Sunday, 9 June 2013

Solidarity Saturday in London

Last Saturday, I was campaigning, together with other local trade unionists, to defend one section of London's community against the divisive - and completely unjustified - attempts by the BNP to hold the Lewisham Islamic Centre responsible for the horrific murder of Lee Rigby.

Update - a video of part of my speech to the Tamil Solidarity Day has been posted here:

This Saturday, June 8, gave me an opportunity to show that solidarity on an international basis - in support of the struggles in Turkey and of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. The day started, however, with a Lewisham NUT stall in Catford.

'Michael Gove' on our NUT stall !
Our activity in Catford was one of a series of campaign stalls being held across London to explain to parents and the public about Gove's attacks on education and to explain why we were having to embark on a calendar of strike action to defend teachers and schools.

There was plenty of support and lots of discussion, particularly about the growing lack of school places in Lewisham and elsewhere across London. Our petition - "Time to Stand Up for Education" had a column to record your support as 'parent/student/teacher'. We got all of those to sign - plus 'grandparent' and 'teaching assistant' too!

I was then able to join the crowds gathered by the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square demonstrating in support of the ongoing protests in Turkey against the actions of the Turkish Government. Following the discussion at the NUT National Executive, I am grateful that a link to a Labour Start campaign email that I forwarded to the NUT General Secretary has been circulated to all NUT Associations.

In Trafalgar Square, Saturday June 8
The email allows you to send a simple message to the Erdogan Government: "I support the demands of trade unionists and others in Turkey  that police violence against protestors must stop, that those responsible must be held accountable, that those who have been arrested must be freed and charges dropped, and that the ban on demonstrations must be lifted". It can be accessed via
Speaking in Trafalgar Square last Sunday

My day finished at a 'Tamil Solidarity' Day held in SOAS, near King's Cross, called jointly by the Tamil Solidarity (TS) campaign and the British Tamils Forum (BTF). Both organisations have been campaigning vigorously to expose the genocidal campaign against Tamils by the Rajapaksa regime, during and following the civil war that ended in 2009. 

Tamil Solidarity Day, June 8 in London
What was particuarly significant about the event was that TS and BTF had recognised that one of their main allies in supporting their campaign would be the trade union movement, with our long tradition of internationalism. Alongside trade unionists from UNITE, RMT, PCS and UNISON, we jointly pledged to make sure  that the campaign to expose the war crimes of the Sri Lankan Government and to defend the rights of Tamils receives much greater exposure across our movement.

The particular focus of the campaign over the next few months is to highlight the disgraceful decision to hold the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka in November 2013 - an insult to the memory of the tens of thousands of Tamils who died, disappeared, or who were imprisoned at the end of the civil war.

To find out more, visit the Tamil Solidarity website on:

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