National News

Keeping socialism alive in the House

by Daphne Liddle

THE ANNUAL conference of the Labour Representation Committee in London last Saturday focussed on next year’s general election and the need not only to keep the Tories out but to maximise the number of socialist Labour MPs in the House of Commons — as opposed to New Labour who are barely distinguishable from the Tories.

The meeting began with Tony Benn, former MP and still a very active campaigner, giving a brief history of the Labour Party from its creation by the original Labour Representation Committee to be a voice for the organised working class — the trade unions — in a Parliament dominated by capitalists and landowners.

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Train drivers need rest days too!

THE TRAIN drivers’ union Aslef has sprung to the defence of its members after drivers employed by First Capital Connect were criticised by the employers and the Government for failing to volunteer to work on their rest days.

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Sainsbury tanker drivers in dispute

THE GIANT union Unite last Monday announced that it is to ballot BP tanker drivers who deliver fuel to the forecourts of Sainsbury’s supermarkets.

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Budgen boss a ‘local hero’

THE UNION Unite has hailed a Budgens’ boss as a local hero for refusing to stock produce from the company Two Sisters.

Workers sacked by poultry company Two Sisters, for standing up against racist abuse, were given a massive boost when the Budgens’ store threw its weight behind their campaign to get their jobs back.

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Merseyside firefighters to ballot for action

MEMBERS of the Fire Brigades Union employed by Merseyside Fire Service have given their fire authority seven days notice that they will start balloting for industrial action short of a strike because of the failure to withdraw a cuts package.

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Build more homes for workers

THE PUBLIC sector union Unison last week called for a million affordable homes to be built over next five years — the lifetime of the next Parliament, to help house the million plus families who are on social housing waiting lists.

The call came as Unison launched research, at the House of Commons on Wednesday (11th November) showing that councils are well placed to be providers of affordable, eco-friendly homes that meet local needs and boost local economies.

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Ballot of BA cabin crew

THE GIANT general union Unite last Monday issued ballot papers to its more-than-12,000-strong cabin crew membership within British Airways.

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GMB joins alliance to defend pensioner care

THE GMB general union, which represents thousands of care home workers, has joined forces with Britain’s biggest pensioner organisation and a major charity tackling elder abuse to respond to the Government’s green paper consultation on the future of care (which ended on 13th November).

GMB with The National Pensioners Convention (NPC) and Action on Elder Abuse (AEA) have identified three key concerns surrounding the Government’s care proposals, which they say could jeopardise the safety of older people and damage the quality of the services they receive.

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International News

Palestinian hopes dashed

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

PALESTINIAN efforts to win international recognition for an independent state in advance of any settlement with Israel have been knocked back this week by US imperialism and the European Union — and Israel threatens to take tear up the existing Oslo agreements if the Palestinian Authority declares itself an independent state.

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Taliban step up attacks

by Wang Yan in Kabul

TALIBAN insurgents have launched a fresh round of attacks on military and civilian targets in Afghanistan, ahead of President Hamid Karzai’s inaugural ceremony scheduled on Thursday.

Karzai will be sworn in as president of the post-Taliban Afghanistan for a second term on 19th November amid tight security. The day has been proclaimed a public holiday in the capital, Kabul, in an effort to avoid untoward security incidents.

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Hopes for climate agreement in Copenhagen vanish

THE NEWS came as a complete shock. The summit on climatic change that takes place next month in Copenhagen will be just a “pit stop” and not the definite meeting to reach an agreement to save the planet and the human race.

Despite the clear evidence of the intensive deterioration that global warming has caused the environment, the situation today is worse than ever. Although the expressions of goodwill are many, concrete actions are still far from a reality.

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Honduras: no deal with fascist regime

HONDURAN President Manuel Zelaya says he will not accept an agreement with the fascist regime that would attempt to legitimise the illegal military-backed government. Speaking from the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, where he has taken refuge for nearly two months, the Honduran leader reaffirmed that he has not stepped down as president and would continue the struggle for a return to democratic rule in the Central American country.

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World on hunger alert

ALMOST ON the eve of a world summit on hunger, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) launched a new global alert about the situation of millions of people who need emergency assistance due to their lack of access to essential nutrients.

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Cuba: Treasured Island

ALEJANDRO Gortazar is a Cuban photographer who has worked for the past 10 years in the fashion industry and the commercial sector on the island. But he’s best known as a nature photographer who visited protected nature reserves and explored the most inaccessible parts of the island to capture a wild and beautiful environment through the lens of his camera. For him Cuba is a “bastion of struggle, sacrifice, culture, nature and love” and we can now, for the first time, see a selection of some of his finest shots at exhibitions in London and Northampton. Last week Andy Brooks talked to him about his work.

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The imperialist grab for Africa’s resources

by Abayomi Azikiwe — Editor, Pan-African News Wire

OVER THE the last two years more than seven million workers inside the United States have lost their jobs, according to official figures supplied by the federal government. The impact has been felt in all sectors of the economy, including heavy and light industry, retail, high technology, public service, education, healthcare and culture.

This economic downturn has resulted in an estimated 34 million workers being left either unemployed or underemployed. As of November, the unemployment rate stands at 10.2 per cent and no reasonable forecast predicts a sudden upswing in employment during the immediate period. Real wages have been in severe decline. Trillions of dollars in housing, savings, healthcare benefits, educational resources and pension funds have been taken from working families and the oppressed and turned over to the financial sector and the Pentagon. Despite the election of a Democratic congress and administration, the conditions for working people and the nationally oppressed have worsened during 2009.

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