Thursday, July 13, 2017

Labour after the election

Gerry Downing, Marie Lynam, Theo Russell and Andy Brooks

by New Worker correspondent
That was the theme of the panel of speakers who opened a New Worker meeting at the Cock Tavern in central London last week. Chaired by Theo Russell, the panel included NCP leader Andy Brooks and Gerry Downing of Socialist Fight, who was expelled by Labour on trumped-up charges of ‘anti-Semitism’ last year, and Marie Lynam, a Posadist who is a Labour Party activist and supporter of the Labour Representation Committee.
 Labour’s strong showing in the June election against all expectations from the media pundits has left the Tories dependant on the votes of the sectarian bigots of the Democratic Unionist Party in the occupied north of Ireland. How long can they cling to power was the question and the general answer was that it largely depended on the mobilisation of the mass movement.
NCP leader Andy Brooks said we must focus on Jeremy Corbyn’s call to bring down the May government to force another general election this year and when that takes place to work for the maximum Labour vote to give Corbyn a working majority in parliament. Labour will be a hostage to fortune if ends up relying on the votes of the nationalists or the Liberal-Democrats to form the next government he said. But the June efforts show that a Labour majority was winnable through the mobilisation of the working class up and down the country. In the meantime the campaign to stop the Blairite bureaucracy’s witch-hunt against prominent left-wingers must continue unabated until all those unjustly suspended or expelled are reinstated.
Gerry Downing , Marie Lynam and Theo Russell made similar points reflecting the broad spectrum of left opinion that has united behind the call from Corbyn for a new direction for Labour. A lively discussion followed on the pros and cons of Brexit and the central role of the trade union movement in the future.

A great communist leader

Michael Chant speaking with Andy Brooks and Dermot Hudson
by New Worker 

COMRADES and friends met at the John Buckle Centre in south London last week to mark the 23rd anniversary of the passing of President Kim Il Sung on 8th July  1994 and to discuss the tense situation on the Korean peninsula following the recent American  threats to launch a pre-emptive strike against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Kim Il Sung and the communist movement he inspired began the Korean people’s struggle against Japanese colonial rule in the 1920s that ended in victory in 1945. Kim Il Sung went on to lead the Korean people to another great victory against a foreign invader when the American imperialists and their lackeys attacked the people’s government in the north in 1950.
All the speakers, which included Song Gi Kim from the Democratic Korean embassy in London, Michael Chant from the RCPB (ML), Dermot Hudson from the Korean Friendship Association and New Communist Party leader Andy Brooks, paid tribute the achievements of the great Korean leader and the Workers Party of Korea that he led until his death in 1994.  After questions and discussion the meeting ended but discussion continued over drinks at the John Buckle Centre.
The Co-ordinating Committee of the Friends of Korea 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 website.

Friday, July 07, 2017

100,000 march for pay justice

by Daphne Liddle

ONE HUNDRED thousand protesters filled the streets of London last Saturday to demand an end to crushing austerity, an end to the public sector pay cap, an end to Tory rule, and justice for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire — a result of austerity cuts to building safety regulations.
The march was organised by People’s Assembly and began in Portland Place outside the BBC headquarters, for a march to Parliament Square and a rally outside the Houses of Parliament.
Unions had organised buses bringing protesters from across Britain, including Birmingham, Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle.
There were contingents from all the major unions on the march and placards proclaiming: “Not one Day More”, “Austerity kills”, “Kick the Tories out” and “Cuts cost lives”.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn addressed the rally in the square, as they chanted: “Oh Jeremy Corbyn”. He criticised the hypocrisy of Tory MPs who praised the work of the emergency services dealing with recent terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower disaster. “The utter hypocrisy of Government ministers and others who queued up in the chamber over there in the House of Commons to heap praise on the emergency services, the following day to cut their wages by refusing to lift the pay cap. The hypocrisy is absolutely unbelievable.”
Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell vowed to support the victims of the Grenfell fire, saying: “To the victims of Grenfell Tower we pledge now, we will stand with you and your families all the way through.
“We bring you sympathy but more importantly we bring you solidarity. We will not rest until every one of those families is properly housed within the community in which they want to live. Grenfell Tower symbolised for many everything that’s gone wrong in this country since austerity was imposed upon us.”
Other speakers included Diane Abbott, Dave Prentis from the public sector union Unison and Len McCluskey, general secretary of the big union Unite.
The fight against the one per cent cap on public sector pay rises — which has been in place since 2010 — has seen pay levels fall by an average six per cent over that period, according to a damning new Government report published last week.
It has affected some more than others and has seen nurses working long hard hours being forced to go to foodbanks because their wages are not enough to cover their bills — housing, transport, energy and so on — and have anything left over for food.
There has been a lot of anger, which is rising, over cuts to the real value of wages, when inflation is taken into account, of the emergency service workers who have recently been involved in rescuing people from four terrorist attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire.
And it’s not just the cuts to wages but also to jobs. The fire service nearest to Grenfell Tower had lost 50 per cent of its firefighters along with fire engines under the cuts made by Boris Johnson, the Tory former mayor of London. It can hardly be doubted that if a lot more firefighters and engines had been at Grenfell Tower then more victims could have been rescued.
This is one of the many issues that should be covered by the public inquiry into the fire — along with the decisions to water down building safety regulations to make it easier for construction companies to make more profits more quickly. But Theresa May’s government has appointed former Appeal Court judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick, 70, to preside over the public inquiry into the tower block fire. A recently retired court of appeal judge who specialised in commercial law, he has been given a very narrow remit to discover only what went wrong on the day of the fire.
There is no way such a narrow inquiry could bring justice for the victims — and the survivors know this and are clamouring for a fuller inquiry.
This has just added to the growing public anger with May’s government as expressed in that giant march. She must resign soon.
But her Tory colleagues want her to stay in place — they certainly don’t want to step into her shoes right now — but for them she has an unfinished task, to ensure the Brexit negotiations fail and demand grows for a new referendum.
We must not allow that to happen.

Win for Woolwich Ferry workers

THE GIANT union Unite last week hailed a victory in the Woolwich Ferry dispute as a tribute to “worker solidarity”.
The long-running dispute over a management “bullying culture” dispute has been settled, following a remarkable display of worker solidarity, the union said last Tuesday
A deal hammered out between Unite and Briggs Marine Contractors Ltd has seen one manager being dismissed following a disciplinary hearing, a senior manager leaving the site, and a “fair” settlement for the female employee who suffered sexual harassment.
The company, which runs the service on behalf of Transport for London (TfL), has also agreed to a new improved health and safety regime, putting safety first, as well as settling outstanding issues relating to pay and allowances.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “We are pleased to announce today (Tuesday 4th July) a comprehensive agreement to settle the dispute at the ferry which is a tribute to a remarkable display of worker solidarity.
“By taking collective action and standing firm since this dispute started last winter, Unite has demonstrated that unions can achieve great victories in the workplace on behalf of their members and that bosses don’t have carte blanche to engage in unacceptable behaviour.
“The union was able to resolve the sexual harassment complaint to the member's satisfaction which sends out a strong message about the abhorrent nature of this offence.”
Unite regional legal and disputes officer Nicky Marcus said: “This dispute is testament to the fact that where the legal system fails to protect our members, exercising the right to take lawful industrial action can prove to be a powerful and highly effective means of seeking redress for all sorts of injustice.”
Workers, belonging to Unite and the GMB took two days of strike action: 27th January and 3rd February, before suspending industrial action so that talks could take place.
About 3,500 vehicles per day use the free service across the Thames that opened in 1889, following the abolition of tolls across bridges to the west of London. An estimated two million passengers also use the ferry annually.

Down with the Kiev fascist regime!

Dermot Hudson, Andy Brooks, Theo Russell, Gerry Downing and Daphne Liddle on the line
by New Worker correspondent

London comrades returned to Whitehall last week for another picket opposite Downing Street, to demand justice for the victims of the Odessa trade union house massacre in 2014 and call for the end of British military assistance to the fascist regime in Kiev. The protest was called by the New Communist Party and Socialist Fight with the support of the Solidarity with the Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine (SARU) movement to highlight the repression that is going on in Ukraine today. In Ukraine barely a day passes without the persecution of Russian-speaking Ukrainians, Jews and members of opposition parties including the Communist Party of Ukraine, which was outlawed formally this week.
            The bourgeois media in Europe and the United States still keeps silent on the Odessa massacre of 2014. The Kiev regime says 48 people were killed when neo-Nazi thugs besieged pro-democracy protesters inside the building before torching it, blocking the exits so that they couldn’t escape. But eyewitnesses say the true number could be well over 100.
Not one of the thugs responsible for the murders has been arrested or 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. But the families of the victims are continuing to campaign for a full United Nations investigation into the massacre, which was the decisive factor in the decision by the peoples of the Donbas to take up the gun to set up their own break-away Novorossiyan republics rather than be ruled by fascists in Kiev.
New Communist Party leader Andy Brooks and Gerry Downing of Socialist Fight took the mike, along with other comrades including Daphne Liddle, Dermot Hudson and Theo Russell, during the early evening rush-hour protest that caught the eye of home-going commuters and passing tourists who took the leaflets or paused to discuss the issue with the picketers.