The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 15th October 2004
Communists on the march in Athens
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COMMUNISTS MARCH IN GREECE
TENS OF THOUSANDS of working people marched through Athens last
Saturday demonstrating their support for the Greek Communist Party
(KKE) and workers’ rights. And communists from every continent joined
hands with them under the slogan “The Olympic Games are over – but
class struggles continue”.
Workers and the Greek youth dominated the march through the heart of
the capital following a rally addressed by Greek communist leader Aleka
Paparigha, and comrades from Cuba and the Palestine People’s Party.
Greek workers’ living standards and union rights are under attack from
the recently elected conservative New Democracy government and this has
been intensified in the name of the 2004 Athens Olympics, which the
Greek government used to promote its reactionary class agenda.
Thirteen workers were killed and hundreds more injured building the
Olympic complex. No government official or employer has been jailed or
even charged with negligence. Everyone knows that top government
officials and multinational contractors made fortunes out of it.
The building workers paid for the Olympics with their blood. The entire
Greek working class will pay for it for years in increased taxation to
pay for the losses made in the running of the Games. Militant Greek
trade unionists will not forget the workers who died building the
Their deaths underline the inhuman face of capitalist exploitation and
the hypocrisy of the government and employers, who have transformed the
Olympic spirit into a business deal to amass more profits.
Today Greece is preparing to take an active part in
imperialist plans for the occupation in Iraq. The opposition PASOK
social-democratic party plays into their hands by focusing their
opposition on secondary matters of lesser importance.
Delegates from 64 communist parties suspended an international meeting
of communist and workers parties taking place that weekend in Athens to
join the rally and march.
The three-day conference on the theme of “Resistance to Imperialist
Aggression” naturally focused on Cuba, Korea, Venezuela, Palestine and
Iraq with contributions from communists from the ruling parties of
Cuba, Korea and Vietnam, delegates from the mass parties of Brazil,
India, Bangladesh, Portugal, Spain, the former Soviet Union and the
Czech Republic. Parties born from the anti-revisionist struggle
included the NCP, which was represented by General Secretary Andy
Brooks and Richard Bos of the Central Committee.
Many speakers noted the vicious attack of neo-liberal policies on the
social and workplace rights of working people, with the principle
victims being young people and women. They noted that poverty and the
concentration of wealth have risen, while the increasing burden of
external debt suffocates the people of the developing countries.
Delegates referred to the increasing restriction of democratic rights
and freedoms in the capitalist world, the increasing oppression
and victimisation of immigrants and refugees. They rejected
imperialism’s attempt to characterise the peoples and national
liberation movements as “terrorist” and upheld the people’s legitimate
right to resist occupation, and expressed concern at the rise in
anti-communism, religious fundamentalism, racism and neo-fascist groups.
The reactionary nature of the European Union and the divisions amongst
the imperialists themselves, especially over the invasion of Iraq, was
discussed over the weekend and a major theme was the global anti-war
movement and the Iraqi peoples’ resistance to the Anglo-American
In her opening address Aleka Paparigha said: “Imperialism has not yet
managed to finish off national liberation struggles and revolutionary
movements by either political or military means. The Palestinian
intifada goes on, the resistance to the occupation forces in Iraq
grows stronger, the people’s victory in the recent referendum in
Venezuela – all constitute facts of broader significance and point out
that the peoples’ struggles against imperialist domination and
aggression continue unceasingly.”
NCP leader Andy Brooks called on communists to rally in support of the
socialist states, the revolutionary movements and the peoples of the
world fighting Anglo-American imperialism and their lackeys in
Afghanistan, Palestine and, above all, Iraq.
“The issue is clear,” he said. “The Iraq war was an illegal and unjust
war. British troops should never have been sent to Iraq in the first
place. They must be brought home immediately.
“The Iraqi people’s legitimate rights to independence and the control
of their resources must be upheld. The Iraqi people have taken up the
gun in a new fight for independence. Their resistance must be
ADAIR TURNER, who headed the
independent pensions commission, presented his report on Tuesday
morning. It concluded that the pensions system will not be in crisis
for another couple of decades but if we want to prevent a growing
disaster after that, we must act now.
He gave four options: one, that we should carry on as we are and
resign ourselves to the elderly facing serious poverty in future; two,
that we should raise taxes and increase the state pension; three, that
we should all save an awful lot more in private or Government schemes
for our retirement and four, that we should all resign ourselves to
having to work longer before we get our pension.
He then said the first option is the least desirable and then
went on to discuss the possibility of a mix of options three and four.
Guess which option wasn’t even discussed? The only option that is
socially just is option two: to raise taxes on the wealthy and raise
the basic state pension.
Adair Turner did admit that among western nations Britain has
just about the poorest state provision for pensioners and that Blair
has already decided to run it down even further.
He also admitted that there is increasing risk in private
pensions and that people are losing faith in them after various
scandals and stock market falls – and that those who have lived all
their lives on low incomes have little motive to save so long as the
Government pensions provision is means-tested. Those who have saved
will end up with the same miserable pension as those who did not.
When the old-age pension was first introduced it was described as
a pledge between generations. Those who began to receive it for the
first time had paid into no scheme but their work had helped to create
the general wealth of the nation and they deserved to be well looked
after. Their pensions were paid by the contributions of the working
generation at the time, in the trust that in time the next generation
would pay the taxes that would fund their pension.
Now it seems the Government wants to break this pledge so that
future tax payers will not fund our state pensions – we must fund our
own pensions by saving now, giving finance companies the chance to make
a good profit while they “take care” of our savings, and keeping taxes
low for the rich.
Workers are now expected to work all the hours they can, to repay
student loans, buy houses at exorbitant prices and save for their
pensions. At the same time they must help to keep the economy buoyant
by spending a lot on credit cards and running up massive debts. They
must work themselves into the ground and then face a bleak old age,
selling their houses to scrape by.
This is a very wealthy country; it can easily afford to keep
increasing numbers of pensioners in comfort. The argument about too
many people living too long is a red herring. Modern manufacturing,
wealth producing processes are highly capitalised. New technology has
increased productive capacity by leaps and bounds. The work of a
smaller number of people can easily produce enough to keep us all well
off and provide more leisure for workers.
The problem is that that wealth is concentrated in the hands of a
greedy few who want it all for themselves. That is why we must reclaim,
through the tax system, the wealth created by the workers for the
workers to keep them in their old age and when they are sick.
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