Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Anti-fascists protest at Ukrainian embassy

by New Worker 

DOZENS of anti-fascists, communists and trade unionists gathered last Wednesday (14th May) outside the Ukrainian embassy in Holland Park, London to protest at the brutal war being waged by the Kiev junta on Ukrainians who are refusing to accept its undemocratic seizure of their country.
Many regions of Ukraine, especially in the east and south of the country, are now endeavouring to separate themselves from the new regime that is supported by the United States and the European Union and by Ukrainian neo-Nazis, who have been responsible for a number of atrocities.
Similar demonstrations have been taking place across the globe:
           In the United States the United National Anti-War Coalition has organised demonstrations across the US from 9th to 26th May.
           On 15th May in Pisa, Italy, anti-imperialist and anti-fascist organisations gathered to demonstrate solidarity with “anti-fascist Ukraine” and to oppose intervention by the EU, US and Nato. Since then further protests have happened in Rome, Turin and other Italian cities.
           In Spain demonstrations in solidarity with Ukrainian anti-fascists have taken place outside the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid on 10th May and in Salamanca and Bilbao on 12th May.
           In Denmark the Peoples Movement Against Nazism of Denmark (FMN), which signed the UNAC appeal, also held a protest outside the Ukrainian Embassy in Copenhagen on 8th May.
           In Finland, the Communist League expressed its opposition to the “dangerous fascist developments” and “oppose[s] the US-EU-Nato intervention” in Ukraine.
           And in Sweden more than 100 people demonstrated in Stockholm on Victory Day — 9th May, the day the USSR defeated Germany in 1945 and ended World War II in Europe — to denounce fascism in Ukraine and link it to the struggle against resurgent fascism throughout Europe.
The RMT transport union was out in force at the London demonstration supported by members of Paddington branch RMT present with their banner.

Standing up to Ukip

By New Worker correspondent

AROUND 120 anti-fascists gathered in Marsham Street, Westminster, last Wednesday evening to protest at a public meeting to be broadcast featuring the extreme right-wing xenophobic leader of the UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage.
The protest has been organised by Stand Up To Ukip initiated by Unite Against Fascism and other anti-fascist and anti-racist group.
Around a dozen protesters had managed to infiltrate the meeting where Farage was speaking before it started but they were ejected before Farage arrived.
They reported to the protesters outside that the Ukip supporters inside were narrow-minded, reactionary and xenophobic. They tried to keep their racism undercover but it keeps slipping out.
One journalist commented that they seemed to have come straight from Monty Python’s [Twit of the Year] sketch.
Speakers at the protest rally included UAF joint general secretary Weyman Bennett.
The extreme neo-Nazi group calling itself Britain First had promised to supply protection for Farage against protesters involving “an armoured vehicle and military trained personnel”. But only two of their members turned up and had to be removed by police after photo-journalists protested when the police tried to put them in the press pen.
Evicted from the pen and confronted by the anti-fascists, the two BF members are reported to have “run away”. 

Victory Day in London

 By Adrian Chan-Wyles and New Worker correspondent

YOUNG Russians last Friday were queuing to have their photos taken waving the hammer-and-sickle flag in a south London park and claiming that the Soviet Union was not dead after an emotional Victory Day ceremony.
The inscription at the Soviet War Memorial in the grounds of the Imperial War Museum, London reads:

“This memorial commemorates the 27 million Soviet citizens
 and service men and women who died for the Allied Victory in WWII.


And last Friday around 300 assorted veterans, representatives of the embassies of the former Soviet republics, civic dignitaries, communists, members of London’s Russian community and many others assembled at the memorial to do just that – remember and honour the Soviet heroes who delivered the world from the horrors of Nazism at very great cost.
The 9th May 2014, marks the 69th year since the forces of fascism represented by Nazi Germany and her allies, unconditionally surrendered to the Soviet Red Army in Berlin, bringing the war in Europe to an end.

A delegation from the Buddhist-Marxism Alliance (UK) attended the ceremony this year along with members of the New Communist Party who have attended the event every year since the memorial was unveiled exactly 15 years ago.
There were speeches from local Mayor Cllr Abdul Mohamed, Philip Matthews, Chair, Soviet Memorial Trust Fund and Alexander Kramarenko, ChargĂ© d’Affaires of the Russian embassy, who wore a hammer-and-sickle badge in his khaki cap. He made a very poignant, measures speech stating that as long as Russia exists, the Soviet sacrifice will never be forgotten.  He spoke at length about the importance of the defeat of fascism in 1945, and how it is important to remain forever watchful in the present time and to combat the narrow nationalism that leads to fascism.
Recent events in Ukraine, especially the massacre in Odessa, were in the thoughts of everyone present and the speakers referred to the dangers of Nazi ideology arising again. 
Local Liberal-Democrat MP Simon Hughes, who is the Minister of State for Justice and Civil Liberties, struck the only discordant note of the ceremony. He began by saying he had visited Kiev many times recently, on behalf of the British government. He went on to speak of the European Union as a creation intended to bring peace to Europe and hoped that one day Russia would be brought into the fold – expressing the imperialist ambitions and intentions of the EU and the United States.
He then, without a shade of shame at his hypocrisy, called for outsiders to refrain from interference in the affairs of Ukraine.
 Then followed the traditional wreath laying began. Three Soviet war veterans received loud applause, as did the veterans of the Arctic Convoys, who were present as usual in force.
 Other veteran groups, who were also applauded, included the RAF Russian Association, International Brigade Memorial Trust, Burma Star Association, London Merchant Navy Association, Normandy Veterans Association, London & Greater London Merchant Navy Association, Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen & Women, Royal Air Forces Association, and National Service (RAF) Association.
The Moscow Second Guards Rifle Division re-enactment group were there as usual in their authentic uniforms.
Members of communist organisations were also applauded as they laid their flowers, including New Communist Party general secretary Andy Brooks.
After the wreath laying Aksinia Elovik, a teenage pupil of the Russian Embassy, sang a solemn and beautiful requiem unaccompanied, the Last post was played and Stanley Ballard of the Arctic Convoy Club gave the exhortation followed by two minutes silence and then reveille.
Alexander Kramarenko then invited everyone to drink a toast to the victory, with Vodka, wine and food laid on by the Russian embassy and the embassies of other former Soviet republics.
Ukraine was missing this year; their embassy laid its wreath the day before to avoid controversy – but showing that even the current fascist junta in Kiev cannot totally suppress the popular demand to mark Victory Day.
Then the informal part began, with London’s Russians singing and socialising. Someone set up an amplifier near the memorial and began to blast the old Soviet national anthem and brandished a hammer-and-sickle flag.
The effect was electric, people drifted from the food and drink marquees to line up to have their pictures taken waving aloft the old red flag and striking poses from old Soviet posters. Another Red Navy hammer and sickle flag appeared and the Second Guards Rifle Division unfurled their hammer-and-sickle banner again.
The music went on to play old Red Army favourites. Perhaps the vodka had something to do with it but things became very emotional and there were tears in many eyes and an outbreak of dancing when [Kalinka] was played. It was heart-warming to see the number of young Russians, alongside the veterans, taking up the flag.
It seems perhaps, like Joe Hill, the Soviet Union never really died.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

RMT suspends Tube strike

THE TRANSPORT union RMT last Monday suspended its planned three-day strike of London Underground workers just hours before it was due to begin after London Underground management after negotiations secured “real movement and significant” progress.
But the fight to prevent the loss of 960 jobs and the closure of all LU ticket offices is far from over.
RMT acting general secretary Mick Cash wrote to his members: “I wrote to you on Friday advising you that your negotiators believed that some progress had been made, but the company at the last minute decided to impose pre-conditions, including RMT calling off strike action and totally withdrawing from the current dispute; this would have meant a new ballot being required for any further industrial action.
“However, as always this union has been willing to continue discussions right up to the 11th hour. Your union has been hard at work with Acas over the weekend and have negotiated the following:-

1. The station-by-station review will continue with all the trades unions invited to participate and contribute, additionally the proposed Fit for the Future-Stations implementation plan will also be reviewed. This exercise should be completed by 23rd May 2014. During this period of discussion LU would continue to keep on hold all VS applications.
2. The outcome of the exercise will be discussed at a meeting chaired by Acas.
3. LU would enter into further detailed discussions to ensure that any employees identified as in scope of the Fit for the Future-Stations proposals on 21st November 2013, and who do not choose to leave the business under voluntary severance, would be offered a role that involves no reduction in their current substantive salary. This arrangement would be specific to the Fit for the Future-Stations programme.

“I’m sure you will agree these are very important concession won by the union.
“But just as important I am pleased to be able to advise you that the totally unacceptable demand that we withdraw from the current dispute has been removed.
“I can’t stipulate enough the importance of this. Had we agreed, your negotiators would have had their hands tied behind their back when negotiating to protect members’ terms and conditions. By standing strong, your resolve and unity has forced London Underground to back down.
“I will keep you informed of developments.”
The union reported that an agreement was almost reached the previous Friday but was sabotaged by the intervention of London Mayor Boris Johnson, who set the unacceptable conditions mentioned above, that the RMT should completely give up the dispute.
Mick Cash branded the alleged switch a "cynical and politically motivated move" instigated by Johnson as part of his "objective of leading the Tory Party".

May Day in London salutes Crow and Benn

by New Worker


THOUSANDS of transport workers and labour and peace movement activists filled the streets of London last Thursday in a May Day march and rally dedicated to the memory of RMT general secretary Bob Crow and Labour and peace veteran fighter Tony Benn, who died within a week of each other earlier this year.
The march assembled as usual at Clerkenwell Green. London’s Turkish and Kurdish communities were out in force as usual along with thousands of RMT members, members of the train drivers’ union Aslef and many other unions.
There were also a large group of protesters at the exploitative short-term money lender Wonga, which charges interest at over 5,000 per cent per annum, peace campaigners, save the NHS campaigners and dozens of political parties and groups.
Many marchers sported a T-shirt produced for the occasions depicting Crow with the inscription: “Bob Crow – legend – loved by the workers, feared by the bosses”.
The march set off at 1.30pm precisely, led by a giant banner held up by, among others, Bob Crow’s widow Nicky, his daughter Natasha Hoarau, MP Jeremy Corbyn and John Hendy QC.
Natasha Hoarau told the rally: “He would have been so proud of the solidarity among us today.
"It has not been an easy time for the family, but we are comforted to see so many people displaying so much passion."
Chief march steward Tony Lennon said the huge turnout, including a large bloc of Unite union members,  was a tribute to the "massive contribution" made by Bob Crow, and Tony Benn, who died aged 52 and 88, in the fight for workers' rights.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady spoke of "honouring two great heroes of the labour movement" and said that if all trade unions across the movement built their unions like Bob Crow built the RMT, the unions would collectively have 10 million members instead of their present six million.
She gave TUC backing to the present RMT London Underground strikes, saying: "If striking is the only way to win, that's what we must do.”
Len McCluskey, the leader of the giant union, Unite, also gave the support of his union to the RMT struggle. Referring to the millions of workers celebrating May Day around the world he said "our class is out today" and emphasised that British workers have much more in common with workers across the globe than they do with any British boss.
John Hendy QC gave a forceful tribute to Bob Crow, describing him as: "A tireless man who led by example, every evening and every weekend speaking in favour of every conceivable campaign that might advance the cause of the working class here and around the world.”
He added: "Let's not forget the message of Bob Crow, that capitalism is a rotten, evil system that's rendered hundreds of millions of people into indignity, poverty and injustice worldwide. Socialism was the message that Bob Crow delivered at meetings up and down the country.”