Wednesday, October 29, 2014

100,000 demand a pay rise

 by New Worker correspondent

AN ESTIMATED 100,000 trade unionists and other progressives took to the streets of London, Glasgow and Belfast last Saturday in the massive Britain Demands a Pay Rise protest march, organised by the TUC.
The demand, predominantly from public sector workers, was aimed at the Government and also at the Labour leader Ed Miliband to urge him to drop his policy of continuing with most of the Con-Dem Coalition’s pay restraint and general austerity policies if Labour wins next year’s general election.
In London thousands of union banners and giant balloons from all the major unions and from many smaller unions marched with campaigners for peace, for the environment, for civil liberties and for the restoration of benefits for the disabled.
There were huge contingents of local government workers, health service workers, teachers, civil servants, transport workers, firefighters, prison officers, actors and broadcasters and even police civilian staff.
There were many very different marching bands: the RMT brass band, a Scottish pipe band, reggae bands and drum-and-bass bands. The march began on the Embankment and made its way to Hyde Park via Piccadilly and Green Park.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said the massive turnout sent out a strong message to the Government.
“'Our message is that, after the longest and deepest pay squeeze in recorded history, it's time to end the lock-out that has kept the vast majority from sharing in the economic recovery.
“The average worker is £50 a week worse off than in 2007 and five million earn less than the living wage,” she said. “Meanwhile, top directors now earn 175 times more than the average worker.
“If politicians wonder why so many feel excluded from the democratic process, they should start with bread and butter living standards.
“We have had enough of boardroom greed and pay cuts – and of politicians telling us this is all the fault of migrant workers.”
Frances O’Grady attacked Ukip leader Nigel Farage for scapegoating immigrants, saying she would not want him moving next door to where she lives.
Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, pressed Labour to offer a “clear socialist alternative” at the next election, telling the London rally: “I say to Labour – stop being scared of your own shadow. Don’t shrink what you offer the British people.
“The time for being timid is past. Be brave; be inspired by this march today.”
He accused the Coalition of dismantling and destroying every gain working people have made since 1945, adding: “Their mission is to dismantle the NHS – slicing it up bit by bit and handing it on a silver platter to their friends in the private health companies.
Billy Hayes, leader of the Communication Workers Union, said Labour should not be pursuing “austerity lite” policies.
Many health service workers were present including midwives who had been on strike the previous Monday for the first time in their history in protest at the Government's decision not to pay a recommended one per cent increase to all NHS staff, and turned out in force.
Russell Brand joined the Royal College of Nursing during the march today in central London with a placard
The TUC said people are facing the biggest squeeze on their incomes since Victorian times, adding that average wages have fallen by £50 a week in real terms since 2008.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said 600 public sector jobs had been lost every day since the Coalition came to power.
“We have a story of two nations – one where champagne corks are popping for the bankers and boardroom pay is soaring, while in the other world our people are suffering from poverty pay.”

News Round-Up

 Police fail to evict Occupy protest
POLICE attempts to remove an encampment by Occupy protesters in Parliament Square on Sunday night failed, leaving between 50 and 100 protesters still there, determined to complete their planned 10-day sit-in opposite the Houses of Parliament.
The occupation began on Saturday afternoon immediately after the 100,000-strong joint trade union protest at low wage levels in Britain.
According to its website, the goal of the Occupy Democracy campaign is to “direct the energy from current single-issue struggles into a critical mass that can radically challenge the corrupt and unrepresentative system”.
On Sunday night hundreds of police moved on to the Square determined to clear the protesters. They gave the protesters 30 minutes to pack up and leave or face arrest.
Possessing items that could be used for sleeping in Parliament Square was made illegal under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011.
Officers could be seen dragging away some of the protesters after they refused to leave.
An Occupy spokeswoman described the police action as “absolutely crazy”. She said officers told them that they could not sit on tarpaulins, which were deemed to be “structures”.
Officers did not remove all of the protesters and between 50 and 100 remained in the square late on Sunday night. One person was arrested.
Some of the protesters questioned why they were being removed while the “Occupy” protests in Hong Kong are supported by David Cameron. If they thought about it they could realise that the Hong Kong protest has very different aims to that of the Westminster protest.
In London an Occupy spokesperson said: “We know that democracy is not just about having a vote every four, now five years" say the group, who are now four days into a proposed 10-day occupation of Parliament Square Gardens, "It is about having the power to make your voice heard.
“In the UK today, record numbers of people are homeless, record numbers rely on food banks to feed their families, and record numbers face fuel poverty as energy prices rise eight times faster than wages. At the same time, inequality is back on the rise, making us one of the most unequal countries in the developed world...
 “Nobody voted to be made homeless, hungry or unemployed. It is clear whose voices are being heard. We need to start a movement for real democracy... We need to give ourselves the tools to hold our politicians to account, and to end the corporate lobbying power that drowns our voices out.”
A long list of speakers at the protest on Sunday included Green Party leader Natalie Bennett and Labour MP John McDonnell.

Council wrong to evict refugee and seize his possessions

A HIGH Court judge last week severely criticised Southwark Council for evicting a Sudanese tenant and seizing and destroying all his possessions.
Judge Anthony Thornton QC ruled that housing officers had “entered into a conspiracy to harm” the refugee, to unlawfully evict him from his council flat and destroy his possessions, including memory sticks holding thousands of hours of work, before then covering up their wrongdoing.
The victim, known only as AA, who was granted British citizenship after fleeing Sudan’s civil war in 1985, was made homeless for a year and forced to sleep on the streets after officials acting for Southwark Borough Council entered his home while he attended a court hearing in April last year over rent arrears of £18 per week.
All his possessions, including his passport, credit cards, furniture and computer equipment containing several years of research and personal material, were removed on the day of the eviction and destroyed in a waste disposal facility.
Judge Thornton said: “The various officers conspired to evict AA by unlawful means, to seize and destroy his possessions by unlawful means and to cause him harm and loss by evicting him and dispossessing him of his possessions.”
In his own complaint, AA, who had sought £2.4 million in damages, said he felt he had been “robbed of my dignity and pride” by the local authority.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Odessa massacre will not be forgotten

 by New Worker 

COMRADES and progressives in London came to Marx House in Clerkenwell for an exhibition to mark six months since the massacre by fire of anti-fascists and trade unionists who were sheltering in the Trade Union House from violent pro-Kiev Nazi thugs in May this year.
The Nazis secured the doors and then pelted the building with Molotov cocktails. At least 48 young people died in the fire that engulfed the building. Police stood by and did nothing.
The exhibition consisted of photos of the massacre and its aftermath.
A collection raised £250 towards humanitarian aid for the anti-fascist cities of Donetsk and Lugansk, which are defending their independence from the fascist regime in Kiev.

Marching in the rain against war

by New Worker correspondent

AROUND 2,000 peace campaigners braved the cold and wind last Saturday to march through London to protest at Britain once more getting involved in bombing Iraq and the threat that Britain might also follow the United States into bombing Syria.
Marchers assembled at Temple Place and marched along the Embankment to the Houses of Parliament where they turned and marched up Whitehall for a rally opposite Downing Street.
There were banners from peace groups – mainly Stop the War and CND but also Quakers for Peace and others – and hundreds of placards demanding: “Stop bombing Iraq; don’t attack Syria.”
The rally was addressed by peace campaign veterans Lyndsey German, Kate Hudson, Jeremy Corbyn MP and others.
The bombing campaigns are led by the United States ostensibly to counteract the advance of
ISIS. the very brutal militant Islamic militia that was created a couple of years ago by the US and Saudi Arabia to destabilise the secular Baathist government of Bashar Assad in Syria.
This army has been defeated by the Syrian army and driven out of large parts of Syria and is now rampaging through northern Iraq, picking up support from many Sunni communities that have suffered at the hands of the sectarian Shia puppet government that the US installed in Baghdad.
Marchers agreed that the extremely violent
ISIS militia must be stopped but argued that bombing and the threat of more western invasions did more harm to civilian communities and just made matters worse.
It is also being used by the imperialist powers to continue their intention to destabilise and overthrow the Assad government and replace it with the chaos and confusion of never ending sectarian religious strife that now prevails in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
This kind of chaos and corruption allows the western oil giants easiest access to plunder the oil riches of the Middle East.
Just a year ago the House of Commons voted against British involvement in a planned US bombing and invasion of Syria to bring down the Assad government. The US had to postpone its plans in face of growing popular opposition to a new war.
But last week Parliament voted last week for British forces to join US-led raids on targets in Iraq but not Syria. Britain now has eight Tornado jets flying out of Cyprus in combat operations in Iraq.
But now the threat of ISIS – created by western imperialism – is allowing the British and American governments to circumvent popular opposition to new involvement in military action in the Middle East.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Korean communists’ day of glory

Yu Kwang Song, Andy Brooks and Michael Chant
by New Worker correspondent

FRIENDS of Korea met last Sunday to celebrate the formation of the Workers Party of Korea at a social meeting at the John Buckle Centre in south London.
The WPK was founded on 10th October 1945 by great leader Kim Il Sung. Since its birth the WPK has led the Korean revolution and socialist construction, performing tremendous feats. Under the guidance of the respected leader Kim Jong Un, the WPK is now leading the drive to build a thriving and impregnable socialist country.
At the meeting the panel, which included New Communist Party leader Andy Brooks, Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist), general secretary Michael Chant, Yu Kwang Song from the DPR Korea embassy in London and John Rainsborough from the Korean Friendship Association, all spoke about the role of the WPK in the world communist movement and the significance of the Juché Idea in the modern world.
Comrades joined in the discussion which followed. Then came a cultural interval, provided by Michael Chant and Lesley Larkum, who played Arirang, a folk-song known throughout the Korean peninsula and the national anthem of the DPRK. And, as always, the discussion continued informally during the buffet at the end of the meeting.
The celebration was called by the Co-ordinating Committee of the Friends of Korea, which brings together all the major movements active in Korean friendship and solidarity work in Britain today.  It is chaired by Andy Brooks and the secretary is Michael Chant.
The Friends of Korea committee consists of the NCP, RCPB(ML), the Socialist Labour Party, the European Regional Society for the Study of the Juché Idea and the UK Korean Friendship Association. The committee organises meetings throughout the year, which are publicised by the supporting movements and on the Friends of Korea blog.