Tuesday, 28 December 2010

RMT Strike - Report from Cardiff

The Socialist Party supports the RMT in their dispute and sends greetings of solidarity...

Report from Cardiff by Alex Gordon, RMT President

Strike and picket lines are going brilliantly. The RMT drivers are out 100%, and the vast majority of ASLEF drivers have refused to cross picket lines in Cardiff. We had pickets out at 1AM this morning to meet drivers booking on for the earliest turns, and all refused to cross the lines. Arriva Trains Wales have given up any hope of running a service on the Valleys and have suspended it completely until Tuesday the 28 December. On the mainline, although they hoped to be able to run a service, it has been decimated by the actions of RMT drivers striking and their ASLEF colleagues refusing to cross picket lines, and the number of services run out of Cardiff up to 06.45 was a fraction of what would normally be running in and out of the main station in the Welsh capital on a Monday morning.

Picket lines have been operating in several locations around Cardiff Central to cover as many entrances as possible, as management have tried to set up booking-on points at alternative locations to circumvent the picket lines - unsuccessfully in most cases!! Picket lines have also been organised at Rhymney Depot at the top of the Rhymney Valley, where not a single driver booked on for duty this morning, and Treherbert Depot at the top of the Rhondda Valley. The service down each valley would ordinarily carry large numbers of people into Cardiff in the morning peaks and throughout the day for shopping.

The resolve of the strikers is absolutely solid and their morale is very high, and they are prepared to take as many days of strike action as is necessary to force ATW back to the negotiating table with a realistic pay offer, realistic terms and conditions, and without the strings that the company seem to believe must form part of any offer they make.

In a splendid display of unity from other workers and Trades Unionists, members of Cardiff Trades Council, the UCU union and the PCS union all came out to the pickets to show solidarity at 04.00 this morning.

Hands Off Our Forest - Rally Jan 3rd 2011

Malaysia: A socialist alternative is needed


Article by CWI Malaysia
All political parties are gearing up for the next general election which is widely expected in the middle of 2011. It looks like the state of the country's economy and its impact on social conditions will be the determinant of the winner - whether the Barisan Nasional (BN or National Front) can hold power or whether the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition can end the 53 years rule of BN. Over the last two and a half years since the last election, people have not been able to differentiate much between the politics of these parties. Nor are they convinced how their MP or State Assemblyman can enhance their living standards and their rights that they promised in 2008. 
Most of the social and democratic issues that angered the ordinary people in 2008, that caused big losses for BN, remain. The Pakatan could not come out with convincing solutions and alternatives other than blaming the BN federal government. Meanwhile the BN manicured by adopting some of Pakatan's agenda in the name of reforming the economy and government administration. Nevertheless, at this stage BN has the advantage to retain power with its '3Ms' (Money, Machinery, Media). But it is expected that Pakatan would go all out to try and match them, especially in the states that are ruled by them, as shown by the Hulu Selangor by-election, where they used the state machinery to counter the '3M' might of BN and only narrowly lost. 
Economic uncertainties 
The ruling regime in Malaysia has been alarmed by the economic catastrophe that developed from 2008, engulfing the United States and then Europe. There was a warning from a cabinet minister that by 2019 Malaysia could also face a Greece-style economic crisis if it does not take immediate steps to restructure its export-dependent economy. With the US as its main trading partner, Malaysia's GDP growth in 2008 and 2009 was reduced to 4.7% and -1.7%. This shattered the 'vision 2020' that was formulated in 1991 saying that Malaysia would become a developed country by 2020 with an annual GDP growth of 7% for a 30 year period. In fact, in 1997, the Asian financial crisis devastated this vision of Malaysia being a so-called tiger economy. It had also instigated the 'reformasi' movement that shook the autocratic ruling regime of Mahathir at that time. Since then, the Malaysian economy's growth has not reached that of the pre-1997 period. 
However, the stimulus package of almost US$20 billion injected into the economy in the last two years has spurred domestic spending to some extent. With this and increased trading with China (which is the main trading partner at the present time) and other regional markets, so far any further impact in the economy has been avoided. GDP growth this year is expected to be around 6-7%. This development in the country's economy has so far assisted the ruling government under Najib to improve its standing to a certain extent after the political tsunami in the 2008 General Election in which BN lost its 2/3 majority in parliament as well as losing power in some of the richest states such as Selangor and Penang after almost 40 years. Prime Minister Najib can capitalise on the enhanced GDP growth this year as well as the ongoing internal political conflict in the opposition coalition of Pakatan Rakyat to strengthen his power and the BN government by calling early elections, although he could continue to rule until March 2013. 
Recently, Najib reiterated that Malaysia would become a developed country by 2020 with a high income economy, setting a goal of tripling GDP to US$550 billion by 2020. He unveiled the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) to attract investment worth of US$444 billion, but, with the continuing uncertainties in the global economy this goal could be further undermined. 
Malaysia is facing huge competition to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country, and recent reports show that last year FDI inflow even fell 81% compared to the figure in 2008. In 2009 Malaysia was the only country in Southeast Asia that registered a net negative FDI flow. For the first time ever in its history, Malaysia attracted less FDI than the Philippines, and mainly lost it to countries like China and Vietnam that have far cheaper labour. Even Singapore, which is almost 500 times smaller in size than Malaysia and with far less raw materials and resources, is poised to overtake Malaysia as the third largest economy in Southeast Asia after Indonesia and Thailand. This poor performance casts further doubts on whether the New Economic Model, the 10th Malaysia Plan, the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and the ETP that was designed as the road-map to build Malaysia as a high income economy after the last General Election, are attainable. 
The lack of skilled workers, research and development and of technological capabilities have also dampened the inflow of FDI that was based on high-tech or bio-tech industry. Malaysia has only 300 to 400 science and technology workers for every 100,000 persons, as compared to 3,000 in countries that have moved from middle income to high income status. Even the local capitalists do not seem to be interested in investing in Malaysia with these unattractive economic fundamentals and are looking towards other regional markets. The government is hoping for greater involvement of the private sector to strengthen domestic markets. Currently private sector investment is around 10% of GDP compared with 30% in the 1990s. Meanwhile, government has also unveiled a plan to build a 100-story tower in the middle of Kuala Lumpur, as well as other huge property and infrastructure projects to spur on the domestic markets. 
Now, with the reasonable GDP growth this year and interest rates at 2.75%, hot money has flowed into the Malaysia bond market for high returns, reversing FDI outflows. This trend has appreciated the ringgit to a 13 year high against the dollar. If this phenomenon continues, it could create asset bubbles in currency, property and stock markets as well as higher inflation. This has the potential of destabilising the economy and financial system as experienced in the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. Meanwhile, the ringgit's appreciation could lead to further decline in exports and further loss of competitiveness and retrenchment in export sectors. The government has not imposed the specific capital controls at this stage that have been been carried through by developing countries such as China, Indonesia, Thailand, Brazil and South Korea. It aims mainly to take advantage of capital inflows into the economy as a way to maintain growth to face the upcoming general election. 
However, Malaysia has not fully avoided the impact of the global economic crisis. The global economy has still not recovered from the great recession, which some economists believe could become worse. It could stagnate for a long time before it manages to stabilise. The Malaysian government has been zig-zagging from one policy to another because of the many uncertainties in the global economy and the increasing competition among the regional economies as well as the main economic players like the US and China. It looks as if another crisis such as the 1997 financial crisis is looming in this region if this trend continues or becomes worse in the coming period. 
Social dissatisfaction 
Since 2008, the government has been under pressure to reduce the growing deficit in the economy, to contain inflation and to remove distortionary price controls, advancing liberalisation mainly in service sectors to attract investment from the private sector and multinationals. The government has also planned to readjust the labour laws, cut subsidies and introduce a Goods and Services Tax (GST), as well as to reduce government and administration expenditure by encouraging 'Private Public Initiatives' (another term for privatisation) especially in public education and the health system, aiming towards facilitating a well functioning market economy for the benefit of national and international capitalists. 
As a start, this year the government has reduced the subsidies on petrol, sugar and gas though it has not carried them into full force yet, as well as deferring the introduction of the GST and the readjustment of the labour laws, fearing it would anger the ordinary people and loose their support in the coming general election. However, it is widely expected that the government would go all out with public spending cuts and other austerity measures after winning the next general election, if the global economy is not improving much. These measures would severely affect the 75% of the population that earn less than RM3,000 per month as well as the 25% of the population that earns less than RM1,000 per month, who mainly are the working class and middle class. This also would further increase the gap between the rich and poor which, in Malaysia, is already the worst among the Southeast Asia countries. 
Barisan Nasional and the United Malay National Organisation 
United Malay National Organisation (UMNO) is the dominant force in the BN racially based coalition and has been going all out to regain the support of the Malay as well as the non-Malays since the last general election, after most of its coalition partners were badly defeated. On the one hand they indirectly use PERKASA - the Malay ultra-right group that champions Malay supremacy - to increase Malay support. On the other hand they have used 'One Malaysia' propaganda to regain Chinese and India supports. 
UMNO is still enjoying the support mainly of the conservative, rural and some middle class Malays who are very much dependent on the special privileges and benefits accorded by the government to them. Although the government has liberalised around 27 service sub-sectors by removing the 30% bumiputra/Malay equity requirement, it has not much affected the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) controlled by this layer, due to other protective measures and incentives designed to safeguard their interests and privileges. This is mainly to continue to maintain this critical vote bank of Malays in UMNO. The PERKASA, which has been supported by Mahathir and other prominent leaders in UMNO, was initiated to safeguard Malay rights. It is aimed at strengthening the Malay support base of UMNO by instigating Malay sentiments and privileges. 
Najib has tried to regain the non-Malays' support by his 'One Malaysia' propaganda but it turned out to be counter-productive when PERKASA attacks Chinese and Indian rights. Many see Najib does not 'walk the talk' that he propagated with his 'One Malaysia' policy to unite different races, and regarded the propaganda merely as another political manoeuvre to gain votes for the next general elections. At the same time, the suspicions and dissatisfaction among different races over social/economic and cultural/racial discrimination is still common. In a situation where a severe worsening of social and economic conditions happens, racial tensions could lead to sectarian unrest. 
However, with reasonable economic growth at this stage, the weaknesses in the Pakatan Rakyat's ability to put itself forward as a formidable alternative to BN could increase support for Najib. 
Pakatan Rakyat 
The internal power struggles in the Pakatan coalition, especially in PKR (People's Justice Party) and DAP (Democratic Action Party), have given a bad impression to the masses over their politics, which are seen as nothing much different from BN other than rhetoric. Since the last election, the Pakatan Rakyat also failed to come out with clear alternative solutions and policies to counter BN economic and social policies and agendas other than succumbing to the agenda of free market systems. This has further undermined their credibility especially among the youth and working class that are looking for a genuine alternative. In fact, the Pakatan coalition is still glued together only to face the next general election, in an attempt to defeat the BN and capture the Federal government. It is also dependent on the popularity of Anwar Ibrahim nationally and internationally, portraying him as the prime minister if Pakatan wins. However, the politically motivated second sodomy case against him, which it is believed will be concluded some time next year, could be used by the BN government to undermine his political activeness. However, a guilty verdict that leads to imprisonment could anger Anwar's supporters and escalate political tensions that could be capitalised on by Pakatan to enrage people against the BN government. 
Pakatan has started to consolidate its forces to face the next election and could agitate the masses to create the kind of situation as pre-2008 with populist agendas as well as protests, especially on electoral reform and democratic rights. Nevertheless, Pakatan still could not enhance its support in the two Borneo states of Malaysia -Sabah and Sarawak- where BN still has the upper hand, even though there are many social and economic dissatisfactions among the different peoples living in these states. However, the fissures in the state ruling parties could create favourable conditions for Pakatan to enhance its status, with some of those regional parties joining them. 
The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM), with its activism, has been supporting the Pakatan coalition to defeat the "main enemy - the BN", though some of its members questioned this move in their last Congress. Although it is clearly supporting Pakatan, there will be displeasure from some of Pakatan leaders and supporters to give way for PSM to contest one to one as the only candidate from the opposition to contest against the candidate of BN in the next general elections. As a result of that, the PSM could compete to maintain the seats they contested last time or to gain new seats they have planned to contest under their own logo, which could create more conflicts with Pakatan. The PSM could manoeuvre with their Pakatan 'friends' to avoid three-cornered fights but there will be intense competition among the Pakatan parties themselves which could isolate the PSM. 
Some trade union leaders in the Malaysia Trade Union Congress (MTUC), are aligning with Pakatan with the hope that there would be more democratic rights including trade union and workers' rights under a Pakatan government, without questioning the opportunistic and, in some respects, reactionary politics of Pakatan. 
Third force 
The failure of PSM and trade unions leaders to put forward a perspective for building a clear independent working class force with the support of the youth, students and others that are oppressed by the system, create confusion over the character of the 'third force'. 
Zahid Ibrahim, the defeated contender for the PKR deputy presidential position, who resigned over the accusation of massive irregularities in the party, has initiated a new party - KITA (People's Welfare Party) - that has been regarded as a 'third force'. Others, like the Human Rights Party (the HINDRAF-Hindu Rights Action Force- splinter) and the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) that are not satisfied with Pakatan politics, are now proposing building the third force. The layer that is not satisfied with Pakatan politics could look towards this 'third force' for the time being, but they will soon get disillusioned with their politics that have nothing much different from Pakatan politics or a Non-governmental Organisation type of political activism. 
Some of these groups and other splinters from Pakatan could come together to contest the next general election under their own banner but it looks more likely that they would negotiate with Pakatan for one to one contests. There will three-cornered fights if no compromise is achieved and this could be favourable to BN. 
Building working class force 
The working class, middle class, students and others that are oppressed by neo-liberalism and other pro-capitalist measures embodied in the BN regime have seen the continuous undermining of their living standards and democratic rights. But Pakatan, which also supports the free market, capitalist system, has not much differed in their economic policies and political solutions. Meanwhile, the 'third force' is being formed as a way to express the dissatisfaction with the Pakatan leadership and its policies, rather than putting forward an alternative to the pro-market agenda of BN and Pakatan. This shows that the policies of these parties are not designed to solve the economic or social rights of the working class and youths but to achieve their own pro-market political agenda. An independent working class political entity to represent the aspirations and needs of the working class and youth is needed as the alternative to pro-market political parties as a way to build a mass working class alternative. 
The period before and after the next general election could see an increasing layer of youth and working class people distancing themselves from the reactionary and opportunistic policies of the mainstream parties. They will approach different ideas for genuine alternatives including socialist ideas. New political formations initiated by this layer could also not be ruled out. Malaysia is moving into another crucial era of economic and political uncertainty, and this will further reinforce the need for building an independent mass working class force with socialist ideas. 

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The working class in Britain enters a new year...

As the working class in Britain enters a new year, many fighters for social justice will be confronted with task of how to build resistence to the ConDem government's drive to place the burden of their capitalist crisis onto the backs of ordinary people; from the elderly, the disabled to young people seeking to further their education and job prospects.

The Socialist Party believes that the working class can win, but it will need the power of the Trade Unions and mass action- including generalised strike action- to defeat the ConDem government and its plans to implement deep cuts into the social wage.

But, with many unions under the influence of leaders who have no interests in leading a determined struggle of resistence, and who seem to be more interested in waging the struggle by simply re-electing a Labour government as a "friend of working person", how do activists fight to transform the unions into organisations that will fight?

This question was confronted by working class fighters back in the 1930's when socialist members of the Teamster Union mobilised the rank and file to wrest control from Labour "aristocrats" and made their union into a centre of resistence against the onslaughts of the capitalist class in the United States.

Socialist's confronted these questions, and began to find answers, through fighting for democratic control of the union and allowing ordinary workers have a say in how their union should be organised, demonstrating solidarity with all sectors of the working class, and all those who were victims of capitalist austerity, and ultimately fighting for political independence in waging a fight to create a political party that would represent the interests of all workers.

Many lessons on how socialists, using the methods of democracy, solidarity and independence, fought to bring the power of their union in helping to forge an unbreakable unity in struggle, can be found in the book Teamster Rebellion by Farrell Dobbs.

The book traces the story of how the Teamster's struggle unfolded in the early 1930's in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and how, as stated on the back cover "They showed in life what workers and their allies on the farms and in the cities can achieve when they are able to count on the leadership they deserve."

In a second book of a series of four, called Teamster Power, Dobbs -an active participant in those events- elaborates how the Teamsters went on to use the power they had won to extend union power throughout the mid-west of the United States, and in the process recruiting thousands to a fighting union.

Both books are available from The Bristol Socialist Party.
(contact Martyn454@gmail.com)

13 pounds each!

Round two of Heinz strike

By Hugh Caffrey, north-west Socialist Party

Over 1,000 Unite trade union members at the Wigan Heinz food factory struck for a second day on Tuesday 21 December in pursuit of fair pay, mounting strong pickets despite freezing temperatures.
I and a Bolton Socialist Party member (an activist in Unison) were warmly welcomed on the picket line.
Unite submitted a 4.3% pay claim last April, based on RPI inflation at the time plus a very small fraction.
Heinz is a $10 billion multinational which last month boasted that its "gross profit increased 1.4% to $967 million and gross profit margin increased to 37.0% from 36.0%" (www.heinz.com, press release dated 19 November).
When workers asked for a tiny real-terms increase in wages, the company's lead negotiator flatly refused: "There's no way we're going near RPI this year".
The most Heinz will offer is 3.3%, well below inflation. So, facing a real-terms cut in wages, literally 90% of workers are taking rock-solid strike action.
Acting convenor Ian Wright told me:
"We've not been badly covered in the press, and we're really heartened by the loads of supportive messages that we've received including from the likes of yourselves. We've been getting emails from all over the country. 
"This is the second day of strike action now and no-one wants to do it, but withdrawing your labour is the only weapon in the working-man's arsenal as a final resort against the employers. It's a silver bullet, and when it's fired, it's fired! It's certainly not something we'll give up easily."
Management are notoriously vindictive, persecuting workers for taking time off sick to deal with close family bereavement, and even turning off the floodlights last week on the picket line.
"Of course", says Ian, "here we have to deal with a style of management that has a jackboot on our necks. It's -10C today, you can see all the lads on the picket line.
"They don't have to be here, they could be sitting at home or somewhere else, but they're here on the picket because this matters to us and that's how passionate they are about it."
This enormous plant outputs two million cans a day. Daily production is worth £1 million.
Ian estimates the company has lost "probably £3 million" from two days' strike action plus the difficulties of re-starting up production last weekend during the cold weather.
This begs the question, why is Heinz sticking over 1%? It confirms what workers are saying; there is a wider agenda from the food industry employers, to drive down pay. Behind Heinz, stand many other company bosses. That doesn't put beans in tins though!
"What they give with one hand, they take away with the other. Management said they wanted harmonious industrial relations and wanted to work with the union.
"In fact they've done exactly the opposite. There's been this letter leaked to the press talking about 480 job losses. We're trying to work out whether this is really serious or just trying to scare workers off the strike.
"We know the hard way though, that what the company wants to do, it will try to do regardless. Ten years ago they tried playing us off against the plant in Harlsden in London, where they signed a no-strike deal. The company then shut the Harlsden factory anyway, and a lot of the lads from there had to transfer up to here."
The immense potential power of the industrial working class is clear, as this giant factory stands eerily silent, brought to a halt by 1,000 strikers.
Talks will take place tomorrow (Wednesday 22 December).
If these prove unsatisfactory, workers will strike again on Wednesday 29 December.
As many supporters as possible - Socialist Party members, supporters and the wider trade union movement - should join the Heinz workforce on the pickets if the strike goes ahead.

Send messages of support to wrightian5@sky.com
Can your union branch or organisation make a donation to help fund the workers' struggle? This can be done by bank transfer to account name Ian Wright, sort code 08-92-86, account number 16085255, account held with the Smile bank. Or contact Ian for more information.
On Facebook, search for "Heinz Strike Info Page".
And please send messages of protest to the company bosses, details in previous report at http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/10835

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Kazakhstan - Solidarity needed!

‘Kazakhstan 2012’ opposition leader jailed

CWI Reporters, Moscow

The Nazarbayev regime in Kazakhstan is stepping up its terror campaign against opposition activists, despite the fact that Kazakhstan continues to head the OSCE organisation.
On 19 December, a leader of the Independent Trade Union of Workers and Staff, Esenbek Ukteshbayev, was illegally imprisoned for 15 days. This was for the “crime” of handing in a petition to the Akim (Mayor) of Almaty on Independence Day with the demand that his deputy, Serik Seiduman, should resign after practically calling for the elimination of all rural residents now living in the city. The court session was held on a weekend, when the court specializing in administrative offences was closed.
These are remarkably new methods being used for the arrest and trial of activists. For two days, a representative of the police has been practically begging Esenbek on his knees to go to the station to give an explanation of his activities. But as soon as the trade union leader turned up at the station, he was arrested without ceremony and dragged into court, where he was tried by the duty judge Zhanna Nurgalieva.
Despite the fact that Esenbek was taken to court without any official papers, that he was held without charge and was refused the right to defense counsel, the judge, without any shame, carried on with the trial. Esenbek was found guilty even though he was able to demonstrate his innocence.
Astonished by such actions one of the activists in court burst out with the cry, “Have you lost your mind?” For this she was immediately charged with “lack of respect for the court” and will be tried today on 20 December.
We are convinced that this has been organized by Seiduman, who has boasted in the press that he is behind the illegal arrests.
We call for widespread protests against this illegal action by the Kazakhstan regime. We need an urgent response, as there is information leaking out from sources that the police are under orders to start the “physical annihilation” of our comrades in Kazakhstan.
Letters of protest should be sent to the Akim (Mayor) of Almaty either by email:
Or through the site
Please also send protests to the Secretariat of the OSCE viahttp://www.osce.org/contacts/ orhttp://www.osce.org/contacts/email.php?id=67
Please send copies of your emails tosolidarity@socialistworld.net

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Greece: New wave of strikes

Society paralysed by a week of major strikes and a general strike - Third wave of PASOK government austerity attacks provokes outrage

 By Andreas Payiatsos, Xekinima (CWI Greece), Athens

Wednesday 15 December saw one of the biggest general strikes in Greece in recent years. Nothing moved in the country, apart from public transport in Athens to bring workers to the center of the city to demonstrate against the third wave of austerity attacks agreed between the PASOK Greek government, the EU and the IMF.
The strike was 100% solid in the docks, shipyards and steel works, Coca Cola company and many other sectors, while it was close to 90% in the energy sector, Telecoms, the post, the water company, the banking sector etc. The rail system (not the Athens Metro) came to a complete standstill while all flights were cancelled and no ferries left the ports. The number of sectors which responded to the strike call is too long to list. Suffice to say, even judges went on strike and campaigned for it among other workers in the judiciary system. Taxi drivers went on strike, even private dentists and chemists. Despite a very rainy day and cold weather, close to 100,000 demonstrated in Athens and tens of thousands protested in other cities.

Also see video footage on CNN’s website

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Assange released on bail!

The release on bail achieved by WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, is a small victory in the teeth of the attacks on democratic rights, and for the right of all of us to know what governments are upto and what deals they make behind our backs and contrary to the interests of ordinary working people.

News reports are suggesting, however, that - aside from the Swedish attempts at extradition on charges of sexual assault- the US government itself is building a case against Mr Assange that could involve persecution as a "co-conspirator" and the serious consequences that such a charge may entail. First, the US government have to get their hands on him, and the US and Britain have an extradition agreement that could see a speedy process if and when they decide to come for him.
We should say "No to a witch-hunt of Julian Assange!" "No to Extradition!" "Open the books!"
We demand the right to know what the government is doing in our name!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

CWI 10th WORLD CONGRESS - 'All is utterly changed'

Report of discussion on World Relations at the 10th world congress of the CWI

The 10th World Congress of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) started last week in Belgium. The event is attended amongst others by delegates and visitors from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, England and Wales, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Nigeria, Poland, Portugal, Quebec, Russia, Scotland, Spain, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Taiwan, USA and Venezuela. Unfortunately, the denial of visas meant delegates from Bolivia and Pakistan could not attend.

The congress will last one week and is discussing the main issues facing the working class internationally in this period of savage austerity attacks, and the tasks for the CWI.

 Below we publish a report of the first Congress discussion on World Relations, by Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, from the England and Wales (Socialist Party) delegation. Other reports of the main discussions taking place at the 10th World Congress will follow over the next few days.

Millions have participated in demonstrations and general strikes in France. There have been general strikes in Greece, in Portugal, the biggest since the revolution of 1974, in Spain, and in India, involving 100 million workers. There has been a huge and partially victorious movement in South Africa, and many more expressions of anger at the most devastating crisis since the 1930s.

In introducing the discussion Peter Taaffe from the International Secretariat (IS) of the CWI, quoted WB Yeats - “All is changed, changed utterly” - to describe the events of the last few months, not least the poet’s home country, Ireland. Contributions to the discussion dealing with the countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America, the Middle East, Europe and Eastern Europe made it clear that there is not one part of the world that has not been affected by the world economic crisis.

Click here to read the report


Youth Fight For Jobs - March on the 29th January!

Workers and students - unite to fight cuts!

Young workers and students are coming together to fight the cuts in a campaign that aims to build on opposition to the hike in tuition fees.

Following an initiative by PCS’s young members’ network, our national executive is supporting a national youth march in Manchester in the new year in support of a TUC rally for young people on the same day.

The London Student Assembly and Youth Fight for Jobs campaign have given their backing and we are working with other trade unions and community and anti-cuts groups about their involvement.

Tens of thousands of students have protested against education cuts which have led to the tripling of tuition fees and the scrapping of the essential education maintenance allowance.

Across the UK, PCS representatives have shown their solidarity by attending demonstrations and visiting university occupations.

With local authorities due to announce cuts to frontline services and cuts of up to 40% in civil service departments, the march and rally on 29 January seek to bring together trade unionists, students and communities to say no to all cuts and to fight for a future for young people.

Transport to the event will be organised by our regional offices and branches will shortly receive more information.

During young trade unionist week in September, PCS young members united with trade unionists and community campaigners to hold protests and events in Manchester, Bournemouth, Nottingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Leeds and Newcastle.

Alan Warner, chair of the PCS national young members’ committee, said “We don’t accept the need for any cuts. Young people are rightly distrustful of politicians who patronise us about the need to tighten our belts while the bankers continue to enjoy bonuses of £7 billion.

“We urge all trade unionists, students and anyone opposed to what this government is doing to join us on the 29 January.”


Sunday, 12 December 2010

Bristol Socialist Party Xmas Quiz 2010

Monday 13th December 7.00 PM
Maximum 5 members per team, entry £2.00 waged, £1.00 unwaged – there will be a raffle and prizes for all team please donate prizes if you can......
 The Socialist Party in Bristol invite everyone involved in the anti-cuts struggle to come to this event which has a long tradition of being an open, fraternal celebration for activists on the left from all traditions, teams from the Communist Party of Great Britain and the Bristol Green Party have participated (and occasionally won..) for many years.
 Santa’s stumped, will you be?

Youth Fight For Jobs on Channel 4 news

See this interview with Youth Fight For Jobs comrade who 'kettled' Scotland Yard in protest against police intimidation and victimisation - for youth democratic rights!


Saturday, 11 December 2010

Kettle Scotland Yard on 11th December 15:30pm

Youth Fight For Jobs is calling for a Youth Democratic Rights campaign to protest against the use of intimidation and violence in London, Bristol, Brighton, Leeds and elsewhere against legally-planned marches and demonstrations. Today we can turn the tables by kettling Scotland Yard and showing them what it feels like - but we need the help of workers everywhere, including inside Scotland Yard itself. Unaccountable and anonymous actions will not help, but with organisation and democracy we can defeat both the police and the ConDem cuts. Together we can win!
Youth Democratic Rights Campaign - 

Youth Fight For Jobs

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Youth Fight For Education statement on 9th December demonstration

'We can win!'

Today we marched against a trebling in university fees. We demanded that the politicians listen to the vast majority of students, parents, workers and others who stand behind our demonstrations, walkouts and occupations. The anger that has spilt out onto the streets will not go away – we will campaign and force them to back down on their plan to increase fees by 2012, along with all the cuts they are trying to get away with.
But we’re also demanding that they don’t cut our EMA, that they save our teachers’ and lecturers’ jobs and the other resources we rely on. We’re demanding the right to a decent education. We’re fighting for our future.
And we’re winning! In Wales and Scotland, because of our campaign, they will save EMA and not introduce higher fees. We’ve shown that it’s possible to fight back, and started the ball rolling that can smash this government and its program of cuts. There is a movement developing against all the cuts in jobs, against the cuts in the NHS and all the other services that we rely on. There are demonstrations and protests going on already. But this movement can and will go further than protests; workers and their power to take strike action can deal huge blows to the government and their big business paymasters. Students and young people need to link with these anti-cuts protests to form an almighty movement. On 22 January a conference is being called by the Shop Stewards Network to do just this – see www.shopstewards.net for more details.
But we must keep fighting for access to education as well! Every time a teacher or lecturer is fired, or a service closed we know we can fight back and win. In January when they try and stop new people getting EMA we should organise walkouts and protests. We should unite and bring together the protests in schools, colleges and universities and organise a real education shutdown, with everyone taking part in protests. In March, the teachers and lecturers unions (NUT and UCU) may be taking strike action – we should join in their protests and support their action. 
To do all this we need to be organised, coming together to discuss what they’re trying to cut, where and how we should fight back. Youth Fight for Education is organising in schools, colleges and universities groups to do just that, and bringing them together across the cities and beyond to coordinate action. Get involved, get organised and build the struggle – join Youth Fight for Education today!
After today’s use of violence by the police against peaceful demonstrators in London and use of intimidatory tactics, the Youth Fight for Jobs is launching the Youth Democratic Rights campaign. We are Kettling Scotland Yard on Saturday at 15:30 to protest against the use of the tactic in London, Bristol, Brighton, Leeds and elsewhere. The worst case was in London on November 24th, when the police held demonstrators, many school students on their first ever protest, for over 9 hours without food, water or any toilet facilities. The police also attacked the Day X protest which was a legally planned march. The police had negotiated with the protest organisers and agreed that they would allow them to march through Parliament Square on the day. Instead around half the march was Kettled and then charged at by police horses. 

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They vote to raise fees - but the fight must go on!

News just in - the ConDem's won the vote by a majority of 21, but it doesn't mean they haven't received a bloody nose in the process. That shows what spineless cowards the Liberals are, but also that the fight must go on at an ever greater level. The poll tax became law in 1988, but nonetheless the Tories could not implement it against a massive, organised resistance and by 1991 it was defeated - Thatcher's flagship had become her titanic. We can do that again, but we must be organised across the city, across the region, across the entire country.

Read The Socialist Editorial - The Fight Goes on Against Cuts and Fees

AN UPRISING has occurred of school, college and university students, fighting for their futures. The trigger has been the trebling of tuition fees, but the anger is wider - against the removal of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), the massive cuts proposed in education, and the robbing of a decent future from an entire generation. The culmination of this phase of the student campaign will be when parliament votes on fees on Thursday 9 December, as thousands upon thousands of students walk out all over the country and demonstrate outside parliament.
The movement has shocked the government and mainstream parties. Already there have been victories in Wales and Scotland (see page five). However, defeating the Con-Dem government, ideologically wedded to a rolling back of the welfare state, is a taller order.
Immense anger has been expressed against the Lib Dems who pledged not to increase fees and are now advocating the opposite. Their party is in chaos and their leadership vilified just months after taking their places in the coalition government. Even Tories are wobbling, with David Davis, former shadow home secretary, saying he will vote against the government.
Nevertheless, the likelihood is that the increase in fees will be voted through on Thursday. If so, many young people will be bitterly disappointed and may think that there is now nothing that can be done. Many will be furious and that rage could explode onto the streets.
The first thing young people need to know is that this is not the end. The fees increase will not be implemented until autumn 2012. There is time. The poll tax, for example, was not beaten in one rush; in fact it became law in 1988 and was defeated in 1991. The withdrawal of EMA will start, for new applications, in January. Devastating cuts facing universities will come in over a period of time, with the 80% cut in teaching budgets being declared in April. Massive cuts are planned in further education (FE) funding.
The key thing now is to get organised. Up to now there has been no real overall leadership or organisation, although in many local areas Youth Fight for Jobs/Education has organised the protests. The National Union of Students (NUS) has displayed a complete dereliction of duty. From the high of the 10 November demonstration, the size of which surprised leaders of NUS more than anyone, they immediately plunged to the depths of attacking protesters at Millbank, and have since failed to act. Their call for a "glow stick vigil" on Day X - not even at parliament! - underlines the irrelevance NUS has quickly become to many students.


This is a long game, and we need a strategy. The protests have been exhilarating, but it will not be sufficient to just keep calling days of action on Facebook, as has largely been the case so far. If students do not have a say in what action is called, there is a risk that they will get worn down. It is a step forward that there are now regular London Student Assemblies being called. However, these mainly involve university students, not school and FE students, who have been the most audacious so far.
To defeat fees and save EMA, action on an even greater scale will be necessary. The Socialist Party calls for a huge national shutdown of education in the New Year. This will take organisation in every school, college and university. Students will need their own meetings, to discuss what they are doing and why, to learn lessons from previous struggles, to elect their own committees, and plan serious action.
Where there are no existing anti-cuts campaigns or Socialist Students groups, which is particularly the case in schools and colleges, Youth Fight for Education groups should be set up. Student groups can then be linked up on a city-wide, regional and national level.
Students in colleges and universities need to develop demands of their own college managements. Most occupations currently demand that university vice-chancellors issue statements opposing cuts and the rise in tuition fees. We should go further and demand that vice-chancellors do not implement cuts or fee increases, and instead set deficit budgets and join with students in campaigning for more funding.
Students should also make demands of local councils. It is councils who handle EMA payments and they should be pressured - like the Welsh Assembly - to keep EMA and fund it themselves. It would only cost councils a small proportion of their overall budget, while they mount a major campaign alongside students and parents for government to restore funding. Local anti-cuts unions are demanding that councils do not implement cuts.
Rightly, students are starting to link up with these campaigns, joining protests at councils. Students could go further, and support Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and anti-cuts candidates at the council elections in May 2011, demanding that councils maintain EMA.

The Role of Workers

Students have made a tremendous start but to defeat the enormity of the government's attacks they now need the might of the working class to come alongside them. There is a view amongst some in the student assemblies, and which was on display at the recent Coalition of Resistance conference, that writes off the working class and trade unions, and that simply advocates "new methods" and "direct action".
No one would argue against the freshness and audacity of the student actions. And of course students can achieve victories. In 1985, for example, a national school student strike involving 250,000 defeated the Tories' plans for slave labour YTS 'youth training schemes'. But the scale of the planned attacks is so great, with the capitalist class attempting to force the working class and youth to pay for their historic crisis, that student power alone is limited. The working class, on the other hand, when it moves, can threaten the very heart of capitalism. Strike action can bring society to a halt.
The student movement has been an inspiration to workers. On Day X, the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) has called for trade unionists to march behind their banner. How tremendous it would have been if there had been a national Trade Union Congress (TUC) demonstration on 11 December, as the Socialist Party had campaigned for. However, the conservative leadership of the TUC and some of the trade unions cannot hold back the working class forever - the public sector cuts are so devastating that workers will be forced to act. A movement is possible that brings together the energy of youth with the power of the working class. We must now demand that opposition to the increase in fees and the abolition of EMA should be one of the demands of the TUC 26 March demo.
The NSSN anti-cuts conference on 22 January will be an important step in bringing together students and trade unionists. Rooted in the trade unions, the NSSN has worked in alliance with some of the most militant workers at this stage, and in January will be debating launching a national anti-cuts campaign with the organised working class at its heart, alongside young people and community campaigns (see page 11).
The TUC has been forced, by pressure from Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) and the PCS civil service union Young Members Network, to organise a youth rally on 29 January. YFJ has decided to call a demonstration to this rally, to gather together young workers, unemployed and students. In March, the teaching union NUT and university and college union UCU are likely to be taking coordinated strike action. It is important that students support these actions. In fact students should visit the picket lines of other workers on strike to make links - as some students did, visiting the RMT tube worker pickets in London in November.
In these early stages of the movement, political understanding is raw, but young people are learning fast and, in tasting their collective strength for the first time, are also questioning everything. For many, an understanding will develop that at the root of this crisis in education is a crisis of capitalism, and that a socialist alternative is necessary.


Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Wikileaks and the role of US Imperialism

Whilst attempting to look at the WikiLeaks website, the focus of a furious attack by the US political establishment over recent weeks, I managed to see the video titled "Collateral Damage".
The video shows a horrifying missile assault by a US army helicopter in Iraq, resulting in the death of 17 civilians, including 2 journalists- an atrocity that took place back in 2007. The above mentioned video had originally been posted to the website in April this year but, with the furore surrounding the release of the US State Department cables, my interest had been tweaked and a long overdue visit to the site was in order.

The video is the tip of the iceberg in a long list of crimes committed by US Imperialism and its allies against working people all over the world. the released cables provide extensive evidence of criminality, from the widespread use of torture in Imperialist occupied Iraq, the murder of civilians as a consequence of NATO bombings in Afghanistan, the conducting of an illegal war in Yemen, as well as a number of secret agreements and understandings with client regimes.

Predictably, the US government has launched a high profile campaign to censor the site through a series of cyber attacks, and a campaign of character assasination against its founder, Julian Assange. Using the language of "national security", the political representatives of the capitalist class in the United States are attempting to prevent free speech and public scrtiny of its actions, by turning those who expose it into crminals themselves! While the more right wing elements within the US ruling class, such as Presidential hopeful Sarah "pitbull with lipstick" Palin, have called for the execution of Assange as an "enemy combatant", even liberal voices have raised the prospect of prosecuting him (assuming they can get their hands on him!) under the reactionary Espionage Act of 1917.

It appears the only person who has been directly 'threatened' by the leaks is Assange himself! Irrespective of the merits or demerits of the charges of sexual assault against him, the attempt by the US establishment to muzzle any expose of its crminal activities and secret diplomacy is an attack on the democratic rights of all, and is a warning shot to all who would shine a light on the reality of the policies carrried out in the world by the capitalist class and its political representatives. An assault on our democratic rights will be ultimately aimed at depriving us the ability to resist the burdens of their economic crisis.

For many, the detail and reality of the so-called 'secret' operations of capitalism's political representatives will be of no surprise. Socialists and class conscious workers have long been aware of the operations of the capitalist class. Back in 1971 the liberal New York Times published The Pentagon Papers, which exposed the actions of the then Lyndon B Johnson administration in the USA, as it expanded its war against the people of Vietnam by deliberately, and illegally, bombing Cambodia and Laos, and launching coastal raids against North Vietnam. Predictably again, the US goverment attempted to silence the opposition by using the infamous Espionage Act against those who had released the documents!

But, of even more significance for Socialists, was the actions of the Soviet revolutionary government upon the coming to power of the working class and its allies back in October 1917.
Led by the Bolshevik Party, one of the first actions of the new government was publish for all to see the secret agreements, treaties and diplomatic documents of the ousted Czarist regime and it's Foreign Ministry! They sought to demonstrate to the people of the world what the Bolsheviks already knew, that the so-called First World War was, in fact, a war created by the ruling classes seeking to expand their own, narrow Imperialist interests.

This action of the government was carried out by the new People's Commissar for the foreign ministry, Leon Trotksy. In a statement, November 1917, Trotsky had this to say:

"Secret diplomacy is a necessary tool for a propertied minority which is compelled to deceive the majority in order to subject it to its interests. Imperialism, with its dark plans of conquest and its robber alliances and deals, developed the system of secret diplomacy to the highest level. The struggle against imperialism which is exhausting and destroying the peoples of Europe is at the same time a struggle against capitalist diplomacy, which has cause enough to fear the light of day. The Russian people, and the peoples of Europe and the whole world, should learn the documentary truth about the plans forged in secret by the financiers and industrialists together with their parlaimentary and diplomatic agents....
The abolition of secret diplomacy is the primary condition for an honest, popular, truly democratic foreign policy. The Soviet Government regards it as a duty to carry out such a policy in practice. That is precisely why, while openly proposing an immediate armistice to all the belligerant peoples and their governments, we are at the same time publishing these treaties and agreements, which have lost all binding force for the Russian workers, soldiers, and peasants who have taken power into their own hands."

Unfortunately for the US ruling class, Leon Trotsky is beyond their hands, but his ideas still live on, as do the historic actions of a government that acted in the interests of working people, both in Soviet Russia and around the world!

United Left Alliance newsletter

Please see this newsletter by the newly formed United Left Alliance in Ireland - these are positive developments in the class-struggle, as the Irish workers face a new round of savage attacks. All made possible with the influence and programme of the CWI in Ireland - the Socialist Party.


United Left Alliance

Tuesday, 7 December 2010