Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ritzy workers still striking



 by New Worker correspondent
CINEMA workers from the Ritzy in Brixton, south London last week took strike action for the 10th time in their long-running battle for a living wage.
The Bectu members marched from the British Film Institute on the Southbank to City Hall and the office of London Mayor, Boris Johnson, for a rally where they were addressed by their union general secretary Gerry Morrissey.
They were joined by colleagues from the Curzon circuit, who earlier this year won a hard fought campaign to secure union recognition with their employer.
The adoption of the recommended London Living Wage (£8.80 an hour) and the Living Wage outside London (£7.65) is becoming increasingly central to efforts across Britain to address low pay.
Both rates are set by the Living Wage Foundation and have found support amongst hundreds of public and private sector employers.  Mayor Boris Johnson is quoted on the Foundation’s website saying: “Paying the London Living Wage is not only morally right, but makes good business sense too.”
The National Minimum Wage (adult rate £6.31) is widely recognised on all sides as ineffective in the battle against poverty wages.
Despite nine strikes at the Ritzy, Picturehouses cinemas, part of the multi-national and profitable Cineworld, is digging in and shows no signs of wanting to resolve the dispute which has closed its most profitable cinema on all strike days.
When senior management walked away at the 11th hour from peace talks scheduled for 4th June, Bectu called for a wholesale boycott of all Picturehouse venues to press home the case. Several visits have taken place with Bectu officials receiving a warm welcome at each.
Bectu’s support for low-paid workers throughout the creative sector has seen the Living Wage adopted into pay structures by BBC Contractors, BFI IMAX, BFI Southbank (and amongst contractors engaged by the BFI), at ITV, the Royal Opera House and National Theatre.
As well as supporting Ritzy workers and other members seeking to embed the Living Wage into pay policy, Bectu is also seeking to secure the London Living Wage for workers in West End theatres as part of the pay and conditions claim submitted last week.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

International Brigaders Honoured


Max Levitas and Monty Goldman pay tribute to their sacrifice

By New Worker correspondent
 
MORE than 100 people gathered in Jubilee Gardens on the south bank of the Thames on Saturday 5th July to remember and honour the men and women of the International Brigade – anti-fascists from all over the world who left their homes to come and fight against the Fascist General Franco’s war against the elected Republican government of Spain in 1936.
The brigaders who came from Britain had to defy their own government to take part in the struggle in Spain. The Communist Party of Great Britain organised secret passage through France and across the Pyrenees for the volunteers.
"They went", as the inscription in the International Brigade memorial in Jubilee gardens says, “because their open eyes could see no other way”.
They did not succeed. Franco’s army of mainly Moroccan troops was backed with money and the latest weaponry from Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany while the western “democracies” – France, Britain, the United States and others – sat on their hands and outlawed any involvement in the conflict.
Many believe that had they succeeded the advance of fascism in Europe would have been stopped and the Second World War could have been averted.
Representatives of many organisations laid wreaths, including the Spanish Embassy in London, a veteran of the Spanish Republicans who left Spain in 1939, after Franco’s triumph, to fight elsewhere against fascism in Europe, laid a wreath on behalf of those who had died in that fight.
Two veteran anti-fascists from London’s east End, Monty Goldman and Max Levitas, laid a red wreath on behalf of Hackney and Tower Hamlets branch of the Communist Party of Britain. And Kevin O’Hanrahan laid a wreath on behalf of the Connolly Association.
There were also wreaths from trade unionists, including a local branch of Aslef and from a group of young Polish anti-fascists who attended the event for the first time – showing that the international nature of the struggle against fascism carries on and is needed now in face of a new upsurge of fascism in Europe.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Eternal memory of Kim Il Sung



By New Worker
 correspondent
Michael Chant, Andy Brooks and  Hyon Hak Bong
KIM IL SUNG passed away on 8th July 1994 and the 20th anniversary of his death was marked by commemorations across the Korean peninsula and amongst the Korean overseas community all over the world. In Democratic Korea mass national commemorations in the capital, Pyongyang, were matched by similar events throughout the DPR Korea. In the occupied south patriotic and communist organisations held secret commemorations in defiance of the draconian laws of the puppet regime. And throughout the world communists gathered to remember the outstanding Korean communist revolutionary and thinker.
London was no exception and the commemorations started at the AGM of the UK Korean Friendship Association on Saturday 28th June. This was followed by
a meeting of remembrance to mark the anniversary of the passing of President Kim Il Sung on 5th July at the John Buckle Centre in south London organised by the Friends of Korea committee. London DPRK ambassador Hyon Hak Bong paid tribute to great leader Kim Il Sung, whose life dedicated to the struggle of the Korean people spanned the 20th century. This was followed by tributes from NCP leader Andy Brooks, RCPB (ML) general secretary Michael Chant, John Macleod of the SLP and John Rainsborough from the Korea Friendship Association.
            Finally on 8th July Andy Brooks and Daphne Liddle from the NCP  Central Committee laid flowers at the commemorative table at the  formal ceremony at the DPRK embassy in London in memory of Kim Il Sung.








THE BIG STRIKE -- MORE TO COME




 

By Daphne Liddle

HUNDREDS of thousands of public sector workers went on strike last Thursday, 10th July in protest at low pay, pension cuts and job cuts. Estimates of the total number taking part range from one to two million strikers, angry at sharply declining living standards as the greedy one per cent of top capitalists are enjoying unprecedented rises in their income.
Schools, libraries and council offices closed throughout the country; bins went uncollected, streets went unswept and driving tests were postponed. This was the biggest national strike since November 2011 – and that was the biggest since the General Strike of 1926.
And hundreds and thousands of workers took to the streets of towns and cities throughout the country in marches and rallies to drive home the message of the strike.
In London around 15,000 assembled outside the BBC headquarters in Portland Place – to ensure the biased BBC could not pretend it did not notice the event, to march to a rally in Trafalgar Square.
The unions PCS, GMB, FBU, Unite, Unison and many others were there in force but the biggest group by far were the members of the National Union of Teachers. There were dozens of bright banners, giant balloons and thousands of placards. The mood was upbeat in spite of the rain but there was no mistaking the real hatred of the teachers for Education Secretary Michael Gove – who has since lost his job.
Firefighters were also angry at their very long-running fight to defend their pensions and right to retire at 55. The Government wants to force them to work until 60 in a job that depends on a high standard of fitness and firefighters are tested regularly on this. If the Government has its way those who fail the test between 55 and 60 will lose their pensions.
Charles Brown, a 52-year-old firefighter from London, said: "They want us to work longer, pay more in and get less out. We have tried to have negotiations with the Government but they are not listening, so we have no option but to strike."
The Fire Brigades Union is staging strikes every day this week as part of that dispute.
Many strikers and speakers were outraged at plans by the Government to regard strike ballots as invalid unless more than 50 per cent of those who could vote supported the strike.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady criticised Tory plans raise the threshold for strikes saying: “Rather than get round the table, ministers are threatening a change in the law that would make legal strikes close to impossible.
"Instead of imposing a ballot threshold that not a single MP met in the last election, politicians should stop ignoring sensible proposals to increase secret ballot turnouts at the workplace and online."
Union leaders criticised the Labour Party for not backing the strike. Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: "It is time for Labour to make up its mind. Public service workers are people who should be Labour's natural supporters and they deserve Labour's unashamed backing in return."
A survey last week showed widespread public support for the strikes and the aims of the strikers.
Of those who gave a view, 59 per cent think that the Government is unfairly targeting public sector workers on pay with almost the same again (58 per cent) saying that council workers deserve an extra £1 per hour on their wages; even among 2010 Conservative voters, support for a pay rise stands at 52 per cent.
Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “This Government’s ceaseless attacks on our public service workers are misguided and find no favour with the public. They can see through this bullying for what it is – an attempt to turn friends and neighbours against the good people who care for their kids, keep their streets clean and run our valued community services, and they are not buying it.
“The public has no appetite for the government’s belittling of public sector workers, and certainly none whatsoever for the Tories’ threat to remove the right to strike action.”
Speakers at the rally in Trafalgar Square spoke of plans for further general strikes – one in October and another in the New Year in the run-up to the general election.

NCP still going strong!




Hyong Hak Bong brings Korean communist greetings
By New Worker correspondent
  We had summer heat and the World Cup third place play off but that didn’t deter comrades and friends from joining New Communist Party leader Andy Brooks and Party Chair Alex Kempshall  in celebrating the 37th  anniversary of the foundation of the  NCP last Saturday at the Party Centre in London.
Honoured guests included Hyong Hak Bong, the London ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and John Rainsborough from the UK Korean Friendship Association who both paid tribute to the NCP’s consistent solidarity with Democratic Korea and its principled support for the communist ideal during the formal part of the proceedings.
Some NCP comrades and those from the RCPB (ML) were absent as they were taking part in the great Durham Miners Gala, but they were with us in spirit with solidarity messages that included a congratulatory message from Pyongyang from the Workers Party of Korea and another from the British Pietro Secchia cell of Italy’s Partito Communista.
The New Communist Party of Britain was established in July 1977 and since then the Party has worked to build the communist movement and working class unity while upholding the tenets of Marxism-Leninism. Over the decades the Party and the New Worker have survived through thick and thin and this was because we have something to say that comrades are ready to support with effort and cash to keep us going. This they did again with a collection of £331 for the fighting fund!