National News

Union hardship payments for ambulance drivers owed £1,000s

THE GMB union last week made hardship payments to members working for the non-emergency ambulance service in Sussex who are owed thousands of pounds by their private sector employers.

The first payments were made after a demonstration outside a Brighton general practitioner surgery as the GMB held protests where the decision-makers practice as doctors.

Some ambulance staff are struggling to pay household bills, including their rent, with back pay owing from the collapse of one employer VM Langfords — and no August pay packet received. VM Langfords collapsed with debts of more than £444,000, according to a statement of affairs filed with Companies House.

More than £100,000 was owed to the Inland Revenue. Staff are keeping the Sussex Patient Transport Service running on goodwill according to the union, which plans to apply for a winding up order against two of the four businesses involved.

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RMT victory for Scotrail guards

THE RMT transport union last week won an important victory to defend the role of train guards employed by Scotrail.

An agreement has been reached with the employers regarding the safety-critical role of guards, which the union is to put to members in a referendum ballot with a recommendation to accept it. RMT has described this as: “A major breakthrough in the battle against Driver Only Operation [DOO], which the union will now use as a benchmark in talks with other companies where Guards are under threat including Southern Rail.”

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Manchester to sack all firefighters

THE FIRE Brigades Union (FBU) is outraged at new plans to sack all firefighters in Greater Manchester and then re-employ only those who agree to accept a new contract with worse terms and conditions. The new shift pattern they are trying to impose is particularly unpopular.

Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service (GMFRS) managers are planning to sack all of their firefighters using Section 188 of the Trade Union Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 and then to re-engage those who agree to the new 12-hour shift system.

The whole process has begun with limited discussion and no agreement from FBU members — an estimated 95 per cent of all firefighters in Greater Manchester are members of the union.

The proposed new arrangements mean that 20 per cent of firefighter posts will be slashed, 250 posts in total, with the remainder having worse conditions imposed on them.

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Big cuts to funding for supported housing

THE GOVERNMENT last week announced an “unexpected” cut to funding for disability supported housing and homeless accommodation, arguing that the services need to make “efficiency savings”.

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GMB slams Ofwat proposal

THE GENERAL union GMB last week attacked a proposal from the water industry regulator Ofwat to introduce competition in water supply.

Ofwat wants to open the retail water market in England to more competition with the potential of banks and supermarkets controlling our water supply.

Stuart Fegan, GMB national officer, said: “Ofwat’s plans to introduce competition to the residential retail water market are removed from reality. Water is a natural monopoly and no consultation process will change this.

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Scottish Political News

by our Scottish political correspondent

The Neverendum

SUNDAY 18th September marked the second anniversary of the Scottish independence referendum. To mark the occasion the losers held a number of events to celebrate proudly their defeat. One of these was held in Glasgow’s George Square, where Tommy Sheridan’s “Hope Over Fear” movement organised a rally that attracted a massive 200 strong crowd including the pigeons.

The next day the Scottish National Party (SNP) held a rather larger event on Glasgow Green for their devotees. Most of those attending were the sort who habitually paint their faces blue and dressed in flags. Indeed some curious flags were on display, some started waving the Saint Andrew’s with the addition of the yellow stars of the European Union (EU) flag. Others have taken to flying flags with a unicorn. Someone should tell them that there is no such thing.

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Skool Newz

by our Scottish political correspondent

IN HIS last budget George Osborne said that all schools in England should be taken out of local authority control and turned into academies by 2020. On Sunday John Swinney, who was recently demoted from Scottish Finance Secretary to Education Secretary, announced very similar plans to take schools out of local authority control.

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Unsavoury Food Bank

by our Scottish political correspondent

A PARTICULARLY unwelcome pop-up food bank recently appeared in Glasgow on the last Saturday of August. Under the cover of darkness members of the Scottish branch of National Action (NA) arrived in Glasgow’s Argyle Street for a stunt that involved doling out food to homeless people settling down for the night in the shop doorways.

This might sound innocuous enough but NA is a Nazi group that makes the British National Party (BNP) look like sandal-wearing Liberal Democrats. They do not hide their admiration for Hitler and even have leaflets openly supporting Josef Mengele, notorious for carrying out brutal experiments on children at Auschwitz. One of their followers was jailed for attempting to decapitate an Asian man in a Tesco branch.

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Hands off Bahrain!

By New Worker correspondent

DEMONSTRATORS were outside Downing Street last week protesting against British imperialism’s continuing support for the feudal Arab monarchy that is propped up by Saudi guns whilst holding its people in bondage. British imperialism returned to the former British protectorate last year with the construction of a new Royal Navy base on the oil-rich island in the Persian Gulf. The feudal Arab Khalifa family suppressed a popular uprising in 2011 with the help of Saudi troops and police from the other feudal Arab states. The Shia Muslim majority is denied civil rights and thousands of political prisoners languish in Bahraini dungeons.

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A seminar at the Centre

by New Worker correspondent

COMRADES spent last weekend discussing contemporary issues at the New Communist Party’s autumn national school. Held at the Party Centre in London, comrades and friends, along with others from Liverpool and Hereford, looked at the Capitalist Crisis; China Today; and Communist Strategy.

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International News

Greeks hit the streets in anti-fascist action

by Pavel Jacomin

THOUSANDS of demonstrators took to the streets in the Greek capital, Athens, on Monday to mark the third anniversary of the death of an anti-fascist activist.

Carrying banners and placards, demonstrators marched in Athens’s Keratsini district to protest against Greece’s far-right Golden Dawn party, which is accused of having been involved in the 2013 murder of Pavlos Fyssas, a 34-year-old anti-fascist musician.

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The Dalai Lama’s real face


THE Dalai Lama’ s recent terrorist-sympathising remarks have again shocked the world, and provided for those in the West who used to exchange backing him for selfish political gains a chance to see the monk’s true colours.

The fugitive Tibetan religious leader is now in France for a six-day visit “to promote Tibetan culture, language and ecological protection,” as he has claimed.

Whilst travelling in the European country he urged talks with the Islamic State extremists, saying talks are “the only way” to end bloodshed in Syria and Iraq without explaining how that is possible.

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Israeli troops kill 2 Palestinians for ‘looking suspicious’


SINCE October 2015, 229 Palestinians have been killed by Israel, in what aid organisations and Palestinian officials say are extrajudicial killings.

Israeli forces killed two Palestinians in the West Bank on Monday for “arousing suspicion” as they approached an Israeli occupation checkpoint in what Israeli army said was an attempted stabbing attack, and doctors at the hospital where the two were brought said that they had sustained several shots to the upper body.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the two as 21-year-old Muhamad Jameel al-Rajby and 17-year-old Ameer Jamal al-Rajby from Hebron.

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How Human Rights were used to hurt the USSR and blunt the Left

by Naomi Cohen

THE HUMAN rights movement did more than split the left. Pitched as a pro-human cause, it appealed to people of any political allegiance including those on the right.

The story goes that human rights rhetoric took down the Soviet Union. The USSR couldn’t stand up to the propaganda onslaught, led by internal and external dissidents propelled by newly-minted human rights language. But the story has more to it says Samuel Moyn, Harvard law and history professor and author of The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History.

The Soviet constitution of 1936 “offered more human rights to its citizens than any state in human history” — especially in what would later become known as social and economic rights — said Moyn, but it couldn’t stand up to the romantic moralism of the West. No matter that the United States had not ratified key human rights covenants that the USSR had: one side was weaker and came up short in the war of words.

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STOMP wows Beijing


BEFORE wrapping up a two-month performance in Beijing, the British percussion group threw a workshop on the stage where they performed.

About 15 STOMP fans joined the workshop to play percussion music using ordinary objects. The global sensation group has taken more than 200 fans into such workshops since their first performance here this year on 29th June.

STOMP takes the familiar — newspapers, bins — and uses them to create a rhythmic universe exploding with energy, where anything can be turned into a beat and anybody can pound a pattern.

Since performing the first ever STOMP show 25 years ago at the Edinburgh fringe, the show has travelled around the globe, wowing audiences far and wide.

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EU bears full responsibility for civil war in Ukraine

Interview with Vasilj Volga, chairman of the Union of Leftist Forces, ex-MP, former head of the State Commission of Financial Services of Ukraine.

by Wilhelm Langthaler

What is in retrospect your position on the free trade agreement between Ukraine and the European Union (EU)?

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Climate change, profit and nature

by Rob Gowland

THE RECENT floods in the US state of Louisiana were exceptional. They were reported on our TV news of course. For the editors of our television news media, natural disasters are what news is all about: eye-catching visuals, human drama, and no explanation is needed since it’s an “act of God”.

Science, however, suggests it has less to do with God than with climate change — and climate change, as we now know, is caused at least partially by human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels amongst other things. The increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events is a recognised consequence of climate change. And Louisiana’s weather has changed dramatically.

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Cameron, Libya and accountability

by Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

THE BRITISH Foreign Affairs Committee has issued a Parliamentary report that heavily criticises ex-Prime Minister David Cameron for the British intervention in Libya — for being based on false pretexts, for lacking a coherent strategy and for destabilising the country, now crawling with terrorists. And so, accountability?

Libyans were better off living in the Jamahiriya Government of Muammar al-Gaddafi. They could go out shopping, they could wear what they wanted, they had a fully representative system of local, regional and national committees in which the committees provided lists of requirements from the central Government which in turn distributed resources. Before al-Gaddafi, Libya was the poorest country in the world. With al-Gaddafi, Libya was the country with the highest Human Development Index in Africa.

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