The Upper Clyde Shipyards (UCS) Struggle (1971 – Cinema Action)

UCS1 is perhaps the most lively of Cinema Action’s campaign films. Its short length carries considerable conviction. Most notably, the determination of the shipyard workers is conveyed by the cut to black and the fade-in on union leader Jimmy Reid announcing to a sea of faces, framed by cranes, that the yards are under the workers’ occupation. Reid’s colleague Jimmy Airlie’s more reflective appeal brings the film to a nonetheless forceful conclusion.
A joint shop stewards’ committee successfully ran the occupation of Upper Clyde shipyards for fourteen months until February 1972. It was an unprecedented response to the government’s plan to liquidate the yards. Since the only other media contact by the shop stewards was press conferences, Cinema Action’s footage inside the yards is unique. Class Struggle: Film from the Clyde (d. Cinema Action, 1977) tells the whole story of the dispute and the occupation. Cinema Action returned again to the Upper Clyde in 1983 for Rocking the Boat which caught up movingly with veterans of the 1971-2 action

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Not a Penny on the Rents (1968 – Cinema Action)

Tower blocks, older terraced housing and flats under construction. A speaker denounces the rent increases of the Greater London Council (GLC) as benefiting only the council’s moneylenders. He warns Horace Cutler, head of the Council’s Housing Department, that the tenants will not pay any rent increase. Posters in the windows of council houses protest against the increase.
The speaker argues that the rent increase is wanted by the council to pay for future building and that this should not be funded by current tenants. The Centrepoint building and Tottenham Court Road. He calls on the council to occupy the building and convert it into flats. Slogans supporting a rent strike and calling for unity. A target appears over a drawing of Cutler and is shot at.
Protesting tenants in Trafalgar Square and under Charing Cross Bridge. Some describe the effect of the increasing rents. Speakers at a tenants’ meeting announce the numbers from various estates of those who are withholding the rent increase. They contrast these figures with the low numbers given incorrectly in the press. The first speaker strongly criticises the press and characterises the campaign as one of working class solidarity. A bonfire on Guy Fawkes Night. Tenants chant a protest song and burn an effigy of Cutler.
An organiser of the Transport and General Workers Union for Smithfield and Billingsgate markets describes the union’s response to resolutions supporting the tenants’ campaign. Delegates are being sent to petition the council alongside tenants’ representatives and, if eviction is threatened against union members, industrial action could be taken. A large night time march by tenants’ associations and union members. Speakers encourage the tenants in their direct action and propose representation by tenants to protect their own interests

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Venezuela: 43 arrests on union march in Maracay


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43 people have been arrested in a demonstration for labour and human rights and the return of collective contracts in the city of Maracay, Aragua state, Venezuela. Among the detained are three members of the human rights organisation, Provea, and  an editor of the anarchist newspaper El Libertario. Protests, please, to the Venezuelan Consul in London:

Strike! When Britain Went to War and “Ghost Dancers – The Miners’ Strike 1984-85” by David John Douglass. eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf)

NEW FILM: STRIKE! When Britain Went To War — The 1984-85 Miners’ Strike (click the Films link)

Ghost Dancers
Ghost Dancers (Kindle edition)

Also, announcing GHOST DANCERS, the final volume in Dave Douglass’s mining trilogy, Stardust and Coaldust, published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the end of the miners’ strike. A first-person, insider’s view, of, probably, the last generation of miners and their union. Following on Cameron’s description of ‘a broken Britain’ this book comes close to describing who broke it and how.

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The definitive history of the great coal strike of 1984/85 and the background to it, this book explodes all the prevailing myths around that epic period, and corrects the inaccuracies in dozens of books previously penned by academics and journalists. Written by a participant at the sharp end of that struggle, it uniquely deals with the poststrike period, which hitherto no other writer has attempted to describe, nor any commentator understood. It portrays the efforts of the miners to stay in the ring and stay on their feet, in the run-up to the John Major assault in ’92/’93 and the last stand of the miners as a social force. The book reveals the harsh internal relations within the National Union of Mineworkers in the post-strike years, set against a backdrop and commentary on other world and domestic events like the Poll Tax, the Gulf War, and the Good Friday Agreement. Inevitably, it addresses the role of Arthur Scargill both during and after the strike — which in the author’s view displays two distinct and conflicting aspects of his leadership. However, Dave shows how the central role in both periods was that played by the miners themselves organised in their Union.  Dave has not sought to exclude those smaller, more personal aspects that intersect this trajectory and link the personal to the political, the major to the minor. Though it is not written in the style or with the pretensions of academic neutrality, this book will be an essential reference for any serious academic study in the future. The title of this work, Ghost Dancers, is inspired by the last stand of the Native American Indians in their efforts to retain their culture and dignity, and by the Durham Miners’ Gala as a mining equivalent of that same endeavour. The book records the last stand of the last generation of pitmen and their communities.

David Douglass is a long-standing and well-known  member of the National Union of Mineworkers in the Durham and Doncaster coalfields. He was a coalminer for 40-plus years and a branch official of the Union for 25 years, as well as a member of its Yorkshire Executive during its most testing and dynamic period. He remains a full member of the NUM and is still active in the internal affairs of the Union, as well as being one of its more public and well-known representatives and a published author and historian of the coal communities.

Ghost Dancers — The Miners’ Last GenerationDavid John Douglass (ISBN 978-1-873976-40-1) LOOK INSIDE

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Available from Central Books Ltd, 99 Wallis Road, London E9 5LN. Tel: 0845 4589911 Fax: 0845 4589912

Rat with Two Legs

Paquita La Del Barrio (Francisca Viveros Barradas), a Mexican singer of rancheras  and other Mexican styles. Her songs, like this one, usually take a stance against Mexico’s sexist male culture. which has made her popular among female audiences – click the Films link above