National News

Ford workers strike over two-tier workforce

MEMBERS of the unions Unite and GMB working for the Ford motor company took strike action last Monday in the first national walkout for over a generation over plans to introduce a two-tier workforce.

Union talks last Friday, to avert the walkout broke up with the company refusing to make any concessions in the dispute over closure of the pension scheme to new starters and 10 per cent cuts in pay rates for new starters

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Strikers to lose working tax credits

LOW-PAID workers may find their working tax credit payments stopped if they take strike action under David Cameron’s universal credit system plan, according to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

Currently workers earning less than £13,000 are eligible for tax credits but their employers will be given a code nest year to alert the Department of Work and Pensions authorities if they go on strike.

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Union fight against corporate Labour faction grows

THE FIGHT against the right-wing corporate sponsored Progress faction within the Labour and trade union movement is developing fast.

The challenge to progress was made public earlier this month at the GMB annual conference by Paul Kenny, the general secretary, announcing the union’s intent to put a motion to the Labour conference later this year to expel Progress.

Since then two giant unions, Unite and Unison, have made it known that they also oppose the power and influence of Progress within the party.

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Workers face perfect storm, warns Oxfam

BRITAIN could return to Victorian levels of inequality, where having a job is no longer enough to save workers from hunger and homelessness as workers are caught in “perfect storm” of falling incomes and rising costs, according to a report issued by the charity Oxfam.

The report, The Perfect Storm, says Government rhetoric about “making work pay” — used to justify sweeping welfare reforms — is sounding increasingly hollow.

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Increase in homelessness

FIGURES released by the Department for Communities and Local Government last week show a 16 per cent rise in the number of homelessness acceptances between January and March 2012, compared to the same quarter last year.

During the 2011/12 financial year there were a total of 50,290 acceptances — an increase of 14 per cent from 44,160 the previous year.

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Disability hate crimes

POLICE forces around the country have reported record levels of hate crimes against people with disabilities, causing concern that the Con-Dem Coalition’s “anti-scrounger” rhetoric is fuelling hostility to the most vulnerable members of society.

A total of 1,942 disability hate crimes were recorded by police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland last year.

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The Carnival of Dirt

by New Worker correspondent

A COALITION of 30 environmental groups from all around the world arrived in London, the world’s centre for commodities, metal and oil trading, and base for many of the world’s mining and extraction corporations, for a day of protest last week against the damage being done to the planet and its people by the giant mineral mining and trading companies.

The coalition included London Mining Network, Occupy London, Reclaim the Streets, UK Uncut, UK Tar Sands Network and Climate Camp. The Carnival of Dirt spans from London to the Congo, West Papua to the Philippines and brings together the UK groups alongside pressure groups and NGOs from DR Congo, West Papua, Peru, the Philippines, Nigeria and Somalia, to create “a carnival like no other”.

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Remembering Redmond O’Neill

by Theo Russell

LONDONERS remembered the work of Redmond O’Neill for the Irish community and all the peoples of Greater London at a memorial lecture given by a leading nationalist member of the Irish parliament last week. Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty delivered the first Redmond O’Neill memorial lecture at the Bolivar Hall in London on behalf of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, who had to cancel due to a minor accident. The meeting was also addressed by the Venezuelan ambassador Samuel Moncada, CND Chair Kate Hudson, and chaired by Ken Livingstone.

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International News

Quebec struggle continues

by G Dunkel

THREE thousand mostly young people marched in the third nude protest since the struggle against the tuition hikes in Quebec began over three months ago, to demand transparency in government. They aimed this protest at Montreal’s decision to hold a gala for the Formula 1 race that generally brings 300,000 tourists to Montreal for the weekend.

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New party in Nepal

A DISSIDENT dissident faction within the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M) has formally split under the leadership of the former deputy chair of the party. The leader of the new party, Mohan Baidya, told the Nepalese media on Tuesday that his party would be now be known as the “Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist”.

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Ecuador: a country that works for its children

MUCH HAS been lately said about the plight of millions of infants worldwide who are forced to work, mostly full time. They are more than 215 million children who are denied the opportunity to be children.

They do not go to school and have no time to play. Many do not have a proper diet or care. Over half of these children are exposed to the worst forms of child labour in hazardous environments and slavery.

In the midst of this alarming situation, there are countries that have made a serious commitment to their children. This is the case of Ecuador, which following the arrival of Rafael Correa to the presidency, has implemented programmes to ensure the most basic human rights of that vulnerable population sector.

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Socialists win in France

by Ed Newman

FRENCH President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party has won enough seats in parliamentary elections to form an absolute majority. With final results still to be declared, the Socialists appear to have won between 313 and 315 of the 577 seats in the National Assembly.

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Hezbollah leader doubts Israeli threats

by Lisa Karpova

LEBANESE Hezbollah (Party of God) dismissed Israeli threats against Iran as merely “psychological warfare” last week. The secretary general of Hezbollah, the Islamic resistance movement in Lebanon, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, said on Friday that threats by the Israeli regime to carry out a military strike against the Islamic Republic of Iran were just psychological warfare.

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First Chinese woman astronaut in space

THREE Chinese astronauts floated into the cabin of an orbiting module on Monday afternoon, becoming the first group of Chinese to enter an orbiting station in space. The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft, carrying China’s first female astronaut Liu Yang and two men: Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang, is scheduled to travel for 13 days in outer space.

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Features

Stand by Syria!

by Theo Russell

PROFESSOR Kamal Majid, a communist, well-known commentator in the Arab media and vice-president of the Stop the War Coalition, recently addressed a debate on the situation in Syria at a recent New Worker public meeting in London, along with New Communist Party general secretary Andy Brooks, also something of an expert on the Arab world.

It was an opportunity to analyse in detail the complex situation in Syria, and the recent upheavals across the Arab world, from a Marxist-Leninist perspective.

Professor Majid began by declaring: “The Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda are now spreading terror and sectarian division across Syria, as part of the imperialist plan to replace the Syrian government with a puppet state, a la Libya, which will do the bidding of the Americans and Zionists.”

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Deaths at work and rockets on the roof

by Rob Gowland

AUSTRALIA is the driest continent on Earth. Britain is generally recognised in Australia as one of the wettest places on Earth. So it was with much ironic mirth that Australian media reported recently that southern Britain was in the grip of that most Australian of natural phenomena, drought.

What our capitalist media did not give any attention to was why such a wet country could be suffering from water shortages. GMB, the British general union covering water workers (amongst others), was not so inhibited. GMB has called on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons to demand that Thames Water and the other private water companies supposedly servicing the South East of England explain why they closed 25 bulk water storage reservoirs in the region, leaving rainfall running off into the sea while the area was being subjected to drought restrictions.

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