National News

Cameron snubs work injury victims

THE TUC last week accused Prime Minister David Cameron of ignoring the victims of industrial injuries while welcoming the heads of the insurance industry to a summit to discuss ways of reducing compensation for the injured victims of negligent employers.

TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson asked why no representatives of the victims of poor workplace conditions had been invited to the summit, adding: “Clearly they seem to have been written out of this process which is all about helping increase the profits of the insurance industry and stop people with legitimate claims from getting the compensation they should be entitled to.”

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Campaign shames workfare bosses into retreat

MORE companies and charities are distancing themselves from the Government’s workfare schemes, which force the unemployed and disabled to work for nothing or lose their benefits, supposedly in order to gain work experience.

The schemes last for up to six months and there is no guarantee of a proper job at the end.

Last week this paper reported that Sainsbury’s and Waterstone’s had stopped taking on unpaid jobseekers under work experience schemes. This week Tesco and Argos have expressed concerns and the Marie Curie cancer charity has issued a statement withdrawing from the scheme, after learning that the Government was pressuring the sick and disabled, including the terminally ill, to work for no wages except their benefits.

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Locked-out Liverpool workers occupy factory

STRIKING workers in Liverpool have been locked out of their factory in a dispute over redundancies. In response, they have occupied the factory. The occupation has been temporarily suspended as their initial demands have been met.

Around 140 workers at Mayr-Melnhof packaging in Liverpool have been on strike over the past week in response to management attacking their terms and conditions, and planned job cuts.

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MoD contractor union-busting

THE GIANT union Unite last week accused QinetiQ, the company that provides scientific and technical backup to the Ministry of Defence, of union-busting, after its announcement on Tuesday that it is terminating recognition with all its recognised trade unions with effect from 31st March.

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Migrant workers win compensation

FOURTEEN Polish migrant workers won a combined £250,000 award from an employment tribunal after the GMB union exposed their exploitation.

The tribunal backed their claims that they had unexplained deductions, amounting to nearly £18,000 each, taken from their wages unlawfully.

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No Redemption — images of the miners’ struggle

THE HISTORY of the National Union of Mineworkers is one of struggle and sacrifice. Only two weeks ago trade unionists returned to Saltley Gate to commemorate the 40th anniversary of a key victory during the 1972 miners’ strike and hear former miners’ leader Arthur Scargill pay tribute to the Birmingham workers, who joined the mass picket that closed the gates of the coal depot and forced the Tory government to back down and meet the miners’ demands.

Past Pixels was set up in 2009 to make images of working class struggle more widely available to a newer generation and over the past three years it has carved a niche for itself with a series of greeting cards dedicated to the memory of the miners and their union.

A new set of cards and posters has now come out to coincide with the opening of “No Redemption”, an exhibition of photographs by Keith Pattison, at the National Coalmining Museum in Wakefield this month. There’s a short commentary about the image on the back of each card and Past Pixel cards can be ordered online or from an increasing number of retail outlets. Further information about all the cards can also be obtained by writing directly to: Past Pixels, PO Box 798, Worcester, WR4 4BW.

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International News

No quick fix for Greek crisis

by Marzia De Giuli

GREECE’S new bailout plan will help the country avoid a debt default in the short term but will do nothing to cut debt or grow the economy, according to an Italian scholar.

“The agreement has no chance of providing a solution in the long term, and most economists in Italy agree,” Filippomaria Pontani, a Greek culture professor at Venice’s Ca’ Foscari University, declared.

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Algeria and Lebanon criticise Arab League

by Ed Newman

ALGERIA and Lebanon are maintaining their position that the Syrian people must decide their own future and both Arab countries are opposing Arab League calls to isolate President Bashar alAssad.

Algeria’s minister of state and secretary general of the ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) Party, Abdelaziz Belkhadem, criticised the Arab League for resolutions adopted against Damascus and urged the League to reconsider its position.

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Honduras workers’ fight honoured

Guardian - Australian communist weekly

A WOMAN union leader has won a prestigious award for her struggle to support workers in Honduras supplying bananas to British stores for as little as £5 a day.

Iris Munguia, a former banana worker herself, will next month in Brussels receive a Silver Rose prize from SOLIDAR, a network of 56 non-governmental organisations in over 90 countries that promote social justice in Europe and worldwide. The presentation ceremony on 6th March will coincide with events to mark International Women’s Day.

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Secret flu virus research to be released

TWO STUDIES showing how scientists mutated the H5N1 bird flu virus into a form that could cause a deadly human pandemic will be published only after experts fully assess the risks, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said last week.

Speaking after a high-level meeting of flu experts and US security officials in Geneva, a WHO official said a deal had been reached in principle to keep details of the controversial work secret until deeper risk analyses could be carried out.

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Hungary: The gallows of capitalism

by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

IT WILL come as no surprise to find out that the Hungarian government has outlawed homelessness and that people who have lost their jobs and homes, with nowhere to go, now face criminal sanctions. Let us be honest, being born in Hell would be better than being born in Hungary. The actions taken today serve to explain many untold stories in the past.

To call Hungary the gallows of capitalism is as right as calling it the gallows of human decency. Recently the Hungarian Parliament legislated that homelessness is a criminal activity, meaning that those forced to live on the streets, through no fault of their own, can be thrown into jail and be locked away. So inhumane is the nature of the new laws that the United Nations has stepped in.

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The Rumba: the cultural heritage of Cuba

by Damian Donestevez

THE PRESIDENT of the Cuban National Writers and Artists Association (UNEAC), Miguel Barnet, has announced the official declaration of the “rumba” as part of the cultural heritage of the Cuban nation.

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US: 75th anniversary of Flint Sit-down Strike

The Occupy that won the union

by Martha Grevatt

FEBRUARY 11th marked the 75th anniversary of the victory of the 1937 Flint Sit-down strike, one of the most significant events in American labour history. After occupying General Motors plants for 44 days, workers won recognition of the United Auto Workers and the first industry contract.

This victory set off a chain reaction. Not only autoworkers but workers in steel, textile, retail, restaurant, public service and other sectors won union recognition. During this year of working class upsurge, African-American workers as well as Latino/a, Asian, Native, immigrant and women workers, played a pivotal role.

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