abuses at job centres.
Finally on the 16th of March there was an action against Maximus, the US company which are taking over the barbaric Work Capability Assessments notoriously run by the abysmal misanthropic ATOS.
A group of between 25-30 activists braved ‘baltic’ scottish weather to tackle the injustice of the WCA and it’s takeover by the incompetent immoral Maximus. The IWW banner was briefly and proudly on display but unfortunately was defeated by the wind. We handed out lots of leaflets and got to speak to more than a few people going in for their assessments.
Today(4/4/15), some Wobs from Edinburgh joined Clydside IWW in the protest against Trident nuclear weapons in Glasgow’s George Square. Wobblies together with folk from ECAP and some anarchists formed a small radical bloc.We managed to generate quite alot of interest in ECAP and the IWW. We gave out leaflets created by Clydeside critical of the Scrap Trident strategy of overly tying themselves to the SNP