Friday, October 13, 2017

Salute to Korean communists

by New Worker
Song Gi Kim, Michael Chant and Dermot Hudson
COMRADES and friends met to celebrate the 72nd Anniversary of the Workers’ Party of Korea at a Friends of Korea meeting at the John Buckle Centre in south London on Monday.
Song Gi Kim from the Democratic Korean embassy in London, Michael Chant from the RCPB(ML) and Dermot Hudson from the Korean Friendship Association all spoke about the historic role of the Korean communist movement in the liberation struggle against Japanese colonial rule, and the subsequent battles to defeat American imperialism and build the modern socialist republic of today.
The Co-ordinating Committee of the Friends of Korea brings together all the major movements active in Korean friendship and solidarity work in Britain today. It is chaired by Andy Brooks and the secretary is Michael Chant. The committee organises meetings throughout the year, which are publicised by the supporting movements and on the Friends of Korea website.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

When the Blackshirts were stopped in their tracks!

Andy Brooks with London, Italian and Greek comrades by the mural

by New Worker correspondent
 Hundreds of thousands of anti-fascists took to the streets of London’s East End on Sunday 4th October, 1936 to stop Sir Oswald Mosley’s fascist Blackshirts marching through a predominantly Jewish part of London. Communists played a major part in the mobilisation along with members of the Independent Labour Party and the Jewish Ex-Servicemen’s Association, and their efforts were recalled by British, Italian and Greek communists at a ceremony in London’s historic East End last weekend.
London communists joined comrades from Greece and Italy at the Cable Street mural on Saturday to remember the Cable Street fighters and all the anti-fascists who fought in the Second World War for a better world.
NCP leader Andy Brooks and Alfredo Maira from the Communist Party of Italy’s Pietro Secchia (UK) branch paid tribute to the East Enders’ heroic stand against fascism that stopped the Blackshirts in their tracks in 1936.
On the eve of the Mosley march the Daily Worker warned that: “The fascists are pouring out unimaginable filth against the Jews. The attack on the Jews has been the well-known device of every bloodthirsty, reactionary, unpopular regime for centuries.” The issue was “not merely a question of elementary human rights…the attack on the Jews is the beginning of the attack to wipe out the socialist movement, trade unionism and democracy in Britain.”
On the day some 3,000 Blackshirts and thousands of police were met by a hostile crowd who had erected barricades to stop the fascists marching. After hours of clashes with the police and many arrests the police told Mosley that the march would have to be abandoned.
The massive mural, painted by a number of local artists, was started in 1979 and finally completed in 1983. The work has been vandalised by fascists several times but it was substantially restored in 2011.
 The design was based on original photographs of the battle and the buildings of the day. Some of the people who took part in the battle are depicted in the mural along with others who symbolise the people of the East End today.

Friday, October 06, 2017

US out of Korea!

Andy Brooks with picketers outside the embassy
 By New Worker correspondent
NCP leader Andy Brooks joined other Korean solidarity activists protesting outside the centre of US imperialism in London last weekend. London comrades and members of the
British section of the Italian Communist Party gave out leaflets calling for solidarity with Democratic Korea (DPRK) outside the American embassy in Grosvenor Square.
The Saturday afternoon picket was called by the Korean Friendship Association (KFA) to denounce the latest threats from the chief American warlord, Donald Trump, that have taken the world to the brink of a new Korean war.
KFA Chair Dermot Hudson took the mike to say: “Not only is the independence of the DPRK being threatened, but peace in Asia and the Pacific region is being undermined by constant US threats and warmongering. The DPRK’s nuclear deterrent is not a threat to peace, but is to defend the independence and socialist system of the DPRK against US aggression and warmongering. The US has on several occasions considered the use of nuclear weapons against the DPRK and keeps 1,000 nuclear weapons in south Korea”
The KFA holds monthly meetings and protest pickets in London throughout the year in support of the struggling people of south Korea and in solidarity with the DPRK in the north.

Thursday, October 05, 2017

No Nuclear War over Korea!

By New Worker correspondent
London comrades joined anti-war campaigners in Whitehall calling for peace on the Korean peninsula last week. Around 200 protesters gathered opposite Downing Street to hear speakers from the Stop the War Coalition and other peace campaigners call for negotiations to end the tension over the nuclear issue in Korea that could easily trigger a nuclear war.
CND and Stop the War movement activists called on the British Government to reject a military solution to the conflict and urgently use its influence to press for all involved to avoid and refrain from further provocative rhetoric or military exercises and tests.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Cabbies welcome Uber ban

BLACK cab drivers in London who belong to the unions Unite and GMB last week praised the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Transport for London (TfL) for putting the safety of Londoners ahead of big corporate interests by deciding not to renew Uber’s licence to operate in London.
Commenting chair of London’s Unite black cab section Jim Kelly said: “The mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Transport for London have done the right thing in putting the safety of passengers and Londoners ahead of the big corporate interests of Uber.
“Dogged by controversy, Uber’s approach has been to exploit workers and bend the rules while trying to brush passenger safety concerns under the carpet.
“No one is above the law and today’s decision will be welcomed by London’s trusted professional black cab drivers. It signals that the mayor of London and Transport for London are not prepared to allow London to become the ‘wild west’ of the cab trade and put passengers at risk.
“In the coming weeks Uber will no doubt throw all its legal and corporate lobbying might to overturn this decision. We would urge the mayor of London and Transport for London to stand firm and continue to stand up for the safety of Londoners and the capital’s trusted cabbies.”
GMB said that the TfL decision was a major victory for drivers’ rights and for passenger safety. Last year the union won an employment tribunal case, which proved Uber’s drivers are employed by the firm, not self-employed as Uber had claimed. That means they should be entitled to holiday pay, a guaranteed minimum wage and safety protections, as well as other basic employment rights.
The £51 billion San Francisco transport giant has been controversial around the world for circumventing workers’ rights and pay minimums in many countries where it operates.
Uber’s initial five-year licence allowed them to operate a business of up to 40,000 cars in London. But unlike other firms, they refused to give drivers either basic employment rights or the full freedoms that come with genuine self-employment.
GMB, working with global corporate campaigners and the TUC, handed in a 100,000-strong petition last week to City Hall. It called for TfL to force Uber to respect workers’ rights and passenger safety or get out of London.
GMB found that a member working exclusively for Uber received just £5.03 per hour in August 2015 after costs and fees were taken into account.
That’s significantly below the national minimum wage. Uber also deducted sums from drivers’ pay, including when customers make complaints, and often without informing the drivers in advance.
When Uber’s licence came up for renewal earlier this year TfL extended it by only four months with a warning to the company to improve its practices. Last week TfL concluded that Uber had failed to use the four months to correct its failings.
There were many areas of serious concern, including its handling of allegations of sexual assault by its drivers against passengers.
Freedom of Information data obtained by The Sun last year showed that the Metropolitan Police investigated 32 drivers for rape or sexual assault of a passenger between May 2015 and May 2016.
In August, Metropolitan Police Inspector Neil Billany wrote to TfL about his concern that the company was failing to investigate properly allegations against its drivers.
He revealed that the company had continued to employ a driver after he was accused of sexual assault. According to Inspector Billany, the same driver went on to assault another female passenger before he was removed.
The letter said: “By not reporting to police promptly, Uber are allowing situations to develop that clearly affect the safety and security of the public.”
This month, TfL informed Uber that background checks on thousands of its drivers were invalid. The drivers were given 28 days to reapply for the procedure or risk losing their licence.
Uber has responded as Unite predicted — by launching an appeal against the decision and a propaganda war and petition against the decision, backed by the Evening Standard, which is currently edited by former Chancellor George Osborne. He is paid £650,000 a year by fund manager BlackRock, which has a stake in taxi app firm worth about £500 million.
The National Union of Journalists’ ethics council said that the Evening Standard should note Osborne’s role at BlackRock alongside newspaper and online articles it publishes about Uber.

Stuart Monro – film-maker and communist

Musical tribute from old comrades in the chapel
By New Worker correspondent
NCP leader Andy Brooks and other comrades, including Theo Russell and Dermot Hudson, paid their last respects to Stuart Monro, a leading member of the RCPB(ML), at his funeral in East London last week. The packed hour-long ceremony was attended by more than 200 people, many of whom had to stand. As well as friends and family, they included life-long comrades from the RCPB(ML) and people who had worked with Stuart on the many projects and campaigns in which he had been involved in over the years.
            Throughout his life Stuart had been a local historian, film-maker, union activist and militant communist, and this was reflected in the tributes from the rostrum and the labour movement banners draped inside the South Chapel of the City of London cemetery in Manor Park on Friday.
 Stuart Monro studied drama in Bristol and film at the London School of Film. During the height of the Cultural Revolution in China, Stuart joined the forerunners of the RCPB(ML) and plunged straight into the struggle on the street.
An active communist, Stuart and his wife, Charlotte, were jailed on trumped-up charges in the early 1970s. Stuart later helped Charlotte regain her job at Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone, after a two-year fight against victimisation.
Stuart Monro was a supporter of Democratic Korea, which he visited as part of a RCPB(ML) delegation in 2013. He later made a short film of the visit that is freely available on YouTube. Other recent videos focused on the fight to save Lewisham hospital and safeguard the future of the health service. And only last year, a one-day festival of his films was staged at Morley College in London.
After the ceremony, the party adjourned to Wanstead Park, where they gathered in the evening sunlight in front of the tea hut, one of Stuart’s favourite places, and then on to his home to recall fond memories of a man who dedicated his whole life to the progress of humanity and a new world.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Anger at plans to close Overground ticket offices

RAIL UNION RMT last week responded to London Overground ticket office and staffing proposals that included plans to cut ticket offices at Overground stations.
The union’s general secretary, Mick Cash, said: "RMT is deeply concerned about the proposals which in our view could see the elimination of ticket offices across London Overground.
“Our experience in the past shows that, despite promises to the contrary, the closure of ticket offices leads to the wholesale destaffing of stations with serious consequences for safety and security.
"These plans have a striking similarity to the Fit for The Future model rolled out on London Underground stations which meant wholesale axing of ticket offices and a net loss in safety critical jobs and which sparked a long running union industrial and political campaign that eventually reversed a ‎sizeable chunk of those cuts.
"RMT is also aware that these proposals are being mapped out against the background of massive central Government cuts to the TfL [Transport for London] budget and those cuts could shape the eventual package.
“The Mayor ‎must give us cast iron assurances that will not happen and we are calling for urgent, top level discussions around the proposals released by TfL today."
Eddie Dempsey, an RMT activist, who is employed by TfL, commented: “Outrageous that on the morning London's transport network suffered another terrorist attack, Arriva Rail London, the privateers who operate London Overground with Transport for London, have announced massive cuts to station staff that could see every ticket office on the network at risk of closure.
“Once again London Underground workers were the first on the scene keeping Londoners safe as they were on 7/7 and once again they're being ignored about the safety implications of transport staff cuts.
“These plans mirror what London Underground did with its Fit for the Future programme (colloquially known as fit for f**k all among LU workers) which lead to a massive shortage of staff and a number of serious safety incidents London Underground couldn't deal with.
“This was despite RMT raising again and again underground workers concerns that these plans would put passengers and staff at risk. It took a combination of safety shortfalls and major strike action by RMT members shutting London down before London regained some hundreds of jobs that had been cut, but not all, or enough.
“Two billion odd cuts to the TfL budget is driving this irresponsible attitude to public safety. The mayor needs to get off the pot and fight for London's transport network and hold off the cuts before this scorched earth policy of staff cuts leads to a major disaster and loss of lives.”