Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Tube strike postponed again

LONDON Underground unions on Wednesday again postponed plans for strike action in the long-running dispute over staffing and safety for the planned launch of 24-hour working on the London Underground network at weekends.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union announced that it would suspend planned stoppages on 8th and 10th September.
Talks over the long running dispute are continuing after LU delayed the start of the Night Tube, which had been due to start on 12th September 12.
 An RMT spokesperson said: "As the implementation of Night Tube has been suspended until we reach agreement and we are continuing discussions and negotiations on all related matters, RMT has suspended the strike action called for 8th and 10th September.
"However we remain in dispute and all industrial action called to not co-operate with night Tube at local level including modelling and trials remains in place.
"If further negotiations prove negative then further industrial action will be called in defence of our agreements and for proper pay for our members.”

Tube dispute: unions advance but no agreement yet

THE JOINT trade unions involved in the long-running London Underground dispute over staffing and safety when plans for 24-hour operation are implemented, called off last week's strikes, but added new strike dates for September.
RMT announced that the negotiating teams at Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) have made significant progress.
The unions has made it clear to London Underground that they remain in dispute and further strike action will be taken on the 8th and 10th September unless London Underground management meets their concerns over staffing and safety.
RMT has also made it clear that they will take further industrial action if there are moves to run test trains or if there is any attempt to impose Night Tube operations.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “Our negotiators have been able to make enough significant progress in talks at Acas over pay, jobs and Night Tube to allow us to suspend this week’s strike dates. We have still not reached a final agreement and as a result we are putting on additional strike action on next month. In the meantime, the talks process will continue.
“I want to pay tribute to the union members who have remained united and rock solid throughout this dispute. It is their determination which forced LU to begin talking seriously and which has enabled us to make the progress that we have so far.
“Our dispute is not with the working class of London and RMT is not opposed to Night Tube providing it is introduced properly with safe and robust staffing arrangements which recognise the substantial extra pressures that this expansion will inevitably create.”
The dispute has already involved two all-out strikes that have seen transport in London grid-locked. TSSA leader Manuel Cortes said: “I am extremely pleased to say that our negotiating team has made sufficient progress to suspend this week’s planned strike action on the Tube.
“However, we are not out of the woods yet. A number of issues need to be resolved before our dispute is finally settled. We will therefore announce future strike dates in due course although we remain hopeful that further talks will soon result in a negotiated settlement”.
The giant general union Unite, which has more than 400 members working on London Underground, said it had suspended the strike action due to start on 25th August and 27th August as a gesture of goodwill to allow for further talks. Unite regional officer Hugh Roberts said: “There are still some remaining sticking points, but we feel sufficient progress has been made to suspend industrial action as an act of goodwill.
“We will continue to approach talks with London Underground in a positive manner. We trust that London Underground management seize this opportunity to reach a deal that fully addresses our members’ concerns and secures a successful future for night running on the Tube.”

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

London news round-up

 National Gallery staff start indefinite strike

MEMBERS of the PCS civil service union at the National Gallery began an indefinite strike last week to coincide with the first day in charge of the gallery by new director Gabriele Finaldi.
The walk-out follows a series of strikes totalling 50 days of action since last February in a battle against privatisation.
The union remains opposed to the privatisation of all the gallery's visitor services and is fighting for the reinstatement of its senior representative Candy Udwin, who an interim tribunal has found was likely to have been sacked unlawfully for trade union activity in relation to the dispute.
The action is being escalated because the gallery has brought forward the announcement of the appointment of private security firm Securitas to manage the visitor-facing and security services on a five-year contract reportedly worth £40 million.
About 300 gallery assistants who guard paintings and help visitors will be affected. They will no longer be employed by the gallery and will instead work for Securitas.
There will be a picket line outside the gallery in Trafalgar Square between 9am and 11am every day, and Friday from 5pm to 6.30pm.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Mr Finaldi has known about this dispute for a long time, but now he is in post we repeat our request for genuine negotiations to resolve it.
"This privatisation is not only unnecessary; we believe it risks the gallery's global reputation as one of our country's greatest cultural assets."
Nick McCarthy, the union's director of campaigns and communications, said: "We have no alternative but to go on strike, the privatisation is completely unnecessary.
"Today's strike is indefinite until such time as we are able to reach a solution with the gallery.
"Millions of tourists won't be able to get access to the vast majority of works of art in the gallery, and that's enormously regrettable, but the blame for this lies with the gallery. We have sought to negotiate, but the gallery refuses to engage on this and seems hell bent on outsourcing this contract."

Bromley bin dispute escalates

RESIDENTS of the London Borough of Bromley face the prospect of stinking dustbins from uncollected rubbish as about 100 refuse collection staff employed by waste disposal giant Veolia gear up for three days of strike action in a pay dispute.
About 100 workers, members of the giant union Unite voted 85 per cent in favour of striking on 24th August and 3rd and 4th September, after years of below inflation pay awards. The strikes will run from midnight to midnight.
Veolia was awarded the contract by Bromley council and Unite said that this dispute was another example of the flawed nature of the controversial authority’s mass privatisation programme which relies on cutting services and slashing wages.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Employers have offered 1.5 per cent for the pay year starting last April – and we put in for a four per cent pay rise.
“Workers are angry, as they have to cover heavier and heavier workloads following a number of rounds being cut.
“For years they have had below inflation pay rises – but now that inflation has dropped, the employers are happy to use it as a bench mark so it’s a catch-and-match up claim.
“Our members have made it very clear that they are prepared to strike – we held three consultative votes, all of which voted to be balloted for strike action.
“Veolia should have got the message -- but it clearly hasn’t. That is why we have now issued notice for strike action. This is a very unhappy and demoralised workforce, being asked to take on more work but not being recognised for it.
“Veolia has a final chance for talks – we urge them to take that opportunity. The alternative is for the strike to go-ahead with the prospect of uncollected dustbins causing a stink in the late summer sunshine.
“The collection service will be a day behind initially and the further two days of action will hamper efforts to catch up and cause the service to householders to lag further behind.
“This dispute is another example of the council’s misguided privatisation programme which relies on Veolia cutting collection rounds for householders and real term pay cuts for our refuse collection members.”
The Conservative-dominated council is fully committed to becoming a commissioning council and reducing the number of council employees from 4,000 to 300 – despite having £130 million in reserves.

Liberation Day in London

Hyong Hak Bong, Dermot Hudson and Andy Brooks
By New Worker correspondent

KOREA’S liberation day was marked in style last week by comrades and friends at a seminar in central London on Thursday 13th August. NCP leader Andy Brooks joined other Korean solidarity workers in stressing the importance of the Workers Party of Korea and great leader Kim Il Sung’s guerrilla army in ending 35 years of Japanese enslavement in August 1945.
Other speakers included Dermot Hudson, Theo Russell and David Munoz from the Korean Friendship Association that organised the evening meeting at the Cock Tavern in Euston to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Korea.
 The meeting was honoured by the presence of Hyong Hak Bong, the DPRK’s London Ambassador, who said that the liberation of Korea was the greatest gain of the Korean people and the greatest exploit achieved by the great leader President Kim Il Sung. And many in the audience took the golden opportunity to ask the Democratic Korean ambassador about the current situation and the DPRK’s nuclear deterrent during the discussion that followed.
After a round-table discussion the seminar formally concluded with the unanimous agreement to send a congratulatory message to Democratic Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But it continued informally during the party that followed to celebrate the anniversary of Korea's liberation.
The UK Korean Friendship Association (KFA) organises solidarity meetings and protest pickets in London throughout the year. The KFA also works side by side with the Friends of Korea committee which also holds regular events in the capital.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Celebrating the liberation of Korea

Hyong Hak Bong, Michael Chant, Andy Brooks and John McLeod
 by New Worker correspondent

THE 70th anniversary of the liberation of Korea was celebrated in style on Saturday 8th August at London’s historic Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell Green. Friends and comrades gathered to hear all the members of the Friends of Korea committee highlight the defeat of the Japanese Empire by the guerrilla army commanded by great leader Kim Il Sung and call on the United States to sign a peace treaty with Democratic Korea and end the conflict on the Korean peninsula once and for all.
This was followed by a report on the current situation from Ambassador Hyong Hak Bong from the London embassy of the DPR Korea and general discussion. The event ended with a Korean musical interval and the informal discussion over drinks that always follows amongst friends of the Korean revolution.
The Friends of Korea committee brings together all the major movements active in Korean friendship and solidarity work in Britain today. The committee includes the New Communist Party, Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (ML), Socialist Labour Party (SLP), Juché Idea Study Group and the UK Korean Friendship Association (KFA).
It is chaired by Andy Brooks. The secretary is Michael Chant and the committee includes Dermot Hudson of the KFA and John McLeod of the SLP. The committee organises meetings throughout the year, which are publicised by the supporting movements and on the Friends of Korea blog.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Red Star in Clerkenwell Green

    by New Worker correspondent

THAT REVOLUTIONARIES need to study the past goes without saying but Mick Costello, the Industrial Editor of the Morning Star in the 1980s, put his special take on the significance of history in one of the opening talks at the Red Star Festival in London last weekend.
Mick Costello, Liz Payne (chair) and local historian Nigel Costley
London comrades gathered at the historic Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell Green to meet friends, old and new, for two days of discussion, debate, culture, music and food with national and international speakers from the labour, progressive and anti-imperialist movements.
Organised by the Marx Memorial Library, Communist Party of Britain, Young Communist League-Britain, the Morning Star, New Communist Party and the Coordinating Committee of Communist Parties in Britain the festival featured a wide range of speakers from the labour and progressive movement in Britain and international guests in debates, workshops and round-table discussions.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Remembering Laurence Housman

by Theo Russell

PEACE activists and supporters of Housmans Bookshop gathered at the shop in London’s Kings Cross in July to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of pacifist, socialist, campaigner for women’s suffrage, writer, playwright, and art nouveau illustrator, Laurence Housman, who described himself as “a committed socialist and pacifist”.
Housman was born into a brilliant family – the poet A E Housman, author of  A Shropshire Lad, was one of his brothers – and until his death in 1959 he was a household name in Britain and famous for his BBC radio broadcasts in the 1940s.
In 1907 Housman was one of the founders of the Men's League for Women's Suffrage, and he was an enthusiastic supporter of the Women's Social and Political Union, writing, addressing meetings and producing banners for the movement. In 1911 he helped to organise the boycott of the census by the suffragists.
At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 the suffrage movement split; Christabel Pankhurst called on the WSPU to support the war effort and launched the jingoist magazine Britannia in 1915. Christabel and Emmeline Pankhurst later founded The Women's Party, which gave out white feathers to all conscientious objectors.
During that war Housman joined the No Conscription Fellowship, and worked closely with Sylvia Pankhurst, who’s East London Federation of the WSPU opposed the war and was expelled from the WSPU in 1914.
The East London Federation later became the Workers' Socialist Federation, and its newspaper, Women’s Dreadnought, was renamed the Workers' Dreadnought.
Housman wrote for the Workers' Dreadnought, and in 1916 he visited the United States to lobby for the creation of a League of Nations.
The Workers' Socialist Federation supported the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland and the October Revolution of 1917, backing the "Hands off Russia" campaign, and was the first party in Britain to affiliate to the Third International.
Although Housman’s thinking was averse to the idea of political parties, he was close to the Independent Labour Party, which also took an anti-war position in the First World War.
He was also an anti-colonialist and a friend of Mahatma Ghandi, and denounced the Versailles Treaty’s vindictive punishment of Germany.
In 1922 Housman became a Quaker and he was a strong supporter of the Peace Pledge Union created by Dick Sheppard in 1934, and later played a leading role in War Resisters' International.
It was Laurence Housman who suggested the creation of both Housmans Bookshop, which opened in Shaftesbury Avenue in 1945, and Peace News, to which he contributed regularly over many years. In 1959 the shop moved to its current home at five, Caledonian Road near Kings Cross station.