Party Notes

17th November 2014

Politics and the struggle

THE SUCCESSFUL Unite the Resistance conference on Saturday showed the potential for much more serious resistance to austerity—and the growing anger at the union and Labour leaders’ failures.

We are going to need fightbacks on every front, and a much more united left, as the political and economic crisis grinds on. Cameron’s fears about a new recession underline the fragility of any “recovery”.

And the political crisis continues to gather. Nearly everyone expects Ukip to secure its second elected MP on Thursday in Rochester and Strood. This will deepen the Tories’ divisions and possibly trigger further defections.

We need to argue that such developments require the left to get is act together, and for a strengthening of Stand Up to Ukip.

The health workers’ strike in England next Monday (24 November) is a focus for us all. Its important comrades build solidarity for the strike in a way that continues developing a periphery around them in their workplace, union branch etc.

In the run-up to the 13 October strike around 30 comrades collected from their workmates. We want to generalise that.

Now that we have good examples of comrades using this method, a wider layer of comrades should attempt it.

Every comrade should try to do a collection and support petition (attached) at work or college or in your community.

And we should encourage those who sign to come to the picket lines with us. It helps the health workers but it helps to build organisation where you are even more.

We should initiate the “Big breakfasts for the NHS” solidarity events on picket lines again

A sense of what’s possible comes from Oxford where a comrade writes, “We had a phenomenal sale today in Oxford petitioning in support of the health workers' strike and against privatisation of the NHS. Four of us did the sale, with one comrade drawing the crowds with the megaphone. People were queuing up to sign the petition, and we sold 44 papers! We also gave a lot of leaflets out advertising our SWP branch meeting, and quite a few students signed the petition and showed interest in our SWSS meeting.”

This is an intensely political time. Around 3,000 people will take part in the Radical Independence conference in Glasgow on Saturday, and at the same time some 12,000 will be at the same venue to hear Nicola Sturgeon address SNP members.

Thinking big, relating to the ideological crisis in society, being involved in activity, and seeking to shape a united left is crucial because there are major battles coming. And we can grow.

Unite the Resistance conference

The Unite the Resistance conference was a real success, with some 550 people taking part. You can read a full report at http://bit.ly/utrconf14 and in this week’s Socialist Worker.

The day showed the enthusiasm for those who are fighting back and the beginning of increased organisation against the shortcomings of the union leaders. In Unison, the FBU, and the UCU we have recently seen workers organising to combat the failures of the union leaders. It’s just a beginning, but very important. This process need to be encouraged and deepened.

The enthusiastic welcome for the St Mungo’s Broadway strikers, the Care UK strikers, the New Era housing campaigners, the fast food strikers from the US and many others showed the audience for solidarity work.

UTR works with the union leaders when they give a lead, builds solidarity, increase the pressure for more action, and seeks to organise independent initiatives.

Comrades should use the ten point programme (attached) presented at the conference for the debates around the general election.

Fast Food Rights lobby of parliament over zero hours contracts: This Friday 21 November

Following the successful and inspiring delegation of US fast food strikers that Fast Food Rights campaign hosted in Britain, there will be a protest at parliament on Friday to coincide with a bill on zero hours contracts.

Fast Food Rights campaign ‘Hungry for Justice’ Protest at parliament, Fri 21 Nov, 12 noon @ Old Palace Yard (opposite parliament)

●£10 an hour ●No zero hours ● Union rights

Stay updated: fastfoodrights.wordpress.com about what is possible around Fast Food Rights in your area.

The People's Assembly is organising a protest outside Downing Street on the eve of George Osborne's Autumn Statement. Assemble 5:30pm on Tuesday 2 December to send a clear message: Austerity Has Failed: Sack George Osborne!

Battles in the unions

Local government: Fight for a special conference

Members of Unison, Unite and the GMB have voted to accept the revised pay proposals, but the fight over the conduct of the dispute continues. In Unison, where the vote was 64 percent to accept, some 46 branches have now taken up the call made by Manchester Unison and voted for a special conference—and more look set to join them. Branches organising 25 percent of Unison’s local government membership must call for a conference to force the union to organise one.

We should push for Unison local government branches to hold meetings and vote for a special conference. To get the latest list go to http://www.unisonmanchester.org/campaigns/special-conference-nears-list-...

With the NEC and the General Secretary elections in Unison also on the horizon it’s crucial that the left gets its act together. That means meetings in all regions of activists to select a united list of candidates who will argue for a fighting union in the upcoming NEC elections.

The question of leadership was critical in the pay ballot. Branches which campaigned against the deal saw votes of 80 percent or more against and for more strikes (Tower Hamlets 88 percent, Lambeth 89 percent, Manchester 81 percent). Those who made no recommendation saw big votes for the deal. The union leaders threw away the chance for more strikes!

UCU: Keep up the fight over USS

Leaders of the UCU in Higher Education (HE) are pushing for a suspension of the union’s marking boycott in defence of the USS pensions’ scheme. The union’s HE committee meets this Wednesday. Meanwhile Liverpool, Surrey and Bradford University are on the verge of strikes (at Liverpool all out) against 100 percent pay docking by the employer.

Many activists are outraged by the move to pull action and the unions “alternative proposals” to managements’ attacks on the USS pensions’ scheme that would still see UCU members lose out badly.

Many UCU university branches have already voted for a special HE conference to put ordinary members back in charge of the dispute. To call a special conference 20 universities have to vote for it. We should be pushing the call for the special conference everywhere. There is a lobby of Wednesday’s HEC from 1pm.

You can download a leaflet/statement and model motion at http://uculeft.org/2014/11/uss-dispute-latest-developments/

Stand up to Ukip

Stand Up to Ukip’s national activist meeting will take place on Sunday 30 November. All those in UKIP target seats for the general election, and those who currently have a big UKIP presence in their area, are invited to attend.

Sunday 30 November, Central London

Time and venue to be confirmed this week. Please email info@standuptoukip.org to register your place.

Demonstration at Ukip’s Welsh conference

Saturday 6 December, 11am, Margam Orangery, Port Talbot, SA13 2TJ. Backed by Unison Wales and several Unison branches. For details, transport etc go to www.facebook.com/events/357521674418852/

Students

National Demo for Free Education

No fees; No cuts; No debt, this Wednesday, 19 Nov, Assemble 12 noon, Malet Street, Central London

This demonstration has been called by a number of different student groups such as the Student Assembly Against Austerity. Every student comrade should go to this demo and every SWSS group should be building for this demonstration. Many student unions have already booked transport. Check out the facebook group on https://www.facebook.com/nationalstudentdemo to find out local details or go in to your student union to check.

London SWSS groups should arrange a meet up point so students can travel down together. Please find attached a leaflet that can by copied to build for the demo and also a sign up sheet to use on stalls for anyone interested.

SWP student and new members event: Sat 29th Nov, Central London: Understanding Marxism

Get new members and students signed up this week!

This will be a special day event for all new members, student members and those who have joined SWSS. This is a place for newer members and those around us to come and found out more about our politics and Marxist ideas. We want to encourage as many people to come as possible and for branches to use it as a place to bring any new students that are coming round them.

Tickets are £10 waged/£5 unwaged/students. We would like to encourage districts to book up and pay for cheap transport to this event. But where necessary we will refund transport costs. We don’t want lack of money to stop people coming.

Every branch should make a list of new members and students who we can start to ask.

Please note that although this is not an open public event we would like to encourage any student who has joined SWSS but not yet the SWP to come too so they can find out more about our politics.

Sessions will include: Can Marxism explain a world in turmoil?● Iraq, Gaza, Ukraine: What causes wars? ● Marxism and imperialism ● Sexism, racism and homophobia ●How can Marxism explain oppression? ● Where does profit come from? ● An introduction to Marxist economics ● Russia: From workers power to state capitalism ● Understanding the Russian revolution ● What do Marxists mean by class? ● Why the working class? ● Ukip, Islamophobia and the far right ● Fighting racism and fascism today● The Labour Party, the Trade Unions and reformism ● How does change happen? ● Why we need a revolutionary party

Booking form attached. Please print off and use with new members and students in SWSS. For more information or to book over the phone please call either the National Office or Student Office.

Scotland: for struggle and a united left

Around 3,000 people will take part in the Radical Independence conference in Glasgow on Saturday, and at the same time some 12,000 will be at the same venue to hear Nicola Sturgeon address SNP members. We need every possible SWP member in Scotland to be there.

There will be a party leaflet and SW stalls, but every comrade also has to take forward our message of the need for a united left to as many people as possible. We also need to push for struggle now against the cuts pushed through by the Tories and implemented by Labour and the SNP.

Two important demos:

STUC St Andrew's Day, Anti Racism March and Rally

Saturday 29 November, Assemble Glasgow Green 10am, Rally 12 noon, Glasgow Film Theatre, Rose Street, Glasgow

Scrap Trident Coalition demonstration at Faslane, Sunday 30 November, 12 noon,. Transport from Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Support the Freedom Riders in court!

On Monday 8 December two Barnsley pensioners who are leading figures in the Freedom Riders campaign to win back free train travel for older people in South Yorkshire are due to appear in Sheffield Magistrates’ court. Tony Nuttall and George Arthur (both SWP comrades) are charged with obstructing the police and not having a valid ticket and are summonsed for a five day trial. The prosecution may call up to 13 witnesses!

There will be a mass protest outside the court (on Castle Street S3 8LU) starting at 9am. Unite the Union has laid on coaches to bring demonstrators from Barnsley—and there are already 53 names on the list.

There is a real danger that the two will be found guilty and stung with court costs for a 5 day trial. We need to defend our comrades and in the process help build a mass movement which can defeat Labour's capitulation to Tory cuts. You can:

1. Organise a delegation for Monday 8 December from your union/campaign group. Pensioner comrades should try to involve their local NPC activists. (There are pensioners travelling from around the country to support the protest). Trade unionists should get there with their banners.

2. Send a message of support from your union, campaign group etc to the campaign to: travelpass2014@gmail.com (copied to Barnsley Trades Council at: gibson.dave1950@gmail.com). Send cheques made payable to Barnsley Retirees action Group c/o D.Gibson, 33 Western Street, Barnsley S70 2BT.

SW appeal £90,000 – let’s get to 100K this week

The SW appeal has now reached £90,149. Help us get to 100k this week.

Going once! We will be having an auction at conference. Please let us know if you have anything we can use.

This Wednesday, comrades in Lewisham have put on a gig – all are welcome.

Joel and Roger from Walthamstow have £275 pledged so far for their Tolpuddle walk on 23rd November.

50 years a revolutionary: Social evening to celebrate Sarah Cox’s 50 years as a revolutionary socialist with food, drink and entertainment. Saturday 6 December 7-11pm, Paddington Arts, 32 Woodfield Road, London W9 2BE. Tickets £10/£5. All proceeds to SW appeal. Simon Assaf is cooking a five course meal in Maida Vale on 21 December for the appeal. We are limited to about 50 people so book soon to avoid disappointment. To book make a £20 donation on the appeal website and put ‘five course’ in the comments box.

Share the appeal video http://youtu.be/fLVbFAhUE5I

You can donate through the website www.socialistworker.co.uk/appeal, ring 0207 819 1190, or by post to PO Box, 42184, London SW8 2WD.

Housing protest

An excellent Benefit Justice workshop at Saturday’s Unite the Resistance Conference discussed the assault on benefits, the deepening housing crisis and the need for unity between claimants and workers in job centres etc to oppose escalating benefit sanctions. Lyndsey Garret from the New Era estate in Hoxton, east London, spoke powerfully in the opening plenary about the vast rent rises working class tenants face after their homes were brought out by a private property consortium.

The workshop discussed building support for the March For Homes in London on 31 January and to call for a day of local protests to highlight the Tories’ war on benefits and welfare when George Osborne gives his budget in March (the date isn’t yet confirmed).

LONDON MARCH FOR HOMES: March on Boris in City Hall Assemble 12 midday, 31 January, St Mary’s Churchyard, Newington Butts (Elephant and Castle tube/rail). Called by Defend Council Housing, the South London Peoples Assembly and the national Peoples Assembly. For more information go to: http://www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk/dch

Still the Enemy Within film

Still the Enemy Within is having a huge impact with big audiences and intense debate. The film is a major event and an opportunity to engage with people about the strike, sell SW and make new contacts. There are screenings soon in

University College London, Darwin B40 Lecture Theatre Thursday 20 November @ 6.30pm Arnolfini, Bristol, Sunday 23 November, 4pm; Cameo Cinema, Edinburgh, Sunday 23 November, 3.30pm; St Helen’s library, Thursday 27 November, 7pm; Electric Cinema, Birmingham, Tuesday 2 December, 6.15pm.

Full details and to book at http://the-enemy-within.org.uk/

Copies of the pamphlet 1984, the miners’ and the strike that could have won are available from Bookmarks. Phone 020 7637 1848. In addition we still have copies of the SW special on the miners’ strike. Phone circulation to have some copies sent on 020 7819 1171.

Workplace notes

PCS under attack The most senior civil servants in HM Revenue and Customs have hatched what the PCS calls a “deeply disturbing” politicised plot to destabilise the union, A leaked memo, written for HMRC’s executive committee, outlines a plan to “marginalise” the union because of its opposition to cuts and closures. For details go to http://www.pcs.org.uk/

The next round of PCS Left Unity meetings will run over the next two weeks. These will mandate each local LU group on how to vote for the motions, and people will hand in their ballot papers for the National Executive Committee slate. Comrades should have received a LU ballot pack and LU Conference Agenda by now and notice of your local LU area meeting. Please let us know when your LU meeting is being held. The PCS LU conference will be held in Manchester on Saturday 6 December. We need as many comrades to attend as possible.

PCS National Executive Committee: it is important that comrades make sure to get their votes in. Closing date is Friday 28 November.

Unite: Defence Support Group workers escalate strikes

Strike action at Defence Support Group (DSG) stepped up this week as over 800 members of Unite begin a four day strike today for decent pay.

The main sites affected by the latest walkout are at Bovington (Dorset), Catterick (North Yorkshire), Colchester, Donnington (Shropshire), Stirling and Warminster (Wiltshire). Rush solidarity messages to DSGStrike@yahoo.com

NUT: Defend Julie Davies

Strikes and campaigning continues in support of victimised Haringey NUT official Julie Davies. Fortsismere and Highgate Wood Schools will strike again on Thursday 20 November. There is an important lobby of Haringey Council on Monday 24 November, 6m, Haringey Civic Centre. We should be fighting to get trade union banners and delegations to the protest. Rush messages of support to admin@haringeynut.org.uk

FBU: As firefighters’ EC meets…

The FBU’s EC meets today with activists expecting to hear the next step in the campaign to defend pensions and to defend victimised FBU EC member Ricky Matthews. A new Socialist Worker leaflet for fire stations will be out as soon as the announcement is made. In London Penny Mourdant is set to open West Norwood fire station at 1pm on 25 November. The FBU is calling on people to protest against the fire minister at the opening.

A handy link for the location of West Norwood fire station is https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/210+Knight's+Hill,+Lambeth,+London,+Greater+London+SE27/@51.4259603,-0.1051379,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x487606a8abd10ca3:0x248e6640cb68cf0a

Calendar 2014

Some useful dates:

Saturday 29 November: Students’ and new members’ dayschool on Understanding Marxism

Sunday 30 November: SUTU activists’ meeting, London