• Academic freedom is in crisis ; free speech is not

    In August 2020, the UK think tank The Policy Exchange produced a report on Academic Freedom in the UK (https://policyexchange.org.uk/publication/academic-freedom-in-the-uk-2), alleging a chilling effect for staff and students expressing conservative opinions, particularly pro-Brexit or ‘gender critical’ ideas. This is an issue that was examined by a 2018 parliamentary committee on Human Rights which found a lack of evidence for serious infringements of free speech (https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt201719/jtselect/jtrights/1279/127904.htm). In a university context, freedom of speech is protected under the Human Rights Act 1998 as long as the speech is lawful and does not contravene other university regulations on issues like harassment, bullying or inclusion. Some of these controversies have been firmly rebutted by Chris Parr (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/free-speech-crisis-uk-universities-chris-parr) and others who describe how the incidents have been over-hyped.

    Despite this, the government seems keen to appoint a free speech champion for universities (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/feb/15/tories-war-on-the-woke-ministers-statues-protests) which continues a campaign started by #Sam_Gyimah (https://academicirregularities.wordpress.com/2018/07/06/sams-on-campus-but-is-the-campus-onto-sam) when he was minister for universities in 2018, and has been interpreted by some commentators as a ‘war on woke’. In the current climate of threats to university autonomy, many vice chancellors wonder whether this might be followed by heavy fines or reduced funding for those institutions deemed to fall on the wrong side of the culture wars.

    While public concern has been directed to an imagined crisis of free speech, there are more significant questions to answer on the separate but related issue of academic freedom. Most university statutes echo legislation and guarantee academics ‘freedom within the law to question and test received wisdom, and to put forward new ideas and controversial and unpopular opinions, without placing themselves in jeopardy of losing their jobs or privileges they may have at their institutions.’ [Section 202 of the Education Reform Act 1988]. In reality, these freedoms are surrendered to the greater claims of academic capitalism, government policy, legislation, managers’ responses to the pandemic and more dirigiste approaches to academics’ work.

    Nevertheless, this government is ploughing ahead with policies designed to protect the freedom of speech that is already protected, while doing little to hold university managers to account for their very demonstrable violations of academic freedom. The government is suspicious of courses which declare a sympathy with social justice or which manifest a ‘progressive’ approach. This hostility also extends to critical race theory and black studies. Indeed, the New York Times has identified a right wing ‘Campaign to Cancel Wokeness’ (https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/26/opinion/speech-racism-academia.html) on both sides of the Atlantic, citing a speech by the UK Equalities Minister, Kemi Badenoch, in which she said, “We do not want teachers to teach their white pupils about white privilege and inherited racial guilt…Any school which teaches these elements of critical race theory, or which promotes partisan political views such as defunding the police without offering a balanced treatment of opposing views, is breaking the law.”

    This has now set a tone for ideological oversight which some university leaders seem keen to embrace. Universities will always wish to review their offerings to ensure they reflect academic currency and student choice. However, operating under the cover of emergency pandemic planning, some are now seeking to dismantle what they see as politically troublesome subject areas.

    Let’s start with the most egregious and transparent attack on academic freedom. The University of Leicester Business School, known primarily for its disdain of management orthodoxy, has announced it will no longer support research in critical management studies (https://www.uculeicester.org.uk/redundancy-briefing) and political economy, and the university has put all researchers who identify with this field, or who at some time might have published in CMS, at risk of redundancy. Among the numerous responses circulating on Twitter, nearly all point to the fact that the critical orientation made Leicester Business School distinctive and attractive to scholars wishing to study and teach there. Among those threatened with redundancy is the distinguished former dean, Professor Gibson Burrell. The sheer volume of protest at this anomaly must be an embarrassment to Leicester management. We should remember that academic freedom means that, as a scholar of proven expertise, you have the freedom to teach and research according to your own judgement. When those in a field critical of structures of power have their academic freedom removed, this is, unarguably, a breach of that expectation. Such a violation should be of concern to the new freedom of speech champion and to the regulator, the Office for Students.

    If the devastation in the School of Business were not enough humiliation for Leicester, in the department of English, there are plans to cancel scholarship and teaching in Medieval and Early Modern literature. The thoughtless stripping out of key areas that give context and coherence within a subject is not unique to Leicester – similar moves have taken place in English at University of Portsmouth. At Leicester, management have offered the justification that this realignment will allow them to put resources towards the study of gender and sexuality. After all, the Vice Chancellor, Nishan Canagarajah, offered the keynote speech at the Advance HE conference in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion on 19th March (https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/programmes-events/conferences/EDIConf20#Keynotes) and has signalled that he supports decolonising the curriculum. This might have had more credibility if he was not equally committed to extinguishing critical scholarship in the Business School. The two positions are incompatible and reveal an opportunistic attempt to reduce costs and remove signs of critical scholarship which might attract government disapproval.

    At the University of Birmingham, the response to the difficulties of maintaining teaching during the pandemic has been to issue a ruling that three academic staff must be able to teach each module. The explanation for this apparent reversal of the ‘lean’ principle of staffing efficiency, is to make modules more resilient in the face of challenges like the pandemic – or perhaps strike action. There is a consequence for academic freedom though – only the most familiar, established courses can be taught. Courses that might have been offered, which arise from the current research of the academic staff, will have to be cancelled if the material is not already familiar to other colleagues in the department. It is a way of designing innovation and advancement out of courses at the University of Birmingham.

    Still at Birmingham, UCU is contesting a proposal for a new ‘career framework’ (https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/strike-warning-over-birminghams-or-out-probation-plan) by management characterised as ‘up or out’. It will require newly appointed lecturers to achieve promotion to senior lecturer within five years or face the sort of performance management procedures that could lead to termination of their appointment. The junior academics who enter on these conditions are unlikely to gamble their careers on academic risk-taking or pursue a challenge to an established paradigm. We can only speculate how this apprenticeship in organisational obedience might restrain the pursuit of discovery, let alone achieve the management’s stated aim to “develop and maintain an academic culture of intellectual stimulation and high achievement”.

    Meanwhile at the University of Liverpool, Vice Chancellor Janet Beer is attempting to apply research metrics and measures of research income over a five-year period to select academics for redundancy in the Faculty of Life Sciences. Staff have been threatened with sacking and replacement by those felt to hold more promise. It will be an unwise scholar who chooses a niche field of research which will not elicit prime citations. Astoundingly, university mangers claim that their criteria are not in breach of their status as a signatory to the San Fransisco Declaration on Research Assessment (https://news.liverpool.ac.uk/2021/03/08/project-shape-update). That is correct insofar as selection for redundancy by grant income is clearly such dishonorable practice as to have been placed beyond contemplation by the international board of DORA.

    It seems we are reaching a pivotal moment for academic freedom for higher education systems across the world. In #Arkansas and some other states in the #USA, there are efforts to prohibit the teaching of social justice (https://www.chronicle.com/article/no-social-justice-in-the-classroom-new-state-scrutiny-of-speech-at-public).

    In #France, the education minister has blamed American critical race theory (https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/11/france-about-become-less-free/617195) for undermining France’s self-professed race-blindness and for causing the rise of “islamo-gauchisme”, a term which has been cynically deployed to blunt any critique of structural racism.

    In Greece, universities are now bound by law to ensure policing and surveillance of university campuses (https://www.crimetalk.org.uk/index.php/library/section-list/1012-exiting-democracy-entering-authoritarianism) by ‘squads for the protection of universities’ in order to suppress dissent with the Orwellian announcement that the creation of these squads and the extensive surveillance of public Universities are “a means of closing the door to violence and opening the way to freedom” and an assertion that “it is not the police who enter universities, but democracy”.


    It occurs to me that those public figures who feel deprived of a platform to express controversial views may well be outnumbered by the scholars whose universities allow their work to be suppressed by targeted intellectual purges, academic totalitarianism and metric surveillance. It is telling that assaults on academic freedom in the UK have not attracted comment or action from the organisations which might be well placed to defend this defining and essential principle of universities. I hereby call on Universities UK, the Office for Students and the freedom of speech champion to insist on an independent audit of academic freedom and autonomy for each higher education institution.

    We now know where intervention into the rights of academics to teach and research autonomously may lead. We also know that many of the candidates targeted for redundancy are UCU trade union officials; this has happened at University of East London and the University of Hull. Make no mistake, this is a PATCO moment (https://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/05/reagan-fires-11-000-striking-air-traffic-controllers-aug-5-1981-241252) for higher education in the UK as management teams try to break union support and solidarity in order to exact greater control in the future.

    Universities are the canary down the mine in an era of right-wing authoritarianism. We must ensure that they can maintain their unique responsibility to protect against the rise of populism and the dismantling of democracy. We must be assertive in protecting the rights of academics whose lawful and reasoned opinions are increasingly subject to some very sinister threats. Academic freedom needs to be fought for, just like the right to protest and the right to roam. That leaves a heavy responsibility for academics if the abolition of autonomy and academic freedom is not to be complete.

    #liberté_académique #liberté_d'expression #UK #Angleterre #université #facs #justice_sociale #black_studies #races #race #approches_critiques #études_critiques #privilège_blanc #économie_politique #Leicester_Business_School #pandémie #crise_sanitaire #Birmingham #Liverpool #Janet_Beer #concurrence #Grèce #Etats-Unis #métrique #attaques #éducation_supérieure #populisme #démocratie #autonomie #canari_dans_la_mine

    ping @isskein @cede

    • The Campaign to Cancel Wokeness. How the right is trying to censor critical race theory.

      It’s something of a truism, particularly on the right, that conservatives have claimed the mantle of free speech from an intolerant left that is afraid to engage with uncomfortable ideas. Every embarrassing example of woke overreach — each ill-considered school board decision or high-profile campus meltdown — fuels this perception.

      Yet when it comes to outright government censorship, it is the right that’s on the offense. Critical race theory, the intellectual tradition undergirding concepts like white privilege and microaggressions, is often blamed for fomenting what critics call cancel culture. And so, around America and even overseas, people who don’t like cancel culture are on an ironic quest to cancel the promotion of critical race theory in public forums.

      In September, Donald Trump’s Office of Management and Budget ordered federal agencies to “begin to identify all contracts or other agency spending related to any training on ‘critical race theory,’” which it described as “un-American propaganda.”

      A month later, the conservative government in Britain declared some uses of critical race theory in education illegal. “We do not want teachers to teach their white pupils about white privilege and inherited racial guilt,” said the Tory equalities minister, Kemi Badenoch. “Any school which teaches these elements of critical race theory, or which promotes partisan political views such as defunding the police without offering a balanced treatment of opposing views, is breaking the law.”

      Some in France took up the fight as well. “French politicians, high-profile intellectuals and journalists are warning that progressive American ideas — specifically on race, gender, post-colonialism — are undermining their society,” Norimitsu Onishi reported in The New York Times. (This is quite a reversal from the days when American conservatives warned darkly about subversive French theory.)

      Once Joe Biden became president, he undid Trump’s critical race theory ban, but lawmakers in several states have proposed their own prohibitions. An Arkansas legislator introduced a pair of bills, one banning the teaching of The Times’s 1619 Project curriculum, and the other nixing classes, events and activities that encourage “division between, resentment of, or social justice for” specific groups of people. “What is not appropriate is being able to theorize, use, specifically, critical race theory,” the bills’ sponsor told The Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

      Republicans in West Virginia and Oklahoma have introduced bills banning schools and, in West Virginia’s case, state contractors from promoting “divisive concepts,” including claims that “the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist.” A New Hampshire Republican also proposed a “divisive concepts” ban, saying in a hearing, “This bill addresses something called critical race theory.”

      Kimberlé Crenshaw, a pioneering legal scholar who teaches at both U.C.L.A. and Columbia, has watched with alarm the attempts to suppress an entire intellectual movement. It was Crenshaw who came up with the name “critical race theory” when organizing a workshop in 1989. (She also coined the term “intersectionality.”) “The commitment to free speech seems to dissipate when the people who are being gagged are folks who are demanding racial justice,” she told me.

      Many of the intellectual currents that would become critical race theory emerged in the 1970s out of disappointment with the incomplete work of the civil rights movement, and cohered among radical law professors in the 1980s.
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      The movement was ahead of its time; one of its central insights, that racism is structural rather than just a matter of interpersonal bigotry, is now conventional wisdom, at least on the left. It had concrete practical applications, leading, for example, to legal arguments that housing laws or employment criteria could be racist in practice even if they weren’t racist in intent.

      Parts of the critical race theory tradition are in tension with liberalism, particularly when it comes to issues like free speech. Richard Delgado, a key figure in the movement, has argued that people should be able to sue those who utter racist slurs. Others have played a large role in crafting campus speech codes.

      There’s plenty here for people committed to broad free speech protections to dispute. I’m persuaded by the essay Henry Louis Gates Jr. wrote in the 1990s challenging the movement’s stance on the first amendment. “To remove the very formation of our identities from the messy realm of contestation and debate is an elemental, not incidental, truncation of the ideal of public discourse,” he wrote.

      Disagreeing with certain ideas, however, is very different from anathematizing the collective work of a host of paradigm-shifting thinkers. Gates’s article was effective because he took the scholarly work he engaged with seriously. “The critical race theorists must be credited with helping to reinvigorate the debate about freedom of expression; even if not ultimately persuaded to join them, the civil libertarian will be much further along for having listened to their arguments and examples,” he wrote.

      But the right, for all its chest-beating about the value of entertaining dangerous notions, is rarely interested in debating the tenets of critical race theory. It wants to eradicate them from public institutions.

      “Critical race theory is a grave threat to the American way of life,” Christopher Rufo, director of the Center on Wealth and Poverty at the Discovery Institute, a conservative think tank once known for pushing an updated form of creationism in public schools, wrote in January.

      Rufo’s been leading the conservative charge against critical race theory. Last year, during an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, he called on Trump to issue an executive order abolishing “critical race theory trainings from the federal government.” The next day, he told me, the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, called him and asked for his help putting an order together.

      Last month, Rufo announced a “new coalition of legal foundations and private attorneys that will wage relentless legal warfare against race theory in America’s institutions.” A number of House and Senate offices, he told me, are working on their own anti-critical race theory bills, though none are likely to go anywhere as long as Biden is president.

      As Rufo sees it, critical race theory is a revolutionary program that replaces the Marxist categories of the bourgeois and the proletariat with racial groups, justifying discrimination against those deemed racial oppressors. His goal, ultimately, is to get the Supreme Court to rule that school and workplace trainings based on the doctrines of critical race theory violate the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

      This inversion, casting anti-racist activists as the real racists, is familiar to Ian Haney López, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who specializes in critical race theory. “There’s a rhetoric of reaction which seeks to claim that it’s defending these higher values, which, perversely, often are the very values it’s traducing,” he said. “Whether that’s ‘In the name of free speech we’re going to persecute, we’re going to launch investigations into particular forms of speech’ or — and I think this is equally perverse — ‘In the name of fighting racism, we’re going to launch investigations into those scholars who are most serious about studying the complex forms that racism takes.’”

      Rufo insists there are no free speech implications to what he’s trying to do. “You have the freedom of speech as an individual, of course, but you don’t have the kind of entitlement to perpetuate that speech through public agencies,” he said.

      This sounds, ironically, a lot like the arguments people on the left make about de-platforming right-wingers. To Crenshaw, attempts to ban critical race theory vindicate some of the movement’s skepticism about free speech orthodoxy, showing that there were never transcendent principles at play.

      When people defend offensive speech, she said, they’re often really defending “the substance of what the speech is — because if it was really about free speech, then this censorship, people would be howling to the high heavens.” If it was really about free speech, they should be.


      #droite #gauche #censure #cancel_culture #micro-agressions #Trump #Donald_Trump #Kemi_Badenoch #division #critical_race_theory #racisme #sexisme #Kimberlé_Crenshaw #Crenshaw #racisme_structurel #libéralisme #Richard_Delgado #Christopher_Rufo #Ian_Haney_López

    • No ‘Social Justice’ in the Classroom: Statehouses Renew Scrutiny of Speech at Public Colleges

      Blocking professors from teaching social-justice issues. Asking universities how they talk about privilege. Analyzing students’ freedom of expression through regular reports. Meet the new campus-speech issues emerging in Republican-led statehouses across the country, indicating potential new frontiers for politicians to shape campus affairs.


  • Confederate Monuments Are Now Coming Down All Over the South

    Over the last twelve hours, three statues associated with the Confederacy have been removed as protesters continue to demonstrate against police brutality and racial inequality.

    As residents in more than 40 cities have taken to the streets over the last week to engage in both peaceful and destructive protests over the police killing of George Floyd, some have turned their focus on one particular historical wound: Confederate monuments.

    Monday evening, in three Southern states—Florida, Alabama, and Virginia—protesters toppled graffiti-covered statues celebrating the former Confederate government that fought to uphold the institution of slavery, as crowds cheered.

    “With the recent death of many of those across this nation, we say enough is enough. We are done dying, and we’re done being reminded,” William Barnes, president of the Birmingham Urban League, said in a statement calling for an Alabama monument’s removal. “We’re done being reminded of the atrocities against African Americans.”


    On Monday night, a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee was toppled from its pedestal in front of his namesake high school in Montgomery, Alabama. As the figure fell, a small crowd cheered and honked before briefly singing: “Hey, he-ey, goodbye.”

    The Montgomery Police Department said multiple people had been arrested in the incident, which occurred on a state holiday commemorating President of the Confederate States Jefferson Davis, but declined to provide any additional details. The Monday holiday is one of three in Alabama that celebrate the Confederacy.

    “The statue was damaged and there are suspects in custody. Charges are pending,” Montgomery Police Captain Saba Coleman said.

    In Birmingham, demonstrators attempted to take down a Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument on Sunday evening—a 115-year-old statue that has been at the center of a legal fight between the city and the state attorney general’s office.

    “It used to be a sore. It’s cancer. It’s eating away at the community,” Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson said Monday during a press conference demanding its removal, adding that it represented hundreds of years of torment. “We cannot grow, we cannot expand with this monster wings over us, choking us, and it’s got to leave.”

    While protesters were unsuccessful in toppling the 52-foot-tall statue, some residents tore down the monument of Charles Linn, one of Birmingham’s founders and a former Confederate Navy officer, that was also in the park. Two other statues on either side of the Confederate memorial—the Spirit of the American Doughboy and the memorial to Spanish American War Veterans—were also defaced with graffiti.

    At around 9 p.m. on Monday, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin stepped in to finish the job protesters started, vowing to remove the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors monument that has stood in Linn Park since 1905.

    “In order to prevent more civil unrest, it is very imperative that we remove this statue,” Woodfin told the Birmingham News. As of Monday evening, demolition crews had already started to dismantle the monument.

    In Florida, a bust of Lee that sat on a pedestal in downtown Fort Myers was removed at the request of Sons of Confederate Veterans, according to the Orlando Sentinel. On Monday evening, protesters were seen surrounding the pedestal—that did not include the bust of the Civil War general—during a protest for Floyd.

    The United Daughters of the Confederacy also took preemptive measures in Alexandria, Virginia, on Tuesday morning, removing the Appomattox statue that has stood in the middle of Old Town since 1889. The bronze statue, which commemorated Confederate soldiers from the area, has been relocated to an undisclosed location amid the ongoing protests and the statue’s pillar will also be removed to avoid any damage.

    “Alexandria, like all great cities, is constantly changing and evolving,” Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said on Twitter Tuesday.

    Wilson later told Washingtonian magazine the city has been in discussions with the United Daughters of the Confederacy for some time about removing the statue, but decided to accelerate the process on Monday evening to “ensure there was no drama about it. We did not want to see a repeat of Charlottesville or anything else.”

    The United Daughters of the Confederacy did not immediately return The Daily Beast’s request for comment.

    The push toward eradicating old tributes to the Confederacy has sped up over the last week in several other states. In Richmond, a Robert E. Lee memorial was covered in graffiti Saturday night—as was a Stonewall Jackson statue. Several miles away, the headquarters of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was similarly vandalized with the phrases “police are creepy” and fuck racists” before it was set on fire, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

    The Confederate Defenders statue in Charleston, South Carolina, was also spray painted, the Post and Courier reported. And in North Carolina, a crowd set fire to the Market House in Fayetteville. The National Historic Landmark constructed in 1832 was used as a town hall and a slave market.


    The protests raging across the nation all center around George Floyd, who died May 25 after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee to the 46-year-old’s neck for more than eight minutes.

    While the county autopsy reports that Floyd died of cardiac arrest and had underlying health issues, an independent report commissioned by his family states that the 46-year-old was in good health and died of strangulation from pressure to his back and neck.

    After a national outcry, the four officers involved in the incident were fired and Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Protesters are now demanding the other three officers be charged for what some are calling a “legalized lynching.”


    #monuments #mémoire #colonialisme #colonisation #USA #Etats-Unis #statue #BlackLivesMatter #black_lives_matter #histoire #confédération #destruction #résistance #George_Floyd #Floride #Alabama #Virginia #Robert_Lee #Jefferson_Davis #Charles_Linn #Birmingham #Montgomery #Spirit_of_the_American_Doughboy #Spanish_American_War_Veterans #Confederate_Soldiers_and_Sailors_monument #Linn_Park #Fort_Myers #Appomattox_statue #Richmond #Stonewall_Jackson #graffiti #Confederate_Defenders_statue #toponymie #toponymie_politique #Charleston #Fayetteville #National_Historic_Landmark

    ping @reka @karine4 @cede @isskein

  • Uber Drivers in four UK cities to protest ahead of company’s IPO · IWGB

    8 May 2019 - Uber drivers in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow to log off app and protest outside Uber offices in each city
    Drivers condemn Uber for large payouts to founder, venture capitalists and executives despite failure to resolve pay issues

    Drivers call on public to not cross “digital picket line” on 8 May
    8 May: Hundreds of Uber drivers will log off the app and stage protests in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow today, as part of an international day of action taking place in dozens of cities around the world ahead of the company’s IPO.

    UK drivers are expected to log off the app between 7am and 4pm and the United Private Hire Drivers (UPHD) branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), is calling for drivers to protest outside of Uber’s offices in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow.

    The IWGB’s UPHD branch is asking the public to not cross the digital picket line by using the app to book Uber services during these times. Thousands of other drivers are expected to take action around the world, from the United States to Brazil, as part of an international day of action.

    Drivers are protesting against the IPO, which will value the company at tens of billions of dollars and lead to massive payouts for investors, while driver pay continues to be cut.

    Despite the expected massive payout for a few at the top, Uber’s business model is unsustainable in its dependence upon large scale worker exploitation. Since 2016, successive judgements from the UK’s Employment Tribunal, Employment Appeal Tribunal and Court of Appeal have all said Uber drivers are being unlawfully denied basic worker rights, such as the minimum wage and holiday pay. The IWGB is expected to face Uber at the Supreme Court later this year.

    Uber’s own prospectus recently filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission admits that being forced to respect worker rights and pay VAT as a result of the IWGB’s legal challenge would be a material risk to its business model. It also says that driver pay and job satisfaction will fall as Uber seeks to cut costs to become profitable.

    Analysis by UPHD shows that Uber drivers currently earn on average £5 per hour and work as much as 30 hours per week before breaking even.

    The drivers are demanding:

    Fares be increased to £2 per mile

    Commissions paid by drivers to Uber be reduced from 25% to 15%

    An end to unfair dismissals*

    Uber to respect the rulings of the Employment Tribunal, The Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal confirming ’worker’ status for drivers

    IWGB UPHD branch secretary Yaseen Aslam said: “Since Uber arrived to the UK in 2012, it has progressively driven down pay and conditions in the minicab sector to the point where many drivers are now being pushed to work over 60 hours a week just to get by. Now, a handful of investors are expected to get filthy rich off the back of the exploitation of these drivers on poverty wages. We are protesting today demanding that the company pay drivers a decent wage and that government authorities tackle Uber’s chronic unlawful behaviour.”

    IWGB UPHD branch chair James Farrar said: “Uber’s flotation is shaping up to be an unprecedented international orgy of greed as investors cash in on one of the most abusive business models ever to emerge from Silicon Valley. It is the drivers who have created this extraordinary wealth but they continue to be denied even the most basic workplace rights. We call on the public not to cross the digital picket line on 8 May but to stand in solidarity with impoverished drivers across the world who have made Uber so successful.”

    The protests are expected to take place at:

    London 1pm - Uber UK Head Office,1 Aldgate Tower, 2 Leman St, London E1 8FA

    Birmingham 1pm -100 Broad St, Birmingham B15 1AE

    Nottingham 1pm - King Edward Court Unit C, Nottingham NG1 1EL

    Glasgow 2pm - 69 Buchanan St, Glasgow G1 3HL

    #Uber #Streik #London #Birmingham #Nottingham #Glasgow

  • La prison de Birmingham « déprivatisée » en urgence Estelle Piaton - 20 Aout 2018 - Le Figaro


    Après une inspection intensive, le gouvernement britannique a décidé lundi de reprendre la gestion d’une prison anglaise, jusqu’à présent assurée par la société de sécurité privée G4S, accusée d’avoir négligé le bien-être des détenus et des employés.

    Le ministère britannique de la Justice a décidé lundi que le gouvernement reprendra à l’entreprise privée G4S la gestion de la prison HMP de Birmingham (centre de l’Angleterre), trouvée dans un état dramatique, lors de la dernière inspection effectuée entre le 30 juillet et le 9 août.

    Aussitôt interrogé par la Radio BBC, Peter Clarke, le chef inspecteur des prisons, a confirmé que l’état de la prison s’était complètement détérioré depuis l’an dernier, et a parlé de violence, de drogues et du cruel manque d’hygiène au sein de l’établissement qui accueillait le mois dernier 1 269 détenus au total. Il a ajouté n’avoir « jamais vu une prison dans un tel état » de toute sa carrière. Selon le journal The Independent, le comité de surveillance indépendant avait déjà mis en lumière par le passé de sérieux problèmes de circulation de substances psychoactives, de surpopulation carcérale et d’insalubrité extrême. Les rats et cafards se promenaient au pied des prisonniers, et les couloirs étaient maculés de sang et de vomi, le tout enfumé par l’odeur de cannabis.

    Le gouvernement prend ainsi le contrôle de la prison dite de « catégorie B », pour une durée de 6 mois minimum, avant de renégocier la délégation. Sa première initiative a été de transférer plus de 300 prisonniers vers d’autres centres, en vue de soulager la pression sur les surveillants pénitentiaires. Le contrat signé pour 15 ans par la société G4S en 2011, qui leur confiait l’administration de l’établissement, est donc rompu bien avant la fin de son terme.

    Le secrétaire d’État aux prisons Rory Stewart a reconnu à la chaîne de télévision Sky News que la situation était « inacceptable » voire « choquante ». Il a par ailleurs assuré que les frais de cette « déprivatisation » de l’établissement ne seraient pas à la charge des contribuables, mais assumés par G4S.

    Des surveillants cloîtrés dans leurs bureaux
    Certains détenus préféreraient toutefois rester dans leurs cellules, d’après The Guardian, et des surveillants pénitentiaires, effrayés par la violence d’autres condamnés, choisiraient de se cloîtrer dans leurs bureaux. Le plus alarmant, c’est leur « quasi-impunité », a souligné Peter Clarke sur la BBC.

    Construit en 1849, le centre pénitentiaire de Birmingham, exclusivement masculin et à la capacité globale de 1 450 détenus, avait également fait l’objet d’une importante émeute en 2016 et avait été qualifié de « prison la plus violente du pays ». Plus récemment, la presse britannique diffusait la photo de 9 véhicules, dont quelques voitures d’inspecteurs, brûlés dans le parking situé à l’extérieur de la prison de Birmingham.

    Lancée dans les années 1990, la politique d’investissement dans le secteur privé concernant le système pénitentiaire risque avec ce scandale et ces mesures drastiques d’être remise en question dans le pays.

    #prison #nationalisation #violence #angleterre #G4S #Birmingham #rats #cafards

  • « Rue des allocs » est une adaptation de l’émission anglaise « #Benefits_Street », diffusée sur Channel 4 en 2014. L’équipe avait filmé la vie des habitants de James Turner Street, un quartier défavorisé de #Birmingham, où le taux de #chômage culmine à 16,5 %, deux fois plus que le taux national. Sept millions de #téléspectateurs ont suivi l’émission dès le premier épisode. S’en est suivi un déferlement de réactions plus ou moins virulentes sur les réseaux sociaux, allant jusqu’à l’incitation à la #violence et au meurtre. Parmi les reproches entendus, le fait de montrer les petites combines, plus ou moins légales, pour boucler les fins de mois, de stigmatiser les chômeurs en les présentant comme des alcooliques, voire des délinquants. Une pétition signée par plus de 30 000 personnes avait été lancée pour interdire l’émission, estimée caricaturale, et donc clivante. Si la #télé-réalité anglaise du désespoir a fait de l’Audimat, les participants, eux, s’étaient clairement sentis trahis par la #production, certains n’osant même plus sortir de chez eux. Autrement dit : si la production avait voulu montrer que les bénéficiaires des #allocations sont, pour la plupart, des profiteurs, elle ne s’y serait pas prise autrement.


    #M6 diffuse, à partir de la semaine prochaine, un « docu-réalité » adapté d’un format anglais, « Benefits Street », qui a déchaîné les passions outre-Manche. La version française est sans doute moins caricaturale. Mais son parti pris pourrait avoir comme résultat de montrer du doigt nos concitoyens les plus fragiles. Inquiétant.

    la Rue des allocs. Docu-réalité. M6. Mercredi 17 août. 20 h 55.

    _illustration, #Miguel_Brieva_