Struggles for economic justice: making the links

Struggles for economic justice: making the links

Date: 3 October 2014

At WDM we’re more and more thinking about how we can make links with other groups and play our role in building a strong movement for economic justice. Part of this means exposing how the same processes play out around the world, lining the pockets of the 1% while preventing people from meeting their basic needs for things like healthy food, safe energy and decent housing.

So it’s not surprising that over the last couple of weeks, various WDMers have been spending time at a social centre on east London’s Carpenters estate. Just a stone’s throw from the Olympic park, the area has been thrown into the limelight by an inspiring group called Focus E15 who have occupied an empty block of perfectly good and desperately-needed housing, using it to run workshops, meetings and social activities while exposing how a market-driven housing system is failing to provide decent, secure homes and pushing those on low incomes out of London.

The campaign started a year ago when the local council cut funding for a mums and babies unit run by a large housing association, telling the women that they would have to abandon their support networks to move to places like Birmingham, Hastings or Manchester. They fought back and won their fight to stay in the area, where some of their families have lived for generations. But faced with expensive, insecure and poor-quality accommodation rented from profiteering private landlords, their campaign has grown into one demanding decent housing for all.

Yesterday, they forced Newham Council to drop their planned eviction, meaning that the occupation can continue until 7 October as planned. If you’re in London, they’re still welcoming people to the social centre at 80-86 Doran Walk, London E15 2JJ (close to Stratford tube) for their closing weekend. You can check out what’s on via Twitter or on their Facebook page.

It’s exciting to see and stand with people challenging economic injustice in all its forms, and something WDM is trying to do more of, while of course keeping our focus on the global picture.

Later this month, London is playing host to the world’s largest property fair. As well as the international developers and financiers that will be coming to do deals to profit from land and communities around the world, international activists will also be converging to challenge the free market approach it represents and the way it undermines people’s ability to meet their basic needs for shelter, access to land and public services. Alongside a protest to coincide with London mayor Boris Johnson’s keynote speech, campaigners are organising an alternative conference to explore the mechanisms by which profits are prioritised over people, and discuss alternatives to the current system.

The crossover and parallels with issues that WDM has worked on over decades – free trade, deregulation, debt, control of land – are striking. It’s time to make the links as we build a stronger global justice movement.

Top photo: Members of the Focus E15 campaign outside their social centre on the Carpenters estate, east London.