National News

People of Waltham Forest block EDL march

by New Worker Correspondent

THE ISLAMOPHOBIC English National Defence League suffered yet another humiliating defeat last Saturday, this time at the hands of the local residents of Waltham Forest in north-east London.

The EDL leader, Tommy Robinson, also known as Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, was hoping to re-establish his authority over this mob of racist thugs, football hooligans and ex-soldiers, after recent attempts to march the EDL through Brighton, Bristol, Chelmsford and other places had been thwarted by local residents.

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Squatting is criminalised

THE CON-DEM coalition government last week criminalised squatting in residential buildings — a decision that could leave hundreds of homeless people out in the cold this coming winter.

A clause in the new Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act will make it a criminal offence to squat in any residential property, including those that are empty and abandoned.

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Inquiry into police ‘execution’

AZELLE RODNEY, a young black man, was shot dead by police on 30th April 2005 and last Monday a public inquiry into the shooting — which Rodney’s mother describes as an execution — was launched.

The inquiry has viewed video footage of the police pursuit of the car in which Rodney was travelling with two other men up to the point where police shot Rodney six times. The two other men were unharmed.

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Burston school strike celebrated

by New Worker correspondent

TRADE unionists, socialists, communists, peace and community groups gathered at Church Green in Burston last Saturday for the annual rally to celebrate the Burston school strike.

The strike lasted from 1914 to 1939 and began when the two popular teachers who ran the village school, Tom and Kitty Higdon, were sacked.

They had upset local landowners and wealthy farmers by giving advice and support to farm labourers in fighting for trade union rights.

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Worn out workers

HALF a million people approaching state pension age are too ill to work, according to a TUC analysis of official labour market data published last Friday.

The report says that disability and poor health are preventing nearly half a million people approaching retirement from working, a figure that will only increase as the state pension age (SPA) starts to rise.

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The Labour Right on the offensive

by Neil Harris

THE GROWING concerns of the trade union movement about “Progress”, the wealthy Blairite faction operating inside the Labour Party, are well founded but this is not the only threat to working class representation in Parliament. At the 17th May 2011 National Executive Committee meeting, it was agreed to accept funding from the Lionel Cooke Memorial Fund, “ to train and support up to 75 people interested in standing as parliamentary candidates”. Not surprisingly, concern was expressed when it was indicated that this would be open to non-party members.

Had trade unionists on the NEC been aware of the background and ideology behind the trust, the concerns would have been greater. The fund was established in 1956, following the death of Lionel Cooke, a prosperous Brighton businessman and an admirer and ally of Hugh Gaitskell the right wing Labour leader.

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Queers kettled at Brighton Pride

by Anton Johnson

LAST SATURDAY saw Brighton & Hove Pride, an event like Pride London that is well established in the LGBT [Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] calendar that attracts LGBT people from London, the South East and all along the South Coast.

For this year’s parade from the Brighton sea front through the city to Preston Park, organisations had to register and pay a £60 fee. Individuals were not allowed to take part or even join the march, which is different from previous prides.

As a consequence the march was dominated by commercial and statutory bodies — floats from Nandos and Easyjet and very few community groups. It was pleasing to see a small trade union presence from Unison, NUT, Unite and TSSA. But the union groups, which were small, were not allocated to march together and therefore were not as noticeable as they could have been.

Brighton Queers Against Cuts organised a section to show opposition to the government’s policies and with a header banner making clear opposition to the criminalisation of squatters that came into force that day. They immediately came into conflict with the organisers.

“There seemed to have been trouble before the parade moved off — with our section mysteriously being moved to the back of the parade,” said Richard Farnos, the London Queers Against the Cuts Co-Convenor.

“But the real trouble began,” said Richard, “as the parade moved off when some latecomers sought to join the group. Led by a belligerent steward (who at one point threatened to have me thrown off the march for asking why people couldn’t join the parade), a group of police on horseback and foot cut in front us and began to kettle the group.”

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Cardiff protesters target Atos

DISABLED People against the Cuts and their supporters hit back today at the government's savage attack on benefits in Cardiff last week with a protest outside the castle that brought veterans, wheelchair users, visually impaired or with mental health problems and others to protest at the injustice of Government policy towards the most vulnerable in society.

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International News

Future of Greece hanging by a thread

by Sergio Alejandro Gómez

AFTER five years in recession, a stream of social spending cuts and two financial rescues, dark clouds are still hanging over the future of Greece, in the midst of European scepticism as to its ability to meet the commitments acquired in exchange for economic aid.

In early August, after a series of prolonged debates, the three parties currently comprising the Greek coalition government finally approved a new package of cuts to the value of €11.5 billion, demanded by the credit troika (European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund) as a condition for releasing the next aid tranche of €130 billion.

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Where is Egypt heading now?

Radio Havana Cuba

HOW CAN one predict what will happen next? Let's just say that we can now see more clearly which way the political crisis in Egypt will end.

We saw on the screen an angry frenzied crowd with the victory of the already declared President Mohamed Morsi. Later thousands of Egyptians appeared supporting the president’s legal clashes with the ruling military leadership. Finally, others, perhaps as many millions saw how the army ringleaders were eventually retired with honours.

Does the picture look better for the future? Will these events mean a starting point for a better, richer and socially inclusive country? Will Egyptians taste democracy, as promised in a post-Mubarak era? Let’s make an analysis from two news stories.

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Spanish Mayor leads food raids

by Thomas J Michalak

IN THE SMALL Spanish town of Marinaleda, located in the southern region of Andalusía, Mayor Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo has an answer for the country’s economic crisis and the hunger that comes with it: He organised and led the town’s residents to raid supermarkets in August to get the food necessary to survive.

Seven people have been arrested in two raids in which trade unionists loaded shopping carts full of food and left without paying, with the support of the townspeople cheering them on and the mayor watching with approval.

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South Africa Unrest continues after Marikana massacre

by Abayomi Azikiwe

MINEWORKERS and their supporters have continued to express outrage at the police killing of 34 strikers at the Marikana mines on 16th August through mass memorial services and rallies. In addition, strike actions spread to another platinum facility for three days as workers in the Royal Bafokeng mines reached an agreement with management.

At the Lonmin facility mine owners backed off their ultimatum delivered to striking rock drill operators on 20th August that they must return to work or lose their jobs. On 27th August, still unwilling to return to the job without an adequate pay and benefit rise, the striking workers blocked fellow employees from going down the shafts.

Lonmin has been forced to suspend operations for the last two weeks due to the strike of 3,000 workers preventing at least another 25,000 employees from going to work. Mine executives reported that only 13 per cent of the workforce was showing up and consequently they were not able to run the facility.

A statement issued by Lonmin on 27th August said: “There have been incidents of intimidation towards bus drivers overnight as well as intimidation of Eastern workers this morning, preventing them from coming to work.”

Over the previous week miners have continued to rally and protest at the deplorable working conditions and the police response to the strike, which resulted in 34 deaths and 78 injuries. It has been reported that over 260 miners are locked up in jail and face criminal charges ranges from assault to murder.

Members of the African National Congress (ANC) government, including President Jacob Zuma, visited the area during the week following the deaths of 10 people in clashes between security forces and rival members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and the subsequent police firing on workers on 16th August. The Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, visited the Marikana site and apologised for the failure of the government to handle the situation properly.

The government has set up a task team to investigate the situation at Marikana. Members of the team visited the mines the week following the killings.

Former ANC Youth League (ANCYL) leaders Julius Malema, Andile Lungisa and others spent considerable time in the area following the killings. They involved themselves with the memorial services where members of the government were present and reportedly left abruptly in the midst of harsh criticism from Malema.

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