We're grassroots Heathrow residents proving that communities less dependent on oil can be more resilient, stronger and happier. We take direct action on climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy by transitioning to a post-oil, community-led future for the Heathrow villages.

The Flying Bike Picket Continues – for the right to strike!

Posted: June 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Events, Workers | Tags: | No Comments »

On Monday a high court judge sided with the BA bosses and declared the planned strike by BA cabin crew workers ‘illegal’. On Saturday Workers Climate Action will be siding with the BA workers in demanding their right to strike. They have that right no matter how the judiciary interpret Tory anti-trade union laws, no matter how many media moguls denounce them and no matter how much intimidation they face from bullies like Willie Walsh and his management.

This dispute is now about more than just another privatised national industry seeking to create precarious McWorkers to hire and fire at will. It is about more than Willie Walsh attempting to break the back of an already weak British trade union movement. It is definitely, about more than the well to do British holiday makers ‘God-given-right’ to fly to their second home in Tuscany.

This dispute is now about our right to organise collectively in our workplace to defend ourselves from some of the worst attacks by capital. This is about our right to take collective direct action that gives us a little bit more control over our livelihoods. This dispute is about protecting our last legal form of self-defence against the likes of Willie Walsh, O’Leary and Fred the Shred. This is now a fight for our right to strike.

The Tolpuddle Martyrs didn’t ask permission to form a union. Labour movements of yesteryear didn’t ask a judge or Murdoch’s predecessors if they could have the weekend off, paid holiday, maternity leave, sick pay or a non-toxic working environment. Every one of these gains and many more were fought for by ordinary workers organising collectively to take action in the workplace. Thanks to New Labour mortgaging our future to bailout the rich, it is the rest of us that will have to make the repayments when the Tories and Whigs come looking for cutbacks.

‘WE WON”T PAY FOR THEIR CRISIS’, can be heard screamed on pickets around the world. Yet this demand is only heard because it is backed up by direct action. The most fundamental form of this has always been the labour strike. Withholding our labour from capital is the last line of defence. If we hold this line then we use it as a foundation for building a better world, instead of fighting rearguard actions against rich robbers. A strong labour movement can fight at the point of production for just transitions to sustainable futures. Like all the Robin Hoods of mythology, we’ll fight collectively for the rich to pay for these transitions.

If the dismayed BA cabin crew are in need of a little inspiration for what they can achieve they needn’t just look to mythology. The New South Wales Builders’ Labourers Federation used their collective power to go from fighting for toilet breaks to imposing labour Bans on whole green spaces and residential areas due for demolition by ‘developers’. Lucas Aerospace workers devised detailed plans for shifting their production from weapons of mass destruction to social goods like electric vehicles for public transport. BA workers don’t even need to look globally to the Greek resistance on general strike at the cutbacks imposed by the IMF and Eurozone. The cabin crew just need to look up the road to the campaign against the third runway, who were the last to beat Willie Walsh and his friends in industry and government.

So BA workers now is the time to strike whether sanctioned by a judge or not. For everyone else we’ll be fighting for their right to strike, on our bikes. The Flying Bike Picket will meet at 1pm on saturday the 22nd of May outside Grow Heathrow, Sipson, Ex-site of the 3rd runway. All  wanting not to pay for their crisis are welcome to join us.


Swoop on abandoned market garden

Posted: March 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Growing Group, Residents | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Today , community activists from the group Transition Heathrow [1] moved into an abandoned market garden in Sipson. [2] Around lunchtime, about 20 people “swooped” [3] on the land in Sipson, one of the villages due for demolition if the third runway at Heathrow goes ahead. [4] After securing the site, the group immediately informed their new neighbours and local residents of their intention to reopen the old market garden for the benefit of the local community.

The ‘Grow Heathrow’ project aims to encourage and support locally grown produce in an area that once had some of the most fertile soils in Britain. Transition Heathrow has launched the project to highlight the need for a community controlled food supply in order to remain resilient to the impacts of peak oil and climate change. It intends to use the old market garden not only for growing, but also for activities such as bike workshops, clothes making, solidarity support for local workers and direct action workshops for people trying to stop the third runway.

Transition Heathrow member and local resident Joe Rake, described the events of the day. “Around lunchtime, a group of us walked onto the site. Once we had secured the gate, we set about telling local residents why we were there and inviting them to join in. We also had to start tidying up as it appeared to have been used for scrapping cars. Since the last tenants were evicted, the site has attracted unsavoury characters, so we wanted to restart the market garden for the good of the local community.”

Many of those involved in the ‘swoop’ see today’s action as a positive way of resisting the third runway whilst building an alternative community solution in its place.

Heathrow resident Amy Summer said “We’ve been fighting the threat of the third runway for years, and its blighted our community. This kind of action not only helps stop expansion but also helps regenerate the area, providing local skills, green jobs and organic produce instead.”

She added, “This form of direct action is just as important as sitting on a runway, blockading the bulldozers or striking for more green jobs. There’s no point in growing your own veg if it’s going to be covered in tarmac by BAA. At the same time there’s no point in community resistance if there’s no community left to defend. We have to do both.”

Notes:

[1] Transition Heathrow is a grassroots action group aiming to draw out the juxtaposition of sustainability and airport expansion, as part of the Transition Towns Network. It was established in October 2009 by Plane Stupid activists and Climate Campers who have been working with local residents. For more info see www.transitionheathrow.com

[2] Berkeley Nursery in Sipson has been derelict since the last tenants were evicted by the council. Local residents say they were using the site to scrap cars. Previously, the site had been used to grow fruit and vegetables as one of the many local market gardens.

[3] The ‘swoop’ is a term recently used by climate activists to refer to the sudden arrival of people on a site, often linked to land occupation or sites of protest.

[4] The third runway at Heathrow will demolish more than 700 homes around Sipson, Harmondsworth and Harlington, and will leave many more homes uninhabitable as they find themselves at the end of a runway.

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