National News

Public sector pension fight goes on

THE LARGE group of unions involved in the very successful national strike on 30th November against Con-Dem Coalition attacks on public sector pensions are considering their next steps, after the government has come up with some divisive new offers.

The civil service union PCS, the giant union Unite and the teaching unions have rejected the new offers and are standing firm ready to renew the fight.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Lord Leverhulme joins workers’ pension protest

LORD LEVERHULME, founder and former head of the giant Unilever company, last Tuesday joined workers from Unilever factories throughout Britain in a protest outside the company headquarters on the Victoria Embankment in London.

The workers are protesting at company plans to downgrade their pension scheme from a final-salary scheme to a career-average scheme. This means some workers could lose 40 per cent of the value of their pensions.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Refuge on the streets

REFUGES for women escaping domestic violence have suffered seriously in the cuts that now, according to reports, they are so full they are advising women who come to them in desperate need, to go and join the Occupy protest camps as a safe place to go.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Bringing alive our illustrious past

THE GREAT mining communities have long gone — destroyed by a Tory government determined to abandon the British coalfields in favour of imported coal and nuclear energy. But their memory lives on in the memories of the mineworkers and the photos and mementos of their struggle.

Back in 2009 Past Pixels was launched to make images of working class struggle more widely available to a newer generation. Over the past two years it has produced collections of greeting cards reflecting the struggle of the British mining community including snapshots of the epic miners’ strike of 1984/85 and a collection of NUM enamel badges. Now the company has issued a new set using images of banners from South Wales mining communities.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

International News

Millions walk out in Nigerian strike

Xinhua news agency

MILLIONS of Nigerians deserted offices, markets, and highways on Monday to observe a stay-at-home order from the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) which vowed to continue the strike until the government brings down fuel prices, which have more than doubled following the government’s decision to end fuel subsidies on 1st January.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

ANC celebrates centenary amid challenges ahead

Xinhua news agency

SOUTH AFRICA’S ruling African National Congress (ANC) marked its 100th anniversary at its founding place, Bloemfontein, last Sunday amid challenges ahead like reduction of poverty and unemployment.

About 100,000 ANC members and supporters began to arrive at the Free State Stadium on early Sunday morning. They filled the 48,000 capacity stadium. Parks around the stadium and elsewhere in the city were full of ANC supporters singing and dancing. They wore ANC T-shirts and waved flags. The entire pitch was filled by a huge stage, while hundreds of marshals and security officials in neon green vests directed people to their seats.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

EU unemployment hits record high

Xinhua news agency

UNEMPLOYMENT in the European Union (EU) has reached a historically high level of 9.8 per cent, especially hitting the young, the low-skilled and migrants, according to the latest quarterly report released on Tuesday by the European Commission.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Cuba and Jamaica: a great family

by Maxwell James

CUBA AND Jamaica are neighbouring countries that put great importance on bilateral relations. They are united not only by the Caribbean Sea, but also by historic ties of friendship and solidarity.

Both nations maintain cooperation ties, especially in the health sector, with the work of a Cuban medical brigade in Jamaican territory, and the presence of specialists of Miracle Operation — an ophthalmological programme developed by Cuba and Venezuela, which has restored or improved the sight of over two million people in 34 countries for free. This initiative, which has benefited Jamaica since 2005, has facilitated consultations for more than 60,000 Jamaicans through the performance of over 6,000 surgeries. The opening of the Ophthalmological Centre in Kingston, Jamaica in January 2010 has represented a new stage of this humanitarian and solidarity programme.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Tribute to Vietnam jazz musician


VIETNAM’S leading jazz saxophonist, Quyen Van Minh, and his 16-piece big band Song Hong took the stage for a live concert at the Hanoi Opera House this week to commemorate the life of late band member Quoc Truong.

Minh started the concert, entitled Quyen Van Minh and Friends with Jazz, with the song Ha Noi Nhung Cong Trinh [Hanoi with New Constructions], which was written by Truong.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]


Hungarian Communists: What is really going on in Hungary?

ON 1ST JANUARY 2012 a new constitution came into force in Hungary. In connection with it the western press has published many reports saying that what is happening now in Hungary “leads to impoverishment of people” and “threatens democracy and tightens the government’s grip on the media and the judiciary despite criticism from Europe and the United States”.

On 2nd January a large demonstration took place at the Opera house in Budapest. The official organiser of the demonstration, the newly formed Solidarity movement, has a couple of dozen members. Its leader is the former president of the trade union of army and police servicemen. He himself is a former army officer trained among others in one of the US military institutes.

Behind the demonstration one can find the Hungarian Socialist Party, liberal forces and the “civic” organisations, formed by them. None of the “civic movements” that took part in this demonstration have ever really struggled against poverty or tried to protect families against eviction. The traditional student organisations did not support the protest.

Neither the movements of agricultural workers, nor the trade unions were present.

[Read the complete story here - What is really going on in Hungary? ]

Ireland and the Michael Collins myth

An Phoblacht

POPULAR HISTORY and cinema have greatly reinforced the celebrity status of Michael Collins, eclipsing many of the other key figures of the struggle for Irish freedom of his time. The Collins myth has also served to obscure the facts and the issues at stake around the “Treaty” signed 90 years ago and the subsequent split and Civil War.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]