National News

North to get old Tube trains?

RAIL UNION RMT last week called on the Government to stop lying as detailed information in the Northern Rail franchise documents confirmed it is acquiring 30-year-old tube trains withdrawn from service on London Underground.

These trains are currently undergoing refitting to diesel operation and could be dumped on railways in the North as yet another rolling stock lash-up raising serious safety fears.

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Defend health and safety laws

THE TUC last week warned members of the House of Lords that plans they were voting on, on Wednesday 4th March, to scrap health and safety rules for millions of self-employed people, will put both workers and the public at risk.

The Deregulation Bill to amend section three of the Health and Safety at Work Act received its third reading in the House of Lords last Wednesday.

Currently it places a duty on all employers and self-employed people to take reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of others. Any self-employed person who is not on a prescribed list will no longer have duties under the Act and will not be a liable for a criminal act, or be issued with enforcement proceedings regardless of any risk that they pose to themselves or others.

The TUC says that the clause will remove 4.2 million self-employed people from the requirement of the Act and warns that the bill will be a recipe for confusion.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This is virtually a licence to kill. It will be a green light to cowboys and incompetents to cut corners and take risks, not only with their own lives but also with those of others.

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Cataclysm warning

by New Worker correspondent

AROUND 15,000 protesters marched last Saturday from London’s Lincoln’s Inn Fields to Milbank to once again reiterate the warning that the Government must take climate change seriously and take urgent measures to curb the human causes of global warming.

The march included contingents from many different campaigns: anti-fracking groups, the campaign against TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), peace campaigners, anti-austerity campaigners and many more.

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CND attacks nuclear rip-off

THE CAMPAIGN for Nuclear Disarmament has slammed the spiralling costs and errors during construction of the Ministry of Defences flagship nuclear weapons facility at the Atomic Weapons Establishment.Project Pegasus, a £634 million project that will manufacture enriched uranium components for Britain’s nuclear warheads, is in limbo after a catalogue of failings in the planning and construction stages.

Despite a vote on Trident replacement not being due until 2016, spending at the AWE site has risen to around £1 billion a year to ensure Britain can make nuclear bombs well into the middle of this century.

But this huge expenditure has not stopped a litany of errors in planning, management and construction of new nuclear facilities which has left the Office for Nuclear Regulation demanding answers.

A Freedom of Information request by the Nuclear Information Service, reported in the Sunday Herald, has uncovered that the futures of Project Pegasus and Project Mensa (a warhead assembly/disassembly facility costing upwards of £734 million) are both in doubt after suffering from “poor planning at the outset, with unachievable budgets and delivery schedules”.

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Danger in plan to use firefighters as paramedics

MATT WRACK, the general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, last week condemned Government plans to get firefighters to double as paramedics as a way to improve emergency call response times.

The FBU and health service unions say the plans will put compromise their fire prevention work but fire chiefs say it doesn’t matter which uniform is at the scene of an emergency first.

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Chaos still reigns at London Bridge

MICK CASH the general secretary of the transport union RMT last Tuesday commented on the continuing chaos reigning at London Bridge station during a massive reconstruction programme.

Cash said: “Despite the horrific scenes of crushing and overcrowding at London Bridge last week RMT members on the platforms and on the trains have warned that the situation at the station is like a tinder box where the slightest spark can plunge them back into total chaos.

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Parcelforce fails to deliver on pay

THE GIANT union Unite last week warned that the delivery company Parcelforce risks sparking industrial action after management went ahead with a pay deal that had been overwhelmingly rejected by union members.

As a result of a pay review bosses at the courier company, a subsidiary of Royal Mail, have acted unilaterally to implement a paltry 2.8 per cent increase dating back to July 2014.

The union believes members are being bullied into accepting a derisory offer and intends to hold a ballot on a work to rule.

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PCS damning verdict on universal credit

UNIVERSAL credit, one of the Government’s flagship policies, is in disarray and mired by a lack of staff, poor training and inadequate IT, workers have told their union PCS.

In a survey conducted by the union 90 per cent of respondents said they believed IT systems, on which hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent “were less than adequate”, with only 0.9 per cent saying they were more than adequate.

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Network Rail workers ballot for strike

RAIL UNION RMT began distributing ballot papers last Monday to Network Rail members in Operations, Maintenance, Customer Services and associated grades over what the company says is its final pay offer.

The union is recommending that members vote No to reject the proposals, which are summarised as follows: 2015 — a nought per cent increase in pay; 2016, 2017 and 2018 — a retail price index (RPI) level of inflation increase in pay would be applied for each year. Seventeen thousand RMT members are being balloted in all areas of Network Rail in the referendum and the union has made it clear that if members reject the offer RMT will automatically be placed in dispute with Network Rail and the workforce will then be balloted for industrial action.

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Scottish News

from our Scottish political correspondent

THE SCOTTISH Labour Party’s Spring conference took place last Saturday after a string of opinion polls which, if they are correct will ensure that David Cameron will be remaining in Downing Street.

One put the Tories on a magnificent 15 per cent which might enable them to keep their single Scottish Tory MP. More pleasing to Cameron is that the Scottish National Party, whose lead in the polls could, in theory, see them taking around 50 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster constituencies.

As these would, apart from a few Liberal Democrats, be at the expense of Labour, one does not need a PhD in statistics to see why David Cameron would resemble the proverbial Cheshire cat. Like the curate’s egg parts of Labour’s conference were quite excellent.

Unfortunately it had included a re-run of Blair’s 1995 ditching of Clause Four when it endorsed a woolly phrase to work for “for the patriotic interest of the people of Scotland” which is of course just another formula for abandoning class politics.

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Stalin’s purges — what really happened?

reviewed by Andy Brooks

Stalin’s purges’ of 1937-38: what really happened? by Yuri Emelianov, Scientific Socialism Research Unit, West Bengal India 2015, 80pp, illus, £3.00.

IN RUSSIA today Joseph Stalin is remembered as a great war-time leader. But he is still reviled by the powers-that-be as a tyrant who had his rivals shot on trumped up charges and sent millions of innocent people to Siberia during the massive purges that swept the Soviet Union in the 1930s.

Much of this narrative comes from Stalin’s successor, Nikita Krushchov, whose anti-Stalin critique, which began after the 20th Communist Party Congress, was used to remove and disgrace all those who opposed his revisionist line.

Khrushchov’s lies were used by bourgeois and Trotskyist historians alike to portray this period as the time of “Stalin’s terror”. Ludicrous figures were given of the numbers sent to labour camps during the crackdown and astronomic numbers were said to have died in the camps. Most claim “millions” perished. The most rabid talk about “25 million” in an effort to equate Stalin with the very real number of people who died on the orders of Adolf Hitler and the German Nazis during the Second World War.

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International News

Bulgarians march against Nato by Ivan Martínez

BULGARIANS have held a protest rally to express their anger at military operations conducted by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation in the East European country.

On Sunday demonstrators took to the streets of the capital city of Sofia to call on Nato to leave Bulgaria, which joined the western military alliance in March 2004. They were holding banners reading: “Barbaric American bases — out of Bulgaria! STOP the killing,” and: “Stop the occupation and colonial administration — Nato out of Bulgaria — the future is in sovereign countries.”

In an address to the rally Yane Ivanov, a protest leader, said: “Unfortunately, Bulgaria at the moment is being ruled by this criminal institution — Nato.” The march came after five Nato patrol ships entered the eastern Bulgarian port of Varna as part of a joint training exercise with Bulgaria, Turkey and Romania. Bulgarians also marched in Sofia last month to condemn a government plan to install a Nato military command base inside the country.

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More suspects held in relation to Nemtsov’s death

Xinhua

RUSSIAN security authorities confirmed on Monday that they had detained another two suspects in connection with the murder of former deputy Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.

The two suspects were caught in a special operation carried out on Sunday evening in Shelkovskoy District of Russia’s Chechen Republic.

Altogether seven suspects have been detained, as Moscow’s Basmanny District Court ruled on Sunday to formally arrest Zaur Dadayev and four others in relation to Nemtsov’s murder.

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Sinn Féin says no to Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil

by John Hedges SINN FéIN will not enter a Government led by either Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, the party’s Ard Fheis (Conference) in Derry voted on last week.

Sinn Féin wants to have enough TDs (Irish MPs) returned at the next general election so that it can lead a government and ensure that a republican programme delivers for the people.

Speaking in favour of Motion 52, opposing joining any government led by Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, Pearse Doherty TD told delegates:

“Our country deserves a fresh start from the failed politics of the years past. It also deserves a new hope that a new government — guided by the needs of the many rather than the greed of the few — can make a real, positive difference.”

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Women fight oppression in Bangladesh

by Colleen Davidson

AS I walked through the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, I became aware of so much suffering, especially for women. I saw a woman who was forced to leave her crying infant lying on a blanket alone on the sidewalk as she ran around frantically begging for money so that she could feed herself and care for her child. Another time, I saw a woman sitting in the street, crying and cradling her mother’s head as her mother lay dying.

Capitalism hurts all working women. In the United States, sexism and patriarchy are highly prevalent and women are faced with income inequality, violence, discrimination and harassment. In oppressed countries that are super-exploited by US and other imperialist monopolies and by the local capitalists, such as in Bangladesh, life for women is a living hell. But in Bangladesh the women are fighting back.

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Features

Islamic State’s cultural outrage

by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey THE ISLAMIC State movement has committed yet another atrocity, adding vandalism and desecration of world cultural heritage to its list of crimes. Unesco has expressed outrage over the attack on Mosul Museum and the destruction of statues and other artefacts, and has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

Unesco Director-General Irina Bokova has stated that she is “deeply shocked” by this latest incident, which has followed other acts of desecration of treasures, including a library full of ancient books. Mosul Public Library was blown up last month in an explosion and 10,000 books together with 700 rare manuscripts were lost forever.

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Unforgettable days in the annals of Korean-Soviet Friendship

by Kim Thae Hyon

THE DEMOCRATIC People’s Republic of Korea has a long history of friendship with its neighbour, Russia.

Sixty-six years ago the two neighbouring countries wrote a new chapter in promoting traditional friendly and cooperative relations. Kim Il Sung, eternal President of the DPRK, paid an official goodwill visit to the Soviet Union in March 1949 (Juche 38), the first of its kind after Korea was liberated from the Japanese military occupation and the DPRK was founded.

During the visit, he was accorded a tumultuous welcome by leaders of the party, the government and people of the USSR.

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Reviving the Tonkin Gulf incident

by Rob Gowland

I SEE that they’re rewriting history again. Or, more accurately, not so much rewriting it as perpetuating a long-discredited lie. The US Pentagon has a website “commemorating” the outbreak of the Vietnam War, which according to the site, began with “the North Vietnamese attack on USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964”. But it has been known for many years that that attack (the so-called Gulf of Tonkin incident) never actually happened.

The US sprayed the vegetation (and the people) with a toxic defoliant, Agent Orange, which causes cruel genetic mutations generation after generation.

The Johnson Administration was looking for an excuse that would enable it to expand the scope of the war in Indo- China, a war that was not going too successfully for the US. The bogus attack on the Maddox provided the pretext for what the Pentagon calls “the beginning of the [US] Navy’s air and surface bombardment against North Vietnam.” But that wasn’t the beginning of the war. The US had been fighting the Indo-Chinese national liberation movement for years before that. They even began spraying the notorious Agent Orange as early as 1961. For the Vietnamese, the war began a lot earlier, as, led by Ho Chi Minh, they fought the attempt by Japanese imperialism to add the country to its new Asian empire.

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SYRIZA: When they say that meat is actually fish

Communist Party of Greece

WE STILL remember the image of monks in the Middle Ages, who said that meat was actually fish in order to overcome the difficulties of the endless fasting. This image perfectly fits the developments that have been unfolding in Greece in recent days under the Syriza-Anel government. Here is some data to support this:

Syriza, as an opposition party, had promised to tear up the memoranda, which the previous governments had signed with the foreign lenders (the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund), and which contained the anti-worker-anti-people measures. Syriza as the party of government revealed that it agrees with 70 per cent of the “reforms” included in the memoranda and disagrees with 30 per cent, which it describes as “toxic”. Indeed it states that it will not act unilaterally, but seeks a new agreement with the lenders which this time will not be called a memorandum, but a programme, agreement or bridge.

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