Friday, June 14, 2019

Fun in the Park

By Daphne Liddle

GLOBAL Fusion Arts last Saturday celebrated World Refugee Week with a programme of song, dance and cultural demonstrations in General Gordon Square, Woolwich to demonstrate a small sample of the rich cultural contributions that refugees and other immigrants have brought to this south-east London town over many centuries.
Woolwich is now home to a rich and diverse mixture of communities from all over the world – but it has always been a very diverse place. In the Middle Ages it was a thriving market selling wool from local North Downs sheep to merchants from Lombardy, who were barred by City of London merchants from entering the Port of London further up the river. Now it has an Irish community from the 19th century and a Jewish community from the early part of the 20th century, plus communities from many other places all over the world. If you live in Woolwich you don't need to pay to travel the world, just sit on a public bench for a bit and the world comes to you.
The Russian Souvenir Ensemble singers in traditional dress treated us to all the old favourites such as {Kalinka} and the real version of {Those were the days}. Other performers included the Pangea steel drum and jazz band from the Caribbean, Nepalese musician Amit Magar with his band {Daju Bahi} playing a fusion of rock and traditional Nepalese music, the West African Francis Fuster and his  band, and South African Singer Minouche Kapel. There were also demonstrations of Ugandan Bantu arts, Chinese Tai Chi and how to play African drums.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Irish patriot honoured

by Michael McMonagle

Irish Republicans gathered in London on Sunday 2nd June to mark the 151st anniversary of the death of Fenian Michael Barrett, who was the last person to be publicly hanged in England.
The commemoration was held in the City of London Cemetery, the final resting place of Michael Barrett, on Sunday afternoon.
Michael Barret was born in Ederney, Fermanagh and became involved with the Irish Republican Brotherhood aged 27. He was arrested following the Clerkenwell explosion in London in 1867.
Despite witnesses testifying that he had been in Scotland at the time of the explosion, Barrett was convicted by false testimony and sentenced to death.
Following his conviction, Barrett made a speech from the dock that has gone down in republican history alongside those by Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet.
In his speech, Barrett said: "If my life were ten times dearer than it is and if I could by any means, redress the wrongs of that persecuted land by the sacrifice of my life, I would willingly and gladly do so."
Despite pleas for clemency, Barrett was hanged on 26th May 1868 outside the walls of Newgate Prison before a crowd of thousands. He became the last person to be publicly hanged in England.
An Phoblacht

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Airport Struggles

by New Worker correspondent

Unite the union have scored a victory in a pay battle involving hundreds of baggage handlers and check-in staff employed by GH London (formally Azzurra) at London’s Heathrow Airport. They have secured a 9.1 per cent pay increase after workers overwhelmingly backed strike action in a dispute over low pay.
This April over 300 workers at Heathrow’s Terminals 2 and 4 overwhelmingly voted by 99.2 per cent to take strike action. Workers were angry at a series of pay freezes but a strike was avoided after constructive negotiations concluded with an agreement to award workers a 9.1 per cent increase, including 6.1 per cent for 2017 and 2018 on top of a three per cent increase for 2019.
Kevin Hall, Unite regional officer, said: “The overwhelming vote for strike action was proof that workers at Heathrow had had enough of year on year pay freezes. There was a lot of anger but more and more workers joined Unite and were able to demand an end to the pay injustice. Once constructive talks got underway the workers’ representatives negotiated a 9.1 per cent pay deal. We’re pleased that GH London is now recognising its workers’ contribution with a significant pay increase.”
Industrial action is also likely to take place at Glasgow Airport. Last Friday Unite announced that a four-hour stoppage on 14th June, between 4am–8am, would be added to action already scheduled at the airport.
This time the issue is pensions. Ninety-five per cent of its members voted in favour in April, on a turnout of 75 per cent, for strike action over spring and summer after the airport decided to close the final salary pension scheme.
Unite claimed that the boss’s (AGS Airports Ltd) decision to close the pension scheme broke a 2016 Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) agreement.
Planned industrial action last month was suspended after “progressive talks” that saw the company table a pay offer of three per cent for Aberdeen and Glasgow staff.
Pat McIlvogue, Unite’s regional industrial officer, said: “Unite has in response to Glasgow Airport withdrawing from the negotiations over the pension scheme added a further stoppage.
“It’s bewildering why AGS management seem determined to escalate this dispute. Unite entered talks in an effort to resolve this dispute and we remain willing to talk.
But AGS claim “We made a significant improvement on our initial pay offer, which was increased from 1.8 to three per cent in line with demands.