5 April 2021
This amazing speech was given by a comrade in ‘Sisters Uncut’ at Saturdays rally for the striking Go Ahead bus workers in the North West. It must be read and shared as wide as possible.
I am here on behalf of Sisters Uncut Manchester to show our total solidarity with the brave strikers against the vile practices of fire and rehire.
Sisters Uncut organise to reverse cuts to domestic and sexual violence services, and to end state and gendered violence.
In the last month, we have been part of a movement that began in response to the murder of Sarah Everard allegedly by a cop and that movement has grown into a brilliant defiance of the state’s increasing authoritarianism.
Sisters Uncut are organising against the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
This Bill seeks to extend police power. It will make working conditions more dangerous for sex workers, it will criminalise Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities’s ways of life, it will increase stop and search that targets Black, brown and working class people, and it will reduce all police accountability.
This Bill will empower the cops who have had 1,500 accusations of sexual abuse made against them in just six years and see more cops like PC Oliver Banfield walk free and straight back into his job just like he did this last month. That is the cop who grabbed a woman in the street by the neck and dragged her to the ground, using techniques he was taught during police training.
And, in case we forget, this Bill will criminalise resistance.
The Bill gives the state and police power to criminalise protest, like this one, simply for being “annoying” or disruptive.
But protest seeks to disrupt! Because we are here to disrupt those who hold power! We are here to annoy those are in power! We are here to challenge! And we are here to win!
Just like how the state has tried to crush the strength of unions to fight back. To strike like you are. To survive the exploitation of bosses in the way that you are. The state now seeks to crush all dissent.
But we will not accept it!
The state, bosses and some abusers win by divide and rule. They say that you, over there, as drivers, have *these* needs. And YOU, over there, as women and non-binary people, have *those* needs. As if women and non-binary people aren’t workers ground down by exploitative bosses, and as if workers aren’t affected by domestic and sexual violence, the police, austerity and all else that oppresses and exploits us all.
As if this Bill won’t also criminalise trade union activities.
The Shrewsbury 24 have just won their appeal to overturn the unjust prosecution of workers rising against the exploitation of bosses facilitated by a violent state after 49 years
That same violent state ordered and celebrated and excused the cops, beating up women at a vigil for a woman killed by one of their own.
You and we have been out on the streets and we - all of us - will be back out on the streets to defend our right to picket, our right to blockade, our right to rally, our right to demonstrate, people’s rights to live as they wish, the right to live without police harassment, and our right to WIN.
So, whilst the demands of the Go North West drivers are not identical with the demands of Sisters Uncut, we know that our struggles are united. We are united against those who would exploit and oppress us. We are united against a violent state, against cops who will brutalise and target us in demonstrations and at the picket lines and on the street. We are united against partners who abuse us and against bosses who exploit us. We are united in knowing these two are - for some of us - the same thing.
We cannot let them tell us our struggles lie in separate directions for that is how they win. We win by seeing how much more unites us than separates us. Because together we have to and we can win.
Join Democracy Unchained on Thursday 8 April 2021 at 18:30 in a call to action against the authoritarian attack on democracy by the Tories. Register here for ‘The Battle for Democracy: Frontline Bristol’.