Monday, January 26, 2015

Solidarity with Greek resistance to austerity

 By New Worker correspondent

TRADE unionists and other progressives gathered last Saturday in Parliament Square to express their solidarity with the people of Greece and to call for a change to the failed austerity policies imposed on Greece by the IMF, European Central Bank and EU.
The protest was just one of many similar actions in major cities throughout Europe, timed for the run-up to elections in Greece on 25th January.
The centre-left party Syriza is expected to win on a promise to end the draconian austerity policies imposed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
But communists doubt they can achieve this without a break with the EU, which is not on Syriza’s programme.
The Greek communist party (KKE) is campaigning for a total break with Nato and the EU and it dismisses Syriza as just another  social-democratic platform that merely seeks to make exploitation more acceptable to Greek workers.
“Syriza is not an alternative solution for the people,” the KKE state.  “In its quest to win the elections, it has rapidly completed its transformation into a party of bourgeois anti-people management. It conceals the causes of the capitalist economic crisis and exonerates the exploitative face of capitalism, the power of capital.
“The leadership of Syriza not only provides assurances to the creditors, the EU, and the “markets” that it will not act unilaterally, but it calls on them to trust and support a Syriza government because it can better serve their interests.”
 The New Communist Party of Britain sent a solidarity message to the KKE this week which said: “Your party is leading the resistance to the bourgeois offensive against the working people of Greece. Your party is also leading the fight-back across Europe against the austerity programme demanded by the European Union. The militant stand of the Greek communist movement is an inspiration to all communists and everyone campaigning against Nato and the EU. We stand side by side with you in the struggle and we wish you well in the forthcoming general election”.

Nothing funny about the famine

 By New Worker correspondent

NEW COMMUNIST Party leader Andy Brooks and other comrades joined members of London’s Irish community to protest against attempts to portray the Irish famine as a comedy.
Some 30 demonstrators paraded outside the headquarters of Channel Four on Saturday to voice their anger at the company’s decision to televise  a tasteless “comedy” series called Hungry about the famine in 19th century  British-ruled Ireland.
The picket was called by the Campaign for the Rights and Actions of Irish Communities (CRAIC), whose chair Austen Harney said: “It’s outrageous that Channel Four thinks it can get away with making a joke of the millions of people who died or were displaced as a result of the famine…in British society, they’re not really educated on the facts of the Irish Famine,” he said. “Irish history is a very minor role here in Britain but we need to make people understand the persecution and suffering that Irish people endured.”
Other speakers included Phien O'Reachtigan (Irish Traveller Movement), Helen O'Connor (Socialist Party), Peter Middleton (Wolfe Tone Society, international link of Sinn Féin in London), Zita Holbourne (Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts) and Pat Reynolds (Irish in Britain Representation Group).
It would be unthinkable to reduce the horrors of the Holocaust to a sit-com but Channel Four now seem to think that the Irish famine is an acceptable back-drop for light entertainment. The portrayal of Irish people as simpletons or savage terrorists reflects the imperialist mentality based on the centuries of oppression under British colonial rule that continues today and stills fans the flames of sectarian hatred in the occupied north of Ireland.
CRAIC is going to hold more protests to urge Channel Four to scrap the series, which is still in the development stage, and a petition has been signed online by almost 40,000 people, calling for the channel to cut all ties with the script.

Another year of war

By New Worker correspondent

“WHEN WE defeat imperialism, then terrorism will start to evaporate.” Andrew Murray summed up the West’s “terrorism” crisis on Monday evening at the Stop the War Coalition’s first major London meeting of the year: “Terrorism may be wrong, but the biggest problem in the world is imperialism. When we defeat imperialism, then terrorism will start to evaporate.”
Dozens of people had to queue for up to 45 minutes for the meeting on the theme “Another year of War?” at the House of Commons offices, but even with a second room found and the speakers moving one to the other, some still failed to get in.
Murray said: “The West’s wars have killed hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, and have definitely displaced millions of people, while regimes have been toppled according to Washington’s taste.”
On the Paris attacks he said: “We unreservedly condemn these barbaric attacks, and any form of anti-semitism, but this barbarism is miniscule compared to that inflicted by western imperialism, which we do condemn unreservedly.”
Guardian journalist Seamus Milne said: “The new British base in Bahrain is Britain’s first new foreign base in 40 years, while France is also building a new base in the United Arab Emirates – both are in the heart of the world’s main oil-producing region.
“Now, instead of sending large armies to fight  the ‘war on terror’ is carried out with massive drone attacks, small groups of special forces and by arming and paying surrogate groups. With far fewer troops on the ground, the anti-war campaigns here in Britain are becoming more difficult.”
He said that although the Labour Party opposed and prevented the Nato bombing of Syria, “unfortunately they did support the war in Libya, and they support the current campaign against ISIS and the new British base”.
Lindsay German declared the “war on terror”, “a spectacular failure,” and recalled former MI5 head Eliza Manningham-Buller warning before the 2003 Iraq invasion that it would increase the threat of terrorism in Britain. “Far from defeating Al Qaeda, since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq Al Qaeda-inspired groups have spread across North Africa and to many other African countries.”
She said: “The wars across the region have led to huge numbers of desperate refugees trying to get to Europe in treacherously unsafe boats, while Eric Pickles is now telling Muslims in Britain ‘you have to root out the terrorists in your own communities’.”
George Galloway, the Respect Party MP, told campaign activists: “In reality all that a Muslim has to do to become radicalised is to watch the news. In the last bombing of Gaza the dead included 500 children and 17 journalists, yet there was no uproar in the West, while our government defended Israel’s ‘right to self-defence’.” He revealed that: “For the first time ever, the SAS in Britain was now dispersed in bases across the country, as security experts fear a major incident in the regions.”
He went on: “While pensioners are freezing to death, we’re being told there isn’t enough for public services, but there money for all these wars.” He pointed out that the Paris march for the Charlie Hebdo victims headed by European Union leaders was also joined by Benjamin Netanyahu and the Saudi Arabian ambassador.
Sami Ramadani said: “It is not these brutal terrorists who frighten our ruling class but what they are really afraid of is mass movements.” He said: “The CIA’s centre in Turkey is still funnelling weapons and money to the Syrian rebels, including $3 billion from Qatar alone,” adding: “Wahhabism is not part of mainstream Islam, it’s a cult practised by the rulers of Saudi Arabia.”
As we start a new year of continuing the campaign for peace and opposing imperialist wars are still a top priority, this Saturday’s “Wrap Up Trident” mass demonstration in London, from midday to 3pm, is the top priority for activists.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

News round-up

Bus strike brings chaos to London

THOUSANDS of London bus drivers took strike action on Tuesday 13th January, bringing transport chaos throughout the capital as people were unable to get to work and people have been unable to get to work.
The drivers, members of the giant union Unite, are demanding a single pay and conditions agreement covering the whole of London.
London buses, privatised by a Tory government in the 1990s, are run by a number of different companies and each of them has different wages, terms and conditions.
Pay can differ by up to £3-an-hour, making over £100 difference in the weekly pay. Unite said with no collective pay deal there were 80 different pay rates for drivers doing the same job.
One driver explained his current pay was not enough to allow him to continue living in London.
He said: "My rate of pay is £9.30 an hour. I just want something that's a bit better.
"It depends on the shifts I get per week whether I can take home £300 and rent in north London is like £1,000 a month."
Wayne King, London regional officer for Unite, said: "Strike action is the last resort. We've been forced into this position by the operators' refusal to even meet with us.
"Passengers sitting side by side on the same route expect to pay the same fare, so why shouldn't drivers expect to be paid the same rate?
"The bus operators need to stop pleading poverty in defending pay inequality and collectively start negotiating about a fairer deal for London's bus workers."
But London Mayor Boris Johnson, who does not have the same power over the bus network as the London Underground, defended the differential pay rates.
A spokesperson for Metroline, one of the bus companies involved, said: "Unite is seeking to move to a common rate of pay across all bus companies in London and we have challenged this on the grounds that it would be illegal for us to agree to their demand."
Another driver told the on-line campaign Counterfire: “Bus routes come up for tender every couple of years. When Livingston was Mayor of London he encouraged contracts to be based on quality not just on the cheapest bidder. With Boris the emphasis is based upon the lowest bidder.
“This also affects people’s pensions. Over 20 years I could work for five different companies and end up with five different pensions, all not adding up to very much.
“No one's taking these sorts of things into consideration, with companies closing down final salary pensions, taking full advantage of the Government's scheme.
“They shut down the Money-Purchase Pension and went to the new Government compulsory pensions standard which was lower than the pension that they had before. The Government didn't say you had to make the pension lower but the companies took advantage of it. They want to increase their profit margins.
“Every time the bosses sit down in a room and we say we need a better deal they tell us TFL's 'contract price adjustments' will only give them a tiny return. They tell us they are not making enough of a profit to raise our pay. We’ve got to a stage where we’re fed up.
“This is the most successful era of London busses ever in terms of passenger numbers, the amount of journeys and so forth and now we want to be rewarded for our labour.
“What's the solution to tacking pay disparity? We believe that the only way we are going to get a better deal and a fairer deal is to have London-wide standards that, regardless of what company you work for, you know what you are going to get for your pension and wage.
“Here’s the problem: every time the governor wants to get an increase in his profit he comes after my wage. My wage seems to be the biggest variable. Their petrol costs what it costs, their busses cost what they cost but it seems like they can always do something with my wage….
 “If they’re going to bid on contracts they should bid on their own money, not on my wages.”

  Charlton Athletic LGBT fans lured into attack

HOMOPHOBIC thugs attacked gay football supporters after duping them into thinking they were meeting a similar group of fans from a rival team.
Members of Charlton Rainbows – a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group of Charlton Athletic followers – believed they had been invited to join up with LGBT supporters from Brighton and Hove Albion.
But some of the group were ambushed and assaulted when they arrived at the meeting point before the Championship clubs played each other on Saturday.
No one was seriously injured and there was no suggestion the attackers were associated with Brighton or Charlton football clubs.
Charlton Rainbows tweeted: “Before yesterday’s match, we were told to meet a group equivalent to ours.
“Unfortunately, this was a hoax and some members were attacked. An investigation’s ongoing with CCTV and statements being taken.”
The statement added: “We would like to say that the fans involved were neither BHAFC nor CAFC.
“Our members shaken, but OK. We can’t give more info as this is a criminal matter, but the thugs will be caught.
"We would also like to thank the public who helped and the emergency services for their quick response and actions.”

Eric Trevett remembered

By New Worker correspondent

IT WAS A cold and wintry night but friends and comrades braved the harsh weather on Saturday to recall the life and times of Eric Trevett, the outstanding leader of the New Communist Party, who passed away last September.
            Eric was a life-long communist, internationalist and peace campaigner who, together with Sid French, led the fight against revisionism on the Surrey District of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Sid French and Eric Trevett opposed the revisionist line of the CPGB as expressed in its programme, the British Road to Socialism. For many years they fought within the party against this departure from Marxist-Leninist ideology through the CPGB’s internal structure.
But in 1977, when the revisionist leaders moved to violate their own rules and basic communist norms and expel Sid and Eric to push through a more blatantly revisionist programme, the formation of a new party became inevitable.
Eric was a founder member of the NCP in 1977 and he was elected general secretary of the Party following the death of Sid French in 1979. He held that post until his retirement from full-time party work in 1995. He was subsequently elected president and remained in post until his death last year.
            Friends and comrades had paid their last respects to Eric at his funeral in Crawley in September. But they, and many others including Eric’s daughter, Susan, and veteran communist Monty Goldman from the Communist Party of Britain, returned to the Party Centre in London last Saturday to remember Eric’s life and his tireless commitment to the communist ideal.
The formal part of the memorial meeting was opened with the Eric’s last address, which he recorded for his own funeral. He said that he “never took himself seriously but always took what he believed in very seriously”. A point which was taken up by Party Chair Alex Kempshall  who spoke about Eric’s sense of humour and his love of jazz music as well as his commitment to the cause.
Thae Yong Ho from the DPR Korean embassy in London, who accompanied Eric when he went to the DPRK in the early 1990s, spoke about Eric’s meeting with great leader Kim Il Sung and the two hours that the two communists spent discussing the problems facing the movement in the aftermath of the counter-revolution in the Soviet Union and the need to rally the forces for socialism all over the world to confront imperialism.
Dermot Hudson from the Korean Friendship Association highlighted Eric’s solidarity work and that of the NCP as a whole in support of Democratic Korea while NCP leader Andy Brooks recalled Eric’s efforts to build the Party and the New Worker – work that continued until his last days at his care home.
Many others then took the floor to speak of their own fond memories of Eric including Ann Rogers, the former editor of the New Worker and Ray Jones who worked at the Party Centre for over 20 years.
Michael Chant, the general secretary of the RCPB (ML) could not be with us on the night. But he also spoke of Eric’s legacy and his commitment to communist unity in a message of condolence that ended: “We are comrades in arms together in holding high the banner of communism. Together, at Eric’s behest, let us carry this banner forward.”
Eric was always busy with organisational and practical work Andy said. He never had time to write books but his monument is the Party he founded and the paper he loved.
That, naturally enough, was taken up by National Treasurer Daphne Liddle in her spirited call to boost the New Worker fighting fund and remember Eric in the way he would have always wanted. They did with a collection that came to £1,377!