Friday 28 May 2010

“All those who work for the state should be respected and their contribution valued..."

Finally, a politician prepared to say something decent about public sector workers - to offset the insults, stereotyping and caricature we normally have to put up with.

The above quote comes from Caroline Lucas' maiden speech to Parliament this week.

I'm not in her party but respect where it's due.

Greece – a struggle for all Europe’s workers

This is the text of Aris Vasilopoulos’ speech in Brighton last night

Dear friends and comrades, thank you for the invitation to speak, and I convey you the warmest greetings from Kokkino (Red) and SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left).
The first thing I want to do is to give you a very short view of what’s happening in Greece:
Marx once said that there are occasions where 50 years look like one day, and other occasions where one day is similar to 50 years. This is the feeling we have in Greece after the establishment of the so called support mechanism and the supervision of the Greek economy by the International Monetary Fund- the European Commission and the European Central Bank. This is also our feeling after the 4 general strikes and the most massive mobilisations in Greece over the last 35 years. Just to give you an idea of ordinary people’s anger, for the last two months politicians of PASOK and Nea Dimokratia, whenever they appear, are beaten by ordinary people who call them thieves. What I’m trying to tell you with this is that nothing is the same in Greece anymore. Nothing is the same as before in terms of the social impact of the draconian measures that have been imposed, which is very severe for the workers, nothing in terms of the social resistance which is very intense and widespread, as well as in terms of the political shake up we already experience. This period will be marked by a significant movement of the working class and the emergence of the subordinate classes as a determining political factor.

Let me mention just some of the measures already been taken by the government in order to provide an explanation on why there is so much anger:

Public sector pay is frozen until 2014. This will mean a cut of more than 15% in wages since the inflation rate in Greece is 4.8%, the highest in EU.

They abolished the Christmas, Easter and summer holiday “bonuses” in the public sector and the pensions, also known as 13th and 14th salaries, which amounts to a 16% loss.

They made draconian cuts to public spending (more than 40%), which means less education, health and social security.

They plan to raise the retirement age by 5 years and reduce the level of pensions

People starting work for the first time will be paid 20% less than the “normal” workers; it will be a kind of apprenticeship where the boss keeps the right to fire them without compensation within 12 months.

Governments and media across Europe are trying hard to convince their peoples that what happens in Greece is a solely Greek phenomenon. They are slandering Greek workers by saying that they are lazy, they are thieves, they have high standards of living etc. They present the Greek economy as a Soviet-style economy with a bloated public sector. This is bullshit, it is black propaganda. According to the National Statistics agency, 22% of Greeks live below the poverty line which is 6,500 Euros per year for one person households.

What they are trying to conceal is that what happens right now in Greece is indicative of the deepening of the capitalist crisis that broke out in 2007 and now takes the form of the debt crisis in almost all the Western economies. They treat Greek workers and youth as laboratory animals in order to discipline the peoples of Europe to accept similar cuts. Austerity measures in Greece are a pilot programme for what has already began taking place in all the European countries, Britain included.

Right now, in Germany, in Italy, in Spain, in Portugal in Denmark and Britain, there are plans to make major cuts in the public sector. Yesterday Elizabeth Windsor said that the first priority of the new government must be the reduction of the deficits and the stabilisation of the economy. Of course she could have offered her crown, which is decorated with 2000 diamonds for the reduction of the deficit, but she did not. I think this is the essence of what they are doing. They have declared war on the working class across Europe in order to keep their privileges and their profits intact.

This is why the debt is not a Greek problem; this is why the struggle of the movement in Greece is a struggle for all Europe’s workers. We have entered a period of an escalating class struggle across Europe, where what is at stake is very clear: Will we pay the crisis the capitalists created, or we will force them to pay? Will we provide a socialist alternative and say clearly that their system has failed, or we will keep paying? These are the major questions.

Two points that I think are important:

The first is the political programme the Left has to put forward as an alternative to the cuts, which in our opinion should include three main demands among others:

The first is the demand to stop paying the debt.

Greek governments spent 420 billion Euros over the last 5 years in interest payments and handouts to bankers. The debt has not been created by the Greek workers but by capitalists: Just to give you an idea of the scale of the robbery that has taken place in Greece, in the last 5 years the taxation of the big companies was reduced from 40% to 25%, which means more than 30 billion Euros less income for the budget, while the the Olympic games increased the fiscal deficit by 13 billion Euros. We cannot stand it anymore. We must choose between decent wages and the payment of the debt, and we should choose the first, like the people of Iceland did.

The second is the nationalisation of the banking system without compensating the big investors.

In Greece banks have been subsidised with more than 50 billion Euros, while they borrow from the ECT with 1% interest. They speculate against the public sector and the working class, so they should come under public control if we want to control the flow of capital for the interests of the majority of the society.

The third is the socialisation of the closing enterprises under workers and social control.

This must be our response to the unemployment which is estimated that will rise up to 20% since many enterprises will close. So far there have been a couple of occupations in factories in Greece, where two of them worked for a while under workers’ control. We must help these examples be generalised if we want to save our jobs.

The other point I want to stress is that of the need for unity among the forces of the Left and the labour movement. Despite our differences, that still exist, there is a big question posed to us: in the face of an unprecedented attack by capital, will we be able to form the widest possible front of the forces of the labour movement and the Left, or we will keep taking our own solitary way as we have used to do?
In my opinion, the response to this question will determine to a great extent the outcome of our struggles. This does not mean that we underestimate the existent political differences; it just means that the unity of action of the Left is a sine qua non if we want to win. In Greece now, despite the difficulties, there is a coordination of local labour unions and committees against the measures, which are supported by the majority of the Left forces, and this is very encouraging.
I’d like to end by reminding you that two years ago we surprised and inspired Europe with the December uprising after the assassination of a 16 year old child. I hope we do it again this time and become a source of inspiration for all workers in Europe to resist.

Thursday 27 May 2010



Press Release

Trade Unions response to the Tory/Liberal Democrats "Slash and Burn"

At a meeting on 25th May 2010 in Brighton, over 150 Trade Unionists,
politicians from the Labour Party (Gill Mitchell, Leader of the Labour
Group on BHCC), Green Party (Caroline Lucas, newly elected MP for
Brighton Pavillion) and community organisations , came together to
hear about the crisis that is imminent for the people of Brighton and

The meeting was hosted by the local UNISON Branch and the Trades Council.

Those present heard "real" news about the implications for local
workers, service users (often the most vulnerable in our community)
and the general public. These included :

Announced redundancies at City College.

The threat of more than 20 redundancies in the Museums section, as
European Funding is cut.

In BHCC the "planned" £16.8 million cut in budget next year (equal to
at least 600 jobs) may increase to £21million (equal to, at least, 800
jobs), with some, or all, of this to be implemented in the current
financial year.

The Labour Governments "Building Schools For The Future", £150 million
in Brighton and Hove (with all the jobs it would create locally) is to
be completely cut.

The £400 million earmarked for redeveloping the Royal Sussex County
Hospital will be cut.

Funding for the voluntary sector, both from the Council and from
Central Government will stop completely, or, at best, be slashed

Information received from a senior Council source, suggests cuts in
schools will total 25% in budgets, over the next 3 years. That is
simply, disastorous for our children - there will be bigger,
understaffed, classes, at best.

There is much, much more.

This crisis was caused by the private financial sector, our money was
used to prop up the Banks, and now we are being asked to pay again
with our jobs and services. The meeting was unaminous in condemning
what was called the "economics of the madhouse", and completely
rejecting David Cameron's statement that "we are all in this together"
- all the 18 Trade Unions represented entirely reject this.

All Trade Unions pledged to fight job and service cuts whether they
occur in the private, voluntary or public sector.

For UNISON, Alex Knutsen, Branch Secretary, committed the Branch to
launch a local campaign against these cuts. Delegates will also go to
the National Conference on the 14th June to call for immediate
industrial action ballots, locally, and nationally, and this will
certainly include strike action.

Alex Knutsen, said,

"This coalition government must not be allowed to get away with the
slashing of jobs and services. This is not a perfect society, but at
least we strive to provide basic protection for the most vulnerable in
our community - a civilised society stands or falls on this measure.
The claim by the Tories/Lib Dems that frontline services will be
protected would be laughable in other circumstances, but it is a
complete and utter lie.

UNISON calls upon all the people of Brighton and Hove, the public,
workers - in a Trade Union, or not, community groups, employers,
politicians, to come together on 22nd June (the day of the
Chancellor's emergency budget) to defend the services and jobs that
our local economy depends upon. This fight affects us all - it is a
fight for a decent, moral, society.

I say, "build a ring of steel" around the City - no cuts, protect our
kids, the elderly, those with disabilities, and your own services as

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Workers speak out

Around 100 people packed into the Brighthelm last night for the latest of Unison's "Workers Speak Out" meetings. On the platform were Caroline Lucas MP, Cllr Gill Mitchell (Council Labour Group Leader) and representatives from Unison, CWU and RMT.

But the main point of the meeting was to give local workers the opportunity to speak out about what's happening at work, in "one of the most advanced industrialised nations in the world".  We heard from

RMT - fighting for the Brighton train cleaners (those people who collect up all the mess when a train reaches the end of the line) who are about to be privatised by Southern Railways.  This is a highly profitable, publicly subsidised company which is threatening offload some of its lowest-paid workers to the vagaries of the private cleaning contractors, some of the worst employers in the world.

CWU - once again having to defend the Royal Mail from privatisation, this time from Vince Cable the (neo) Liberal Democrat......Lib Dem voters take note.

UNISON - preparing a fight against massive planned cuts.  Local government is set to bear the brunt of the Government's slash-and-burn policies.

NUT - successfully fighting SATS and campaigning against academies.

There were also messages from the BA cabin crew, who expressed their determination to carry on the fight against their bullying employer, and perhaps the most poignant contribution, from a young worker at call centre Telegen, who explained how the workers were lied to and cheated of their wages before the company went bust.

The politicians were politely received and Caroline Lucas in particular made a good speech, although there was some unedifying squabbling between Green and Labour activists.

Contributions from the floor included representatives from Brighton Against Benefit Cuts, who reminded the meeting of the importance of unity between employed and unemployed.

The meeting agreed to start the campagn against the cuts with a protest on 22 June, emergency budget day.  Watch this space!

Mary does a Nero.......

At last night's Unison-sponsored public meeting (see report) branch secretary Alex Knutsen gave a horrifying glimpse of the massive hole which the ConDem coalition's cuts are about to open up in the finances of the City Council. 

There is the immediate threat of the current-year cuts, plus what is in store.  There are also concerns for 21 EU-funded jobs threatened by the crisis of the Euro.  At stake is 25% - yes 25% - of the council's current spending.  The opposition is calling for an emergency budget meeting to discuss this looming crisis.

What's the Leader of the Council doing?

Writing to the police about a naked bike ride.

Sunday 23 May 2010

What's it all about comrades?

People who saw the news last night will be aware that members of the Socialist Workers Party and possibly some others from a Right to Work Conference happening nearby got into the talks at ACAS which were taking place between Willie Walsh of BA and the the leaders of Unite.  Their intervention appears to have caused the ending of the talks.

Alot of people will be wondering exactly what this apparently rather self-indulgent action was designed to achieve.  As far as anyone knows, no BA workers were involved and none were asked by the SWP whether they actually wanted them to disrupt these talks in this way. Sometimes it is good to have a demo outside negotiations and if workers involved in a dispute smell a sell-out then they may wish to take some direct action.  Neither situation seems to apply here.

Now it is certainly true that various commentators in the blogosphere who do not wish the SWP well, are using this incident to both attack the SWP and to herald its impending doom as an organisation.  To me, the charitable explanation is that some people went along to demonstrate outside the talks, someone said "let's go in", and everyone then finds alot less security than they were expecting and before they know it they have Walsh and Woodley stood in front of them.  This might explain some of the bemusement I discerned from my TV screen on the faces of  some of the people involved.

What is clear is that either the SWP needs to explain what this action was designed to achieve, and why they suddenly had the right to assume leadership of this strike......or if it was a cock-up they need to own up and apologise.  They need to do one of these things if they hope to rescue some credibility for themselves.

Tuesday 18 May 2010

Meeting : Greece revolts against IMF

Socialist Resistance meeting:

Greece revolts against IMF

THURSDAY 27 MAY, 7.30pm

Friends Meeting House, Ship Street, Brighton


Aris Vasilopoulos

Member of Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) and of the Marxist organisation Kokkino

Greece is rising up against the IMF. Workers from the public and private sectors joined up in a general strike in May, the fourth this year. Athens saw the biggest May Day marches for 25 years. Banners reading “Peoples of Europe rise up” were draped from the Acropolis.

The resistance is due to the government’s plans to drive through austerity measures after agreed with the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The EU-IMF 110 billion euro bail-out is reliant on the PASOK government pushing through harsh measures against Greek workers. Their average income has declined by 20 percent this year. The new plans include cuts of 11 percent of GDP in the next three years, a three-year wage freeze, cuts in benefits and VAT increase to 23 percent.

The EU and the IMF are planning similar measures for countries such as Portugal and Spain. A victory for workers in Greece can set an example for other workers across Europe.

Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) gained 5% of the vote at the last election and has 13 MPs.

Aris Vasilopoulos is touring Britain to report on the resistance and the challenges for the left in Greece

Organised by Socialist Resistance

Monday 17 May 2010

Armagideon time........

As Gideon George Osborne prepares his "emergency budget" the rest of us are left to wonder where the axe will fall first.

You can bet your life it won't fall on bankers' bonuses, or Trident, nor on currency speculation.  It will fall on the weakest and poorest in society.

We are being told that benefits for the "middle classes" will be cut. Welfare for the Wealthy, as Osborne offensively puts it.   What this really means is attacks on child benefit and tax credits for those in work. The real welfare for the wealthy- tax breaks, the great non-dom fiddle, and lucrative PFI contracts for private firms to build and run (badly) public services - will continue unchecked.

A lotta people won’t get no supper tonight
A lotta people won’t get no justice tonight
The battle is getting harder
In this iration, Armagieon time

A lotta people running and hiding tonight-ah!
A lotta people won’t get no justice tonight
Remember to kick it over
No one will guide you – Armagideon time

There are some people for whom the term "jerk" could have been written...

One of the joys of the election result is that we no longer have to put up with Liam Byrne in any position of responsibility (well, unless you're one his unfortunate constituents in Birmingham Hodge Hill that is).  Byrne was, until the election, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and he thought it would be a wizard wheeze to leave a note for his successor stating that "there is no money left".  The ConDem coalition is of course making hay with this, and Byrne is left to bleat pathetically that "it was only a joke" anyone's listening.
Byrne is also famous for his 11-page memo to his civil servants, titled "Working with Liam Byrne", which detailed in pompous tones his "requirements" of them - particular attention being paid to when his cappucino and espresso should be served.

He is also notorious in Birmingham for some quite vile dog-whistle election campaigning around immigration which was detailed in this article - The Low-Rent Enoch Powell.

Finally the story would not be complete without mention of Mr Byrne's passionate campaigning for tougher treatment of dangerous drivers.  He succeeded in Parliament in getting more severe punishments for drivers who use mobile phones while driving - legislation which he was able to test for himself in 2007......when he was fined £100 for driving and using a mobile at the same time (I am not making this up....)

Sunday 16 May 2010

Support Holmes and Hicks for resistance to the cuts agenda

Union election candidates unite against ‘public schoolboy Government’

It is good to see that the left candidates to lead the two largest unions in Britain are joining forces.  If you are a member of Unite or of Unison then I urge you to vote for Jerry Hicks and Paul Holmes respectively. Both candidates are arguing that their unions have spent too long kow-towing to New Labour and have sat back and allowed bosses to set the agenda.  Crucially, both pledge to take only the average wage of their members so that they do not become divorced from the realities that their members face.

Whilst Cameron and Clegg discuss working together and how to implement a ‘savage cuts’ agenda, Jerry Hicks and Paul Holmes are discussing how to lead the 2 biggest unions in a campaign to defend workers.

The leading candidates in elections for Britain's two largest unions are joining forces in a direct challenge to the new Government which is set to cut public spending and attack trade union rights.
Jerry Hicks, will be the only candidate that is not a national official of Unite and is thought by many to become the first elected General Secretary of super-union ‘Unite’ and Paul Holmes, who is standing to replace Dave Prentis as General Secretary of public service union, Unison. Are meeting in London to co-ordinate plans to organise trade union resistance to any Government plans to cut jobs and freeze pay.
"Our unions face the fight of our lives," said Holmes - Secretary of Unison's powerful Kirklees branch in Yorkshire. Jerry Hicks added, "Now more than ever we need the unions to be led by ordinary workers who understand the day to day problems which union members face."
Union insiders report increasing concern from senior officials of Unison and Unite that, following the result of the General Election, workers may reject officials seen as to close to the previous Labour Government.
This could see Jerry Hicks and Paul Holmes elected on a tide of militancy, reflected in the current dispute between Unite and British Airways.

Thursday 13 May 2010


In view of what we now face from Camclegg Inc, this is a very timely initiative.


Local Workers Speak Out


Tuesday 25th May 7.30pm

The Auditorium, Brighthelm Centre, Brighton


Caroline Lucas, MP Brighton Pavilion

Sussex UCU, currently striking against job cuts

Brighton RMT, currently re-balloting against job cuts

Sussex NUT, currently boycotting SATS tests


Nancy Platts, Labour candidate for Brighton Pavilion

BA stewards reps from Unite, currently striking against pay cuts

With the Tories now in office and promising attacks on jobs and services not seen since the 1930s, Brighton and Hove unison is hosting this public meeting.

Its aim is to bring together all those prepared to support trade unionists at the frontline of resisting the coming Tory onslaught.

* We need to prepare now to give whatever support we can to each other as our working conditions, pay, jobs, and services are attacked over the next year.

* We need to strengthen networks of support so that no group of workers is left to resist the cuts alone.

* We can also ask local political representatives, including Caroline Lucas, what they are going to do to help us.
Our last meetings were a great success with 60-70 hearing GMB reps from the bin depot, the RMT, Unite at Edwards Engineering, Sussex UCU and the FBU put their case.

As with previous meetings, there will be plenty of time to organise solidarity with existing strikers - particularly BA cabin crew.

It will also be a good opportunity to meet informally with local union activists, including the growing local trades council who are supporting this meeting.

Organised by Brighton and Hove UNISON

Supported by Brighton, Hove and District TUC and the RMT

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Crikey! Look who they've put in charge of local government!


Eric Pickles

Be very afraid!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday 10 May 2010

No to cuts yes to PR

This has got a little overtaken by events but is mostly still relevant......

No to cuts yes to PR

Socialist Resistance editorial statement 10.5.10

The outcome of the general election was the one long predicted, with no party winning a majority. Labour lost and the Tories failed to win. The Lib Dems lost the surge they had expected and the result was the first hung Parliament for over 30 years. The Lib Dems got 25% of the votes and under 10% of the seats.

None of them received the mandate they had wanted in order to implement their cuts agendas in the face of an escalating economic crisis. Whatever government emerges, therefore, the workers movement has to gear itself up for a fight on cuts.

The election arithmetic has made the Lib Dems the power broker in any post-election coalition arrangements, however, giving them the best opportunity for several generations to change the scandalous voting system with which Britain is saddled. If they blow this opportunity they will face another very long period of time rendered irrelevant by a corrupt and bizarre electoral system which awards power to political parties with scant regard to the votes they receive.

Clegg has gone to the Tories first, presumably on the basis of comments extracted from him during the campaign, to discuss a possible Tory/Lib Dem coalition on the basis of electoral reform. It is a dangerous game. Cameron responded with a typically disingenuous offer and will follow it up with cabinet positions and a taste of power for the Lib Dems to help make his offer more palatable.

Moreover, these negotiations are taking place during a crisis of the EU and growing financial instability which were sparked by the crisis and conflict taking place in Greece and which threatens to spread across southern Europe and beyond. There is a real danger that this will be used to bounce the Lib Dems into supporting the Tory cuts agenda.

This is an extremely dangerous game that the Lib Dems are playing. The Tories will stop at nothing to get their hands on the levers of power and then cling onto it. They will hope for a honeymoon period on the basis of the disingenuous manipulation of policy whilst looking for a chance for an early general election.

There is now a huge campaign by the Tory media to push the Lib Dems into the clutches of the Tories. The chance of the Tories making a genuine offer on electoral reform, however, is remote, and if they do they will ensure that it is deal they can break. The Tories will stop at nothing to preserve the status quo. They occupied government throughout more of the 20th century than any other party on the basis of first-passed-the-post, and their aim is to repeat the performance in the 21st century.

Meanwhile the priority of the Tories is to get their cuts budget through in the fastest possible time and are no doubt putting heavy pressure on the Lib Dems over this. But any deal the Lib Dems might make in order to allow them to get this through either as part of a coalition arrangement or as a deal to keep a minority Tory administration in office would not only be disastrous for the working class but ultimately disastrous for the Liberal Dems themselves — given their stance in the election campaign.

The alternative is for the Lib Dems to seek a deal with New Labour and the nationalist parties, a combination of which could also command a Commons majority. This would be no less democratic than a Tory/Lib Dem arrangement since between them Labour and the Lid Dems won 14 million votes against the Tories 10 million.

True the Lib Dems were stitched up by Tony Blair, of course, over PR after 1997. He made an agreement with them and then kicked it into the long grass when he didn’t need them any more. Brown, however, is in a very different position. A deal with the Lib Dems is the best option open for new Labour for the foreseeable future and it would be worth a genuine offer of proportional representation, which appears to be what he has offered. It would also make a future majority Tory government very unlikely since they would have to win more than 50% of the vote.

Brown has already made the offer of early legislation and an early referendum on electoral reform, though there may well be a demand for him to resign and open the door to a new Labour leader before a deal can be struck

This makes more political sense from a Lib Dem point of view than deal with the Tories — which would be bitterly controversial within their own party. They are closer to new Labour than they are to the Tories and if they go in with the Tories they would soon be faced with supporting a George Osborne emergency budget costing millions of jobs.

For such a Lib/Lab coalition to play any kind of progressive role, however, it would have to be based on two key conditions: one is genuine electoral reform in advance of the next general election based on proportional representation and the other is the abandonment of the cuts agenda as an approach to the economic crisis and its replacement by an agenda based on a programme of recovery through planned investment in green jobs.

Sunday 9 May 2010

So what happens now?

Dave Hill speaks at the count after the results are declared.  TUSC got 194 votes on a largely disappointing night for the left.  The highlights were of course the election of Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion and the smashing of the BNP challenge in Barking and Dagenham.

The real story of the election is that we may be about to be governed by an alliance of one party which could not manage to get an overall majority despite just about everything being in place for them, and another party which actually managed to do worse this time than last time.

New Labour locally wasted so much time and resource in trying to stop Lucas in Pavilion that they probably threw away the chance to hang on to both Kemptown and Hove.  Despite Hove being number 10 on their hitlist with a Labour majority of about 400, the Tories only just managed to slip past by about 1800 votes and can thank the Greens for even managing that.  But I am shedding few tears for NuLab.  The party which brought us the disaster of Iraq, the ongoing morass of Afghanistan, the love affair with big business, PFI, ID cards, and the "deregulated labour market" got its come-uppance.  What is clear is that the electorate has no enthusiasm for the idea that ordinary people should have to pay for the crisis created by the bankers and the speculators.

As I write, it seems that we will be governed by a Tory-Lib stitch-up. I don't think the numbers are there for a "progressive coalition", unless the Lib Dem rank and file get serious cold feet about getting into bed with the Tories. Even then, Labour needs just about everyone else to stand a chance of a majority.

For the Left it was a difficult night - TUSC struggled to make an impact, notwithstanding the sterling efforts of such candidates as Dave Hill , and Respect lost its one MP when it was hoping to add another two.  Even the Greens struggled nearly everywhere except the well-resourced Pavilion, though having Parliamentary representation is undoubtedly a breakthrough for them.

The lesson here is that the Left in Britain needs to lose the habit of squabbling and gain the habit of campaigning on the issues that matter to people.  There is the basis of an anti-cuts campaign locally building from March's big demonstration.  TUSC seems likely to carry on in some form and we should look to the local elections next year, whilst in the meantoime uniting to defend services and jobs in both the public and the private sector.

My comrade Liam has produced a summary of Respect's local and parliamentary election results here and here

Thursday 6 May 2010

TUSC public meeting videos

Really excellent meeting Wednesday night.  You might need to crank up the volume on these.....

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Why we support Dave

Campaign Public Meeting
Wednesday 5th May 6pm
Phoenix Centre, Phoenix Place

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Day of Action in Defence of Education

Wednesday 5th May – in Brighton

City College, University of Sussex, University of Brighton

Strike ; Demonstrate ; Rally !

On Wednesday 5th May thousands of lecturers in Further and Higher and Adult Education will be on strike. In London alone, there will be 11 FE colleges affected and three universities, Kings College, University College London (UCL) andWestminster. Here in Brighton, the lecturers and academic-related staff will be on strike at the University of Sussex.

At the University of Brighton and in City College, staff and students will be demonstrating in defence of education.

Why is this happening?

Higher education has been hit with a series of funding cuts that now total close to £1bn, while further education has been told to make savings of £340m in the next academic year. Funding cuts have now gone from tough words from party leaders for their sound-bites ahead of an election to the stark reality of people losing jobs, potential students missing out on education, and existing students facing larger classes and less access to tutors and to services.

All of this, we must remember, is to pay for the deficits created by the bankers’ crisis, and for the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq, adventures to which the majority in the country is opposed.

Sally Hunt, the General Secretary of the lecturers’ union (the UCU), condemned the cuts: 'All the tough talk about cuts has moved on and it is no longer figures on paper, but people's jobs and access to education that are disappearing.

We believe in the power of education to make a real difference to peoples’ lives and do not think we should be slashing funding at a time when more people than ever need access to education. UCU members are still on the side of education and they will be fighting to save jobs and defend education.'

That is why there is strike action on May 5th, on the eve of the General Election, and why the UCU is holding rallies and demonstrations up and down the country in defence of education.

To all students and staff at universities and colleges in the Sussex area and all local people and trade unionists who do not believe that education should be sacrificed for the bankers  or for the cost of the wars, …


• visit the UCU picket lines at the University of Sussex at any time

during the day of the 5th to bring solidarity greetings;

• join UCU members and students from City College, and the Universities of Brighton and Sussex, on the demonstrationthrough Brighton (Wednesday afternoon (5th May)) at 4.30 from The Level on the Lewes Road to The Old Ship Hotel on the seafront;

• whether you are staff or students or a member of the public, come to the UCU rally in The Old Ship Hotel by Ship Street from

5.30 – 8.00 (May 5th).

Chair: Jelena Timotijevic (UCU Brighton). Speakers to include:

Alasdair Hunter (National President of the UCU); Paul Cecil and Jim Guild (Chair and Secretary of the UCU

at the University of Sussex); Tom Wills (President) and Syed Bokhiri from the University of Sussex

Students’ Union; members of the University of Brighton Students’ Union; Sue Tribe (Adult and Continuing

Education, Brighton); Tom Hickey (University of Brighton and National Executive UCU); Micheal O’Connell

and Alison Kelly (Brighton City College); Michael Moran (Regional Official, UCU); …

… and prospective Parliamentary candidates who have been invited to give their views on the education


Respect fighting in Tower Hamlets!

                                        A bit of rain did not stop dozens of activists by foot, car and battle bus leaflet all over Tower Hamlets this morning .......but that was just the start!
About one thousand Respect supporters gathered in Altab Ali Park this afternoon and marched noisily up Brick Lane calling for a vote for Abjol Miah and George Galloway on 6th May.

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Two candidates challenging the "cuts consensus"

It was great to get to the Unemployed Centre Mayday Festival on Monday to see two candidates who DON'T think that ordinary people should pay for the crisis.

For Pavilion, Green candidate Caroline Lucas, and for Kemptown, TUSC candidate Dave Hill.

Did anyone in New Labour even remember that this was Mayday weekend...or what Mayday is...?

Monday 3 May 2010

Mayday statement from the Greek Communist Party

Comrades, workers, Greeks and immigrants, young women and men, pensioners, unemployed,

KKE calls you to turn the events of this year’s 1st May in honour of the struggles and the sacrifices of our class into a new beginning of class political awareness and militant uplift in order to repel and overthrow the criminal policy of the government and the plutocracy that leads the working class, our families and children to the most savage and brutal exploitation, to permanent poverty and unemployment.

It is our duty, especially towards young workers, men and women, towards the children of the workers and the people, to defend the conquests that the previous generations have shed their blood for. Nobody should be afraid to make sacrifices for the struggle; nobody should succumb to the dark days, the result of this policy that serves the profitability and the reinforcement of the monopolies. It’s time to rise up with class unity and people’s mobilisation against the war on our rights. To struggle for our rights and for our children’s future. Our class has the power and the capability to lead the formation of a great antimonopoly, anti-imperialist, democratic front that will overthrow the power of the monopolies and will struggle for people’s power.

People should have no trust in the parties of the plutocracy or in the EU.

The brutal anti-labour measures of the PASOK government, supported by the parties ND and LAOS, will persist and will escalate as long as the workers and the people do not show their real strength. The subversion of social security rights, the dramatic increase in retirement age limits, the drastic cuts on pensions and benefits, the abolition of restrictions on mass dismissals, the elimination of Collective Labour Agreements, even the abolition of the basic salary and the generalisation of the temporary and flexible employment are measures predetermined years ago.

Their goal is the labour force to become even cheaper, the young people to be deprived of fundamental rights as regards labour, education and healthcare services. The same measures are promoted in all EU countries as require the interests of the capitalists.

They want the workers to pay for the capitalist crisis and the impasse of their aged, outmoded capitalist system.

Capitalism cannot become human; neither can it avoid the crises. It is not a one-way road. The more powerful the monopolies get, the more the workers and the people will suffer, the greater parasitism, corruption and barbarity will become.

Today, more than ever, the material preconditions in order for the people to have contemporary rights and stable secure job actually exist. The working time and the retirement age limits can be reduced, Health and Welfare services, Education, housing, sports and cultural activities can be free and contemporary. Do not tolerate the deterioration of the terms of your life.

You have already experienced the path of development that serves the capitalist profit. It will only place new burdens on your shoulders. However, there is a way out.

There is a path of development that serves workers’ and people’s needs. It’s the path of people’s power, of people’s economy.

It is imperative our class to trust and use its own strength.

The working class is the most powerful social force. It produces the wealth; it creates and makes the factories, the enterprises and the infrastructure work. Greece has natural resources that are required for the development of the country in favour of the people.

The basic preconditions are all monopolies to become popular-social property and to be subjected to central planning and to social and workers’ control, as well as our country to be disengaged from the imperialist organisations.

Reject the slander and the lies of the supporters of capitalism about the socialist construction in the 20th century. It has been the first attempt to construct socialism which despite the difficult conditions and the mistakes proved that the working class and the people can live much better without capitalists.

It proved that the planned social production can bring an overall development without crises and at the benefit of all the people. We draw lessons from the achievements but also from the mistakes made during this great effort so as to construct socialism with confident steps, to achieve unprecedented incomparably greater gains.
Workers, young people
Trust KKE!

The Central Committee assures you that our party will devote all its forces to the unwavering defense of the rights, the present and the future of our class. However, we cannot win the general war that plutocracy and its parties launched against our rights without your participation in the struggle.

Join the struggle without any delay; for a movement with strong roots in the workplaces and the sectors; with a strong class unity and solidarity liberated from corporatism, yellow trade unionism, the erosive influence of labour aristocracy that spreads the poison of submission and defeatism.

Rely on your party and support it in the big coming struggles, for the big radical change; for the rights, the power of the working class, for socialism. This is our class patriotic duty for the present and the future of our class, our internationalist duty towards the working people of Europe and all over the world who suffer from capitalist exploitation and the plundering by the monopolies.

Nowadays, we have to struggle without any compromise, we deserve a better life where the needs of the people will be satisfied.

Honour and glory to the victims of our class, to the class struggles; their sacrifices have yield fruits; they call us to new and victorious struggles. The future is in our hands.

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Sunday 2 May 2010

Celebrate May Day!

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