Syndikat activists in london: chasing the owners

Four activists from the Syndikat pub travel to London to talk to their landlords. Their goal: a new lease.

London’s most famous pub Photo:

With a list of 4,000 signatures for their stay in the luggage, four activists of the Neukolln pub Syndikat stand on Tuesday in London’s Cavendish Square in front of a new building with the house number 33. Christian, a member of the collective for over eleven years, and his comrades-in-arms visit the owners of their house. They want to talk to the Pears brothers – who own the group of companies of the same name. Because their real estate branch owns more than 6,000 apartments in Germany, especially in Berlin, including the house in Weisestrasse.

"Our lease is coming to an end," says Christian. "We just want to talk in a friendly way with the people in charge so that our lease, which has been there for 33 years, will be renewed. That’s why we’re going to behave ourselves." The small delegation of four Berlin activists has organized reinforcements from London for this purpose, not only by means of a music system from which loud ska and punk are blaring.

The Radical Housing Network, which networks British housing campaigns, has also come, and Unison, the country’s largest trade union, also sent its housing expert Glyn Robbins. "These kinds of situations are global problems, and there’s no question at all for us that we need to show solidarity and unity here," Robbins told the taz.

Also joining in is Jacob Wills of the European Coalition for Housing Rights in Cities. "We can really only learn from the fact that people from Germany are willing to go abroad to draw attention to their situation," he emphasizes. It was his initiative that allowed the German guests to stay overnight in London for free and catered for them.

Support for the collective

Mariam Gensky is one of the four from Berlin; she is a member of Solidarische Aktion Neukolln. "It was just important to communicate what an important place the syndicate is," she says. Help also came from the anarchist London bookstore Freedom Press in Whitechapel, Gensky tells me, where they could design posters for the action for free. "Elective philanthropy is creating spaces – not destroying them," Gensky has written on a poster she is holding.

Christian was with the others earlier in the day at the Pears Foundation, the company’s social outreach arm. As they stood there, a man came out who did not introduce himself but stated he was from the Foundation. "We explained that the syndicate’s interests fit what the Pears Foundation stands for. We give safe spaces, act as a social space, raise funds for good causes."

The four activists were able to get rid of a few of their flyers, however, their gifts were not accepted, for security reasons, it was said. At Cavendish Square, it also remained for now just talking to the security guards. Christian admitted he was nervous. "It’s a mixture of not knowing what’s happening and worrying about the future of the syndicate."

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