Sunday, 29 January 2012

Iran: New imperialist war clouds

By Per-Åke Westerlund, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden)

Is US imperialism and/or Israel preparing a military attack on Iran? How would the Islamist dictatorship in Tehran respond? These questions came into focus again over the holidays following new sanctions announced by the United States and an Iranian navy exercise.

Both the regime in Iran and the White House have domestic reasons for the escalating war of words. The Iranian regime’s fear of mass protests similar to the demonstrations after the “elections” in 2009 has been reinforced by the Arab revolutions. New undemocratic “elections” will be held in March as the same time as the economic crisis deepens. The regime want to shift the focus onto U.S. imperialism, which has maintained an over 30-year-long blockade. Also in the US, Obama does not mind directing some of the attention abroad, after growing discontent in 2011, signified not least by the occupy movement. In addition, the president is under pressure from Republicans for being soft on foreign affairs, especially to Iran.

Acts of war against Iran would have disastrous consequences. It is one of the most militarised regions in the world. The U.S. has its Fifth Fleet stationed in Bahrain and all Persian Gulf countries have been part of a regional arms race in recent years. An attack on Iran would face mass opposition in the Middle East, including from Iran-backed organisations such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

Triggering the latest developments was a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency in November, which again assumed that Iran is secretly preparing nuclear arms production. For 10 years, Iran’s nuclear facilities have led to constant crises and speculation about war actions. The plants became public in 2002, but uranium enrichment was suspended, only to resume a short time later when Ahmadinejad became president in 2005.Rumors and concerns have already made oil prices rise 6% in the first week of January. A military conflict with the risk of affecting oil exports from the Persian Gulf could threaten the entire global economy. 40% of world oil exports pass through the narrow Strait of Hormuz.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Security Council has since given various ultimatums to the regime in Tehran and adopted four rounds of sanctions.

Tehran has always maintained that the enrichment of uranium is for nuclear power, and some medical purposes. Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad has never missed the chance to brag about Iran’s capacity to produce nuclear fuel with the help of their now 8,000 centrifuges.

The processing of uranium was, for a long time, 3.5% enrichment, but increased to nearly 20% in 2010. Uranium for use in nuclear weapons requires an enrichment of 90%.The IAEA and even the White House, since Obama’s accession to power, concedes that Iran is still not producing nuclear weapons, but warned that the risk has increased.

The sanctions so far have had effect on Iran’s economy but no impact on the regime’s plans for continued enrichment of uranium. Since Israel holds the possibility of a military attack on Iran, open pressure has increased on Obama.

Both the U.S. and Israel are also conducting a spy war, including murders of scientists, against the Iranian nuclear program.

On New Year’s Eve Obama launched new tougher sanctions against Iran. These were included in the new military budget for 2012.

The new sanctions aim directly at the oil revenues, which account for 60 percent of Iran’s economy. The goal is to stop all business with Iran’s central bank, the bank in charge of foreign trade and foreign currency. The previous blockade was limited to US trade, but now European companies and governments are forced to stop trading with Iran. It involves the purchase of oil, but also refineries processing oil from Iran and of course exports to Iran.

Under this pressure, the EU has in principle accepted an oil embargo. Today, EU countries, especially in southern Europe, import 450,000 barrels per day of Iran’s exports of 2.6 million barrels per day. Even Greece, buying with some credit from Tehran, has been pressed not to protest against a future blockade.

Obama’s new sanctions are to take effect in six months, but the decision gives the president the opportunity to cancel or postpone before it takes effect, especially if oil prices go up.

The Iranian regime has responded that it is easy to replace consumers who fall away. The hope is probably that China - already the largest importer of oil from Iran - and India will step in.

Iran is in severe economic crisis with sharp price increases and growing unemployment. The country’s currency lost 40 percent of its value against the dollar during December and early January. At the same time, there is a threat of new mass protests and increased workers’ strikes.

This explains the war rhetoric from Tehran. “Not a drop of oil will pass the Strait of Hormuz” if sanctions are implemented, declares Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi.

During a 10-day naval exercise Iran tested two new long-range missiles, Ghadr and Nour, with a reach of over 200 kilometres. In the past, the country tested Sejil-2 missiles that can travel ten times further.

Iran has also announced that enrichment of uranium also takes place in Fordo outside the holy city of Qom, in addition to the facilities already available at Natanz. The new plant is said to have special protection against air strikes.During the exercise, the Iranian commanders warned that the U.S. aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, based in Bahrain, could not pass the Iranian warships, but this occurred later without incident. Washington has responded that a closed Strait of Hormuz “will not be tolerated” referring to U.S. strategic interests. The fact is that even during the war between Iran and Iraq, 1980-88, the strait was open to oil tankers. Also Iran’s oil going to China and other countries pass this passage.

The threat of war against Iran is most likely to take the form of air strikes, and not a ground invasion. Israel has signaled that a military attack on Iran is not excluded. Defence Minister Ehud Barak said recently that “Iran could reach a stage, within nine months, where nothing can be done to stop the ability to build nuclear weapons” reported the Daily News.

The U.S. has publicly criticized and warned against the Israeli plans. An attack by Israel would, even more so than an attack from the U.S., be met by huge protests in the Middle East and globally.

The risk of war or war actions has increased and is not at all excluded, although it most likely that new attempts at negotiations will be conducted before any threats are implemented.

Socialists in Iran, the U.S. and globally must stand against all acts of war from the United States and/or Israel against Iran. Washington and Jerusalem act to protect their power and their profits, not out of concern for the people of Iran. The consequences of an imperialist war intervention can be seen in Iraq today. At the same time, opposition to the war does not mean any support for the oppressive regime in Iran. In order to achieve peace and democratic rights, this regime has to be overthrown by the workers, young people and all oppressed in Iran. In the U.S. resistance to war is also an opposition to war and profiteers, against Wall Street and the corrupt politicians. Struggle against war is a struggle for democracy and workers’ rule, against capitalism and imperialism.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Add your name to the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition petition....

As the leaders of the big Labour-supporting trade unions warn Labour of the risk of losing trade union support, an electoral challenge in the Greater London Assembly elections involving leading trade unionists is being prepared.

A Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) list will be presented which can articulate the enormous anger at the horrific cuts to jobs, pay and services, and at the rich who wallow in increasing wealth.

The TUSC list will involve leading trade unionists in a personal capacity, each of whom represents thousands of members.

An appeal from Steve Hedley and John Reid, London Transport RMT, Ian Leahair, FBU national executive member for London, and Ben Sprung, FBU London organiser, has now been signed by hundreds of trade unionists.

Add your name to the supporting petition:

Public sector pensions: 'Coalition of the willing' gathering strength

By Martin Powell-Davies, NUT executive, personal capacity

From The Socialist newspaper, 25 January 2012

In the immediate aftermath of the TUC-led retreat over pensions, the 'coalition of the willing', those unions still determined to fight on, have needed time to regroup. But now that coalition is gathering strength.

Over Christmas, the danger of isolation and concerns that members might no longer be prepared to take action understandably weighed heavily on union leaders. The PCS Left Unity Conference on 7 January helped to swiftly galvanise union activists and a call was made for union leaders to meet to agree a coordinated action plan. The NUT is now convening exactly such a meeting with a number of other unions already pledged to attend.

The decision by Unite to reject the Heads of Agreement has helped bolster confidence, as has the action taken by private-sector Unilever workers in defence of their pension schemes. It now seems likely that the FBU may also need to ballot for strike action with the government apparently insistent on an unworkable scheme where firefighters work until they are 60 and pay at least 13.2% of their salary in pension contributions.

The growing confirmation of support for action in the workplace is helping to reassure union leaderships that they can securely call further strikes. NUT members have been meeting to agree motions pledging support for action as well as responding to a national email survey. Just like the BMA's separate survey of doctors, it seems likely that the results will confirm clear opposition to the deal.

Of course, nothing can be taken for granted. In the build-up to further strikes, unions need to campaign hard in every workplace and community to build the strongest support for action.

No worker can lightly lose pay but most will be willing to do so if unions show they are serious about continuing the campaign. After all, if we don't carry on the fight, we're guaranteed to be losing pay every single month in higher pension contributions.

Unions now need to agree a clear plan of coordinated action. At least a further day of national strike needs to be called before April, when the first phase of increased pension contributions is to be imposed. Unions also need to make clear that this isn't just a 'last hurrah' but part of an ongoing campaign to force the government to retreat further. It could coincide with a ballot of Unison members, giving them confidence to demand further action of their leadership as J30 did for N30.

The lecturers' union UCU executive, at its meeting on 20 January, became the latest union to formally reject the Heads of Agreement. It also proposed that a programme of coordinated rolling strike action should begin in February, with Thursday 1 March proposed as a day for national strike action.

This is a useful starting point for discussion between unions although the exact details may need to change - particularly as Welsh teachers have pointed out that clashing with long-prepared events for St David's Day would not be popular.

There is certainly a pressing need for the joint-union discussions to arrive at a firm date for the next coordinated action. NUT divisional secretaries from branches across England and Wales are being called to an emergency national meeting on 2 February to discuss the campaign.Hopefully, when the PCS executive meets again on 9 February and the UCU executive on 10 February, we will all be in a position to announce a common plan of action.

While it will be important to negotiate over the dates so as to bring the strongest possible alliance together, it would be a mistake to postpone a decision in order to try and bring unions like Unison and GMB on board at this stage. A strong campaign is being waged inside health and local government unions in opposition to the 'Heads of Agreement' but, even if it eventually succeeds, it will be several months before these unions could be brought back into action.

Joint-union staff meetings and local trades councils should organise debates so that the real facts about the Heads of Agreement can be explained - so that everyone understands that it means 'pay more, get less and retire older'. However, a significant joint-union strike in March, even if on a smaller scale than November, will be the best way to support those arguing to reverse the position of unions who have signed up to the shabby 'deal'.

Above all, that united action will send a clear signal to the government that they still face strong and determined opposition to their pensions robbery.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Socialism Today - New issue out now

Socialism Today - Issue 155 February 2012
Price £2

To get a copy please email:


Dithering in Durban

Once again, a United Nations-sponsored climate change conference has completely failed to address the issue of global warming. Indeed, the latest attempt – in Durban, South Africa, last December – pushed any hope of a deal back to beyond 2020, already far too late for meaningful action in the view of most climate change scientific opinion. PETE DICKENSON reports.

Pensions: the fight continues

Following the strike of two million public-sector workers in November, the fight to safeguard pensions hangs in the balance. Pitted against savage Con-Dem austerity is an angry and determined working class. Yet the leaders of some key unions and the TUC are doing all they can to sell-out the struggle. The role of left-wing unions, and rank-and-file bodies such as the National Shop Stewards Network, could not be more important. HANNAH SELL reports on this crucial stage of the battle.

The year of all risks

"2012 will not be a walk in the park", warns Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF. The world capitalist economy is on the brink of a new downturn, with a recession in Europe and a marked slowing of China, India and other semi-developed economies. The eurozone debt crisis is far from resolved and could trigger a new global banking and economic crisis at any time. LYNN WALSH reports.

And much much more

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Index 1-100: Click here for a complete index of articles from the first issue of Socialism Today to issue 100

Monday, 16 January 2012

A man who helped to melt the Iron Lady

Full obituary taken from website of Coventry Socialist Party - 

Rob Windsor – Socialist fighter, comrade, friend

25 years ago a young lad walked into one of Dave Nellist’s campaign rooms. He wanted to get involved.

At that time Rob Windsor was built like a ‘human stick insect’ and worked helping the homeless. His cheerful, humorous and humble manner didn’t hide the steely determination within to fight the injustices of capitalist society.

He had concluded that society must be fundamentally changed to improve working people’s conditions. He had seen what Militant supporters had done in Coventry and nationwide and having checked we were serious, decidedhe would join us. Clearly a working class lad himself you could tell he was bright and meant business.

His job with Coventry Churches Housing was put in jeopardy when he supported our campaign to Save Whitley Hospital, the campaign that convinced him to join us.

It was no accident (having been fostered as a child) that he worked to help the homeless and most downtrodden and he passionately fought the abandonment by capitalist society of hundreds of thousands of people. At 18 he went to London and ran a 900 bed homeless hostel and did soup runs while living in a Notting Hill squat. He was an expert on housing and ran an inspired campaign against Council House privatisation, denouncing it in a well used pamphlet, with the aid of Nicholas Parsons’ photo, as the “Sale of the Century”

Rob became a leader of the anti poll tax campaign and later a Socialist councillor in St Michaels, Coventry. He would help others often to his own detriment, so much so that many of the ‘rough rogues and vagabonds’ from Coventry’s working class estates who joined the Anti Poll Tax campaign ran around ‘mothering’ him. But after being encouraged to eat, Rob developed a much fuller figure in later life! His body shape changed, but his passion to change society surged on. But now that is lost to us and working people have lost one of their true champions.

No-one who heard him could forget his wonderful and vivid way of explaining events and ideas. Almost like radio can, he could make the mind conjure up pictures. He was one of the best ‘ranters’ we’ve known, whose use of humour always made ideas accessible to people. Many comrades say they never tired of hearing him speak.

The Anti Poll Tax campaign revealed his huge talents. He gave up his job to focus on it. One day he went away with the hundreds of pages of Poll Tax legislation. 2 days later he returned with a summary of what it was and how to fight it in a mere ten page campaigning pamphlet, and not a word of it was ever found wanting.

Rob inspired many an anti Poll Tax meeting and the mass non-payment campaign. Others of us who rushed around to address one packed meeting after another would worry what could happen to people who refused to pay the tax. We would consult Rob who always had the legal answer, and always right!

He was a tiger defending the non-paying army. He baffled magistrates around the country and drove them to distraction. There was little as entertaining as Rob entangling them! And he taught others how to do it. Court after court was clogged up. He bamboozled, beat and chased off bailiffs as he cut a swathe across the Midlands. A famous headline “Mr Windsor beats Mrs Windsor” reported how Rob beat off thousands of wage attachments in the Courts.

Thatcher said the Poll Tax was “her flagship”, Rob always said it would be her Titanic and he was a significant part in beating Thatcher (who he always called the ‘tin woman’).

But he didn’t stop there. He fought on to change the system itself. To his last he still led that fight and it is as good a measure of the man as his brilliant leadership of the anti Poll tax unions, that he advanced Marxist ideas in a period of political retreat including in difficult environments like the Council chamber.

In the early 90’s capitalism appeared to have triumphed. Within months of beating the Poll Tax, Rob faced expulsion from the Labour Party. His opposition to the Poll Tax proving he was a ‘Militant’! The Labour Party was moving to the right and abandoning any talk of Socialism. It was embracing the market that has brought us to the dire economic position we face today.

But while many were abandoning socialism and Marxism, Rob fought on to help establish the support and organisation we have today that will advance the struggle for change.

 It is the greatest compliment to say that when he became a councillor he was utterly politically reliable and down the line. He explained and advanced our ideas unflinchingly, be it in the Council House or anywhere else. His honesty and grasp of issues always shone through. And anyone under attack could rely on Rob on their side. From school-students on strike or pickets at Wapping (where he got an object personal lesson in the brutality of the state) or travelling to support Vestas workers on the Isle of Wight or to speak in support of Tommy Sheridan in Glasgow.

He was ‘a politician’, not because he wanted to be one, but because he knew we had to fight back. He could analyse issues in seconds, he was brilliant, but with no pretentions.

Rob lived for his politics but also loved walking hills (returning to supply many of us with oatcakes) and he’d planned to combine walking with visiting branches of the Socialist Party to speak. It is so hard to grasp that this won’t happen, that at only 47 he is lost to so many people who appreciated him.

But we’ll have to work to make up for it, and as Rob did many times, rededicate ourselves to the fight he carried so well and try to find people with the strengths and talents to advance ideas in the way he did.

The liver transplant in December had promised to renew Rob’s life, and as he was now ‘more comfortable in his skin’ the best of him was still to come. But complications arose and after 5 weeks struggle they could not be resisted. His surgeon said how hard he fought for life. That’s because he valued it and wanted everyone to have the chance to do so.

Isla loses a husband and we lose a brother. He was collaborative person, a human being who by his work inspired us and was inspired by those he fought alongside.

He is a huge loss to the Socialist Party. But we stand taller because of our association with him.

We’ll work to compensate for this loss as Rob would want, and as we make advances in the future we wish he was with us to share in it. He deserves to be there.

Coventry Socialist Party will continue the work that Rob Windsor committed his entire adult life to - the struggle for a socialist future.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Nigeria: Day Three of "indefinite" general strike against fuel prices

Article from special edition of Socialist Democracy, paper of the Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI in Nigeria) -

Millions out in Mass Actions across the Country
Jonathan's Government isolated – time for a workers' and poor people's government

On Wednesday, January 11, the day three of the indefinite strike and mass protest declared by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), all over the country millions were effectively out in protests and other mass actions on Wednesday.

Just like the previous two days, all cities across the country were shut down. The roads, not just the express roads but equally the inner community roads, were completely deserted. Bonfires, the main features of Monday and Tuesday protests in Lagos, have largely disappeared allowing a clear glimpse of the self-compliance and self-mobilization by the vast majority of the masses in support of the strike.

In virtually all places, community people needed no serious efforts by activists before they came out in hundreds to the barricade. On our way round some parts of Lagos today, a group of people who had gathered at a junction upon seeing our labour banner approached us to discuss what they could do organize actions in their community. There is a deep sense that every hand must be on deck.

In Yaba on Tuesday, about 20, 000 marched from the NLC Secretariat to Lagos Island where a mass rally was held at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS). The protest march later moved to the Lekki-Epe toll gate where the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) Lagos State government through its fraudulent Public Private Partnership (PPP) with the Lekki Construction Company (LCC) has for months now imposed a monstrous toll regime on the residents of the communities. Not surprisingly the toll gates were deserted. Only a few policemen held guard. The usual LCC toll officials were conspicuously absent.

While this was happening on Tuesday, over a hundred thousand gathered at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park in. This park has since Monday become some sort of Tahir Square and some protesters have started spending the night there. Musicians came one after the other to entertain protesters while human right activists equally gave fiery speeches.

But on Wednesday, about 500,000 were effectively gathered at the Gani Freedom Park. This is a huge increase over the turnout on Monday and Tuesday. The park itself is so filled that it is bursting at the seams. Everywhere and in and out of the park, sea of heads and a jumble of colours can be seen. All roads leading to the Park is filled with protesters walking miles from their homes to be at the park. Occasionally, groups of tens and hundreds could be seen marching agilely along the road leading to the park apparently as the terminus of a movement that started from a distant community.

Meanwhile small actions of hundreds and thousands continue to take place at communities and neighborhoods levels. It is now a normal sight to round a bend on the road and come upon a new detachment of protesters with homemade banners and placards heading for God-knows-where. It is like society is awakened from its depth.

While the Gani Freedom Park has become the 'freedom square' of the movement in Lagos, it is shocking that the leadership of the Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) continue to abandon the park. The leadership of the NLC and TUC had declared Gani Park as the terminus of the Lagos protest on Monday. However by the time the huge crowd of protesters got to the park, the Save Nigeria Group (SNG) – a civil society organization composed of bourgeois, pro-capitalist opposition parties, clergymen and middle class elements – had set up position in the park complete with sound systems and a platform. Angered by this, the LASCO leadership did not enter the park and instead shunned it. This allowed a free run to the SNG leaders, who did not play a major part in calling the strike, to try to seize leadership of the protest.

The DSM believes while moving round different parts of Lagos to hold mass protest marches/and rallies is absolutely correct as the experience in Lagos Island and Ojo showed, ignoring Gani Park is a wrong decision. The Gani Park has become a main centre of the struggle. Mass of people can be seen every day from as early as 6am making their way to the park. On Wednesday over 200, 000 were effectively in the Park aside many more outside of it. The Gani Park equally provides a basis for a people's assembly through which a more comprehensive demand (something which must go beyond reversal of fuel pump price to N65 per litre) of the struggle can be drawn up and political power taken from the ruling elite by the working class and the poor. This is why we urge the leadership of LASCO to intervene in the park with the demands and programs of the working class, and let pro-capitalist elements seize the stage.

Except the leaders who occasionally address protesters, the park has not yet been fully turned to a platform where serious political debates can take place on the issues that mobilized the struggle. While speakers regularly allude to the fact that the issues that mobilized the struggle is beyond fuel price increase, no steps are being taken to put forward a comprehensive list of social, economic and political demands that covers the grievances of the oppressed masses.

Daily the main program at the park is entertainment and music. This is itself a danger as the attraction of musicians and celebrities could soon wear off, especially as the strike progresses, thus leading to mass defection from the park. The daily mass mobilization to the park can only be effectively utilized only if the park is transformed into a democratic people's assembly where free debates on the issues, demands and strategies of the struggle can take place. A comprehensive list of demands that covers all issues like unemployment, education, corruption, social program to build roads and shelter, etc need to be democratically debated at the park and drawn up with a view to putting this forward to the government as the minimum concession (not just reversal to N65per litre) the movement can accept from the government.

The DSM intervened at the park on Wednesday. We set up a stall which was enthusiastically visited by protesters. We sold several copies of SD and distributed hundreds of leaflets. We equally got some contacts, mostly former student members who had grown inactive after graduating.

The anger of the masses, mostly of young people, is unmistakable. We had discussions with a few protesters some of whom agreed with the slogan of kicking out Jonathan's anti-poor government. However consciousness continues to lag behind reality. Many protesters are unclear about the alternatives to the anti-poor ruling elite government. We intend to organize small debating groups within the park through which the socialist alternative can be put forward.

While Gani Park at Ojota is the main center of activities in Lagos, actions took place on smaller scales in the local communities. In Agege over 3, 500 protesters, led by DSM and JAF members, turned out. In solidarity with the death of a protester, Aderinola Ademola, shot by police in Ogba yesterday, the mass marched to the home of the victim's aged parents. So also on Wednesday in Agege, DSM comrades and JAF collaborators led protesters on a march to Iyana Ipaja bus stop to receive a leadership delegation of the Labour and Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) who came to visit protesters at barricades.

The same thing was emulated by DSM comrades collaborating with other groups under the platform of JAF at Ojodu Berger who organized rallies yesterday. Thousands of DSM leaflets were distributed at all these events with DSM members Dagga Tolar, Chinedu Bosah and Soweto speaking. They stressed the importance of strengthening and organizing the struggle in communities and neighborhoods. While stressing that the reversal of pump price of fuel to N65 will be a victory, they believed the struggle could win more.

In other places like Kano, everywhere was shut down. In Kano hundreds of thousands came out in protest. It was the same situation in Abuja, Osun, Oyo, Ogun and other cities across the country. In Ife and Osogbo, mammoth protests have been reported. In Abuja over hundred thousand reportedly marched. However in Niger and Oyo State, a dawn to dusk curfew has been declared by the state governments allegedly in response to protesters 'violence'. However the only real violence is the unprovoked attacks by the police on unharmed protesters just like the shooting by CSP Segun Fabunmi at Ogba in Lagos which left two protesters dead and two others injured.

For instance today (January 11) as LASCO leaders addressed at Iyana Ipaja, a police helicopter circled provocatively overhead apparently to rile people into violence. When the protesters headed on their homeward journey they discovered that tear gas had been shot by the police at Iyana Ipaja junction apparently to terrorize communities that showed support. All this confirms the allegations of secret arrest by the police of protesters lagging behind the main body of the protests.

We continue to argue that Labour must adopt a strategy that can win. As most protesters have continued to express, the struggle is not just about fuel price hike. A youth who spoke at Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) called for armed struggle to take over political power to rousing applause from the crowd. While at this stage it has not got to the question of armed struggle, the speech is reflective of the growing appreciation among the masses of the need for a political power. Indeed, calling an indefinite strike raises the question of political power. It is unfortunate that Labour has not appreciated this. In fact one of the deputy presidents of NLC, Promise Adewusi while responding to the call for political power stated that Labour is non-partisan. This is indicative of the mindset of the Labour leaders.

There is also huge dissatisfaction with the corruption of the capitalist ruling elite as well as the collapse of public education, health, roads, electricity etc. to massive applause, Femi Kuti (son of the late afro beat maestro Fela Anikulapo) called on political office holders to accept the minimum wage of ordinary workers. According to him "if we must suffer for our oil, all of us must suffer together…the matter is not just about fuel subsidy removal, it is about corruption and mass suffering".

There is also much questioning of the credibility of political parties including opposition parties like the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) striving to benefit from this struggle. Many are asking what difference there is between the anti-poor policy of fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government and the policy of over 725% fee hike at the Lagos State University (LASU) or the Lekki toll gate by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). For instance the main political leader of the ACN, Bola Tinubu, is calling for 'phased withdrawal of fuel subsidy'.

This is why Socialists call for a mass revolution to replace both the Jonathan's corrupt regime and the unjust system of capitalism with a workers and poor people's government committed to socialist policies to use society's resources primarily in the interest of all.

The 3rd day of the indefinite strike has again shown the power of the organized working class. Socialists insist that if Labour can shut down the country, then it can also run it. This will require the building of both workplace and community based assemblies and a mass workers' party which armed socialist ideas and programs can quickly become a mass force through which the working masses and poor can take political power and begin to run society in the interest of the majority.


(1) For a serious fight against Jonathan’s New Year "gift". No rotten compromise

(2) Reversal of the pump price of petrol to N65

(3) Immediate reversal of the neo-liberal and anti-poor policy of the fuel subsidy removal. No to the deregulation of the oil sector.

(4) Arrest and prosecution of members of the "cabals" responsible for the diversion of monies spent over the years on subsidizing fuel.

(5) A state program to make refineries functional and build new ones to ensure the local refining of crude oil.

(6) Public ownership of the oil sector under democratic control and management of committees of workers and consumers.

(7) Reversal of all privatizations and the public ownership of all state enterprises under democratic control of workers and consumers

(8) Cut in the outrageous salaries and allowances of political office-holders. For all political office holders to be paid the average wage of a skilled worker.

(9) A program to invest society’s resources in providing free education, health care, building decent public housing, rehabilitation roads and building of railways and other means of mass transportation

(10) A minimum wage of N52, 500 and the payment of unemployment benefits to all unemployed persons.

(11) Public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy under public democratic management and control

(12) Build a mass workers party armed with socialist policies to take political power and form a workers’ and poor people’s government that can begin to run society in the interest of workers and poor masses.

Stephen Lawrence murder - the untold story

How socialists and the local community fought back against racism and the BNP

On 3 January 2012 Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty of the horrific murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence and sentenced to life imprisonment. Stephen was murdered almost 19 years ago in a racist attack by a white gang in south London.
Media coverage after the trial has focussed on the issues which emerged after the murder - such as institutionalised police racism and police incompetence, and how much has changed since. But there has been little mention of the presence of the far-right racist British National Party (BNP) in the area at the time and also the united community and trade union anti-racist campaign to drive them out.
Lois Austin, then a leading activist in Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE) and the Labour Party Young Socialists, whose branches initiated the campaign, spoke to the Socialist:

Firstly I want to pay testament to the Lawrence family and how strong and tough they've been to see it through this far. It is galling to see parts of the British establishment and the right-wing media, such as the Daily Mail, lauding the Lawrence family. At the time most of the British establishment turned its back on the family and the justice system didn't deliver for them and neither did local politicians.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s YRE was involved in a local campaign that eventually closed the racist BNP's headquarters in Welling.

Immediately after Stephen's murder we made appeals to Bexley council and the press to help get the BNP out because it was the BNP's divisive campaigns that were leading to an increase in racism and racist attacks in the area.

The media has also been almost completely silent on the mass protests that took place after Stephen Lawrencewas murdered.

Much has been said about the Lawrence family being left isolated and alone and they were by most of the political and media establishment, but that was not the case when it came to support from ordinary people. Thousands came out onto the streets to show their anger at the murder and their support for the family.

In May 1993, just a few weeks after Stephen Lawrence was murdered, over 8,000 joined a demo called by YRE and others - including Panther, the black socialist organisation. Mainly local young people, black and white, marched past the BNP HQ demanding that something must be done to rid our area of these racists.

Read the rest of the article:

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Teachers reject pensions deal

NUT Press release:

Following a meeting of a senior committee of the NUT Executive, the Union has agreed to call for further urgent discussions with Government on the future of teachers' pensions.

When the teacher unions met Department for Education ministers before Christmas, the NUT reserved its position on the Government's proposals. The NUT, the largest teachers’ union, has now agreed to continue to pursue further changes to those proposals.

The NUT remains concerned about proposed increases in employee contributions and pension ages. We believe that increasing contributions at a time of real terms pay cuts will lead many teachers to opt out from pension provision and threaten the future of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme. The NUT is also concerned that a large majority of teachers will not be able to work successfully in the classroom to age 68.

The NUT is also committed to appealing against the High Court judgement on the Government’s change in pensions indexation. The High Court agreed with us that the Government’s decision was intended principally to save money, not to find a more appropriate method of indexation. The NUT will continue to press the courts to declare this decision unlawful.

The full NUT Executive will meet next Thursday, 12 January, to take further decisions on how to progress the campaign to save teachers’ pensions.

Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“We remain committed to a negotiated agreement on pensions but these proposals will not, in our opinion, serve the interests of teachers or the education system. Michael Gove assured us in December that sufficient time and resources would be provided to secure a solution. The Government must face the fact that further discussions and additional funding are needed.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Stop the pension sell-out! Conference tomorrow

The next 7 days are vital to stop a sell-out in the public sector pension struggle. Unison and the GMB have signed the government's Heads of Agreement, which will kick the dispute into the long grass and waste the incredible head of steam created by the 2 million strong N30 strike. But if we can build pressure on these unions and the TUC (see lobbies below) we can stop this retreat.

As part of this many union activists are coming to the conference organised by PCS Left Unity this Saturday and which is open to ALL members of ALL unions in the public and private sectors. If you're opposed to a sell-out, please come along and try and bring your fellow union members and workmates. We have to act now! The pressure can work - Unite's health national industrial sector committee has now rejected the deal!

Bring your union & anti cuts banners!!

PCS Left Unity National Committee

Organising Conference Saturday: Friends Meeting House, Euston Rd, London NW1 2BJ (opp. Euston Station) 7th January 2012 11am – 4pm

Chair: Janice Godrich PCS President
Mark Serwotka PCS General Secretary
John McDonnell MP
Kevin Courtney DGS NUT (personal capacity)
Padraig Mulholland vice-president NIPSA (personal capacity)
Roger Bannister UNISON NEC (personal capacity)
Mark Campbell UCU NEC (personal capacity)
Zita Holbourne BARAC
Kevin Donnelly Unite United Left

The PCS Left Unity National Committee invites all activists from all unions to an organising conference on the 7th of January to debate how we can build the campaign to defend our pensions and fight the cuts and prevent any unacceptable “deal” that makes us work longer, pay more and get less.

This will be an organising conference, not just a debating forum. It is intended to arm activists with the issues so they can go back to their workplaces and into their unions in order to build a campaign that will secure justice on pensions.

To cover costs there will be a registration fee of £5 for waged delegates.

Unite unanimously rejects NHS pension 'offer'

Press release from Unite website: 
The government’s latest proposals on NHS pension ‘reform’ - the ‘Heads of Agreement’ document - were unanimously rejected by Unite, the largest union in the country, today (Thursday 5 January).

Unite’s health sector national industrial committee (HSNIC) rejected the ‘Heads of Agreement’ as a basis for a satisfactory outcome.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: ”Our NHS executive unanimously rejects the government’s pernicious attempts to make hard working and dedicated NHS staff pay more, work longer and get less when they retire.

”The government’s attacks on public sector pensions are politically motivated, as part of an overall design to privatise the NHS, cut public services, break-up the national pay agreements, and disrupt legitimate trade union activities and organisation.

”Unite believes it is important to continue a campaign to maintain a fair and equitable system of public sector pensions and calls on ministers to enter into real, genuine and meaningful negotiations on the future of NHS pensions and public sector pensions.”

Unite’s concerns centre on three areas:
A high proportion of NHS staff will see their pension contributions jump from the current 6.5 per cent to 9.3 per cent by 2014/15, and other staff will see their contributions leap by nearly 50 per cent, with some paying 14.5 per cent of their salary into their pensions.
The linking of the NHS retirement age to the ever-increasing age that people will receive their state pensions. The state retirement age is set to rise to 66 in 2020 and 67 by 2026, with the prospect of working even longer in future decades. Unite is concerned that, for example, paramedics and nurses could be doing heavy lifting into their late 60s.
The proposed accrual rate for NHS staff is worse than the planned rates for other public sector schemes. Because this will be based on career average earnings, it will hit women who had taken career breaks to raise their children hardest.

The Unite HSNIC is due to meet again on 11 January to formulate future strategy. Unite has 100,000 members in the health service.

This stand only reaffirms the important of Saturday's organising conference called by PCS Left Unity national committee. Saturday 7th January, 11am-4pm. Friends Meeting House, 173 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ.  CONFIRMED SPEAKERS INCLUDE: Mark Sertwotka PCS, Roger Bannister Unison NEC member (personal capacity), Kevin Courtney NUT, Mark Campbell UCU and John McDonnell MP. CHAIRED BY Janice Godrich, PCS President