National News

Topshop cleaners win living wage battle

MARIA Susana Benavidez Guaman, a leading trade union activist in the battle for the London living wage, last week joyfully announced success in the Topshop cleaners’ long battle for better pay after 43 days of consecutive strike action.

This is the longest strike in the history of the City of London and the longest strike by an entirely migrant, in this case Latin American, workforce.

The cleaners, who are members of the trade union United Voices of the World, work at 100 Wood Street, an office building that is owned by the world’s second richest man, Amancio Ortega.

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CWU fights to defend Crown post offices

THE COMMUNICATION Workers’ Union (CWU) has mounted a massive campaign to protect post office workers’ jobs and to prevent the closure of more and more crown post offices.

The CWU describes Post Office plans to move up to 61 branches to WH Smith as “blatant back-door privatisation” of the main crown post offices.

The union is currently balloting for strike action and a CWU “Big Red Battle Bus” has toured the country supporting the campaign against post office closures, ending its tour in Westminster last Saturday.

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Len McCluskey joins protest march against Bromley council

LEN MCCLUSKEY, the general secretary of the union Unite, last Saturday led a march of around 600 protesters — residents and council employees — in Bromley, south London, against the privatisation of council services.

The protest, which started from Norman Park, came after a series of strikes by council staff last week. Members of the union voted by 87 per cent to take strike action in protest against what they describe as a “mass privatisation programme” and “cuts to pay and conditions”.

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DPAC backs Corbyn

THE PRESSURE group Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), described as “one of the most powerful political groups in Britain”, last week decided to back Jeremy Corbyn in his fight to retain the leadership of the Labour Party.

DPAC has never backed a political party before but changed its policy in response to Corbyn’s long record of support and campaigning for disability rights.

In a letter, signed by over 700 people who either live with a disability, are carers or are supporters of the group, the organisation says: “Dear Jeremy, We are writing this letter in support of your campaign to remain leader of the Labour Party and a future Prime Minister of this country.

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New strike at Fawley over half pay for foreign workers

WORKERS at the Fawley oil refinery in Hampshire staged a second 24-hour strike on Wednesday in a dispute that sees foreign workers being paid half that of British workers at the Southampton site.

About 20 specialist workers, employed by Italian company Nico Industrial Services Ltd, walked out at just past midnight from the Esso refinery, after talks broke down.

The giant union Unite said that the Nico workers, mainly Bulgarians and Italians, are being paid about £48 for a 10 hour-day, whereas the 270 other workers on the site, employed by other contractors, are on about £125-per-day. British workers employed by Nico are also paid the £125-per-day rate.

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Parents go hungry during school holidays

SOME PARENTS will skip a meal to feed their children during the school holidays, according to a report published this week by the Trussell Trust charity.

“The school holidays are a time to be carefree and childlike again for a seemingly endless summer but for many thousands of children this will not be their reality,” says the report.

“Many parents will not be able to afford a family day out and many children who rely on free school meals will go hungry as their parents won’t be able to afford to buy food.

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Scottish Political News

by our Scottish political correspondent

THE SCOTTISH parliament has gone on holiday until the beginning of September to allow MSPs to recharge their batteries for an epic month-long session before their next break in October.

This does not, however, mean that political life comes to a halt. The Scottish National Party (SNP) has been rapidly ditching all its existing policies without actually saying so, to avoid upsetting their devotees. It seems to have given up on the idea of any real independence and now wants to see Scotland become a region of the imperialist European Union (EU) ruled from Brussels and the European Central Bank.

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NCP Day at the Party Centre

by New Worker correspondent WE CELEBRATED the founding of the New Communist Party (NCP) in the usual way at a reception at the Party Centre in London on 9th July. Friends and comrades, old and new, joined NCP leader Andy Brooks and Party Chair Alex Kempshall in celebrating the anniversary with speeches. food and drink, and a bumper collection that raised over £3,000!

NCP leader Andy Brooks spoke about the long struggle against revisionism and the fight for peace and socialism led by the Party that was established under the leadership of Sid French in July 1977.

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Pages from the Past

Reviewed by Robin Macgregor

John Archer: Battersea’s Black Progressive and Labour Activist 1863—1932 by Sean Creighton.

SOMETIMES known as “South Chelsea” on account of refugees fleeing the high property prices in the ultra-rich borough just across the River Thames taking up residency, the London Borough of Battersea, now part of Wandsworth, has a surprisingly interesting labour history.

It was in Battersea that the first working man to become a cabinet minister, John Burns, was elected as a Labour MP in 1892. He was a member of the Marxist Social Democratic Federation which, although often criticised for its sectarianism, worked with the powerful Trades and Labour Council and with some radical Liberals in a sometimes effective Progressive Alliance that played an important role in municipal politics. Amongst its achievements the Alliance established the first direct labour department to build council houses. These experiments in municipal socialism were of high quality, earning the borough the title of a “municipal mecca”. Later it was the borough that elected Shapurji Saklatvala as a Communist MP in 1922 with Labour Party support, and again in 1924 with Labour Party opposition.

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International News

South Koreans protest US missile system

by Lyn Neeley

“WE oppose THAAD with our lives!” shouted thousands of angry south Korean farmers during a 13th July protest. The demonstration followed Washington’s 8th July announcement that it would deploy the anti-ballistic Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system in the protesters’ county of Seongju by 2017.

Daily anti-THAAD protests have continued around the country. Local leaders in Seongju started a hunger strike and cut their fingers to write the words of the chant in their own blood. Some are refusing to send their children to school. The farmers vowed not to lose the land of their ancestors to THAAD.

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Is fascism still alive in Italy?

Sputnik

SEVENTY-THREE years after dictator Benito Mussolini was ousted on 25th July 1943, fascist propaganda posters disseminated by the Fascismo e Libertà (Fascist and Freedom) movement are all over Rubano, a town in Italy’s northern Padua province, even though upholding fascism is a crime in Italy.

Floriana Rizzetto, regional president of the National Association of the Italian Partisans (ANPI), says that she had been told by the mayor of Rubano that Fascismo e Libertà insisted that they were totally legit, even though, from a legal standpoint, they certainly are not.

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Saudi talks with Israel condemned

Communist Party of Israel

THE Communist Party of Israel (CPI) and its Hadash (Peace and Equality) front have condemned an unofficial visit to Tel Aviv by a Saudi delegation last week, accusing it of legitimising Israel’s strategy of refusing to negotiate with the Palestinians. Israel’s Channel 2 News said that the visit of Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, to Israel two weeks ago was coordinated between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, whose peace initiative is backed by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.

“The recent visit by Saudi personalities, including former general Anwar Eshki, and their meetings with representatives of the Netanyahu government, on the pretext of advancing a dialogue concerning the Arab peace initiative, were not designed to challenge Israel’s refusal strategy, but to legitimise it by giving Arab ‘sponsorship’ to voiding the initiative of any content and by eliminating the two-state solution and the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,” said a statement issued by the CPI and Hadash, the largest faction within the Joint List parliamentary bloc.

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Features

Ukraine in 2016: echoes of 1930s Germany

by Theo Russell

ON PAPER, the current Ukrainian government under prime minister Volodymyr Groysman has cleaned up its image, with two far-right, anti-Semitic parties, Svoboda and the Radical Party, no longer in the coalition.

But the far right and neo-Nazi militias have been given official recognition. In 2015 84 of these battalions became part of the National Guard, the Patrol Service of Police, or under Ministry of Defence control. The interior minister, Arsen Avakov, has close ties with the Azov, Aidar and Tornado battalions.

These militias continue to run amok across Ukraine, mounting racist, anti-Semitic, anti-communist and homophobic attacks, threatening and intimidating judges, and frequently kidnapping defendants when they are released by the courts.

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Timber Sycamore: The untold story of CIA covert operations in SyriaAmerica’s

Sputnik

THE US involvement in Syria comes in “two main flavours”: one is an overt military operation that aims to defeat the “Islamic State” (ISIS); the other is a CIA-led clandestine programme to support the Syrian rebels that are seeking to topple Bashar al-Assad.

Although US efforts to supply rebels in Syria have repeatedly resulted in American weapons finding their way into the wrong hands, Washington’s covert operation in Syria is worth the trouble, US academics Austin Carson and Michael Poznansky believe.

“By most accounts, America’s efforts to covertly train and supply moderate rebels in Syria aren’t going so well... What, then, is the rationale for US policy in Syria? Why has the White House continued to draw on the tool of covert military aid despite its shoddy track record?” Austin Carson of the University of Chicago and Michael Poznansky of the University of Pittsburgh ask in their article for War on the Rocks.

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Turkey: Failed military coup opens door to Erdoğan purge

by John Catalinotto

NATO’s second-largest army exposed its instability when elements hostile to the regime of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan attempted a military coup on 15th July. Before the coup collapsed, jet fighters bombed Parliament, tanks rolled through the streets of Istanbul and Ankara, and helicopters attempted but failed to arrest or assassinate the president.

The coup leaders’ politics are still murky. Their programme was all generalities about democracy. The best way to analyse this coup at the present time is to look at the reactions of Turkey’s government, its opposition parties and Turkey’s NATO partners.

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South China Sea: Hypocrisy that threatens war

by Bob Briton and Anna Pha

THE DECISION of the Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague is nothing short of provocative. As is the response of the Australian and US governments. They wasted no time in springing to the defence of the ruling of a tribunal that has found against the People’s Republic of China’s historical claim to a disputed maritime zone in the South China Sea. The authority of the body to determine such a question is doubtful, as is the process used. But that hasn’t stopped the usual supporters of US military and economic interests from lecturing China about respect for “international law” and threatening grave consequences starting with sanctions.

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