The people versus fat-cats, bureaucrats and killer cops (Direct Action News, 23 to 29 Jan 2023)

Protester holding up a sign saying Tyre Nichols
  1. 1 February – Multiple unions hold co-ordinated nationwide strikes
  2. Scotland tightens laws on hunting with hounds
  3. UK strike at Amazon
  4. Dartmoor National Park Authority to challenge High Court decision on wild camping
  5. Protests across the US following publication of footage showing cops murdering Tyre Nichols

1 February – Multiple unions hold co-ordinated nationwide strikes

On 24 January, the University and College Union (UCU) announced it would engage in 18 days of strike action across February and March. On the same day, security guards from University College London (UCL), who organise via the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) union announced they would stand alongside their fellow UCU workers on 1 February. As with other strikes taking place, the demands by unions and their members result from years of funding cuts and degrading working conditions created by government and corporate greed.

As a result, 1 February is turning into a landmark day for the UK’s working class. Multiple major unions will hold a day of national strikes. They include unions representing:

      • Train drivers
      • Teachers
      • Universities and colleges staff
      • Civil service workers

This will likely push the number of workers on strike into the hundreds of thousands.

Good thing Corbyn didn’t, as the Sun suggested he might, “plunge Britain back into a 1970s-style strike chaos”, isn’t it?

Scotland tightens laws on hunting with hounds

20 years after its first law against hunting was brought in, the Scottish government has agreed to new legislation that will pretty much stop hunting in its tracks. Holyrood passed the Hunting with Dogs (Scotland) Bill on 24 January following its third stage debate. The Hunt Saboteurs Association (HSA) explained some of the new law’s key tenets:

Previously, the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act allowed for a pack of hounds to be used to flush a mammal from cover, with a gunman in place to shoot the animal once it has broken cover. The new Act will reduce the number of dogs to be allowed to be used for flushing out a fox (or other mammal) to two, spelling the end for traditional fox, hare and mink hunting throughout Scotland.

Crucially, the law also bans outright the practice of trail hunting. Hunts in England and Wales claim to trail hunt, or follow an artificially laid scent, but most anti-hunting activists recognise the practice as a smokescreen for hunting live animals.

There are a number of caveats in Scotland’s new law that give the anti-hunting movement some concern. However, only time will tell how exactly these will pan out.

UK strike at Amazon

On 25 January, hundreds of Amazon workers in Coventry made history. They took the UK’s first strike action against the e-commerce company of billionaire overlord Jeff Bezos. Senior GMB Organiser Stuart Richards accused Amazon of “ignoring all requests to listen to workers’ concerns”.

Although the strike action was legal, Amazon apparently marked workers as taking an ‘unauthorised absence’ (or “no show“). Richards said this seemed like an attempt to intimidate the workers.

Dartmoor National Park Authority to challenge High Court decision on wild camping

The public body that manages Dartmoor as a national park announced on 27 January that it will challenge a recent High Court decision that banned wild camping from the area. Following fat-cat Andrew Darwall’s successful bid to end wild camping across Dartmoor, the land baron turned around and negotiated the return of wild camping to the moor – so long as the Dartmoor NPA paid him and the moor’s other owners. The Stars are for Everyone, which advocates for a right to roam across Dartmoor, told the Guardian:

We welcome this decision and applaud the national park for standing firm against an attempt to rob the public of the historic right to camp on Dartmoor.

Protests across the US following publication of footage showing cops murdering Tyre Nichols

People took to the streets across the US on 28 January following the release of footage showing five cops beating up and killing Tyre Nichols. Footage showed a so-called ‘specialist’ policing unit in Memphis, Tennessee, taking turns to punch and kick Nichols on 7 January. Why they’d pulled his car over remains unknown at the time of publishing.

Protests took the streets across the US following publication of the CCTV and bodycam videos. US-based public news platform NPR reported that most of these were calm. As human rights advocate Steven Donzinger highlighted, this came just days after the murder by cops of anti-Cop City activist Manuel ‘Tortuguita’ Teran:

The Guardian reported that police officers killed “at least 1,706 people” in the US last year.

Featured image via Channel 4 News/YouTube.