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 WestGap.co.uk 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
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!
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!
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.
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.