Tuesday, December 23, 2014

News round-up

Stop Lambeth evictions

HOUSING campaigners in Lambeth are fighting plans by the council to force people from their homes – where some have lived for 40 years or more – in order to sell off the homes and solve some of the council’s budgeting problems.
Families and vulnerable people, including elderly residents, are among those threatened with eviction from their housing co-op homes which Lambeth (a so-called 'co-operative council'!) then sell-off.
This disposals policy is to make up for a shortfall in Lambeth's budget, due in part to years of fraud and mismanagement in Lambeth's housing department.
Many of the homes were virtually derelict when the housing co-operative took them on and tenants have worked hard to make improvements and turn them into decent homes. Their reward for their hard work is to be threatened with homelessness.

Legal aid for domestic violence victims
WOMEN members of the GMB general union joined a demonstration of many women’s groups outside the High Court in London on Friday 12th December for the hearing of the Judicial Review granted to Rights of Women in Sept 2014 to challenge part of the Legal Aid Act which came into effect in April.
This clause in the Act prevents women who are victims of domestic abuse being eligible for legal aid.
Taranjit Chana, GMB London Regional Equality Forum, said: "GMB is supporting the legal challenge against the Government changes to access to justice by women experiencing domestic violence.
“GMB recognises that the cuts to legal aid prevent victims of domestic violence exercising their fundamental right to legal remedies to safety and escape abusive relationships. The changes to legal aid are unlawful as access to legal aid is often life-saving.
“GMB is a union not only addressing workplace issues but issues affecting society as a whole. We believe that access to legal aid by victims of domestic abuse is an issue for our members and society as a whole."

Tory council removes homeless mother from housing list

THE LONDON Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham last week won a legal ruling supporting its decision to remove a homeless single mother from its housing list on the grounds that since she was in temporary accommodation her situation was no longer urgent.
The Tory-run borough has been trying to trim its 10,000-strong waiting list.
But there is a danger that this ruling could set a precedent that will allow councils to remove homeless people from their lists according to their own judgement and to bar people placed in "long-term suitable temporary accommodation" from bidding for a council or housing association home.
One of those de-listed was a single mother, named in legal papers as R Jakimaviciute, who had been in temporary accommodation for two years and has now lost an attempt to seek a judicial review against the decision.
This flies in the face of many reports on the dangers of leaving children in temporary accommodation, which can have a terrible impact on their health and education.
Charities have found serious problems with some private rented houses used by councils. Lawyers argued that Jakimaviciute's treatment flew in the face of the council's legal obligation to give priority for social housing to certain groups of people including those who need to move on medical grounds, are in overcrowded accommodation or are homeless.
The lawyer for Jakimaviciute said that if the council's application of a clause in the housing act was correct, it gave it carte blanche to remove who it wanted.
Hammersmith and Fulham has been aggressive in its attempts to reduce its housing waiting list, and by excluding a number of groups from bidding for social housing it has cut the list to fewer than 800.

Pathology sell-off sparks strike action ballot
PATHOLOGY staff at three of London's largest NHS hospitals are being balloted for strike action from last Thursday 11th December over the looming transfer threat to Serco-linked private healthcare firm Viapath.
The giant union Unite, Britain’s biggest union, warned that the transfer of more than 700 NHS laboratory staff from Guy’s, St Thomas’ and Kings College hospitals to private firm Viapath on 1st January 2015 is a “patient safety time bomb” that marks the full-scale privatisation of the hospitals’ pathology services.
The ballot of Unite members closes on 22nd December setting the stage for strike action by the end of the month.
Viapath which took over pathology management at the hospitals four years ago has been beset by problems and complaints, including accusations of poor management and bullying. Last year an audit revealed Viapath may have overcharged the hospitals by over £1 million.
Unite is calling for the 1st January transfer of NHS staff to be stopped and for pathology services at all three hospitals be brought back into the NHS with immediate effect.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Kim Jong Il's Immortal Works and Life

by New Worker correspondent
Hyong Hak Bong and Michael Chant

FRIENDS of Korea met in London’s historic Marx House on Sunday to mark the third anniversary of the passing of Kim Jong Il.  In the hallowed hall of the building where Britain’s first Marxists worked and provided Lenin with rooms to edit and print the underground Russian paper, Iskra, when he lived in exile in London, British communist leaders and Korean solidarity activists paid tribute to the Korean revolutionary leader who died at his post on 17th December 2011.
 This was no solemn occasion but a celebration of the life and times of the Korean leader who devoted his life to the Workers Party of Korea and the democratic people’s republic that has been a red bastion in Asia since its foundation in 1948.
The Friends of Korea committee brings together all the major movements active in Korean friendship and solidarity work in Britain today. It is chaired by New Communist Party leader Andy Brooks and the secretary is Michael Chant of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (ML).
The two communist leaders spoke about the important contribution that Kim Jong Il had made to the development of socialism and the defence of the people’s government in words and deeds in the face of unremitting imperialist blockades and aggression.
John Macleod of the Socialist Labour Party talked about the relevance of Kim Jong Il’s theoretical works to the revolutionary struggle in the 21st century. Dermot Hudson of the Korean Friendship Association opened on the development of the Juché idea, the essence of Korean-style socialism and Roger Nettleship from the Society for Friendship with Korea (Northern Region) brought greetings from his committee and reported on Korean friendship work in Newcastle.
Comrade Hyong Hak Bong, the DPR Korean ambassador in London, spoke about how Kim Jong Il worked night and day for the Korean people. Heedless of his own health the Korean leader rallied the people to overcome natural disasters, imperialist diplomatic isolation and US blockade to lead the country to further victories in the 21st century.
Kim Jong Il lives on in the hearts of communists and everyone struggling for a better tomorrow and Kim Jong Il will be found at all times among the millions upon millions of Koreans advancing onwards full of confidence under the leadership of the dear respected Kim Jong Un.
Comrades then rose for a minute’s silence in respect of Kim Jong Il, which was followed by a short Korean film on the life of the dear leader.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Dr Ang Swee Chai speaks in Lewisham

 by New Worker Correspondent

Londoners turned up in droves last week to hear Dr Ang Swee Chai talk about her medical efforts and solidarity work that has made her a household name amongst the Palestinian community.
            Lewisham Town Hall’s council chamber was packed to hear her speak, at a fund-raising evening for Medical Aid for Palestine, about her decision, over 30 years ago, to use her skills to help the Palestinian Arabs and her own realisation that the Israelis were not the “good guys” in the Middle East.
Ang Swee Chai (far right) with supporters and Sir Steve Bullock
In 1987 the Palestinian leader,Yasser Arafat presented Dr Ang Swee Chai with  the Star of Palestine, the highest award for service to the Palestinian people.
            But it all began in 1982 when the Singaporean surgeon decided to leave London to help Christian Aid in a Palestinian refugee camp in war-torn Beirut.
The continuous attacks on the camp by the Israelis soon changed her naïve perception that the Israelis were simply defending themselves from Palestinian terrorism.
Later she was a witness of the terrible massacres at the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps, where some of her former patients were slaughtered.
Shortly after the young doctor came back to Britain for a while and spent her time campaigning for an end to the violence and played a role in setting up the charity Medical Aid for Palestine.
Then she went back to work in Palestine and was still working there until last summer and the most recent bombardment of Gaza by the Israelis, killing 2,131 Palestinians, including more than 500 children.
Dr Ang Swee Chai was arrested while travelling by the Israelis and held for two days and she is now banned by the Zionist authorities from returning to Palestine.
But, she reassured her audience: “There are many more doctors and health workers ready to take my place.”
Now her work is raising funds to help them deliver health care to Palestinians.
The photos she showed as she recounted her work in Lebanon and Gaza showed a story of repeated horror, bombardment, restriction and oppression that help the audience silent throughout.
“But,” Dr Ang Swee Chai added, “The children there are amazing. In spite of everything they are so full of life and fun and resistance. They are the future that ensures Palestine will never die.”
She went on to give figures that show both inside Palestine and as refugees throughout the world waiting for their right to return, the population of Palestine is now more than double what it was in 1948.
The meeting was also addressed briefly by Lewisham Mayor Sir Steve Bullock.
The Al Zaytouna Palestinian dance troupe, based in London, gave an energetic display of traditional Palestinian dances and Reem Kelani, a Palestinian singer, sang.  
Before the meeting local members of Palestine Solidarity, CND and Stop the War had laid on a magnificent spread of Middle Eastern food for all those attending.

Protest as vultures gather over Ukraine

By New Worker correspondent

ANTI-FASCISTS braved the biting early morning wind along the Albert Embankment at Vauxhall last Tuesday to protest at the wholesale privatisation of Ukrainian state property and other austerity measures imposed by the IMF and the EU and implemented by the new  Poroshenko-Yatseniuk regime.

Members and supporters of Solidarity with Anti-fascist Resistance in Ukraine (SARU) assembled outside the Park Plaza between Lambeth and Vauxhall where the Kiev regime had invited the capitalist fat cats of the world to a London “Investment Summit” to carve up the assets of the Ukrainian people for privatisation and plunder.
Ukrainian acting Prime Minister Tatseniuk recently said:  “We will announce the most ambitious privatisation programme for 20 years,” and the Kiev regime has promised it would “consider a draft law on the list of objects that are not subject to privatisation”.
Entry fees for the two-day businessfest were $2,550 (£1,628). According to the organisers the “Ukrainian Investment Summit is a common convergence point for current and potential investors from across the world. The conference opens the doors to collaborate with key government officials, major international investors and the top Ukrainian corporate.
“The Ukrainian Investment Summit also enables attendees to get the most up-to-date business information on Europe’s largest emerging economy. The conference stands out as an important meeting point for investment sector professionals as it is held at the most suitable time to appraise market performances and assess whether the reform processes implemented are on the right track.
“The summit is thus not just a business meet but also a discussion forum for key regulations that have the potential of impacting the global economy.”
Later that day at the same venue Ukraine Today, the newly-launched the first 24/7 global English-language TV broadcaster from Ukraine, hosted a gala evening for the fat cats.
The previous evening, 8th December, saw a wine and cognac reception at the Thames Pavilion, Palace of Westminster (House of Commons) hosted by  Tory MP John Whittingdale, who chairs the British-Ukraine All-Party Parliamentary Group and supported by Adam Smith Conferences.

Kim Jong Il – a guardian of socialism

by New Worker correspondent
Yongho Thae, Michael Chant, Andy Brooks and Dermot Hudson

Friends of Korea met at the John Buckle Centre in London last week for the launch of a special publication to commemorate the third anniversary of the passing of Kim Jong Il and the dear leader’s immense contribution to the Korean communist movement.
            Leading members of the Friends of Korea committee including New Communist Party leader Andy Brooks, Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) general secretary Michael Chant and Dermot Hudson from the Korean Friendship Association all spoke on different aspects of Kim Jong Il’s outstanding contribution to the world communist movement. From Korea Yongho Thae from the London embassy of the DPR Korea talked about Kim Jong Il’s life-long work for the Workers Party of Korea and the Korean people.
            Then everyone rose to toast the memory of Kim Jong Il and launch the Friends of Korea committee’s first publication which was specially produced to mark the passing of the Korean leader who died at his post on 17th December 2011.
            Kim Jong Il, A Guardian of Socialism is a full colour magazine that contains a selection of articles by Andy Brooks, Michael Chant and Dermot Hudson about the life of the leader of the Workers Party of Korea as well a short biography and an introduction to the work of the committee..
                        In Britain the Committee to Commemorate Comrade Kim Jong Il was established last month  as part of a series of memorial events that have taken place in Korea and throughout the world and will continue until 17th December. The committee included the NCP, RCPB(ML), Socialist Labour Party, European Regional Society for the Study of the Juché Idea, UK Korean Friendship Association and the Society for Friendship with Korea (Northern Region).
             The events included the holding of a joint seminar called by the NCP and the Juché Idea Study Group on Juché and Songun politics that are the basis of Korean-style socialism while Dermot Hudson of the KFA took part, via Skype, in an international seminar organised by the International Committee for the Study of Songun Politics that also heard Skypelink contributions from Nepal, Singapore and India.
It also included the publication of Respecting the Forerunners of the Revolution is a Noble Moral Obligation of Revolutionaries – a keynote work by Kim Jong Il written in 1995 --  Kim Jong Il, A Guardian of Socialism and  a special issue of Independence Star, the journal of the Juche Idea Study Group of England.
A Friends of Korea meeting to recall Kim Jong Il’s immortal works and life took place on Sunday at Marx House in London and the month-long series of tributes ends with a formal ceremony at the DPR Korean embassy in London.
The Co-ordinating Committee of the Friends of Korea, which brings together all the major movements active in Korean friendship and solidarity work in Britain today.  It is chaired by Andy Brooks and the secretary is Michael Chant.  The committee organises meetings throughout the year, which are publicised by the supporting movements and on the Friends of Korea blog.