Glasgow Solidarity Network – busy behind the scenes

Over the past few weeks, GSN has received quite a few contacts from people who are being troubled by (ex)landlords and (ex)bosses. Issues to do with stolen deposits continue to be most frequent, but we also had enquiries regarding rather obscure – to say the least – employment practices and enquiries regarding repairs that landlords were refusing to carry out. Very often we could only help people by directing them towards for legal advice because GSN did not feel that a direct action campaign would have been the right thing to do. This applied when people were still living in the flat or when they were still working for the employer. Repercussions of a direct action campaign in such ‘live cases’ would be very problematic for the people concerned. However, we also worked on a few cases where in the end it did not come to a campaign for various (and good) reasons. And we’re currently trying to find out more about a new case that could become a struggle – so watch this space for a call-out for support.

We also have gone round Glasgow to hand out flyers. The reaction to GSN is, it is fair to say, always very positive. Stories about wage theft and slum landlords abound – it remains, however, a problem that only few people wish to turn their problem into a struggle. The idea that an injury to one is an injury to all and that solidaric support is just round the corner needs to spread a little further still. Also we tend to forget the injustices done to us all too quickly – we often hear that the wage or deposit theft happened a year or two ago and that therefore nothing can be done about it anymore. Probably the thought of revisiting it all is, understandably, an unpleasant one.

The last thing here concerns the great success of the Brighton Solidarity Network with regards to getting wage thefts sorted out through direct action campaign. Our friends in Brighton have supported people working in the catering sector where wage theft seems rampant. GSN needs to develop more (personal) links into sectors where such practices exist.

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Getting the word out!

We have been doing a big organising drive recently: postering, stickering, leafletting, out talking to folk. Rather than arrange big groups of us descending on an area we have been popping up a note of times where one of us is free and if others are too then we meet at/near somebodies home then spend an hour or so popping out info around the area before stopping for a cuppa and a chat. Because a lot of us are shift workers arranging these sessions on the hoof has been proving successful.

Last week a couple of us met up for a late-morning walk around Govanhill. Yesterday afternoon we were in Partick and have already had two contacts with struggles we might be able to help with. Next week on Wed 20th a coupple of us are meeting at 5pm outside the Fred Paton Centre on Carrington St (near St. Georges Cross), then at 2pm on the 28th we will be meeting on Charring Cross itself to go around some of the flats near by.

If you would like to help arrange a similar wander about near you then drop an email to and we’ll get back in touch, or just turn up at one of the arranged times/places above!

Looking further afield we have been some good victories by people using exactly the same methods of direct action and solidarity that we use here with the Glasgow SolNet. In May the Bristol Solidarity Network had two wins back-to-back against dodgy bosses (see here and here). Going further south the Brighton Solidarity Federation have set up a hospitality workers network that have struggled five times with bosses and won every time using the same methods we use here. You can see a video of how they got the most recent win here:

A lot of the struggles these groups have found themselves in the middle of are exactly the sort of struggles we see taking place here in Glasgow and hope to be able to provide solidarity towards and ultimately help gain victory through collective direct action!

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SolNet flyering this Thursday

The Network wants your help! We’re meeting on Thursday, 15th of May, at 3pm at Cafe Cherubini on Great Western Road in the West End for an hour of flyering. There are quite a lot of private let and agency properties in the area, as well as talk of businesses that may not be paying people wages on time, so trying to see if anyone would like to build their struggles along with us. There will be sun and fun, so come along!


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6 Things You Should Know About Glasgow’s Social Housing Crisis

This article by London-based Novara Media looks into what is going on in Glasgow with regards to social housing and gentrification. Their summation  is really spot on:

Housing is a basic need of the human body: without shelter, we die. The gentrification of Glasgow, as with other cities around the world, threatens the working class and other vulnerable groups at the biophysical level. The processes that make gentrification possible make our bodies sick, while displacement can lead to anxiety and depression. This is a class war directed at those capitalism places in the position of ghettoised communities who are blamed for social conditions it has created. Resistance has to begin from within those same communities.

They were also kind enough to name-check us so thanks to the Novara peeps for that :

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A wee little update on the Glasgow Solidarity Network

As ardent readers of this blog know, Glasgow Solidarity Network had a busy start to 2014. We won the struggle against a Glasgow letting agency that ripped tenants of by charging illegal “administration fees”. The agency had to pay back just under 190 quid. Following this successful campaign GSN received quite a few calls and emails from people with similar problems. We met up with them to discuss whether their struggle was winnable and how to go about it. In one instance, while the struggle against a dodgy landlord charging money for “hovering under the bed” seemed winnable, the person who contacted the Network in the end decided that they could presently not commit enough time to a campaign against their former landlord. However, the meetings were great, everybody learnt a lot – not least that letting agents and private landlords now started to circumvent safe deposit schemes by calling deposits “fittings and furniture lettings – and met great people who have joined the Network. Another two instances of slum landlordism are being looked at currently as well. GSN also invited for the Big Meet Up and is intensifying its flyering efforts. If you want to host us to flyer in your area, get in touch and give us a hand!

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Big Meet-up, Big Thanks

Just a quick thanks to everyone who turned up to our Big Meet-up tonight. It was a really upbeat meeting and it seemed to mark a positive step for the network, both in terms of getting to know other groups in the city and in terms of hearing new ideas about how we can improve in future fights.

The discussion ranged from explaining what it is the network does, how our past struggles came together (and were won!), then a look at ways we can win more struggles and also build solidarity across other groups and campaigns.

While it is early days, I reckon we there is a good chance we’ll have a big meet-up again some time further down the line. If you are interested in getting involved with the network then do drop us a line; all the details in the contact us tab above.

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Glasgow Solidarity Network: the Big Meet-up

Only a few days to go until our “Big Meet-Up” on Monday, 10th of Feburary, 7pm, at the Centre for Contemporary Arts’ Electron Club.

The Glasgow Solidarity Network invites everybody to come along to our first big open meeting of the new year. Tea and biscuits provided.

The meeting comes after a successful direct action campaign and at a time when contacts to the Network have grown in number.

At the meeting, we would like to inform about what the Glasgow Solidarity Network is all about and to report about/discuss the latest successful campaign. Most importantly, we would like to discuss with you the potentials and pitfalls of the solidarity network approach. We would also like to learn from you how we could open the Network up for more people to get involved, how to extend our cooperation with other groups and how to reach people who are ripped off by landlords and employers.

We warmly invite everybody with an interest in cooperating with the Network or with an interest in what we do – and what is done in other places – to come along and get involved in the conversation.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there.

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Winning with Glasgow Solidarity Network: direct action against letting agency gets ‘admin fees’ back


Check the mail!

In January, Glasgow Solidarity Network celebrated the successful conclusion of its first campaign in 2014. This is what happened:

Back in 2010 a couple were charged £187 by a letting agency as an (illegal!) ‘administration fee’ in order to secure a new home. When they moved out in 2013 they wrote a letter to the agency quoting the relevant passages from Scottish Housing Law and demanding the return of their money. There was no response to this letter so they made a couple of phone calls to the agency which brought assurances that it would be looked at. However, these assurances were only followed by weeks of silence.

Three paths opened up to them: letting the agency rip them off; a lengthy – and costly – small claims court procedure; or attempting a more direct form of action. They opted for the latter and looked to the Glasgow Solidarity Network to show solidarity and provide aid in getting the money back. A call-out went out and those who could attend sat down with the pair and agreed that this was a winnable case.

The first action took place mid December 2013 with thirty people walking into the letting agency’s premises on a very rainy and stormy morning to support the pair in the handing-over a demand letter asking for the fees back and giving them until the new year to pass them back before further action was taken. The delivery went very well, in good spirit, and attracted people who never had participated in anything like this. It was also fantastic to experience the coming-together of people who had never met the couple – an injury to one is an injury to all. Everyone was pleased with the action – everyone apart from the letting agency staff! The manager was so unhappy about the visitors that he decided to hide in a little room off the main office and let his colleague deal with the situation by herself.

However, the agency did not return the money within the deadline set in the letter. The Network, together with the two affected people, then planned the next step in the ‘escalation process’. It was decided that the bad news from the agency should be met with bad reviews online, and so a week of action was organised via this blog, Facebook, and personal contacts.

Success was almost immediate.

The “Bad News Gets Bad Reviews” action started on Monday. On Wednesday morning the letting agency manager contacted their ex-tenants and offered the immediate return of their money. The manager stated that the agency had lost business contracts worth over £2000 because of the reviews. GSN called for an end of the campaign as the manager’s assurance was deemed trustworthy. Indeed, the cheques arrived in the post two days later. Victory!

If you have had a deposit or admin fee wrongfully taken, a boss stealing money from your final pay packet, or have a boss/landlord issue that can’t be solved through the usual channels, then get in touch and get involved in the Network.

This most recent case demonstrates that direct action gets the goods and that solidarity works. If you want to find out more, come along to our  meeting at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts/Electron Club on the 10th of February at 7pm.

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The Big Meet-up!

Glasgow Solidarity Network would like to invite everybody to come along to an open meeting on Monday, 10th of February, 7pm at the Centre for Contemporary Arts’ Electron Club.

We would like to discuss and critique the solidarity network approach to learn more about its potentials and pitfalls. Also, we would like to open the Network up for more people to get involved and to extend our cooperation with other groups.

We warmly invite everybody with an interest in cooperating with the Network or with an interest in what we do – and what is done in other places – to come along and get involved in the conversation.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

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Repost: Direct action and solidarity win in Glasgow, African migrants strike in Israel, and a few upcoming events

We just got a shout-out over at Cautiously Pessimistic. Thanks for letting people know about our win and for giving a platform to other fights going on at the moment. A nice quote from the piece:

“When we think seriously about taking on realistic campaigns, and get together with other people to demand better treatment, we can win. That message is always worth bearing in mind. Direct action and class struggle aren’t abstract theoretical concepts, or things that are restricted to the distant past or exotic foreign countries: they’re what made the difference between a Glasgow letting agency being able to rip two tenants off and having to pay the money back. These ideas and tactics can be just as relevant to your life, and the lives of the people you know.”

We couldn’t agree more.

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