National News

Unilever workers walk out again

THOUSANDS of Unilever workers began 11 days of strike action last Wednesday — their second strike ever — to defend their final salary pension scheme.

The action was organised jointly by Unite, Usdaw and the GMB against company plans to end the final salary pension scheme, which has 5,000 members, later this year and replace it with a “career average” pension scheme.

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Charity to take over library — and charge

THE SMALL LIBRARY in Bexley Village in south-east London is to be taken over and run by a charity, Greener Bexley, which will introduce charges for many services that are now free.

Regular users are critical of this move, saying they already pay for it through their council tax and it will create a two-tier service and discourage young people from using the library. And many are wondering if this is the shape of things to come for other council services.

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Welfare reform battles in the Lords

THE HOUSE of Lords last week won three small victories by passing amendments to the Con-Dem Coalition’s Welfare Reform Bill but last Tuesday narrowly failed to support an amendment that would delay the Bill to force a fuller assessment of its impact on the lives of disabled people.

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Rally to support sacked Liverpool workers

THE GIANT union Unite last Saturday staged a rally in Liverpool in support of city’s social housing repair and maintenance workers.

Nearly 200 workers, employees of Housing Maintenance Solutions, a subsidiary wholly-owned by Liverpool Mutual Homes, are concerned for their futures, after the company proposed introducing new contracts on poorer terms and conditions.

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NHS trust imposes pay cuts

by Wilf Lenard

AN NHS hospital trust in Sussex is threatening to dismiss 1,000 employees unless they accept pay cuts.

Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust pays a retention supplement, worth £45 per month, to members of health professions that are in short supply, such as midwives.

A thousand of them have received letters “inviting” them to sign away their entitlement to this payment, or be sacked. The deadline is 12th February. The letter goes on to say that they may then be offered re-employment, but on a poorer contract than their present one.

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Tanker drivers vote for strike

MEMBERS of the giant union Unite, working for road haulage firm Wincanton, last week returned a massive yes vote for strike action over the continuous attack on tanker drivers’ terms and conditions.

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What way forward for the labour movement?

by New Worker Correspondent

NEW COMMUNIST Party comrades joined a debate on the way forward for the labour movement at a conference in south London last Saturday organised by the RCPB (ML). NCP leader Andy Brooks together with National Chair Alex Kempshall, Robert Laurie and Theo Russell from the Central Committee took part in the discussion that was kicked off by Michael Chant at the John Buckle Centre last Saturday.

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EDL attack East London Mosque

by New Worker Correspondent

MEMBERS of the violent Islamophobic English Defence League last Saturday evening attempted to attack the East London Mosque in Whitechapel after leaving an EDL rally in Barking earlier that afternoon.

They then went out on the street and made for the East London Mosque. But local residents turned out quickly and in large numbers to stop them.

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Clarkson insults Chinese and shames Britain

by Hou Jinliang

PEOPLE generally hold that Britain is a country of gentlemen. And the 2012 London Olympics is seen as a stage to show the country’s image to the world. Unfortunately, that impression may be destroyed by BBC presenter Jeremy Clarkson.

Writing in the Sun, Clarkson associated the deaths of 23 Chinese cockle-pickers who drowned in Morecambe Bay in 2004 with synchronised swimming, saying “Chinese women in hats, upside down, in a bit of water”, adding: “You can see that sort of thing on Morecambe Beach. For free.”

Clarkson’s flippancy clearly shows his inferior quality. These vulnerable Chinese workers were illegally used by their employers. They were daughters, wives and mothers who had to pick cockles to earn a living. They did not harm society nor did they steal Clarkson’s job.

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International News

Anti-government protests rock Romania

Xinhua news agency

ROMANIA’S capital city of Bucharest has been the scene of daily anti-government protests this week with thousands of people shouting and clashing with riot police in the central University Square on Sunday. Similar protests were also staged in other cities across the country.

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US citizen sentenced to death in Iran on spy charges

IRAN’S Revolutionary Court has sentenced a 28-year-old American and former marine to death on charges of spying for the CIA, adding another point of conflict to heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, who was born in Arizona to Iranian parents and raised in Michigan, is the first American to be sentenced to death in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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Cuba: achievements and challenges of the revolution

by Yeanny Gonzalez Peña

FIFTY-THREE years after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, Cuba is making efforts to update its economic model, a process designed to guarantee the continuity and strengthening of the socialist system adopted by the Caribbean island.

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United States Jobs, capitalism & the tasks ahead

by Fred Goldstein

THE PITIFUL December US jobs and employment numbers are a bitter reminder, four years after the present crisis officially began in December 2007, that capitalism is at a dead end.

There have now been four years of mass unemployment; the foreclosure and eviction nightmare continues for millions; poverty and hunger are growing at record levels. For those with jobs, low wages are spreading like a plague. A whole generation of youth is either locked out of the job market or consigned to dead-end jobs. Recent studies show that the United States, instead of being the “land of opportunity,” is the land of downward mobility for the vast majority.

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Colonel Gevork ‘Amir’ Vartanian


THE LEGENDARY Soviet agent who saved Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt has died. Gevork Vartanian, a Soviet intelligence officer and Hero of the Soviet Union passed away in Moscow’s Botkin Hospital on Tuesday 10th January. He was 88 and had been suffering from cancer.

Colonel Gevork ‘Amir’ Vartanian: 1924—2012