Arriva Drivers Strike across West Yorkshire

Unite members picketing outside the Castleford depot - photo Iain Dalton

Unite members picketing outside the Castleford depot – photo Iain Dalton

Socialist Party members visited Unite picket lines at Wakefield, Castleford and Selby on Monday morning as workers for Arriva took strike action.

Not a single bus moved at Arriva’s Castleford depot as Unite members took part in a strike across the service in West Yorkshire. The 24-hour strike was taking place on both the issue of pay and driving hours, with Unite seeking a 20p an hour pay increase and a reduction in number of trips between breaks. A couple of young drivers talked of how they had to work for years before coming off the training rate. They also spoke of huge pressures on drivers over sick days, with many working while ill leading to more drivers coming down with illness and needing to take days off. The mood on the picket line was upbeat and determined. Yet despite the shutdown in the service, several workers felt they would need further action to force Arriva to meet their demands.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

Warm Reception for Corbyn and socialist ideas in Featherstone

Corbyn supporters at the rally in Featherstone - photo Iain Dalton

Corbyn supporters at the rally in Featherstone – photo Iain Dalton

On Saturday 10th September Jeremy Corbyn attended his 35th election rally within the last month, at Featherstone Rovers Rugby League ground. Several hundred gave him the obligatory standing ovations.

Mick Griffiths, Wakefield Socialist Party

Introductory speakers commented how it had been difficult to keep the faith with the Labour Party after the experiences of Blair, Brown and Miliband. However, Labour is now potentially back where it belongs, in the hands of the people.

A young recently new member asked the question, “Is it too much to want affordable housing, stable jobs, with decent wages, and free education for the future generations?”

Jon Trickett, Labour MP for the area, related back to the Featherstone Massacre of exactly 123 years ago, when miners were shot at for striking against pay cuts. Back then, Labour’s first MP, Keir Hardie, spoke at Featherstone and campaigned hard for the miners case.

It was raised that we face the same question today. Do we want a Labour Party led by socialists, fighting for a political voice of workers or yet again another set of pale Tory imitators?

Jeremy Corbyn said that the banking crisis was not caused by low paid cleaners in Yorkshire, it was caused by the greedy, poorly-regulated bankers. He said that we must, and will, offer something very different to the electorate. He went on to explain in full an alternative programme of good quality, full employment all over the country.

Corbyn summed up by saying Labour would eliminate all discrimination, come together with the people to work to defeat the Tories and create a UK society and world that is better for its peoples.

Socialist Party members were well received with a prominent stall outside the ground. We sold 84 copies of the Socialist and raised £35 for the fighting fund, as well as selling other literature including a copy of the ‘Rise of Militant’ book. Several young people expressed their interest in joining the Socialist Party.

Fast Food Rights march in Wakefield

Fast Food Right protest for £10 an hour minimum wage in Wakefield

Fast Food Right protest for £10 an hour minimum wage in Wakefield

Chants demanding £10 an hour minimum wage rang out through Wakefield city centre as activists from Baker’s, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ), National Shop Stewards Network took part in a demonstration to mark the #FastFood Global day of action.

Iain Dalton, Yorkshire YFJ Organiser
Over the last week we’ve visited fast food workplaces across Wakefield and nearby shopping centres where we’ve received an enthusiatic response. On the evening after the protest, a public meeting heard via Skype from a Fast Food worker in New York taking part in the strikes and gaining ideas from that of how to take the campaign forward locally.

Socialist Party member and new BFAWU activist, Tom commented “We’ve had a fanatastic few weeks of raising awareness of the BFAWU and it’s call for a £10 an hour minimum wage, and if we continue taking that message to local workplaces I’m confident we can build BFAWU among fast food workers in Wakefield.”

Wakefield Council Votes to Oppose Fracking

Socialist Party members & Frack Free Wakefield District campaigners leafletting outside the council meeting - Photo Wakefield SP

Socialist Party members & Frack Free Wakefield District campaigners leafletting outside the council meeting – Photo Wakefield SP

Wakefield and Pontefract Socialist party comrades teamed up with Frack Free Wakefield District to Lobby Wakefield District councillors before a full council meeting. The Council was scheduled to debate housing and fracking. The result was that the council voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion, which we have been calling for,  to oppose fracking and call on central government to withdraw licences issued for the Wakefield district. We also took the opportunity to lobby councillors on setting a no cuts budget prior to their budget meeting next month.

John Sibbald, Wakefield & Pontefract Socialist Party

Wakefield tells big business to frack-off!

Four fracking licences have been granted in the Wakefield District area to Hutton Energy and Igas which would completely surround the city of Wakefield and turn the whole area into a massive industrial complex.

John Sibbald, Wakefield and Pontefract Socialist Party

In response, Frack Free Wakefield District held its first public meeting in a packed meeting room at Lightwaves leisure centre in Wakefield.

The meeting started with speakers detailing where fracking was likely to happen and the problems associated with it and then a good discussion took place with questions and opinions from the floor.

We have done interviews with the local press and local radio station but they seem more concerned about the visual impact on local beauty spots and less on the serious health issues involved with fracking.

We have also sent a six page document to all 63 Wakefield District Council members but only received a meaningful reply from one, the council leader Peter Box. He has promised a full council debate on fracking at some point in the future. When that happens we will hold a rally outside county hall to personally lobby councillors.

Our demand from the council is that they publicly announce total opposition to fracking and other similar processes such as underground coal gasification. We also demand that the council writes to central government and ask them to revoke the licences which they have issued; this is a course of action already taken by number of other councils in the Yorkshire area.

Frack Free Wakefield District can be found on facebook here – https://www.facebook.com/Frackfreewakefielddistrict-531329090364278/?fref=ts

Fast Food Rights Tour of Shame in Wakefield

Fast Food Rights protesters at the Food Court in Trinity Walk

Fast Food Rights protesters at the Food Court in Trinity Walk

The drizzle didn’t dampen spirits outside the McDonald’s in Wakefield as 20 people showed up to support our demand for a £10 minimum wage, a wage to truly live on. Iain Dalton opened the Fast Food Rights protest by declaring our presence there part of the Youth Fight for Jobs campaign, backed by the Baker’s Union, aiming to empower workers and show the possibility of unionisation.

Sam Lynch, Wakefield Socialist Party

The manager in McDonald’s told us that they didn’t want to be seen siding with a political agenda when we spoke to them and offered a leaflet, yet the political agenda of McDonald’s is pretty clear; anti-union, low wages and low protection for workers and devastating ecological destruction – and at this store amounts to its closure in little over a month, showing the urgent need for trade union organisation in fast Food.

We moved from McDonald’s to a Flutterbye’s charity that has utilised the government’s forced labour workfare scheme; giving the organisation free labour just so people can get their unlivable benefits disguised as experience.

From this shop we moved on to Pound Bakery, then Thomas the Baker and then to Sports Direct and Subway to protest their exploitative use of zero-hours contracts, along the way our chant for a living wage now attracted some attention from the local YMCA, a couple of young workers chased after us to ask about the campaign. We rounded around, continuing the momentum and proceded to march into Trinity Walk to speak outside the Burger King and leaflet their workers.

Aftrwards, with brightening skies, we called an end to the demonstration and thanked the trade unionists, TUSC supporters and activists for coming out. The campaign will be sustained by more frequent demonstrations over the summer with the next one taking place in Leeds on June 26th at 4.30pm outside the McDonalds on Boar Lane.

500 March in Knottingley to Save Our Colleries

The Kellingley NUM banner near the front of the march

The Kellingley NUM banner near the front of the march, appropriately showing a banner struggling against capitalism (depicted as a snake)

Over 500 miners, their families and supporters marched through Knottingley, West Yorkshire to save the last three deep coal mines in England. Many local trade unionists came to support the miners, with the Yorkshire Shop Stewards Network & Wakefield NUT branch being prominent, and other groups joined the march such as the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign whilst Lesbians & Gays Support The Miners (known to many once more from the film Pride) brought their banner too.

John Gill,  Wakefield District Socialist Party

Political support came from all over Yorkshire, with TUSC and Socialist Party members from Leeds, Sheffield, Selby  as well as Wakefield and Pontefract. Leeds TUSC and Socialist Party activist Iain Dalton was interviewed on BBC Look North news (see below) giving a much better analysis of the situation in a few seconds than the Local MP Yvette Cooper did with ten times the airtime!

TUSC supporters from Wakefield & Selby on the march

TUSC supporters from Wakefield & Selby on the march

Kellingley, Hatfield and Thoresby collieries need urgent investment/state aid to allow them to continue production. Between 30-40% of England and Wales energy needs are still provided by coal and it makes no economic sense to close these three mines and import coal from across the world, especially now a new clean coal power station is being built less than 6 miles from Kellingley and only an hours rail journey away from the other two mines. £300million in investment could keep all three mines open, where there are 30 years worth of reserves to exploit, but the Con-dem government is dragging its feet on this matter.

Hatfield Main NUM banner on the march

Hatfield Main NUM banner on the march

After the march a rally was held at the Kellingley Social Club where 4 Labour MP’s spoke, Yvette Cooper, Shadow Cabinet member despite supporting the mines staying open gave no promises from Labour’s leadership to solve the problem if Labour form the next government and made a “British jobs for British workers” tinged with some anti-Russian rhetoric speech rather than arguing the economic and social cases for keeping the pits open.

Other Labour MPs Ian Lavery, Sian James and Dennis Skinner gave better cases and the solution of nationalisation was raised but none were able to give much hope except elect a Labour government in May and we will fight for the mines. One local man after the rally questioned whether he had been to a rally to save the mines or a Labour Party election rally!

Yorkshire Shop Stewards Network banner on the march

Yorkshire Shop Stewards Network banner on the march

Our leaflet explaining the need for a socialist energy policy with a publicly owned and democratically controlled energy system that can save the current jobs at the three mines was very well received (see copy below). Clean coal is much safer than the shale gas fracking and nuclear being proposed by the Tories and some Lib-Dems and even some Labour frontbenchers. Clean coal is a better stop-gap until enough investment allows renewable sources of energy to supply enough for people’s needs! Coal Not Dole!