Saturday, May 29, 2021

Palestine: No Justice – No Peace!

 by New Worker correspondent

London comrades got a warm welcome when they joined hundreds of thousands who marched through London on Saturday in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Friends, old and new, were pleased to see us back on the street and NCP leader Andy Brooks was interviewed by Lebanese TV at the start of the demonstration.
    Some 250,000 people took part in the biggest demonstration of support for the Palestinian cause seen so far on the streets of Britain. The march, called by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the Friends of Al Aqsa, ended in a rally in Hyde Park. There, amongst a sea of Palestinian flags and placards, left Labour MP John McDonnell and other speakers denounced Israeli aggression and call for justice for the Palestinian Arabs.
    McDonnell welcomed the current ceasefire that ended the bombing of Gaza, adding: “But let’s be clear, there will be no ceasefire in our campaign to boycott, disinvest and sanction the Israeli apartheid state.
    “The message is clear; we will not cease our campaign in solidarity until there is justice. So let’s make it clear, no justice, no peace”.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Stand by Gaza now!

by New Worker correspondent

Over 150,000 people marched in support of the Palestinians in central London on Saturday 15th May. The march was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in what was one of the biggest demonstrations seen in the capital for many years,
    A spokesperson for the organisers, that included the PSC, Friends of Al-Aqsa, Palestinian Forum in Britain, Stop The War Coalition, CND and the Muslim Association of Britain, said: “It is vital that the UK government takes immediate action. It must stop allowing Israel's brutal violence against and oppression of the Palestinian people to go unpunished”.
    Protests against Israeli aggression took place in cities and towns throughout the world over the weekend calling for justice for the Palestinians and an end to Zionist violence.
    But Tory MP Michael Fabricant has come under fire for calling demonstrators “primitives” last week. The Tory MP for Lichfield shared a video of some of the demonstrators clashing with police outside the diplomatic mission embassy, tweeting that “primitives are trying to bring to London what they do in the Middle East”.
     ​The Tory backbencher was slammed by the anti-racist Hope Not Hate campaign, which urged the Conservative Party to suspend the politician for “hateful racism that stirs up division”.
    While Fabricant deleted the message after the backlash it triggered, Hope Not Hate said “The tense situation requires steady leadership from people who want to bring communities together, not hateful racism that stirs up division. The Conservatives must suspend Michael Fabricant for this disgraceful comment”.
    Meanwhile four people taking part in a Palestine solidarity motorcade in north London have been arrested for yelling anti-semitic abuse from their car as the convoy drove through a largely Jewish area of the capital.
    The Palestine Solidarity Campaign condemned the incident saying: “The vile anti-Semitism shouted today from a convoy of cars has no place in the Palestine solidarity movement. We condemn it and all anti-Semitism, on its own account and also as it serves to undermine the anti-racist struggle for Palestinian rights”.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Victory Day: We remember them

at the Errol airfield monument
By New Worker correspondent

The Russian ex-pat community has long marked Victory Day for solemn ceremonies in London and other parts of the UK. Though this year’s commemorations were sadly muted due to the ongoing coronavirus restrictions the sacrifice of the millions who gave their lives in the struggle against the Nazis in the Second World War was not forgotten at events in London and northern Scotland.
    In Scotland a ceremony was held on the site of a secret air-base where Soviet pilots and crews were trained to fly British military transports destined for the eastern front.
    Russian diplomats and Scottish officials laid wreaths at the Soviet monument erected in 2020 on the site of the old Errol airfield located near the cities of Perth and Dundee. A huge red stone was shipped from Russia as a gift to mark the co-operation between the Soviet airmen and the RAF during the Second World War.
    The block of rare crimson quartzite was mined in Karelia in the north west of Russia. It is the same type of stone with which the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by the wall of the Moscow Kremlin is lined.
    Back in London the Russian ambassador along with diplomats from other former Soviet republics took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Soviet War Memorial in south London on 9th May.
    The commemorative event in the gardens of the Imperial War Museum was attended by Southwark mayor Sasek Hargrove and Russian Ambassador Andrey Kelin along with diplomats from the embassies of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The ceremony was organised by the Soviet Military Memorial Foundation with the support of the Russian House in London (Rossotrudnichestvo).
    Later that day members of London’s Russian community took part in a modest lockdown compliant “Immortal Regiment” and St George’s Ribbon commemoration held in Trafalgar Sqaure.


Saturday, May 15, 2021

Solidarity with the Palestinian people


Statement of the Secretariat of the European Communist Initiative

Solidarity with the Palestinian people

We denounce the intensifying Israeli aggression against the heroic Palestinian people and the new murderous attack that led to dozens of dead and injured people.

We denounce the heavy responsibilities of the USA and the EU, which support the ongoing oppression and massacre of the Palestinian people in various ways.

We demand:

  • The end of the massacre and occupation by Israel.

  • The immediate liberation of all Palestinian and other political prisoners in Israeli prisons.

  • The creation of a unified independent Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in the borders of 1967, and the people masters in their own land.

  • The right of all Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, based on the relevant UN resolutions.

  • The immediate recognition of the Palestinian state.



Monday, May 10, 2021

On the High Seas

by New Worker correspondent

Once again workers who man the Woolwich Ferry which has been taking people across the lower Thames since the 14th century are taking strike action. Two years ago they went on strike seeking a pay rise and over safety concerns when the new operators cut staff numbers and set new shift patterns after acquiring new ships.
      Last year the workers won a good deal when they won 100 per cent furlough pay from then operator Briggs Marine Contractors. Now the enemy is Transport for London (TfL). The cause of the latest action is the victimisation of a union rep. The lower Thames ferry’s 57 Unite the union members voted by 97 per cent on favour of eight days of strike action on Fridays and Mondays, this month and next.
     The Union say that the latest episode has been dubbed a ‘Groundhog Day’ dispute as the same problems keep coming up. Apart from the victimisation matter, workers are angry at TfL’s failure to agree a new pay and reward scheme; the excessive use of agency staff; and the failure to provide adequate health and safety training to new employees.
     Unite regional officer Onay Kasab sorrowfully said: “It is a sad indictment of the TfL bosses that they seem to be following the same course as Briggs Marine Contractors which meted out some appalling employment practices to the workforce in the recent past.
    “Our members have returned an overwhelming mandate for strike action at the Woolwich Ferry in support of their victimised shop steward and over a myriad of other employment issues.
     “Hopefully, the ballot result will be a light bulb moment for TfL and the management can get employment relations back on an even keel before strike action begins. To that end, Unite’s door is open 24/7 for constructive talks to resolve all the outstanding issues”. He concluded by warning that “The strikes will cause disruption to car drivers and foot passengers as ferry traffic picks up with commuters returning to their workplaces in the capital following the easing of lockdown.”

...and on dry land

In nearby Greenwich teachers at the John Roan School have taken strike action in defence of Kirstie Paton, a psychology teacher and National Education Union (NEU) rep who faces the sack for mentioning alleged improper use of Covid tests. They walked out just before a disciplinary hearing last Friday and will be balloting for further strike action.
     Her crime was to publish, in December last year, on the NEU Inner London Facebook page complaints about the school being used for pilot testing of Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) for Covid-19. These tests, which were being supported by the Department for Education (DfE) were to be carried out by school staff. These tests have now been discontinued as they gave too many false negatives. The school was initially keen on LFTs serial testing to replace self-isolation protocols in its schools, but now the DfE has instructed schools not to use LFTs.
     The John Roan School is now one of the United Learning academies, Paton’s opposition to it becoming an academy has obviously not gone unremembered.
     The NEU say that they have been “left with no choice” but to defend their rep. Tim Woodcock, the NEU rep for Greenwich, said they had no choice but to defend their rep for speaking out, or else leave every other rep vulnerable and scared to speak out.
    "UL want to victimise Kirstie so they can intimidate staff into silence and deprive our members of an effective and dedicated union rep”.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Fight for the NHS!

Corbyn says Centene out!
by New Worker correspondent

Jeremy Corbyn joined a protest against GP practices being taken over by a US health insurance company last week. The former Labour leader, along with East London MP Apsana Begum, joined demonstrators outside the London headquarters in Westminster of Operose Health – a subsidiary of the giant Centene corporation –to protest against NHS privatisation.
    Corbyn told the crowd to “fight for the NHS until hell freezes over” at the protest called by Doctors in Unite (DiU), a campaign led by the biggest union in the country.
    Unite, with 100,000 members in the health service, has hit out at “a culture of Tory cronyism that is rapidly enveloping the NHS”, and called for an urgent independent inquiry into the ever-expanding lobbying scandal engulfing the NHS and its impact on the accelerating pace of health service privatisation.
    The call for an inquiry – with its recommendations cemented into law – follows on from the revelation that Tory health secretary Matt Hancock met former prime minister David Cameron and financier Lex Greensill for a private drink in 2019 to discuss a new payment scheme for the NHS.
    Doctors in Unite chair Jackie Applebee said: “Ministers and senior NHS executives have repeatedly mouthed the mantra that the NHS is not being privatised.
    “But now we have the case of a huge swathe of English general practice, including the data of nearly half a million patients, being handed over to US health insurance giant Centene – with a breath-taking lack of transparency and openness.
    “Tory politicians and their outriders in the media roll out the tired old trope that all general practices are private, but this is disingenuous and they know it.
    “There is a world of difference between a multinational corporation that operates to make a profit, often by cutting staff and services, so that it can pay dividends to shareholders, and local GPs who are very much part of the NHS ‘family’ and provide services from a budget fixed by the Treasury.
    “The public needs to wake-up to the fact the NHS that they so value and which has been the lynchpin of the successful vaccination programme is being steadily sold off to profit-hungry healthcare companies – in this case one whose headquarters is in America.
    “This is another prime example of the accelerating privatisation of the NHS by stealth and Unite is spot-on to call for an independent inquiry into the wider lobbying scandal engulfing the NHS which emanates from a desire by profiteers to get their hands on lucrative health service contracts.
    “Now is a time to draw a line in the sand to preserve and cherish the NHS as an organisation free at the point of delivery to all those in need. If we are not vigilant, these founding principles of the NHS in 1948 will become pale shadows of themselves.”

Corbyn joins housing protest

 by New Worker correspondent

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was one of 30 campaigners who took part in a protest outside Pentonville Prison last week. The protest targeted a Ministry of Justice (MoJ) decision to sell off two blocks of 28 flats formerly used to house prison staff.
    In his capacity as the local MP, he said: “The Ministry of Justice is selling off a group of properties at the back of Pentonville Prison. The council, quite correctly, tried to buy them in order to house local people in housing need.”
    Their particular objection is that the developer, LGP Wellington Mews Ltd, has submitted several applications for a Certificates of Lawfulness for Existing Use or Development (CLEUD), which would excuse it meeting a target of 50 per cent of the homes on the site being rented at so-called affordable rates.
    Islington Council was close to a deal with the MoJ in 2019 to acquire the flats, used as temporary accommodation for those in desperate need of homes, but this fell through. Now Corbyn says: “The Ministry of Justice upped the price and prevented Islington from doing that. So what are we doing? We’re demonstrating outside those places to say to the MoJ and everybody else: let us solve the housing crisis by filling the empty homes with people that need them.”
    Unsurprisingly this claim was rejected by the MoJ, who insisted they were put out on the open market and that they were not trying to blackmail the council.
    Private ‘affordable housing’ is of course nothing of the sort. On Monday, a search of local estate agents for one-bedroom flats had nothing under £500,000.