Archive for the ‘Unions’ Category
Solidarity with the Kurds – Not in our Name Says NUS.
Saturday sees another day of demonstrations in support of Kurdish resistance forces in the Syrian town of Kobane.
The protest at 2pm on Parliament Square follow a week of demonstrations across London.
The campaigners have already visited the square this week with action on Wednesday shutting down Westminster Bridge as well as causing issues around Parliament Square and Downing Street.
Campaigners have been seen throughout the city this week, bringing Oxford Circus and Angel tube stations and the Eurostar terminal in St. Pancras to a standstill.
Alexia Akkaya, a mother and blogger from west London, said she wanted to “scream and shout” in frustration at the situation in Kobane. She explained her reasons for marching: “I cannot sit back and watch the slaughter of innocent people. I am angry at the apparent lack of empathy by the Turkish government and the hushed British MPs and other influential people who had so much to say about other conflicts. I am not Kurdish but as a compassionate and loving human being and it is my duty to stand up in solidarity with the brave resistance in Kobane.”
One group which has decided to “sit back and watch the slaughter” is the National Union of Students (NUS).
A move to get the students’ organisation (600 student unions) to back the brave Kurdish resistance against the Isis/Islamic State genociders was dismissed this week as “Islamophobic”.
This is the motion presented to the NUS National Executive Committee (NEC) which fell. (here.)
Proposed: Daniel Cooper
Seconded: Shreya Paudel, Clifford Fleming
NUS NEC notes
1. The ongoing humanitarian crisis and sectarian polarisation in Iraq
– which has resulted in thousands of Yazidi Kurds being massacred.
NUS NEC believes
1. That the people of Iraq have suffered for years under the sectarian
and brutally repressive dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, the US/UK
invasion and occupation, the current sectarian regime linked to both
the US and Iran, and now the barbaric repression of the “Islamic
2. That rape and other forms of sexual violence are being used as
weapons against women in IS-occupied areas, while minorities are being
NUS NEC resolves
1. To work with the International Students’ Campaign to support Iraqi,
Syrian and other international students in the UK affected by this
2. To campaign in solidarity with the Iraqi people and in particular
support the hard-pressed student, workers’ and women’s organisations
against all the competing nationalist and religious-right forces.
3. To support Iraqis trying to bridge the Sunni-Shia divide to fight
for equality and democracy, including defence of the rights of the
Christian and Yazidi-Kurd minorities.
4. To condemn the IS and support the Kurdish forces fighting against
it, while expressing no confidence or trust in the US military
5. Encourage students to boycott anyone found to be funding the IS or
supplying them with goods, training, travel or soldiers.
6. To make contact with Iraqi and Kurdish organisations, in Iraq and
in the UK, in order to build solidarity and to support refugees.
7. To issue a statement on the above basis.
A report on the meeting by Daniel Lemberger Cooper comments,
“The motion was opposed by Malia Bouattia, the NUS Black Students’ Officer, for astonishing and bewildering reasons. Bouattia argued that the motion was “Islamophobic” and “pro USA intervention” – (see Aaron Kiely, a fellow NUS NEC member’s, tweet during the meeting as reflective of the position). The motion then fell as large numbers of NEC members either abstained or voted against (including the bulk of the political Left on NEC). I think this says a lot about the current state of the student movement.”
Now observers may put part of this down to sectarian dislike of the movers of the motion, NUS internal politics, and simple snideness.
But this outweighs such a reaction:
It is hard to imagine, except with disgust, what “alternative narrative” to the “Western, racist” one that Aaron Kiely would spin about Isis.
We note, while passing on, that Kiely is “close” to the ex-Trotskyist sect, Socialist Action.
On the charge of ‘racism’ Cooper remarks,
“The “Iraqi solidarity” motion had been worked on with Roza Salih, a Strathclyde university student of Kurdish descent (she submitted an almost identical motion to the Scottish equivalent of the executive, the Scottish Executive Council, which I will post later, which, incidentally, did pass! One must ask Scottish executive members why vote for a motion in Scotland, but not in England?!).Pro-intervention?”
This is what Malia Bouattia (who seems to be involved with something called, perhaps misleadingly, the ‘broad left’) said after helping get the NUS to back the Palestinian cause,
‘So the struggle continues, but this victory alongside the global sea change of public opinion gives us new hope. The Black Students Campaign remains committed. We will continue to protest, march, boycott and campaign. And we will not stop until the rights of Palestinians are restored and Palestine is free.’ (from here)
Obviously freedom is not something the Kurds also deserve – unless it’s freedom from solidarity.
As the Kurds (increasingly joined by other supporters, including many of the left) gather, the NUS has decided to stand aside as Islamist genociders threaten the beloved people of Kobane.
In years to come the majority of the NUS executive, and particularly Malia Bouattia and Aaron Keily, will be able to say, “Solidarity with the Kurds? Not in our name!”
Grandma Gilles on Ipswich Demo. (Thanks Ellie).
Over 300 people came to the demo in Ipswich called by the Trades Council and local unions, Suffolk Needs a Pay Rise, yesterday.
In Ipswich there were well attended pickets at the Russell Road Borough and County Council offices, at Crown Pools, the Borough Council Waste depot (dust-carts – the majority of which did not go out), and HMRC offices in Lower Brook Street.
59 Suffolk schools were affected by strike action and 17 closed for the day.
At the march and rally there were members of UNISON, GMB, FBU, UNITE, PCS & NUT, NUJ, DPAC, the Peoples Assembly, other unions and campaigns, as well as members of the public.
The Suffolk People’s Assembly (Facebook) report notes,
Many speakers at the rally expressed their anger at the wage freeze public sector workers have faced over the past 4 years. This has led to a 20% decline in real wages at the same time as increased workload. One PCS member said that he was now doing 2 peoples’ jobs and facing constant performance reviews, which was destroying his job satisfaction.
A parent talked of her support for the teachers’ strike, to defend her and other people’s education. The Ipswich NUT Secretary, Margaret Bulaitis, spoke about how the the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, denigrated the work of her profession, and was more interested in promoting academies and privatisation than the needs of school students.
Martin, from Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), gave an impassioned speech on the effects cuts and changes to the benefit system were having on those with disabilities.
Support came from the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). Their representative suggested that Grandma Gilles (above) would not have put up with the attacks on public services by the Liberal-Conservative Coalition.
Ipswich Tory Attacks Strikes.
Ipswich Tory MP, Ben Gummer, disagrees.
He said (Ipswich Star) that, “public sector workers had fared better than the private sector during the recession.”
He said striking teachers were damaging the education of the children in their classes.
And he said the government was taking action to clamp down on tax avoidance by the rich and to help the low paid.
“This government has lifted two million people out of paying income tax altogether and the gap between rich and poor is getting smaller for the first time in 20 years.”
Gummer’s figures are certainly creative.
Sky news states (May 2014),
“The gap between rich and poor in Britain has become wider, with 10% of the population now owning almost half of the nation’s household wealth.
Those same one in ten households own assets worth over £1m – that’s almost 1.4 million homes.
Teachers’ Unions argue that it is Michael Gove’s ‘reforms’ are undermining education.
Their dispute about pay, pensions and working conditions, is linked to the government’s efforts to devalue teaching, and open the way to private companies profiting from the schooling system.
Gove’s changes have created excessive workloads, and let free schools operate without democratic control and public accountability.
On public sector workers’ pay the TUC says,
Public sector workers are £2,245 worse off as a result of the coalition’s austerity policies, according to the Trades Union Congress.
NHS staff, teachers, firefighters and local government workers are among those that have lost out following pay freezes and limited pay rises since the government took office, the TUC said.
The figures, which show the average fall in real terms pay suffered by workers since May 2010, were published a day before a wave of strikes among UK public sector workers over pay, pensions and working conditions. Government policies on public sector pay have had a big impact on the spending power of almost six million UK households, according to the TUC.
The Liberal-Conservative Coalition has one overarching policy for the public sector: turning it into a source of profit for private companies.
As Thomas Picketty has noted,
“Instead of holding public debt via their financial investments, the wealthiest European households would becomes the direct owners of schools, hospitals, police stations, and so on. Everyone else would then have to pay rent to use these assets and continue to produce the associated public services.”(Page 541. Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Thomas Piketty. Harvard University Press. 2014.)
The trade unions, backed by the People’s Assembly, are fighting back!
Update: this how private companies making money out of public services in Suffolk fail to deliver:
Bosses at the private firm providing community healthcare in Suffolk have defended themselves following concerns over equipment provision.
Jane Basham, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for South Suffolk, criticised the Serco-run Suffolk Community Healthcare after patients spoke of equipment delays.
Ms Basham heard how one elderly woman was told she would have to wait three weeks for a walking aid, while she also heard of delays for equipment for paediatric services as they were no longer stored in Suffolk.
It comes after concerns were raised in January about the performance of the Community Equipment Service (CES), part of Serco-run Suffolk Community Healthcare.
In October 2012, Serco took on the role of providing community health services to 600,000 patients in Suffolk.
The CES is an integrated service providing equipment for people with health and social care needs.
However, delays of up to five months in providing equipment, such as specialist beds, slings and hoists, and poor communication were among the concerns raised at a Suffolk health scrutiny committee meeting.
Regional Elections take place in Belgium on May the 25th.
La Libre Belgique reports that the new far-left alliance PTB-Go is at 8,1 (+0,5) of the vote in the French-speaking region of Wallionie according to the latest opinion poll.
The Socialists stand at nearly 30%, which is stable, while the Ecologists (Ecolo) are at 11%. The centre-right, MR is at 22,6% while the centrist CdH is only just above the PTB-Go at 9,4%
In Brussels the PTB-Go- PVDA (its Dutch name, Partij van de Arbeid van België,) is at 7,2% just behind the Ecologists – 8, 0%.
In Flanders the hard-right N-VA (independentists) of Bart de Wever are far in front with 32,9% of voting intentions. The Socialist Party (Socialistische Partij anders), the equivalent of the Labour Party, only gets 13,6%. The Flemish equivalent of PTB-Go, the PVDA + is at a high 4,1%.
As the PTB-GO site says, this is good news for the new alliance, though, it is, they underline, an opinion poll, which may, as in the past, over-estimate their real vote.
The Workers’ Party of Belgium (Dutch Partij van de Arbeid van België, PVDA, French Parti du Travail de Belgique, PTB) has over 8,000 members (background here (English).
The party, from a Marxist-Leninist origin, is now aligned with the Trotskyist Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (LCR), Socialistische Arbeiderspartij and the Belgium Communist Party (PC), to form PTB-go! (go – gauche d’ouverture).
It was initially formed in 2012 from an appeal by trade unionists and other activists. Its influence, as can be seen, has grown.
In Brussels smaller parties (including, according to La Libre Belgique, apparently the Pirate Party) are aligned with this list.
More information on PTB-Go site here.
Nelson Mandela’s death has received the coverage it merits.
He was truly a great man.
What should be underlined is that it was not just a great Man but a movement that overthrew Apartheid.
We should recall how the brave activists of the ANC brought down the racist South African system.
How they were backed by supporters across the world.
In this country the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) played its part.
The Daily Mirror describes the AAM’s role,
Home to the South African Embassy, the Square had been the focal point of the UK Anti-Apartheid Movement for just over three decades.
Originally known as the Boycott Movement, the British anti-apartheid campaign began on June 26 1959 – three years before Mandela was imprisoned – when a group of South African exiles and their British supporters met in London’s Holborn Hall.
Backed by trade unionists, Labour Party branches, British Communist and Liberal activists, women’s groups, the National Union of Students, and the TUC, the meeting called for a boycott of fruit, cigarettes and other goods imported from South Africa.
Led by Oliver Tambo, the ANC President and great friend of Nelson Mandela, who lived in Haringey after fleeing to the UK in the 1960s, other key public figures included Labour politicians Barbara Castle, Peter Hain and Frank Dobson as well as playwright Harold Pinter, actor Vanessa Redgrave and archbishop Trevor Huddleston.
The UK was South Africa’s largest investor, and at that time the ANC were still committed to peaceful means.
Eight months after the Boycott Movement was founded, the Sharpeville massacre where 69 protestors against apartheid were shot dead by South African police, changed the stance of the boycotters.
Now, the group renamed itself the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) and began active support for all those fighting apartheid.
Meanwhile, the Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was among those who opposed sanctions, but to no avail.
Mass demonstrations forced the cancellation of the 1970 Springboks cricket tour of the UK, and South Africa was expelled from nearly every international sporting federation.
Haringey was also the home of many of many anti-apartheid activists, including a large group of Oliver Tambo’s fellow exiles. This was a major issue in the area, taken up by progressive organisations, from the Woodcraft Folk, the local political parties of the left, notably the Communist Party, the trade unions, to a group of courageous people who helped support and arm the ANC from the UK.
A dignified response to the event is given by Shiraz Socialist.