Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Paralympics, Atos scandal, Remploy closures... Con-Dems win gold for hypocrisy!

By Les Woodward, national convenor, Remploy trade union consortium 
The ethos that despite being disabled, a person should be able to fulfil their own potential, through holding down a job and being a productive member of society, was also the ethos that eventually led to the setting up of the first Remploy factory in 1946.Millions are watching the 2012 Paralympics. The Games aim to inspire young disabled people to take up sport, compete at the highest level and illustrate to the world that having a disability doesn't mean that a full, active and challenging life cannot be lived.

The forerunner of the Paralympics started in 1948 in Stoke Mandeville Hospital as a way of using sporting competition as a form of healing and therapy for disabled ex-service personnel, many of whom were recovering from injuries suffered in World War Two.

2012 will be a memorable year for disabled people who will be part of the Paralympics, either as spectators or participants. It will also be a memorable year for the disabled workers of Remploy, but the memories will be poles apart.

The disabled athletes, their families and fans, will have joy and excitement. They will look back on 2012 as the year they came to the Games, and left with souvenirs and full photograph albums to record every joyous second.

The disabled Remploy workers and their able-bodied comrades, however, will have bad memories. Their factories, which have provided good quality employment for the best part of 70 years, will shut their gates for the last time. They will head, not for gold but for the dole and a life of poverty and deprivation as they get dumped on the scrapheap.

This will be then vastly exacerbated by the Con-Dems' cold cruelty: with benefits slashed and denied financial and other support to live independently, disabled people are also being demonised as "scroungers", and abuse towards them is rocketing.

In the Con-Dems' arrogance, brought about by the 'Born to Rule' attitude that they have all grown up with, they have ignored the big questions that will be on every working class disabled person's lips, especially if they are ex-Remploy workers or victims of Atos, sickeningly one of the prime sponsors of the Olympics and Paralympics.

Why is it that disabled people are encouraged to compete on the field of sport, partake as competitors in activities from which able bodied athletes are segregated, while being employed in a workplace alongside other disabled people in a supported environment is not acceptable? The government, some charities and, to their shame, some trade unions seem to find having fun together acceptable, but not working together.

Why should disabled people have to suffer the stress of the 'work capability' assessment administered by Atos? The sole aim of this cruel process seems to be to push as many people as possible off sickness benefits, as part of the £18 billion welfare cuts.

No Remploy closures. The factories should be run for disabled people, by disabled people, where people with all forms of disability can fulfil their employment potential in the short, medium and long term.

Fight all welfare cuts. Kick Atos out of the system. End the work capability assessment. A living wage and fulfilling work opportunities for all without compulsion.

Kazakhstan:The freeing of Vadim Kuramshin

Result of massive international campaign of solidarity

Statement by Ainur Kurmanov, Socialist Movement, Kazakhstan

Today, August 28, Vadim Kuramshin was released from the courtroom in Taraz after the jury’s verdict was announced. The human rights activist was found guilty of only one misdemeanour - "arbitrariness" (under article 327 of the criminal code). For this he receives one year’s probation, but he has been cleared of all other charges originally brought against him.

This is a tremendous victory brought about by an unprecedented campaign. This has included world-wide solidarity organised by the socialists of the Committee for a Workers’ International and Campaign Kazakhstan, by the tremendous support of his comrades and friends in the country and by the coverage given by the independent media of this scandalous trial.

Vadim Kuramshin spent more than six months behind prison walls in Taraz. State forces had been ordered to carry out a special operation; its agents were instructed to track him down and finish him off. This aim appeared to be behind the recommendation of the public prosecutor to have the human rights lawyer sent down for 14 years to a ‘special regime’ colony, usually reserved for murderers and hardened criminals.

A long list of people, including highly placed officials, were interested in Vadim Kuramshin just sitting and rotting in a prison. In this way they wanted to destroy the movement known as "Fighting Tyranny!" in which Vadim has been very much involved. They wanted to eliminate resistance being organised - against torture, widespread corruption in the courts and prisons - and to cover up the numerous cases of torture and murder of prisoners. Additionally, Vadim was a co-worker of ours, so his arrest was also seen as a blow against our organisation.

In the making of such a judgment - the first credit must go to the jury who did not succumb to the pressure from the security services and the judiciary during the weeks-long break. They were convinced of the total lack of guilt on Vadim’s part, when the multitude of facts came to light about outright fraud and the fabrication of evidence. It became obvious to them that the testimony of "witnesses" was illegal - the actions of the Ministry of the Interior, the National Security Committee and the prosecution, when they were expelled from the courtroom by the judge, they made the only correct decision. The judge asked them to take action on three charges. Understanding that after a six-month detention, Vadim was still in the right, they made the only correct choice, leaving just the minor ‘offence’ of "arbitrariness".

Of course, the release of Vadim Kuramshina would have been impossible without the massive solidarity campaign, organised by the Committee for a Workers’ International and the movement of solidarity with the workers of Kazakhstan - Campaign Kazakhstan. More than three thousand letters from various organisations and movements all over the world were sent to the Foreign Ministry, the Presidential Administration, the Supreme Court and other government agencies of the country. Pickets were held in Berlin, London, Moscow, New York and in other European capitals. Pickets were held in Berlin, London, Moscow, New York and in other European capitals. When the comrades of the CWI learned that 14 years in prison was being requested for Vadim Kuramshin, just in one day 156 letters of protest were sent from various parties, trade unions and organisations with whom we are in contact.

Letters were also sent to members of the European Parlaiment on the initiative of the Irish Socialist Party representative, Paul Murphy. There were statements by Andrei Junko, member of the German Bundestag for the Left Party. The president of the All-Kazakhstan workers’ union, "Zhanartu", Esen Ukteshbayev, raised the question of Vadim Kuramshin during all the meetings he had in Europe, with human rights and workers’ organisations. The Socialist Movement Kazakhstan, with the maximum involvement of Socialist Resistance (CWI Kazakhstan) has also held many pickets and protests, produced leaflets and distributed information about the trial throughout the country. Great assistance with spreading information about the court proceedings was given on the "Republica" portal and on the site This once again shows that a massive campaign of solidarity can smash the plans of the Nazarbayev repressive machine.

Vadim Kuramshin himself thanks everyone for all their help and support in securing his release. He declared on Tuesday morning: "The circumstances of my release have shown that the jury is the only mechanism for safeguarding the legal interests of ‘inconvenient’ activists. This was confirmed by the events of today! But without the support of the Socialist Movement Kazakhstan and the Committee for a Workers’ International, without the active support of Zhanna Baytelova, Ainur Kurmanov, Esenbek Ukteshbaev this would not have happened. A huge thankyou goes to the lawyers Iskander Alimbayev and Razia Nurmasheva, Dmitri Tikhonov, Armand Ozhaubaev, Nadezhda Ataeva, Paul Murphy and Andrew Junko as well as my journalist friends and colleagues. Very many thanks to all activists of the CWI and all the concerned people whose names, unfortunately, I cannot begin to list."

See previous articles on this site here and material on the site of Campaign Kazakhstan here.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Solidarity with Lonmin’s miners - South African police massacres striking workers at Marikana


At least 46 workers were shot dead, and many more injured, on August 16 as a massive police assault was launched to crush a strike by thousands of workers at platinum miner Lonmin’s shafts in Marikana outside Rustenburg, in addition to at least six mine workers who were killed in clashes earlier on in the strike which began August 10. Two policemen and two mine security guards were also killed in the near-civil-war-like conditions. It is clear that the Lonmin bosses, backed by the entire big business elite and its servants in the ANC government, the police and army are hellbent on restoring order at any cost. The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM - CWI in South Africa) appeals for socialists and trade unionists internationally to protest against the massacre that is now being set in motion.

The background is that thousands of workers at Lonmin, the world’s third largest platinum producer, went on strike in demand of an increase from their current R4000 poverty wages to a R12500 living wage on August 10. The strike was initiated by workers belonging to AMCU, a break-away union from the dominant National Union of Mine workers (NUM). It appears the strike, which grew in numbers to involve tens of thousands of workers, was attacked not only by the infamously brutal mine security but also by the NUM, which attempted to force workers to break the strike. This provoked mistaken retaliations such as the torching of a car which led to the death of the two security guards on Saturday and the killing of two police officers on Monday. This has given the government an excuse to restore “law and order”, and Lonmin’s rapidly falling share price, through what is nothing less than an orchestrated massacre.

The area is under siege, with the battle clearly being prepared for in the last couple of days. Lonmin withdrew from negotiations which had been agreed for August 15 stating that the matter would now be “in the hands of the police”. No longer able to rely on containing the workers through the NUM leaders, the bosses have now resorted to brute force. By drowning this uprising in blood, the bosses may win a battle but not the war which has been brewing on Rustenburg’s platinum mines for years now. As a result of the global economic crisis, the platinum price has fallen drastically and the bosses are desperate to make the workers pay.That is why they are resolved, with the backing of the entire ruling class, not to give an inch to the bold strike launched by the Lonmin workers.

The Rustenburg region is the world’s largest platinum ore deposit and the recent closure of shafts by some mines have alerted its tens of thousands of workers to the urgent need to fight back. In doing so, increasing numbers are turning their backs on the NUM –once one of the proudest, most militant trade unions in SA but now, through backdoor deals with the bosses, investment companies and an alliance with the capitalist African National Congress-government, it is so discredited that its leaders only dare to address workers protected by guns, life guards and police armoured vehicles. Seeking a way forward, many workers have gone into AMCU, and with the NUM, backed by management, defending its turf, a tense stalemate has been established this year.

The DSM is calling on workers in both unions to demand united solidarity action, beginning with a local general strike, involving all the platinum shafts and the bitterly poor local working class communities. We also call for a national general strike to end the shooting of striking workers, and for a campaign of rolling mass action for the nationalisation of the mines under workers control and management.

Disabled People Against Cuts organising against Atos

From Monday 27th to Friday 31st August, Disabled People Against Cuts is organising the Atos Games - five days of action against a company that's sponsoring the Paralympics but wrecking disabled people's lives.

DPAC is calling on disabled people, disabled activists, families, colleagues, friends and supporters to come together and fight back against Atos's attacks.

They are asking the whole of the anti-cuts movement to join them in opposing a company that is driving through the government's brutal cuts agenda.

Details available on:

Friday, 3 August 2012

Southampton Labour councillors vote against cuts

By Southampton Socialist Party members

The stand taken by Coxford councillors Keith Morrell and Don Thomas to vote against the Labour council budget cuts and proposal to close Oaklands swimming pool has received enormous support from the local community and across the city. Importantly they have received the backing of local council trade unions.

It is now essential that this support is mobilised to maximize the pressure on the council, to reverse the cuts and save the pool. The council has reserves and borrowing power to raise the finance, after all millions were found to build the new Titanic museum!
No privatisation of Oaklands pool

It has been suggested that if the council hasn't got the money, the pool should be handed over to the community to run or a private provider found.

But then where would the money come from? The risk would be passed to the community and inevitably would mean going to the private sector that would end up running the pool for profit.

Private companies offer to run services not for the community but for profit. They do this by running down services, putting up charges and cutting staff and their pay and conditions.

Oaklands pool was built and paid for with public money and is an asset that should not be given away.Privatisation is no solution.
No need for cuts

The future of Oaklands pool is under threat because of the government cuts to council funding. The Con-Dems are cutting 25% of the money Southampton receives up to 2014, with further cuts promised.

But it is becoming clearer to everyone that the Con-Dem cuts are for the benefit of the super-rich, whose profits soar and who evade their taxes to the tune of over £120 billion.
Unite against all cuts

Everyone is being hit by cuts. Jobs, pay, pensions, benefits, schools, hospitals and social services.

A united campaign of the community, council workers and the trade unions must be built to oppose all cuts, redundancies and privatisation, to reverse the cuts and restore council workers' pay.

Such a mass campaign could put huge pressure on the majority Labour group not to implement cuts and to fight central government for the funding this city needs.
Support rebel councillors

Keith and Don now face disciplinary measures by Labour officials who want councillors to make cuts. Council trade unions must call on all councillors to join Keith and Don and oppose cuts.
Mass lobby against cuts

The next council meeting is on Wednesday 12 September. This will be an opportunity to mobilise mass support for the stand of the Coxford councillors and opposition to all cuts.

The Socialist Party gives full support to Keith and Don and will give support to any other Labour councillor who is prepared to join them.

The impact of their stand fully vindicates the election campaign of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in opposing cuts. We must now ensure this campaign grows in support.