Friday, September 22, 2017

Anger at plans to close Overground ticket offices

RAIL UNION RMT last week responded to London Overground ticket office and staffing proposals that included plans to cut ticket offices at Overground stations.
The union’s general secretary, Mick Cash, said: "RMT is deeply concerned about the proposals which in our view could see the elimination of ticket offices across London Overground.
“Our experience in the past shows that, despite promises to the contrary, the closure of ticket offices leads to the wholesale destaffing of stations with serious consequences for safety and security.
"These plans have a striking similarity to the Fit for The Future model rolled out on London Underground stations which meant wholesale axing of ticket offices and a net loss in safety critical jobs and which sparked a long running union industrial and political campaign that eventually reversed a ‎sizeable chunk of those cuts.
"RMT is also aware that these proposals are being mapped out against the background of massive central Government cuts to the TfL [Transport for London] budget and those cuts could shape the eventual package.
“The Mayor ‎must give us cast iron assurances that will not happen and we are calling for urgent, top level discussions around the proposals released by TfL today."
Eddie Dempsey, an RMT activist, who is employed by TfL, commented: “Outrageous that on the morning London's transport network suffered another terrorist attack, Arriva Rail London, the privateers who operate London Overground with Transport for London, have announced massive cuts to station staff that could see every ticket office on the network at risk of closure.
“Once again London Underground workers were the first on the scene keeping Londoners safe as they were on 7/7 and once again they're being ignored about the safety implications of transport staff cuts.
“These plans mirror what London Underground did with its Fit for the Future programme (colloquially known as fit for f**k all among LU workers) which lead to a massive shortage of staff and a number of serious safety incidents London Underground couldn't deal with.
“This was despite RMT raising again and again underground workers concerns that these plans would put passengers and staff at risk. It took a combination of safety shortfalls and major strike action by RMT members shutting London down before London regained some hundreds of jobs that had been cut, but not all, or enough.
“Two billion odd cuts to the TfL budget is driving this irresponsible attitude to public safety. The mayor needs to get off the pot and fight for London's transport network and hold off the cuts before this scorched earth policy of staff cuts leads to a major disaster and loss of lives.”

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Democratic Korea now a super-power!

DPRK diplomat Kim Song Gi speaking
By New Worker correspondent
 London’s Chadswell Centre in central London once again became the venue for Korean solidarity activists last weekend, for a report-back meeting of a visit to Democratic Korea by a Korean Friendship Association (KFA) delegation and to hear DPRK diplomats talk about the defiant stand of their people’s government in the face of the increasing violent threats of US imperialism and its lackeys.
Dermot Hudson, Alex Meads and José Blasquez went to Democratic Korea to take part in the 5th International Festival at Mt Paektu, the traditional symbol of Korean independence last month. All three spoke about their impressions of the land of Juche, which has been forced to develop its own nuclear deterrent to defend the DPRK against the American imperialists who occupy the southern part of the Korean peninsula.
Other speakers included Theo Russell from the Central Committee of the New Communist Party and KFA activist James Taylor. Kim Song Gi, from the DPRK’s London embassy, gave a talk entitled The DPRK is a super-power, that outlined Democratic Korea’s efforts in developing its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities.
Dermot Hudson unveiled his latest book In Defence of Juche Korea, which was part of an exhibition of publications from the KFA and the DPRK that included works by Democratic Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and those of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
Once again this was a golden opportunity to discuss the Korean crisis with DPRK diplomats and comrades who have just returned from the beleaguered socialist republic, both during the meeting and over light refreshments supplied by the DPRK embassy.

Growing ties with Vietnam

Nguyen Van Thao greets the guests
By New Worker correspondent
NCP leader Andy Brooks joined politicians, diplomats, journalists and members of the Vietnamese community in London in celebrating Vietnam’s National Day at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington on Tuesday.
The National Day commemorates the Vietnamese declaration of independence from France on 2nd September 1945. On that day Vietnamese communist leader Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in Hanoi, and the beginning of the struggle for freedom that finally ended with the defeat of US imperialism in 1975 and the establishment of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Naturally this year’s celebration focused on the growing British–Vietnamese ties that have developed in recent years. Ambassador Nguyen Van Thao spoke highly of the efforts that have greatly expanded trade and cultural links with Britain and Kate White from the Foreign Office reaffirmed Britain’s commitment to signing a bilateral trade agreement with Vietnam after the UK leaves the European Union.
Sadly Nguyen Van Thao will soon be leaving as his tour of duty in London is over – but he can depart pleased at the many positive developments in British–Vietnamese relations during his watch and confident that this will continue in the future.
Two-way trade reached $5.6 billion in 2016, up 30 per cent compared with 2014, whilst education and tourism remain important cooperation aspects between the two countries. At present, there are about 12,000 Vietnamese students in Britain, with the figure rising annually. The number of British tourists to Vietnam is also rising, especially after Vietnam offered visa exemptions for UK visitors and the launch of daily flights connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with London. Vietnam has welcomed more than 250,000 British tourists since the beginning of this year.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

No War in Korea!

Tariq Ali speaking
by Theo Russell
 About 90 people attended a meeting at Friends House in central London last Tuesday called by the Stop the War Coalition, with writer and film-maker Tariq Ali, CND General Secretary Kate Hudson, Stop the War convenor Lindsey German, and Owen Miller, a Lecturer in Korean Studies at the School of African and Oriental Studies, on the panel.
All of the speakers condemned the warmongering history and recent actions by the USA and NATO, and recalled in great detail the crimes committed by the US-led forces in the Korean War. The platform also showed how the history of the introduction of nuclear weapons into the Korean peninsula, the failure of attempts to negotiate any agreements because of US sabotage, and the recent history of wars and regime change, all explained why the DPRK had embarked on its nuclear and missile development programmes. The peace and anti-THAAD [Terminal High Altitude Area Defence; an American anti-ballistic missile defence system] movements in south Korea, and solidarity with them and with the DPRK, were also discussed. Tariq Ali summed up the feeling of the meeting when he said that thanks to its strong defences “North Korea is one of very few  genuinely sovereign states left in the world.”

Friday, September 08, 2017

Stop the war in Donbas!

By New Worker correspondent

London anti-fascist campaigners returned to the streets of Whitehall last weekend in solidarity with the people of the Lugansk and Donetsk republics, and to call for an end to British military aid to the Kiev regime. NCP leader Andy Brooks joined other comrades at the picket opposite Downing Street called by the New Communist Party and Socialist Fight with the support of the Solidarity with the Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine (SARU) campaign.
Gerry Downing of Socialist Fight took the mike last Saturday, along with NCP comrades Dermot Hudson and Theo Russell, whilst others gave out leaflets and argued the case with those who wanted to know more about the problem.
In February 2014 a fascist-backed coup took place in Ukraine. Two months later neo-Nazi thugs besieged pro-democracy protesters inside the Trade Union House in Odessa before torching it, blocking the exits so that they couldn’t escape. The Kiev regime says 50 were killed but eyewitnesses believe the true number could be well over 100. Not one of the thugs responsible for the murders has been charged because they are followers of the neo-Nazi militias that prop up the corrupt Poroshenko regime that does the bidding of Anglo-American and Franco-German imperialism.
Soon afterwards the people in eastern Ukraine took up the gun to defend themselves from the fascist onslaught and set up their own people’s republics in the Donbas. Almost 4,000 Donbas civilians have been killed by the fascists and the Ukrainian army in the struggle to defend their new-born freedom. The British government is providing military trainers for the Ukrainian army, some of whom are possibly members of the 80 fascist militias that have been integrated in to Ukraine’s armed forces with complete US backing.