National News

Grim Reaper protest against blacklisting

THE GMB general union last Monday staged a “grim reaper” protest at the Carillion stand at the Labour Party conference in Manchester.

They are angry that Carillion is one of the major construction companies that has blacklisted trade union safety reps and other workers who have raised concerns about health and safety at Carillion sites.

GMB says that this corporate bullying endemic in Carillion has not been rooted out, as shown by the Swindon dispute.

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Serco's NHS privatisation failures

THE PRIVATISATION of the NHS’s biggest pathology laboratories at Kings College and St Thomas’ hospital in London in a joint venture with the company Serco has led to a series of clinical and financial failures that forced the hospitals to lend money to the company.

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EDL in violent clashes with police in Walsall

THE ISLAMOPHOBIC English Defence League last week staged a demonstration in Walsall that turned into a violent clash with police resulting in a total of 30 arrests.

Police marshalled the estimated 150 EDL members in Leicester Street, keeping them separate from a counter demonstration of several hundred anti-fascists organised by We Are Walsall and Unite Against Fascism, which the police confined in Gallery Square.

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Ruling against anti union laws

THE EUROPEAN Court of Human Rights has given its initial approval to a submission claiming that Britain’s laws unfairly restrict the power of unions to take industrial action.

The case has been brought by the RMT transport union. In its court submission, the union, led by general secretary Bob Crow, claims that “the right to strike is excessively circumscribed” in Britain in breach of human rights laws.

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Workplace pension schemes launched

THE FIRST of a new type of workplace-based pension schemes was launched on Monday, which obliges companies over a certain size to enrol all their staff in the schemes — though the workers are allowed to opt out afterwards if they want. Money will be deducted from wages to pay into the pension funds created, along with contributions from the employers and from the Government.

It is a measure that unions campaigned for not long ago when workers were being pressured to leave workplace-based pension schemes and sign up for personal schemes (PPSs) and led to a scandal in mis-selling. Many workers lost a lot of the value of their pensions when they transferred them to these schemes.

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International News

Eurozone jobless hits new high

by Ed Newman

UNEMPLOYMENT in the Eurozone hit a fresh high of 18.2 million in August, according to the EU statistics agency.

The number of people out of work rose by 34,000, but revised data for July meant the unemployment rate remained stable at a record high of 11.4 per cent.

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New blow to Afghan occupation

by Chris Fry

“I THINK we are on track!” in Afghanistan, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta cheerily told reporters on 21st September. But the Washington Post report then said: “But after a week in which most joint operations between coalition and Afghan troops were suspended, US strategy in Afghanistan is anything but ‘on track.’ In fact, it may be more imperilled than at any other time in Mr Obama’s presidency.”

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Irish MEP condemns BNP leader’s ‘Fenian bastards’ tweet

by John Hedges

NICK GRIFFIN MEP should have his European Parliament immunity from prosecution lifted so that he can be investigated by police for his weekend Twitter outburst, in which the British National Party leader called critics in the North of Ireland “Fenian bastards”, Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said today.

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Chavez calls on supporters to battle for the future

by Xelcis Presno

VENEZUELAN President Hugo Chavez called on the people to win the battle for the future of the country in the 7th October elections.

At a campaign rally in San Carlos, capital of the Venezuelan state of Cojedes, Chavez urged his supporters to strengthen their organisation, discipline and logistics ahead of the vote.

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Terrorists and the corporate media

Rob Gowland

THE PUNDITS who are in charge of the US empire’s many and varied wars in this 21st century have given a new — and almost contradictory — meaning to the old adage “The pen is mightier than the sword”. They have added the pen to their arsenal, joined it to the sword, you might say, to make their warfare even harder to resist.

They can do this only because they have at their disposal the highly potent weapon called “the corporate-controlled mass media”. They long ago recognised the truth of another popular adage: “You can fool some of the people all the time but you can never fool all the people all the time.” Early in the last century they discovered the handy truth that you don’t need to fool all the people all the time.

You only need to fool a significant number at any given time. The rest don’t matter.

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ETA calls for movement on Basque peace process

by Mark Moloney

THE BASQUE independence movement, ETA, has called for more Basque people to become actively involved in left-wing Basque nationalist parties to help push forward towards independence and socialism.

In a statement issued last week, following the annual Day of the Basque Soldier, the armed Basque separatist group, Euskadi ta Askatasuna (ETA), renewed its calls for a just and lasting peace settlement in the Basque Country.

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The London Cables

Labour leaders and US imperialism

Part 2 of 2

by Neil Harris

Neil Harris continues his look at confidential reports from the US embassy in London published by Wikileaks that reveal the craven and often grovelling relationship between some Labour and trades union figures and the London representatives of US imperialism.

ON 29th OCTOBER 2009 with great fanfare, a cross-party group of 15 former British defence and foreign ministers launched a new campaign group at their London press conference, although the modestly named “Top level group of UK Parliamentarians for Multi-lateral Nuclear disarmament and Non proliferation” was never likely to have inspired too many banners on the kind of demonstrations we attend.

Present amongst others were the Tory Malcolm Rifkind, former Nato chief Lord Robertson, Baroness Williams and Margaret Beckett. Given that one of its stated aims was “to provide an authoritative European voice to back up the position of US President Barack Obama”, it is strange just how much reassurance the American embassy required to make sure its interests were not threatened.

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