Monday, 31 January 2011

Egypt: Independent unions announce a new Trade Union Federation

See the press release below, taken from here:
Solidarity with the Egyptian Revolution! See here for the CWI's Marxist analysis of events so far:

Today, representatives of the of the Egyptian labor movement, made up of the independent Egyptian trade unions of workers in real estate tax collection, the retirees, the technical health professionals and representatives of the important industrial areas in Egypt: Helwan, Mahalla al-Kubra, the tenth of Ramadan city, Sadat City and workers from the various industrial and economic sectors such as: garment & textiles, metals industry, pharmaceuticals, chemical industry, government employees, iron and steel, automotive, etc… And they agreed to hold a press conference at 3:30pm this afternoon in Tahrir Square next to Omar Effendi Company store in downtown Cairo to announce the organization of the new Federation of Egyptian Trade Unions and to announce the formation of committees in all factories and enterprises to protect, defend them and to set a date for a general strike. And to emphasize that the labor movement is in the heart and soul of the Egyptian Peoples’ revolution and its emphasis on the support for the six requirements as demanded by the Egyptian People's Revolution. To emphasize the economic and democratic demands voiced by the independent labor movement through thousands of strikes, sit-ins and protests by Egyptian workers in the past years.

Socialist Party meeting Tue 1st Feb: The ConDem Cuts Agenda

'Broken Britain: The ConDem Cuts Agenda'
A talk by Dave Reid of Socialist Party Wales

Cheltenham Road Library, Bristol, BS6 5QX
All welcome - come along!

Our visiting speaker will spell out the true scale of the ConDem plan to destroy the welfare state as we know it, and how it is based not merely on an ideological hatred of public services and trade union rights, but also represents the deep crisis of world capitalism itself. 
We are facing a massive attack on jobs and services – jobs, education, health care, the right to affordable social housing, benefits, pensions, decent road and rail networks – and the truth is that anything can be sacrificed in order to placate the credit ratings agencies and their friends the bankers - the same people who brought us to the edge of the precipice in the first place! He will also talk about how communities and trade unions, standing together with a clear programme, can break the coalition and defeat the cuts. 

Friday, 28 January 2011

Demonstrations on Saturday 29th Jan 2011 - Manchester, London, Stroud, Devon...

There is a whole host of demonstrations against the ConDem cuts coming up this Saturday the 29th - not just against cuts to education budgets and EMA, but to all job cuts, to the health service, to public services, and against the rising cost of living. Workers and students unite to defeat all cuts!

Manchester - There is a students and workers demonstration involving the Trades Union Congress, the National Union of Students, the lecturer's union UCU, the civil servants union PCS and others. The demonstration will march from Manchester Museum to join the TUC & NUS rally in Platts Field, starting at 2pm.

London - Another demo to defend education and defend public services. Leaving from University of London Union at 12pm.

Stroud, Glos. - Protest Against cuts & privatisation, called by Gloucestershire anti-cuts groups. Assemble 10am in Stratford Park car park, march to Stroud Sub Rooms for Rally at 11.30am.

Barnstaple, Devon - North Devon Rally Against the Cuts – Assemble at Guildhall, Barnstaple, 2pm to 4pm.

Ghannouchi announces "reshuffle", but the Jasmine Revolution must continue

Ghannouchi announced another "reshuffle" late on Thursday, with more of Ben Ali's former accomplices leaving the interim government, but of course Ghannouchi himself has kept his job. He is still claiming that there will be "transition to democracy" at some point in the next six months.
The people of Tunisia will not accept this for a moment, and renewed protests are needed to oust this government once and for all. The UGTT, Tunisian trade-union federation, has quite rightly refused to join the government but nonetheless has endorsed this reshuffle as part of the so-called "transition". This endorsement can only help to dampen the movement and is despite their positive calls for the nationalisation of the former regime's assets under the control of democratic committees.
The statement of 'The 14th of January Front' calls for a new interim government and parliamentary elections, this front is made up of the Communist Workers Party and various nationalist and 'patriotic' groups. It represents a step-back from the previous statement of the Communist's when they called for democratic committees rooted in workplaces and communities to take over the running of the country, but this call was not extended to the armed forces.
Nobody wants a new dictator but any concessions to Ghannouchi or others who call for a 'slow transition to democracy' opens up the danger that they will seize the revolution for themselves and things will not improve. Gradual reforms and attempts at lowering prices will not be enough so long as the economy is in the hands of ruling cliques and multinationals. The majority of the population will still be kept out of the political process and will still go hungry.
Young people and workers in many countries (Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Yemen, etc) now look with hope at the events of Tunisia. It would be possible to appeal to the workers, young people and the unemployed of the other countries to organise a mass movement similar to that of Tunisia. This would strengthen the Tunisian revolution itself. Ultimately, it is not only in one country that things have to change, it should happen all around the world.
The Jasmine Revolution must go forward. There needs to be a complete social change, a total break with Ben Ali's cronies, with French and American imperialism, and with capitalism itself. A socialist revolution is needed to carry out the nationalisation of the major sectors of the economy under the control and democratic management of the population. Democratic committees must form in every neighbourhood and also be extended to the army and police.
The Socialist Party gives full support to this process and has faith in the strength of the people themselves. The people are far more militant that the so-called leaders of the opposition parties and of the UGTT. This is shown by the heroic attempts at moving from a state of general strike to that of worker's control, by forcibly evicting bosses and manages from workplaces. That is because half-measures are not enough for them - they are fighting for a dignified existence, real jobs, a future for young people, and a free and democratic society.

For the latest CWI reports  (in French) -
For Al-Jazeera's analysis -

For the UGTT statement of the 18th Jan -
For the '14th Jan Front' statement -

NSSN anti-cuts debate: Alex Gordon, Bristol RMT

Ireland - Raymond Fitzpatrick on split from Labour Party and formation of ULA

United Left Alliance candidate from Laois Offaly explains why he and others split from the Labour Party to join the United Left Alliance.

Raymond Fitzpatrick on formation of Laois/Offaly United Left Alliance from Paula Geraghty on Vimeo.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Lebanon: Hezbollah-led opposition takes majority in government

For the building of a mass workers alternative against sectarianism, war and poverty
Aysha Zaki, Beirut, CWI Lebanon

Yesterday (25th Jan), Najib Mikati was appointed new prime minister by the Hezbollah-led opposition which has taken majority in parliament.
Meanwhile Sunni-sectarian protests are being held by thousands of supporters of outgoing Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Tripoli, Beirut and elsewhere.
The opposition led by the Iran-backed Shia Islamist Resistance Hezbollah had pulled out of the pro-Western government earlier in January. This followed a row over a UN tribunal investigating the 2005 murder of Rafik Hariri, the father of Western-backed caretaker Saad Hariri.
Hezbollah gained support from parliamentary deputies to allow Mikati, a billionaire Sunni businessman, to form the next government. Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt and six members of his party went over to the opposition parties, allowing Hezbollah to form the core of a future government.
While a power-struggle takes place amongst sectarian-based parties, many Lebanese workers and youth are disenchanted with politics while some look to the inspiring developments in Tunisia as a way forward. 

In the aftermath of the toppling of the Saad Hariri government by the opposition, which pulled out its ministers from the governing cabinet, the crisis has been renewed with tensions building up daily in society. The opposition and pro-government bloc have each been flexing their muscles, by threatening to take to the streets in an attempt to re-mobilize mass support around the same issues which crippled the country after the assassination of Saad Hariri’s father, Rafik Hariri, the former prime minister, in 2005. Working people will pay the price, just as they did for the political stalemate over the past few months, for the sectarian strife that may result. The Lebanese ruling class presides over a society polarised along sectarian, political and especially class lines, as a result of the brutal poverty conditions faced by workers and the unemployed...

Protests spread to Yemen

From the BBC, with videos, a socialist perspective on events in the Arab world coming soon...

Yemen protests: Thousands call on president to leave

Thousands of Yemenis are demonstrating in the capital Sanaa, calling on Ali Abdullah Saleh, president for more than 30 years, to step down.
This comes after mass protests in Egypt and a popular uprising in Tunisia that ousted its long-time leader.
Yemeni opposition members and youth activists gathered in four parts of the city, including Sanaa University, chanting anti-government slogans.
They also called for economic reforms and an end to corruption.
Yemenis complain of mounting poverty among a growing young population and frustration with a lack of political freedoms.
The country has also been plagued by a range of security issues, including a separatist movement in the south and an uprising of Shia Houthi rebels in the north.
There are fears that Yemen is becoming a leading al-Qaeda haven, with the high numbers of unemployed youths seen as potential recruits for Islamist militant groups.

Easton Ani-Cuts meeting tonight

From -

BADACA Easton Group

Thursday, 27 January 2011 starting at 20:00
These meeting are to set up an Anti-Cuts group in Easton. The other group which has already met in East Bristol will be based in Fishponds. The group will elect a convenor who will represent it on the BADACA Steering Committee.
Meetings have been called at different times to involve as many people as possible.
We'll be doing stalls whenever possible leading up to the date, please contact if you're up for joining in.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Billy Bragg to play Exeter Anti-Cuts gig - Monday 29th Jan

Joe Higgins MEP defends rights of landless peoples in Congo and Cameroon

Egypt: Mass demonstrations stun Mubarak

"Tunisia is the solution!" chanted Egyptian protesters yesterday - the spark has been lit, and the spirit of revolt is spreading. We send solidarity and full support to the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions - for internationalism and for socialism!

Report by David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI England and Wales)

The biggest demonstrations against the Egyptian government in over 30 years have stunned President Hosni Mubarak’s repressive regime. The demonstrations were called on Police Day, January 25, a national holiday that marks the 1952 struggle by the Ismailia police against the British Occupation. Mubarak’s police force today is the very opposite of a liberation movement! It is used to violently prevent workers and youth from demonstrating their anger against the corrupt and fabulously wealthy ruling elite.

Directly inspired by the magnificent movement of the Tunisian youth and workers, those calling for the 25 January demonstrations included the ‘April 6th Youth Movement’ and the ‘We are all Khaled Saeid’ Facebook group, named after the young Alexandria man who was brutally murdered by police in 2010 after exposing police corruption.
An estimated 15,000 people took part a protest in central Cairo, starting in different parts of the city and converging on Tahrir Square. Hundreds of protestors broke security cordons and were joined by passersby — including families with their children. Banners reading, “Tunisia is the solution” were held aloft. Others called for the removal of the Egyptian regime and dismissal of the interior minister. Posters showing Hosni Mubarak and his hated son, Gamal, were ripped down.
At first, police appeared unsure how to respond, faced with much larger numbers than the few hundred who usually appear on protests. They then used tear gas and water cannon on the marchers. But the demonstrators attacked a water cannon vehicle, opening the driver’s door and ordering the man out of the vehicle. The youth, in particular, showed great bravery in confronting the police, standing their ground and chasing the police back on several occasions
There were also reports of protestors clashing with security forces in Cairo’s northern Mattariya district, 15,000 protesting in the northern town of Kafr El-Sheikh, 2,000 in al-Mahalla al-Kubra, where there was a big strike in 2006, and more protests in Alexandria, Dar El-Salam, Boulaq, Maadi, Ard El-Lewa and Imbaba. In Sinai, the Al-Goura airport road in Rafah and Al-Mahdiya road were blocked with cars and burning tyres. In Suez, two demonstrators were killed by police firing rubber bullets and tear gas.
Previous protests called by Facebook sites and youth groups, on 6 April 2009 and 2010, were met with mixed responses. Usually the police successfully swamped city centres and prevented large groups from gathering. Protests in Cairo normally last about an hour, but yesterday’s continued late into the night, until the square was eventually cleared by police. Twitter and Bambuser, which streams video from mobile phones, were blocked.


Some opposition parties had supported the call for protest – the Nasserists, Ayman Nour’s al-Ghad and al-Karama. Others, including al-Wafd and al-Tagammu, the ex-workers’ party, did not. The largest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, appeared confused as whether to support the movement or not. Its leaders prevaricated in the days leading up to the 25 January, while youth members set up Facebook pages in support of the protests. A Muslim Brotherhood spokesman said: “The protest in Tahrir Square erupted spontaneously… (we) did not send anyone. The government knows exactly who’s staging these demonstrations. We hope it heeds the people’s demands."
The Coptic Church called on its members to avoid the demonstrations, just three weeks after hundreds of Christians protested on the streets after the Alexandria New Year’s Eve bomb and were met with police attacks. A bishop said: “The Holy Book orders us to obey our kings and rulers; calls for protest are destructive so we are praying for Egypt’s safety.”
Of course, the government has no intention of heeding the people’s demands for jobs, a living minimum wage, and an end to corruption, police torture and repression. It may make concessions in the heat of mass protests, but as Tunisia showed, each concession will increase the confidence of workers and youth to increase their demands.
The determination of workers and youth to stand up to the regime marks a new stage in Egypt. Never again will the Mubarak regime be able to maintain its grip by the exercise of fear. So far, the Egyptian working class has barely flexed a muscle, but already the mood of the country has been electrified.
What is urgently needed is for workers to form their own party with a socialist programme to transform society. Socialist call for a living minimum wage of at least LE1200; guaranteed jobs for all; the right to strike and organize democratic independent trade unions; a massive programme of house building, education and health; an end to police torture and brutality; free elections to a democratic constituent assembly and for a majority workers’ and rural workers’ government. These must be linked to the nationalisation of the big corporations, the banks and large estates and their democratic planning to meet the needs of workers and the poor.
The spark lit by the Tunisian revolution has lit a flame now spreading across the Arabic world. Events in Egypt will fan the flames until every rotten regime in the region is overthrown and the resources of the region are used to end the poverty and repression its people have suffered for so long.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Socialist Party meeting Tue 25th Jan: How will socialism work?

Bristol Central Socialist Party: How will socialism work?

Tuesday 25th January


Cheltenham Road Library, Bristol, BS6 5QX

Chris Young will be looking at how a socialist society would be run: Is socialism democratic? Does revolution always lead to dictatorship? How would we share resources? How would decisions be made? Email for more details.

NSSN: Anti-cuts campaign launched

Nearly 600 people, mostly workers with elected positions in trade union branches, trades councils, workplaces and anti-cuts alliances, filled a hall in Camden on Saturday 22 January for the special anti-cuts conference of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN).

By Judy Beishon
Read more and see videos here,
Most of the conference agenda was devoted to democratic debate on two motions.
Motion 'one', from a majority of the NSSN steering committee, proposed that the NSSN launches an "anti-cuts campaign, bringing trade unions and communities together to save all jobs and services".
Motion 'two', from a minority of the steering committee, proposed that the NSSN should not launch an anti-cuts campaign, and instead should "do everything constructive, through discussions with Coalition of Resistance, Right to Work and other groups, to build and launch a single national anti-cuts organisation early in 2011" (see appendix for the two motions).
In the vote after the debate, a potentially highly significant step forward for the anti-cuts movement was taken when 305 trade union branch and workplace representatives ensured the victory of motion one, against 89 for motion two (NB: nearly 200 observers and anti-cuts campaign representatives also attended the conference but were not part of this vote, to respect the democratic structure of the NSSN - see the last two paragraphs of this report).
A committee of eleven people, six from trade unions and five from community anti-cuts campaigns, was then elected unopposed, to lead the NSSN's new anti-cuts campaign.
This decision, taken after the most thorough and democratic debate yet in the anti-cuts movement, has opened the door to the creation of a national body that can democratically involve and coordinate the widest possible layer of workers, community activists and students in countering the Con-Dem government's onslaught, armed with a programme and strategy for victory.
The proposers of the new campaign have made it clear that they will discuss with the other national anti-cuts organisations and explore the extent to which united work can be achieved.
Before the conference debate got underway, there were short platform speeches from Steve Bell about the Medirest health workers' dispute, Mark Bergfeld from the National Union of Students, Stu Melvin from Reading 'Save our Services' and Alex Gordon, president of the Rail, Maritime and Transport workers' union (RMT).
Alex Gordon reminded everyone that the NSSN was set up five years ago as an initiative of the RMT and has since organised many protests, fringe meetings at trade union conferences and other events.
He complimented the NSSN's "inclusive and non-sectarian" way of conducting conferences as contrasting with a "top down, platform speaker led approach adopted in the past and even today by some other organisations".
On the day's debate, Alex warned that if the NSSN was to take a spectator seat, to not engage in the battle against the government's austerity measures, it would damage its credibility in the eyes of all serious trade unionists who are fighting the attacks.
As the pre-conference discussions were sharp at times, he received applause for urging: "No splits, no recriminations, no gifts to those who wish ill to what we've built".

Opening the debate

Moving motion one, NSSN secretary Linda Taaffe stressed that the "enormous power of workers" has to be unleashed to stop the worst attacks on people's living standards since 1922.
This means following the TUC demonstration on 26 March with a one-day public sector strike, as a step towards a one-day general strike involving the private sector as well.
But we're not just fighting cuts from the government, said Linda, but also those being imposed by Labour councillors, who say in words they are opposed to cuts but most of them go on to vote for cuts in the council chambers.
Movers of motion one advocate that Labour councils should refuse to pass on government cuts, as Liverpool and Lambeth councils did in the 1980s. Movers of motion two, however, want to "stroke the feathers" of Labour councillors, which sends out the wrong message on the choice these councillors have: to reject cuts or make cuts.
Angry at pre-conference accusations that the movers of motion one are 'splitters' for proposing to set up a third national anti-cuts body, Linda mentioned that the NSSN was set up a long time before Right to Work (RtW) and Coalition of Resistance (CoR), so supporters of these organisations have no substance for their attacks.
We want the NSSN anti-cuts campaign to be as successful as the anti-Poll Tax campaign was, with its 18 million non-payers, said Linda in her concluding remarks.
Two speakers moved motion two, the first being NSSN treasurer George Binette, who said that trade union and shop steward density is weaker today than it was in the 1980s, so the NSSN's key task is to establish the base for trade union resistance to the cuts.
He argued that everyone in the NSSN is against all cuts and we need a single anti-cuts movement.
Seconding the motion was NSSN steering committee member Pete Firmin, who also put an emphasis on the need for "one democratic anti-cuts campaign".

Delegates' contributions

A lively and fair debate then got underway, as speakers were called in from the floor in equal numbers from the two opposing positions. Two NSSN officers chaired the discussion, one from each side of the debate.
Glenn Kelly, a staff-side rep at Bromley council, was first in. He answered the movers of motion two by saying that if there was an established national anti-cuts organisation in existence with a strategy for defeating the cuts, then the NSSN wouldn't need to be proposing another one.
We need a united campaign that doesn't just say it's against the cuts but that does something about them, Glenn argued. He also asked why RtW supporters talk about 'unity' when they are setting up local RtW groups as rivals to established local anti-cuts alliances.
On the issue of what attitude anti-cuts campaigns should take to Labour councillors and MPs, we should work with any that seriously oppose all cuts but as Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist pointed out when he spoke: "Labour councillors opposing the cuts on Labour councils are rarer than poor bankers in this country!"

Attempts by members of the SWP and RtW (controlled by the SWP) to deny they build up the anti-cuts credentials of Labour Party representatives who will vote for cuts, were undermined by the fact that they were giving out flyers for the RtW convention on 12 February that advertise Labour MP Diane Abbott as a speaker.

Abbott has called for the government and councils to be "mindful" about the race and gender distribution of job losses rather than making a call for no job losses at all and for Labour councils not to make them.
SWP member Phoebe Watkins also undermined their protestations when she said uncritically in her contribution that Camden United Against Cuts campaigns with Labour councillors who are "iffy" about the cuts the council is making.
Dave Walsh, delegated from Liverpool trades council, spelt the reality out bluntly when he told of the 4,000 job losses that Liverpool city council is planning and said: "If I go to the workers to say 'work with Labour councillors', I'll need a bodyguard!".
It is not just what is said, but what is not said. Roger Bannister from Knowsley noted that motion two has no mention of the issue of council-led cuts.
Nancy Taaffe from Waltham Forest Anti-Cuts Union said that when RtW in Walthamstow invited a Labour MP to speak at its anti-cuts meeting that was attended by workers threatened with job losses, it was only Socialist Party members who asked the MP if he would support a council 'deficit budget' to prevent job losses.

He said he wouldn't.

The issue of whether all cuts should be fought or whether some have to be accepted, was taken up by John McInally from the PCS union. He explained that for supporters of motion one, "no cuts and no privatisation has to be unequivocal. Anything less is the road to division and defeat". It's not the number of campaigns that's the issue, but what they stand for, he added.

Strength of unions

George Binette had emphasised the weaknesses of the trade union movement rather than its potential strength when moving motion two and this was echoed by several supporters of the motion in the debate.
NSSN steering committee minority and SWP member Ray Morrell repeated the point that the movement is weaker than in the 1970s and 1980s, and added: "The left isn't big enough to lead the anti-cuts movement".
NUJ vice president, Donnacha DeLong, couldn't put enough emphasis on the weaknesses when he said: "The number of shop stewards has been falling and falling and falling and continues to fall. Trade union membership is falling. We don't have a sleeping giant as we had in the 80s".
On the contrary, the workers' movement is precisely that, a sleeping giant, and it is beginning to wake up. While trade union membership is lower today than in the 1980s, the TUC organises over six million workers and has enormous potential power.
Some of the contributors in favour of motion two were only arguing for the NSSN to continue to build workers' solidarity and the shop stewards' movement.
But no one in the majority has ever suggested that the NSSN should stop playing this role; the NSSN will remain in existence to further help, coordinate and develop the activist layer in the trade unions.
Unfortunately the chair of the NSSN, Dave Chapple, said in his contribution that he would resign from the NSSN if motion one was agreed, as for him this would indicate domination of the NSSN by the Socialist Party.
This point was taken up by London RMT regional organiser Steve Hedley, who said forcefully that there's no alternative for the NSSN other than to campaign against the cuts; "I can't go back to my workplace and say 'we're not campaigning on these 800 job cuts, let's campaign on workplace stress instead'.
"I'm not in the Socialist Party; we're not talking about any party here, but the NSSN. The NSSN isn't setting itself up as a rival campaign, but is putting the organised working class at the forefront of the movement and for that reason I'm asking you to support the majority motion".
Tony Mulhearn, a PCS branch delegate and member of the 'Liverpool 47' councillors who led the socialist Liverpool council in the 1980s, also responded to Dave Chapple's contribution.
He asked the rhetorical question: "Comrades in the majority are trying to impose their will but those in the minority aren't?" He added that in all debates in the labour movement, obviously the different sides involved want their own ideas to win out, but "what you don't do is take the ball home".
A Socialist Party member involved in building Cardiff Against Cuts, Ross Saunders, showed in his contribution that the Socialist Party isn't seeking domination of the NSSN anti-cuts campaign.
Instead of local anti-cuts groups being told they "must join CoR or RtW", he described the NSSN majority proposal as a "crucial step to formalise the steps being taken already" by anti-cuts groups forming and linking up with each other, aided by NSSN supporters as they are doing in south Wales.
Also, Socialist Party member and assistant general secretary of the PCS union, Chris Baugh, made it clear when he spoke that the Socialist Party wants the leaders of all the anti-cuts campaigns to meet together to discuss how the anti-cuts movement can be built.
Another red herring thrown into the discussion, was when a SWP member suggested that students would be excluded from the NSSN anti-cuts campaign. Socialist Students organiser Claire Laker Mansfield responded that the student protests have shaken the government and that students have a very important role to play in the anti-cuts campaigning, but they can't "go it alone".
Katrine Williams, in the PCS union and Cardiff Against Cuts also emphasised this point when she said: "The anti-cuts movement needs to involve everyone - students, local community campaigns etc, but it needs the backbone of the organised working class, which is why the NSSN should set up this campaign".


There were 30 contributions altogether in the debate, 15 for motion one and 15 for motion two. Giving equal time to a minority opinion in the debate, a proposal that was originated by Socialist Party members on the NSSN officers' committee, showed the exemplary democracy of this conference.
In contrast, the conference of CoR had no contributions from the floor in its plenary discussions, never mind allowing minority opinions to be expressed.
Right to Work is advertising a large number of platform speakers for its conference on 12 February, so its plenary sessions may also be largely 'top-down' rallies.
Another aspect of the democracy at this NSSN special conference was that the decision to set up the anti-cuts campaign was regarded as the property of trade union and workplace representatives, as the NSSN was constituted with this layer being the decision makers.
However, while the NSSN will continue to function and develop on this basis, its anti-cuts campaign can have a different voting structure, fully involving anti-cuts bodies in its decision making process. The democratic, working class backbone of the NSSN can now be taken into the anti-cuts movement in a determined way, to strengthen and build the fight back, demanding no cuts, no privatisations and no tax rises.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Portugal: Trade unionists attacked and arrested

International solidarity needed!
By CWI Portugal reporters
Yesterday, at the end of a national meeting of 500 shop stewards and leaders of the Public Sector Unions Front, (held near the Parliament and the Prime Minister’s official house in Lisbon) police attacked the trade unionists and arrested two of them.
José Manuel Marques, from Executive Commission of STAL (National Union of Municipal Workers), and Marco Rosa, from SPZS (South Zone Teacher Union) and from the Secretariat of FRENPROF (Federation of Teachers Unions) was arrested and taken to Calvário police station.
Marco was handcuffed during the almost three hours that the police held the two trade unionists.
They are been charged with ‘disobedience’ (Marques) and ‘aggression to a police officer’ (Rosa) and will be present at court today at
The public sector unions’ meeting was called against the backcloth of increased anger against the government attacks on working-class people, both in public as well in private sector.
In the public sector, wage cuts, wage freezes, tax increases, cuts in benefits - together with sharp rises in food prices, basic needs and commodities – have caused this underlying anger to spread like a forest fire.
The action of the police, which in Portugal’s recent history is seen as unusual, reflects the political authoritarianism of the so-called Partido Socialista and its leader, José Sócrates.
The ruling class knows that sooner or later the working class will build resistance and fight-back against these attacks on living standards. So they are trying to intimidate workers to accept the attacks and prevent them engaging in struggle. But workers know that struggle is the only way forward.
During the three hours of Marques’s and Rosa’s detention protesters kept a defiant vigil in front of the Prime Minister’s house, demanding the release of our two comrades.
The protest brought together trade unionists from the public and private sectors, Members of Parliament from PCP and Left Bloc and other social activists.
We demand:
- Stop the harassment of union members
- Drop all charges on our comrades
- An independent inquiry into the police action
Please send solidarity messages to:,
Videos could be seen in Portuguese TVs www.sic.ptwww.rtp.ptand

Thursday, 20 January 2011

NSSN: Fighting cuts and privatisation!

Circular from the National Shop Stewards Network:

This Saturday will see fighting Trade unionists and anti cuts/community groups from across England, Scotland & Wales come together to develop & debate a strategy to fight the cuts, THIS will be a key conference to start the year and we want YOU to join us. 

AGENDA: A fuller agenda will be available on the day. 

10.30am Registration (Please come early!)
11.30am Chair’s opening remarks
11.40am Guest Speakers including Alex Gordon President RMT
12 Two motions proposed
12.20pm Discussion from floor
2.45pm Votes
3.20 Chair’s closing remarks

Feel free to bring banners, placards, posters and flyers etc!

Look forward to seeing you Saturday!

Practical info:
LUNCH: There will be lunch and refreshments available to buy but NO break.

ACCESS: The main conference is on the first floor, 40 steps or a lift. (Lift will be in operation).

TRAVEL - Nearest station Morning Crescent (3mins) Kings Cross & Euston 10-15 minutes walk. Check TFL regarding engineering works etc (Lines closed: Waterloo & City, Hammersmith & City & Circle. 6 other lines are part closed. FULL service on Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria & Central lines.

The National Shop Stewards Network was set up by the RMT some years back and we have industrial links to some of the most militant trade unionists in Britain.

Phone: 020 8522 1156
Facebook ‘Like us’ -

BADACA: Council backs down on Bristol rally

Circular from the Bristol & District Anti-Cuts Alliance:

Brsitol City Council has backed down on its refusal to consider our application for a rally on College Green on 19 February.
A number of people have asked why we need their permission in the first place. The Council owns the assembly point, Castle Park, and manages College Green on behalf of the Dean and Chapter of Bristol Cathedral. Bristol & District Anti-Cuts Alliance is sponsored by and has affiliations from trade union branches and a number of community organisations. We have a duty of care towards the members of these bodies to ensure a safe off-road assembly and dispersal point for any demonstration. We aslo need public liability insurance otherwise our sponsors and affiliates could become liable for any damages claim against us. Our trade union sponsors need to closely protect their funds: they need every penny of them to fight the coming battles against redundancy and privatisation.
If you put a stage and sound system on College Green it becomes an event and the Council’s Events Policy applies. This requires six weeks notice, insurance, a £500 bond, risk assessment and all sorts of other health and safety measures. It is also difficult to hire sound and other equipment for College Green without an events licence because of insurance.
On our demonstration in October, we submitted detailed plans, including a traffic management plan, and got a licence even though the application went in four weeks before the event. The Council and the police said the demo was well-organised.
We met Cllr Barbara Janke, Leader of the City Council, after the trouble with the police in October. We put to her that six weeks notice for a political demonstration was unreasonable and she agreed.
The Open Meeting of the Alliance on 13 January decided on another demonstration and rally for 19 February, the Saturday before Bristol City Council sets its cuts budget, which will have exactly the same arrangements as the October one. When we telephoned the Events Office of the Council to notify them that a licence application was on its way we were told categorically that it was too late and the application could not be considered.
The effluent then hit the atmospheric circulatory mechanism and as a result, we were told by a Council officer yesterday that there had been a “misunderstanding”. We will now get a licence.
The police, in contrast, seem relaxed about it all even though there is a university rag procession on the same day but we have a meeting with them and who knows what they will come up with.
The demonstration and rally would have gone ahead with or without a licence. We cannot accept even more limitations on the right of assembly of the citizens of Bristol before the seat of their local government, the Council House. However, we prefer to do things properly.

Unite the Union: Don't Break Britain - cuts kill communities

Unite officially launched it's campaign yesterday - Don't Break Britain - cuts kill communities - as the UK's biggest trade union, this is a massive step forward, but in order to be effective it must be linked to local and community Anti-Cuts groups and follow a program of co-ordinated strike action across all sectors, that could break up the weak coalition government and force cutting councils of any complexion to retreat. That is what the National Shop Stewards Network will be trying to achieve at the conference on Saturday 22nd. See more about Unite's campaign below:

It is clear that Cameron and Clegg’s Con-Dem coalition government is determined to radically alter the face of the UK’s public services.
One agenda, cuts
We are already seeing cuts to community and social care, local government, social housing, the NHS, education, youth workers, debt advice, benefits and defence - nothing will escape the axe as government slashes Britain’s public services to the bone.
Changes are being rushed through while the country reels from the deficit, a massive debt caused by the reckless speculation of some in the banking sector.
Billions slashed
In May, the emergency budget slashed £6 billion. Even more drastic cuts of between 25 to 40 per cent threaten the very fabric of UK life. Details will follow with the ‘Comprehensive Spending Review’ on 20 October.
Already the government has produced plans to: 
  • Allow the private sector to take over the NHS
  • Put the pensions of all public sector workers under the ‘Hutton review’
  • Scrap the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme

Official estimates are that over 1.3 million jobs will be lost due to the cuts split between the public and private sector.
A better way
Britain is the sixth wealthiest economy in the world. Our economy would grow if government invested in affordable homes, schools and support for local economies.  Tax loopholes could be closed generating billions for the exchequer.
Unite's message is a simple one. 
Britain is a great country, with world class services.  So get active and start the fight back – stop the cuts in your communities – take action now.
Don’t Break Britain – Cuts Kill Communities

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Bristol City council attempts to ban anti-cuts demo on 19th Feb

Undemocratic and arbitrary rules saying that demonstrations and marches need 6-weeks notice are being waved at the BADACA, but this cannot stop the anti-cuts movement and the march will go ahead as planned - do the Liberal Democrats realise they are trying to use legislation the like of which is not even in force now in Tunisia?

From the Bristol & District Anti-Cuts Alliance:

Bristol City Council has banned a rally that Bristol & District Anti-Cuts Alliance intends to hold on Saturday 19 February.
Our plan is to follow the traditional route of assembling at Castle Park and marching to a rally on College Green in front of the Council House.
When we applied for permission to use Castle Park and College Green they refused, saying we were out of the six weeks notice the require for an "event". This did not stop them last time and, in discussions we had with the LibDem Leader of the Council, Barbara Janke, she agreed that this notice period should not apply to political rallies which have to respond to events.
The date of our next march is the Saturday before the Council sets its cuts budget on Tuesday 22 February. It seems that the LibDems are getting a bit nervous and abandoning any commitment they might once have had to civil liberties and the freedom of assembly after all, the only places you can assemble in central Bristol are owned by the Council.
We will not abandon our right to protest at times which are appropriate. We have complained directly to Cllr Janke. The march and rally will go ahead; the question for the Council is whether they want it organised or not and we call on all trade union branches, community organisations and BADACA supporters to contact their councillors to get this decision overturned. We do not want chaos. We want a very large, orderly march and rally which reflects the opposition of the people of Bristol to the destruction of their public services.
In contrast, the police seem quite relaxed about it all and have not stated any objection.
There will also be a lobby of the Council's budget meeting on the afternoon of 22 February which as many people as possible should attend.

Monday, 17 January 2011

PCS members overwhelmingly support anti-cuts action

Well done to the PCS as union for being able to demonstrate a true commitment to democracy, and well done to PCS members for their fighting spirit - you cannot lie down and take a kicking just because Cameron and Osborne say 'we are all in it together'. The Socialist Party will support PCS, and all fighting unions, every step of the way.

Taken from here:

Massive support for campaign against cuts

14 January 2011
PCS members have voted by a massive majority to back the union's campaign against cuts to public services, jobs, pay and pensions.
In a national ballot 90% rejected changes to the civil service redundancy scheme – and 96% supported the union's national campaign, ‘There is an alternative’.
More than 80,000 people voted in the ballot – a turnout of 32%.
The union has called on the government to reopen negotiations to agree a new scheme that protects members’ rights.
Meetings will be organised in workplaces covered by the CSCS so members can discuss the next stage of the campaign.
Across the country PCS branches are taking part in anti-cuts campaigns and putting forward the argument that there is an alternative to austerity.
And PCS members are urged to attend the trade union organised ‘March for the alternative’ on Saturday 26 March, with their friends and family.