Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/24526

Posted on 13 February 2017 at 13:09 GMT

Sheffield - Trees  court protest , photo by A Tice

Sheffield - Trees court protest , photo by A Tice   (Click to enlarge)

Anti-trade union laws used against 'Sheffield Trees Action' protesters

Alistair Tice, Yorkshire Socialist Party

What happens when a Labour council signs a 2 billion Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract with a multinational corporation to manage its streets for the next 25 years? It ends up with local residents being arrested by South Yorkshire Police for peacefully protesting to save mature roadside trees being felled by Amey plc.

This is what has been happening in Sheffield over the last few months. It's cheaper for Amey to cut trees down than it is to maintain them and the pavements. Amey has a clear profit motive - if it blitzes the city's trees in the first five years of its 25-year contract, it can spend the next 20 years with much lower maintenance costs.

Because of the furore caused by this, the council set up an 'Independent Trees Panel' to assess whether trees were "dying, diseased, decaying or dangerous" but then ignored its advice and cut the trees down anyway!

Dawn raid on trees

In November the Labour council colluded with Amey and South Yorkshire Police in a dawn raid to cut trees down on Rustlings Road. This resulted in two pensioners and a passer-by being arrested on charges subsequently thrown out at court.

After that public relations disaster the council said that there wouldn't be any more 5am operations. But the tree felling has continued with over 4,000 axed so far and another 14,000 planned.

This has led to huge and well organised opposition of local campaign groups coordinated by Sheffield Trees Action Group (STAG). Sheffield's Labour council leaders have dismissed this as being "a middle-class issue". While it's true that most protests have been in 'leafier' areas, the future of the environment is not just a 'middle class issue', as nature and pollution affect us all. In any case, many of the tree protesters are being politicised as they connect together austerity cuts and privatisation with the role of the council, Amey and the police.

Divisions in Labour

The issue has split the local Labour Party and Momentum. One Labour councillor was suspended from the Labour group for abstaining on a motion critical of the council's handling of Rustlings Road. Resolutions critical of the council leaders have been discussed at Labour ward meetings. And a "Labour Against PFI" banner is now often seen on protests.

Last week, nine more protesters, including a Green Party councillor, were arrested under 1992 anti-trade union laws for "preventing lawful work". Police appear in big numbers before every felling to facilitate Amey contractors. Two residents were even arrested who were standing under a tree with the property owner's consent. South Yorkshire Police are acting as Amey's private security firm!

This is what happens when Labour councils refuse to fight the Tory government cuts; they end up down the privatisation road, backing corporations against local residents and sending police to use Thatcher's anti-union laws to arrest people.

The first two protesters arrested under anti-union legislation back in November go to trial on 9th March in what will be a big test case given the increasing number of arrests.


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 13 February 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.






Related links:

Sheffield:

triangleSheffield Socialist Party: Tories out! Corbyn in with socialist policies

triangleSouth Yorkshire: No to fire service cuts!

triangleSouth Yorkshire Freedom Riders - still battling on

triangleWell-supported strike against cuts at Bradfield school

triangleSheffield tree campaigners' legal win

Union:

triangleThe Activist Issue 82 - for retail workers

trianglePay Deal: ACAS sides with management - a missed opportunity to fight

triangleThe Great Big Socialist Party Quiz 2019

triangleStrikes: more determined than ever

Trade union:

triangleSecret police infiltration of workers' movement exposed

triangleTrade union conference to force secret police disclosure

triangleDetermined to resist bosses' attacks

Labour:

triangleSwansea: Corbyn rally attracts turnout but many can't get in

trianglePrepare now for the struggles after 12 December

Council:

triangleSocial workers lobby Hull City Council

Police:

triangleHong Kong's uprising

South Yorkshire:

triangleMajor funding for flood risk management needed

Privatisation:

triangleSave the NHS: kick out the Tories

PFI:

triangleNorthern Ireland: strike action by NHS workers

Cuts:

triangleSurrey firefighters to ballot on Christmas industrial action

Environment:

triangleTrump and Tories are a threat to environment

Anti-union laws:

triangleHigh Court injunction: solidarity to the CWU - support the posties!

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

10/12/19

Socialist Party

Come and discuss with us after the election

10/12/19

Usdaw

The Activist Issue 82 - for retail workers

10/12/19

Morrisons

Pay Deal: ACAS sides with management - a missed opportunity to fight

9/12/19

Swansea

Swansea: Corbyn rally attracts turnout but many can't get in

4/12/19

Socialist Party

Fight for your future - join the socialists

4/12/19

UCU

Strikes: more determined than ever

4/12/19

Socialist Students

Students and workers united in struggle

4/12/19

South Western Railway

It's a strike to ensure the safety of the travelling public

4/12/19

Surrey

Surrey firefighters to ballot on Christmas industrial action

4/12/19

Hull

Social workers lobby Hull City Council

4/12/19

Climate change

Climate strikes: Students and trade unionists protest together

4/12/19

Socialist Party

Why I joined: "Proud to be a socialist"

4/12/19

Carlisle

Carlisle election meeting: Education - time to make the mega-rich and corporations pay

4/12/19

Council

Workplace news in brief

4/12/19

West Midlands

Solid support for guards on West Midlands Trains

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07954 376 096

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


December 2019

November 2019

October 2019

September 2019

August 2019

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999