Saturday, January 26, 2019

No Justice! No Peace!

By New Worker correspondent

There was joyful militancy, solidarity and rage during the Ministry of Justice strike in London this week. Management called in scabs and the police, but United Voices of the World (UVW) strikers shut down one side of the building and raised hundreds of pounds from supporters. Support staff represented by the mainstream PCS civil service union, and making similar demands, joined the action at the nearby Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) HQ. This was the first co-ordinated strike in Britain between a TUC and a non-TUC union, and the first co-ordinated strike between outsourced workers in government departments.
Workers in the main civil service union, PCS, and UVW, a street union founded in 2014 to represent the mainly outsourced migrant workers of London, picketed the Ministry of Justice and the  BEIS office on Tuesday in support of striking cleaners, receptionists and security guards who are demanding the London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour and parity with civil servants for sick pay and annual leave.
We marched together with our comrades from PCS Union and had a visit from John McDonnell along with Shadow Justice Minister Richard Burgon and local Labour MP Emma Dent Coad. The message to the Ministry of Justice was loud and clear: workers have had enough of poverty wages and they will keep fighting until you start treating them with the dignity and respect they deserve. No justice, no peace.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Long Live the Bolivarian Revolution!

By New Worker correspondent

London comrades joined members of the capital’s Latin American community for a solidarity picket outside the Venezuelan embassy last week to support the inauguration of Nicolas Maduro as the democratically elected President of Venezuela.
Venezuela is under an imperialist sanctions regime and faces threats of “regime change” from US imperialism, so the picket was called to show solidarity with Venezuela in the face of these threats and to support its right to independence.
There were fears that elements of the Venezuelan opposition and other hirelings of US imperialism might turn up to disrupt the solidarity stance in south Kensington, but these proved unfounded. Chanting support for the Bolivarian revolution, as well as “Yankees go home!”, the crowd sang Cuban revolutionary songs and waved their national flags.
The Brazilian flag fluttered along with Venezuelan and Cuban banners showing that Brazilians, under the thumb of the fascist regime of Jair Bolsonaro, were also giving solidarity to Venezuela.

Campaigning against corruption in India

By Theo Russell
Satvendar Jain explains his party's programme

Members of the UK Chapter of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) met at the Indian YMCA in London on 22nd December to hear Satyendar Jain, the health minister in the Delhi state government, talk about the remarkable achievements of the AAP (Common Man Party) in recent years, particularly in health and education.
The AAP, currently the ruling party of the National Capital Territory of Delhi, emerged from the mass India Against Corruption movement in 2012, its leaders arguing that only political and electoral action, rather than protests, would bring results.
The party won 28 out of 70 seats in the Delhi Legislative Assembly in 2013, and in 2015 swept the board with 67 seats, leaving the reactionary Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the country’s national ruling party, with three seats and the once-mighty Congress Party with none.
The AAP claims that the Indian Constitution’s promises of equality and justice were never realised and that independence in 1947 simply replaced enslavement to a foreign power with enslavement to a political elite.
It has adopted a version of the Gandhian concept of swaraj (self-rule), in which its elected representatives are directly accountable to the people rather than higher officials, and follows a politically neutral line.
Its leader, Arvind Kejriwal, has said: “If we find our solution in the left we are happy to borrow it from there. If we find our solution in the right, we are happy to borrow it from there.”
The AAP has much in common with the progressive, socialist-leaning wing of the Congress Party however, which historically was often allied with the two main communist parties when in government. Its goal of creating better conditions for the masses can be compared to Clement Attlee's 1945 ‘welfare state’ government in Britain.
The failure to address the needs of the masses has been a constant source of bitterness and regret for the progressive elements of India’s bourgeoisie and petite bourgoiesie, who have also witnessed the example of China’s modernisation and almost complete elimination of poverty.
There has been cooperation between with the left parties and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has decided to campaign for the AAP in elections next April.
In 2017 the Lok Insaaf Party, another anti-corruption party, joined the AAP to form the AAP Alliance, which took 22 seats in the Punjab state assembly.
In January 2014 an AAP office was attacked by right-wing thugs after one of its leaders, Prashant Bhushan, called for a referendum on whether the army should be providing security in Indian-controlled Jammu and Kashmir.
In addition to challenging endemic corruption, the AAP is the first party genuinely to tackle the massive problems that have blighted India’s masses since independence: abysmally poor quality education and health provision, and the failure to provide the most basic infrastructure.
Since 1947 India’s ruling class, made up of high-caste capitalists, industrialists and landowners, has protected its own interests and implemented a deliberate policy of leaving the masses in ignorance and poverty.
In Delhi remarkable advances have been made in little more than three years, above all in the poorest districts and slum areas of the capital. There are 1,669 of these so-called “unauthorised colonies” in Delhi.
By 2018 the AAP had opened 187 Mohalla (community) clinics offering medicines, diagnostics and consultations free of charge, and plans to have 1000 clinics by 2020.
Over 10 million people have visited the clinics and over 110,000 have had free radiology scans. In addition to this, volunteer doctors are going into slum areas with portable diagnostic kits.
Hospitals with 100 beds have been opened in every district, with no private beds and air conditioning. These are publicly funded but run by private health insurance companies on the basis that insurance for 10 people will only be the taken up by one or two people per year, a far more efficient model than individual private health insurance.
The long-term aim is for all citizens to have five or six health checks per year, preventing expensive health emergencies. Now even people in middle-class areas of Delhi are asking the AAP for public clinics and hospitals to be opened in their districts.
The AAP is aiming to lift Delhi’s state schools to standards similar to those in Britain in terms of computer and IT [information technology] provision, and has dedicated a quarter of the city’s budget to schools.
Already 10,000 new classrooms with modern teaching facilities have been opened and the problem of absentee teachers has been resolved through pay increases, ending poor treatment by officials and treating teachers with respect.
The AAP’s health programme has been praised by international leaders such as former United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan and the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Gro Harlem Brundtland, and cities and states across India are approaching the AAP for advice on implementing its health and education models.
The AAP aims to reduce pollution in Delhi to healthy levels in the next 5–10 years. It has cracked down on profit-seeking power suppliers, cutting energy prices and imposing heavy fines for power cuts, previously a daily occurrence. With constant power supplies, tens of thousands of heavily polluting diesel generators have disappeared from shops and residences.
Changes to out-dated regulations have resulted in a massive growth in solar panels and farmers near Delhi are being paid to have panels on their land, which can be combined with crops because of the hot climate.
The AAP also aims to provide safe drinking water, which means challenging powerful private interests supplying water in the slum areas, and is already laying water and sewage pipes in the slum districts. (Delhi’s wealthy inhabitants rely on illegal water wells.)
The party also plans to clean up Delhi’s river, the Yamuna, technically a ‘dead’ river filled with chemicals and carcinogens, within three years.