Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Barking vigil for victim of racist acid attack

Imran Khan shakes hands with Cllr Rodwell

 by New Worker correspondent

ANTI-RACISTS gathered outside Barking Town Hall in east London on Tuesday evening (29th November) in freezing weather to show solidarity with Imran Khan, a local father of five who was sprayed with acid by Islamophobic thugs when trying to deliver a pizza.
Khan, who is still in pain, says the assault on 15th November came after he was intimidated by a gang of teens as he delivered a pizza to Academy Way. “There were a group of 13 or 14 of them, they surrounded me,” he explained.
“They started swearing at me, I didn’t know what to do. They took the food off me and threw it at my face.”
 After a passer-by called the police, the gang fled but Imran was forced to return to the road to deliver the order once again from his takeaway business in Porters Avenue, Dagenham.
He then drove to Longbridge Road to pick up his wife Farina Bibi from her sister’s house. Before he could get out of his car he was targeted by two teenage boys, one of whom fired the liquid at his face and ran off.
“My face was burning, I was in a lot of pain and couldn’t open my eyes,” said Imran. He then shouted for help from a neighbouring shopkeeper who poured a big bottle of water on his face at about 6pm.
“I think that’s what saved me, the burns didn’t go too deep,” said Imran, who spent a night in Queen’s Hospital, Romford, following the attack. He has been referred to a scar specialist at Whipps Cross University Hospital.
He added: “It was shocking, I’m still in shock. I’m more angry than anything; they should get punished for what they’ve done. If they did this to me, what could they do to more vulnerable people?”
The campaign group Stand up to Racism organised the vigil at Barking Town Hall and Khan was one of the speakers at the rally.
Leading organiser Miriam Scharf said: “It looks like racism is raising its head again. We want to show that people in Barking and Dagenham are not going to go back to being divided by racism and fear.”
Khan is now back at work but still in pain following the attack. He says the effects are more than just skin deep: “I’ve lost confidence in everything. I’m scared of going out of my house. “By joining the protest I want to show that at least I’m trying to do something.”
Council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell (Labour) lent his support and spoke at the vigil.

Leaves on the Piccadilly line

THE RMT transport union has called for the complete closure of the Piccadilly London Underground line until a problem with the wheels on the ageing rolling stock has been sorted.
Accumulations of fallen leaves on the track caught under the wheels during braking cause serious damage (known as “flatting”) to the wheels, resulting in a potential safety problem.
The union also says that a summit meeting needs to be called by the Mayor and London's transport commissioner, with an action plan drawn up and then properly implemented.
RMT also says that the night tube due to come in on the 16th December on the Piccadilly Line has to be postponed to protect passenger and staff safety.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "The entire Piccadilly line fleet of trains has got a major engineering problem which has finally boiled over.
“It's nothing new and it is down to pressure on services and sheer managerial incompetence. The attempt to shift the blame onto drivers and fleet engineers is disgraceful. Those workers, along with the station staff, have slogged their guts out to keep passengers safe and trains moving.
"Basically the problem is flatted wheels, which mean the train has to come off the road for a chunk of time to have the wheel checked and lathed back to safe tolerances. LU [London Underground] fleet engineers have worked under impossible management pressure to keep services running.
"But now the sheer danger of massive delays and overcrowding means that the service on the Piccadilly Line is inherently unsafe and will get worse under Night Tube.
"Our members are asking why will it be another 10 years before these 43-year-old trains are fully replaced when refurbishment clearly isn't working. It is also becoming clear that the wheels themselves are at fault and they've only recently been replaced. The contract for that job needs to be forensically examined.
"These issues have now all come together in a cumulative effect and are the reason why sections of the line were closed on Friday.
"RMT has been told the problem could take weeks to fix properly. Trying to do it on the hoof with our members taking the rap is no way to proceed. That's why consideration has to be given to the service being suspended until the trains are repaired and signed off as safe.
"We will have health and safety reps out and about from this morning advising our members and we expect an urgent response from the Mayor and his officials which we have set out today."

End the Housing Crisis!

by New Worker correspondent

HOUSING campaigners assembled in Old Palace Yard, opposite the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday 23rd November to demand that Chancellor Philip Hammond take immediate measures to address the current housing crisis.
Their first demand was the repeal of the Housing Act, which is fundamentally unfair and unworkable.
And they set out a list of demands in their own alternative Autumn Statement for homes, jobs and communities:

           Repeal the Housing & Planning Act 2016.
           Regulation of private renting to include controlled rents, secure tenancies and an end to no-fault and retaliatory evictions.
           Invest in council housing– remove the artificial debt burden and free councils to develop secure homes at social rent
           A moratorium on estate demolition– existing homes should be modernised and made energy-efficient
           Councils’ housing plans and targets must match local need for really-affordable homes for rent
           Suspend the Right to Buy
           Scrap the Bedroom Tax and benefit cuts/caps –housing benefit should cover average rents
           Housing cannot be classed ‘affordable’ if two-thirds of households in an area cannot afford it (in other words if housing costs amount to over one third of net disposable income)
           Housing associations must be subject to democratic oversight and regulation
           Genuine involvement of tenant and resident organisations and those in housing need, with support to encourage real participation in decision making and Respect the traditions of Gypsies and Travellers and provide suitable sites needed.

The protest was organised by Axe the Housing Act group and supported by Defend Council Housing, pensioner groups and many others. They did have one small victory to celebrate though – the Government has dropped the “pay to stay” plan that would have forced better paid council tenants to pay exorbitant rents.