Sunday, January 15, 2017

Rail unions fight for safety

by Daphne Liddle 

TRAVEL in London was brought to a virtual halt last Monday during a very successful strike action by London Underground staff in the RMT and TSSA unions, demanding the restoration of safe levels of staffing.
The problems have arisen over the last year after cuts to the Transport for London (TfL) budget made by former Chancellor George Osborne and cuts to staffing made by former London Mayor Boris Johnson.
More than 800 jobs have gone, ticket offices have been closed and control rooms at many stations often go unstaffed. This seriously endangered staff and passengers on at least two occasions: one case of dangerous overcrowding at Canning Town station and another at North Greenwich where a terrorist bomb was found, which fortunately failed to detonate. In both cases there was no one in the station control rooms to trigger emergency incident plans and it was only by luck that there were no mass casualties.
There has been an increase in the numbers of doors closing, trapping passengers’ hands, coats and bags leading to passengers being dragged along platforms because there are fewer platform staff and CCTV monitoring cameras have also been cut to save money.
Staff are concerned that before long there will be a major catastrophe. The new Labour Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has promised to look at re-opening some ticket offices and restoring 200 jobs, but the unions say this is nowhere near enough.
The strike led to chaos as people tried to get to work by other means — buses were packed and Clapham Junction rail station had to be closed because of dangerous overcrowding.There were dozens of picket lines across the capital and public support for the strike was high, despite a barrage of attacks on the unions from the media. Tory MPs called again for public sector strikes to be banned.
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes was out visiting picket lines on Monday from 5am and said that the strike was solid. Just 10 of 270 stations were open.
He said: “I pay tribute to my members whose commitment to public service is so strong they are now prepared to forego a day’s pay today and strike if that’s what it takes to warn the public that the Tube is no longer being as safely run as it was this time last year.
“The strength of feeling on this issue is reflected in the solidity of the strike with just a few trains are running at the edges of the system.
“London Underground may tell you today that they are offering 600 jobs this year, but the Tube sheds 400 jobs per year through natural wastage. In reality the offer is just 200 and whilst it’s a step in the right direction 200 jobs cannot plug the gaping hole that’s been left in the system by devastating Tory attacks on TfL’s budget.”
The RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “Our members are out in force across London Underground this morning in the fight for jobs and safety. The strike action is being solidly supported on every line, at every station and on picket lines right across the Tube network.
“This action has been forced on us by savage cuts to jobs that have reduced London Underground to an under-staffed death trap at a time of heightened security and safety alert.
“RMT members will not stand idly by while they see day in and day out the safety regime on the tube being slashed to ribbons. Even senior Tube bosses have admitted that we are absolutely correct in our assessment of the risks that are being taken as the impact of the 900 station job cuts hits home.
“The solution is in the hands of the Mayor and his officials. They need to come up with serious and urgent plans designed to address the core issues at the heart of this dispute and a schedule for staffing back up on the stations to a level our reps believe is safe and sustainable.”
Meanwhile the battle to preserve the role of guards on trains at Southern Rail continues — also an issue of safety for passengers and rail staff.
The day after TfL station staff went on strike across London’s tube network, Southern Rail services were cancelled on Tuesday, as well as on Wednesday and Friday, in the latest strikes on the commuter rail network.
In this instance the drivers’ union ASLEF was involved. These are the first walkouts of the new year in a long-running dispute at Southern over whether trains should operate without guards, leaving drivers to operate train doors.

Friday, January 13, 2017

A year of hope and struggle

RCPB (ML) Michael Chant and Chris Coleman propose the toast
 
by New Worker correspondent
 
Communists welcomed the New Year at the London centre of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (ML) in south London last weekend. NCP leader Andy Brooks and other London comrades met friends old and new at the John Buckle Centre, including diplomats from the Cuban embassy and many active in solidarity work, the cultural front and anti-fascist struggle.
            The rising temper of the working class in Britain and throughout the world was highlighted by Michael Chant during the formal part of the celebration organised by the London Region of the RCPB(ML). Imperialism suffered many setbacks in 2016, not least the defeat of their minions in Aleppo. But, as Cuban diplomat Jorge Luis Garcia pointed out, it was also the year that the leader of the Cuban revolution passed away and the Cuban people were now celebrating the New Year for the first time since liberation without Fidel. The Cuban people mourned the passing of their great leader and they are determined to follow in the footsteps of the revolutionaries who liberated the island to build a socialist society on the doorstep of US imperialism itself.
            Everyone rose to raise a toast for a New Year of struggle for peace and socialism during an evening that ended in the spirit of confidence and optimism that always grows whenever comrades meet.

Building solidarity with Korea



By New Worker correspondent

Korean Friendship Association (KFA) activists met in south London last weekend to plan future work and celebrate the birthday of Democratic Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The meeting was chaired by Dermot Hudson, who said Kim Jong Un had pushed forward the Songun and  Juche revolutionary cause following in the footsteps of the great leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il. Though western media had focused on Kim Jong Un’s remarks about Democratic Korea’s ballistic missile deterrent it had totally ignored the rest of his New Year address. In that call, Kim Jong Un put forward the great slogan "Let us accelerate the victorious advance of socialism with the great spirit of self-reliance and self-development as the dynamic force!"
 Self-reliance and self-development are the The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK's) secret weapons to smash the unjust and crazy US imperialist and UN sanctions. Moreover, self-reliance and self-development will protect the DPRK from "reform" and "opening up", and from the restoration of capitalism. Without a doubt self-reliance is the only correct way to build socialism and win final victory over the imperialists, Dermot said.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Thursday, December 22, 2016

An outstanding Korean leader

By New Worker correspondent

Millions of communists in Korea and all over the world recalled the outstanding achievements of dear leader Kim Jong Il at events to mark the 5th anniversary of his passing on 17th December 2011 last weekend.
London Korean solidarity activists, including NCP leader Andy Brooks, presented floral tributes during a ceremony at the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) embassy in London on Saturday 17th December hosted by the new ambassador Comrade Choe Il. Other bouquets were laid by Michael Chant and Chris Coleman from the RCPB(ML) and Dermot Hudson from the Korean Friendship Association (KFA).
Following in Kim Il Sung’s footsteps, Kim Jong Il led the Workers Party of Korea into the 21st century to build a strong and prosperous democratic republic. Kim Jong Il was a leading Marxist thinker who made an important contribution to modern communist theory, as well as an astute statesman who led the Korean people through thick and thin to overcome natural disasters, imperialist blockade and diplomatic isolation.
Kim Jong Il made an immense contribution to Marxist-Leninist theory and ideology. In his 1982 work On the Juché Idea, Kim Jong Il brought together and systematised the Juché theory; his 1994 thesis Socialism is a Science affirmed that socialism would eventually become the economic system of the entire world because it is the only form of society in which people can be truly free.
Kim Jong Il worked tirelessly to ease tension on the Korean peninsula to pave the way towards the peaceful reunification of Korea whilst at the same time ensuring the DPRK’s defence against the threats and provocations of US imperialism and its lackeys.
On 15th June 2000 dear leader Kim Jong Il and President Kim Dae Jung of south Korea signed the historic North–South Joint Declaration. This was an historic landmark in the struggle of the Korean people to reunify their homeland that had forcibly been divided by the US imperialists following the Second World War. The Declaration opened up a new era for independence, peace, reconciliation and reunification on the Korean peninsula until the US-sponsored anti-national and anti-communist Lee Myung Bak clique in the south began to sabotage its spirit and principles.
US imperialism can never forgive the DPRK for being the first country since the second world war to defeat it on the battlefield, setting an example for all people fighting for independence and self-determination. Its revenge continues unabated to this day.
The Americans and their south Korean lackeys are working constantly to try to isolate the DPRK and the movement for national reunification. Peace campaigners and trade unionists have been jailed under south Korea’s fascist National Security Law whilst the joint US–south Korean military exercises aimed at invading the DPRK take the Korean peninsula ever closer to a cataclysmic nuclear war.
The DPRK has had no alternative but to develop a nuclear deterrent to defend its socialist system. At the same time it has pledged that it will never be the first to use nuclear weapons, and it has also vowed never to threaten the use of nuclear weapons nor allow the transfer of nuclear technology to other countries.
Kim Jong Il was a great leader of the Korean people who devoted his entire life to serving the Korean people in the cause of building a human-centred society, a cause that is one espoused by the democratic and anti-imperialist forces the world over.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The eternal memory of Kim Jong Il



Alex Kempshall speaks in solidarity

by New Worker correspondent

Friends and comrades returned to the Marchmont Centre in London last Saturday to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the passing away of dear leader Kim Jong Il who devoted his life to serving the Korean people. Organised by the Korean Friendship Association (KFA) speakers included Dermot Hudson of the KFA, Shaun Pickford and Alex Meads. Kim Song Gi, Minister Counsellor from the DPR Korea embassy also spoke while New Communist Party national chair Alex Kempshall delivered a solidarity message during the meeting.
Dear leader Kim Jong Il died at his post, whilst on a train giving on-the-spot guidance, on 17th December 2011. His entire life had been dedicated the revolutionary movement that was founded by Kim Il Sung, and the young militants around him, to fight the Japanese colonialists and build a modern communist party that would lead the Korean workers and peasants to a new life under socialism. Building a guerrilla army that took on the might of the Japanese Empire, great leader Kim Il Sung mobilised the masses in a struggle that ended in victory in 1945 and the establishment of a people’s government in the north of the country.
The Workers’ Party of Korea, with Kim Il Sung at the helm, led the battle for land reform, education and socialist construction in the 1950s and 1960s, and then pushed forward on the engineering, technical and scientific fronts to build a modern socialist republic where every individual worker is master of his or her own life. The DPRK stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the peoples of the Third World struggling to break the chains of colonialism, and gave technical and economic aid to their new republics to defend their freedom and independence.
From an early age Kim Jong Il worked side by side with Kim Il Sung, and when Kim Il Sung passed away Kim Jong Il told the Korean people and the world that they could “expect no change from him”.
 Under his leadership the Workers’ Party of Korea won even more great victories. Natural disasters were overcome. Imperialist diplomatic isolation was broken and the intrigues of US imperialism were exposed. Scientists in Democratic Korea mastered the secrets of the atom to guarantee the DPRK’s defence and energy needs, and now Korean rockets reach for the stars.
Now led by Kim Jong Un, the Korean people are following in the footsteps of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il to overcome all obstacles to fulfil the revolutionary tasks that faced the Korean people when they began their long march to socialism in the struggle against Japanese imperialism.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Greek communists debate Brexit


Sotiris Zarinopoulos makes his point!

by New Worker correspondents

GREEK communists living in London packed the hall of the Marx Memorial Library last Friday evening to hear Sotiris Zarianopoulos – one of the two Greek Communist Party (KKE) MEPs – speak on Brexit, the European Union (EU) and the tasks facing communists in Europe.
He said that western capitalism at its present stage needed to be destructive in order to create new markets and to expand. Since the 2008 banking crisis it has been busy imposing austerity that is destroying jobs, wages, and social and welfare support structures. But there is a real danger it will resort to the ultimate destructive force – war.
Indeed, the imperialists have already made wars in the Middle East and Africa in order to create opportunities to make markets and profits from reconstruction.
On Brexit and the referendum in Britain he said that both sides were led and controlled by contending imperialist forces, and that those supporting Brexit were motivated by fear of the growing power and economic dominance of the German economy relative to the City of London. And he recognised that the British working class who supported Brexit did so out of anger at the effect of the austerity measures on living standards.
Zarianopoulos said that in or out of Europe, the workers in Britain would still be ruled by capitalists who want to crush their living standards further.
Austerity is being imposed throughout the EU under different labels and it was often the case that social democratic parties implemented austerity policies that some bourgeois parties were afraid to do so. The only way to really improve things is to organise to overthrow capitalism and to create a workers’ state.
The crisis in Europe was a capitalist crisis, a crisis of capital accumulation due to the fact that there is a lack of profitable spheres for investment. As a result of the crisis the capitalists are deliberately destroying productive sectors, driving down living standards and creating very high unemployment. The solution proposed by both pro- and anti-EU politicians is cutting wages in order to attract profitable investment.
Regardless of whether a country stays in the EU or not the problems remain. It is not enough simply to leave the EU; the working class must seize power and there must be a change of system to socialism in order to resolve the problems.
Comrade Zarianopoulos said that he had recently seen a debate on the TV between a pro-Brexit MP and a Remain MP; at the end both of them believed in the so-called flexibility of labour and imposing a burden on the working class.
There were questions about the rise of fascism, the dangers of a new world war and the prospects of expanding the KKE's electoral base. Comrade Sotiris said that the KKE did not set any great store on elections and warned the audience that: “World wars don’t start out as global wars. They start over a local or regional issue and more and more countries get drawn in.”