Thursday, 30 June 2011

Strike and day of action today!


BADACA is working together with PCS, NUT, ATL, UCU and Bristol Trades Union Council to make the day of action on June 30th a success. A demonstration is planned in the city centre in the middle of the day along with other events highlighting the extent of the cuts and the fightback against them. Full details of the day coming soon. We will need people to help distribute publicity.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

East Bristol Socialist Party Eve of Strike Meeting

Socialist Party Eve of Strike Meeting 
Strikes Can Make a Difference
Speakers (in a personal capacity): 
Mark Baker, PCS 

Wednesday June 29th  
Cross Keys Pub,  
Fishponds Road, BS16 3BA 

June the 30th will see a co-ordinated strike of public sector workers that will shake the ConDem government. Civil servants, teachers and lecturers have balloted to strike against the attacks on public sector pensions and public services. The National Union of Teachers has voted 92% in favour of the action, while the Association of Teachers and Lecturers has voted 83% in favour of its first ever strike. On the eve of this historic action East Bristol Socalist Party will discuss the significance of the strike and how to go forward. Is there an alternative to austerity? Can industrial action really stop the cuts and bring down the ConDem coalition? Can there be a better world? The Socialist Party believes that all of these things are possible, but only if we organise together to end capitalism and build a socialist world.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION or to join the Socialist Party, CONTACT MATT GORDON (Branch secretary) on 07936712962 or

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Greece: The struggle for democracy

Article by Xekinima (CWI in Greece) -

The Greek trade unions have called for the first 48 hour general strike since 1992, on 29 and 30 June. The movement of the ‘enraged’ and the activists of the workers’ movement demanded this step, against the vote in the Greek parliament on the second memorandum - a new package of austerity imposed by the troika (EU, IMF and European Central Bank). This vote is planned to take place on 30 June.

The battle is now at a new peak with the attempt of the government to ignore the occupations of the squares, the ongoing strike of the electricity workers to stop the memorandum and the plans for further privatisations, the general strike on 15 June and now the new challenge of a 48 hour general strike at the end of June.

Below we publish the proposals and demands whichXekinima, the CWI in Greece, puts forward in the movement of the ‘enraged’, which is still occupying major squares in different cities, and the workers’ movement.

500,000 demonstrators in Syntagma Square on Sunday, 5 June. More than 200,000 in Syntagma for the general strike on the 15 June. And a government of crisis that is hanging on by a thread, which is shown by the fact that the Prime Minister – full of panic – quit and “de-quit” on the same day, 15 June.

A new movement is shaking Greek society while Europe watches. The movement of the Enraged creates new hopes and possibilities and at the same time constitutes the clearest answer to the bureaucracy of the trade union movement and the leadership of the mass left parties, which have never put themselves in the front-line to develop a real mass movement. It is the first mass movement that is so clearly and categorically against the bureaucracy of the trade unions and inadequacy of the mass left parties.

The movement of the Enraged can stop the new memorandum and bring down the government. This can come true. But what could also happen is that within a few weeks this movement might not exist anymore. Didn’t the movement “I don’t pay” [with non-payment on buses and trains and tolls on motor ways] have some of the same amazing characteristics? But it faded away within three month. That is why the next steps of the movement of all of us, the Enraged, are of crucial importance.
Everybody to the squares! Escalate the strikes to force them out!

The first step is of course, that everybody goes to the squares in order to build a mass movement from below in order to turn the squares into living organisms of resistance. The half a million people who demonstrated on 5 June must become one million. This means we must set the dates for an escalation of the movement. We must set dates for general strikes and link the movement of the squares with industrial action by workers and with the neighborhoods as well. The call for a 48-hour general strike by GSEE and ADEDY [private and public sector trade union confederations] for the first time in almost 20 years is an important development and in reality a success of the Enraged as it was the pressure from the squares which led to this development.

However, this is not enough. There should be a further escalation. The leadership of the unions will not take the necessary action. We have to impose it from below. The movement of the Enraged can play a catalyst role towards in this through its decisions. Xekinimaproposes that the assemblies of the squares discuss, decide and call for:
Use the 48-hour general strike, called by GSEE and ADEDY [private and public sector trade union confederations] for an all out, full mobilisation of the mass movement.
For the DEKO unions [public services / state-owned or semi-state owned companies] to proceed to a 5-day general strike the week before the new memorandum is put to parliament.
For a general, huge demonstration on the day of the vote on the memorandum in Athens and a similar rally in Thesaloniki, with the aim of bringing one million to Syntagma Square.
If the government insists on voting in the new memorandum, then there is no option but to prolong the general strike for as long as necessary and remain at Syntagma square until the government falls. The government can survive a continued occupation of the squares, but they cannot survive a continued general strike.
Links with the workers’ / strike movement

There are people who think that the squares do not need or don’t want the labour/trade union movement, because trade unionists will ‘patronise’ the movement. Their concerns are understandable but they are not correct. If the movement of the Enraged does not extend itself into the workers’ movement and is not linked with strike mobilisations, there will be an extremely big danger that it will subside.
Therefore, we want and we need all the movements to approach / direct themselves towards the squares and the occupations. Those who are engaged in struggles - workers’ strikes, youth, environmental struggles, social struggles – must go to the squares, set up camps there and keep the occupations alive and vibrant. We want the strikers of DEI [electricity company], post offices, OTE [telephone company], the temporary council workers etc. - all to go there. We want the strikes of the different sectors to escalate into general strikes, not symbolic ones (one every two or three months), but substantial ones, repeated and escalated.
Democracy in the movement. But how?

The bureaucrats of the trade unions and party apparatuses have time and again sold out struggles in a blatant way. Measures should be taken that ensure the democracy of the movement.

Many of the Enraged demand that parties do not show up in the squares. Although this is understandable, it does not offer any solution, because various parties are already there and actually a lot of them are hiding behind the “anonymous” or “party free”. This is exactly why they are doubly dangerous.

We must stress that the danger of bureaucracy does not only come from parties, but also from cliques of people who suddenly see the possibility of putting themselves in the spotlight via the movement, making blogs and spending a lot of time in the squares to establish themselves and gain publicity. It is not a coincidence that it was discovered in Thessaloniki that some “non-party” people wanted to impose as the only speaker in a demonstration on the 5th of June the nationalist right wing politician Dimitris Antoniou!
Democracy can be protected only through a series of measures:
First, of course, all decisions should pass through the general assemblies.
The parties and organisations that intervene in this movement (and rightfully so) should do that overtly. Stop the hypocrisy of party members that pretend they are “party free”.
Every political force should have only one contribution at the assembly, so that everybody knows who is who and what they say. The rest of the time should be given to the un-affiliated.
The coordinating committee of the assembly, those behind the microphones, should rotate. Every three days the team must be changed.
No trust to any individual or any party apparatus – only to the democratic procedures of the movement. This should be an unbreakable rule, not only for the assemblies of the Enraged, but for all movements anywhere and at any given time.
Democracy of the square and democracy of the movement

The democracy of the assembly on Syntagma Square or the White Tower [in Thesaloniki] must not be confused with the democracy of the movement. Because at the end of the day even if we have 3,000 or 5,000 people in the assembly, how can they represent the half a million people we saw on Sunday, 5 June? And how is it possible for all of them to say what they think or propose an issue to be voted on, given the limited time and number of speakers at every assembly? It’s impossible.
The answer to this dilemma is:
Extend the movement to all work places, workers’ neighbourhoods and the youth (universities and Schoools), as suggested above. Call mass assemblies in all these places and areas and elect committees of representatives, that are subject to recall at any time.
The Syntagma assembly, once or twice a week should be an assembly of representatives of the movement from all the corners of Attika [whole region around and including Athens and Peiraus]. The same goes for the White Tower in Thesaloniki and so on. These assemblies should be responsible for the final central decisions.
These representatives should be in constant interaction with the assemblies that have elected them, be accountable to them and at any time subject to recall (ie every assembly can replace them with other representatives at any time).

Only in this way can the mass movement control the way the struggle will develop. Anything else – whatever name it may bear – is a democracy only in words, neither “direct” nor “real” democracy [which is one of the central demands of the movement of the Enraged].
Is there an alternative political solution?

The people who participate in the movement of the Enraged now feel the power/strength of the mass movement and realise that they can bring down the government. The question that emerges then is what will follow? Because obviously, bringing down Pasok just to bring back ND or a coalition government or a government of “technocrats and personalities” is not a solution.

The first answer to this question is that it is important that the Pasok government falls, even if it is not clear who will follow, because the next government will live under the constant threat of the movement and the danger of being overthrown.

We should remember Argentina, where during the winter 2001/02, five presidents fell within a period of a few weeks. In the end, this movement forced the Argentinian government to pause the payment of the sovereign debt. This represented a great victory initself! But it could not achieve the overthrow of power of the capitalists or free society from poverty. Therefore, we need something more.

If we leave our fate in the hands of a few hundred corrupt individuals in parliament, entirely outside our control, elected for 4 years on the basis of lies and false promises but without us having the means to replace them, who rely on big money from the capitalists to get elected and then represent precisely these capitalists and not the people who vote for them, who rob us of the wealth we produce, then the problem remains. What is the answer to this?
We want a kind of “parliament” in which those elected will be accountable and subject to recall at any time.
We want representatives, that will be paid as much as the workers – and not €10,000 per month – representatives without any privileges or connections with business’ interests. Those who break these rules should be punished with severe prison sentences – all laws which allow the “buying out” of sentences and the “writing off” after some time of such offences, should be abolished!
These conditions can be imposed only if representatives are elected through mass assemblies in the workplaces, neighbourhoods, universities etc and if these representatives are accountable to those assemblies and subject to recall at any time.
Such a “parliament” of the workers and the popular masses could proceed to the establishment of a real “people’s power”, meaning a government “of the workers for the workers” in the service of society and the working classes.
Is this a difficult prospect? Yes, a very difficult one. But why? Because, right now, the movement is limited only to central squares and is not expanding in width and depth through society, in an organised way. And because the movement does not consciously set the above targets for itself. But if the movement was able to develop in the way we describe, then the election of those representatives and those who would “govern” in the way we describe, would develop in the most natural way: They would be individuals who represent the rank and file movements in society and not the interests of big business and they would be under constant control from below.
Thus and only thus will the words “real” or “direct” democracy acquire a true meaning.
Is there an alternative economic policy?

Our living standards are falling apart. The right to work is disappearing. Pensions have taken a merciless blow, education and health are driven to the bottom, rights – that we have had for an entire century – are squashed! They have taken “everything” away, and they will come back for more. Why? To pay back the soveign debt – so they say! But, who created the debt and why should we have to pay for it?

[In the original text by Xekinima this is followed by an explanation why the debt is not ours.]
We demand:
Those who caused the crisis should pay for it. This means: refuse to pay the debt they created to increase their profits, which is now reaching €350 billion, 150% of the GDP.
There are €200 billion in Greek bank accounts, which is our own savings, as the rich and the big capitalists have already taken their money abroad – €60 billion last year alone. The bankers use our money in the bank accounts against us, in order to make big profits, and the justification for this is “the needs and the demands of the markets”. We refuse to accept their logic, we demand that the banks are nationalised – that they are placed under the ownership of society.
We should demand to know where the profits of all the past years have gone. From the mid 1990s until 2007, the Greek economy was growing by 4-5% per year. And Greece was the ‘Eldorado’ of profits, with profits reaching 20-30% per year. Where is all this money? Why are the profits theirs, and the losses ours?
No to the privatisations of DEI [electricity company] and the other DEKO [public services]. Stop the robbery of the public wealth. Stop the sell-off of public companies. On the contrary, put these companies under the control and management of workers and society so as to abolish the corruption of the tops in the civil service and in the Trade Unions.

On the basis of all these, with the €350 billion that we “save” if we refuse to pay the debt and with the €200 billion that exists in the banks, we could create miracles in the economy. We could transform the situation completely, create jobs, have decent healthcare, education, pensions and public housing. We don’t need and we don’t want the speculators of the stock markets and the banks. Those who say, that “this can not happen” (or that it would be old-fashioned and obsolete) are doing what they have been taught very well by the system: they lie.

We demand a society of justice, equality, freedom and real democracy. We demand a society that will not be slave to the profits of an insignificant minority, but that will plan the economy for our needs. And yes, we should re-establish the real meaning of many words, who have been misused by the ruling elite, as the assemblies of the Enraged are already proposing.

Democracy means that we decide and control all decisions and not the liars and thieves in the parliament.

Justice means that laws serve society not oppress it.

Freedom means to be able to have an opinion and express it freely and not that public opinion is formed by 5 families that control the economy and the TV channels.

And socialism means all the things we described above for the economy, politics and society – and not what the so called “socialists”, Mr. Papandreou [the Prime Minister] and the gang of thieves and liars around him, are pursing.

Central Bristol Socialist Party meeting tonight - The Impact of Legal Aid Cuts

Bristol Socialist Party: The Impact of Legal Aid Cuts

Tuesday 28th June 2011


Cheltenham Road Library, Bristol, BS6 5QX

Tonight the Central Bristol Socialist Party will discuss the impact ConDem cuts to Legal Aid will have on our justice system and our society. In a society where justice is not only not free, but very very expensive, what hope do the poor and working people of the country have in getting fair representation? How can we organise to overturn these cuts and build a society for the millions and not the millionaires? Newcomers welcome.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Irish history and socialism

Article written in 2008 by the late Peter Hadden (1950-2010)

Death on the rock of Gibraltar - 20 years since SAS killing of three IRA volunteers

It is twenty years since the execution style killing by the SAS of three IRA members in Gibraltar. In Northern Ireland these deaths sparked a brief but particularly bloody upsurge in violence. Over the next thirteen days a series of attacks involving the army, the IRA and loyalist paramilitaries left a further eight people dead and 68 injured. Two of these incidents will be vividly remembered by those who were around at the time, if only because they were captured live by TV cameras on the scene.

One was the attack by lone loyalist gunman, Michael Stone, on mourners attending the funerals of the Gibraltar victims, which left three mourners dead and scores injured. The image shown repeatedly on that day’s news bulletins of Stone fleeing through West Belfast’s Milltown cemetery towards the M1 motorway, attempting to hold off a chasing crowd with pistol shots and grenades, provided a stark illustration of the brutal reality of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

So did the footage taken three days later on the Andersonstown Road at the funeral of one of those killed by Stone in Milltown. This was of two plain-clothes British soldiers, who had driven aggressively into the funeral procession, being dragged by the crowd from their car, one brandishing a handgun. Shortly after this, they were handed over to the IRA who took them to waste ground behind nearby shops and shot them.

Today, twenty years on, Sinn Fein put a huge effort into organising a series of high profile events to commemorate the Gibraltar killings. There were rallies and a large public meeting in West Belfast. A special 12-page commemorative supplement on the killings and their bloody aftermath was produced and distributed through doors in Catholic areas of the city.

Public controversy soon developed over these commemorations, especially over the proposal to host a celebration of the life of Mairead Farrell, one of the three shot by the SAS in Gibraltar, in the Long Gallery in Parliament Buildings at Stormont. This produced a predictable knee jerk reaction from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who announced an event to celebrate the role of the SAS to be held in the same venue and at the same time. In the end, neither party got their way - new rules were rushed through in haste to make it more difficult to book the Long Gallery - and Sinn Fein went ahead with a low key meeting on Mairead Farrell’s life in their own offices at Stormont....

Twenty years on, the real lesson of all that happened at Gibraltar and after is the need to build a fighting socialist alternative to sectarianism and capitalism so that the energies of another generation are not wasted on ideas and methods that can never succeed.

Read the full article -

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Video: Bristol Anti Cuts Alliance conference Saturday 18th July

NUT, PCS, Unison, RMT and UCU speakers at Colston Hall, for Bristol and District Anti Cuts Alliance Conference. Held on 18 June 2011 with NUT General Secretary Christine Blower, Katrine Williams Wales PCS Chair, Sean Vernell FE Exec UCU, Roger Davey Health Exec Unison (personal capacity), Alex Gordon President RMT, John McInally Vice President PCS

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Con-Dems' pension attack - brutal class warfare must be fought

John McInally, Bristol - national vice-president PCS (personal capacity)

The government is attempting to steal £2.8 billion from public sector pensions in Britain. This is a brutal act of class warfare directed against millions of mainly low-paid workers.
Attempting to prosecute it is a tiny ruling elite, who despise the public sector and those who deliver the vital services that bind our communities together.
Propaganda about public sector "gold-plated" pensions and conditions at the expense of everyone else, especially private sector workers, is the ideological 'justification' for a state-instigated hate campaign against public sector workers.
PCS members have voted for action alongside three education unions on 30 June. These four unions have three quarters of a million members.
This will be the first major coordinated industrial action against the Tory-led coalition's cuts and privatisation programme.
PCS members have voted not just for a day of action nor to only defend pensions but for a programme of discontinuous action which will allow the national union to coordinate action to defend jobs, pay and conditions, which are all under attack now.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka was quoted in the Mirror saying that the campaign "... will be about sustained action. This government will not turn after one or two days. Members have got to be prepared for that".


This strategy will be a significant element in building for mass coordinated industrial action in the autumn.
The National Association of Head Teachers is the latest union to announce it will also ballot its members about striking over pension cuts. Potentially there could be between three and five million workers striking against the coalition cuts in the autumn.
Pensions are the great unifying factor in the public sector. Every single worker will suffer appalling detriment if the government's plans are realised, with women being hit disproportionately by these attacks. 
The plans are based on the report by anti-union ex-Labour minister John Hutton, a truly despicable creature, awash with lucrative sponsorships for services rendered to corporate interests.
The civil service has operated on an unwritten contract that job security and reasonable pensions, which are deferred wages, were the trade-off for low wages.
The average civil service pension for full service, excluding the tiny percentage of high earners, is £4,200 a year.
Hard-working public sector workers are the victims, not the cause of the economic crisis. We are now being asked to pay again, with what is effectively a tax on public sector pensions to pay off the deficit caused by the bankers and their system.

Victims, not the cause

The proposals will mean members will be expected to double or treble their contributions (the value of an extra day's work a month), work until age 68, and accept cuts of 20-50% in the value of pensions.
Our pensions' value has already been reduced by 15-25% because of the un-agreed re-indexing of pensions and benefits. PCS and other unions have mounted a legal challenge on this.
But the attack is not about dry statistics, it represents a shocking assault on living standards of some of the lowest paid workers in society who are also facing pay freezes, savage assaults on conditions, privatisation and the threat of job losses.
Even the Tories have voiced concern that the changes to contributions will lead to workers simply opting out of the scheme with horrendous implications for the future of pension provision.
This has been cited as part of the reason for Lib Dem treasury minister Danny Alexander's proposal to taper the increase in pension contributions.
Public sector workers now face a life of low pay followed by an impoverished old age, and they will be expected, as taxpayers, to fund the means-tested benefits necessary to support increasing numbers living below the poverty line.


The official poverty line is £170 a week, the state pension is £102 a week; reduced occupational pensions will increase the number of pensioners in poverty - currently 2.5 million. 3.5 million pensioners are in fuel poverty.
In Germany pensions are 70% of average earnings, though set to fall. Even in the USA, for 40 years of work, social security provides 40% of previous earnings.
In France, 12% of GDP is spent on pensions, 10% in Germany, but in Britain, a measly 6%.
The net cost of paying public sector pensions in 2009/10 was a little under £4 billion. The cost of providing tax relief to the 1% who earn more than £150,000 is more than twice as much.
The total cost of providing tax relief to all higher rate taxpayers, on their private pensions, is more than five times as much.
There is an all-out campaign to divide public and private sector workers by claiming that pensions for the former are at the expense of the latter. In reality many households are comprised of people working in both sectors; the idea that low paid private sector workers are supportive of the cuts in other family members' pensions is garbage.
Workers won't buy the argument there should be an equality of misery.

Companies took pension 'holidays'

The removal of decent pension provision throughout the private sector was due to the fact that in the 1980s and 1990s companies took pension 'holidays' that left schemes under-funded.
When legislation was introduced to guarantee levels of funding, it increased the rate of pension fund closures as companies were unprepared to fund schemes at shareholders' expense.
The loss of these schemes did not, during a period of comparative economic boom, save jobs, guarantee pay rises or help to avoid financial meltdown in the private sector.
The only beneficiaries were the bosses and shareholders.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka rightly describes current negotiations with Cabinet Minister Francis Maude as a "farce". This is confirmed by Danny Alexander's disgraceful intervention on Friday 17 June, pre-empting negotiations between ministers and unions. Maude wants the unions to go into sector bargaining without any compromise on the core national issues of increased contributions, cuts in the value of schemes and the rise in the working age.
Maude and Alexander clearly aim to sow division by putting the unions at each other's throats by fighting over the distribution of the cuts rather than opposing them outright.

PCS adamant

But PCS is adamant that these key principles must be collectively opposed and negotiated on, before sector talks take place.
Already, under the threat of strike action Alexander has announced that workers earning less than £15,000 won't have any increase in contributions. But this must be confirmed in negotiations.
Those earning less than £18,000 will have their contributions capped at 1.5%. But only 4% of PCS members earn less than £15,000 and across the public sector it is 1%.
And these low-paid workers will still suffer the increased retirement age and all the other aspects of the attack.
Workers earning more than £18,000 could have their contributions raised by up to 5%. The increases will be phased in over three years from next April.
This is clearly an attempt to divide the opposition and must be resisted.
The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, said the government was "hopelessly mismanaging" the pension issue. But Labour also attempted to increase the pension age in 2005 but was thwarted by the threat of coordinated public sector strike action.
Echoing the shameful Labour line that while the coalition is "cutting too deep and too quickly" cuts are nevertheless 'necessary' and 'inevitable', some union leaders signalled concessions upfront.
The coalition government is now trying to tempt them into an unholy alliance against PCS and other unions by isolating the 'militants' who, according to Alexander "seem hell bent on premature strike action".
Ed Balls too is getting in on the act, saying that by striking the unions are walking into a Tory trap. On the contrary, by striking they are merely defending working people's interests, something Balls and Labour are incapable of.
The position must be unequivocal - no cuts or privatisation. Accepting the need for cuts is the road to division and defeat.
On pensions, we are facing organised theft on a huge scale by a government of millionaires with no mandate - economic terrorism against the vast majority waged to increase the obscene wealth of a tiny minority who place profit before people.
We face a defining battle for our movement. Real leadership is required, based on a strategy of no cuts, and no concessions to pension robbery.
We must build the kind of widespread industrial action capable of defeating and bringing down this government.

National Shop Stewards Network conference June 2011

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Strike on June 30th to defend pensions, jobs and services!

For a 24 hour public sector general strike now! Photo by Suzanne Beishon

Civil servants, teachers and lecturers balloted to strike on 30 June against the Con-Dems' attacks on public sector pensions and public services. The National Union of Teachers has voted 92% in favour of the action, while the Association of Teachers and Lecturers has voted 83% in favour of its first ever strike. London underground drivers in the RMT union are also due to take strike action on that day against victimisation of trade union activists.
Chris Baugh, assistant general secretary of the PCS civil servants union, spoke in a personal capacity at the National Shop Stewards Network conference on 11 June. Here is an extract from his speech.
Someone once said the Tories never talk about class war because they're usually too busy practising it. This crisis, caused by nearly 30 years of a high octane deregulated capitalism, fuelled by an explosion of credit and reckless speculation, has become the excuse for an all-out assault on nearly all the major social gains won by working-class people in the post-war years.
Perhaps the most callous elements of the cuts are reflected in the abolition of EMA student payments, the Sure Start children centre closures, the cuts in benefits to the disabled.
This is a government that is working to dilute 2,000 separate pieces of legislation, even the equality act that only came on the statute book in April. Everything is up for grabs.
But trade unions remain the major obstacle to the Tory-Liberal plans. It's why big business politicians introduced the anti-union laws. It's why the media attacks trade unions. It's why the employers pick out our activists and reps. It's why Vince Cable - supposed to be a restraining influence on the Tories - is already talking about even more limits on the right to strike.
This is a government that is fearful of the trade unionmovement. There is a massive and growing anger against the bailout to the bankers and the financial institutions and the attempt to make the working class pay the price for a crisis not of our making. The evidence was shown in the student protests, shown in the magnificent turnout on 26 March, shown by the action that we plan to take on 30 June, as the first wave of coordinated action.
If you're a worker in any other part of the public sector you will be asking the question: 'why are we not taking action with our brothers and sisters in the civil service and education institutions?'
The PCS will continue to press the Trades Union Congress for coordinated strike action and to build direct support with individual unions. We expect to be joined by millions of public sector workers in the autumn in the second wave of the sustained strike action that will be needed to challenge this government.
This is an enormous opportunity to reach out to the ranks of the most exploited sections of the workforce, the millions who aren't in unions, the millions who are unorganised. PCS has found that when the union is prepared to speak and act for its membership, that's when people are prepared to join, that's when they're prepared to get involved, that's when people are prepared to come forward and become reps in their own trade union.
We can start to challenge the dictatorship of the international markets, which are dictating the policy of individual governments. We can show that international worker's solidarity is not some utopian idea, it is the most powerful antidote to the neoliberal consensus, pursued by European governments, by mainstream political parties, by the Murdoch press, and by international bond and equity markets. We can raise the question of what sort of society we want to live in and start to pose a real socialist alternative.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Solidarity with Kazakhstan Strikers

CWI reporters, Kazakhstan -

The 11th June is likely to be a critical day in the strike of oil and gas workers in West Kazakhstan as strikers once again gather in the regional capital Aktau to demonstrate, calling for the release of Natalia Sokolova.
It is clear that the company, “KazMunauGaz” and the authorities have decided not to negotiate and are preparing for an all out confrontation. In preparation for the 11th, the city’s centre has been occupied by police and bus loads of riot troops. The court’s are being prepared for a wave of arrests on charges such as “stirring up class conflict” and “leading an illegal strike, interfering with the work of the company”.
These are criminal charges with sentences of up to seven years. Natalia Sokolova has now been brought to court on the first of these charges and been remanded without bail for two months. The fact that the court was held just hours before today’s planned protest makes it clear that the authorities seem to think they can frighten the strikers back to work. They have already said they will use the second charge against the strike leaders.
But the threats are not working. The strikers are already commenting with black humour that the only thing the authorities have left to try is mass execution. They have become more determined and more radical. Oil and gas workers in the neigbouring regions of Kalamkaz and Atyrau have already promised to join the strike on the 14th or 15th of June if the company has not backed down by then. If the demonstration today is broken up, these regions could well walk out immediately.
The anger has been building after management decided to lay siege to the factory at “Ersai Kaspian Kontraktor”. 700 workers have been isolated with food and water supplies cut off as the authorities have used bulldozers to seal the only two roads to the plant. Helicopters are being used to supply food to the Italian white collar staff whilst the strikers have to smuggle in plastic bottles of water from the nearest village ten kilometers away. (This is essentially a desert region). Those who are on hunger strike are suffering particularly badly and 23 have already been hospitalized.
The strikers have told us they are determined to continue with their demands which, at EKK, include an increase in pay, an end to discrimination between the wages of Kazakh and foreign workers, a collective wage agreement and recognition of the trade union. SMS messages of support can be sent to these strikers on +7 701 813 48 64.
A mass campaign of slander has been waging in the official press against the strikers. Particularly notable is an article which has appeared on the government website written by Siyazbek Mukashev, leader of the official “trade union federation”. He demands that the strikers “work within the law” and participate in an “arbitration commission”. He claims he has done all in his power to arrange this but complains that “the employers are prepared for this, everything should be done within the law, we want to help, but they (the strikers) are refusing and maintaining their position”.
Nowhere does he comment that the strikers can not work within the law because their lawyer has been arrested, nor does he condemn the management for failing to turn up at a pre arranged time earlier this week for negotiations called for by the strikers.
Complete responsibility for this situation lies at the door of the employer and the authorities. They appear to want to provoke the workers further and in doing so, are only increasing support for the strike. Alongside the strikers are marching their families. The mother of one of the strikers, Ersaya has joined the hunger strike and warned that she will take more radical measures if they touch her son. Pensioners who used to work on the oil and gas fields have joined in, demanding that the demands of the strikers are met, including the nationalization of the sector.
It is clear that this war of nerves is likely to boil over soon. Then what will be important is that the workers remain unified and determined to fight on. The Socialist Movement Kazakhstan alongside the whole CWI expresses its support for the strikers and their demands, including the call for nationalization of the whole oil and gas sector under workers control and management and calls on all workers’ organizations to send their support to the strikers, and to demand the immediate end to repression against the workers.

We demand:

  • the immediate release of Natalia Sokolova
  • an end to all repression against the strikers
  • the lifting of the siege at “Ersai Kaspian Kontraktor”
  • the immediate recognition of the independent trade unions
  • the nationalization of the oil and gas sector under democratic workers’ control and management as part of a planned economy allowing the wealth of Kazakhstan to be used in the interests of the people and not those of the ruling clan and multinationals.
We call for pickets outside embassies of Kazakhstan and urgent protests to the following:,,,
Solidarity messages should be sent to: with copies to and

NSSN conference - serious and inspiring preparation for the battles to come

Report by Linda Taaffe, NSSN Secretary 

As seven workers from Honda Swindon were leaving the National Shop Stewards Network (
NSSN) conference on Saturday 11 June, one car worker remarked: "I wish we could have brought a coachload!".
This was a typical reaction amongst the 350 workers attending the best conference NSSN has held so far, a regular event that is rapidly becoming a feature in the calendar of the labour movement.
It was a solid working-class trade union conference getting ready for the huge struggles ahead, aware of the difficulties but ready for the fight. Opening the conference, NSSN chair Rob Williams pointed out that we were meeting just 19 days before a real milestone - the 30 June joint strike of teachers and civil servants against the pensions robbery.
Martin Powell Davies from the National Union of Teachers national executive remarked: "The school hall we are meeting in is packed full today; on 30th June it will be totally empty."
Janice Godrich, president of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) declared that 30 June should not just be a protest strike but a day to light a spark that will give confidence to all other public sector unions to join in and swell the force to four million workers for more strikes in the autumn.
Mark Palfrey, London Communication Workers Union (CWU), said that although his union was not yet joining the action it would respect all picket lines and he and others would be doing what they can to get the union on board, especially now that mail privatisation and closures are on the cards again.
Alex Gordon, Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) president, reminded delegates about the biggest ever trade union demonstration that was held on 26th March, showing what the TUC can do when it lifts its little finger.
But he urged that this event should not be squandered. The correct conclusions about the way forward must be drawn.
A general strike is needed. The £81 million of cuts so far are only year one of the Tory programme.
The NSSN will work with unions and anti-cuts campaigns everywhere to demand that councillors refuse to implement cuts....

Read the rest of the report:

Socialist MEP Paul Murphy: For a European one-day strike!

Paul Murphy MEP condemns the new brutal austerity package being forced on Greece and calls for a one day general strike across Europe to send a message to the European establishment that austerity will not be accepted.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Greek Trade Unionist among speakers at NSSN conference - this Saturday

National Shop Stewards Network Conference
Saturday 11th June 2011
South Camden Community School, London, NW1 1RG

The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) has announced that Apostolis Kasimeris a member of the Executive Committee of the Union of Public Transport Workers in Attica (Athens and Pireaus region) will speak at their 5th annual conference. While the main themes of the conference will be supporting the pension strikes on June 30th, defending the NHS and fighting the anti-union laws - the presence of Apostolis will bring home to delegates the incredible resistance of working people on an international scale this year.

As NSSN Chair Rob Williams explained:

"Its amazing to think that in just 5 months we've seen revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia and throughout the Middle East and North Africa and a mass movement of workers in Wisconsin and other cities in the USA to defend basic union rights. Now we have the occupation of the city centre squares in Spain, Greece and other European countries. We're delighted to welcome Apostolis as the Greek workers are an inspiration for their struggle against austerity attacks because of the financial crisis, as here caused by the bankers. They're holding their 10th general strike on June 15th and Apostolis's members were on strike for 3 months earlier in the year."

Other speakers at the conference include:
RMT President Alex Gordon;
PCS President Janice Godrich;
Victimised London tube drivers Eamonn Lynch & Arwyn Thomas;
CWU London District Officer Mark Palfrey, who will be speaking about the threatened closure of three London mail centres.

Lobby of Bristol City Council against £2m bus cuts

Lobby of Bristol City Council meeting organised by Bristol & District Anti-Cuts Alliance (BADACA). The council are meeting tonight, Thursday 9th June, to decide on a potential £2 million of cuts to local bus services. The meeting starts are 6pm and there will be a lobby from 5.30pm - Council House, College Green. The Socialist Party believes local councils need to provide the services that people need and protect jobs and wages, they should vote for 'needs budgets' to ensure this, and refuse to pass on the cuts that are being forced on ordinary people by an ideologically-driven Tory-coalition.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

East Bristol Socialist Party meeting - Europe in Crisis

East Bristol Socialist Party meeting
Europe in Crisis - Paul Moorhouse
Tomorrow - Wednesday 8th June
Cross Keys Pub, 
Fishponds Road, 
BS16 3BA

The spark has been lit in Tunisia and Egypt for mass movements that are now shaking the political class in Spain, Portugal, Greece and of the entire world. A wave of struggle has been unleashed by the world crisis of capitalism and the markets, Paul Moorhouse will discuss how these movements can move forward, tackle the global system and start to build a better world.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Central Bristol Socialist Party meeting - Revolution in the Middle East

Central Bristol Socialist Party meeting: 
Revolution in the Middle - Domenico Hill
Tuesday 6th June 2011
Cheltenham Road Library, Bristol, BS6 5QX

2011 has already seen the fall of two dictators, and they are not going to be the lasr. There has been mass revolt and revolution, and now the direct intervention of Western military force in Libya, shameless in the face of their own 'humanitarian' hypocrisy in Syria. But what are the prospects for these mass movements? How can Socialists support their struggle for a better world? Domenico Hill will discuss these 

Video: EU aim to increase it's military power

Video of Paul Murphy, MEP, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland)  -  Over the past number of years, there have been increasing moves towards militarising the European Union, both within the Union but also with a view to the EU playing a much bigger, dominant role in world politics, both politically and militarily. In the video below, Paul Murphy explains why he voted against the resolution on the Albertini Report which deals with the Common Foreign & Security Policy of the European Union which highlights the need for the European Union to increase its military might as well as allowing for military missions to be launched in the name of the European Union.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Unite the Union agrees uncompromising anti-cuts policy

Circulated by BADACA:

Unites Executive Council unanimously confirms its opposition to all Government spending cuts. We commit ourselves to fight this ideologically driven assault on our much valued public services and welfare state.
This assault on our class is designed to shift the blame for the economic crisis to the public sector and make working people pay for a crisis not of our making but caused by the negligent and irresponsible behaviour of financial institutions, gambling for profits in an unregulated market for financial products.
The consequences of these actions, coupled with the failure of both national and international regulators to prevent even the worst excesses of the free market and their promotion of self regulation, are now being felt by workers across the globe. Further, the economic crisis has given government the opportunity to promote and further its ideological attack on collective trade unionism, social and employment protection and the wider social fabric of our society.
Of course there is an alternative;
*collect the missing tax billions from the banks, multinationals, rich and powerful in our society and close the loopholes and avoidance scams that enable them to opt out of making their fair and proper contribution.
*introduce a Robin Hood tax to collect revenue from all financial transactions, bonuses and share options and raise tax rates at the top to ensure a fairer contribution from those most able to make one.
*maintain public spending and invest in our future, keeping people in jobs and growing our economy to create new ones. Supporting public services as well as our private sector, construction, manufacturing and support services is vital to rebalancing our economy.
We congratulate our General Secretary and this Executive Council in promoting our position of opposing all Governments cuts and the call for co-ordinated industrial action, but much more needs to be done:
1. Unites position on the cuts must be effectively communicated to our officers and staff, our constitutional committees, shop stewards and activists, within our political structures and to Unite MPs and councillors as well as within our wider communities.
We have to end confusing messages being communicated within certain sections of our union sympathetic to the Labour leaderships message of “cuts too far, to fast” – the so-called “dented shield approach”.
2. We must do more to inform, inspire and engage with our lay representatives, shop stewards and activists across all sectors of our Union. We must equip them with the arguments they need to engage our members at work and within local communities if the fight back against the cuts is to be effective. This campaign requires leadership from the top but also grassroots activity at local level.
3. We encourage all workplaces, branches and constitutional committees to send resolutions to their Regional and National Industrial Sector Committees as well as to this Executive Council supporting actions for consideration.
4. We firmly believe coordinated industrial action is an essential tool in the fight before us and ask the General Secretary to write urgently to all officers, branches and constitutional committees with a strong message of encouragement to take up the fight and to initiate a series of communications and promotional materials to support our activists in developing the arguments for action. While decisions on industrial action will of course be taken by our members in democratic ballots, they must be confident in an alternative and know that they have their Unions full support in taking action.
When members of any union are taking industrial action against cuts Unite members in workplaces not taking industrial action are encouraged to protest and show solidarity as far as they can.
5. Industrially, it must be clear that we will support all members fighting back. Unite recognises the importance of advancing our members interests by fighting for improved pay and conditions even in these difficult times, while in our public services specifically our full resources must be given to those fighting against job losses and compulsory redundancy, pay cuts and/or freezes and the privatisation or outsourcing of work.
6. We support the initiative in developing training for our activists. It is critical that we up-skill our officers and activists in preparation for delivering our fight back strategy. Providing evidence to support the fact that we are not “all in this together such as the fact provided by recent evidence from the High Pay Commission that chief executives of FTSE 100 companies earn an average of £3.7 million which is 145 times the average wage.
7. We are seeing an employers offensive unleashing itself against all workers – on their pay and conditions, their pensions and their collective bargaining rights. If workers vote to take strike action, they should be encouraged to co-ordinate strike dates with others in dispute to maximise their effect. We ask the General Secretary to ensure that mechanisms are put in place to enable such coordination to develop.
8. We particularly urge the General Secretary to ensure that this union immediately engages with other like minded public and private sector unions with a view to our working together on an urgent programme of co-ordinated strikes over pensions and pay cuts, redundancy, privatisation and outsourcing of work. This should however not stand in the way of Unite taking a lead or acting alone in the defence of our members interests wherever necessary.
9. We believe we must communicate our position within the Labour Party at all levels and make it clear that Unite cannot support a position based on government cuts being “too far, too fast”. We must seek urgent dialogue with elected councillors on ways in which, by working together, we can reach agreement on alternatives to cutting, outsourcing or privatising services and jobs. We are very clear that we will reject and fight any attempt by councils to use the economic crisis in an opportunistic way to attack and/or undermine trade unionism, our agreements or facilities.
10. We must ensure that Labour MPs and councillors receive an unequivocal message from our union supporting our policy of opposing all cuts. Elected councillors must know they will receive the full support of this union if they face disciplinary or other action for supporting union policy. We must ensure Unite fully supports councillors who oppose cuts to local services.
Finally, we are determined that Unite will never abandon those who face the most serious cuts of all; the poor and vulnerable in our society including the disabled, the unemployed and those on low incomes who are now beginning to suffer real hardship as the first £18 billion of Welfare Benefit cuts begin to bite.
Some are our members but many are not, our success in fighting the cuts will require us to stand shoulder to shoulder with those at the sharp end. We recognise that the most vicious cuts of all are hitting those who often have no voice.
We urge and encourage our activists, shop stewards and members to get involved in the fight back, linking up trade unionists with groups coordinating actions locally and nationally such as UK Uncut and the Coalition of Resistance, as well as students, pensioners, tenants associations, community groups, the unemployed and welfare claimants.
This is a fight to defend our class. We must redouble our efforts to ensure we will win that fight. This Executive Council and our unions leadership is fully committed to this strategy and must now ensure that this message runs through our union, at all levels and in everything we do.
Adopted by the Unite Executive 19th May 2011