New Worker Banner

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

National News

Coffee and Paper

ONE OF the latest group of workers to face fire and rehire are those at Jacobs Douwe Egbert’s (JDE) coffee plant at Banbury in Oxfordshire. On Monday it was announced that nearly 300 workers had voted by 96 per cent in a consultative ballot to hold a full-scale industrial action ballot over strike action after bosses issued notice of dismissal and engagement for 291 employees.

This came at the same time as the Dutch multi-national last week reported booming sales due to people being stuck at home during the lockdowns. Another bone of contention is that JDE want to change the company’s pension scheme by ending the final salary system and introducing an inferior ‘defined contribution’ scheme which will depend on the world’s stock markets going up and down.

Joe Clarke, Unite’s national officer for the food and drink industry said: “Their determination has been reinforced by the financial results of the multi-national with strong growth helped by the British public’s insatiable appetite for coffee during the pandemic – and further growth is expected in 2021.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Off the buses

ANOTHER DISPUTE, which includes an attempt at fire and rehire is taking place at the Manchester depot of Go North West (GNW), where over 400 bus drivers are taking industrial action as a result of the company’s attempts to fire and rehire the workforce.

GNW has launched what Unite the union calls a rogue bus service by moving operations from its Queens Road depot to another location. It is using non-unionised bus companies and bringing in drivers from outside Manchester.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Engineering woes

IN LEICESTER workers aerospace parts company firm SPS Technologies are in the middle of a series of one day strikes over fire and rehire cuts which will see workers losing up to £3,000 a year. About 200 Unite members are also fighting against reductions to overtime pay, sick pay, paid breaks, shift premiums and other terms and conditions.

Unite regional officer Lakhy Mahal thundered: “Our members are incandescent at SPS’s fire and rehire threats, particularly in light of their hard work keeping the company operational during the pandemic. It is shameful that SPS is using this terrible virus as an opportunity to attack its workers’ terms and conditions.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Posh deliveries

YET ANOTHER group of workers fighting potential wage cuts are at the French-owned logistics company STVA, part of the Groupe CAT. Here 23 workers have been given notice that their current contracts would terminate on 21st April and they could then apply for a new one which would mean them losing about £3,200-a-year in wages.

They are drivers who deliver Bentley, Ford and Honda cars across the UK and unload the vehicles for export at the ports.

Unite’s national officer for road transport and logistics, Adrian Jones said: “We have been in talks for some time trying to understand the company’s rationale for making the proposed changes. The financial data provided, so far, doesn’t truly reflect the actual work our members do on a daily basis.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Gas struggles

HOWEVER perhaps the biggest such battle is the ongoing one at British Gas where engineers will be on strike this Friday and on the 22 and 26 to 29 of March which will take the total of strike days in the dispute to 42.

This came after they overwhelmingly rejected a revised offer from the company at ACAS.

GMB argues fire and rehire remains the main obstacle to members accepting a deal.

Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary, said: “The company needs to understand its fire and rehire plan is the big obstacle to members accepting a deal – they must withdraw it now.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Scottish Political News

by our Scottish political affairs correspondent THIS COLUMN is in danger of becoming like the News of the World in its prime when it provided detailed exposes of the sex lives of the clergy and the rich to the disgusted delight of its working class readership.

Sadly this is entirely due to members of the SNP Government and senior figures not always maintaining proper Gladstonian standards of rectitude in public life.

The latest source of scandal is the SNP’s Westminster Chief Whip Patrick Grady. It is difficult to know why the SNP have such a post, a sheepdog would be more appropriate. As with many such scandals, the issue is not the initial events, but how it has been handled, or in this case swept under the carpet.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

troubled waters

The Salmond affair still rumbles on. The former nationalist leader, through his lawyers, has accused the Committee’s Chair of refusing to demand evidence from his lawyers which he himself demanded they do. On Tuesday evening yet another report into the SNP’s Government’s investigation of Salmond was published.

Laura Dunlop QC politely as possible said the SNP Government were idiots and that in future complaints made against former or serving ministers should be handled independently which means they will no longer be able to mark their own homework or use the complaints to indulge in point scoring.

As any trade union representative who has ever handled a disciplinary knows she said that “those involved in either the investigation or preparation of a report about a complaint should have had no prior involvement with any aspect of the matter being raised”. But this comes as news to the SNP. Labour’s deputy leader Jackie Baillie says the review confirmed that the Scottish government’s sexual harassment policy was “not fit for purpose”. She said “had they taken professional advice beforehand they might have devised a fairer, more effective policy; they could have avoided an expensive and failed judicial review and - vitally - protected the women involved”.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

The Red Button Years

REVIEW by Ben Soton

Romance and Revolution: Red-Button Years, Volume 2: by Ken Fuller, 410pp, Independently published 2020 Paperback £12.99; 410pages, Kindle £5.99

THE SECOND volume of Ken Fuller’s trilogy continues the story of the London and Provincial Union of Licenced Vehicle Workers (LPU), also known as the ‘Red Button’ union. The story begins in 1917 where the effects of rationing start to take their toll, whilst growing industrial militancy and opposition to the war result in the draconian Defence of the Realm Act (DORA). Many working-class men, including transport workers, find themselves called up to fight in the imperialist war. Meanwhile, rays of hope appear across Europe with the Russian revolution which gave birth to the Soviet Union.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

International News

Syria: the elderly dream of returning home

by Hummam Sheikh Ali

HADI Ghusoun, a retired English teacher in his late 60s and a father of two daughters, was standing in front of his shattered home in Homs city in central Syria, watching workers removing the rubble, which is the first step for many Syrians to rebuild their houses.

When Ghusoun first returned to Homs after the Syrian government regained the city, he couldn’t believe his eyes because the destruction was so massive.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Texans and COVID-19

by G Dunkel THE governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, made a surprise announcement on 2nd March in Lubbock, a city of 200,000 people in West Texas.

All state mandates to combat the spread of COVID-19 were being lifted. Counties and municipalities can no longer implement basic public health policies to limit the spread of disease after 10th March. They can’t impose masks, social distancing, limitations on the size of gatherings or the capacities of businesses.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

MEPs reject US blockade against Cuba

by Jorge Ruiz Miyares

MEMBERS of the Group of Friendship and Solidarity with Cuba in the European Parliament reiterated their rejection of the US blockade against the island this week.

In a virtual meeting with deputies from the Caribbean island on Monday, the president of the group in the European Parliament, Javier Moreno, said that they are preparing a letter to US president Joe Biden demanding the end of the six-decade-old siege.

Moreno also expressed solidarity with the Cuban people during the joint forum dedicated to addressing the fight against Covid-19 on the island and the role of Cuban science in developing anti-Covid vaccines.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Zionist minister tries to scupper award to communist

CP Israel THE FAR-RIGHT Minister of Education in Benjamin Netanyahu’s caretaker government, Yoav Galant, is demanding that the Israel Prize nominating committee rescind its rumoured decision to award the country’s highest honour to Professor Oded Goldreich, a leading computer scientist. Goldreich, who has been active for years against the occupation of the Palestinian territories, is a long-time member of Hadash and the Communist Party of Israel (CPI).

[Read the complete story in the print edition]


Biden’s Korea strategy a new and dangerous turn

by John Wojcik

TALKS BETWEEN the USA and South Korea are not encouraging to peace activists who want to see a new direction in American foreign policy. It is clear that the Biden administration intends to continue keeping large numbers of troops stationed in that country, leaving unchanged a situation that has been going on since the Korean War in 1953.

Korea is just one of many countries where the USA, having once sent troops to enforce its policy, seems like it will never leave. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was portrayed as the enemy muscling its way into the affairs of many countries, yet it was the USSR that regularly removed its troops from places in which they were once stationed. Now, after the removal of the Soviet Union entirely from the world scene, there are still US troops stationed all around the globe.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]

Storm clouds over Donbas

by Sergey Lebedev VASILY Prozorov is a former Ukrainian intelligence officer who defected to the Russian Federation. He talks, in this interview, about the struggle in the Donbas then and now.

Vasily is a striking example of the fact that not everything in Ukraine is final and not everyone has accepted the coup d’état. Many people in various structures have resisted and continue to resist Ukrainian neo-fascism in one way or another. It is simply impossible to write about them now. Nor is it easy to know whether we will ever learn the details of their activities.

[Read the complete story in the print edition]