Saturday, November 30, 2019

Mrs Mops on Strike

By New Worker correspondent

Another group of workers, this time much less well paid, were also on strike this week. They are the caterers, cleaners and porters at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, west London, who are organised by the United Voices of the World (UVW), a street union which is not in the TUC.
The 200 workers are outsourced by Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust to French multinational Sodexo. Their demand that they become NHS employees has become the longest in the history of the NHS and is endorsed by the London Regional Council of the British Medical Association (BMA), the doctors’ trade union.
In addition to this week’s action they have already taken six days of strike action, with more planned for the second week of December and an indefinite strike commencing in January.
UVW organiser Petros Elia said: “This is the first time a group of outsourced works are striking to be brought in-house as NHS employees. We cannot allow for there to be a two-tiered racially divided workforce within the NHS, and we won’t stop striking until that is put to an end. If Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales can do away with outsourcing cleaners, caterers and porters in hospitals, then England can and should as well.”  Amongst their demands are the modest ones of getting vaccinations, improved separate-gender changing facilities, and even access to NHS staff canteens and common rooms.
 Fifty doctors at St. Mary’s have signed an open letter to the Imperial Trust CEO, Tim Orchard, calling on the Trust to meet the workers’ demands and make them direct employees. They say: “Workers employed by Sodexo feel undervalued, demotivated and unsupported and have been left with no option but to vote for industrial action,” adding that: “Sodexo must do more to give them a fairer deal and it is incumbent upon the Trust to help enforce this change.”
One necessarily anonymous striker said: “I work 55 hours a week just to cover my rent. This is my home; I spend more time here than in my house. Yet I am treated like a dog and made to feel like dirt.”
A sympathetic doctor has said that many are paid a mere £8.21 per hour (those below the age of 25, even less), when the London living wage is set at £10.55 per hour. To make matters worse, they are only entitled to the bare minimum statutory sick pay of £94.25 per week. As a result, many report coming in to work whilst ill because they cannot afford the financial penalty of taking a sick day.
The same doctor reports that a security worker at another hospital told him how she had disciplinary action taken against her after leaving her post on the night she became ill with acute appendicitis. Her tiny sick pay meant she was forced to return to a physically demanding job before she had fully recovered from the emergency surgery.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Down with the Kiev fascist regime!

by New Worker
British Posadist Marie Lynam and Andy Brooks on the line

Anti-fascist campaigners were out last weekend calling for solidarity with all the victims of the fascist gangs and the regime police in Ukraine. NCP leader Andy Brooks and London District organiser, Theo Russell, joined the protest picket opposite Downing Street on Saturday to call for an immediate end to British military aid to the Kiev regime and an end to the conflict with the Donbas republics that seceded after the fascist takeover in 2014.
Many passers-by stopped to show their support for the Whitehall picket called by the New Communist Party, Socialist Fight and the British Posadist movement, and supported by the Solidarity with the Anti-Fascist Resistance in Ukraine (SARU) campaign.
The February 2014 coup was backed by the US to the tune of $5 billion. Mass anti-fascist uprisings followed in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. Anti-fascists seized local government institutions to prevent the fascist gangs, police and security service taking local control.
The new regime in Kiev responded with extreme violence, including terrorism and assassinations, and the brutal massacre of over 50 Anti-Maidan activists at the Odessa House of Trade Unions on 2nd May 2014.
Three weeks after the Ukraine coup CIA Director John Brennan paid a secret visit Kiev, and barely a week later a so-called “Anti-Terrorist Operation” responded to these mass civilian uprisings by launching an all-out war with artillery, tanks, aircraft and missiles.
It was only then that Russia stepped in to support the rebels in the eastern Donbas region by allowing volunteers with military experience to join the anti-fascist struggle in the intense battles of 2014-15.
Since then Russia has provided humanitarian and political support including regular convoys with medical and other supplies, given refuge to over a million Ukrainian exiles, and provided holidays for children from the Donbas.
In 2015 dozens of openly Nazi militias were incorporated into the Ukrainian National Guard. They now conduct joint patrols with the police to maintain “Ukrainian order”. They have smashed up Roma camps, trade union, socialist and communist offices, destroyed holocaust memorials, arrested, beaten and imprisoned opponents of the war, and abducted or assassinated many journalists and activists.
While the western media generally ignore the Ukrainian fascists their governments are well aware of what is happening. In March a letter from the ambassadors of the leading G7 countries asked Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov “to act against violent political extremist groups” which "intimidate Ukrainian citizens”. According to the US-financed Radio Free Europe, this was “a thinly veiled reference to the National Corps and National Militia, the far-right Azov group's political and vigilante wings. Members of the National Corps and National Militia (parts of the Azov Battalion) have been blamed for multiple violent attacks on minorities in Ukraine, particularly Roma and LGBTI persons, in the past year”.
`           The Azov Battalion’s emblem is based on that used by Ukrainian collaborators who fought for the Nazis in the Second World War. This openly neo-Nazi militia has been part of Ukraine’s National Guard since 2016, and it is controlled by Arsen Avakov who was the only minister to be reappointed in Oleksiy Honcharuk’s new government in August.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Caribbean comrade remembered

Dave Horsley at the seminar

by New Worker correspondent

Comrades gathered at the Sid French library at the NCP Centre in south London last weekend to hear David Horsley talk about the life of the Jamaican communist, Billy Strachan, who did so much to help the Caribbean community in London after the Second World War.
Billy Strachan was an RAF veteran who settled in London to help found Caribbean News, Britain’s first black British monthly newspaper dedicated to Caribbean independence, socialism, and solidarity with colonial and oppressed peoples. But Strachan’s communist views and his staunch support for the Daily Worker and its successor, the Morning Star, has resulted in him being largely ignored by historians.
To redress the balance, David Horsley has written a pamphlet about Strachan’s life and he will be speaking about him at the Marx Memorial Library early in the New Year.
The Billy Strachan pamphlet, which is published by Caribbean Labour Solidarity, costs £2 and copies of this booklet are available from David Horsley, whom you can email at: