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Sunday, 30 June 2013

The Socialist Way: the kind of world this is

The Socialist Way: the kind of world this is: Hundreds of millions are still starving in a world that could feed us all. M illions are dying of preventable diseases, in a worl...

How fast food workers in the USA are fighting back

Fast-food strikes spread to seven cities www.socialistworld.net, 30/06/2013 website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI Fighting poverty pay Pete Ikeler, Socialist Alternative (CWI supporters in the US) “$15 an hour and a union.” In the past six months, this call has captured the attention of not only hundreds of low-wage workers who have taken job action but also millions more who’ve seen their courage. In November last year, 300 workers at New York City fast-food chains went on strike for a day and held a surprise rally in Times Square. Similar actions have since taken place in Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Washington, D.C., and, most recently, Seattle. And this against the backdrop of the most sustained worker organizing effort at the nation’s largest private employer, Walmart. Something is clearly stirring among America’s low-wage workers. Working in fast food, at an average hourly wage of $9.18, is not only unrewarding in money terms – for many, it’s also a daily grind of degradation and managerial abuse. At a Jimmy John’s in St. Louis, workers have been made to wear signs saying “I made three wrong sandwiches today,” or, “I was more than 13 seconds in the drive thru” (The Nation, 5/10/2013). One striking McDonald’s worker at the April rally in New York stated that, after approaching his manager about a $200 shortfall in his paycheck, he wasn’t refunded, but suspended for a week! Experiences like this are more the rule than the exception: A report published in May found that out of 500 NYC fast-food workers surveyed, a whopping 84 percent had experienced wage theft in the past year (The Nation, 5/16/2013). Low Wage = High Profits Meanwhile, fast-food and other low-wage outfits like Walmart are reeling in the profits. In 2012, McDonald’s took in $5.5 billion, Yum! Brands $1.6 billion, and Starbucks $1.4 billion in profits; Walmart topped them all at $17 billion! (Fortune 500, 2013) The rest of us – in fast food, retail, or elsewhere – are stuck with declining wages and less union protection, or outright joblessness. Labor force participation is now 63 percent – lower than in 1978 – real wages are below their 1973 level, and only 11 percent of U.S. workers are union members – the lowest rate since the Great Depression (Bureau of Labor Statistics). A large part of this story is the offshoring and automation of manufacturing jobs, combined with wage suppression and speed-ups, but an equally large share of blame lies with the massive expansion of low-wage service industries. Just retail and fast food alone, which by no means encompass the entirety of this sector, employ nearly 19 million workers, or 14 percent of the workforce (Bureau of Labor Statistics). This enormous group of workers is no longer an anomaly, an “aberration” from those with “standard” living-wage jobs; they are the foundation of the 21st century working class, and their conditions the ominous future for all of us unless we mount a militant fight-back. Thankfully, signs of resistance from this very group of workers have been flooding in over the past months. Following the NYC walkout and rally in November, steady organizing was conducted by workers, unions, and community activists to build for a repeat NYC rally and another in Chicago, both in April. Then in the first half of May, similar actions exploded in St. Louis, Washington, D.C., Detroit, and Milwaukee. And on May 30, fast-food workers at Burger King, Taco Bell, and other companies in Seattle walked off the job. Workers Demand $15 an Hour All of these actions have raised the demands of $15 an hour and the right to unionize. According to Josh Eidelson of The Nation, they “share several common characteristics: Each is a one-day strike by fast food workers, backed by a coalition of unions and community groups, targeting major companies throughout the industry and mobilizing a minority of the workforce in hopes of building broader support. While different local organizations have been involved in each city’s actions, the Service Employees International Union [SEIU] has played a significant role in all of them,” (5/15/2013). The demand for $15 an hour is indeed a huge step forward. At a time when the national minimum wage – even when observed (and, often enough, not) – is a measly $7.25 per hour, the idea of achieving an hourly rate more than double that – which could provide for a livable existence – has clearly inspired many to take part in these actions, but many more are needed for concrete gains to be won. Tactics so far have consisted of one-day actions involving a minority of each store’s workforce, with the central goal of gaining publicity rather than stopping the flow of profits to franchises and corporations. This approach is designed to avoid the black hole that is official NLRB organizing – a process that, even if successful at individual stores, could be easily overturned by large corporations like McDonald’s, Burger King, or Yum! Brands simply canceling franchise contracts and closing unionized stores, as Walmart has done in the past. Fighting Strategy Needed While useful at this stage, one-day actions and publicity stunts are not enough to win union recognition, stable scheduling, or significant wage gains. The main task going forward must be to both broaden and deepen worker involvement. Not only should many more fast-food and other low-wage workers actively join these campaigns, independent worker committees empowered to plan, strategize, and organize future actions should be set up at once. Once these are firmly in place, the next stage must involve economic leverage, a way to stop the flow of profits to franchisees and corporate heads. The best way to do this is through long-term, majority strike actions involving large numbers of stores, possibly at a city-wide or even national level, possibly involving the transport workers, who are a key link in the supply chain, and certainly involving customers, who should be reached out to, won over to the workers’ side, and persuaded not to patronize struck stores. Only sustained work stoppages at a level big enough to impact corporate profits will ultimately be sufficient to bring giant fast-food companies to the bargaining table. Developing the struggle along these lines will not be easy, especially given the structure and history of the main organization behind these efforts, the SEIU. For its path-breaking foray into fast-food organizing, the SEIU can only be applauded. Unfortunately, however, the union’s record in achieving solid gains for members and developing rank-and-file democracy is severely lacking, as the current struggle of its California health care local against a militant, more democratic offshoot makes clear (Labor Notes, March 2013). SEIU’s leaders also have close ties with pro-corporate Democrats and a track record of steering activist campaigns, like Occupy Wall Street, toward electoral support for this bankrupt party. At the Seattle fast-food worker rally, SEIU organizers invited Democrat politicians to speak but denied speaking rights to Socialist Alternative candidate Kshama Sawant: the only candidate openly fighting for a $15 an hour minimum wage! For these reasons, the thousands of fast-food workers who are now taking courageous steps toward unionizing should beware of the SEIU’s dark side and proven willingness to sell out members for short-term leadership gains. It is thus all the more important for workers to form their own committees within and across workplaces to spread the struggle and strategize future actions. The potential of this movement is huge. Success in organizing even a few key chain stores in major cities would provide inspiration to millions of hyper-exploited workers in this country; bigger successes at the national level or across entire corporations could have an outsize impact on the general wage structure among industries, helping to reverse the decades of declining living standards workers have seen since the 1970s. Finally, success along these lines would alter the balance of class power under U.S. capitalism: a system that puts profits before basic human needs. If this system can’t afford to pay us $15 an hour and provide us with basic workplace rights, then maybe it’s time to say, “We can’t afford this system!”

Friday, 28 June 2013

What did those behind the ‘Ring of Steel’ decide ?

www.socialistworld.net, 28/06/2013 website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI Representatives of the 1% pledge more austerity, war and environmental degradation Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland) Sixty million spent on security so that people could have a peaceful protest, Obama parades around as a man of peace as bored school students listen on and the local politicians get to bask in the reflected glow of the G8’s ’great’ leaders. But when the media are discussing all that, what were those behind the huge security fence around the Lough Erne Resort actually discussing? "Fire up the world economy?" In the Belfast Telegraph we are told by Cameron that “the whole point of this meeting in Lough Erne is to fire up our economies and drive growth and prosperity around the world, to do things that make a real difference to people’s lives.” The summit began with an announcement of EU/US free trade agreement. This is despite the fact the mandate to negotiate the deal was approved by trade ministers meeting in Luxemburg the week before and discussions had been ongoing. Of course never let the facts getting the way of a good story! Cameron claims that such an agreement would create two million jobs and mean adding as much as £100bn to the EU economy. These figures are effectively plucked out of the air and change in every statement made by the key proponents of this free trade agreement. The real agenda of these negotiations is the ’liberalisation’ of our public services and a race to the bottom in terms of workers’ rights and environmental standards. This agreement will include an ‘Investor State Dispute Settlement’ mechanism that would allow foreign investors both in the EU and the US to bypass the normal legal system and directly challenge governments at international tribunals whenever they find that laws in the area of public health, environmental, labour or social protection interfere with their profits. For example, many of those protesting against the G8 visit in Fermanagh were specifically concerned by the issue of ’Fracking’ or hydraulic fracturing. This mechanism is used in other free trade agreements and currently by a US energy firm to challenge a moratorium on fracking in Quebec. This agreement is will be used as part of a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms workers’ wages and conditions and to undermine trade union rights in the name of competitiveness and free trade. Including making it easier for EU companies to access the labour market in the so-called ’Right to Work’ states i.e. states that deny basic trade union right such as to collective bargaining. (For more on this Free Trade Agreement see: EU-US Free Trade Agreement: Race to the Bottom of the Atlantic) Rewriting the rules on tax? We are also told that the summit would deal with transparency around tax issues. The leaders of the G8 clearly feel the pressure on tax evasion. Global tax evasion means multinationals get away with hiding $3 trillion a year in profits, according to research from Tax Justice Network, while as much as $32 trillion could be stashed away by individuals in tax havens. Every time these leaders close hospital or propose new austerity measures they are faced working people asking what about Vodaphone or Starbucks taxes. The capitalist leaders claim that action on tax evasion has to be dealt with at international gathering and a big song and dance was made that it would be dealt with at the G8 summit. British Prime Minister David Cameron said the summit declaration had "the potential to rewrite the rules on tax and transparency for the benefit of countries right across the world, including the poorest countries in the world." Unsurprisingly, however the ’Lough Erne declaration’ on tax commits governments and multinational to very little. It outlines a few basic principles, such as the sharing of tax information among authorities and that more steps are taken to force companies to report where they pay taxes. But, in the words of a War on Want spokesperson, “as always the devil will be in the detail, and there’s no detail here." The deal falls far short of the comprehensive public register of owners that NGO groups had being calling for. The deal does not commit countries to making information public, only to share it with other tax authorities. Of course talk is cheap! Not a penny more in taxes will be paid by Amazon, or any of the other companies that operate intricate webs of offshore companies to avoid tax. Syria: “Blood is on the hands of both parties." Away from the formal sitting of the G8, the focus of the meeting was on Syria, a conflict which has left an estimated 93,000 people dead and which is a source of massive tension between the G8 leaders. With the US, Britain and France wishing to more openly arm the rebels (in reality, they already do through Turkey and Gulf regimes) and with Russia central to arming the Assad regime, this tension is reflected in the comments of the Canadian Prime Minister Harper that the summit is “the G7 plus one.” On the eve of the summit, Russian President Putin and Cameron held a press conference. When Putin was asked whether he had “the blood of Syrian children on his hands” - a reference to Cameron’s recent comments at the UN - Putin replied that “the blood is on the hands of both parties." Obama is now public in his intention to arm rebels and Putin claims that all that his government is doing is supplying "to the legitimate government of Syria.” Even within Harper’s G7 there is divisions. While Chancellor Merkel is complicit in dropping the EU’s arms embargo, she ruled out taking part in arming the rebels and stressed the need for a ’political process.’ The resolution the G8 managed to cobble together on Syria stressed the need for a "political solution to the crisis based on a vision for a united, inclusive and democratic Syria". For all the Western powers claiming to be defending the Syrian people, the resolution makes no reference to the alleged use of chemical weapons or the future of Assad, due to resistance from Putin. It only states that a transitional government must be formed "by mutual consent" between the different sides of Syrian society. Importantly, however, it makes clear that Syria’s military and security forces will be allowed to remain intact following a transition of power - seen as a tacit encouragement to Assad’s senior officers to launch a coup. In reality, while both sides will continue arming their respective sides, the Western powers do not feel confident enough in the opposition, either politically or militarily, to openly fully back and arm them, at this point. Some of the powers fear further destabilising the region and they also realise there is little public support for imperialist intervention in Syria. A Pew Research poll indicated that 70% of Americans oppose arming the opposition. For socialists, the Syrian civil war, which is also a proxy conflict between big powers’ interests, is a testament to the failure of capitalism in the region. None of the parties – all of which have blood on their hands - offers anything for the Syrian masses. Arming factions or holding ’peace conferences’ or encouraging a military coup will just replace one butcher regime with another. It will take revolutionary struggle, as we saw in Tunisia and Egypt, armed with a socialist alternative that can end the rule of the reactionary forces trying to carve up Syria. The rule of the 1% Despite a massively publicised campaign by charities around aid and world hunger, where was that on the G8 agenda? In fact, the amount of money the world’s richest countries give to ’developing countries’ fell by $2.9 billion between 2011 and 2012. And on climate change, the issue is all but ignored accept a tag on page at the end of the summit communique. The pro-big business politics pursued in the ‘Ring of Steel’ at Lough Erne, is a vindication of what the Socialist Party and others who organised against the G8 said in the course of our campaign; the G8 represent the interest of the 1% and the policies of austerity, war and criminal environmental policies. We need to build a socialist alternative, so that the decisions that affect the future of our society are not taken by CEOs in boardrooms or unrepresentative politicians behind Steel fencing. But instead the resources of society are publically owned and democratically controlled and managed by working people.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Why not stand for TUSC next year?

The Trade Union and Socialist Coalition is appealing to anti cuts campaigners, trade unionists and all who are opposed to the savage cuts being pushed through on us all the 99%. TUSC looks to bring together all who want to fight back and think all the political parties including the labour party no longer represent them anymore. “TUSC is an electoral platform for all who want to challenge austerity. TUSC is open to those who want to stand as candidates in the local council elections in May 2014 as part of a strategy of mass fightback, challenging Labour and their do-nothing strategy in as many seats as possible. “TUSC appeals to all those who are suffering due to austerity, angry about losing their job, have had their hours or pay reduced, or benefits squeezed, to play a part and help. “We also welcome those who are just angry about cuts and want to do something practical to stop the future deteriorating into endless poverty.” I’ve stood for TUSC in Ware this year in Hertfordshire and did better than I expected. The mood is slowly changing against this government and many realise there is no opposition coming from labour to austerity only a slightly lesser more fluffy version of the Tories which is frankly not good enough. We need a new mass workers party based on the working class moving into action TUSC can be an expression of this in an early stage. Whilst not receiving huge votes or any major breakthrough as yet TUSC has made some good moves with the addition of the RMT backing and other leading militant trade unionists it is well placed to progress in the next few years. I’d urge you if you have no political party but are angry about the cuts, privatisation of your local public services downgrading of your local hospital or seeing your wages not going so far at all then do get involved in TUSC and contact us to find out more and how you can stand next year in your area. Putting the word out now early gives us the best chance of having and a strong challenge next year where we continue to build on our work of this year. Next year will be a lot of urban council seats up for election including many labour controlled types of council this will provide TUSC with a unique chance to make inroads as labour councils continue to put up the white flag on the cuts passed on by them. TUSC candidates if elected are pledged to vote against all cuts and any rise in council tax. We argue the money is there and the government should be forced to make up the short fall. We would support a local campaign linking up with other councils prepared to not make the cuts linking up with anti cuts groups and the trade unions in a needs budget setting what the council needs to fund its services for that year and then campaigning hard at the government for the money they are rightfully owned back. Even if one council did this it would be a beacon to workers and anti cuts activists. Imagine if all councils did this the government would have to back down. Cuts can be beaten TUSC is providing an alternative. Get in touch for more information Visit TUSC online at www.tusc.org.uk And follow on twitter @tuscoalition

Axe the Bedroom tax know your rights

As people find themselves in greater and greater debts due to rising cost of living and the new cruel bedroom tax which was brought in in April. It is called the bedroom tax and not what the Tories prefer a spare room subsidy. Technically that is what it is but it very much is a bedroom tax and much like the poll tax campaign we must call things by their proper names the poll tax was not the community charge and thus so people know what they are up against. So far in meetings and campaigns we are seeing a trickle in England anyway of people wishing to join the fight back against this vicious tax. Whilst in Scotland the campaign against this tax is taking off with an anti bedroom tax federation set up with local steering committees in most areas now. The socialist party is taking the bedroom tax very seriously whilst recognising this is not the poll tax as not everyone is affected and also that we can’t say to people don’t pay it’s not as simple s that and is a dangerous strategy to pose as they will only find other ways of getting the money off you and could eventually lead to evictions. Below I republish the supplement in the socialist this week a guide to your rights and what you can do right here right now to fight this cold cruel tax. The bedroom tax has sparked fury. Thousands have protested against people being forced out of their homes or robbed of 14% or 25% of their housing benefit by millionaire Con-Dem ministers, many of whom have spare houses, never mind spare bedrooms. But we can stop this attack! Twenty years ago a mass campaign defeated Thatcher's hated poll tax. Led by the Socialist Party's predecessor, Militant, a mass campaign of non-payment made the poll tax unviable. While the bedroom tax is different in many ways, one thing is clear - if we get organised we can defeat it. ________________________________________ ________________________________________ Can't pay - will stay! No evictions! "I've cut back on every little thing I have. I'm eating one meal a day and not putting the heating on, all so I can pay this tax. £12 a week is everything when you can only afford £30 a fortnight on shopping before paying the bedroom tax." The bedroom tax's impact on people's lives has been devastating. The case of Stephanie Botrill, who killed herself after losing £20 a week from her housing benefit, illustrated the human cost of the bedroom tax. Stephanie wrote to her son before committing suicide: "Don't blame yourself for me ending my life. The only people to blame are the government." The bedroom tax affects 660,000 of the poorest households in Britain, many of them already suffering as a result of other Con-Dem cuts. £500 million is being stolen from housing benefit, with the tenant responsible for making up the shortfall. How is it possible for people already living in dire poverty to pay? It is not and the figures prove it. Anti-eviction army Housing Associations revealed in May that thousands of their tenants had immediately fallen into rent arrears as a result of the bedroom tax. In Liverpool the Riverside Group said 50% of their 6,000 affected tenants have not paid anything in bedroom tax. Only a quarter paid the full amount in the first month. Wakefield in Yorkshire said 42% had underpaid their rent. In Glasgow 66% of Housing Association tenants have under paid. What these figures clearly show is that the bedroom tax cannot be afforded. Moreover, many tenants who have tried to pay will not be able to sustain payment. We need to build an anti-eviction army which will oppose tooth and nail any attempts to evict tenants as a result of bedroom tax arrears. Just as the 'bailiff busters' successfully prevented thousands of attempts by bailiffs to take poll tax non-payers' goods, we can build a mass campaign to prevent evictions. Build mass campaigns But threats of eviction by councils and Housing Associations for bedroom tax arrears are still at an early stage. There are many things tenants can do to defeat the tax now. All tenants should know their rights and how they can disrupt the process of their own housing benefit being cut, but this must be supplemented by building mass campaigns to scrap the bedroom tax for all. This guide briefly explains your rights as a tenant and gives suggestions on how to build an anti-bedroom tax campaign in your area. We demand: • Scrap the bedroom tax and write-off all the debt • Defend all those who cannot or will not pay • No evictions for rent arrears due to the tax or austerity cuts. Build an anti-eviction army. • End all cuts - tax the bankers and the billionaires not bedrooms • For a programme of new council house building to meet social need • Build a mass movement against austerity starting with a 24-hour general strike organised by the trade unions ________________________________________ Q&A: Bedroom Tax How do I set up a campaign? Book a room in a community centre, school or local pub for a public meeting. Print some leaflets and go door-to-door in areas where there are lots of council or housing association homes. Put up posters in the local shops. Contact us if you would like a speaker or help with leaflets. At many local meetings people have come along ready to help organise. If this is the case ask for volunteers for a steering committee to organise the campaign. Contact us for details of other local groups in your area. You can then come together to organise town-wide work - including organising mass lobbies of your council. See contact details below. What happens now? Everyone affected by the bedroom tax has been sent a letter by the council telling them by how much their housing benefit will be cut. Tenants can ask the council to look again at the decision. You need to do this in writing within one month of receiving the 'benefit decision notice' which says that your benefit is being cut. If you are still not happy after the council has looked again, you can appeal the decision. Again, this should be done in writing within one month of receiving the council's response to your request for them to look again. This is free and you have a legal right to do it. Model appeal letters are available from us or from your local anti-bedroom tax campaign. Longer than a month since you received your benefit decision? It is still worth writing a letter of appeal, explaining why you have not done so earlier (you have been ill, away, in distress, you didn't realise you could appeal...). While no guarantee for success, some common reasons for appeal include: • The bedroom is less than 70 square feet. This means that, according to the 1985 Housing Act, it is a box-room and not suitable to use as a bedroom. • Due to you or your partner/dependent's documented medical condition the other bedroom is used for therapeutic activities/medical equipment. • You use the other bedroom for fostering purposes. • Your children/dependents use the bedroom as part of the custody agreement. • The use of the other bedroom is for regularly visiting family/guests. • You have a very small kitchen, and the landlord has mistakenly designated your dining room as a bedroom. • You use your other bedroom for storage of your possessions. Should I apply for the "discretionary housing fund" for help? Yes. This is a small pot of money that councils have to help tenants. You should apply regardless of whether you think you will get it. An application for a payment can be used as evidence that you have tried to gain access to money to help with the bedroom tax - this can also help delay eviction proceedings. • 338% increase in applications for discretionary housing payments since the bedroom tax was introduced Should I move to the private sector? In general, no. This is even more expensive than most council or Housing Association properties, tenancies are usually short-term and insecure, and housing is often of poor quality. If you genuinely want to move to a smaller council or Housing Association home ask your landlord to put you on a list. However, councils and HAs simply don't have the smaller properties available to house people affected by the bedroom tax. For the vast majority it's a case of Can't Pay - Will Stay. Should I take out a Direct Debit to the council or social landlord? No. A Direct Debit allows the council to increase the money it takes from your account to cover your bedroom tax and you will have less money for food, bills, etc. • 19% increase in debt of tenants reported by one Housing Association What can my landlord do to pressurise me to pay bedroom tax? Initially, councils and Housing Associations are phoning, writing to and visiting tenants who cannot pay all their rent as a result of the deductions from their housing benefit. If your landlord arranges a visit to your home, ask other anti-bedroom tax campaigners to come round and support you. Landlords are hoping to apply pressure on tenants to make a payment arrangement to prevent a big loss in rental income. Social landlords need to understand that people cannot pay the bedroom tax - and we are not the enemy. They should stand by their tenants and demand the scrapping of the bedroom tax. It is worthwhile explaining to your landlord why you cannot pay the bedroom tax, that your income and expenditure leaves no room for the bedroom tax to be paid. It may be worthwhile putting this in writing to your landlord (make sure to keep a copy of the letter). This explanation can help later on if the landlord attempts to push for an eviction. What happens if I can't or won't pay the bedroom tax? Letters will be sent telling you that you are in rent arrears. Don't ignore these letters - contact the council and your local Welfare Rights team and Citizens Advice Bureau, community legal teams, etc. Even if you can't access legal advice, don't ignore the letters, write to your landlord and tell them you can't pay and the reasons why. If you can't get an appointment, or they give you bad advice (ie telling you that you just 'have to pay') make sure you get in touch with your local anti-bedroom tax campaign. Keep all letters you are sent, and copies of any replies you send to your landlord. These can be very important if you have to argue your case in court. Councils and Housing Associations can also try for a deduction of benefit for rent arrears. There is a standard practice of a deduction for rent arrears of around £3.65 a week from benefit. We demand all bedroom tax debt be written off and that the Con-Dem government bails out councils who refuse to implement it, including refusing to chase arrears that arise from austerity cuts. Will I be evicted? Court proceedings: At a certain point court proceedings can be used for debt recovery. However, councils and Housing Associations almost always have to do a number of things before they can take you to court. They have to: • Contact you and try to reach an agreement with you to repay the debt gradually. There is a rent arrears protocol which they are expected to follow. • Help you with housing benefit problems if you are under 18 or 'vulnerable' • Agree not to start court proceedings if you keep to an agreement to repay the debt gradually • If they do decide to take you to court they have to give you written notice of their intention to do so prior to any court hearing • Once the period of the notice has expired the court then has to decide if the landlord has 'grounds for possession' • Only then can they take you to court to try and obtain a 'possession order' • If it is granted you are sent a written copy of a 'defence form' which you have 14 days to fill out. • The case then goes to court. It is important that you attend the court and put your side of the case. Remember to take evidence with you to help your case, the letters you have written to the landlord, the steps you have taken to cover the reduction in your housing benefit, etc. Whatever happens attend the court hearing! • At the court hearing the judge needs to consider whether a ground for possession has been satisfied, is it 'reasonable' to grant a possession order? Is it 'proportionate' to grant a possession order? In most cases the courts will follow the procedure above. This will be the case for all 'secure tenants'. If you are a council tenant you will have a secure tenancy (except for a very few new council tenants). If your property used to be council, but has been transferred to a Housing Association, you may still have a secure tenancy. However, most Housing Association tenants have 'assured tenancies' which give you fewer rights than secure tenancies. Most assured tenants threatened with eviction will be treated like secure tenants in court. Some Housing Associations have occasionally used something called 'Ground 8' in the courts against assured tenants. This takes away the judge's discretion and makes a possession order virtually automatic if you have eight weeks or more of arrears (for 100% of the rent so that is at least 32 weeks of bedroom tax arrears). Take advice urgently if they try to evict on Ground 8. If you are a housing association tenant a first step for your campaign should be a lobby of the Housing Association board demanding that they join the eleven Housing Associations that have already pledged to rule out using Ground 8. Remember: It costs an average of £6,000 to evict someone. That is more than 200 weeks of bedroom tax rent arrears. For this reason, and also because it would be so unpopular, councils and Housing Associations are hesitating to take this road, a mass campaign can stop them from doing so. What should I do if I get a letter saying my landlord is going to take me to court? If you are threatened with a court hearing get in touch with us or the local anti-bedroom tax campaign immediately. We can give you advice but also, if you wish, organise protests against court action being taken. This is the best way to prevent evictions. During the poll tax battle mass protests at courts hearing poll tax cases helped make the court system unworkable. If councils try to take tenants to court we need to mobilise a similar movement against evictions. In other words, a request for an eviction by a landlord is not a straightforward process and can be stalled or overturned. The campaign can and will ensure that no one goes to court on their own. We will seek legal advice to give guidance and support for you as well. Above all, even if an eviction order was granted anti-bedroom tax campaigners would mobilise to physically prevent bailiffs from removing a tenant from their home as a result of being unable to pay the bedroom tax. How do we fight this? Join the anti-bedroom tax campaign today. Massive pressure must be put on councils and Housing Associations to write off all debt arising from the bedroom tax. We will continue to lobby, protest and demonstrate to demand the politicians act to stop these attacks on the poorest. This is a fight we can win. If we stick together we can defeat the bedroom tax, all the cuts and bring down this rotten government of the rich. See socialistparty.org.uk for regular reports and updates on the anti-bedroom tax campaigns ________________________________________ What can councils do? Councils can refuse to implement the bedroom tax and demand that all Housing Associations in their area do the same thing. We call on councils to: ■ Refuse to implement the bedroom tax! ■ Use their borrowing powers and any reserves to assist tenants while working with the campaign to build a mass movement to defeat the tax. ■ Make a clear pledge not to evict any tenant in arrears due to the bedroom tax or as a result of austerity. ■ Demand that Housing Associations in the area (which often have councillors on their boards) pledge never to use Ground 8 to force through evictions, and pledge not to evict tenants for bedroom tax arrears or other arrears as a result of austerity. ■ Write off bedroom tax arrears and/or 're-designate' properties as having fewer bedrooms to prevent the effects of the bedroom tax. ■ A number of councils and Housing Associations have carried out some of these measures. Nine councils - mainly in areas where bedroom tax campaigns are strong - have promised no evictions for a year and several landlords - including Leeds council - have promised to re-designate homes. These partial measures show campaigning works, but we need to keep the pressure on councils to do more. Labour claim to oppose the bedroom tax, yet Labour councils are implementing it. If they all refused to do so the tax would be unworkable. Anti-bedroom tax campaigners should stand for the council Labour claims to oppose the bedroom tax but Labour councils are implementing it, and Labour nationally have refused to pledge to repeal it if they win the general election. We need councillors who will really stand up for us. Next May the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition will be bringing together campaigners against cuts to stand as many anti-cuts candidates as possible in the local elections. Standing candidates in the local elections is an effective way of building the campaign against councillors that are implementing the bedroom tax. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is an electoral alliance that stands candidates against all cuts and privatisation. It involves the RMT transport workers' union, leading members of other trade unions including the PCS, NUT and POA and socialist organisations including the Socialist Party. www.tusc.org.uk ________________________________________ Join the Socialists The bedroom tax is only one attack in the blizzard of cuts bombarding working class people. Reductions in council tax benefits will force more people onto the breadline in Foodbank Britain. But while most of us tighten our belts a few households and families are gorging on a feast of riches. The combined wealth of Britain's richest 1,000 people increased by almost 5% to £414 billion in 2012! Those households and major corporations have all been given a generous tax cut - helping them to get even richer. No question - this is a government for the millionaires not the millions. But potentially we have the strength of millions to stop them! The bedroom tax makes it clearer than ever - the trade union movement must urgently set the date for a 24-hour general strike against austerity. This would be the most effective way of channelling the burning anger at the government into a movement capable of stopping the cuts. If you agree with us - join the socialists! We stand for a different way of running things - where the wealth of society is used to provide people with the things we need - decent homes, jobs, a good education and NHS. We want a society for the 99% not the 1%. That is why we stand for a socialist alternative which is based on a democratic plan of production to meet the needs of all. What the Socialist Party stands for: The Socialist Party fights for socialism - a democratic society run for the needs of all and not the profits of a few. We also oppose every cut, fighting in our day-to-day campaigning for every possible improvement for working class people. The organised working class has the potential power to stop the cuts and transform society. As capitalism dominates the globe, the struggle for genuine socialism must be international. The Socialist Party is part of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI), a socialist international that organises in over 40 countries. Our demands include: Public services • No to ALL cuts in jobs, pay, public services and benefits. Defend our pensions. • No to privatisation and the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Renationalise all privatised utilities and services, with compensation paid only on the basis of proven need. • Fully fund all services and run them under accountable, democratic committees that include representatives of service workers and users. • Free, publicly run, good quality education, available to all at any age. Abolish university tuition fees now and introduce a living grant. No to academies and 'Free schools'! • A socialist NHS to provide for everyone's health needs - free at the point of use and under democratic control. Kick out private contractors! • Keep council housing publicly owned. For a massive building programme of publicly owned housing, on an environmentally sustainable basis, to provide good quality homes with low rents. Work and income • Trade union struggle to increase the minimum wage to £8 an hour without exemptions as an immediate step towards £10 an hour. For an annual increase in the minimum wage linked to average earnings. • All workers, including part-timers, temps, casual and migrant workers to have trade union rates of pay, employment protection, and sickness and holiday rights from day one of employment. • An immediate 50% increase in the state retirement pension, as a step towards a living pension. • Reject 'Workfare'. For the right to decent benefits, education, training, or a job, without compulsion. • Scrap the anti-trade union laws! For fighting trade unions, democratically controlled by their members. Full-time union officials to be regularly elected and receive no more than a worker's wage. Support the National Shop Stewards Network. • A maximum 35-hour week with no loss of pay. Environment • Major research and investment into replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy and into ending the problems of early obsolescence and un-recycled waste. • Public ownership of the energy generating industries. No to nuclear power. No to Trident. • A democratically planned, low fare, publicly owned transport system, as part of an overall plan against environmental pollution. Rights • Oppose discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, disability, sexuality, age, and all other forms of prejudice. • Repeal all laws that trample over civil liberties. For the right to protest! End police harassment. • Defend abortion rights. For a woman's right to choose when and whether to have children. • For the right to asylum. No to racist immigration laws. New workers' party • For a new mass workers' party drawing together workers, young people and activists from workplace, community, environmental and anti-war campaigns, to provide a fighting, political alternative to the pro-big business parties. • Trade unions to disaffiliate from the Labour Party now and aid the building of a new workers' party! Support the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition as an important step towards this. Socialism and internationalism • No to imperialist wars and occupations. Withdraw the troops immediately from Afghanistan! • Tax the super-rich! For a socialist government to take into public ownership the top 150 companies and the banking system that dominate the British economy, and run them under democratic working class control and management. Compensation to be paid only on the basis of proven need. • A democratic socialist plan of production based on the interests of the overwhelming majority of people, and in a way that safeguards the environment. • No to the bosses' neoliberal European Union! For a socialist Europe and a socialist world! ________________________________________ The Socialist will be carrying regular articles on the bedroom tax. Subscribe via website. Send us your stories to: editors@socialistparty.org.uk Get in touch for campaign resources including leaflets and posters: info@socialistparty.org.uk 020 8988 8777 Socialist Party organisers: Eastern 07905 167 703 East Midlands 07737 978 057 London 020 8988 8786 Northern 07841 144 890 North West 07769 611 320 Southern 07833 681 910 South East 07894 716 095 South West 07759 796 478 Wales 07891 547 900 West Midlands 07929 395 884 Yorkshire 07706 710 041

Monday, 24 June 2013

Last call out for the NSSN conference this sat in London; join the fightback against the cuts !

This Saturday following hot on the heels of the so called people’s assembly last Saturday militant anti cuts and trade unionists converge on London again to call for an end of talking and a demand for a start of action. Whilst we heard big speech after big speech on Saturday at the people’s assembly workers will be wondering waht happens next. The National Shops Stewards Network conference the 7th annual event to be held since its formation meets at a crucial time for workers facing attack after attack on their pay and conditions. It can be an excellent chance to hear from rank-and-file workers and anti cuts candidates fighting back in their workplaces and their communities too. Sharing stories and tactics of how we can fight back can boost other workers confidence to know that we are not just fighting alone and we can win. Why we're going to the NSSN conference: Coventry communications workers With thanks to Lenny Shail Seven delegates will be heading down to the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) conference from the two CWU branches in Coventry. Workers in Royal Mail, the post office, BT and other companies in the communications industry are facing unprecedented battles: against privatisation, bullying, sell-offs, sackings, union busting and performance management. At a Coventry CWU branch meeting of around 50 members there was unanimous anger at the union's telecommunications executive's recommendation of accepting BT's below-inflation pay offer and refusal to immediately take action against performance management. At car park meetings at the local postal depots, postal workers are demanding industrial action now to defeat privatisation of Royal Mail. Local NSSN supporters in these workplaces and branches have been key to organising such meetings, putting forward a correct programme and strategy and linking the need for action with the need for a 24-hour general strike against austerity. The continuing strikes in the Crown post offices has shown that action can force the employer to back down and that the public supports them. Workers in O2 were balloted for strike action to stop outsourcing to Capita, while workers in Virgin Media, Sky, Vodaphone and others continue to defy the union-busting tactics of management. The NSSN, particularly its conference on the 29 June, is key to building support for these day-to-day battles. ________________________________________ The 7th annual conference of the NSSN will take place on 29 June, 11am - 5pm in the Camden Centre, Judd Street, London WC1H 9JE The NSSN was initiated by the RMT transport union in 2006. Seven national unions - RMT, PCS, CWU, NUM, POA, NUJ, and BFAWU - are either affiliated to the NSSN or officially support it as well as many union branches, shop stewards' committees and trades councils. The conference will include main sessions on resisting the cuts and fighting the bedroom tax but also workshops on defending the NHS, organising in the workplace, housing, organising the unorganised, fighting blacklisting, Turkey, etc. It's open to everyone in the trade unions and community campaigners. Speakers include union general secretaries: Mark Serwotka, PCS, Billy Hayes, CWU and Steve Gillan, POA and Tommy Sheridan, Scottish Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation chair For more information contact: info@shopstewards.net www.shopstewards.net

Sunday, 23 June 2013

All is still not well in Iraq

No western troops remaiand are rarely reported on in British media at least but the after math of the us and British lead invasion in 2003 has not left Iraq better off quite the contrary actually. Recent bomb attacks have highlighted how torn and divided Iraq still is today with the western invasion solving nothing but killing many in the process. There has been a surge in sectarian attacks in recent months on targets like mosques, restaurants and local markets. The suicide bombing came after three other attacks in the north of Iraq killed a further nine people. The violence has rekindled fears the country is being dragged towards a wider conflict between the Shia majority and the Sunni minority. Sunnis have accused the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of discriminating against them - a claim the government denies. Last month was the bloodiest in Iraq since June 2008, with 1,045 civilians and security officials killed. A recent article from the CWI on the 10 year anniversary republished below explains the situation and how we’re no further on for Iraqi workers as a whole and the west’s invasion solved nothing only to protect its own interests. Niall Mulholland, from the Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party (CWI England and Wales) “To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace”, Gaius Cornelius Tacitus (ca 56-117 ca), Roman historian Ten years ago, under the banner, ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’, the US-led ‘coalition of the willing’ attacked Iraq. Despite huge public opposition, including tens of millions-strong global anti-war demonstrations on 15-16 February 2003, the “shock and awe” bombing campaign began on 20 March, followed by a land invasion a few hours later. The enormous military force descended on a people who had suffered 35 years of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, the 1991 Gulf War and 13 years of cruel United Nations (UN) sanctions, which destroyed the Iraqi economy, reduced millions to poverty and cost between half a million to one million Iraqi lives. WMD fiction The 2003 war was ‘justified’ by a torrent of propaganda and lies emanating from Washington and Downing Street, which was repeated by a compliant, right-wing media. President Bush accused the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, of attempting to enrich uranium to develop “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD). US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, told the UN on 6 February 2003 that Iraq was acquiring biological weapons capability. Tony Blair, the Labour prime minister, claimed that Iraqi WMD could be ready for use “within 45 minutes”. Saddam was also accused of aiding al-Qa’ida. These were all lies. Soon after the invasion no evidence of Saddam’s WMD could be found by the occupying forces or links between the former Saddam regime and ‘terrorism’. In fact, it was the occupation that caused such resentment that it brought al-Qa’ida’s sectarian terror to Iraq. Yet on the eve of the war’s tenth anniversary, the former prime minister told the BBC: “So when you say ‘do you think of the loss of life since 2003?’ of course I do. You would have to be inhumane not to, but think of what would have happened if he had been left there.” Blair’s trite comments do not even begin to address the enormous human cost of the war. From 2003 to 2011, 150,000 to 400,000 Iraqis are believed to have died violently, according to several studies. The respected medical journal, The Lancet, estimated a much higher figure of over 600,000 people dying violently between 2003 and 2006, alone. Added to this are countless thousands of Iraqis still missing and thousands of US, British and other coalition military personnel deaths and serious injuries. The harvest of death in Iraq left two million widows as primary family breadwinners and 4.5 million orphans (600,000 of who live in the streets). The war created four million refugees. One million fled to Syria. A further 1.3 million are internally displaced persons in Iraq. Only one in eight of these have returned home since 2008. The Bush/Blair Iraq adventure also came at considerable economic cost to the US economy. According to Joseph Stiglitz, the former World Bank chief economist, it took $3 trillion from the US economy. While the funds are always there to fight foreign wars on behalf of big business profits and interests, American and British workers find their living standards falling dramatically. Blair’s justifications continue Interviews with Blair fail to put to him the real reasons for the invasion. Instead the war of imperialist aggression is dressed up as ‘humanitarian interventionism’ and attempts by Blair and Bush to export Western-style liberal democracy to the Middle East. The ruling classes internationally were divided over Iraq. World and regional powers were fearful of the consequence of invasion and the USA gaining at their expense. The Bush neo-cons, however, pushed for war. American and British imperialism, which previously backed Saddam, did not go to war to stop oppression or to introduce democratic rights and improve living standards. For decades, Saddam’s sadistic regime murdered and terrorised Iraqis while enjoying Western backing. After the overthrow of another Western favoured regional despot, the Shah of Iran, Saddam was encouraged by the West to invade its neighbour. Millions perished or suffered terrible injuries in the resulting eight-year war. Saddam fell foul of Western imperialism‘s interests when he invaded neighbouring Kuwait in 1991. The potential for Saddam to control vital oil supplies terrified western powers and they quickly assembled a massive military force. The first Gulf War saw a US-led coalition quickly retake the oil-rich statelet but stop short at Iraqi borders. Little concern was shown for the opposition to Saddam in 1991 when the Western military force stood back as an uprising by Shi’ites and Kurds was brutally put down by the dictator. Cynically exploiting the heinous ‘9/11’ al-Qa’ida terror attacks, the White House and Downing Street eagerly seized the opportunity to directly intervene militarily to overthrow Saddam and to impose a pro-Western, pliant regime. Seizing control of Iraq’s abundant oil reserves, estimated to be 9% of the world total, was a key objective for US imperialism, as well as its vital geo-strategic interests in the Middle East. Perhaps it was to stop naked imperialist ambitions of these kind becoming public knowledge that led the Cabinet Office to insist the much-delayed Chilcot inquiry report will be published without crucial evidence that would reveal what Blair and Bush discussed in the run-up to the invasion? Backing dictators Blair and Bush have not faced trial for their Iraqi war crimes. The International Criminal Court (ICC), like the UN, is dominated by the interests of the powerful nation states. Only former despots and warlords from the Balkans and Africa, who have conflicted with imperialism, have been brought before the ICC at the Hague. With all other justifications for his war shredded, Blair asks: “If we hadn’t removed Saddam from power just think, for example, what would be happening if these Arab revolutions were continuing now and Saddam, who’s probably 20 times as bad as Assad in Syria, was trying to suppress an uprising in Iraq?” There is no doubt that Saddam was a brutal tyrant, whose regime murdered many people, including communists and trade unionists. But the former prime minister has no problem with dictators, per se. ‘Tony Blair Associates’ advise the Kazakhstan despot, Nazarbayev, the butcher of striking oil workers. And Blair’s ‘liberated’ Iraq is today run by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who even the right-wing Economist accuses of “dictatorial tendencies”. The 2003 invasion greatly increased Arabs’ sense of humiliation and injustice at the hands of imperialism. This was an important factor fuelling the 2011 revolutions against Western-backed dictators in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as widespread anger at the lack of democratic rights, mass joblessness and poverty in these societies. The ‘Arab Spring’ does not at all justify Blair’s neo-colonial adventure but actually validates the position of the Socialist in the run-up to the Iraq war; that removing the tyrant Saddam was the task of the Iraqi working people by a united mass struggle. The toppling of close Western allies, Ben Ali and Mosni Mubarak, who were supposedly ‘impregnable’ dictators like Saddam, in late 2010 and early 2011, showed this was also a possible course of action for the Iraqi masses. ‘Resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’? John Prescott, Labour Deputy Prime Minister in 2003, now Lord Prescott, recently admitted to the BBC that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 “cannot be justified”. He said he had backed the invasion because he believed George Bush had a plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Bush and Blair did claim the defeat of Saddam would act as an impetus for a new ‘road map’ for peace in Israel and Palestine. But as the Socialist warned in 2003, the oppression of Palestinians would continue unabated after the Iraq invasion. For its own imperialist geo-strategic interests, the US continues to support Israel, its closest ally in the region, while genuine Palestinian self-determination and statehood is further away than ever. In an interview with BBC’s Newsnight, Blair agreed that ‘daily life in Iraq today is not what he hoped it would be’ when he opted to invade ten years ago. Blair claimed there have been “significant improvements” but that “it is not nearly what it should be”. This is an understatement, to say the least! The Socialist resolutely opposed imperialist intervention in 2003, and correctly predicted it would bring oppression and chaos - opening up the gates to sectarian conflagration - and that imperialism would be bogged down in a long conflict. The occupiers’ policy of ‘de-Ba’athification’ of Saddam’s largely Sunnis-based regime, and the disbandment of the Iraqi army, resulted in sectarian purges of Sunnis. This ignited fierce Sunni-based resistance. Brutal colonial occupation, including the systematic torture and abuse of civilians in notorious jails like Abu Ghraib, the siege of Fallujah city and the massacre of resistance fighters and many civilians at cities like Haditha and Balad, ensured growing mass opposition to the US-led occupation, which was not just confined to Sunnis. Anti-war sentiment grew in the US, Britain and internationally. Despite their awesome military machine and war chest, the Coalition was unable to crush the resistance and resorted to divide and rule tactics. They backed Shia against Sunni, causing an orgy of bloodletting. Consequences According to investigations by the Guardian and the BBC’s Arabic language service, in 2004 the Bush administration turned to the “Salvador option” - named after the US’s role in running right-wing death squads in El Salvador in the 1980s. Shia militias were armed and financed by the US. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died and millions were displaced as a result. The Sunnis were the main losers in the sectarian civil war. A US-imposed ‘constitution’ institutionalised sectarian and ethnic divisions. Elections in 2005 led to Shia-based parties winning a majority in parliament and the prime minister’s office. A corrupt ruling class, and reactionary, sectarian-based political parties struggle over Iraq’s natural resources while the mass of people live in poverty. Although Iraq has $100 billion (£66 billion) a year in oil revenues little of this trickles down to the people. It is the eighth most corrupt country in the world, according to Transparency International. The capital, Baghdad, which is home to a fifth of the country’s 33 million population, is still a city at war, divided up by oppressive military checkpoints and barriers, and vulnerable to indiscriminate, sectarian outrages. Baghdad and central Iraq suffer daily bombings, assassinations and kidnappings. Bush and Blair’s legacy includes a fivefold increase in birth defects and fourfold increase in cancer rates in and around Fullujah, as a consequence of the Coalition forces’ use of radioactive depleted uranium munitions. Western politicians like to contrast Baghdad to the relative peace in the oil-rich Kurdish region and majority-Shia provinces. But this is illusory. The Shia in the south are relatively safer because one community dominates overwhelmingly. Unemployment is high, however, and most Shias still live in dreadful poverty. Kurds Tensions between Kurds, Arabs and other minorities simmer in the semi-independent Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). Much to the chagrin of the central Baghdad government, the Kurdish regime has made 50 oil and gas deals with foreign companies and exports oil directly to Turkey. After decades of brutal oppression, many Kurds hope they can move towards real self-determination. But the KRG is surrounded by states that have a long history of oppressing Kurds. The reactionary Kurdish leaders are in ‘alliances’ with the US and Turkey, one of the worst perpetrators of Kurdish oppression. An indication of the growing conflict over oil and territory between KRG and the central Iraqi regime is seen by clashes between Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Iraqi troops. The removal of Saddam has not made the world a “safer place”, as Bush/Blair promised. In fact, the world became much more violent and volatile. Saddam did not have “weapons of mass destruction” but after the 2003 invasion “rogue state” regimes, such as North Korea, concluded that only way to stop a US-led attack against them was to acquire them. Despite imperialism’s setbacks in Iraq, the US and Britain continue to wage conflicts around the world to further their vital interests. Trying to create distance from Blair’s war, Ed Miliband said the Iraq war was a mistake but he continues to support British troops in Afghanistan and does not call for an end to US drone strikes. The 2003 war and occupation have had long-term consequences for the region. Putting Western forces in Iraq was meant to further isolate and encircle Iran. However, Tehran found it had influence over the Shia-dominated Iraq government and the regional ‘Shia Arc’ was strengthened. Partly to counter Iran, reactionary Gulf states and Western imperialism are meddling in Syria, exploiting the Sunni-based opposition to Assad. The Syrian conflict is spreading to Lebanon and Iraq, where a ‘Sunni Spring’ has seen mass opposition demonstrations in Sunni areas. Revolution The majority of Iraqis do not want to be dragged back to the horrors of civil war. But to stop more conflicts, to end imperialist interference and to kick out the corrupt, reactionary ruling elites, working people need an alternative. Iraq had a powerful Left until it was crushed by a CIA-backed coup in the 1960s and, later, by the Saddam regime. The most important lesson from that tragedy and from the horrors of the last decade is the need for working people to have an independent, class-based party to fight for their interests. Such a party would demand the nationalisation of the oil riches, under democratic public ownership, to benefit the masses. As the 2011 revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia showed, mass struggles will develop against tyrants, and despite the movements’ limitations, can throw them from power. But to succeed in making fundamental system change, working people need a socialist programme, in each country, regionally and internationally. Before the first Gulf War and years of sanctions, the literacy rate in Iraq was more than 90%, 92% of Iraqis had safe water and 93% enjoyed free health care. In 2011 after years of imperialist occupation, 78% adults are literate and 50% of Iraqis lived in slum conditions (17% in 2000). Over 1 million Iraqis are ‘internally displaced. Nearly half of the capital’s 400,000 ‘internal refugees’ (displaced victims of sectarian terror) live in squalor in squatter settlements. A quarter of Iraqi families live below the poverty line, according to the World Bank. Less than 40% of adults have jobs. Millions lack electricity, clean water and other essential services.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Capital acting as a barrier to itself

Many economists and Marxists too have struggled with the reasons for crises in the capitalist system. Well the whole system is based on contradictions which become greater and greater as the system develops into a more advanced economic system. As a Marxist I follow the writings of Karl Marx not dogmatically but by applying his theories to the current situation today. I am a big supporter of Marx’s theory of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall and believe firmly that this is where Marxists and economists alike should be focusing their studying time. I’ve just finished the section the 3 chapters which I think are crucial in Marx’s capital Vol 3 are chapters 13, 14 and 15. In the first chapter 13 Marx sets out his theory of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall in a superb fashion going on in the other two chapters to explain what counter actions could be put in place to slow or decrease the fall of the rate of profit to fall whilst upholding that this can only ever be temporary and eventually the economic crash is not far away and counter measures o stem the crisis like we are seeing right now will only delay the eventual slump and depression. Capitalists area always having to update and improve their modes of production speed up the process buy more effective and efficient machinery and this as a result takes away the role of a labourer or two this as we know diminishes the rate of surplus value due to the need to improve production forces yet the source of a capitalist profit from the embodiment of human wage labour is reduced to the addition of new machines causing the rate of profit to fall s a result. This is a natural process as to remain competitive the capitalist must cut his production costs in terms of his constant capital and his means of production. The e rules of competition require the capitalist to constantly try and out do his competitors to steal a march in the market and to eventually drive out his competitors he does this in several ways. Karl Marx writes in his supplementary remarks in chapter 15 of volume 3 “While the circulating part of constant capital, such as raw materials, etc., continually increases its mass in proportion to the productivity of labour, this is not the case with fixed capital, such as buildings, machinery, and lighting and heating facilities, etc. Although in absolute terms a machine becomes dearer with the growth of its bodily mass, it becomes relatively cheaper. If five labourers produce ten times as much of a commodity as before, this does not increase the outlay for fixed capital ten-fold; although the value of this part of constant capital increases with the development of the productiveness, it does not by any means increase in the same proportion. We have frequently pointed out the difference in the ratio of constant to variable capital as expressed in the fall of the rate of profit, and the difference in the same ratio as expressed in relation to the individual commodity and its price with the development of the productivity of labour. [The value of a commodity is determined by the total labour-time of past and living labour incorporated in it. The increase in labour productivity consists precisely in that the share of living labour is reduced while that of past labour is increased, but in such a way that the total quantity of labour incorporated in that commodity declines; in such a way, therefore, that living labour decreases more than past labour increases. The past labour contained in the value of a commodity — the constant part of capital — consists partly of the wear and tear of fixed, partly of circulating, constant capital entirely consumed by that commodity, such as raw and auxiliary materials. The portion of value deriving from raw and auxiliary materials must decrease with the increased productivity of labour, because with regard to these materials the productivity expresses itself precisely by reducing their value. On the other hand, it is most characteristic of rising labour productivity that the fixed part of constant capital is strongly augmented, and with it that portion of its value which is transferred by wear and tear to the commodities. For a new method of production to represent a real increase in productivity, it must transfer a smaller additional portion of the value of fixed capital to each unit of the commodity in wear and tear than the portion of value deducted from it through the saving in living labour; in short, it must reduce the value of the commodity. It must obviously do so even if, as it occurs in some cases, an additional value goes into the value of the commodity for more or dearer raw or auxiliary materials over and above the additional portion for wear and tear of the fixed capital. All additions to the value must be more than offset by the reduction in value resulting from the decrease in living labour. This reduction of the total quantity of labour going into a commodity seems, accordingly, to be the essential criterion of increased productivity of labour, no matter under what social conditions production is carried on. Productivity of labour, indeed, would always be measured by this standard in a society, in which producers regulate their production according to a preconceived plan, or even under simple commodity-production. But how does the matter stand under capitalist production? Suppose, a certain line of capitalist industry produces a normal unit of its commodity under the following conditions: The wear and tear of fixed capital amounts to ½ shilling per piece; raw and auxiliary materials go into it to the amount of 17½ shillings per piece; wages, 2 shillings; and surplus-value, 2 shillings at a rate of surplus-value of 100%. Total value = 22 shillings. We assume for the sake of simplicity that the capital in this line of production has the average composition of social capital, so that the price of production of the commodity is identical with its value, and the profit of the capitalist with the created surplus-value. Then the cost-price of the commodity = ½ + 17½ + 2 = 20s. the average rate of profit 2/20 = 10%, and the price of production per piece of the commodity, like its value = 22s. Suppose a machine is invented which reduces by half the living labour required per piece of the commodity, but trebles that portion of its value accounted for by the wear and tear of the fixed capital. In that case, the calculation is: Wear and tear = 1½ s., raw and auxiliary materials, as before, 17½s. wages, 1s., surplus-value 1s., total 21s. The commodity then falls 1s. In value; the new machine has certainly increased the productivity of labour. But the capitalist sees the matter as follows: his cost-price is now 1½s. For wear, 17½s. For raw and auxiliary materials, 1s. For wages, total 20s., as before. Since the rate of profit is not immediately altered by the new machine, he will receive 10% over his cost-price, that is, 2s. The price of production, then, remains unaltered = 22s., but is 1s. Above the value. For a society producing under capitalist conditions the commodity has not cheapened. The new machine is no improvement for it. The capitalist is, therefore, not interested in introducing it. And since its introduction would make his present, not as yet worn-out, machinery simply worthless, would turn it into scrap-iron, hence would cause a positive loss, he takes good care not to commit this, what is for him a utopian, mistake. The law of increased productivity of labour is not, therefore, absolutely valid for capital. So far as capital is concerned, productiveness does not increase through a saving in living labour in general, but only through a saving in the paid portion of living labour, as compared to labour expended in the past, as we have already indicated in passing in Book I (Kap. XI II, 2, 5. 409/398). [English edition: Ch. XV, 2. — Ed.] Here the capitalist mode of production is beset with another contradiction. Its historical mission is unconstrained development in geometrical progression of the productivity of human labour. It goes back on its mission whenever, as here, it checks the development of productivity. It thus demonstrates again that it is becoming senile and that it is more and more outlived.] [1] Under competition, the increasing minimum of capital required with the increase in productivity for the successful operation of an independent industrial establishment, assumes the following aspect: As soon as the new, more expensive equipment has become universally established, smaller capitals are henceforth excluded from this industry. Smaller capitals can carry on independently in the various spheres of industry only in the infancy of mechanical inventions. Very large undertakings, such as railways, on the other hand, which have an unusually high proportion of constant capital, do not yield the average rate of profit, but only a portion of it, only an interest. Otherwise the general rate of profit would have fallen still lower. But this offers direct employment to large concentrations of capital in the form of stocks. Growth of capital, hence accumulation of capital, does not imply a fall in the rate of profit, unless it is accompanied by the aforementioned changes in the proportion of the organic constituents of capital. Now it so happens that in spite of the constant daily revolutions in the mode of production, now this and now that larger or smaller portion of the total capital continues to accumulate for certain periods on the basis of a given average proportion of those constituents, so that there is no organic change with its growth, and consequently no cause for a fall in the rate of profit. This constant expansion of capital, hence also an expansion of production, on the basis of the old method of production which goes quietly on while new methods are already being introduced at its side, is another reason, why the rate of profit does not decline as much as the total capital of society grows. The increase in the absolute number of labourers does not occur in all branches of production, and not uniformly in all, in spite of the relative decrease of variable capital laid out in wages. In agriculture, the decrease of the element of living labour may be absolute. At any rate, it is but a requirement of the capitalist mode of production that the number of wage-workers should increase absolutely, in spite of its relative decrease. Labour-power becomes redundant for it as soon as it is no longer necessary to employ it for 12 to 15 hours daily. A development of productive forces which would diminish the absolute number of labourers, i.e., enable the entire nation to accomplish its total production in a shorter time span, would cause a revolution, because it would put the bulk of the population out of the running. This is another manifestation of the specific barrier of capitalist production, showing also that capitalist production is by no means an absolute form for the development of the productive forces and for the creation of wealth, but rather that at a certain point it comes into collision with this development. This collision appears partly in periodical crises, which arise from the circumstance that now this and now that portion of the labouring population becomes redundant under its old mode of employment. The limit of capitalist production is the excess time of the labourers. The absolute spare time gained by society does not concern it. The development of productivity concerns it only in so far as it increases the surplus labour-time of the working-class, not because it decreases the labour-time for material production in general. It moves thus in a contradiction. We have seen that the growing accumulation of capital implies its growing concentration. Thus grows the power of capital, the alienation of the conditions of social production personified in the capitalist from the real producers. Capital comes more and more to the fore as a social power, whose agent is the capitalist. This social power no longer stands in any possible relation to that which the labour of a single individual can create. It becomes an alienated, independent, social power, which stands opposed to society as an object, and as an object that is the capitalist's source of power. The contradiction between the general social power into which capital develops, on the one hand, and the private power of the individual capitalists over these social conditions of production, on the other, becomes ever more irreconcilable, and yet contains the solution of the problem, because it implies at the same time the transformation of the conditions of production into general, common, social, conditions. This transformation stems from the development of the productive forces under capitalist production, and from the ways and means by which this development takes place. No capitalist ever voluntarily introduces a new method of production, no matter how much more productive it may be, and how much it may increase the rate of surplus-value, so long as it reduces the rate of profit. Yet every such new method of production cheapens the commodities. Hence, the capitalist sells them originally above their prices of production, or, perhaps, above their value. He pockets the difference between their costs of production and the market-prices of the same commodities produced at higher costs of production. He can do this, because the average labour-time required socially for the production of these latter commodities is higher than the labour-time required for the new methods of production. His method of production stands above the social average. But competition makes it general and subject to the general law. There follows a fall in the rate of profit — perhaps first in this sphere of production, and eventually it achieves a balance with the rest — which is, therefore, wholly independent of the will of the capitalist. Three cardinal facts of capitalist production: 1) Concentration of means of production in few hands, whereby they cease to appear as the property of the immediate labourers and turn into social production capacities. Even if initially they are the private property of capitalists. These are the trustees of bourgeois society, but they pocket all the proceeds of this trusteeship. 2) Organisation of labour itself into social labour: through co-operation, division of labour, and the uniting of labour with the natural sciences. In these two senses, the capitalist mode of production abolishes private property and private labour, even though in contradictory forms. 3) Creation of the world-market. The stupendous productivity developing under the capitalist mode of production relative to population, and the increase, if not in the same proportion, of capital-values (not just of their material substance), which grow much more rapidly than the population, contradict the basis, which constantly narrows in relation to the expanding wealth, and for which all this immense productiveness works. They also contradict the conditions under which this swelling capital augments its value. Hence the crises. References Karl Marx capital volume 3 Penguin edition http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch15.htm

The Socialist Way: People's Assembly or a day out for the champagne s...

The Socialist Way: People's Assembly or a day out for the champagne s...: Over 3,500 people I believe, are now registered for the People’s Assembly Against Austerity that me ets here in London on Saturday. An...

Thursday, 20 June 2013

A people’s assembly, how about a workers assembly?

This weekend sees the people’s assembly’s national centre piece in Westminster hall. While all forms of getting together of anti austerity advocates is to be welcome I am left wondering about this mass gathering of the great and the good. I think we should be rightly wary of such an event and should not be afraid to raise our criticisms already. We may be told oh well it hasn’t happened yet don’t write it off just yet well I’m sorry we on the left have history with those who are involved and are backing this latest campaign. The Socialist Party's standpoint on fighting the cuts has been well received by many rank and file trade unionists, anti-cuts campaigners and others. Among its key elements are the need to oppose all cuts, call on anti-cuts councillors to refuse to vote for cuts, for trade unions to disaffiliate from the Labour Party; and especially for immediate preparation for coordinated national trade union action - in particular the naming of a date for a one-day general strike. The People's Assembly (PA) has received considerable funding from major trade unions, including Unite, and has attracted an audience to its regional launch meetings. The Socialist Party welcomes any forum of workers and anti-cuts activists that gives an opportunity for debate on how to take the struggle forward, so we participate in the PAs. However, they will only play a useful role if they allow democratic debate, and crucially, add their voice to those who want the trade unions to lead a serious struggle against austerity. Otherwise the PA rallies will be used as a fig-leaf by some trade union leaders to avoid their responsibility to name the day for a 24-hour general strike against the cuts. The NSSN has asked if it can have a speaker at the 22 June PA in London - to raise the campaign for a 24-hour general strike - and has offered the PA a speaker at the NSSN 29 June conference, but has not yet had a response. Nor should the genuine desire for unity among anti-cuts activists be used as an excuse to uncritically welcome people who vote for cuts onto PA platforms. Unfortunately, it's not unusual at these events for councillors who have imposed cuts at local level to be given an uncriticised platform. For example a platform speaker, Jack Scott, who was welcomed to a People's Assembly in Sheffield by its organisers last month, was the Labour council cabinet member responsible for waste management who oversaw cuts and even a strike-breaking operation against the city's recycling workers last year. Around 30 GMB members took 30 days of strike action against council cuts and a privatised waste management service that was drastically reducing their working hours and therefore their pay. Labour, Green and other councillors who pass on the Con-Dem cuts argue that it's not 'realistic' to refuse to implement every cut. Not only is it realistic - the money exists in society and more can be raised - but it's very divisive to accept some cuts, however reluctantly, and not others. Among those who put this position are defenders of the idea that after the next general election a Labour government can be pushed by its trade union affiliates to use a lighter hand with the cuts axe. Yet not only should no cuts be made, but the Labour leaders have asserted that they will uphold and continue with the present torrent of them. Those who fail to warn that Labour will be little different to the Tories are dangerously playing into the hands of Ukip. Instead of lessening Labour's cuts, right-wing union leaders of Labour affiliates such as Paul Kenny of the GMB and Dave Prentis of Unison are complicit in Labour's attacks on the working class. Demonstrations and rallies The big turnouts at some of the PA and other anti-cuts rallies and demonstrations reflect a growing desire of many people to hear an alternative to austerity and to combat it, as markedly did the massive - over half a million - 26 March 2011 TUC demonstration against spending cuts. Large events can give participants a boost by their size, but this will be combined with disappointment if the proposals from the platforms fall short of what's needed to mobilise a mass anti-austerity 'army' with a programme and strength that can decisively defeat the government's attacks. The actions being put to the 22 June assembly are: A day of civil disobedience and direct action, a day of coordinated local demonstrations, and an autumn union-backed national demonstration. These can be useful steps in contributing to the building of the anti-cuts movement but are not enough in themselves to turn the government back. Strike against cuts! The 2002-3 anti-war movement organised local actions, big rallies and a two million-strong demonstration, but those events were not enough to stop the war on Iraq, as the Socialist Party warned at the time. We argued that only through the millions in the trade unions threatening and seriously preparing for industrial action, could Blair's war plan be stopped. Many speakers at the PAs express support for strikes that have taken place and for the idea of more, which is welcome, but unfortunately it is usually without emphasising the immediate necessity of rapid preparation for national coordinated action across the public and private sector. This isn't surprising when, for example, among the leading supporters of the PA is the same right-wing Unison leadership that poured cold water on the idea of Unison members striking against a derisory 1% pay increase. The issue of democracy is crucial in the anti-cuts movement if it is to be able to challenge and overcome obstacles and arrive at unity in its direction and action. Yet in advance of the 22 June PA there is no invitation for anyone to stand for election to its leadership and the proposals being put forward can't be amended until next year. At a number of the regional PAs, supporters of the Socialist Party's ideas have been undemocratically denied a chance to speak. During PA and other anti-cuts events the Socialist Party will continue to support the right of all organisations to express their views and distribute their material. But we also call for the maximum possible unity around a clear programme of refusing to accept any cuts, of councillors refusing to implement them, and of building the momentum for determined industrial action, as the central planks of defeating austerity. We urge all those who want to build unity on this basis to attend the NSSN conference taking place at the Camden Centre in London on 29 June National Shop Stewards Network conference 29 June, 11am to 5pm Camden Centre, Judd St, London WC1H 9JE www.shopstewards.net Socialist Party news and analysis Cuts can be bea Extracts from this week’s main article in this week’s socialist http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/770/16906/19-06-2013/cuts-can-be-beaten

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Brazil social struggle reerupts in a mass form

This is not a copy of Paul Mason’s excellent book but it is seemingly kicking off in a lot of places right now. Just overnight I was reading reports from Brazil where huge protests were taking place including an invasion of the parliament. Seemingly coming out of nowhere we know as Marxists this is not true many social explosions are often waiting to burst out under the surface but need that spark often called the straw that broke the camels back in popular society yet this is a dialectical term is where quantity turns in to quality and vice versa it’s the breaking of the log jam and huge movements can break out. We saw it in London and the UK two years ago with the riots huge anger had been built up over a long while and found its expression in riots in the end. Not something we as socialists could condone but we could at the same time fully understand the anger of the young people out on the streets. Now it would seem following hot on the heels of the protests and mass movements in Turkey I’ve covered a little on my blog Brazil seems to be feeling an upsurge in struggle and this comes as no surprise. A country facing huge gulfs in wealth between the rich and the poor many are feeling alienated from the country’s levels of growth of late with Brazil’s economy receiving a boost from exports to China and feeling the effects of a growing Chinese economy. Well they have been up till now. The global economic crisis is not hiding away from China and now its export lead sub economies like Brazil now is feeling the wind. Mass demonstrations against the increase of bus fares in all major cities has sparked a wider outpouring of anger this was at we’d say the straw that broke the camel’s back here. Was that trigger that has set off much bigger protests and movements finding all sorts of expressions? André Ferrari LSR (CWI in Brazil) In São Paulo, on the night of 13 June, the military police cowardly attacked a peaceful demonstration of about 15 thousand people in the city centre. Police arrested in a totally arbitrary way 235 people, many just for being near the site of the demonstration. Some were arrested just for appearing to be a student or for carrying vinegar in their backpacks to mitigate the effects of tear gas. Riot police fired rubber bullets and bombs indiscriminately. In addition to protesters, many journalists, photographers and cameramen were injured. Even those who tried to medically assist the injured were arrested and their first aid kits were confiscated. The police crackdown comes amid a spate of attacks on social movements and the poor in general. Brazil is experiencing a new era marked by the more evident signs of crisis and the resurgence of struggles by workers and youth. The year 2012 had the highest number of strikes for the previous 16 years. Public sector workers are resisting cuts and withdrawal of rights. Also private sector workers are demanding their share in the vaunted economic growth. The political effects of these struggles were limited by the fragmentation of the movement, the character of the ruling bureaucratic union leaders as well as the weaknesses of the left opposition to the government of Dilma Rousseff of the Workers Party (PT). However, 2013, has shown ongoing erosion of the political support for the government and the emergence of a new consciousness among broad sectors of youth and workers. The image of Brazil as a country moving towards the “1st world” is heavily eroded by a situation of very low growth (less than 1% in 2012) along with high inflation, which mainly affects the poor. At the same moment that the federal government has taken a shift to the right in economic policy (increase in interest rates, privatization of ports, airports, oil fields, etc.) its support in the polls dropped 8% since March (65% to 57%). Transport fare increase triggers struggles in big cities In recent weeks, we have been seeing an explosion of popular struggles, led by the youth ignited by increases in public transport fares. In many state capitals and major cities, the demonstrations have assumed a qualitatively and quantitatively higher dimension than in previous movements. In many of them, such as Porto Alegre, Goiânia, Teresina and Natal, the increase in fares was reversed following protests. At this time, the main stage of the struggle is the city of São Paulo. With four different demonstrations since June 6, the movement is growing every day. The immediate demand is to reduce the bus and subway fares from 3.20 to 3,00 reals, but the movement also questions the logic of the transport system in the city, dedicated exclusively to the profits of a handful of employers. Expensive fares, overcrowding and poor conditions represent a daily nightmare for workers and students who have to travel every day in a giant metropolis. In Brazil, it is estimated that 37 million people are excluded from public transport because of high prices. Tens of millions more spend much of their income to travel to work and study amid a chaotic transport of poor quality. One of the demands raised by the movement is a zero-tariff for transport in São Paulo. The idea is that companies and the richer layers of the population should pay the biggest share the costs of transport and not the workers and students. The PT defended the zero-rate project in the 1980s, when the party was still on the left and was based on social movements. The current PT government in the city, headed by mayor, Fernando Haddad, rejects this project today, refuses to reverse the privatizations in the transport system and operates with a canine fidelity towards transport businessmen. The state government of São Paulo, headed by Geraldo Alckmin of the PSDB, the main right wing opposition party to the federal government of the PT, and responsible for the São Paulo subway, also refuses to discuss these demands. Alckmin promotes a process of privatization of new subway lines and is responsible for the brutal repressive response by the Military Police of São Paulo during the demonstrations. Many young workers who voted for Haddad and the PT in municipal elections in October last year to avoid a new victory of the traditional right, at that time headed by PSDB candidate José Serra, today are deeply disappointed with the PT. The unity of PT with the PSDB against the demands of the movement and the policy of repression of demonstrations is alienating large sectors of their social and electoral base. World Cup Crimes The big events to be held in the country in the coming years (World Cup in 2014 and Olympics in Rio 2016) are serving as a pretext for a real urban counter-reform in the big cities. The construction projects related to the World Cup are causing the removal of thousands of families from their homes to make way for real estate speculation. Instead of serving the people, cities are increasingly shaped to serve capital. The space of the city is for sale and any obstacle in the way of profit must be eliminated. All this is under a façade of modernization and social peace. Stadiums are privatized, corruption runs rampant in the construction projects of the Cup, overexploitation of construction workers have caused accidents and deaths, contractors in collusion with governments are profiting exorbitantly while the rights of residents of big cities are trampled on. Today, June 14, begins a campaign of national struggles of popular movements for housing, the Urban Resistance Front, along with the World Cup Popular Committees, to denounce the World Cup crimes. Repression and criminalization of social movements Faced with the rise of struggles and the need to block the demonstrations on the eve of the Confederations Cup (which starts on June 15), the police crackdown on the protests has intensified dramatically. Occupying the streets, a basic democratic right, is prohibited. In many cities, the police crackdown on demonstrations reminds us of the military dictatorship. Judicial decisions prohibiting demonstrations, along with police bullets and bombs against demonstrators, shows that we live in a moment of serious attacks on the basic democratic rights of the people. After a strong media campaign saying that the protesters against the increase in transport fares were vandals and hooligans and thus justifying and supporting police repression, the intense repression of the demonstration on June 13 caused a great commotion and even media itself had to change its tone. In São Paulo, on the night of June 13, the military police cowardly attacked a peaceful and organized demonstration of about 15 thousand people in the city centre. Police arrested in a totally arbitrary way 235 people. Riot police fired rubber bullets and bombs indiscriminately. In addition to protesters, many journalists, photographers and cameramen were injured. The police crackdown comes amid a spate of attacks on social movements and the poor in general. In big cities like Sao Paulo and Rio, black youth in the suburbs live a real situation of slaughter. Rapesin Rio de Janeiro has greatly increased in the last period. The racist police violence, impunity of action by death squads, violence against women, the criminalization of poverty and repression on the right of popular organizations, are a reality in the suburbs. Landless rural leaders have been murdered in a systematic way and recently two indigenous leaders (the ethnic Terena and Guarani-Kaiwoas) fighting against agro-business and the government for the demarcation of their land were also killed. The struggle in defence of democratic rights acquires a central importance in the context of the World Cup, with the attempt to create a real state of emergency in the country, banning demonstrations and free expression. The city for the workers, the youth and people! These struggles for public transport, housing and the democratic right to occupy the streets should be unified into a great national movement for the right of the workers, youth and people to own and control their own cities. As a result of this fight it would be possible to reconstruct the basis for unification and reorganization of fighting workers’, popular and student movements, independent of governments and employers. A national meeting of workers and youth to carry out a plan of struggle could be built and advanced in the direction of building new united tool of struggle. That’s what LSR (CWI in Brazil) advocates in the social movements we take part in and inside PSOL (Party of Socialism and Freedom). We stand for : • Immediate reduction of transport fares! Fight for zero tariffs – make the employers pay for public transport! Nationalization of public transport under democratic workers’ and users’ control! Non-payment of the debt to the bankers and speculators and massive investment in public transport! • End the removals of residents! No to sexual exploitation! Fight against rape and violence against women! • Ensure the rights of construction workers on World Cup projects! No to privatization of Maracanã and corruption in the building sites of the World Cup! Demarcation of indigenous lands! No to emergency laws imposed by FIFA - the right to organization, expression and manifestation! • No to the repression of demonstrations of youth and workers! No to criminalization and increased use of the judicial system against social struggle. Immediate freedom for all political prisoners in the fight against rising public transport fares and other movements. No to the slaughter of black youth in the suburbs! • For a national day of united struggle around the demands for public transport, affordable housing, against the crimes of the World Cup and in defence of the right to protest and against the criminalization and repression of the social movements. • For a national meeting of workers and youth to build a plan of action and a united nation forum of struggles.

Monday, 17 June 2013

G8 Summit, no to austerity, for a socialist alternative

www.socialistworld.net, 17/06/2013 website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI End the rule of big business, poverty and war Article courtesy of comrade Niall Mulholland, CWI The leaders of the most powerful nations in the world will soon descend on Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, for the 17-18 June G8 Summit. We can expect much empty rhetoric from David Cameron, Barack Obama and other world leaders about how Northern Ireland is a model for ’peace, stability and growing prosperity’, which the G8 wishes to emulate on an international level. Nothing could be further from the truth. Northern Ireland has some of the highest rates of poverty and joblessness on these islands and society remains divided along sectarian lines. The huge security operation surrounding the summit is like the worst of the ’Troubles’. Thousands of armed police and military equipment will flood Fermanagh. These repressive measures are an attempt to intimidate workers and young people from protesting against the G8’s policies. And there is a lot to protest! The G8 heads of state lead the way in making the working class pay for the crisis of their capitalist system. Austerity policies have caused Depression-era conditions in Greece, which will soon be repeated in Cyprus. Mass unemployment stalks the EU, officially at nearly 20%. Youth joblessness in Spain is over 60% and around 80% in Greece. The G8’s austerity policies are not working. Most of Europe is in deep recession or facing economic stagnation. The US has feeble growth but also falling wages and rising social inequality. The G8 represents the opposite of ’prosperity, peace and stability’. Under the capitalist profit system, almost half of the world’s population struggles to live on less than $2.5 a day. The G8 represents the super-rich 1%. The ’great philanthropist’ Bill Gates, of Microsoft, has total wealth estimated at $66 billion, which is enough to end world poverty and still leave him with change. One of the G8’s stated purposes is to "save" African people from starvation - by corporate land grabs and control of the continent’s markets! The G8 also represents a system that causes war and environmental destruction. Since the economic crisis began, a staggering $1.75 trillion was spent by world powers on the highly lucrative arms industry. Working class The current Turkish uprising, which started in Taksim Square, is encouraging anti-G8 protesters in Belfast and Fermanagh, despite the security clampdown. The magnificent movement in Turkey has the potential to bring together working people across ethnic and national divisions, linking up with the organised working class, to become an unstoppable force to change society. The ’G8 Not Welcome’ campaign, initiated by the Socialist Party in Northern Ireland, will hold a demonstration in Enniskillen on 17 June, the first day of the Summit. This protest, with trade union backing, will bring together Catholic and Protestant youth, socialists, trade unionists and others. But marching together is not enough. A workers’ alternative to the G8 and pro-big business parties is needed in Northern Ireland, Britain and everywhere. The Socialist Party in Northern Ireland, like the Socialist Party in England and Wales, is an affiliate to the CWI. It calls for mass opposition to G8 policies and the local sectarian-based parties and their cuts. The CWI campaigns for jobs, homes, a living wage and decent benefits. It fights for socialism - democratic public ownership and planning of the major industries and banks which would unleash colossal wealth and resources for the benefit of the ’99%’ - to end the rule of big business, poverty and war.