National News

FBU re-joins Corbyn’s Labour

THE FIRE Brigades Union (FBU) last week voted to become the first trade union to re-affiliate to the Labour Party at a special delegate conference in Blackpool.

The FBU disaffiliated over a decade ago over attacks from Tony Blair’s New Labour leadership on striking firefighters.

The FBU was one of the first unions to declare support for Corbyn’s leadership campaign.

The union’s executive council voted to recommend re-affiliation after his landslide election victory in September. Corbyn and shadow chancellor John Mc- Donnell co-founded the union’s parliamentary group after the union disaffiliated from Labour in 2004 after a dispute over pay and conditions under the Blair government.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

RMT and Aslef demand train guards

TWO MAJOR transport unions, RMT and Aslef, last week signed a joint statement opposing driver-only operation (DOO) and driver-controlled operation (DCO) of trains, whilst at a meeting at the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF).

The statement said:

“We are completely opposed to Driver Only Operation and its forms, including Driver Controlled Operation (DCO)/Drive Door Operation (DDO), throughout the network.

We firmly believe this method of operation is less safe for passengers and the workforce and our unions will not agree to the extension of DOO or DCO/DDO under any circumstances.

This includes recent proposals for DOO by Great Western in respect of the new IEP trains and the Government’s proposals for DCO for the next Northern Rail franchise.

The responsibility of the driver of the train is to drive, which requires 100 per cent focus. It is less safe for both the driver and passengers if the driver is distracted by additional duties such as protecting the platform train interface. The Guard/Conductor should retain responsibility for door operation.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Funeral for domestic violence refuges

by New Worker correspondent

THE FOUNTAINS in Trafalgar Square ran red with dye last Saturday, symbolising the blood shed by women victims of domestic violence, in a powerful protest at the loss of 32 domestic violence refuges around the country due to the austerity cuts.

The event was organised by the campaigning group Sisters Uncut — many of whom have been victims of domestic violence. It started with a rally of around 500 women in Soho Square, many dressed in mourning with black veils, who stood in a circle and read out the 100-plus names of women who have been murdered by their partners or ex-partners within the last year. Many local authorities have been forced by the Tory austerity cuts to reduce or close domestic violence services.

Last year more than 6,000 women in desperate need were turned away from the remaining over-full refuges. This leaves them with a choice of going back to a home where they are in danger or trying to live on the streets as beggars — and this also is not a safe option.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Cap on carers’ benefits ruled unlawful

A HIGH Court judge last Thursday ruled that the Government’s cap on benefits, when applied to those who care for disabled people, discriminates against disabled people.

And last week Mr Justice Collins said that the Government’s decision to apply the cap to full-time carers for adult relatives had created serious financial hardship for them, forcing many to give up caring for loved ones, and had also placed extra costs on the NHS and care services. The ruling comes after two carers brought the case against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) following serious concerns that the benefit cap would unfairly harm those who care for their disabled children and relatives.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

London Ambulance Service under ‘special measures’

THE LONDON Ambulance Service (LAS) has been rated as inadequate and is the first service in the country to be placed under special measures.

England’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Sir Mike Richards, recommended on Friday 27th November that the LAS NHS Trust should be placed into special measures following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

A team of inspectors found that the Trust delivered services that were caring but that improvements are reportedly needed on safety, effectiveness, responsiveness and leadership.

The CQC found a shortage of trained paramedics, with some junior staff sent out on the front line with little supervision. Since May 2014 there had been a “significant” decline in the number of urgent calls attended in the target eight minutes.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

London’s toxic air

HUNDREDS of thousands of London schoolchildren are being forced to breathe air that is so toxic it breaches European Union legal limits, according to a report published last week by Policy Exchange and King’s College.

The report revealed that 328,000 — nearly a quarter of all London schoolchildren — attend schools where nitrogen dioxide levels were above the annual permitted level.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Do not criminalise the homeless

THE LONDON Borough of Hackney is planning to fine people up to £1,000 for sleeping in doorways near popular tourist spots. No one is quite sure just how people who are homeless and destitute can be expected to pay such fines.

Homelessness charities have condemned the move, saying that it turns rough sleepers — who are often escaping lives of abuse — into criminals.

A similar protection order was proposed by Oxford City Council but the council backed off after a petition against the move garnered 72,000 signatures.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Scottish Political News

by our Scottish political affairs correspondent

WOMEN for Independence (WFI) is one of these SNP front organisations that pretends it has nothing to do with the SNP. It was set up in 2012 to win YES votes in the Referendum from those not normally given to voting for the actual SNP. WFI attempts to maintain this fiction by taking care not to display the SNP’s black noose symbol on its website however no less than seven members of WFI’s ruling council are SNP candidates for the next Holyrood elections. Another is on the SNP’s National Executive Committee, one the SNP National Council (no, I don’t know the difference either) and another sits on the Scottish Police Authority board, which is naturally stuffed full of SNP appointees.

The WFI have recently had a spot of bother with their accounting. When WFI were unable to account for £30,000 which was missing from their funds they finally called in the “Boys in Blue” after literally months of searching for it. It is pleasing to report that the money was not actually missing; it was safe and sound in a PayPal account in the charge of Glasgow East MP Natalie McGarry, who was in sole charge of WFI’s funds. Shortly before Police Scotland were called in Ms McGarry attempted to sort out what she claimed was simply a case of poor bookkeeping by hurriedly handing over £6,000 to her irate comrades

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Stop the War

by New Worker correspondent

THOUSANDS of anti-war protesters filled Whitehall last Saturday with a single message for all MPs: “Don’t vote to bomb Syria”.

They were joined by actor Mark Rylance, Labour MP Diane Abbott, musician Brian Eno, Tariq Ali, journalist Owen Jones and George Galloway, who all addressed the crowds outside Downing Street. Owen Jones was met with stony silence when he claimed that the Assad elected government of Syria was a bigger threat than ISIS.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Powerful message from Global South on Climate Change march

by New Worker correspondent

THERE was controversy at the start of the giant Climate Change protest march in Park Lane, London last Sunday as a large group with banners laying the blame for global warming squarely on western imperialism tried to place itself at the head of the march.

But their strong political message was not the one that the middle class organisers of the march wanted there.

The group, which calls itself The Wretched of the Earth, represents the Global South. In their own words: “The Global South is the main frontline of the uphill battle against climate change. From Colombia to Côte d’Ivoire, from the Philippines to Pakistan, people are already facing the furious impacts of environmental devastation through floods, droughts, landslides and typhoons.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

International News

Russia stabs Turkey in the guts

by Dimitri Sudakov

RUSSIA has imposed economic sanctions on Turkey following the downing of the Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bomber over Syria. Turkey shot down the Russian jet having claimed that Russia violated Turkish airspace, although both Russian officials and the surviving pilot proved that the Russian aircraft was flying only over the territory of Syria, where Russia continues to conduct the anti-terrorist operation.

A Turkish F-16 jet fired a missile at Russia’s Su-24 military aircraft on 24th November above the territory of Syria. The pilot and the navigator of the bomber plane ejected, but commander Oleg Peshkov was killed with automatic gunfire from the ground as he was parachuting down. The navigator of the aircraft survived and was safely recovered from the terrorist-seized area to Russia’s Hmeymim airbase in Syria.

Vladimir Putin called the attack a “stab in the back” from an “accomplice accomplice of terrorists”. Putin warned that the incident would lead to serious consequences for Russian— Turkish relations.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

China and Zimbabwe, ‘all-weather’ friends

by Song Miou

CHINA and Zimbabwe agreed on Tuesday to translate their time-honoured friendship into a stronger impetus for mutual practical cooperation in order to achieve common development and prosperity.

The agreement came as Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is in Zimbabwe for a state visit to the African country, and his Zimbabwean counterpart, Robert Mugabe, held talks in the State House and jointly charted the course for the future development of bilateral ties.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

The Cuban Revolution: A story that deserves to be written

Havana Reporter

THE CUBAN Revolution, its development, influence and the example it gives, as well as Cuba’s relations with Latin America and the rest of the world, captivated the attention of attendees at the International Symposium: The Cuban Revolution: Origin and Historical Development, which closed recently at Havana’s Convention Centre.

This Cuban historical period spans 60 years and even though the main events are widely known, the processes that led to or were related to them are yet to be studied.

With the objective of trying to understand the history of the Cuban Revolution even better, more than 70 specialists from 20 countries took part in panels, workshops and commissions on different, related themes.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Palestine: Archaeology in the service of the occupation

Communist Party of Israel

ACCORDING to the non-governmental organisation Emek Shaveh, Tel Sebastia, located northwest of the city of Nablus in the direction of Jenin, might be the next archaeological site in the West Bank to be exploited by the Israeli settlers in their strategic struggle to take over the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Emek Shaveh is an organisation of archaeologists and community activists that believes that an archaeological site should not and cannot be used to prove ownership by any one nation, ethnic group or religion over a given place.

Last month they said that Tel Sebastia might be the next archaeological site to be exploited by the settlers.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]


ISIS, the Saudis and oil

by Rob Gowland

WERE THE attacks in Paris the work of fanatical Islamist terrorists taking revenge on France for its well-known hostility and intolerance towards Muslims? Or are the religious fanatics merely tools, and what we are really dealing with is capitalism and its never-ending quest for higher profits?

At first sight this might seem a bit of a stretch, but the Ecologist ran a very interesting article by Oliver Tickell on 16th November that looked at the links between ISIS, OPEC and attempts to reduce our use of fossil fuels. And the Financial Times a few days earlier had run another interesting article entitled Isis Inc: how oil fuels the jihadi terrorists. “Oil is the black gold that funds ISIS’ black flag” said the paper. “It fuels its war machine, provides electricity and gives the fanatical jihadis critical leverage against their neighbours...”

We all know that ISIS is supported by — and even receives arms from — the US and the latter’s clients, Turkey and Saudi Arabia (the USA’s ostentatious but singularly ineffectual air strikes against “ISIS targets” in northern Syria notwithstanding). But did you know that the area controlled by ISIS in the Middle East produces about 34,000—40,000 barrels of crude oil per day?

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

The GDR’s Margot Honecker: ‘The Past Was Brought Back


Concerning the counter-revolution in 1989 in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the return of capitalist disorder after its demise, holding a scientific world outlook, and the struggle of the Greek people against the dictatorship of the monopolies. An interview with Margot Honecker and Antonis Polychronakis.

Margot Honecker, born in 1927, former minister of education of the GDR and widow of long-time Socialist Unity Party (SED) Secretary General and GDR State Chairperson Erich Honecker (1912—1994), had not commented publicly for a long time from her self-chosen place of exile near Santiago de Chile. Translation from German into English by Greg Butterfield and John Catalinotto of Workers World, published in two parts by The New Worker.

AP: What was good in the GDR, and what should the socialist government have done better in order to save the “first socialist state on German soil”?

[Read the complete story in the print edition]