News

Stop the fossil fuel reboot!

Build back better, blah blah blah. Green economy, blah blah blah. Net zero by 2050, blah blah blah… Climate neutral, blah blah blah.” This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words. Words that sound great but so far have not led to action. Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises… They’ve now had 30 years of “blah blah blah” and where has that led us? Over 50% of all our CO2 emissions have occurred since 1990, and a third since 2005. — Greta Thunberg, 28 September 2021

Disorder at the border: Lexiters backing Johnson

During the EU referendum, the “leave” side almost entirely ignored the implications for Northern Ireland, and when concerns were raised, dismissed them as part of “project fear.”

When it became clear that Brexit would have a seriously destabilising effect on Northern Ireland, Johnson and the hard-line Brexiteers (including the DUP) opposed the May government’s “backstop” which, for all its faults, was an attempt to mitigate the problem and avoid a hard border.

200,000 in Rome against fascism

On 9 October thousands of right-wing anti-vaccine demonstrators protested in Rome, and fascists from the Forza Nuova party smashed their way into the offices of the CGIL, Italy’s biggest union federation.

On 16 October, trade unionists and left-wingers responded by demonstrating in Rome to say “Mai più fascismi” (“Never again fascisms”). The organisers, Italy’s three biggest union federations, claimed 200,000, while the media said 50,000.

The coral atoll and the iPhone

At every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign power like someone standing outside of nature – but that we, n flesh blood and brain, belong to nature and exist within its midst, and that all the mastery of nature consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly.” - Engels, The Part Played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man

1968: Martin Luther King and the Memphis sanitation strike

On February 1, 1968, two sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, Echol Cole and Robert Walker, were riding on the back of a garbage truck when the compactor accidentally activated. Both men were chewed up, like garbage.

The deaths led to a strike by the city’s 1,300 sanitation workers and the participation of Martin Luther King Jr., ending with his assassination.

We can wind back Brexit!

Brexit is already contributing heavily to economic chaos. That contribution may get bigger.

In UK-EU negotiations over trade arrangements between Britain and Northern Ireland, the EU has now offered sweeping removal of checks on animal and plant products entering NI. The UK’s negotiator David Frost has told them to get lost.

The Tories are letting talk circulate that they will kick over the table and unilaterally suspend the Northern Ireland protocol, the deal they themselves signed less than two years ago to avoid a hard border within Ireland.

Black History Month offer: four pamphlets for £5

To celebrate Black History Month 2021, we are running a special offer: four pamphlets on black history for £5 including postage (normally they would be about £9 including postage).

The pamphlets can be purchased here.

Revolution for black liberation (2013) tells the story of the hundreds of thousands of black soldiers who were central to transforming the US’s Civil War (1861-5) from a battle to preserve the status quo into a revolution against slavery – and how the betrayal of that struggle after the war shaped today’s America.

High wages? Start with strong unions

The Tories want to present anti-migrant policies and the labour shortages caused by those by policies, by Brexit and by poor wages and conditions in key industries like road haulage and social care as a boon for workers.

That was the pitch of Boris Johnson’s speech to Conservative Party conference, promising a “high-wage, high-skill, high-productivity economy” in place of “the same old broken model with low wages, low growth, low skills, and low productivity, all of it enabled and assisted by uncontrolled immigration.”

Haitian revolution vs British empire

The French Revolution was a bourgeois revolution, and the basis of bourgeois wealth was the slave trade and slave plantations in the colonies. Though the bourgeoisie traded in other things than slaves, upon the success or failure of the traffic everything else depended. Therefore when the bourgeoisie proclaimed the Rights of Man in general, with necessary reservations, one of these was that these rights should not extend to the French colonies.

Women's Fightback: Anti-vaxxers harm pregnant people

One in six critically ill Covid-19 patients in England are unvaccinated pregnant women, NHS England has announced. Of the 118 Covid-19 patients in England who received extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) between July and September, 20 of them were pregnant. ECMO is usually given to critically ill people who have not responded to going on a ventilator. Of the 20 pregnant women who received ECMO, just one had been vaccinated — though she had only received one dose.

Stop the Police Bill! Free jailed protesters!

Over eighty protestors have been arrested, at least 35 charged, and at least nine have been sentenced to jail in connection with the first Kill The Bill protest in Bristol. The now-famous 21 March demonstration developed into clashes with police, with pepper spraying, dogs, and horses being met with chanting and resistance, escalating among some to throwing objects and burning a police van.

Fascists smash union office in Rome

Fascists stormed and wrecked the Rome headquarters of the CGIL, Italy’s biggest trade union federation, at an anti-vaccination demonstration on 9 October.

The far right mobilised protests in multiple Italian cities to oppose the introduction of a health certificate or “green pass” to enter workplaces from 15 October (any worker who fails to produce the certificate can be suspended without pay, but not sacked). There were at least ten thousand on the streets in Rome.

All-out metals strike in South Africa

Metal and engineering workers in South Africa, members of the left-wing National Union of Metal Workers (NUMSA), have been on indefinite strike over pay and conditions since 5 October. NUMSA is calling for an 8% wage rise for everyone in the first year of a deal, and inflation plus 2% in the following two years. Employers have offered 4.4%, then inflation plus 0.5% and inflation plus 1%.

NUMSA is South Africa's biggest union, with over 300,000 members.

New Zealand readjusts on Covid

New Zealand's prime minister, Jacinda Ardern


On 4 October, New Zealand, the poster child of the “Zero Covid” idea, announced that it would shift to a new approach.

NZ had a Covid case count of literally zero briefly in June 2020, and then kept the count low by rigid border-closure and repeated short lockdowns. Since mid-August, however, lockdowns have not quelled a new rise in the Covid count, with the Delta variant.

NHS pay: move to formal ballots!

As the backpay for the 3% pay award, due from April, arrived in the pockets of NHS workers this month, the simultaneous rise in cost of living reinforced how worthless it was. For many health workers the miserly 3% has also tipped us into the next pension bracket, meaning that our take-home pay each month is actually less than it was, and we owe our Trusts pension payments from April. Many of us are being told this will be taken out in one chunk next month, just before Christmas. This is the latest background to the ongoing dispute on NHS pay.

Vote Martin Powell-Davies in NEU!

Voting in the election for the first ever elected Deputy General Secretary of the National Education Union (NEU) opens on 4 October, with ballot papers being sent to members’ homes. Voting closes on 29 October.

Socialists, rank and file activists, and members should vote for Martin Powell-Davies, the Education Solidarity Network (ESN) candidate. Martin is standing on a 10-point manifesto:

1. Action to protect the health, safety and welfare of staff and our communities from Covid-19

Starmerism won't win elections

Keir Starmer’s Blair tribute act is promoted as the way to win elections. It is not.

“Mainstream” social democracy has done badly for decades in elections, as well as in bringing social progress.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, the French Socialist Party was the strongest party in France, with 37.5% of the first-round vote for the National Assembly in 1981, and 49.3% in the second round.

Even in 1997, it had 23.5%. In 2017, it was down to 7.4%.

Women's Fightback: "Anti-sleaze" ploy won't fix police violence

The trial of Wayne Couzens revealed he used his police warrant card and handcuffs to kidnap Sarah Everard off the street before strangling her with his police belt and burning her body. He claimed to be using the extraordinary Coronavirus police powers, the same powers his colleagues later used to disperse the Sarah Everard vigil on Clapham Common and arrest campaigners present. Couzens is one of fifteen police officers convicted of killing women since 2009.

Italian GKN workers’ resistance shows the way

Forty thousand or so workers and others marched in Florence on Saturday 18 September behind the banner, reading “Insorgiamo” (“We are in revolt”), of the 400 GKN workers sacked via email two months ago.

The hastily-convened decision the day after of the local industrial tribunal to uphold their claim of unlawful dismissal by the British-based multinational confirmed the effectiveness of the workers’ resistance.

For conference policies, against Starmer

Labour policy, a “senior Labour source” told the Guardian during Labour Party conference, on 27 September, is “what Keir says it is”.

On 26 September the conference voted overwhelmingly for a left-wing “Socialist Green New Deal” motion on climate change, including nationalisation of the energy companies. The same day Starmer told the BBC he would not nationalise energy.

Starmer’s “ten pledges” in last year’s Labour leadership election specifically called for “common ownership of rail, mail, energy and water”.

John Archer: black pioneer of labour politics

Painting of John Archer which hangs in Liverpool Town Hall. It contains many important details about Archer. The paper is The Crisis, edited by W E B Du Bois


“My election tonight marks a new era. You have made history tonight. For the first time in the history of the English nation, a man of colour has been elected as mayor of an English borough… That news will go forth to all the coloured nations of the world and they will look at Battersea, and say it is the greatest thing you have done”

– John Archer, 1913

Fight for Public Ownership of Rail!
Road signs pointing in opposite directions, one reading "public", the other reading "private"
Tubeworker Tue, 05/10/2021 - 22:16

Yet again a private rail franchise, this time Southeastern, has been shown to have its hands in the till, as “errors” meant that £25 million of public money was not returned to the government... seven years after it was due. As a result of this “serious breach” of the franchise agreement, the government has handed the franchise back to the state-owned "operator of last resort". This is the first time a franchise has been stripped for unashamedly trying to rip off us off.

Oppose AUKUS: for workers’ solidarity against all our rulers

On 15 September, the Australian, UK and US governments announced AUKUS – a pact to share and jointly develop military technology, and to deepen military coordination in the so-called “Indo-Pacific” ocean region. Though this was officially unstated, and even tokenistically denied by Boris Johnson, the pact is universally understood as a move to counter and contain China.

Submarines

Marx's Capital volume 1 - 12-session course

Marx's Capital volume 1 - 12-session course

Format of each session (which we'll vary slightly from week to week):

- Quick outline of the passages of Capital covered, and questions - 15 minutes
- Work in "breakout rooms" on discussing selected extracts and comments - 30 minutes
- Report-back on that work, and discussion - 20 minutes
- Review of discussion points - 25 minutes

Running from 3 October 2021 to 3 April 2022, every other Sunday at 18:30-20:00 London time, skipping 28 November and 26 December.

Push for action on NHS pay!

Members of the main health unions have overwhelmingly rejected the government’s 3% NHS pay award.

RCN rejected by 91.7% (in Wales 93.9%), Unison by 80%, and GMB by 93%. Unison and GMB included willingness to take industrial action in their informal ballot.

These votes show the activist base of the unions is ready to take action. The decisive figure for action, under the anti-trade union laws, was always going to be the turnout. There, the news is not positive. RCN turnout was 25.4% (29.3% in Wales), and Unison, 29%.

Hong Kong: silence is not an option

When the question of trade unions in China would come up, some of us were fond of saying that there is an independent, democratic trade union movement in the country. It is called the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions.

This is no longer true.

In the last week, news has come out of a move by the HKCTU to disband. This is an enormous blow to the Chinese working class and to the international labour movement.

It appears that the HKCTU is the latest victim of a Chinese government crackdown not only on the unions, but on all of civil society.

What will be in Labour’s Green New Deal motions?

There has been controversy around the Green New Deal motions to Labour Party conference (25-9, Brighton), after the “Green Jobs Revolution” motion promoted by Labour for a Green New Deal (LGND) was ruled out by the Conference Arrangements Committee. Following protests it was reinstated.

“Green Jobs Revolution”, submitted by 22 CLPs, is one of several left-wing motions in the Green New Deal section. There are also CLP motions under the title “Global Climate Justice” and motions from the FBU, BFAWU and TSSA unions.

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