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Thursday, 30 June 2011

1st wave of co-ordinated strike action, today must be just the start

SO as the pickets and the plackards are taken down from todays successful strike action taken by the PCS, UCU, NUT and ATL unions in joint co-ordinated strike action where we have seen up to 750,000 workers out on industrial action be it on a picket line a rally or not working therefore withdrawing their labour.

I dont think we can emphasise enough how big today may prove to be in the months and years to come. Today was the start of something big. Where the public sector trade unions on behalf of the working class stood up to this con-dem government and said no we will not take your cuts and robberies laying down.

For the first time in many years the biggest show of the labour movement moved into action.

Many doubted it after march 26th thinking oh no these unions havent got the fight and wont organise anything now.

Wrong

They did and many congratulations has to go to those unions who did work so dam hard and i know many of their activists did to get as many out today as possible to oppose this vicious attack on our living standards in many years.

What today has shown us is that when we organise, when we come together and unite we can defeat anyone.

Although this battle over pension reforms is not won it has certainly given this weak government a lot to think about in the coming months.

If people think this is just it a jolly strike and we go back to work and take the cuts they are wrong, The tories are wrong, Labour are wrong for saying these strikes are a mistake.

We are right to fight and right to strike.

The myths the government and its media machine has been going into over drive today trying to pump out its properganda. But thankfully the unions own propeganda machine has been working equally as hard back, with excellent shows by PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka owning Francis Maud of the government on radio 4 earlier today. Francis Maud was taken apart and thrown about by Mark Serwotka who had clearly done his homework and exposed the tories as the rich thieving bastards they are i'm afraid.

The fact that public sector pensions are affordable and not unaffordable which the government keep peddling the line. The Hutton report from a labour lord which the government like to push was found to not contain anything on unaffordable pensions for public sector workers.

In fact it showed on a graph quite clearly public sector pensions falling as a cost to the tax payer as a percentage to GDP as the years went by as a prediction for the future.

So many of the tory lies have been defeated rendering the attacks on public sector pensions idealogical and harsh just to pay for the mess the bankers created.

So i am glad today went well but we must not feel this is the end. We must continue to pressure the other unions who were not out today to join us in the autumn while pushing that there is a alternative and that is by taxing the rich who evade billions of tax a year.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

shameful Labour Mp's urged to cross picket lines on June 30th

As activists and workers prepare to strike and protest tommorrow in what will be one of the biggest show of working class industrial action in many years. we hear news of Labour MP's being urged to cross picket lines to still go to work tommorrow.
Labour MPs will be expected to cross picket lines during Thursday's public sector strike, the party has said.

A spokesman for leader Ed Miliband said Labour MPs would "come to work as normal" in Parliament despite a pension strike affecting up to 750,000 workers.

David Cameron taunted the Labour leader over the issue in the Commons, saying he could not raise it as he was "in the pocket of the unions".

Mr Miliband has criticised the strike but did not mention it at PMQs.

Asked whether Labour MPs would cross picket lines outside Parliament and other public buildings, a spokesman for the Labour leader said they "will be coming to work as normal".

The PCS Union has said some of its members who work inside Parliament, in roles such as security staff, will picket outside the building.


This is utterly shameful and should be flagged up and condemned in my view. How on earth can they call themselves standing for working people if they 1. wont support the strike and 2 show complete disregard to striking workers by crossing their picket line.

Labour members should begin to wake up and start to smell the coffee at the way their party acts today. As i've said before they do not represent workers at all and should be ditched in my view.

In our view as socialists we believe in teh formation of a new workers party to represent the views of ordinary workers and trade unions who have no voice no longer.

If people have any illusions in labour standing for them or workers this sort of news should ring alarms to them i would hope. Look around you and look where your labour party is now and who they represent. It is not you sadly.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Are we really living longer ?

One of the governments arguements for the upcoming pension reforms and their reasoning behind making us work longer, for less is apparently due to us all now living longer.

So at our branch meeting one of our comrades raised the point has anyone actually proved this. It is very subjective as i will outline below and you cant just throw around such a statement.

Whilst it may be true some of us may be living longer, It is hard to prove this.

The three big reasons that people in the UK are living increasingly longer lives are:

1.Food supply and nutrition
2.Health
3.Hygiene
These three things have all seen marked improvements in standards since the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. However, another important factor is our knowledge of their importance to our health and life expectancy, and of the steps we can take to ensure that we lead a healthy lifestyle. Our access to relevant information has also improved dramatically as a result of scientific research and methods of information dissemination (e.g. the Internet).

For example:
The packaging of food products at increasing numbers of shops and supermarkets displays the nutritional content of food and uses colour coding so that we know whether it is good for us. The importance of eating a balanced diet is widely known.

Government and charity websites provide information about the lifestyle choices we can make in order to reduce our risk of developing diseases. The effect that smoking cigarettes can have on our health is widely advertised, and warnings included on packaging. In the UK, a smoking ban in public places has been introduced and the age at which young people can buy cigarettes has been raised to 18 years.
Adverts on buses and tubes inform us of the importance of washing our hands and covering our mouths when we cough or sneeze in order to reduce the spread of illnesses and diseases. Health and safety legislation provides strict regulations for hygiene in restaurants, hospitals and factories.

But following a healthy lifestyle is still a choice that we make, and not everyone chooses or is able to do so.

Key concepts:
Place
Human Processes
Cultural Understanding and Diversity




This is key to my point really that as we live in a class based system under capitalism not everyone has the luxury of eating the healthy food all the time or can afford the best in housing and living conditions.

As i previously blogged about before about the documentary poor kids on the BBC a few weeks ago it can dramatically affect how long you are likely to live depending on where you live in the country and the make up of the area you live in.

So for example there will be a stark contrast between someone living in Knightsbridge in London from someone living in Glasgow in a working class area.

It is important to stress these points when the government is trying hard to push through these pension reforms which will leave many working longer, getting less and a worse off pension as a result.

So i'm opening this up now can the government or anyone else find quantitive evidence that proves we are all living longer than ever before so we need to work longer.

Another point is if we are having to work longer to claim our pension it is our pension they are not wanting us to have because realistically although there may be exceptions like the 73 year old man who still works as a builder or the old example of someone who smokes 30 fags a day and drinks lots and lives till they are 99. You will always find exceptions to any rule but generalising and saying we all live longer now where some do not and some families never live that old due to various reasons is it not safe to say this arguement the government are trotting out is a bit misleading.

So therefore i will be supporting thursdays June 30th strikes as i believe a public sector workers pension is just as important to us and the long term future of this country. It has been proven these pensions are very affordable and backed up by the daily telegraph not known for lending support to the public sector.

But if we can afford more money to be spent on illegal wars and occupations and new nuclear deterents we can surely afford for our hard working public sector workers including teachers and civil servents who keep this country going in many ways.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Busting the public sector pensions myth

This is a excellent article from this weeks paper. the socialist which highlights the myths on public sector pay and pensions which the June 30th strikes wre all about. I advise all to read this as it will set the record straight on many a myth portrayed by the capitalist media.

1. Public sector pensions are "too generous"
Surely this can only be answered by considering whether the pension does its job: provides a decent standard of living for a retired worker. On this measure no public sector pension is "too generous". The average pension for ordinary civil servants is just £4,200 a year. The average pension in the education sector is £10,000 a year.

The definition of poverty according to the government is living on less than 60% of the median income (£15,568 a year in 2010). No public sector pension gets close to this level.

2. Public sector pensions are "unfair" to workers in the private sector
True, 'Fred the Shred' Goodwin of bank collapse fame, for example, got £16 million. But most private sector workers get a raw deal on pensions. This is because the Tories already helped big business to decimate their pensions. Now they present the private sector as typical of some "natural" pension level, rather than a conscious pro-big business policy choice 20 years ago.

The Con-Dems will even argue that the tax paid by private sector workers is directly funding public sector pensions. But no government ear-marks funds in this way. Again, it is a pro-big business choice by the Con-Dems to cut taxes on bankers and the super-rich.

A successful campaign to defend public sector pensions must simultaneously be the launch point for a campaign to win back the pension rights of private sector workers. We're not falling for the divide and rule myth.

3. The country can no longer afford "gold-plated" public sector pensions
Arguments about the "national interest" include the following variants: "the public sector is too big", "the public debt is too high", "we're living too long" etc, etc. In other words, we should all take a hit for "the good of the country".

But currently public sector pensions are 1.9% of GDP. According to Lord Hutton's report this proportion will fall to 1.4% by 2060 without making a single change! The teachers' pension pot is self-funding, requiring no money from elsewhere.

The claim that we are living longer is another cover-up for Con-Dem policy choices. There is huge wealth in society that could fund earlier retirement on a living pension for all workers in the public and private sectors. The problem is that it is all locked away with the super-rich. The richest 1,000 people in Britain have £395 billion between them.

Socialist policies that took such vast wealth into democratic public ownership and spent it to the benefit of all would mean we could live into our hundreds without worrying about the "affordibility" of pensions.

4. "We're all in this together"
We have arrived at the big lie that explains the half-truths and obfuscations of the other pitiful arguments: "we are all in this together".

The attack on public sector pensions is part of a broader effort to make the working class pay for the crisis of capitalism. In the biggest rip-off in history the politicians are trying to let the banks and financial markets get away without contributing a penny to fix the economy they wrecked. Instead they think they can make the working class pay.

But of course they can't say that to us plainly and that explains the Houdini style contortions in the "debate" on public sector pensions...


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Learning from the struggles of yesterday

So as socialists we have been involved in many struggles throughout the yars most notably in the Militant socialist party ranks the poll tax and the struggles around the liverpool council in the mid to late 80's.

I want to make this appeal to many trade unionists and activists campainging against the cuts to not repeat the mistakes of history as a famous quote goes.

We must not dismiss big important struggles on the left. We as members of the CWI who have been involved in very tough struggles over the poll tax leading to over 18 million non payments of the poll tax across the UK. We as Militants leading the fightback to the nasty Maggie Thatcher and eventually forcing her to resign as a sign of her going far too far and working class people saying enougg is enough.

Sadly i do not think the same pressure is out there today. Even though this con-dem government is extremely weak having made more u-turns than my grandad on a bad day and being completely split on many issues the labour movement has failed to organise itself properly as yet. June 30th will be a big step towards rectifying this situation with a co-ordinated strike but this must be followed up in the autumn with bigger wider mass action.

But my main point is that we as socialists get ridiculed for reading about past struggles and how we could have won but these lessons from history must be learnt or we face making the same mistakes again.

Although this time with the trade union and labour movement at possibly its weakest its ever been this could speel tradegy for many workers with a ultimate fall of the movement. i Certainly hope this will not happen.

But the risk is there we win and we gain in huge confidence to take forward we loose we set the tone for the movement of a air of defeatism and a downward spiral. This first test comes on June the 30th and we must win to take workers confidence and continue to build for the autumn which shall hopefully see up to 4 million workers joining the 3 quarters of a million estimated to be out on June 30th.

We as Marxists look forward and look to predict what will happen but this coming tide is unclear and we wait to see how much the labour movement can mobilise itself. We of course in the socialist party will be there on every picket line, every protest and every class based action we can to interveen and put our points across that there must be pressure put on the TUC for the autumn to get behind a one day public sector general strike.

Failure to put this message through to the mass's of workers will bea failiure on our part as even if our messages are not carried through we can be sure that we had the right ideas and the best strategy for the wider anti cuts movement to take forward in trying to forge the biggest and broadest anti cuts movement possible.

We must not forget what comrades have been through in the past. The struggles they had to overcome and today can recount such struggles to us so we can learn lessons from them. Where they went wrong and felt we could do better and where we got it right. As we well know we are not perfect by any means and assessing our strategy for the future is key to winning more workers to our ideas and theories .

On a similar note we must not be detered by defeats in the movement and continue to explain our ideas and theories to the mass of workers in the hope some will start to take note of our thoughts and join us in our battle of ideas with the movement.

One of our main ideas that sets us aside from otehr left organisations is our idea and belief in the formation of a new workers party. As we believe the vehicle for a working class fighting party in labour is a unlikely happening and workers and increasing amounts of them including the unemployed and others are looking for a alternative to not nessesarily bring about socialism but certainly campaign for it and stand up for workers wherever and whenever it can. As we in the socialist party point out we dont nessesarily believe in socialism coming about via the ballot box whilst at the same time we recognise it is important for workers to feel they have a political voice to stand up for them and their rights. We stand by this and hope as part of our work this new mass workers party can become reality.

Friday, 24 June 2011

EU tells Greeks to take more austerity or no bailout

So the EU and its moneyman have threatened Greeks need to take further actions of austerity before they will be given their new bailout package which will in the long run result in more cuts as they will need to pay this back one day.

This imagine reminds me of some awful medicine when you were younger being forced to take this awful tasting medicine as we are told it will make us better. We are not sure of this and often feel worse because of it.

This is a very similar feeling the Greek workers must be feeling today. When they are being told they require further privatisation and further cuts to their pay and jobs.

We can identify with this in the Uk where we are constantly being told there is no alternative we need to cut. Even Britains opposition the Labour party who claim to stand up for workers, which i completely refute admit there need to be cuts too all be a little slower and nicer.

i dont know about you but i dont know of any cuts that dont hurt or are nice.

EU leaders have urged all Greek politicians to support new spending cuts and tax hikes, saying there is no alternative if debt-laden Athens is to qualify for a second massive bail-out.

The second rescue is being negotiated in Brussels. It is expected to be about 120bn euros (£107bn; $171bn).

"There will be a new programme for Greece, on which the Greek parliament will have to vote next week," said Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The UK says it will not contribute.

EU leaders held a second day of summit talks in Brussels on Friday dominated by the Greek debt crisis, which threatens the stability of the 17-nation eurozone.

"In the case of Britain I sought assurances that Britain wouldn't be pulled into a eurozone package for Greece, and I've received those assurances," UK Prime Minister David Cameron said.

Ms Merkel reiterated: "We will do everything to stabilise the euro."

She spoke of the Greek opposition needing to "fulfil its historic responsibilities".

Separately, the leaders agreed that Croatia should join the EU. The target for Croatia's accession is July 2013. "There are no reservations, as we had with Bulgaria and Romania," Ms Merkel said.

EU pressure on Greece

The BBC's Matthew Price in Brussels says Europe's exasperation with Greece's economic woes is all too clear.

In their summit conclusions the EU leaders called on "all political parties in Greece to support the programme's main objectives", saying "national unity is a prerequisite for success".

Our correspondent says it was a direct challenge to the Greek opposition, which has threatened to reject the budget cuts when they are put to parliament next week.






Of course there has been mass protests on the streets of Greece this week and they have now experienced 9 general strikes. Effort now needs to be to provide a working class alternative to the cuts package and offer a way out of this vicious circle of debt, cuts and austerity leading to more pain for the good working Greeks.

A new working class alternative that can lead the people out of the grips of capitalism and show things do not have to be this way. There is a alternative and that is making the rich pay. By the workers taking over the commanding heights of the economy and running the economy in the interest of the many not just the few in a planned economy benifiting all not just the moneymen will be the first step to helping Greece out of this mess.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

As the cuts begin to bite, millions ask does it have to be like this ?

In this weeks edition of our weekly paper the socialist there is a excellent article of where we find ourselves and the alternatives clearly spelt out for anyone who is unsure on our stance to the current economic crisis .

"The protesters in Athens can riot all they want, but they cannot alter the fundamental economic fact of their country - it is busted, mainly because it has been consuming more than it produces for many years. Even a socialist revolution... would not change that reality." (Sean O'Grady, economics editor of the Independent)

Mass general strike action by millions of workers is synonymous with riots for capitalist commentators (in reality, a minority of anarchists and youth 'rioted' and they were condemned by the bulk of strikers).

But the message is unmistakable, trumpeted from thousands of media outlets - Thatcher might have retired but her mantra "there is no alternative" retains its full force today for the bosses and their hirelings. Could it really be the case that the catastrophic nightmare scenario confronting the Greek workers, with a similar fate awaiting their Portuguese, Spanish, British and Irish cousins, is the only alternative?

Certainly, capitalism has already made it abundantly clear, through the most devastating economic crisis in living memory, that if this system is maintained a prolonged nightmare is indeed the likely future for working people.

We have already paid a colossal price for the failings of the system, as even the pillars of capitalism like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have admitted. In 2008 alone $50 trillion was lost in devalued assets, lost production, the elimination of private wealth, etc. This figure is the equivalent of the total production of goods and services in one year for the whole of the world!

Here, the economy, according to Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, is working at 4% below the level reached before the onset of this economic crisis. At least two million workers have been thrown out of their homes in the US and thousands in Britain have shared a similar fate.

Precarious survival
Consequently, experts of capitalism are now compelled to admit that the dream of the 'property owning democracy', sold to us by Ronald Reagan, former right wing US President, and shared by Margaret Thatcher when they were in power in the 1980s, lies in ruins.

Millions of young people will never own their own house, nor will they be able to afford the massive hike in rents which flows from the Con-Dem government's slashing of housing benefit. Already, many young people in Spain and Italy are forced to remain in their parents' houses until well into their 30s.

At the same time, there are at least 200 million unemployed throughout the world - 70 million of them young people, of whom one million are in Britain. Another 1.5 billion worldwide are in so-called 'precarious' employment. They inhabit a twilight world between having some kind of part-time or casual position and the pit of despair of having no job.

'Commissar' George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, has attempted to perpetrate the fraud that his government has "grown" 400,000 jobs in the last year - like some super-efficient member of the Gardeners' World team on TV! In reality, these are what US workers call 'survival' jobs, something you take until a more permanent paid position comes along. Tragically, however, these future permanent and better-paid jobs are a chimera. In Merthyr Tydfil there are 32.7 unemployed workers for every vacancy.

Capitalist experts like Roger Bootle, the managing director of the Capital Economics think tank, now say it is too optimistic to compare the present and future economic prospects of capitalism, both in Britain and worldwide, with the dreaded 1930s Great Depression. For the current economic situation there is a greater comparison, he argues, with the long drawn-out depression of the late 19th century!

Broken system

Over 1,000 council workers, striking Medirest cleaners and others marched through Southampton on 13 June in a powerful show of solidarity against vicious council cuts and the scandalous consequence of the private sector in the NHS ,
The much vaunted economic recovery is largely in the bank balances of the bosses. The mass of the people face a jobless and joyless economic landscape. Moreover, at least one billion people go to bed hungry each night as a consequence of the failure of this system. Capitalism, which puts the production of profit for the few, the millionaire and billionaire capitalist owners of industry and the resources of society, before the social needs of the majority, the multi-billion poor and working class throughout the world.

Oxfam characterises the present system of food production as "broken". It estimates that this, together with the shameful capitalist speculation on future food prices, will lead to a doubling of basic foodstuff prices in 20 years. This is a horrible prospect for the poor who already spend 80% of their income on food.

Oxfam's executive director angrily stated: "For too long governments have put the interests of big business and powerful elites above the interests of the seven billion of us who produce and consume food." The world is capable of producing enough food to sustain the world's population and yet one sixth goes hungry.

Colossal developments in science and technology have taken place and yet the lust for profit - the engine of the system - means greater and greater environmental collapse, nuclear disasters like that in Japan and the massive alienation of the young from the workings and the 'morality' of the system.

Mass unemployment and inequality widening to Grand Canyon proportions - with one flat in central London sold for £164 million - alongside colossal waste; these are the hallmarks of 'modern' capitalism.

And yet commentators like Sean O'Grady believe that the Greek workers must suffer further agonies to maintain this system. On top of decades of austerity they must now accept massive attacks, including wholesale privatisation.

These measures are being compared, even by the capitalist press, to the brutal Treaty of Versailles imposed on Germany by the victorious Allies at the end of World War One, which ultimately led to revolutionary explosions. These modern 'reparations' have been correctly and ferociously resisted by the Greek workers.

The "socialist revolution" cynically derided by O'Grady has not yet happened in Greece for one main overriding reason: the absence of a mass guiding organisation that can draw all the threads of the titanic struggles of the Greek workers and youth together around a programme for a new society and help to develop their consciousness. This process could lay the foundations for a socialist, democratic planned economy.

The Greek workers have not yet arrived at this conclusion but they have very good teachers in the form of the advocates of the brutal austerity programmes. The 'Troika', the European Central Bank, the IMF and the European Commission, is 'educating' the Greek working class on the impossibility of even maintaining precarious living standards, never mind improving them in the next period - if the Troika has its way.

The madness of capitalism decrees greater and greater sacrifices in the cause of paying off a debt which the workers did not create. Moreover each loan, allegedly to pay off the debt, only piles up the deficit even further, merely postponing the inevitable default of Greece and its probable exit from the euro, while at the same time inflicting more suffering on the Greek people. This, in turn, could lead to a Lehman Brothers-type meltdown of the European banking system with incalculable consequences.

No solution
In Britain, capitalist commentators openly confess the bankruptcy of their system. David Prosser in the Independent writes: "And the solution to our economic woes is... there is no solution." He says that Osborne's 'Plan A' is not working but a "Plan B will... land us in the same place as Plan A". (31/5/2011)

"But there is an alternative, to a brutal capitalist austerity regime and that is more liberal capitalism." This is the refrain of Will Hutton, of the Work Foundation. He is joined by New Labour leader Ed Miliband who recently set the blood racing through the veins of the labour movement with his championing of a "better capitalism".

Miliband was initially seen as a new left alternative to pro-capitalist Blairism by many, particularly the trade union leaders. Yet in this statement he confirms completely the Socialist Party's prognosis made at the time of his election.

We said that he was firmly cast in the mould of the previous New Labour regime. His call for a "better capitalism" endorses the elimination of Labour's famous Clause Four, Part Four in 1995 which opposed capitalism and envisaged socialism as an aim.

Notwithstanding this, is it possible for a more liberal, humane type of capitalism to be constructed today? After all, between 1950 and 1975 capitalism experienced a spectacular boom which allowed some crumbs off the very rich table of the bosses to fall into the laps of the working class who, as a consequence, experienced a real increase in their living standards. This was at a time when Tory governments could proclaim that they stood for 'one nation' and social peace between the classes.

Today, the Tories don't just practice class war, they openly urge it on the bosses, as George Osborne did when he told a bosses' conference to "get stuck in" to reducing workers' trade union rights.

Post-war boom
At the end of the post-World War Two boom and in the economic crisis that followed, capitalism discovered that there was no productive outlet for the mass of the profits that had been accumulated. Therefore, the bosses hugely expanded, through fictitious capital in particular, 'financialisation' - the massive domination of the economy by banks and finance.

Outside of China and a few areas in the former neocolonial world, where considerable industrialisation developed, manufacturing industry was replaced by 'services' as a field of investment. This in turn provided the basis for the huge bubbles, particularly in credit and property, which came crashing down in 2007 and whose devastating effects are still with us.

The accumulated debts from this period - of individuals, households, companies and the state - are now like giant leaden boots which hold back and effectively prevent a return to any new 'golden age' of capitalism. It has increasingly dawned on the soothsayers of capitalism that a new prolonged period of economic stagnation is now the most likely scenario facing capitalism.

Cuts

Over 200 council workers staged a noisy and colourful protest outside Waltham Forest town hall against cuts,
But "those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad". In what is already a deep deflationary situation - when demand is already seriously depressed - what do the superintendents of the system, Cameron and Osborne, deem is necessary? A devastating £81 billion worth of cuts over four years which will deepen and aggravate the crisis and ratchet up considerable 'social tension'.

Will Hutton opposes privatisation of some state assets. Nevertheless, like Miliband, he supports the cuts programme but in slow motion. He correctly identifies the disaster of rail privatisation and the lasting damage which has been done. The looting of the state, which is what privatisation amounts to, will undoubtedly do further lasting damage.

But the calls for the government and the bosses to desist find no echo from this quarter. Why is this? It is precisely because of the dilemma which is at the heart of the present crisis: massive accumulated profits - the unpaid labour of the working classes - for which there is no productive outlet.

Manufacturing industry now barely accounts for 12% of the British economy today and therefore does not offer a route out of this dilemma. It is this factor which is driving the capitalists in Britain and internationally - witness the privatisation programmes in Greece, Spain and Portugal - to lust after state assets which they hope to buy on the cheap.

The fact that this will wreck the state sector, denationalise the NHS, sacrifice accumulated experience, further undermine the infrastructure and not least add to the army of unemployed is incidental to them. What counts is satisfying what Karl Marx called "the werewolf" craving for greater and greater profits.

The same applies to another central plank of the 'liberal' wing of capitalism: the narrowing of differentials and opposition to inequality. Yet inequality is woven into the very fabric of capitalism itself. In the relationship between the capitalist and worker, the foundation of the system, the capitalists only pay a portion of the value created by the labour of the working class in the form of wages. 'Profits' are the unpaid labour of the working class. From this relationship springs the inequality that pervades all aspects of capitalist society.

The Socialist, of course, applauds and supports all attempts to narrow the gap to give greater concessions to the working class but the only way ultimately to abolish the gap is by eliminating capitalism itself.

This poses the need for a democratic, socialist plan of production in place of the chaos of capitalism. Central should be the demand for the public ownership and democratic workers' control of the big monopolies - including the banks - which should make possible the real planned organisation of society.

Through a mass organisation that systematically links the failures of capitalism to the devastating effect on working people in Britain and throughout the world, such a programme could be enormously popularised and become meaningful to millions aspiring to a real alternative to the system.

Therefore, in the mighty battles which face us, starting with the 30 June public sector strikes, a real alternative should be spelt out in the meetings and demonstrations taking place around these events. All cuts must be opposed. We must resist the slashing of pensions and benefits.

When the Con-Dem government demands how this will be paid for, our answer should be that of the PCS trade union: collect the £120 billion in unpaid tax from the rich! Even this measure can only be really implemented by nationalising all the banks under democratic workers' control and management. This would be a step towards taking over the commanding heights of the economy.

Socialism
That is an alternative to capitalism. It is socialism, the planned use of all the resources of society for the benefit of all, which offers a way out of the present capitalist morass. This is not based on the model of the old authoritarian regimes of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union which where dominated by a privileged caste of bureaucrats, albeit with a progressive planned economy.

We stand for international socialism, but one that involves mass participation in the control and running of industry and society. The next period will show the immense potential power of the working class. Notwithstanding the cynics who seek to reconcile working people to wasteful and destructive capitalism, we offer a new vista of socialism.


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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Chief executive pay to FTSE 100 companies shoots up in last decade, time for nationalisation ?

The pay of FTSE100 Chief Executive's has risen by 343% in the last decade. it is revealed today. This shocking statistic is sign that despite the poor and the working class being hit with harsher and harsher cuts to their standards of living with the rich capitalists trying to regain the money they used to bail out their banks which failed they are increasing their wealth even still.

It is a disgrace that pay to the rich goes up while pay to the working class is being cut. Where is the fairness in that ?

It isnt that's why. It is capitalism which enables this to happen. The system that is designed so the wealth of a few is concentrated at the top while the workers suffer through exploitation and austerity measures.

Well enough is enough really under a socialist society the top 150 top monopolies many are in the FTSE 100 will be brought under nationalised democratic workers control to be used for the benifit of society not the few rich fat cats at the very top.

This would include the banks where this is rife and allow the workers to control the finances of the country for the betterment of the mass's. Funding schooling, health care, transport and decent affordable housing for all. There is clearly more than enough money going around in this country for us all to live a decent standard of life. We are not asking for the earth as socialists but a fair life for fair pay and a end to discrimination and exploitation.

Socialism in RCT: Why I have left Labour and joined the Socialist Pa...

Socialism in RCT: Why I have left Labour and joined the Socialist Pa...: "I have always been a socialist and also a long time Labour party member. Being the son of a south Wales valley miner, there was nothing el..."

practise picketting a way of raising class contiousness ?

So next thursday up to a million public sector workers will be walking out on strike over proposed changes to pensions and pensin contributions.

Well for many the idea of going on strike will be a new and daunting idea and something they would have no idea what to do. Many will have confused and often wrong ideas portrayed through the media of a strike and how one is organised and works.

Many older comrades in teh trade union movement who have been t here and seen it all have suggested as a idea to help boost workers confidence to arrange practise picket lines.

Where in a lunchtime before the 30th of June workers can be lead out the front of the workplace and set up a practise picket.

This worked very well under a recent Unite strike in Manchester and was very successful.

At a recent TUC trades council building conference at the weekend which was very labour centric from what i heard. But Bob Crow did get to speak and was fully in favour of this idea. He even suggested that workers might be so inspired and boosted by this sign of solidarity they may not wish to return back into work.

I think this is a excllent idea and gets workers who may not ever hav taken any industrial action in their life up to speed with trade unionism and class solidarity.

It is a chance to breed a new generation of militant workers who understand how trade unions should work. Ideas like this will put further pressure on the likes of the TUC and Unison to back mass action come the autumn.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Unison conference, members must call on leadership to call date for strike ballot

Council workers are facing unprecedented attacks - in the form of massive job cuts and a tearing up of terms and conditions in many areas.

In just two weeks time it is expected that the government will announce their intention to impose a 3% increase in public sector pension contributions. This is a pay cut in real terms and comes on top of a two-year pay freeze. Unless defeated through mass strike action, many workers will be faced with the choice of pay up or be forced out of the pension scheme.

The government is also proposing a career average instead of final salary scheme. They plan to cut the local government pension from 1/60th of our annual salary to as low as only 1/100th and they want to make us work till we are 68.

These changes, if effected, could cost some workers up to £1,000 more a year for a pension worth nearly half of what they would get now.

Even some of the employers are panicking. They are predicting that 20-40% could leave the schemes, sending the funds into downward spirals.

If the government gets away with it, this would be the biggest attack on public sector workers' pay and conditions in a generation. That is why it requires the unions to use the full strength of the five million public sector trade unionists.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison has now declared that Unison will ballot over the summer or early autumn for strike action over pension attacks if the meeting with government on 28 June does not lead to a deal. Prentis also said: "It will not be one day of action - it will be long-term industrial action throughout all our public services to prevent destruction of our pension schemes."

This is to be welcomed by Unison members and other public sector trade unionists. This shows that trade union leaders can be forced to ballot for action, when faced with an onslaught of attacks from this government and growing anger from public sector workers.



But members attending this weeks national Unison conference which is still very labour centric sadly need to put as much militant pressure on Dave Prentice and his leadership to call the date for the strike ballot.

We heard at the NSSn conference many Unison activists saying the union would ratehr they fight isloated local issues ratehr than join mass action with other unions.

But pressure is growing and members are asking themselves why are we not joining other trade unions on strike on 30th june and later in teh Autumn.

Dave Prentice must be made aware that now is not the time for pussyfooting around. His members are under attack and are under attack right now. They need the full backing of the union and its resources to defeat these pension reforms and the further attacks on our class.

The start of the fightback will come from the three quarters of a million workers in education and the civil service who are preparing to strike on 30 June.

Unfortunately Unison will not be taking action with other unions on 30 June but the union leaders are calling on all members to support the lobbies and demonstrations and for members not to cover the work of the strikers.

Only recently Socialist Party members on the Unison national executive tried to commit the union to action on pensions no later than 31 October 2011 but this was not agreed. At a local level there are Unison branches whose members are demanding to ballot for strike action against cuts. They are being prevented from doing so by the union leadership. These ballots should now immediately be sanctioned.

We must now give full backing to the 30 June strike and use it to build for an all public-sector strike that would rock this government to its foundations.

Unison must be ready to start the pensions ballot immediately if the government refuses to back down on pension attacks
For an all public-sector strike in defence of pensions
Defend the final salary scheme
No increases in contribution rates
No to lower pension benefits

Now is the time for action and co-ordinated strike action to push the government back on this issue and further the advance on the anti cuts movement.

The Socialist Way: 8 Hours Labour - 8 Hours Recreation - 8 Hours Rest...

The Socialist Way: 8 Hours Labour - 8 Hours Recreation - 8 Hours Rest...: "So 30 June it is - the day the trade unions in the public sector stick their toe in the water and come out on a day’s strike. The long awa..."

Support sacked tube driver solidarity with victimised union reps

SO today sees the start of a 4 day strike by London Underground RMT tube drivers.

The four strikes are set to kick off on June 19, 27 and 29 and July 1 in response to the unfair sacking of Northern line tube driver Arwyn Thomas . Last month London Underground reappointed Arwyns fellow tube driver on teh Bakerloo line Eamonn Lynch but failed to re employ Arwyn. So as a result of union activity London Underground sacked Arwyn
and have not re appointed him at all.

aviour allegations

The strikes are due to take place between Sunday, the day before the Wimbledon tennis championships, and 1 July.

The union and LU began the meeting at the conciliation service Acas at about 1030 BST on Wednesday.


The judge suggested Arwyn Thomas was sacked for his union activities The tribunal has heard the case of the Northern Line driver Mr Thomas, who was dismissed for alleged abusive behaviour, and will deliver its full judgment later this month. Mr Thomas has been an union activist for 30 years.

BBC London has obtained documents of an interim relief hearing which was held to decide whether Mr Thomas should be on full pay since his dismissal in December 2010.

In it the judge gives an indication what the full judgement could be and reinstated the driver's full pay.

The allegations against Mr Thomas relate to two incidents in Morden and Kennington during a previous strike on 4 October - in one he denies swearing at a manager and in the second he admits calling a manager a "scab" and a strike breaker.


We as part of the NSSn were lucky to hear Arwyn and his fellow tube worker who was also involved in the dispute but has now been reemployed on same pay Eamon Lynch. At the NSSN conference last weekend both activists spoke admirably and told their story as they saw it. They made the case very clear that London Underground had been caught out badly here and should be in trouble themselves for going after Union activists like this in a unfair dismissal.

We on this blog send solidarity to the striking tube drivers and those joining them on the picket lines today and in the days to come. This dispute could be resolved very quickly if London Underground simply offer Arwyn his job back on same rate of pay. Being a union official and activist is not a crime or deserving of victimisation . It is time the boss's started realising this. If the law isnt on our side as working class trade unionists then we will have to use our last resort of collective united action to take on the boss's and win Arwyns job back.

We stand shoulder to shoulder with all comrades from the RMT today and offer any support we can to the strike.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

why we take a international outlook in terms of socialism

So it is often asked why do socialists take such a interest in foreign affairs of their comrades abroad . Well as Leon Trotsky correctly pointed out the revolution to socialism must be linked to the working class across the world if it is to succeed .

Many deformed workers states such as Cuba and the old stalinist USSR had many benifits to a planned economy and towards the end they were proping eachother up.

Amoung many critisisms of these two single state socialist models it is often said by many socialists that these could have been built on needing a further political revolution reaching out to neighbouring nations and uniting the working class over national borders. As to the working class there are no nations. National borders are no more than invisable lines often there to preserve a capitalist interest be that to do with oil or a military base.

But to the working class we have no nationality, we are all the same class whichever border you are on. We all more or less face the same oppressors - the capitalist ruling class which hold us in place to preserve their own system.

As Lenin rightly pointed out a revolutionary movement and feelings in one party of Europe can influence the oppositie side of teh continent. Much like now where we are wittnessing the magnificant struggles and uprisings of the Arab Spring across North Africa and the Middle East this is having a influence on the struggles of the workers in Greece, Spain and even Italy there are rumblings of unease. This is down to the fact across the EU which is in a turmoil of a economic failiure of the common market. It is a failure of the market and capitalism as we know it. I really do feel the EU will begin to break up much like the USSr began to break up when stalinism was defeating itself.

All there is to ask will the downfall of something like teh EU which lets be honest will be a huge blow to the capitalists and the ruling class will this shake them to their foundations much like the ideas of socialism were pushed back in the late 1980's and early 1990's. We can all but hope as socialists wanting to see the end of this rotten capitalist system and a move towards a democratic workers socialist state.

But the fact for any socialist revolution to really spread this must be across borders and throughout cultures with the working class joining hands to over throw the capitalist unfair system.

For each country does not possess all of its resources that it requires to function alone much like with a capitalist system there can still be trade between nations to get waht they need. Much like when Cuba and Russia had to ship eachother oil to survive while trade embargo's in place by America unfairly due to their fear of their commonist ideas.
This of course will be workers controlled with no profits going to rich owners. This is all party of our vision for a planned economy.
A planned economy based on the need to spread the wealth to the many not just the few.

We in the socialist party are part of a growing international as it is known the CWI. a collection of political partys and organisations spread across 40 odd nations which share our ideas. We believe this to be nessesary due to the need for a international outlook across the world. Spreading our ideas in just one country will have no impact world wide we need to have parties and organisations interveening in struggles and confrontations in these more local disputes. From these we can learn from eachother and build towards a socialist world.

Here is a list of the different political partys across the world that are involved with the CWI that the socialist party of England and Wales are in formly Militant.

The following are the sections claimed by the CWI.

Argentina - La Chispa (The Spark)
Australia - Socialist Party ()
Austria - Sozialistische LinksPartei (Socialist Left Party, )
Belgium - (Flemish) Linkse Socialistische Partij (Socialist Left Party) / (French) Parti Socialiste de Lutte (Socialist Party of Struggle)
Bolivia - Alternativa Socialista Revolucionaria (Revolutionary Socialist Alternative) ()
Brazil - Liberdade, Socialismo e Revolução (Freedom, Socialism and Revolution) ()
Canada - Socialist Alternative
Chile - Socialismo Revolucionario ()
China - China Worker (News and Analysis of Workers Struggles in China) ()
Cyprus - CWI Cyprus
Czech Republic - Socialistická alternativa Budoucnost (Socialist Alternative the Future) ()
England & Wales - Socialist Party of England and Wales ()
France - Gauche Révolutionnaire (Revolutionary Left) ()
Germany - Sozialistische Alternative (Socialist Alternative) ()
Greece - Xekinima - Socialist Internationalist Organisation ()
Hong Kong - Socialist Action
Iceland - Sósíalískt Réttlaetisflokksins ()
Ireland - An Pháirtí Sóisialach / Socialist Party ()
India - Dudiyora Horaata (New Socialist Alternative )
Israel- Ma'avak Sotzialisti (Socialist Struggle) ([2])
Italy - ControCorrente ()
Japan - Kokusai Rentai (International Solidarity )
Kashmir - CWI Kashmir
Kazakhstan - Socialist Resistance of Kazakhstan ()
Lebanon - CWI Lebanon ()
Malaysia - CWI Malaysia ()
Mexico - Socialismo Revolucionario ()
Netherlands - Socialistisch Alternatief ()
Nigeria - Democratic Socialist Movement ()
Pakistan - Socialist Movement Pakistan ()
Poland - Grupa na rzecz Partii Robotniczej (Group for a Workers Party) ()
Portugal - Socialismo Revolucionario (Revolutionary Socialism) ()
Québec - Alternative Socialiste (Socialist Alternative) ()
Russia - Rossijskaja sekcija Komiteta za Rabochij Internacional (Russian Section of the CWI) ()
Scotland - Socialist Party Scotland ([3]), CWI platform in Solidarity (Scotland) ()
Spain - Socialismo Revolucionario
Sri Lanka - United Socialist Party ()
South Africa - Democratic Socialist Movement () (formerly the Marxist Workers Tendency of the ANC)
Sweden - Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (Socialist Justice Party) ()
Taiwan - Taiwan Socialist League
United States - Socialist Alternative ()
Venezuela - Socialismo Revolucionario (Revolutionary Socialism) ()

A tribute to Brian Haw a inspirational peace campaigner

Sadly today we hear of the news that Peace campaigner Brian Haw has died Brian who had been suffering from a long term heart condition sadly lost his life last night. Brian who many will remember was the guy who since the start of the illegal wars in Iraq and Afganistan .

Mr Haw, 62, set up a camp in London's Parliament Square in 2001 in protest against UK and US foreign policy.

In March 2011, a High Court ruling obtained by London's mayor forced him to move his camp on to the pavement.

In a statement posted on Mr Haw's website, his family said he had died on 18 June in Germany, where he had been receiving medical treatment.

They said Mr Haw, from Redditch, Worcestershire, passed away in his sleep in no pain.

'Courage and determination'

An additional statement on his website from his campaign representatives said: "Brian showed great determination and courage during the many long hard years he led his Peace Campaign in Parliament Square, during which it is well documented that he was relentlessly persecuted by the authorities which eventually took its toll on his health.



This guy sums up what true determination and campaigning is all about. staying to the task till the very end. His courage to fight to campaign against the foreign policies of successive british governments and campaign for peace is admirable and i feel personally he should have a statue or a plaque or something to help us who campaign for the same goals of peace and freedom for oppressed nations to remember him by. He would have wanted his message to continue and i hope the spirit of teh anti war movements is continued.

One of the things Brian would have loved to have seen is the bringing to trial of the likes of Tony Blair and George Bush who in his words were war criminals and need to be brought to justice for killings of thousands of innocent iraqi's and afgans.

Con-dems public sector pensions attack, brutal class warfare must be fought

The government is attempting to steal £2.8 billion from public sector pensions in Britain. This is a brutal act of class warfare directed against millions of mainly low-paid workers.

Attempting to prosecute it is a tiny ruling elite, who despise the public sector and those who deliver the vital services that bind our communities together.

Propaganda about public sector "gold-plated" pensions and conditions at the expense of everyone else, especially private sector workers, is the ideological 'justification' for a state-instigated hate campaign against public sector workers.

PCS members have voted for action alongside three education unions on 30 June. These four unions have three quarters of a million members.

This will be the first major coordinated industrial action against the Tory-led coalition's cuts and privatisation programme.

PCS members have voted not just for a day of action nor to only defend pensions but for a programme of discontinuous action which will allow the national union to coordinate action to defend jobs, pay and conditions, which are all under attack now.

Strategy
This strategy will be a significant element in building for mass coordinated industrial action in the autumn.

The National Association of Head Teachers is the latest union to announce it will also ballot its members about striking over pension cuts. Potentially there could be between three and five million workers striking against the coalition cuts in the autumn.

Pensions are the great unifying factor in the public sector. Every single worker will suffer appalling detriment if the government's plans are realised.

The plans are based on the report by anti-union ex-Labour minister John Hutton, a truly despicable creature, awash with lucrative sponsorships for services rendered to corporate interests.

The civil service has operated on an unwritten contract that job security and reasonable pensions, which are deferred wages, were the trade-off for low wages.

The average civil service pension for full service, excluding the tiny percentage of high earners, is £4,200 a year.

Hard-working public sector workers are the victims, not the cause of the economic crisis. We are now being asked to pay again, with what is effectively a tax on public sector pensions to pay off the deficit caused by the bankers and their system.

Victims, not the cause
The proposals will mean members will be expected to double or treble their contributions (the value of an extra day's work a month), work until age 68, and accept cuts of 20-50% in the value of pensions.

Our pensions' value has already been reduced by 15-25% because of the un-agreed re-indexing of pensions and benefits. PCS and other unions have mounted a legal challenge on this.

But the attack is not about dry statistics, it represents a shocking assault on living standards of some of the lowest paid workers in society who are also facing pay freezes, savage assaults on conditions, privatisation and the threat of job losses.

Even the Tories have voiced concern that the changes to contributions will lead to workers simply opting out of the scheme with horrendous implications for the future of pension provision.

This has been cited as part of the reason for Lib Dem treasury minister Danny Alexander's proposal to taper the increase in pension contributions.

Public sector workers now face a life of low pay followed by an impoverished old age, and they will be expected, as taxpayers, to fund the means-tested benefits necessary to support increasing numbers living below the poverty line.

Poverty
The official poverty line is £170 a week, the state pension is £102 a week; reduced occupational pensions will increase the number of pensioners in poverty - currently 2.5 million. 3.5 million pensioners are in fuel poverty.

In Germany pensions are 70% of average earnings, though set to fall. Even in the USA, for 40 years of work, social security provides 40% of previous earnings.

In France, 12% of GDP is spent on pensions, 10% in Germany, but in Britain, a measly 6%.

The net cost of paying public sector pensions in 2009/10 was a little under £4 billion. The cost of providing tax relief to the 1% who earn more than £150,000 is more than twice as much.

The total cost of providing tax relief to all higher rate taxpayers, on their private pensions, is more than five times as much.

There is an all-out campaign to divide public and private sector workers by claiming that pensions for the former are at the expense of the latter. In reality many households are comprised of people working in both sectors; the idea that low paid private sector workers are supportive of the cuts in other family members' pensions is garbage.

Workers won't buy the argument there should be an equality of misery.

Companies took pension 'holidays'
The removal of decent pension provision throughout the private sector was due to the fact that in the 1980s and 1990s companies took pension 'holidays' that left schemes under-funded.

When legislation was introduced to guarantee levels of funding, it increased the rate of pension fund closures as companies were unprepared to fund schemes at shareholders' expense.

The loss of these schemes did not, during a period of comparative economic boom, save jobs, guarantee pay rises or help to avoid financial meltdown in the private sector.

The only beneficiaries were the bosses and shareholders.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka rightly describes current negotiations with Cabinet Minister Francis Maude as a "farce". Maude wants the unions to go into sector bargaining without any compromise on the core national issues of increased contributions, cuts in the value of schemes and the rise in the working age.

Maude and Alexander clearly aim to sow division by putting the unions at each other's throats by fighting over the distribution of the cuts rather than opposing them outright.

Key principles
But PCS is adamant that these key principles must be collectively opposed and negotiated on, before sector talks take place.

Already, under the threat of strike action Alexander has announced that workers earning less than £15,000 won't have any increase in contributions. But this must be confirmed in negotiations.

Those earning less than £18,000 will have their contributions capped at 1.5%. But only 4% of PCS members earn less than £15,000 and across the public sector it is 1%.

And these low-paid workers will still suffer the increased retirement age and all the other aspects of the attack.

Workers earning more than £18,000 could have their contributions raised by up to 5%. The increases will be phased in over three years from next April.

This is clearly an attempt to divide the opposition and must be resisted.

The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, said the government was "hopelessly mismanaging" the pension issue. But Labour also attempted to increase the pension age in 2005 but was thwarted by the threat of coordinated public sector strike action.

Echoing the shameful Labour line that while the coalition is "cutting too deep and too quickly" cuts are nevertheless 'necessary' and 'inevitable', some union leaders signalled concessions upfront.

The coalition government is now trying to tempt them into an unholy alliance against PCS and other unions by isolating the 'militants' who, according to Alexander "seem hell bent on premature strike action".

The position must be unequivocal - no cuts or privatisation. Accepting the need for cuts is the road to division and defeat.

On pensions, we are facing organised theft on a huge scale by a government of millionaires with no mandate - economic terrorism against the vast majority waged to increase the obscene wealth of a tiny minority who place profit before people.

We face a defining battle for our movement. Real leadership is required, based on a strategy of no cuts, and no concessions to pension robbery.

We must build the kind of widespread industrial action capable of defeating and bringing down this government.

For a newly-qualified teacher who goes into the profession at 23, doesn't take any promotions and retires at 65 on UPS3, the figures suggest that the government's best offer cuts his/her pension by 40%. Their worst offer cuts it by 52%!
One PCS member in Swansea was staggered to find he would lose £160,000 under the new arrangements. This is a typical, not extreme, example.

Friday, 17 June 2011

The growing housing scandel

Most young people in Britain now believe they will be unable to raise the mortgage they need to buy a home, according to a recent survey published by the Halifax bank.

Most of this "Generation Rent" wants to buy but they find themselves stuck in expensive private rented accommodation which is insecure and often in a terrible condition.

The private rented sector is growing, up 40% over the last five years and is now about as big as the 'social' sector and with more young tenants.

It's hard to keep track of the flood of reports on housing in Britain that have made headlines recently. The Halifax surveyed 25-40 year olds and found that three-quarters of those who don't own a property would like to, but nearly two-thirds believe that they have no chance of being able to buy.

A Joseph Rowntree Foundation report implies that these young people are too optimistic, estimating that just one in four will be able to buy homes in the future. A report from the Human City Institute found that 86% of under-30s identified home ownership as a key life goal and 90% said they would not be happy with a lifetime of renting.

Another report entitled 'Forever Blowing Bubbles', from the Institute for Public Policy Research, has warned that mortgages are still 'too easy' to get and calls for further restrictions to prevent a future crash.

Rents are now 4.4% higher than a year ago across the UK, reaching a monthly high of £692 in April. A report from Rightmove forecasts a 10% rise over the next year. In London the average weekly rent is now around £1,000 a month.

Rising rents have forced record numbers of young couples to share flats rather than get a place of their own. Over the past year alone the number of couples looking to share a flat with other tenants has soared by 81%, according to research by the easyroommate.co.uk website.

The Thatcher government abolished rent control in the 1980s deliberately to boost the private rented sector by making it more profitable. Now Thatcher's heirs in the government blame tenants who claim housing benefits on high rent homes and are capping what they get in benefit. Sadly Labour simply argues that the measures are being introduced too quickly. Reintroducing rent control as an emergency measure needs to be an immediate demand for the labour movement.

What are tenants getting for their money? The English Housing Survey, published this year, shows that 1.5 million private rented homes failed to meet the government's decent homes standard in 2009. Of these, 971,000 homes failed the standard because they had serious 'Category 1' hazards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System.

Eviction

Campaign to stop the privatisation of council housing stock,
And private tenants have no real protection from arbitrary eviction as they are on short term tenancies. That makes it hard to plan your life and risky to complain about your accommodation as the landlord can solve the problem simply by booting you out! Secure tenancies in the private sector were ended by Thatcher; their reintroduction is another immediate demand that the labour movement should take up.

A Shelter survey investigating the impact of the cost of housing on 18-34 year olds shows that 22% of them have been forced to move back in with, or continue living with, their parents because they can't afford to rent or buy their own home. 20% of this age group are delaying having children until they can afford to buy or rent their own home.

Enormous frustration and anger is building up about these conditions. The bosses have a growing fear of the potentially explosive political consequences of this sea change in the UK housing scene, partially reflected in the deluge of reports. Unfortunately the working class lacks a mass political force to give voice to this frustration and to pose an alternative.

The recent movements of young people across Europe, particularly in Spain and Greece, point to the potential that is building in the UK. Trade unionists resisting the Con-Dem cuts and fighting for an alternative will need to channel this mood into a fighting movement with a clear programme and a vision of an alternative.

There is a burning need to build new housing and bring existing housing up to scratch. As well as providing housing, this would create thousands of much-needed jobs. The banks should be fully nationalised and run to meet social need, giving low interest loans for house building. The benefit cuts should be reversed, rents should be capped, and proper secure tenancies should be reintroduced to the private rented sector.

Of course low and declining pay are key issues making housing unaffordable. Yet the TUC meekly welcomed the recent below inflation increase in the minimum wage - which particularly hits young workers - suggesting that the only alternative was higher youth unemployment.

Len McCluskey of Unite correctly described the increase as an insult: "There is no reason why younger workers should be paid less and have to struggle more to keep up with the cost of living - it's tantamount to exploitation. Workers should be paid the rate for the job regardless of age. This is yet another attack on young people by this Tory-led government."

It is not surprising that Citizens Advice report that homelessness-related enquiries from under 25s are up 14% on last year. Socialists will be arguing that unions must reject the TUC response and take up a fighting programme on housing and low pay. Len McCluskey's words need to be turned into an energetic campaign.


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Home ownership: debt and repossession
So far the UK has avoided the mass house repossessions seen in the US although, despite price falls, official measures of housing "affordability" have actually worsened. This reflects the impact of recession, pay cuts and job insecurity. But according to The Wall Street Journal (3 June 2011) UK residential property is still overvalued by about a third.

It says that the UK housing bubble puts the US bubble in the shade; and it hasn't been deflated yet. Eventually, it warns, even London property prices will reflect the reality of British economics. The prospect is either a crash with a devastating impact on the wider financial system and economy, or a long drawn out agony stretching over decades such as Japan has been through.

Already the dream of home ownership is turning into a nightmare for many. In May the Council of Mortgage Lenders reported a 15% rise in repossessions and they expect this to go on rising.

Research by Shelter shows the number of homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage each month has increased by more than 78% in less than a year. As it comments: "Any rise in interest rates could be the trigger that finally pushes millions of homeowners into a spiral of debt, repossession and ultimately homelessness".

The nightmare of negative equity and repossession currently dominating home owners' lives in the US and Ireland would then arrive in the UK.


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Housing benefit attacks are hitting hard
Already the housing benefit changes are starting to hit claimants but more cuts will hit people over the next few years. From next year ministers plan that claimants under 35 will only be given enough to rent a room instead of a one bedroom flat now, bringing them into line with the under-25s.

Official figures show that in Camden, the hardest hit area, people will lose an average of £116 a week.

From 2013, housing benefit will be cut for people in social housing who are deemed to be 'under occupying'. They will lose an average of £13 a week.

The government's own impact assessment estimates that 670,000 tenants will be affected. In the north, between 40-50% of tenants will be affected, in London around 20%.

Socialists argue that unions should campaign for the housing benefit proposals to be ditched. They should also link campaigning against low pay to the need for decent truly affordable housing.

It should be remembered that, as the recession bites, an increasing number of housing benefit claimants are in work, but their pay isn't enough to pay for a roof over their heads. In London a third of claimants work.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Child povety in Condem Britain as cuts begin to hit

Last Monday on BBc 1 there was a documentary shown called Poor Kids. these documentaries dont come on that often as we are distracted from the real reallities of what really goes on in parts of Britain today as the working class people realise the tories are back at the helm. Documentaries like this one shown last week are shown not because the ruling class wants the mass's to see such things but they are obliged to keep their state funding to show these sorts of programmes to remain somewhat balanced.
The programme was good and underneath i've placed the review of the documantary from our paper this week- the socialist which you can read more at www.socialistparty.org.uk

Three and a half million children in Britain live in poverty. The gap between rich and poor has never been greater. BBC One's "Poor Kids" filmed children in their homes and neighbourhoods and let them talk. What a sad, sickening picture of life in one of the richest countries in the world.

We're told we all have to tighten our belts; that we've all been profligate and now wasteful public spending has to be reined in.

We saw a boy who was bullied for wearing hand-me-down school clothes from his older sister, and a girl who had never had a holiday apart from a school trip to Scarborough. All the children filmed occasionally went without meals, and all of them were cold in the winter because their parents couldn't afford to properly heat their homes.

I normally hate programmes like this. we are very aware that our own children and many of their friends are in the poverty statistics, and I dread programmes that claim to show what it's really like. Aside from the fact that inevitably editorial decisions distort what we see, they also lift people out of their context. With very little commentary we are largely left to draw our own conclusions, and it would be very easy for some viewers to see these children's lives as the product of individual problem parents.

But that is clearly not the case. The statistics injected at various points in the programme showed that these children simply illustrate general conditions. When children talked about their asthma and eczema problems, we were told that poor children are two and a half times more likely to suffer chronic illnesses and 85% of children living in damp conditions suffer breathing problems.

What linked all the families shown was long-term unemployment. One was a single father, struggling to find work that would fit around childcare, while in his city five people chase every job. Officially, the poverty line for a family his size is £1,000 a month after housing costs. This family lived on £420 a month. The father explained that when he was in work their income was that amount a week.

Massive public sector cuts are going to make these conditions far worse. If the government realises its plans, job prospects are going to get much worse, benefits will fall, housing conditions worsen and access to decent children's services, limited as it already is, will be slashed. The happy ending for one child in the programme, when her damp block of flats was knocked down and her family was rehoused, is unlikely to be repeated for many children in this age of austerity.

In fact the people in the programme are the target of Con-Dem attacks. These are the 'scroungers' allegedly living in luxury at the expense of hard-working taxpayers.

The final statistics in the programme were probably the most devastating. On measures of child poverty, Britain comes 18 out of 22 European countries, with only Slovenia, Poland, Hungary and Italy worse. And child poverty is set to rise 11% over the next three years.

Of course the programme offered no solutions. It is up to the Socialist to provide that - to end the horrors of child poverty we must organise to defeat the cuts, and fight for a programme of full employment, and investment in decent housing and public services.


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In this issue


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Fighting the cuts

Strike 30 June

Workers tur

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Strike 30th of June

Civil servants, teachers and lecturers balloted to strike on 30 June against the Con-Dems' attacks on public sector pensions and public services. The National Union of Teachers has voted 92% in favour of the action, while the Association of Teachers and Lecturers has voted 83% in favour of its first ever strike. London underground drivers in the RMT union are also due to take strike action on that day against victimisation of trade union activists.
Chris Baugh, assistant general secretary of the PCS civil servants union, spoke in a personal capacity at the National Shop Stewards Network conference on 11 June. Here is an extract from his speech.
Someone once said the Tories never talk about class war because they're usually too busy practising it. This crisis, caused by nearly 30 years of a high octane deregulated capitalism, fuelled by an explosion of credit and reckless speculation, has become the excuse for an all-out assault on nearly all the major social gains won by working-class people in the post-war years.

Perhaps the most callous elements of the cuts are reflected in the abolition of EMA student payments, the Sure Start children centre closures, the cuts in benefits to the disabled.

This is a government that is working to dilute 2,000 separate pieces of legislation, even the equality act that only came on the statute book in April. Everything is up for grabs.

But trade unions remain the major obstacle to the Tory-Liberal plans. It's why big business politicians introduced the anti-union laws. It's why the media attacks trade unions. It's why the employers pick out our activists and reps. It's why Vince Cable - supposed to be a restraining influence on the Tories - is already talking about even more limits on the right to strike.

This is a government that is fearful of the trade union movement. There is a massive and growing anger against the bailout to the bankers and the financial institutions and the attempt to make the working class pay the price for a crisis not of our making. The evidence was shown in the student protests, shown in the magnificent turnout on 26 March, shown by the action that we plan to take on 30 June, as the first wave of coordinated action.

If you're a worker in any other part of the public sector you will be asking the question: 'why are we not taking action with our brothers and sisters in the civil service and education institutions?'

The PCS will continue to press the Trades Union Congress for coordinated strike action and to build direct support with individual unions. We expect to be joined by millions of public sector workers in the autumn in the second wave of the sustained strike action that will be needed to challenge this government.

This is an enormous opportunity to reach out to the ranks of the most exploited sections of the workforce, the millions who aren't in unions, the millions who are unorganised. PCS has found that when the union is prepared to speak and act for its membership, that's when people are prepared to join, that's when they're prepared to get involved, that's when people are prepared to come forward and become reps in their own trade union.

We can start to challenge the dictatorship of the international markets, which are dictating the policy of individual governments. We can show that international worker's solidarity is not some utopian idea, it is the most powerful antidote to the neoliberal consensus, pursued by European governments, by mainstream political parties, by the Murdoch press, and by international bond and equity markets. We can raise the question of what sort of society we want to live in and start to pose a real socialist alternative.


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In this issue


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Fighting the cuts

Strike 30 June

Workers tur

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A one party state for the rich

I recently c ame across this e xcelent blogpost over at http://www.aworldtowin.net/blog/one-party-state-for-rich.html
a world to win, it excellently sums up Ed Milibands speech yesterday with him taking a rightward turn. and highlights the unsurprising nature of the speech.


Shocked or surprised at Ed Miliband equating those struggling on benefits in the absence of jobs at decent wages with bankers and executives whose salaries resemble telephone numbers? You shouldn’t be.

Miliband’s speech on “responsibility” yesterday was only the latest in a long line of pronouncements and actions that marked the definitive end of Labour as a party dedicated to defending workers’ interests and reforming capitalism.

Even so, it was sickening to hear Miliband declaim: “To those entrepreneurs and business people who generate wealth, create jobs and deserve their top salaries, I’m not just relaxed about you getting rich, I applaud you.”

Joining in the open season on welfare claimants, Miliband couldn’t help himself and added: “We will be a party that rewards contribution, not worklessness.” People had to take work if it was on offer rather than claim benefits. And, in future, social housing should only go to those who “contribute” to society.

In over 3,000 words of his speech, he never once referred to unemployment as an issue at a time when the dole queue is heading for 10%. And, of course, he declined to use those two “C” words – class and capitalism. He did, however, find time to quote Blair on patriotism.

Worse, he invoked the wartime service of his father, Ralph, to whip up patriotic and nationalist sentiments about “community”. This is shockingly dishonest too because Ralph Miliband was regarded as a Marxist and wrote critiques of Labour and reformism in books like Parliamentary socialism. No doubt Ralph is turning in his proverbial grave this morning.

Ed Miliband is the latest in a long line of leaders of a party that made its unconditional peace with capitalism a long time ago. The die was cast as far back as the Callaghan government in the late 1970s, when the government went cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund. The attacks on wages that followed led to mass industrial action and the end of Old Labour as we knew it.

The context for parliamentary politics that enabled post-war Labour governments to create the health service and the welfare state changed in a qualitative way in this period. After prolonged class struggles, deregulated, free market globalisation emerged. This demanded flexible, cheap labour and shifting production from advanced to developing economies.

The basis for old-style reformist politics disappeared almost overnight. And out of this train crash came New Labour. The rise of Blairism was not therefore, as is often mistakenly assumed, simply a rightward move or a policy decision aimed at winning elections by capturing the “middle ground”.

More than that, it was a recognition and an acceptance that capitalism had changed and that the best that could be hoped for in future was for wealth to “trickle down” from the top to the bottom. Instead, cheap credit fuelled unsustainable consumption that globalisation called for. The rest, as we know, is history.

The Miliband speech was hailed by the miserable Fabian Society, whose research director Tim Horton said “some on the left may feel queasy about this. But they should understand its logic and cheer it.” Frank Field, the right-wing Labour MP who favours the break-up of the benefits system also hailed Miliband’s speech.

As one comment on Horton’s article, put it: “We now have a one party state, a political class which acts as an administrator of corporate excess, to facilitate resources from poor to rich.” A one-party state is a dictatorship in anyone’s language and that is what we have in a coalition of Tories, Lib Dems and Labourites. Overthrowing dictatorships, of course, is an entirely legitimate social activity.

Paul Feldman
Communications editor

Sunday, 12 June 2011

NSSN conference - serious and inspiring preparation for the battles to come

As seven workers from Honda Swindon were leaving the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) conference on Saturday 11 June, one car worker remarked: "I wish we could have brought a coachload!".

This was a typical reaction amongst the 350 workers attending the best conference NSSN has held so far, a regular event that is rapidly becoming a feature in the calendar of the labour movement.


Rob Williams, NSSN chair, speaking at National Shop Stewards Network Conference June 2011, photo by Socialist Party (Click to enlarge)
It was a solid working-class trade union conference getting ready for the huge struggles ahead, aware of the difficulties but ready for the fight. Opening the conference, NSSN chair Rob Williams pointed out that we were meeting just 19 days before a real milestone - the 30 June joint strike of teachers and civil servants against the pensions robbery.

Martin Powell Davies from the National Union of Teachers national executive remarked: "The school hall we are meeting in is packed full today; on 30th June it will be totally empty." Janice Godrich, president of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) declared that 30 June should not just be a protest strike but a day to light a spark that will give confidence to all other public sector unions to join in and swell the force to four million workers for more strikes in the autumn.

Mark Palfrey, London Communication Workers Union (CWU), said that although his union was not yet joining the action it would respect all picket lines and he and others would be doing what they can to get the union on board, especially now that mail privatisation and closures are on the cards again.


Alex Gordon, RMT president, photo by Socialist Party (Click to enlarge)
Alex Gordon, Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) president, reminded delegates about the biggest ever trade union demonstration that was held on 26th March, showing what the TUC can do when it lifts its little finger.

But he urged that this event should not be squandered. The correct conclusions about the way forward must be drawn.

A general strike is needed. The £81 million of cuts so far are only year one of the Tory programme.

The NSSN will work with unions and anti-cuts campaigns everywhere to demand that councillors refuse to implement cuts.

He noted that NSSN also provides a valuable space to discuss serious arguments on strategy, which are bound to become sharper. Those who walked out of the NSSN in January after a democratic and open discussion on exactly this issue of strategy, have in fact left NSSN stronger and more active. (We understand a couple of those detractors snooped into the conference hall simply to do a headcount!)

Conference gave a very warm reception to Les Woodward from GMB Remploy. In very colourful and bold language he described how the disabled are getting a kicking from the "Tory Taliban" with closures and cutbacks in Remploy factories and are in line for even more rubbish to be heaped on them.

But the thousands of disabled are ready to fight factory by factory, and he appealed to the "temporarily-abled" for solidarity. Conference agreed to support a motion to oppose closures of Remploy factories and to send protest postcards to Iain Duncan Smith MP.

Wide range of contributions

National Shop Stewards Network Conference June 2011, photo by Socialist Party (Click to enlarge)
But the conference was not all 'top table'. There was a whole range of marvellous contributions, both from trade unionists in leading positions and from rank and file workers struggling in the workplaces.

Every contribution was interesting and informative. 51% of workers in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) are on wages too low to be covered by the wage freeze.

Pensioners are gearing up for a fight to defend the welfare state. And Tony Mulhearn one of the 'Liverpool 47' councillors who led a magnificent anti-cuts struggle in the 1980s, lambasted New Labour councillors today who use their re-election, not to fight cuts but to vote through cuts; who organise celebrations for dead working class heroes while denouncing living fighters who want to make a stand now.

He praised NSSN for putting these councillors on the spot.

The conference was practical too. At the six working-lunch regional get-togethers, delegates planned how NSSN in their areas could assist and build for 30 June and start planning for the NSSN lobby of the TUC in September, as a way of implementing the NSSN statement agreed in the morning session.

'The Right to Strike' theme of the afternoon session was recognition that whilst we are preparing for mass action, the bosses are too. The representatives of the rich and powerful are ready to introduce even more draconian laws to restrict strikes. Boris Johnson and Vince Cable have made that absolutely clear.

But on the ground even now a raw battle is being waged. Individuals who stand up, get sacked.

Frank Morris described his blacklisting from the Olympics site. Tube drivers Arwyn Thomas and Eamon Lynch outlined how they were sacked for participating in legal industrial action.

The RMT has backed them to the hilt, balloting every London Underground member for four days of strike action, due soon. John Hancock from the Prison Officers Association (POA) national executive explained in a speech very complimentary of the NSSN, that POA is banned from striking, but that pressure is building up to break those restrictions, especially because of the drive for privatisation.

Paul Callanan of Youth Fight for Jobs (YFJ) described how youth and students suffered police kettling tactics during the student protests, but that with youth unemployment getting worse and university fees skyrocketing, the best form of defence is attack.

They aim to bring together youth, students and trade unionists on a new Jarrow march in October. And Keith Gibson, who spoke at the NSSN conference two years ago about the victory of construction workers at Lindsay Oil Refinery against all odds, gave us, in his bold inimitable style, a vivid account of a recent battle at Saltend, near Hull, where 400 construction workers were locked out.

Despite a willingness of the workforce to fight, the battle was eventually lost, unfortunately leaving many questions being asked of some trade union officials.

This theme was taken up in the many contributions from the floor, including by Unite convenor Paddy Brennan, who appealed to NSSN for assistance with current problems at Honda, where some time ago a no-strike deal was struck between Unite union officials and management.

Kathy from Bromley Unison also took up the issue of victimisation by a trade union leadership, but this time, she said it was not all bad news. She had stood for the Unison NEC in the seat of her union colleague Glenn Kelly who has been suspended from holding office by the right-wing union leadership ... and won! You can't keep down ideas whose time has come.

International solidarity
The problems we are all facing, ie the bosses and some labour leaders, are international. NSSN conference was asked to support a campaign by a group of stewards in the Lonmin Karee mine in South Africa.

9,000 were sacked but only 8,000 reinstated after stewards had challenged corruption between management and the leadership of NUM.

Towards the end of the conference we were very happy to hear from our Greek brothers and sisters once again. Apostolis Kasimeris of the Union of Public Transport Workers in Attica, Greece, gave a great account of the effects of the terrible IMF austerity measures on workers' living standards.

He described how the Greek workers are fighting back with actions like bus fare boycotts, but are being hamstrung by the cowardice of the union leadership who are hated by workers, and by the difficulties workers on the ground face in getting together to work out what to do after ten general strikes! Both he and his very able translator, Eleni, were given a well deserved standing ovation.

Chris Baugh, PCS Assistant Secretary, gave a rousing speech to close the conference, calling on all workers to make the 30 June action a resounding success.

The NSSN, as pointed out in the officers' report to the conference, has gone from strength to strength over the last year. The newly-elected Steering Committee of 24 trade unionists with positions in all the major unions will develop the work in conjunction with those in the regions.

The last year has seen the pace of events step up as the financial crisis deepens and the outline of the huge industrial struggles to come begins to take shape.

NSSN has increased its presence and will continue to develop a respected role in the labour movement. In the course of the conference John Hancock articulated similar ideas in his contribution: "Shop steward!" he said, "what wonderful words those are!" They conjure up days when the trade unions had real power.

We bear those words on our banner - and we intend to help our mighty unions realise that power again.


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National Shop Stewards Network Conference Secretary's report
2010 - 2011
FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH
This last year has seen the pace of events step up as the financial crisis deepens, and the outline of the huge industrial struggles to come begin to take shape.

Over the last year the NSSN has increased its presence and continues to develop a respected role in the labour movement.

June 2010 The Annual Conference took place only a few weeks after the announcement of huge Coalition government cuts.

We welcomed leading trade unionists from Spain, Ireland and Greece involved in mass actions against their austerity cuts, and they had an enormous effect on everyone.

Delegates agreed to lobby the TUC to call a national demo, and urged everyone to get involved in, or set up, local anti-cuts campaigns to stop all local council cuts.

September 2010 The TUC lobby in Manchester attracted hundreds of trade unionists for an open air rally, a march - the first nationally against cuts - and then a very lively and enthusiastic indoor meeting.

Leading trade unionists like Bob Crow, Billy Hayes and Chris Baugh addressed the crowd alongside rank and file fighters on the ground. A fringe meeting was also organised later in the week addressed by Bob Crow and Linda Taaffe.

Under pressure from many forces the TUC finally agreed to organise a mass demo - six months down the line.

Better late than never!
October 2010 As councils begin cutting the fight-back gathers apace. The urgency for mass demonstrations as a first step gains ground, but unfortunately the bodies that could act decide to delay.

In London the NSSN worked jointly with leading RMT, FBU, PCS and NUT members to organise a demonstration, eventually going to a SERTUC event. On the day striking fire fighters led a lively, noisy and colourful march of around 4,000.

On the same day well attended marches took place in Bristol and Cardiff, as well as other places. It became clear that anti-cuts campaigners were forming the backbone of many local protests, and the NSSN needed to address this. The Steering Committee decided to call an NSSN Anti-Cuts Conference.

November and December 2010 Our attention was riveted by the mass of students from colleges and university pouring onto the streets in a show of protest that has not been seen for many years against skyrocketing fees.

They came in their thousand to London, were cruelly treated by the police, but lifted the spirits of many older trade unionists. NSSN participated in the demos and produced leaflets appealing for students to join forces with the trade unions as a realistic way forward.

January 2011 The Anti-Cuts Conference on January 22nd was the biggest NSSN conference so far with up to 600 attending. After an extremely democratic debate and discussion lasting all day the vote was overwhelmingly to set up an anti-cuts committee which included Alex Gordon RMT President, Ben Sprung London FBU, Martin Powell Davies NUT Executive, Katrine Williams Wales Chair PCS, and others.

The result has been that the NSSN has its own distinct role in the anti-cuts movement and has worked with the other anti-cuts organisations. The latest development being that we will be meeting the TUC on June 28th with Coalition of Resistance, People's Charter, Right to Work and UKUncut.

We have consistently fought on a "No to ALL cuts" platform and campaigned for the unions to co-ordinate strike action against the cuts.

February 2011 The Anti-Cuts Committee called a lobby of local anti-cuts campaigners and trade unionists to march to the Labour Local Government Leaders meeting near Westminster.

These 'leaders' of the labour movement were discussing - not how to rally opposition to cuts, but how to do the Tories' dirty work! With budget setting council meetings imminent the NSSN presented a petition calling on these leaders to invoke the spirit of Poplar, Clay Cross , Liverpool and Lambeth and join with trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners to fight government cuts.

They accepted in good spirits but unfortunately not one Labour councillor in the whole country raised their hand against cuts when it came to the vote.

March 2011 This month was dominated by the build-up to the TUC demo. And what a demo! Over half a million trade unionist showed what can be achieved when the TUC just raises its little finger.

The NSSN and Anti-Cuts Committee prepared well to intervene on the day. 40,000 flyers were produced with 1,500 placards calling on the TUC to organise joint strike action.

A stage was set up at Speakers Corner with agreement from leading trade unionists to come and give a fighting alternative to the 'wait for a Labour government' answer that was coming from the main platform.

As it turned out the demo was so huge many speakers never made it! No matter, rank and file trade unionists stepped up from the crowd, spoke about their industry or area, and gave the same message - the need for a 24 hour public sector strike.

April 2011 The start of the conference season saw preparations put in place to hold official meetings, fringe meetings and stands in exhibition halls.

NSSN has had a presence at ALL trade union conferences, especially NUT, PCS, FBU and will hold an official fringe meeting at RMT later in June. The Wales Shop Stewards Network organised a successful anti-cuts conference attended by 80 union reps and anti-cuts campaigners, launching Wales Against the Cuts.

May 2011 NSSN had stalls at many May Day demos and events around the country. There are plans to cover the Durham Miners Gala, Tolpuddle and Burston in the next few weeks.

We are also supporting the ballot on the pensions' robbery in NUT and PCS, and look forward keenly to the joint strike day on June 30th, where we will support picket lines and distribute our NSSN bulletins.