Editorial: A fantastic victory for the St Mungo’s Broadway Strikers, and a fascinating piece on our hollowed out lives


By Reuben Bard-Rosenburg

If you didn’t notice, something a bit bloody brilliant happened last Tuesday. The week before last, the North London Star reported on the on the seven day strike by workers at homeless Charity St Mungo’s Broadway. We were expecting to report on further actions in the weeks ahead. But this we shall not be doing so – because the union won! All further action was called off after management conceded to all of the workers’ demands.

mungosInside sources tell me that it was the sympathetic coverage given to the strikes by the North London Star which truly made management feel that they were heading for a PR catastrophe. Actually in all seriousness, two big things happened. Firstly the union more than doubled its membership in and around the action from 270 workers to 660. And secondly, after the first 7 days of strike action – and with no signs of any concessions from management the workers voted for another 10 days of strike action.

Managment – in a fit of in-pants-defecation – promptly threw in the towel. If you just read the national political stories you might be fairly depressed about the state of things. But as far as I’m concerned the spread of militant and victorious trade unionism across the low paid, outsourced service sector somewhat counterbalances the abject failure of Mr Miliband to champion any kind of appealing social democratic political current.

So if we are going live lives fit for human being then that must depend upon collective action and not simply individual accomplishment. That I think is one of the messages coming out of Jen Izaakson’s fascinating discussion of Nightcrawler (really read it or your missing out!). The film follows a man and his endeavours in the post-crash world – from criminal, to exploited worker, to petit entrepruner, to boss – as every position he occupies under the current order of things manages, in its different ways to hollow him out and screw up his relationships with himself and others.

“Nightcrawler’s message of life for sale is clear, there is no escape from it, only alternating positions within it. There are those caught up in violence, there are those racing to capture that violence and package it for sale, and there those at home viewing that violence over breakfast.”

Which is not, of course, to imply that all positions under the current order of things is equally disagreeable.  As we reported last week, the excellent Haringey Solidarity Campaign were out in force fighting against forced labour – specifically they were picketing the North London Hospice shops, which are taking people from job centres on 30-hour-a-week unpaid placements. Clearly the bosses of North London Hospice deserve to be called nasty names, like Arnold or Gertrude.

Finally Louis Bayman reviewed the fascinating story of the life of Siegfried Moos, the German leftist and anti-Nazi who settled in London after the war taking in the German revolution, Nazism, the experience of being a refugee and of course love.

Beneath the radar of what passes for national politics, things are actually moving, and sometimes in the right direction. Keep reading about it – and writing about it – here at the North London Star.