National News

Firefighters defend victimised union officer

THE FIRE Brigades Union (FBU) last week continued its battle across England to defend the rights of firefighters to retire before 60 and to keep their full pensions with a four-day strike over last weekend up to Tuesday 4th November.

But now they are also fighting for the reinstatement of Ricky West, an FBU officer in who was sacked by Buckinghamshire fire service for his role in organising for the strike. The FBU executive council met in Buckinghamshire this week to hear reports of the action.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The FBU congratulates our members across England for the solidarity and unity they have shown over the past three days. It is still clear that our case is absolutely solid and justified.

The Government’s case for an unaffordable and unworkable pension scheme takes no account of the realities of work in the fire and rescue service.

“Unfortunately, there has been a particular aggressive and hostile response from the fire and rescue authority in Buckinghamshire resulting in one of our executive council members, Ricky Matthews, being informed that he has been summarily dismissed.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Solidarity with Kobane

by New Worker correspondent

THOUSANDS of Kurds living in London, along with their comrades and supporters, filled Trafalgar Square last Saturday to express solidarity with the Kurdish people of Kobane, on the border between Syria and Turkey, from the well-equipped army of ISIS, the brutal and fascist Islamic State army.

ISIS was created by rich and powerful allies of the United States in the Middle East to bring down the government of Bashar Assad in Syria, which has always resisted the power and influence of western imperialism in the region.

It quickly became notorious for its atrocities but the West continued to support it covertly until the Syrian army succeeded in driving it out of a large part of Syria.

It retreated into Iraq where it continued to rampage against the army of the puppet Iraqi state, which melted away in front of it. ISIS also began publicly beheading western hostages, journalists and aid workers and so came to the attention of the western media.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Britain First humiliated in Rochester

HUNDREDS of local anti- fascists lined and blocked Rochester High Street last Saturday to prevent a march by the neo-Nazi splinter group Britain First from marching through their town.

The fascists were marching, they claim, to protest at proposals for a new mosque in Rochester and as part of their election campaign for their candidate in the Rochester and Strood by-election.

They called of a nationwide turn-out of their supporters but only raised 35 members, in an area they count as a stronghold. But at Rochester station to meet them was a group of local people and activists, numbering nearer 70.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Workers due back pay after holiday pay ruling

EMPLOYERS in Britain face a big bill for backdated holiday pay after a landmark ruling by an employment appeal tribunal last week ruled that regular overtime should be taken into account when calculating holiday pay.

About five million people could be eligible to collect backdated holiday pay. following a historic legal ruling on Tuesday.

Test cases were brought by the Unite union against the engineering company Amec and industrial services firm Hertel.

The ruling could pave the way for pay-outs for up to a sixth of Britain’s 30 million workers. Unions welcomed the decision but companies warned that they face a multibillion-pound bill which they claimed could put some out of business.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Scottish News

by our Scottish political correspondent

POST-Referendum Scottish politics remain very exciting. The Scottish Parliament has a full and active programme. On Tuesday they began at 2pm with a time for reflection by a Chaplain to the Queen whose advice was doubtless very useful in guiding MSPs through the next business, which was stage three proceedings of the historic Environment Scotland Bill.

After that they discussed the ministerial statement on the Scottish Greenhouse Gas Emissions Annual Target Report 2012. Eleven months into 2014 they really should be discussing the figures for 2013.

A debate on the Town Centre Action Plan, one year on was speedily followed by a discussion on two Westminster bills on deregulation and small businesses.

The day concluded with a member’s motion on School Bus Safety around Scotland.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Korean artists come to London

by New Worker correspondent

FOUR top DPRK painters have spent the past two weeks touring London, capturing glimpses of the spirit of the people in their art which was displayed for the first time at an exhibition at the DPRK embassy this week.

The Korean artists painted their way round the capital, visiting the South Bank, the National Gallery, Covent Garden and the Tower and their impressions, along with many other examples of their skills have been delighting art-lovers and friends of the DPRK all week.

The artists work at the Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang. The studio, which was founded in 1959, is the national fine arts centre of the DPR Korea with specialised units covering sculpture, ceramics, murals, paintings, embroidery and social and political posters. The studio employs nearly 5,000 workers including 700 artists whose works have been displayed throughout Democratic Korea and across the world.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Vietnamese lacquer artworks showcased in London

VNS

A COLLECTION of Vietnamese lacquer paintings and handicraft products was introduced to British visitors through an exhibition opened in London this week.

The exhibition is a part of activities to introduce and promote Vietnamese culture and tourism in the UK.

It’s a chance for local people and Vietnamese overseas to contemplate 80 paintings and handicraft products by generations of artists that will help visitors to have a panoramic view on the development of Vietnamese lacquer through periods.

Vietnamese Vibes: Harmonies of Space and Time is at the Guy Peppiatt/ Stephen Ongpin Gallery, 6 Masons Yard, Duke St, St James’s London which is open from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

International News

Call for prisoner swap for Miami Five

by the US National Committee to Free the Cuban Five

THE EDITORIAL board of the New York Times, one of the major papers reflecting US ruling class opinion, on Sunday called for a prisoner exchange of the three remaining imprisoned members of the Cuban Five — Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, and Ramón Labañino — for Alan Gross, the American agent who is serving a 15-year sentence in Cuba. This is a major breakthrough in the case of the Five. It follows several editorials in the New York Times calling for normalisation of relations with Cuba and an end to the US blockade.

The editorial notes that: “Commuting the Five’s sentences would be justified considering the lengthy time they have served, the troubling questions about the fairness of their trial, and the potential diplomatic payoff in clearing the way toward a new bilateral relationship.” This is the first time that the fairness of the Five’s trial has been questioned in the major media.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

New Zealand to vote on ditching Union Jack

by Mark Moloney NEW ZEALAND Prime Minister John Key has announced that the country will vote on whether or not to ditch the Union Jack from their national flag in a referendum in 2016.

He believes public opinion is split down the middle on keeping or removing the current version with a Union flag canton.

The referendum will cost an estimated £15.5 million and no official alternative design has been announced.

But the National Party leader said his personal preference is a new flag depicting a single silver fern on a black background, the logo used by the All Blacks rugby team.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Cuba and Britain to revive bilateral relations

by Juan Leandro

CUBAN vice-president Ricardo Cabrisas and British Foreign Office Minister Hugo Swire expressed their interest in reviving bilateral relations in Cuba this week.

At a meeting held last weekend in Havana’s Palace of the Revolution, both senior representatives stressed they are working to develop the potential of their existing cooperation.

The Cuban representative said that Swire’s official visit comes at the right moment, as the island develops the projection of its economic development for the period 2016-2030, and gives priority to its plans until 2020.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Ex-Berkut militiaman on the front line

An eye-witness account of the “Euromaidan” riots in Kiev that led to the fascist coup, as described by a former member of the Ukrainian special police unit who later joined the anti-fascist DPR militia in Novorossiya.

Reporter: Hold on. Start with your story.

Ex-Berkut fighter: The ei ghtee nth of February, when it all started, when you know, they started shooting at us; we didn’t know what was happening. There were Molotov cocktails, everything. I was burned more times that I can count. I came back home without eyebrows or eyelashes. My ribs were broken.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Pyongyang Zoo moves forward

Pyongyang Times

by Jong Hwa Sun

THE FIRST-stage reconstruction project for the Central Zoo is near to completion.

The two-stage renovation project is an enormous undertaking to totally transform over 50 enclosures to suit the environment and nature of the animals.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Features

Lies and conspiracies

by Rob Gowland

THE SECOND-most pathetic sight of recent times has to have been Australian premier Tony Abbott telling everyone how he would “shirtfront” Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Brisbane. The most pathetic sight was Labour leader Bill Shorten trying to outdo Abbott by being even more fiercely anti-Russian. These two strutting game-cocks posturing for the Australian media as though they were the leaders of a Great Power while they spouted anti-Russian rhetoric of a type not seen since the 1950s and the height of the Cold War was downright embarrassing.

Everyone knows that Australia’s foreign policy is conducted to a score written in Washington, so the sight of these two Lilliputians being outrageously rude and offensive towards the President of an actual Great Power merely confirmed our status as a loyal US lapdog. The transparently obvious nature of their posturing was enhanced by the fact that the topic on which they chose to pontificate (the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine) had already been convincingly shown to be a US/EU beat-up, the physical evidence indicating that the plane was shot down by an air-to-air missile which could only be from a Ukrainian fighter plane.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Europe anti-labour law threatens US

by Fred Goldstein

IN A RARE note of agreement, the Wall Street Journal and Novosti, a Russian newspaper, agree on the large size of a workers’ anti-austerity demonstration: 1 million. That is the number of Italian workers who marched to the Piazza San Giovanni in Rome on 25th October to protest against a new labour law rammed through the legislature on 9th October by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

How does this struggle affect the US working class — and the workers of the world for that matter?

European capitalism is headed into its third recession since 2007. It has not been able to recover from the economic crisis by conventional austerity measures. Their new strategy is to grow out of this crisis by expanding exports.

But in order to expand exports and compete in the world capitalist market, the European capitalists have to bring down their prices to be “competitive”. Workers in the US know that when they hear the bosses talk about being competitive, it means cutting wages and benefits while increasing layoffs.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]