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As the sun shone across Ilford, north east London, on 25 March the roads that lead to the City of London Cemetery were a sight to behold as hundreds gathered to pay their respects to RMT leader Bob Crow, who died suddenly last week of a suspected heart attack. Trade unionists and activists displaying hundreds of colourful union banners as well as flags from groups such as the Stop the War Coalition which Crow supported, lined the route from near the 52-year-old’s house in Woodford.

Crow’s coffin was carried in a horse-drawn carriage, in traditional East End style. The four horses were dressed in blue and white plumage, the colours of Crow’s beloved Millwall Football Club. As the hearse approached the cemetery mourners clapped and cheered chanting, “Workers united will never be defeated.” Some even sang The Red Flag and The Internationale as they moved from the sides to join the procession to the cemetery gates.

This past week tributes to Bob have poured out across the labour movement. GMB union leader Paul Kenny said, “Bob was an absolute giant. He was remarkable fighter for working people, but he was also passionate about protecting the health and safety of the public, which he never got any credit for. He was a funny, witty, interesting man, and the union movement – in fact the whole country – will be a duller place without him.”

RMT president Peter Pinkney said, “Bob’s death leaves a massive gap in the lives of everyone who was fortunate enough to know him and represents a huge loss to the trade union and labour movement both in this country and internationally, and specifically, for the RMT members Bob led with such stunning success.”

Tributes will also be paid on May Day, with a special event being planned in London

Freedom paper goes digital.

Posted: March 11, 2014 in Anarchism, Media

Thirteen months since the brutal attack on the Freedom bookshop in London the Freedom Collective release a statement that announces possibly their biggest news in 128 years.

A STATEMENT FROM THE FREEDOM COLLECTIVE

Published March 10, 2014

Since Freedom: A Journal of Anarchist Socialism first appeared in 1886 it has been in the form of a newspaper to be sold. Now the Freedom Collective has decided that we shall move content online accompanied by a freesheet after publication of the upcoming second issue of 2014.

We have come to realise that a sold hardcopy newspaper is no longer a viable means of promoting the anarchist message. Despite a huge publicity boost to Freedom following the firebomb attack last year (shop sales rose 50%) there has not been a corresponding increase in distribution of the paper. Only 29 shops, social centres and individuals now sell it and the number of paying subscribers has fallen to 225.As a result annual losses now amount to £3,500, an unsustainable level for our shoestring budget.

Readers will have noticed that the paper has struggled to come out on time for some while. An underlying problem has been a lack of capacity to sustain it. We had hoped that Freedom would be adopted as THE paper of the anarchist movement. Despite a great deal of goodwill from anarchist groups and individuals over the years, sadly this has not been the case.

Although Freedom Press has changed from a political group with a particular point of view to a resource for anarchism as a whole, we have not managed to shake the legacy of the past and get different groups to back it as a collective project. We hope an online version and freesheet will make that possible.

Subscribers will be offered a refund or book in lieu but we are happy to accept donations towards the costs of the new project.

Charlotte Dingle will remain as editor and of course the shop, publishing and book distribution will continue as normal. As will the use of Angel Alley for meetings, events, offices, postal address and drop-in protest advice.

The print version could not have continues so long without the generosity of Aldgate Press, currently amounting to a subsidy of nearly £10,000 a year. They have very kindly agreed to print a regular freesheet/news compilation to enable us to keep in touch with our readers who don’t have the internet, and a special final edition, which will be released for the London Anarchist Bookfair in October.

Plastic Bag Radio is a show on the University of the West of England’s very own Hub Radio. The show, hosted post-graduate students Sam grist and Matthew Hollinshead alongside former UWE student Samir Seddougui, airs every Tuesday 3pm-4pm. The show mixes philosophical, political and historical discussion with a great selection of music. In light of the fact that UWE were playing host to the DPRTE arms fair this week’s show takes a look at the insidious relationship between universities and the defence industry. During the second half of the show our hosts welcomed on Holly Rea from the Campaign Against Arms Trade to find out more.

Plastic Bag: First of all, I know Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) have done research on the money that arms companies give to universities, could you tell us a bit about the relationships between these companies and universities?

Holly Rae: It works in two ways; on the one hand you have universities investing financially into arms companies because it is seen as being a very profitable industry even though when you look at the facts and figures it really isn’t. For instance we just found out through a freedom of information request that Trinity College at Cambridge University have £250,000 worth of shares in Lockheed Martin, the world’s biggest arms company. Then the way that arms companies will feed back into universities is that they will fund scholarships with the insinuation that these students will go on to work for an arms company for a certain number of years or that the arms companies will be able to heavily influence the academic programs. So you will often find that students going into engineering jobs, though now BAE are recruiting students all academic disciplines studying humanities as well as sciences, for example in Manchester there are students doing research on laser cleaning which doesn’t seem that insidious on the surface, however the feedback from this was used by the arms trade. So you have a situation where students are doing research for arms companies and the military for free.

PB: About a year ago someone wrote a piece on drones and ethics which argued that they are more ethical because they kill less people. As if, when you take the total number of people that can be involved in a combat situation, any way of reducing that number is seen as an ethical benefit. It just so happens that this was keeping American soldiers out and that was the key. The author of this piece, as it happens, was a philosopher funded by the American Navy. Which seems hilarious, well I mean some of us here study philosophy and the idea of being funded by the MoD just seems bizarre. So, you were talking about how arms companies have a huge amount of influence and how they can recruit people because they have funded them to go through university and then universities are investing in that. Is it simply syllabus control that they have? I know that HP provide a lot of the software used by Israeli Defence Force as well as other western militaries and they own sections of the [Frenchay] campus we are on right now. I was wondering though if there are other universities in the UK where arms companies have more direct control or just UWE.

HR: No it is everywhere. For instance Cardiff University has its own naval ship, which goes out to conflict, in the dock.

PB: The University has its own ship? That is so terrible.

HR: Yeah. In Portsmouth the university has just won a bid to be able to oversee the course at the first military technical college in Oman. So you have a very military and arms trade orientated focus at many universities. In fact 50% of scientists go into the arms industry after graduating and this is because of the influence had by arms companies. I know a lot of people will say “Oh yeah, but they are giving out scholarships”, but the money for these scholarships comes from the government, it’s not businesses putting up their own money. It’s being diverted through the government and it is the government then influencing what jobs they want people to go into, through what I see as very illegitimate means.

PB: It seems entirely that that undue corporate control, which is a massive understatement for the level of control that the arms industry has got, but it does tie into that idea of removing steadily any kind of democratic control of any public institutions like universities. So I think it is very import to connect this kind of stuff to attacks on fees etc. In fact today there is a national day of action against fees and various other issues, but we of course have this demonstration today and tomorrow against the arms trade on our campus. We still know very little about what will go on in that building besides a lot of very dangerous men in really expensive suits talking about finding fun ways to kill people. It’s definitely going to be a big event, we saw on the website it’s described as one of the main defence procurement events of the year in the UK.

HR: Definitely. In September we had Defence, Security and Equipment International (DSEi), which is one of the world’s largest arms fairs, in London and I imagine that a lot of companies that met there will be following up at this event. I was just doing some research and apparently the group who are setting up the event have said that they won’t have any form of munitions, weaponry, artillery or hazardous military equipment on site as though that somehow excuses the fact that that is what they are going to be talking about, those are the deals they are going to be making. Just because you don’t physically have the guns there, they do at DSEi and you’ll see civil servants playing with guns and grenades and things. It’s quite bizarre.

PB: Yeah, when we were trying to find propaganda and photos we found this picture of this incredibly geeky looking guy in a suit that didn’t quite fit right, but being so excited by this sniper rifle. It was so terrifyingly Freudian. So we are not talking about there being loads of guns on campus, this is much more of a networking and brochures type event. Do you feel that there is an explicit push by arms companies to keep the guns away in an effort to make it seem more of a business event?

HR: Definitely. You would never hear an arms dealer talking about the ethics of what they do, when you are talking about how many people they kill it’s in terms of efficiency, it’s in terms of how easily you can suppress a crowd or a riot and how you can do that cheaply. It is very far removed from the actual horrors of conflict and I think that’s why CAAT and other international solidarity groups work really hard to take the photos and do the research to ensure that the human aspect of conflict isn’t forgotten cause I think that it is all very easy to get swept up in this boys and their toys mentality.

PB: Just the rhetoric of arms companies takes the human aspect away from what’s actually happening. You were talking about suppressing riots; the UK particularly has connections with Bahrain and Saudi Arabia known to be extremely bad on those sorts of issues.

HR: It’s ridiculous. We currently have David Cameron in Sri Lanka talking about human rights and yet he is in the middle of a tour of Saudi Arabia and the UAE trying to sell them fighter jets. So he only cares about human rights when in suites the pocket of arms dealers.

PB: Yeah, exactly. Ok, so there will possibly be some disruption happening on campus today and tomorrow, what kind of security would you imagine demonstrators to be encountering? Is it fair to say that these companies have been ramping up their security?

HR: It is difficult to say, we have found that the policing at first at DSEi was very light-handed, it was only after we had been there a few hours that you started to see more police to the point where there was probably a police officer for every person at the occupation outside DSEi. I can’t imagine it will be like that on a university campus. They may bring in private security to boost up the campus security, but one of the things that universities do when putting on these kinds of conferences is putting a lot of pride on their own security. That’s part of business and in some ways that is why universities have been clamping down on student protest because it is bad for their business. If they are not in the public eye seen as being able to control students, who of course in the public eye are seen as being a bit frivolous and silly then that may negatively persuade them. So you may see quite bad uses of security, but I don’t think it would be anything to worry about as such. I don’t know if you saw all the videos of the security guards in Sheffield?

PB: Yeah, that was at an engineering employment fair it was pretty intense. So that was a ‘dying’ action, people went in, pretended to die and be as obtrusive as possible and eventually private security came in and manhandled them out, which is obviously not what they want to do because it is not very good press. But as you said if they can keep students in line then it kind of helps their image if they are going to be having this kind of employment fair, selling off their students etc. But this also means that the stakes for student resistance over these kinds of issues is a lot higher. If we can actually say well we can’t do it, we could lose them a hell of a lot of money and that is basically how you shift management. I didn’t realise how useful direct action on campus could be.

HR: I’ve got two small anecdotes on that point. The first; on Thursday I was in Portsmouth because BAE Systems were putting on one of their lavish nights of recruitment where basically they will get a bit of prosecco in and sit down with a glossy magazine telling people how they are defending the world etc. And it turned out that the event got cancelled and one of the people who were part of the group I was with was volunteering with the company that was putting on the event and he said that he had received an email informing him that one of the key speakers had pulled out after hearing that there was a student protest planned. So that is an example of how even the threat of something can have an effect. There was another student group, I forget which one, a couple of years ago who were trying to get a meeting with their Vice Chancellor, but every time they called him up the secretary just palmed them off, so in the end they wrote him a letter saying if you do not meet with us then we will sabotage this corporate event that is going on. And so they had a meeting within two days. I think that it is important not to underestimate the power of student protest.

PB: And I think you can almost see that a little bit. I was looking at the western eye, which is the UWE student newspaper, and the editor had written an article on the arms fair and it’s got a quote from a university spokesman who was saying that the university would not expect protest at this type of event and any protest there is he hopes would be responsible. So I think that that shows that they are a bit worried that something could disrupt their event, which obviously a lot of people have put a lot of money into when you look at the £6,000 costs for a table. What is interesting about this event specifically, and we have been talking about the more explicit links between the arms trade and universities, this is literally them renting out the building, a building that perhaps wasn’t bought in the best interest of the students, but that’s another question. So the university is holding this line of we are renting out the building, we condone the arms trade and so they can remain neutral and at the same time completely complicit. It’s just business.

HR: I’ll believe that they are neutral when they put on an event for renewable technology or sustainable energy.

PB: The thing is, they have had that kind of stuff. UWE is very involved in trying to present itself as an ethical institution which means that the fact that it has got major arms research labs, exists on land previously owned and a lot of it still owned by major military industrial contactors and its whole edifice is built up on being “better together” and talking about inclusivity and equality, but this is built up on the whole military industrial complex.

HR: Definitely, and that’s how the arms companies manage to put forward this legitimate face.  I think especially it is quite sad to hear that UWE, even though it’s got this really ethical facade on it that it is based on this fundamentally awful industry. It could be a forerunner, there are universities that do have ethical standards for who they allow to rent out their buildings and things like that and they could really push that and though I hate to use business language that could be a unique selling point for them and a really positive way to go forward, but instead they choose to legitimise the arms trade by maintaining this facade of being an ethical place, but yet still inviting these people onto their campus.

PB: UWE was one of the first universities to go for the £9,000 fees, in fact our Vice Chancellor was one of the guys who drew up the Universities UK policy on increasing fees, they have a massive problem with not paying the Bristol Living Wage, and the unions on campus are fighting for a decent wage. So specifically for students weighing up whether or not to come down to the demonstration in ten minutes the fact that the same universities business policy allows it to not pay cleaners properly and allow murderers onto campus are not disconnected issues. The fact that we are having to pay more fees and having fewer lectures is not a disconnected issue, its part of a wider marketisation of the university that needs to be challenged at every step. And this is one that we can be really powerful in. UWE cares so much about its press, it rates one positive tweet about UWE £5, I saw a spreadsheet of media reports, but an inch of positive press is worth £1000 to them. So they have this stuff quantified and the bigger noise we can make about this in the media and also if we can embarrass them in front of their defence contractor friends then that really shifts the balance in favour of students and workers on campus and that is something that we shouldn’t under estimate. OK we only have a couple of minutes left, can you tell people if they want to get involved with Campaign Against Arms Trade how they go about that.

HR: OK, so obviously go and support the demonstration and protest tomorrow, that would sound like the first thing to do. You can find us on Facebook as well as the CAAT website, but then we have the sub-Facebook which is just for universities so that is a really good place to connect with other students. On our website there are loads of resources for if you want to start your own campaign. It sounds like UWE would really respond well to an ethical investments campaign. So I think that would be something to maybe start looking into and maybe get some freedom of information requests out to see how deep these relationships lie and just generally get in touch with us at CAAT, you can give me an email at universities@caat.org.uk and I will get back to you. But just have a few meetings, get people together, they don’t have to be stuffy and boring, you can do them in a fun way and just get some campaign momentum on campus and use your own power to influence your university.

PB: Awesome, thank you so much.

Students at the University of Sussex have gone into occupation in support of workers on strike tomorrow. Tomorrow’s strike across the higher education sector is a response to attacks on pay. The measly 1% pay increase that has been offered to staff in higher education this year, will equate to a real wage cut of 13% after 3 years of pay freezes. Yet this cut comes at a time when the pay and benefits for university management has increased by more than £5,000 in 2011-12, with the average pay and pensions package for vice-chancellors reaching nearly £250,000. Students at Sussex claim that their vice-chancellor, Micheal Farthing, has alone received a 57% pay and pension rise since 2007.

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The occupation, which takes place in the universities Arts A1 Lecture Theatre will act as an information point for anyone who wishes to find out more about the strike. As well as staging this occupation students will also be joining striking staff on the picket lines tomorrow between 7am-3pm which they encourage other students to join them for. The Occupy Sussex group would also like to make clear that despite attempts by security staff to block entrance to the lecture theatre they fully encourage all students and lecturers scheduled to take part in lectures here today to come and join them.

Not all students are in favour of the occupation though. In the picture below we see members of the Labour and Conservative Future societies shaking hands in united opposition against the occupation. A dark reflexion of their parties support of the vicious attacks on staff and student in higher education.

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Elsewhere

Nursing Students at Sheffield Hallam University are being threatened with sanctions if they choose NOT to cross the picket lines this week. This is a clear attempt by management to stem any student and staff unity in the face of the Tory onslaught on education. At the steel cities other university though the actions at Sussex have been echoed as 50 students have gone into occupation themselves. Students at SOAS have also staged an occupation in solidarity with striking workers.

Zero Tollerence

Posted: October 3, 2013 in UK, Worker's Rights

Marcus: Hey do you fancy doing something Thursday night?
Zahra: Sounds good, but I’m not sure if I will get any hours at work this week.
Marcus: OK well let me know and we will sort something out.

A short conversation that is all too indicative of the current state of life for the working class as figures reveal that more than 1 million British workers could be employed on zero-hours contracts. From retail chains like Sports Direct all the way up to Buckingham Palace, workers face little option than to take on contracts that offer them no holiday or sick pay and often little work. Though this style of contract isn’t new it has recently become a focus of controversy with retailer Sports Direct, who employ 20,000 of their 23,000 staff on such contracts, at the centre of the storm. Likewise pub group J D Wetherspoon has 80% of its workforce, 24,000 staff, on zero-hours contracts.

Though recent contention has led to business secretary Vince Cable conducting a review of zero-hours contracts it has been criticised as being “totally inadequate” by the Labour opposition. Vidhya Alakeson, deputy chief executive of the think tank the Resolution Foundation added that “If it’s true that there are in the region of 1 million people on zero-hours contracts, then that would be a substantial portion of the workforce – this could no longer be dismissed as an issue affecting only a tiny minority. The new estimate underlines the urgent need for a deep and thorough review of zero-hours by the government, which takes into account not only the scale of the problem, but the effect these contracts have on workers’ employment rights, earning capacity and personal well-being.” However despite Cable’s oppositional talk, thousands of Londoners are employed by Labour councils on zero-hours contracts. The situation is not much better in the Green Party, after calling for a ban on zero-hours contracts; it was found that they too saw fit to use them themselves, employing up to 1,000 people on casual contracts.

Opposition to these contracts has not just come from think tanks and politicians. Trade unions and activist groups like ‘Zero Tolerance to Zero Hours’ have also been a key part of the fight back against measures that enable employers to keep their profit high by cutting staff benefits. Dave Prentis, general secretary of the trade union Unison, said that “The vast majority of workers are only on these contracts because they have no choice. They may give flexibility to a few, but the balance of power favours the employers and makes it hard for workers to complain.” Also the Bakers Food & Allied Workers Union – who have strong anti-workfare policies – are currently taking industrial action at Hovis after agency workers on zero-hour contracts were brought in to replace workers previously made redundant.

The past thirty years in Britain has see a sharp shift towards neo-liberal politics and social policy that has dramatically changed the lives of the working class both in how they are viewed and how they survive. Bruised by the destruction of industry that took place under the Thatcher regime their search for work has been further marred by an ever diminishing public sector. However, despite the sudden recent interest in precarious labour, both in the media and academically, the need for precarity under capitalism is far from a new development. If we were to look at the 1980s we would see Dockers queuing up each morning in the hope of a day’s work. Similarly the agrarian workers of early modern England experience an inconsistent demand for their labour. Indeed throughout the history of capitalist society sections of the working class have been characterised by a degree of job insecurity, with women and people of colour tending to carry out the bulk of precarious work. American sociologist and professor at Yale University Immanuel Wallerstein even claims that the overseas exploitation of semi-proletarians, members of a peasent class who spends part of their year as a wage worker in a town, as the main motive of colonialism.

So why the sudden focus? Well, though precarious labour is nothing new employers both in the public and the private sectors have massively increased the number of agency staff and staff on temporary or zero-hours contracts over the past twenty years. Between 1992 and 2001 employment agencies tripled their share of employment. In fact 27% of the healthcare sector, 48% of the hotels, catering and leisure industries and 35% of the education sector are made up of employers using zero-hours contracts. With universities and colleges being more than twice as likely to employ staff on zero-hours contracts as other workplaces.

Academic interest in changes in class composition during the neo-liberal period has picked up on the increasing levels of precarity and its need for analysis. One of the leading theorists around this is Guy Standing, a professor at Bath University, who has analysed the theory of what he calls ‘the precariat’. Standing sees the precariat as a new emerging social class which is composed of people suffering from precarity, a condition which stems from a lack of predictability or security affecting material or psychological welfare – though it is a defining factor of the working class or proletariat to rely solely on the selling of their own labour in order to live this classification specifically refers to the condition of intermittent or underemployment and the resultant precarious existence.

The effects on the working class have even been mentioned by Unite general secretary, Len McCluskey, who said: “The government’s refusal to address the growing scandal of zero-hours contracts is creating a sub-class of insecure and low-paid employment.” However, simply inventing a new class is not necessarily the answer, as anyone who questioned their status as an emergent service worker should agree. Though attempts have been made to define the precariat as a class of its own these have often been imprecise, defined in negative terms and crucially fail to outline the principles of its reproduction. However what can be said with confidence is that during the neoliberal period there have been real transformations in both the economy and in class structure. The working class has certainly become more stratified, with increasing variety in the amount and type of work undertaken by the working class. The levels of precarity and insecurity have also increased during this period, something which affects the lowest strata of the working class most. So we must either understand that the working class is by its very nature precarious, and so there is no need for a new classification. Our focus should be on the resistance we provide to the division through stratification and the increasing precarity that brings.

It has long been that the left has place too much of their focus on the public sector as a longed for potential hot bed of industrial action. However in doing so a huge failure is maintained. The failure to organise in unorganised workplaces, an area in which the Industrial Workers of the World union (IWW) have shown great strength, mounting successful campaigns with workers at Pizza Hut, Starbucks and Pret A Manger. With the changes that have occurred within the composition of the working class, more than ever this focus leaves too little attention spared for what can too happen in the most unimaginable of places. We need only look at the recent waves of resistance across the US fast food industry, where earlier this month thousands of workers in cities including New York, Chicago and Detroit took to the streets, many wearing red “Fight for 15” T-shirts – a reference to the popular call for a $15 (£9.70) hourly wage, almost double the current minimum. It is action like this as well as the organisation of cleaning staff in John Lewis and London Metropolitan University or the launch of the Pop-Up union at the University of Sussex that show where real potential now lies. Some may say where it always has with the proles.

This article can also be found in The Exchange magazine. A joint publication between the AntiCapitalist Initiative, Socialist Resistance and the International Socialist Network.

The Gremlins Are Back.

Posted: August 5, 2013 in Squatting, UK

During the early hours or Sunday morning activist group the ‘Gremlins’ entered and occupied the Canton Police Station on Cowbridge Road East, Cardiff. The squatting crew gained access to the former police station after reportedly climbing through several open windows. The Gremlins, who describe themselves as a network of travellers, homeless people and supporters who campaign for the right to squat have previously occupied the Bute Dock Hotel in Cardiff Bay and the former Spin ten-pin bowling centre on City Road.
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A spokesman for the group has said: “We did not ask for permission [to enter] as it’s our legal right to do so. We are standing up against corruption and brutality within the police force.” adding “We squat as we believe corporations have no right to own property. We squat here to show people that not everyone is afraid.”

In a prepared statement, the activists make accusations against police over the handling of the Lynette White murder investigation, which collapsed in December 2011.

As ever the Gremlins are welcoming visitors and guests and will even be giving tours of the cells.

The mention of the small town of Sarajevo in Bosnia-Herzegovina for most will conjure images and memories of the war that tore it apart 20 years ago; Images of bloodshed, bombs and snipers shooting from surrounding hillside. Combined with names such as Srebrenica and Prijedor, images of the first genocide broadcast, in colour, live on TV. Perhaps, even images of the ‘Sarajevo roses’ that remain, as a stark reminder of what happened to the streets of that city. Now a new uproar runs through this city’s streets, one of a different kind.

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Over two weeks ago demonstrators, activists and children began peacefully occupying the parliament square in Sarajevo. There protest is against their politician’s failure to adopt a permanent law on identification documents. This failure has caused great problems for children in the country in particular newborn children, who have been denied the right to receive ID numbers since February 2013 preventing them from obtaining passports or other documents necessary for travel. It was this that led to the situation that became the spark for revolt, the case of Belima Ibrisevic.

Ibrisevic was a newborn baby, sick and in need of medical treatment that she could not receive in her own country. However due the Ministry of the Interior’s inability to provide her with and ID number neither was she able to obtain the passport that would have allowed her to travel to Germany where she would be able to receive the treatment necessary. For the people of Sarajevo this was the last straw and on June 5th thousands began a protest which led to them standing in front of the parliament day and night. The following day the demonstrators organised a blockade of the parliament building that prevented MPs and Foreign investors from leaving.

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In February the law on ID’s was blocked by Bosnian Serb MPs who claimed that there needed to be change in the municipalities before new personal numbers could be issued. This has led to ruling class politicians, who still hold their power by playing on ethnic cleavages, accusing the demonstrations of being orchestrated by the ethnic opposition parties. But the demonstrators doth protest this claiming that they do not accept the government’s attempt to label the issue under a convenient ethnic flag for it is not an issue of race nor religion, but that the entire system is failing.

The protests have gained support, as other protesters have stood in solidarity with their peers in Sarajevo. Rallies in support of the occupiers have taken place in major cities around the Muslim-Croat Federation. The widespread solidarity show strikes a new chord in a country where people find it difficult to mobilise cross-ethnically. This change is part of a wider change taking place in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In May 2012 a demonstration broke out, occupying Picin Park in Banja Luka, in opposition to plans that would see the removal of old trees from the park. Though this occupation may not have reached the scale nor notoriety of Istanbul’s Taskim Park it is without doubt notable in it’s being the first large scale demonstration activists have been able to organise since the war ended over 17 years ago.

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Like many contemporary movements, activists in Bosnia took influence from the Indignados, which led to a walking protest that lasted more than fifty days and gained those involved the epithet of Sijetaci, the Walkers. As well as issues of free and public space, opposition to the economic and social situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina has been at the centre of these protests. The Walkers of Banja Luka and the occupiers of Sarajevo show a new wave of resistance in the country that could unleash a long repressed anger at the way in which the ruling class treat politics like an oversized board game.