National News

The Scottish Trades Union Congress

by our Scottish Political Correspondent

THE 117th Scottish Trades Union Congress met at the Caird Hall in Dundee on the banks of the beautiful silvery Tay last week for its final Congress before the referendum.

Following a long standing custom the Congress voted to stay neutral in the referendum debate. A General Council speaker claimed that “delegates lobbying had shifted the debate “to a vision of social justice.”

Questioned by the delegates Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond promised there would be no disruption to occupational pension schemes after a Yes vote and claimed his government would support public ownership of the London- to-Edinburgh East Coast Main Line and ruled out compulsory redundancies in the civil service following a Yes vote.

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Palestine protesters occupy G4S London

by New Worker correspondent

DOZENS of Palestine Solidarity supporters targeted the London headquarters of the security firm G4S in Victoria Street last Thursday evening to protest against the corporation’s provision of security services to Israeli prisons.

And they succeeded in occupying the reception area of the building, bringing banners, posters and placards and a mock-up prison cage to represent the horrors inflicted on Palestinian prisoners, including many children.

G4S services Israeli prisons where Palestinian prisoners are illegally transferred in serious violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In the case of child prisoners, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is also breached.

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Grosvenor Square death — Ucatt demands inquiry

THE CONSTRUCTION workers’ union Ucatt last week called for an urgent inquiry into the death of construction worker Dainius Rupsys who was killed in London’s Grosvenor Square last Monday.

The 33-year-old Lithuanian died and another man was injured when a floor collapsed at the site run by contractor McGee.

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Teachers vote for June strike

DELEGATES to the annual conference of the National Union of Teachers in Brighton last weekend voted for further strike action in June, unless the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, agrees to talks with union leaders.

And the union is still hopeful of joint action with its sister union, Nasuwt. It has also called a lobby of Parliament on 10th June.

NUT members are angry that the Education Secretary has failed to come to any talks with reps, sending civil servants in his place.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “We have confirmed the next stages of our campaign to Stand up for Education and the teaching profession.

“We shall be engaging with parents and the general public, pressuring politicians and, if significant progress is not made in talks with government, we shall be taking strike action and seeking to coordinate with other unions in late June, including with NASUWT.

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Plans to sell taxpayers’ data

NEW LAWS being drawn up by HM revenue and Customs will permit the sale of financial data on millions of taxpayers to private companies, researchers and private bodies.

Tax professionals have called the decision “dangerous” and senior Tory MP David Davis called it “borderline insane”.

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RMT declares new tube strike dates

TRANSPORT union RMT last week declared five new strike dates in the union’s long-running fight against plans by London Underground to cut nearly a thousand jobs and close ticket offices in nearly every station.

Strike action earlier this year brought London Underground bosses to the Acas arbitration service and further strike action was suspended, pending the outcome of the talks.

But the union says the talks were wrecked by management intransigence and the introduction of additional measures that actually worsened the original toxic package. It has also been made crystal clear to the union that this is just a first tranche of cuts with even harder attacks being lined up for the near future.

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Cameron’s office calls cops on lobbying bishop

THE BISHOP of Oxford and the Reverend Hebden last week attempted to deliver an open letter on food poverty to David Cameron at his constituency office in Witney but found themselves confronted by police who barred their entrance.

Staff at the office, who had been notified in advance by the bishop, had called the police to bar the two church men and the approximately 40 peaceful supporters who accompanied them, on security grounds, even though the supporters remained on the other side of the road and made no attempt to enter the office.

Their letter, part of the End Hunger Fast campaign, was signed by 42 Anglican bishops and more than 600 clerics and called on the three major party leaders to work with the parliamentary inquiry into food poverty to implement its recommendations.

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Parents don’t trust Gove

ONLY three per cent of parents of school-age children in Britain completely trust Education Secretary Michael Gove to oversee their children’s education, according to a survey published last week by YouGov and commissioned by the National Union of Teachers. And 52 per cent said they did not trust him at all. The survey was completed by 1,526 parents.

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Health unions join forces over NHS pay

THE TWO biggest unions in Britain, Unite and Unison, last week confirmed they would both be balloting their members for strike action over NHS pay.

Delegates at Unison’s health care conference in Brighton last week voted overwhelmingly for s strike ballot over the “divide and rule” pay offer. In Brighton, speaker after speaker angrily condemned the Government’s decision to give a derisory one per cent non-consolidated increase only to NHS staff at the top of their incremental scale.

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Adventures in a Yorkshire landscape

by Steve Hanson

Apologies to Bill Nelson and Be Bop Deluxe. Or maybe not, he lives round here after all. NORTH YORKSHIRE is so very neat and trimmed. Aldborough, with its maypole, even the ruins look fake. It stinks of money, it absolutely reeks of it, and it is empty most of the time as people are out earning or doing whatever they do, the elite. It was like being in an episode of The Prisoner sometimes. I expected someone to cycle past in a cape and boater, “be seeing you”.

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International News

Washington should tread carefully with Japanese ambitions

by Zhu Chao

As US President Barack Obama arrives in Japan for a state visit, Tokyo is eager to get his go-ahead to lift the country’s ban on exercising its right to collective self- defence.

Washington needs to have a second thought before letting Japan go its own way, though some US politicians have thrown their weight behind Tokyo’s move. Given the current regional situation and historical lessons, acquiescence to Japan’s military ambitions would be dangerous and may turn out contrary to what Washington has expected.

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Chinese target extravagance

by Huang Jin and Yao Chun

The discipline watchdog of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has pledged it will continue to curb official extravagance and other malpractices during the upcoming May Day holiday.

Xu Chuanzhi, a senior official with the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), vowed “zero tolerance” and “severe penalties” on violators. Spending public funds on feasts and private tours, official car use infringements, gift-giving, and holding excessively extravagant wedding ceremonies or funerals are “diseases” which are prone to happen during holidays, Xu said. The May Day holiday will last from 1st to 3rd May this year. Greece sells bonds, workers suffer more by G Dunkel IF WORKERS in the Ukraine want to see what joining the European Union and borrowing from the “troika” — the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission — might mean for them, they should look at Greece, Portugal or countries like Spain, which is the same size as Ukraine.

Portugal’s unemployment rate is currently at 15.3 per cent after three years of contraction. The IMF forecasts that it will go to 15.8 per cent, even though Portugal’s economy will grow a little over one per cent.

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The hidden hand behind the ‘Cuban Twitter’

by Juan Leandro

UNITED STATES imperialism created a text-message social network designed to foment political dissent and unrest in Cuba, according to an investigation by the Associated Press news agency.

ZunZuneo, dubbed a “Cuban Twitter”, had 40,000 subscribers at its height. The project reportedly lasted from 2009-12 when the grant money ran out. The US government is said to have concealed its links to the network through a series of shell companies and by funnelling messages through other countries.

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Farewell to Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Voice of Russia

MEXICO bade farewell on Monday to its adopted son, Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in a national tribute filled with roses and the late Nobel winner’s favourite music. People lined up outside the capital’s domed Fine Arts Palace, where Mexico pays tribute to its late artistic icons, for a memorial ceremony attended by the presidents of Mexico and Colombia.

Garcia Marquez died in his Mexico City house last week at the age of 87.

The veteran journalist first moved to Mexico in 1961 and it was here that he wrote his seminal novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude, which was published in 1967.

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Opposing global warming and supporting fascism

by Rob Gowland

THERE’S a supposed plot idea for a movie (or a novel) being circulated on the Internet at the moment that goes like this: 97 per cent of the world’s scientists contrive an environmental crisis, but are exposed by a plucky band of billionaires and oil companies.

I don’t know if it has success written all over it, but it is certainly topical. The great majority of the naysayers about global warming are conservative, right-wing politicians with a vested interest in denying the reality of global warming.

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Chris Patten, the BBC and its dangerous lurch to the Right

by Adrian Chan-Wyles

China says goodbye to British colonialism

RIGHT-WING Tory Chris Patten, the former Member of Parliament for Bath, was voted out of that office to tumultuous applause from the electorate, (both local and national), and was immediately rewarded for his failure by incumbent Conservative Prime Minister John Major, with the post of “Governor” of Hong Kong.

This diplomatic promotion got rid of an incredibly unpopular and odious Tory activist from the UK mainland, to the far-flung outer reaches of the rapidly collapsing British Empire.

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