In July, the evening before the Durham Miners’ Gala, a launch meeting was held at the Miners’ Hall. Local activists who had been involved in Keep the NHS Public, the ‘Durham No Bedroom Tax’ group and the secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association were joined on the platform by Ellie Mae O’Hagan and Owen Jones. It was a well-attended meeting, with 240 people there and the discussion was very positive.
After this launch meeting, we set up a group which now meets fortnightly to plan activities. There are usually about 10 people who attended regularly.
Along with the Trades Council in Durham, we put on a bus to the ‘Save Our NHS’ demo in Manchester. A number of people who came on this demo subsequently became involved in the group.
In October, we held a public meeting on the day of the teachers’ strike which included speakers from the NUT, NASUWT, as well as other unions such as PCS, CWU, FBU and Labour MP Grahame Morris. The meeting was attended by about 50 people and we discussed ways in which campaigners and unions could support each other and work together.
On 5th November, we took part in the day of action against austerity. We targeted companies such as Boots, M&S and Starbucks over the issues of tax dodging and workfare. The protest culminated in a sit in at Starbucks with our placards and chatting to customers about why we were protesting. There were around 30 people who took part in this, some joining us en route when they heard what the protest was about! We also used this opportunity to distribute leaflets about the local People’s Assembly group.
At the moment, we’re planning our activities for the 14th December, where we will target chains which use zero hours contracts