National News

May Day in London salutes Crow and Benn

by New Worker correspondent

THOUSANDS of transport workers and labour and peace movement activists filled the streets of London last Thursday in a May Day march and rally dedicated to the memory of RMT general secretary Bob Crow and Labour and peace veteran fighter Tony Benn, who died within a week of each other earlier this year.

The march assembled as usual at Clerkenwell Green. London’s Turkish and Kurdish communities were out in force as usual along with thousands of RMT members, members of the train drivers’ union Aslef and many other unions.

There were also a large group of protesters at the exploitative short-term money lender Wonga, which charges interest at over 5,000 per cent per annum, peace campaigners, save the NHS campaigners and dozens of political parties and groups.

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GMB refers Astra Zeneca bid to competition bodies

GMB, the union for staff at Astra Zeneca, commented the new bid in the hostile takeover bid for the company from US based Pfizer and the talks between Pfizer and the British Government. Allan Black, GMB National Officer for the chemicals industry, said “Pfizer are said to have given undertakings to the UK Government as they increase the money they are offering the Astra Zeneca shareholders.

“Similar undertakings were given by US multinationals before which have proved to be worthless.

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RMT suspends Tube strike

THE TRANSPORT union RMT last Monday suspended its planned three-day strike of London Underground workers just hours before it was due to begin after London Underground management after negotiations secured “real movement and significant” progress.

But the fight to prevent the loss of 960 jobs and the closure of all LU ticket offices is far from over.

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‘Give up cancer treatment to keep your benefits’

A SCUNTHORPE man has received a 40 per cent cut in benefits after he was diagnosed with cancer, leaving him in serious financial distress during his battle with a disease that killed his father and brother.

To add insult the injury, the Department of Work and Pensions told him that he could return to his previous level of benefits, provided he gave up treatment and complied with the Jobseeker’s programme.

Peter Woodcock has been unemployed for eight years, but volunteers 40 hours each week in his community. When he was diagnosed with cancer he needed to stop attending his jobs club and cut back on volunteering to accommodate his treatment and necessary respite.

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Ex-Tesco drivers stage protest

FORMER drivers, who used to work on the Tesco distribution contract in Doncaster, staged a protest last Saturday to show that there was no reason for their then employer Eddie Stobart Ltd (ESL) to have made them redundant in January 2013.

The drivers, members of the giant union Unite, say that ESL is for the first time directly employing agency drivers on worse terms and conditions in the South Yorkshire town to fulfil the Tesco contract.

Unite national officer Adrian Jones said: “Basically, our members are saying that there was no need for ESL to have made them redundant at the beginning of 2013 — as the company is employing agency drivers to do exactly the same jobs as they did, but on worse terms and conditions.”

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Ukip threat to workers’ rights exposed

Trade Unions for Labour launched a poster campaign on Friday 2nd May 2014 to warn workers that Ukip favours scrapping basic rights for workers to maternity leave, sick pay, and paid holiday.

The message was taken on the road over the Bank Holiday weekend to highlight Ukip’s hidden commitment to scrap the workplace rights, including paid holiday, maternity leave and sick pay relied upon by the 31 million working people in the UK.

This campaign by unions together, the campaigning voice of the trade unions affiliated to the Labour Party, is to take on the serious threat to working people posed by Ukip.

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Plans to privatise Land Registry

GOVERNMENT plans to privatise the Land Registry are well advanced according to a leaked Government document revealed by the Guardian last week. The Land Registry registers the ownership of land and property in England and Wales.

Privatisation would give private firms a say in the granting of land rights, according to the leaked minutes from a meeting of its board members.

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Britain’s high infant mortality

DR DAVID Richmond, Britain’s leading obstetrician, last week said it is legitimate to ask whether understaffing of maternity care and labour wards is contributing to Britain’s stubbornly high rates of baby death and brain damage.

Figures released last week show that Britain has the highest infant mortality rate in western Europe — though it is not as bad as the United States.

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May Day march in Glasgow

by our Scottish correspondent

GLASGOW’S May Day celebrations took place on Sunday when about 800 marchers defied the constant drizzle to march from central Glasgow’s George Square to a rally held south of the river in the O2 Academy for the best attended event in recent years.

Leading the march was the Glasgow Recovery Movement, a self-help group of recovering drug and alcohol abuse survivors; they were closely followed by users of the Charlie Reid Centre, a local mental health centre facing closure. A large number of Rail Maritime and Transport banners were complemented by banners from Unite, Ucatt, the National Union of Miners, PCS and local trades union councils. Labour and Communist Party of Britain banners were also to be seen. Towards the rear of the march members of the Radical Independence Campaign held their “Another Scotland is Possible” banner, as well as the St Andrews cross

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...and also marching in Cardiff

by Ray Davies

THE SUN shone down on Cardiff city centre, the day made even more attractive and colourful by the trade union banners of the May Day march.

The main focus of the march was the unrelenting attacks by the Tory/ Lib Dem government on the poor, the disabled and pensioners.

Over 3,000 homes in South Wales, mainly one-parent families, have been caught up in the Bedroom Tax. Every benefit to the unemployed and disabled has been ruthlessly cut; and even though the financial crisis was brought about by greedy overpaid bankers, it is the poor who have to pay the price.

The response from the public was brilliant. Some joined the march as it wound its way through the shopping centre, past the statue of Nye Bevan, and on to the civic centre.

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International News

May Day across the world


UNDER the flags of their unions, millions of workers and people around the world celebrated International Workers Day last week.

With the posters and the logos of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) in the frontline not only did they pay tribute to the martyrs of the class struggle of the past century but also unions internationally sent a strong message for the end of unemployment and defended the right of social security and trade union freedom for all.

In Turkey, the demonstrators once again faced violent repression from the Turkish Government. More than 138 people were arrested and 51 were injured. WFTU strongly denounces the attack against the May Day demonstration and the aggressiveness of the Turkish government, which goes hand in hand with its anti-peoples and anti-workers policy.

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Russia writes off nearly $10 bn of north Korean debt

Voice of Russia

RUSSIA has written off 90 per cent, or nearly $10 billion, in North Korean debt, with some of the remaining $1 billion to be reinvested in projects in North Korea, possibly including preparations to build a gas pipeline and railway to the South.

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The victory at Dien Bien Phu

by Nguyen Thi Thuy Anh and Zhang Jianhua

A LONG holiday has been declared this month in Vietnam to allow the Vietnamese people to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the victory in the battle of Dien Bien Phu where a small country like Vietnam trounced a colonial power, a feat that has since won world recognition.

The ignominious defeat of France to the then ragtag Vietnamese Army in Dien Bien Phu signalled the end of the French colonial rule in Indochina.

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Odessa: Massacre!

by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

THE WESTERN-backed fascist putsch leaders who seized power illegally in Ukraine in February have blood on their hands. Not only have they sent military aviation and tanks to fire on civilians, the Ukrainian security forces have watched over a massacre which murdered over 40 people in Odessa. Were these the orders of Kerry and Biden?

Their victims’ crime? While Kiev accuses them of terrorism, all they have done is to demand that they be heard by the Kiev putsch government, whose first actions — after illegally seizing power in February and ousting the democratically elected president (Yanukovich) without respecting any of the four scenarios for impeachment — were to issue anti-Russian edicts.

Backed by the West, the putsch leaders in Kiev swept to power to a backdrop of cries of: “Death to Russians and Jews!”, to scenes of abduction and torture of Russian-speaking citizens, while Nobel Peace Prizewinner Obama and his Nato poodles waited to get their hands on the Crimean military bases. Two reactions: from Moscow, a swift, bold and decisive campaign sees these bases today sitting inside Russian territory (Russia won and Nato lost) and from the Russian-speaking inhabitants of Eastern Ukraine, demands for their voices to be heard and their rights upheld.

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The Bay of Pigs, April 1961

by Marta Denis THE NAMES Playa Girón (Girón Beach), and Bahía de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) hit the headlines all over the world more than 50 years ago when CIA-funded rebels landed in Cuba in an attempt to overthrow the revolutionary government.

A series of activities are held in Cuba every April to commemorate the date, with people of all ages wearing olive green trousers and blue denim shirts, the uniform worn by the people’s militia 53 years ago.

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New book on Hugo Chávez

by Oscar Figueredo Reinaldo

DURING one of the conversations writer Ignacio Ramonet held with Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan President asked how asked how long a speech by a French president usually lasted. Ramonet replied that, in extraordinary circumstances such as an electoral campaign, a speech could last up to an hour. Chávez quickly commented: “I need at least four hours just to get started.”

Given his passion for monologue, Ramolet was able to extract more than enough to write Hugo Chávez, Mi primera vida (Hugo Chávez. My First Life).

The European intellectual’s new book was launched on 23rd April in Havana’s Hotel Nacional, with a large group in attendance.

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Ghost planes over Havana

by Neil Harris

AMERICA’S response to 9/11, the “War against Terror”, turned out to be wave of wars, assassinations, kidnappings, torture and illegal imprisonment. The kidnappings and torture became known as “Extraordinary Rendition” and were major undercover operations, involving chartered, civilian jets.

Opposition to this imperialist rampage produced some informal alliances between progressive campaigners and the quiet, non-political world of plane spotters, who had inadvertently recorded the comings and goings of the secret flights. That story isn’t over yet, with the hard work now turning into prosecutions in Germany, Switzerland, Poland and Italy as well as a civil action against Jack Straw, here in Britain.

The plane spotters taught people on the left how to make patient use of flight records and aircraft registration numbers, while the lefties provided a bit of tough, political experience. It became possible to chase the vapour trails left by these “ghost planes” and the secretive companies that operated them. It also left some of us with a lasting interest in the complex and shadowy world of CIA front companies and their “proprietary” airlines; apparently independent air companies which rely on the CIA for a part of their income.

This New Worker investigation began after reviewing a Sunday Times story from 2007, which exposed unusual United States Air Force Europe (USAFE) missions in the Balkans. The reporters had noticed that for two years USAFE flights were occasionally using the civilian call sign “Juliet Golf Oscar” (JGO) for military flights. Call signs are rarely transferred and never shared. According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), JGO was still the call sign of “JETSGO”, a Canadian budget airline which had gone bankrupt in 2005, leaving many thousands of Easter holidaymakers stranded.

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