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Giles Fraser, former Guardian Columnist and Present Priest of St Mary’s, Newington, Touts for Assad in Syria.

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Giles Fraser, Vicar, former Guardian Columnist Touts for Assad.

Hat-Tip JP.

This will remind many people of the kind of criminal lies and delusions spread by the fellow travellers of Stalin.

As in  David CauteFellow-Travellers: A Postscript to the Enlightenment,  1973 (revised edition, as The Fellow-Travellers: Intellectual Friends of Communism,  1988.)

He is not alone:  London Times articles about Assadist university professors  Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist)

Fraser has a more recent history of deluded apologies for murder.

2016:

Giles Fraser (Guardian) attacks Charlie Hebdo.

Zineb El Rhazoui, formerly of Charlie Hebdo, “white atheist sneering at non-white believers” says Giles Fraser. 

Giles Fraser is a columnist for the Guardian.

In his spare time he is  parish priest at St Mary’s, Newington.

Giles Fraser does not like French secularism.

He devotes most of his energy to unmasking Republican France’s  “foundation myth”, the “glorious triumph of atheistic rationality over the dangerous totalitarian obscurantism of the Catholic church.” (France’s much vaunted secularism is not the neutral space it claims to be)

During his morning bath Fraser thinks of the Vendée and the Drownings at Nantes (Noyades de Nantes) of refractory clergy.

A walk on the beach sends him musing on the ‘Burkini’.

Passing by a Stationer’s  the Priest considers the shadow of the secularist Guillotine.

It goes without saying that he did and does not like Charlie Hebdo, modern Atheist “Iconoclasts

It is with little surprise that we find that Fraser now manages to drag Charlie into this debate: “Kelvin MacKenzie has been cleared by Ipso over his column on the Channel 4 News presenter. What message does that ruling send?” (Is it ‘open season’ on Muslims, as Fatima Manji suggests? Our panel responds.)

 Fraser comments,

Defending freedom of speech is one thing, but freedom of speech is brought into massive disrepute when it becomes a moral alibi for white atheists to sneer at non-white believers, and Muslims in particular. It was exactly the same with Charlie Hebdo – they hid their racism behind that all-purpose moral pass, freedom of speech. But at least they were equal opportunity offenders – they had a pop at all-comers: Jews, Christians, Muslims.

Racism?

Is Charlie a group of ‘white atheists’?

You mean that anybody criticising Islam gives an “alibi” to ‘racists”?

That Charlie “hid” its racism?

As in the case of this much loved comrade….

Zineb el Rhazoui, Charlie Hebdo survivor, discusses why the world needs to ‘Destroy Islamic Fascism’ (New York Times 18.10.16.)

Undeterred by fatwas and death threats, the author has released an incendiary and thoughtful new book, bound to provoke debate.

She leads a clandestine existence, on the move and under 24-hour guard as France’s most protected woman. Yet Zineb El Rhazoui, the Charlie Hebdo journalist who happened to be in Casablanca on January 7 last year, the day terrorists “avenging the Prophet” massacred nine people at the satirical magazine in Paris, believes she has a duty to defy Islamists desperate to silence her.

Shaken but undeterred by the fatwas and relentless, precise death threats issued via social media to “kill the bitch” since she helped produce the publication’s first survivors’ issue following the attack — and spoke about it in Arabic for the Arab press — the Moroccan-French writer refuses to assume an anonymous identity. Fleeing Paris or abandoning her human rights activism, and her unforgiving critiques of the religion she grew up with, are also out of the question.

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Written by Andrew Coates

April 16, 2018 at 11:07 am

Gilad Atzmon, Anti-Semitism and the Left.

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Image result for Gilad atzmon jews

Former star at SWP and Respect events. 

Near the end of of one his humorous articles for the ‘I’ Mark Steel yesterday made this serious point (Who knew Jeremy Corbyn’s antisemitic beetroot would cause such anger at the Daily Mail?)

Parts of the left promoted the jazz musician Gilad Atzmon, who stated we should “take seriously” the idea that “Jews are trying to take over the world”. To be fair to him, constructing an argument that the race trying to take over the world is the one that came nearest to being systematically wiped out, is setting yourself quite a task, especially if you try to do it as a solo on the saxophone.

Indeed they did.

Which parts?

Gilad Atzmon and the SWP: a brief chronology

Bob from Brockley. 

Summer 2004: Gilad Atzmon speaks and performs at the Socialist Workers Party’s Marxism 2004 event. Atzmon criticised by SWP blogger Richard Seymour as “disgraceful, incoherent and completely at odds with what the SWP stands for” and a “crank”.

April 2005: Atzmon rave review in Socialist Review by Brian Richardson, announcing forthcoming gig at Marxism event.

Summer 2005: The SWP’s Socialist Review has a rave review of Atzmon’s Orient House ensemble tour (only note of criticism is that he likes Ken Livingstone too much), and Atzmon plays Marxism 2005 as well as speaking at Bookmarks. Jews Against Zionism picket the Bookmarks event. JAZ are not by any means an oversensitive pro-Israel group, but made up of left-wing people like Tony Greenstein, Moshe Machover and Hilary Rose. Leading left-wing anti-Zionist website Labournet plays major role in this. SWP responds with a statement that refuses to accept any truth in the allegations.

2006: SWP organises “Five for Trane” concerts featuring Atzmon and the SWP’s Martin Smith. At least six gigs (MarchJuneOctoberetcetc).

Autumn 2006: Atzmon speaks and plays alongside George Galloway (then in alliance with the SWP in Respect) and Martin Smith at an SWP-organised Stop the War event in Tower Hamlets. (The SWP boasted it was a successful fund-raiser for them, and Smith interviewed Atzmon for Socialist Worker. Atzmon told Smith “I will be playing at the Cultures of Resistance concert because I support the Socialist Worker appeal… “For me to play jazz is to fight the BOB (Bush, Olmert and Blair) world order.”)

January 2007: Michael Rosen, a high profile Jewish anti-Zionist very close to the SWP, criticises SWP for hosting Atzmon. Organisers of the SWP’s Cultures of Resistance (Hannah Dee, a current SWP CC member, and Viv Smith, a former CC member) deny he is an antisemite (archived). Evidence? “We would never give a platform to a racist or fascist. Our entire history has been one of fierce opposition to fascist organisations and antisemitism.” Therefore impossible that Atzmon could be a racist, because he was invited to our event.

Summer 2007: Atzmon plays Cultures of Resistance gig at Marxism 2007, and reprises the Martin Smith collaboration in Liverpool, and later Pete Segal in Socialist Review gives another rave review of his CD Refuge, with no note of criticism or mention of Rosen’s letter.

Autumn/Winter 2007: Atzmon plays an SWP fund-raiser, Now’s the Timer, with Martin Smith. Four gigs. Positive reviews (“Politics continues to drive Atzmon’s music forward”) of his records in Socialist Worker. Martin Smith also mentions him in another Socialist Review article.

January 2008: Atzmon now an explicit Holocaust denier, as revealed by Tony Greenstein and others, eliciting no comment from the SWP, despite their close association with him.

May 2008: Socialist Review again promotes Atzmon, listing him in their “Five things to get or see this month”

April 2009: Another Socialist Review rave review of an Atzmon CD, In Loving Memory Of America, again no note of criticism.

October 2010: SWP promotes the Jazza Festival, featuring Atzmon and several Atzmon-linked groups.

November 2010: No trace left on any SWP website of their earlier statements and clarifications about Atzmon.

Summer-Autumn 2011: Richard Seymour’s publisher, Zero, publishes an antisemitic book by Atzmon. Seymour and other authors issue statement against the publication, published on Seymour’s blog.

 

The American Socialist Worker (No relation!) published this in 2014.

A pass for anti-Semitism?

The career of Gilad Atzmon is an instructive case. Atzmon is an Israeli-born Jew and musician turned Palestine activist. His writings on Zionism contain venomous attacks on Jews, including the argument that Israel’s attacks on the Palestinians are not a product of imperialism but represent something wrong with Jews. Atzmon calls the accusation of anti-Semitism “a common Zionist silencing apparatus.”

In spite of this, a number of Left institutions have excused or rationalized Atzmon’s bile. For a few years, Atzmon regularly performed at the British Socialist Workers Party’s annual conference, before he was quietly dropped without an explanation or apology from the SWP’s leadership. Atzmon’s writings still appear in Counterpunch, perhaps the most widely read online publication on the American left. Finally, Zero Books, a British publisher that has published authors like Richard Seymour and Laurie Penny, published a treatise on Jewish identity by Atzmon which is still available through their website.

Another example is “leftist” academic James Petras, whose articles on Jewish control of the media and government still appear on Dissident Voice and in Counterpunch. A single pass for someone like Atzmon or Petras is a case of bad judgment. Multiple passes represent a pattern of unwillingness or inability by the left to address anti-Semitism.

Instead of an instinct to show solidarity with Jews, the pro-Palestine left has developed an instinctive skepticism towards reports of anti-Semitism, which makes the movement more open to real Jew-haters.

Weekly Worker 2008.

Time to say goodbye

Why does the SWP not break its links with holocaust-denier Gilad Atzmon? Tony Greenstein has more evidence of his anti-Jewish racism

 George Galloway was (and as far one can tell, is) another supporter of Atzmon.

Image result for atzmon George Galloway

We shall leave it to others to remark on Greenstein appearing on the same Galloway platform.

Here are some of Atzmon’s latest views.

How Antisemitsm Became Noise

Written by Andrew Coates

April 7, 2018 at 1:06 pm

George Galloway Tries to Wade into Anti-Semitism Controversy.

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Image result for George galloway anti-semitism

 

On Facebook Kevin Ovenden lectures Jon Lansman on anti-Semitism, “Kevin Ovenden I’d like to see you put anti-semitism in the context of the more extant Tory-driven anti-Muslim racism, John. Ie gum, walk, same time.  This is far too reactive – and seeking cover from a comment by Mehdi. People in leading positions need to lead – not run for cover.”

The – until not long ago –  bag-man for George Galloway appears to have the memory of a fruit fly.

Or has he forgotten the last time one of his crowd gave lessons to Lansman?

“George Galloway has vowed to take legal action against Momentum boss Jon Lansman in a row over anti-Semitism – and called on Jeremy Corbyn to back him up as a witness.” 30th January 2018

Still, back in the day, when Ovenden was high up in Respect,  they had no problem with anti-Semitism.

None at all.

Except…

Antisemitism (Wikipedia, Respect Party). 

Abul Hussain, a former member of Respect’s national council, posted antisemitic comments on Facebook and was expelled for his comments in September 2010. The councillor joked about chopping off a Jewish person’s sidelocks and confiscating their kippah. He also wrote about Jews, “Here’s a penny go put it in the bank and [you] just might get a pound after ten years interest!”. The Respect Party stated that “such views are demonstrably incompatible with party membership”.[152][153]

In 2011 Carole Swords, of Bow, the chairwoman of the Respect Party in Tower Hamlets, was convicted for a public order offence after an altercation with a Jewish counter-protester, Harvey Garfield, at a protest inside a Covent Garden Tesco Metro supermarket. She was alleged to have struck him in the face, smacking off his eyeglasses, while he was protecting Israeli goods from potentially being damaged.[154] A subsequent appeal in December cleared her of the offence. Swords’ defence team claimed Garfield had harassed and intimidated Swords inside the supermarket, and alleging he had called her a “Nazi”, a” fishwife” and a “terrorist”. The recorder determined that Garfield had followed Swords inside the Tesco and that she had demanded he desist. The recorder could not determine how Garfield’s glasses had fallen based on the store footage, and allowed the appeal.[155] Swords had earlier described Zionists as “cockroaches … bugs [which] need to be stomped out”[154] and at a different rally, Swords had told a Jewish protester to “go back to Russia”.[156]

Following Naz Kahn’s appointment as Respect’s women’s officer in Bradford in October 2012, it emerged that Kahn had recently commented on Facebook that “history teachers in our school” were and are “the first to start brainwashing us and our children into thinking the bad guy was Hitler. What have the Jews done good in this world??”[157] David Aaronovitch in The Jewish Chronicle wrote: “‘What have the Jews done good in this world?’ clearly means ‘The Jews do only bad’. The Jews haven’t suffered as much as they say they have, but insofar as they have suffered it’s their own fault and, in any case, they have gone on to inflict equal or more suffering on others. That’s ‘the Jews’ as a group, not ‘many Jews’, ‘some Jews’ or ‘a few Jews.'”[158] Ron McKay, Galloway’s spokesman, said Kahn’s comments had been written shortly before she joined Respect, on an “unofficial site” (the Respect Bradford Facebook page), and that she “now deeply regrets and repudiates that posting.”[157]

The last formal leader of Respect, George Galloway, has been accused by The Guardian journalist Hadley Freeman of having “said and done things that cross the line from anti-Israel to antisemitic”. He threatened to sue her for the comments made on Twitter in February 2015, although the tweet had already been deleted.[159] Her tweet followed the Question Time George Galloway in Finchley controversy, an edition of the BBC’s political debate series on which Freeman’s Guardian colleague Jonathan Freedland had also appeared and made similar assertions about Galloway’s conduct.[159]

Galloway’s support for Hizbollah and Hamas, his refusal to debate with Israeli Jews; his endorsement of Gilad Atzmon, and his declaration of Bradford as being an “Israeli-free zone” are among the issues which have led to the attitudes of the politician being thought suspect.[159][160]

So what is Galloway’s response at present?

I think we could have guessed it – thanks to our scriveners out there hard at work pounding the Twitter Feed.

Here

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 28, 2018 at 3:58 pm

Marche Blanche for Mireille Knoll, Victim of Anti-Semitic Hatred.

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French police treat murder of woman, 85, as anti-Semitic attack

France 24.

French prosecutors are treating the murder of an 85-year-old Jewish woman whose partly charred body was found in her Paris home as an anti-Semitic attack, judicial sources said Monday.

Mireille Knoll, who narrowly escaped deportation to the Nazi death camps during World War II, was found dead on Friday in her apartment in the east of the French capital, where she lived alone.

An autopsy showed she had been stabbed several times before the apartment was set on fire.

Two men have been placed under formal investigation for murder “motivated by the real or supposed adherence to a religion” as well as aggravated robbery and destruction of property, judicial sources said Tuesday.

“We are really in shock. I don’t understand how someone could kill a woman who has no money and who lives in a social housing complex,” Knoll’s son told AFP.

Speaking during a visit to Jerusalem on Monday, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said it was “plausible” that Knoll was killed because of her religion and her death showed the need for a “fundamental and permanent” fight against anti-Semitism.

The chief rabbi of Paris, Haim Korsia, wrote on Twitter that he was “horrified” by the killing. Jewish leaders have called for a march in Knoll’s memory on Wednesday.

Meurtre de Mireille Knoll: une survivante du Vel d’Hiv’ qui “aimait vivre”  L’Express.

Meurtre de Mireille Knoll : l’effroi général.  Libération.

This evening there will be a ‘marche blanche” (a silent  commemoration) in memory of Mirelle Knoll.

The organisers have stated that they do not wish representatives of the Front National, led by Marine Le Pen,  and La France insoumise, run by Jean-Luc Mélenchon  to participate.

France 24.

“Ni Marine le Pen, ni Mélenchon.” Le Conseil représentatif des institutions juives de France (Crif), qui a appelé à une marche blanche à Mireille Knoll, octogénaire juive dont le meurtre a provoqué une vive émotion en France, y a interdit la présence des membres du Front national et de La France insoumise”

Both are, for us, the vehicles of hatred in our country, the hatred of the far-right on one side, and the hatred of Israel, which is, in reality, hatred of Jews, on the other stated Francis Kalifat, President of the principal Jewish Association in France, the CRIF, and the organisers of the march.

“Tous les deux sont pour nous des vecteurs de haine dans notre pays, la haine de l’extrême droite d’un côté, et la haine d’Israël, et qui est aussi la haine des juifs en réalité, de l’autre”, a annoncé mardi soir Francis Kalifat, président du Crif et organisateur de la manifestation qui doit débuter mercredi 28 mars à 18h30.”

This decision was criticised by Knoll’s son who accused the CRIF of acting politically.

He welcomed everybody to the commemoration.

Daniel Knoll, le fils de Mireille Knoll, s’est placé en contradiction avec ce message : “Le Crif fait de la politique, et moi j’ouvre mon cœur à tous ceux qui ont une mère, c’est-à-dire tout le monde.”

Both Le Pen and Melenchon have said they will participate.

Le Pen et Mélenchon participeront à la marche blanche pour Mireille Knoll, malgré le refus du Crif. (Today, from BFMTV.)

Mélenchon’s rally was in the news this week when it was discovered that a Parliamentary candidate for La France insoumise for last year’s elections,  Stéphane Poussier, had celebrated the death of  the hero gendarme Arnaud Belrame. After a swift legal judgement he  was given a year’s suspended prison sentence.  (Il s’est réjoui de la mort du gendarme Beltrame: l’ex-candidat France insoumise écope d’1 an de prison avec sursis)

 

Written by Andrew Coates

March 28, 2018 at 12:12 pm

After the Westminster Demonstration Against Anti-Semitism.

with 10 comments

Image result for ian paisley mp anti-semitism demo

Ian Paisley MP, “Supporting our Jewish People.”

 

The below is a deeply offensive and wrong-headed statement made into a headline,

Jeremy Corbyn is ‘figurehead’ for antisemitism, says Jewish group ahead of Westminster protest

Independent.

‘The reality is there are no safe spaces online, or in meetings, for Jewish people within the Labour party’.

This, by contrast, probably sums up the feelings of many people., and not just those with a Jewish background.

This is also good.

Jeremy Corbyn told to act on ‘stain’ of anti-Semitism in party.

Labour has taken too long to stamp out antisemitism in the party, a key ally of Jeremy Corbyn has said.

The shadow business secretary, Rebecca Long-Bailey, said it was imperative for the party to urgently address the problem to ensure that the Jewish community felt welcome.

In an interview for BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said: “Jeremy has always been a militant opponent of antisemitism, but too often the issue has been dismissed as a few bad apples when we need to take very serious root and branch action, to root out the cause of the problem.”

….

Long-Bailey insisted Labour did take a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism but this had not been “enforced as effectively as it should have been”.

She also called for faster implementation of recommendations made by Shami Chakrabarti in a report for Labour on allegations of antisemitism.

She said: “There will be clear efforts now to roll out a political education programme specifically to make sure that every single person in the Labour party is aware of all forms of antisemitism … to make sure nobody suffers in the way that they have done.”

Long-Bailey said she hoped Jewish leaders would help Labour to tackle the issue. “I would really welcome a meeting as urgently as possible between Jeremy and the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council because we have to work collaboratively on this,” she said.

On Corbyn’s comments about the mural, she said: “It was clearly an antisemitic mural, and Jeremy has apologised for not looking at it. We are all human unfortunately and it’s a lesson to us all to look clearly at the things we are supporting or commenting on on Facebook.”

See picture above…

Our reaction to the following is more mixed.

Corbyn’s words on Labour antisemitism are welcome – now we need action

Mike Katz is vice-chair of Jewish Labour Movement and was Labour’s candidate in Hendon in 2017.

For me, this is not about undermining the fact that Jeremy Corbyn is Labour’s leader. His mandate is clear. But with great power comes great responsibility.

No, this is a challenge to him to lead the Labour party – and the wider movement – out of this toxic situation and make all parts of Labour safe for Jews.

This is vastly over-exaggerated and wrong headed.

There is a  problem with a certain strain of ‘anti-imperialism’ which too easily makes excuses for racialist reactions to ‘Jews’ on the grounds that the Palestinians are oppressed by Israel. This  stand, in various forms has seeped through to a host of paranoid views about ‘Zionism’,and various conspi themes. It is reactionary, deeply so.

It is the ‘anti-imperialism of fools’, which, in its efforts to back anybody opposing the ‘West’ the ‘Global order’ and to understand Jihadists and various forms of violent Islamism in this light, is not reducible to antisemitism.

It is very very notifiable that at the moment there are mass murders taking place in the Middle East, not just committed by the genociders of  Daesh, but by Assad’s forces, and…the Turkish assault on Afrin.

The organisations which owe a debt to the anti-imperialism of fools are at present standing by in the conflicts, always anxious to find the US at work with little concern for the people’s suffering.

In this context, are we are seriously to take some comments about a Mural and the existence of a number of anti-Semitic nutters in the Labour Party? That is, as we mourn the death of beloved comrade Anna Campbell who gave her life for the cause of the Kurdish people and internationalism?

From the calmer backwaters of New York Ross Wolfe makes a long, reasoned, and important commentary on the controversy in Britain,

Antisemitism as a “blindspot” for the Left

Let me lay my cards on the table: I don’t think that Corbyn is a hardened antisemite or anything like that. Efforts to portray him as such are in my opinion transparently opportunistic. One can make casually antisemitic, racist, or sexist comments without necessarily being an ideologically committed antisemite, racist, or sexist. This is the crucial takeaway from theories of structuralantisemitism, racism, or sexism — that is, they don’t rely on self-consciously antisemitic, racist, or sexist agents or individuals in order to be reproduced societally at an unconscious level.

“Hillel Ticktin, the South African Trotskyist, followed a similar line of reasoning in his synopsis of an issue of the journal Critique. “No Marxist can support nationalism,” writes Ticktin, “whether that of the Zionists or of Hezbollah. That does not remove the real oppression of Palestinians, but it does imply that no religious or nationalist solution is possible… At the same time, there can also be no question that antisemitism is rising, particularly in areas where it has been endemic for the past half-century: Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Bebel’s dictum that antisemitism is the socialism of fools is partly correct in that the role of antisemitism is different from that of racism; it provides an alternative populist ideology to the appeal of socialism.

Rejecting both widespread calls for Boycotts, Divestments, and Sanctions (or BDS, a strategy he also opposed as misguided vis-à-vis the apartheid regime during the 1980s) as well as opportunistic alliances with groups like Hezbollah, which ostensibly leftist organizations like the SWP-UK and ISO-US condone, Ticktin nevertheless affirmed that antisemitism is an irreducibly right-wing phenomenon:

The representative of the Israeli Embassy on the BBC1 10 AM program on Religion 1 May 2016 argued that, although the left had fought antisemitism, there were examples of left-wing antisemites like Proudhon, Bakunin, and Stalin. This is stretching the concept of the Left. If one includes anyone who is critical of the status quo in capitalism to be left-wing then the Israeli representative is correct. There is no doubt that Stalin and Stalinism were not just antisemitic but among the worst perpetrators of acts of antisemitism that the world has seen. This journal has made that clear. Can one call Stalinism left-wing? It was a reaction to the Russian Revolution of 1917 from the right. It introduced and maintained high levels of inequality in all respects. It was brutal in form and totally opposed to the forms of civil liberties accepted by the left. Bakunin attacked Marx in antisemitic terms and Proudhon was no better. They were both anarchists of a kind that would fall outside the left as we understand it today. The people accused of antisemitism do not fall into a Stalinist or anarchist category. There are of course left-wing anarchists but that is another matter. However, it can of course happen that the left sees antisemitism as a form of discrimination employed to divide the population in order to maintain capitalism at the present time, whatever the age of the practice. The left stands for the abolition of all forms of social inequality. Hence it is automatically and inherently opposed to antisemitism, unlike Conservatives and the Labour Right, who accept the market and its forms of subjection and inequality, since they accept the market.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 27, 2018 at 12:13 pm

Afrin Falls to Jihadists and Turkish Army but Fight and Solidarity Continue!

with 18 comments

Turkish Backed Jihadists Demolish, “blacksmith Kawa, a legendary figure for the Kurdish movement.”

Just breaking….

Syria war: Turkey-backed forces oust Kurds from heart of Afrin

BBC.

Turkish-backed forces have taken full control of the centre of the Syrian-Kurdish city of Afrin.

Fighters waved flags and tore down the statue of a legendary Kurdish figure after claiming the city centre on Sunday.

The two-month Turkish-led operation aimed to rid the border region of a Kurdish militia that Turkey considers a terrorist group.

Activists say 280 civilians have died, although this is denied by Ankara.

Pictures and video footage emerged of forces tearing down a Kurdish statue with a bulldozer.

The monument depicted the blacksmith Kawa, a legendary figure for the Kurdish movement.

A statement on a Whatsapp group for the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces called it the “first blatant violation of Kurdish people’s culture and history since the takeover of Afrin”.

A Turkish armed forces Twitter page posted a video of troops displaying the nation’s flag in Afrin’s centre.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 18, 2018 at 12:04 pm

As Corbyn attacks EU “cheap agency labour”, Europe creates new Agency to End ‘Social Dumping’ and Protect Workers.

with one comment

Related image

EU Sets up new Authority to Stop Social Dumping.

This section of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech to the Scottish Labour Party at Dundee  continues to create controversy,

We cannot be held back inside or outside the EU from taking the steps we need to develop and invest in cutting edge industries and local business stop the tide of privatisation and outsourcing, or from preventing employers being able to import cheap agency labour to undercut existing pay and conditions in the name of free market orthodoxy.

Here is a recent report.

Jeremy Corbyn has been attacked by senior Scottish Labour figures after making “incredibly disappointing” comments on immigration.

The European.

Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray rounded on the Labour leader over remarks on leaving the EU in his speech to the party’s conference in Dundee.

Setting out his position on the Brexit deal, Corbyn said a future Labour government “cannot be held back inside or outside the EU … from preventing employers being able to import cheap agency labour, to undercut existing pay and conditions in the name of free market orthodoxy”.

Speaking at a fringe event hosted by the Scottish Labour for the single market campaign, Murray said: “I’m disappointed that the Labour party is not making this argument – immigration is good for the United Kingdom and Scotland and we have to be brave enough to stand up and make that point.

“And I was incredibly disappointed to see yesterday that the only person smiling after that passage in Jeremy’s speech would have been Nigel Farage.”

Murray said he believed the Labour front bench was the biggest impediment to getting single market membership into the Brexit bill but added: “The country is with us, Labour party membership is with us.

Corbyn’s views on “cheap agency labour” indeed echo the views of  ‘Sovereigntist’ anti-EU forces.

The pro-Brexit Morning Star recently contained this statement from the Communist Party of Britain. (CPB).

Most of British big business wants to keep Britain as closely aligned as possible with the single market because its rules for the free movement of capital, goods and labour, together with the right of companies to operate in any country they choose, enables them to maximise profit at the expense of working people,” Mr Griffiths added.

He highlighted a string of rulings by the European Court of Justice to restrict the rights of elected governments and trade unions to take action to protect imported, outsourced or redundant workers.

The hard-line anti-EU Socialist Party has argued for no ‘soft Brexit’ and dropping all legislation that allows the free movement of labour .   On  the 28th of February it declared,

EU rules have included the posted workers’ directive which enables bosses to use migrant labour to undercut existing wage levels.

If any of these groups, and Corbyn’s speech-writers, had bothered to follow the latest developments in the EU, they would have noticed that a wholesale reform of the “posted workers” directive is underway.

Here is the existing situation,

A “posted worker” is an employee who is sent by his employer to carry out a service in another EU Member State on a temporary basis.

For example, a service provider may win a contract in another country and send his employees there to carry out the contract.

Posted workers are different from EU mobile workers in that they remain in the host Member State temporarily and do not integrate in its labour market.

On the contrary, EU mobile citizens who go to another Member State to seek workand are employed there, are entitled to equal treatment with nationals in access to employment, working conditions and all other social and tax conditions.

Rights and rules for posted workers

The EU law defines a set of mandatory rules regarding the terms and conditions of employment to be applied to posted workers

  • to guarantee that these rights and working conditions are protected throughout the EU
  • to avoid “social dumping” where foreign service providers can undercut local service providers because their labour standards are lower.

These rules establish that, even though workers posted to another Member State are still employed by the sending company and therefore subject to the law of that Member State, they are entitled by law to a set of core rights in force in the host Member State.

This set of rights consists of:

  •    minimum rates of pay;
  •    maximum work periods and minimum rest periods;
  •    minimum paid annual leave;
  •    the conditions of hiring out workers through temporary work agencies;
  •    health, safety and hygiene at work;
  •   equal treatment between men and women.

However, there is nothing to stop the employer applying working conditions which are more favourable to workers than those of the sending Member State.

The EU law thus provides a clear framework to guarantee fair competition and respect for the posted workers’ rights so that both businesses and workers can take full advantage of the internal market opportunities.

The social security of posted workers is regulated through Regulation no 883/2004on the coordination of social security systems. A detailed guide explaining the applicable rules is available.

In the light of problems with enforcing these rules there has been extensive discussion of reform.

Réforme du travail détaché (Posted workers) : les institutions européennes trouvent un terrain d’entente. 1.3.18.

European Commission – Statement

Joint statement on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive

Brussels, 28 February 2018

Joint statement by European Parliament Co-Rapporteurs Elisabeth Morin-Chartier and Agnes Jongerius, Bulgarian Deputy Minister for Labour and Social Policy Zornitsa Roussinova and Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility Marianne Thyssen on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive:

After intensive negotiations this evening we, the negotiators on behalf of the European Parliament, the Council and Commission, are satisfied to have covered all issues during the 7th trilogue meeting. We reached a common understanding on the contours of a possible agreement on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive. We believe that the proposed package agreement on the table is balanced. The possible agreement establishes the principle of equal pay for equal work on the same place, whilst providing more legal certainty for both workers and employers.

We will now present the results of our negotiations within our respective institutions and will do our utmost to secure the mandates necessary for the final conclusion.

The outcome was announced this morning.

Bruxelles présente la création d’une nouvelle Autorité européenne du travail.

150 people are to be employed to enforce the law, prevent social dumping (the undercutting of wages and conditions), and  stop the abuse of migrant labour – though as this link indicates, some states are bound to be recalcitrant.

L’Europe a pris des mesures sur les travailleurs détachés, la lutte contre le dumping social, la mobilité au sein de l’Union etc. Mais encore faut-il que ces règles soient bien appliquées par les États. Or ce n’est pas le cas. Dans la réalité, certains pays, notamment de l’Est, ferment les yeux sur les abus car ça les arrange bien et si les administrations locales ne font rien, personne ne peut le vérifier. Ce sera donc le rôle de cette nouvelle Agence, d’aller demander des informations et d’enquêter pour voir si, réellement, les règles sociales sont bien appliquées de la même manière dans tous les pays de l’Union.

Update, just out: (Libération),  Bruxelles propose de créer une autorité européenne du Travail en 2019

European Commission – Press release

Commission adopts proposals for a European Labour Authority and for access to social protection

Strasbourg, 13 March 2018

Today, the European Commission is taking more concrete new initiatives to further deliver on the European Pillar of Social Rights.

More specifically, the Commission presents its proposal for a European Labour Authority, as announced by President Juncker in his 2017 State of the Union address, as well as an initiative to ensure access to social protection for all workers and self-employed. These initiatives are accompanied by a Communication on the monitoring of the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which will be closely linked to the European Semester of policy coordination.

Vice-President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Valdis Dombrovskis, said“Europe is now steadily growing and employment is on the rise, but we have to ensure that growth is more inclusive to the benefit of all. This package sets out a number of steps to make that happen: by making sure the rules for people to live and work across the European Union are well known and enforced, by following up on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, pushing the broader momentum for social rights, and by focusing on access to social protection. A stronger social Europe is a more sustainable Europe.”

Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, added: Our work to ensure fair labour mobility culminates in today’s proposal for a European Labour Authority. This is essential for a well-functioning European labour market. It will help citizens and businesses on the move find the right information and strengthen cooperation between the Member States to enforce fair and effective rules. And with our proposal on access to social protection, we are working with Member States to make sure that nobody is left behind. Our aim is to ensure that people have access to adequate benefits no matter how the new world of work evolves.”

Over the last decade, the number of mobile citizens, people living and/or working in another Member State, has almost doubled to reach 17 million in 2017. The European Labour Authority will help individuals, businesses and national administrations to get the most out of the opportunities offered by free movement and to ensure fair labour mobility. The objective of the Authority is three-fold.

First, the Authority will provide information to citizens and business on opportunities for jobs, apprenticeships, mobility schemes, recruitments and training, as well as guidance on rights and obligations to live, work and/or operate in another Member State of the EU.

Second, the Authority will support cooperation between national authorities in cross-border situations, by helping them ensure that the EU rules that protect and regulate mobility are easily and effectively followed. Today, an extensive body of EU legislation regulates the free movement of workers and a number of such rules are being amended and modernised, such asfor the coordination of social security systems across the EU and issues like posting of workers in the context of service provision. The priority is not just to make these rules fairer and fit-for-purpose but also to make sure that they can be correctly applied and enforced in a fair, simple and effective way in all economic sectors. For instance, the Authority will help improve information exchange, support capacity building among national authorities and assist them in running concerted and joint inspections. This will strengthen mutual trust between actors, improve day-to-day cooperation routines and prevent possible fraud and abuse of rules.

Third, the European Labour Authority will be able to provide mediation and facilitate solutions in case of cross-border disputes, such as in the event of company restructuring involving several Member States.

The European Labour Authority will be established as a new decentralised EU agency and, following the completion of the EU legislative process, should be up and running in 2019. To facilitate the establishment of the Authority and make sure it is rapidly up and running once created, the Commission is also setting up an advisory group composed of key stakeholders to look into the practical aspects of the future functioning of the Authority.

The Commission is also presenting today a proposal for a Council Recommendation on access to social protection for workers and the self-employed. As the world of work evolves due to new lifestyles, business practices and digitisation, social protection systems constantly need to match new realities. Today, almost 40% of people employed are either in an atypical employment situation – meaning that they are not working under a full-time, open-ended contract – or self-employed. Such persons are not always well covered in terms of social security, lacking unemployment insurance or access to pension rights. In line with the European Pillar of Social Rights, this proposal aims to set a direction for Member States to support access to social protection for all workers and self-employed, in particular for those who, due to their employment status, are not sufficiently covered by social security schemes.

The Recommendation foresees:

  • to close formal coverage gaps by ensuring that workers and the self-employed in comparable conditions can adhere to corresponding social security systems;
  • to offer them adequate effective coverage, so that they can build up and claim adequate entitlements;
  • to facilitate the transfer of social security entitlements from one job to the next;
  • to provide workers and the self-employed with transparent information about their social security entitlements and obligations.

Finally, as a complement to the initiatives already taken and still to come at EU level, the Commission outlines its views for the monitoring of the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights. This will be done by reflecting the priorities of the European Pillar of Social Rights in the annual cycle of the European Semester of policy coordination, which includes an analysis of measures taken and progress made at national level; the provision of technical assistance, benchmarking exercises and exchange of good practices; and the screening of employment and social performances, also with the help of the new Social Scoreboard, which tracks trends and performances across EU Member States in the three areas of principles under the Pillar of Social Rights. The Commission is also publishing today a staff working document recalling the legal framework for each of the principles of the European Pillar of Social Rights, with due regard to the respective competences of the EU and of the Member States, including the role of the social partners and recent EU-level actions in each area.

Next steps

European Labour Authority: In accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, this proposal for a Regulation will now be examined by the European Parliament and the Council. The ambition of the Commission is for the Authority to be up and running in 2019.

Access to social protection: This will now be examined by the Council, which can adopt recommendations on the basis of a Commission proposal in the areas of EU competence.

The Commission will present today’s package of initiatives to national Employment and Social Affairs Ministers at the Council meeting in Brussels on 15 March. At the European Council of 22 and 23 March 2018, Heads of State and Government will also come back to addressing the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights.

Background

The Commission’s intention to set up a European Labour Authority was announced by President Juncker in his State of the Union Address on 13 September 2017. The European Labour Authority will complement and facilitate the implementation of ongoing initiatives to ensure fair mobility, including the reform of the Posting of Workers Directive, the Lex Specialis in the international road transport sector and the modernisation of EU rules for the coordination of social security systems.

Increased labour market flexibility and a growing diversity of forms of work have created new jobs and allowed more people to become professionally active, as recalled during the consultation on the European Pillar of Social Rights and in the Reflection Paper on the Social Dimension of Europe. But they also led to some gaps in social protection coverage that need to be closed. The Commission’s proposal for a Council Recommendation on access to social protection is a response to these changing labour market realities, in particular the new forms of work that have developed in recent years. The initiative was announced in April 2017 together with the European Pillar of Social Rights. It is part of the 2017 and 2018 Commission Work Programmes and follows a two-stage consultation of EU social partners.

These initiatives are part of the roll-out of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which was jointly proclaimed at the Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth in Gothenburg in November 2017. Delivering on the European Pillar of Social Rights is a shared political commitment and responsibility and monitoring its implementation is essential for ensuring tangible progress on the ground. This is why in today’s Communication, the Commission takes stock of initiatives that it has taken to roll out the Pillar, including an initiative on work-life balance and proposal for transparent and predictable working conditions in the European Union.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 13, 2018 at 1:50 pm