Welcome to the lion’s den: Labour councils and the Durham teaching assistants

A lot of discussion about the Labour Party at the moment seems to focus on fairly abstract terrain: what the leadership are saying, what the rest of the Parliamentary party are saying, whether Corbyn could win a general election in 2020 – this last one feels like a particularly weird question for people to be talking about, as if anyone, having gone through the last few years, is thinking “ah yes, we are in a stable situation where I feel confident about making long-term predictions, because things generally seem to be playing out as I would expect them to”. But here we are.

What seems frustratingly absent, a lot of the time, is any consideration of the fact that, whoever might win a hypothetical general election in the future, huge areas of the country are ruled by Labour councils on the local level right now, which means that, when people in those areas start trying to change anything, or even to defend what they already have, Labour councils are the most immediate thing they run up against.

Over the past few years, this has often involved local struggles over things like nursery or library closures; right now, the main flashpoints seem to be over the roles played by local councils in running down London’s social housing, and the brilliant organising by teaching assistants in challenging pay cuts in Durham and Derby, along with Wakefield Council’s role in the Kinsley 3 dispute.

For those not familiar with the situation in Durham, a recent article by Charlotte Austin in lefty-Labour publication the Clarion gives a decent overview from a very Labour-centric perspective*. For those of us not starting from an automatic loyalty to Labour, there are a few things about the Durham situation that appear surprising: considering how angry the teaching assistants and their supporters are, it’s quite surprising that TUSC-type lefties don’t seem to be making any attempt at all to stand in the local elections. Similarly, while Austin worries about the threat posed by independents “with UKIP-esque politics”, it’s remarkable how absent UKIP themselves are (a quick check shows them contesting 14 out of a possible 126 council seats) – a Labour heartland area, that voted quite strongly for leave, where a lot of traditional Labour voters are really pissed off, would seem like the sort of thing that they should be all over. I don’t know exactly why UKIP are so absent in Durham, but the optimistic reading would be that the old socialist traditions are still strong enough to ward off the purple tories, even as those traditions are coming unmoored from any residual loyalty to Labour as an institution.

For a left-Labourite publication like the Clarion, Durham shows the need to “seal the future of the Labour Party”; for those of us who want to see a revived working-class movement, but don’t have any particular attachment to Labour and the bosses in the town halls, it’s harder to say what “the lesson” is; it’s not the most stirring of conclusions, but perhaps we just need to wait and see where the self-organised Durham TAs’ struggle goes next, while lending what support we can where we can. If nothing else, it’s worth paying attention to just for the reminder that this thing called the Labour party isn’t just about Corbyn and McDonnell, or Jarvis and Watson, or rows about anti-Semitism: in a much more real and direct way, in the lived experience of a lot of people, it’s about Simon Henig and a 23% pay cut, or about Derby council and the same pay cut, or Stephanie Cryan and overcrowded houses in Southwark.

 

*although it leaves out the amazing detail that, at the same time as attacking low-paid workers to save money, the same council also decided to pour millions into bailing out a cricket club.

Posted in Labour, Strikes, Unions, Work | Tagged | 2 Comments

Anti-war statement from Syrian and Iranian socialists

Without knowing a great deal about the backgrounds of the people involved, this statement from Syrian and Iranian socialists on the latest developments in the Syrian war seems like a good, strong statement on the basic principles we should be guided by, and I think is worth trying to share around:

The Trump administration’s  April 6 targeted missile strike on the Syrian airbase from which the chemical attack was launched, is not a reflection of any genuine concern for the Syrian people.  It will not help the struggle against the Assad regime, ISIS and Al Qaida.    Instead, this administration’s latest airstrikes are motivated by other aims.

The chemical bombing of innocent civilians in the Syrian town of  Khan Sheikhoun (Idlib province) which was perpetrated by the Assad regime and its allies, Russia and Iran on April 4,  is  yet another step in the murderous campaign to destroy what is left of the popular opposition to the Assad regime.  After putting under siege and destroying  Eastern Aleppo, the most important center of the popular and democratic opposition,  and forcing the survivors as well as the survivors from other besieged opposition areas to go to Idlib , the regime is now concentrating its forces on bombing the civilian population in Idlib and Aleppo provinces.

The Trump administration’s  April 6 targeted missile strike on the Syrian airbase from which the chemical attack was launched, is not a reflection of any genuine concern for the Syrian people.  It will not help the struggle against the Assad regime, ISIS and Al Qaida.    Instead, this administration’s latest airstrikes are motivated by other aims.

Just two days earlier the Trump administration had announced that its priority was not the ouster of Assad.  Once the Assad regime’s chemical bombing delivered a blow to the credibility of U.S. imperialism however, the decision was made to strike Assad’s air base.    In order to calm some dissent within the Republican party’s leadership, Trump had to show that contrary to Obama, he had some “red lines.”

Furthermore,  given the daily new revelations about the Trump administrations close ties to Putin’s Russia and the ways in which these revelations have  seriously damaged  its  credibility even among its supporters, the missile strike in Syria was  a way for this administration to partially distance itself from Russia.   However,  at this point,  we can say that this strike which was announced in advance to the Russian government,  does not indicate any strategic change in U.S. policy concerning  the future of Syria or the Assad regime.  The focus of the U.S. government will still be seeking a transition  in which the core of the Assad regime is not challenged.  Such a policy will  be justified by this administration in the name of the “War on Terror.”

In general, since coming to office, the Trump administration has given every indication that its goal is to promote undemocratic, racist, sexist Middle Eastern leaders and strengthen the repressive environment of the Middle East:   He or his advisers have met with Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu,  Turkish president Recep Tayyip  Erdogan and  foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Egyptian president, General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi,  Saudi Arabian Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,  King Abdullah of Jordan.  On March 30,   U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson’s visit to Turkey   gave a nod of approval to Erdogan  who has arrested over 70,000 people in the past year,  continually bombed the Kurdish population of Turkey and Syria, and is aiming to vastly expand his  repressive powers against all forms of dissent,  through a referendum on April 16.  Tillerson’s visit also led to some unannounced agreements which do not bode well for the Kurds in Turkey and Syria.

Most importantly,   recent American airstrikes  in Mosul, Aleppo and Raqqa which are supposedly aimed at stopping ISIS, have brought about large civilian death tolls.  They have been some of the deadliest since U.S. airstrikes on Syria started in 2014.   They show that greater U.S. military intervention in Syria will only lead to more death and destruction.   One resident of Mosul, Iraq who was fleeing ISIS, compared the destruction brought about by the latest U.S. airstrikes in Mosul to  the U.S.  dropping of a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima.  (See Tim Arango, “Civilian Deaths Rising in Iraq and Syria as Battles Intensify in Dense City Areas.” New York Times, March 28, 2017).  According to Airwars, during the month of March alone, as many as a thousand civilians have been killed by U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria in the name of the “War on Terror.” (https://www.democracynow.org/2017/3/27/more_than_1_000_civilians_killed)

These realities not only  reveal the Trump administration’s motives but also  compel us to condemn all the states that are carrying out wars against innocent civilians in the Middle East:  The Syrian and Iranian regimes, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, all the other authoritarian regimes in the region, ISIS, Al Qaida, as well as Russian and Western military interventions.  They are all part of an imperialist logic and the maintenance of authoritarian and unjust systems.  They all oppose the self-determination of the peoples of the region and their struggles for emancipation.   Hence, anti-war activists whether in the Middle East or the West need to address all forms of repression and authoritarianism, and condemn all forms of foreign intervention against the interests of the people of the region, instead of  limiting their criticisms only to the West and Israel.

Clearly, no peaceful and just solution in Syria can be reached with Bashar al-Assad and his clique in power.  He is the biggest criminal in Syria and must be prosecuted for his crimes instead of being legitimized by international and regional imperialist powers.

Clearly, an effective way to help Syrians and to change the worsening course of events in the region today is for those Iranians and Russians who oppose their rulers’ military intervention in Syria to build strong anti-war movements that show the connections between their governments’ support for the Assad regime and the worsening domestic repression and impoverishment.   Why has this not happened?  Is government repression inside Russia and Iran the only reason?

In Russia, last week, tens of thousands demonstrated against the corrupt practices of prime minister Dmitry Medvedev and other Russian oligarchs.   Criticism of Putin’s imperialist wars however was not highlighted by most who focused on the internal corruption of the rich.  Whether these demonstrations expand their horizons remains to be seen.

In Iran,  not a day goes by without labor protests in various parts of the country.  These protests have focused on the non-payment of wages, layoffs, temporary contracts without any rights or benefits, “privatization” of government jobs, lack of work and safety regulations,  non-payment of pensions and the very low minimum wage ($240 per month) in a country in which the minimum needed for an urban family of four to survive is $1000 per month.

It is the responsibility of Iranian socialists to show the connections between the worsening economic and social conditions of the Iranian workers, teachers and service workers, and Iran’s capitalist, militarist and imperialist policies in Syria and in the Middle East region as a whole.

The failure to draw these connections partly stems from the strength of the Iranian regime’s propaganda which presents the Syrian opposition to the Assad regime as entirely consisting of ISIS and Al Qaida.  The nationalism of those Iranian leftists who implicitly or explicitly support the Assad regime and Putin,  has also  assisted the Iranian government.

As the Alliance of Syrian and Iranian Socialists,  we have made efforts to address these issues through our analyses and by airing the views of those Iranians who oppose their government’s military intervention in Syria.   We welcome more ideas and comments from those who represent THE OTHER IRAN and who want to create an anti-war movement to stop Iran’s support for the Assad regime.

We agree with those Palestinian who protested in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine,  against the Syrian regime’s chemical bombing of Khan Sheikhoun.   They chanted:  “Not Leftists, Not Leftists,  Those Who Stand with Bashar al-Assad.”

Joseph Daher and Frieda Afary

Alliance of Syrian and Iranian Socialists

April 7, 2017

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Riverside County Jails hunger strike, and other ongoing US prison issues

Prisoners held in jails in Riverside County will be staging a 17-day hunger strike, starting on April 13th.

To help amplify their action, you can contact the Sheriff’s Department, which runs the jails, by ringing 951 955-2400 (press option 4), or 951 955-4500 (press 1 then 8), or use the online feedback form here, to pass on a message urging them to negotiate a safe end to the strike by meeting the strikers’ demands. If you want to repeat the demands in full, they are:

“1. End: Frivolous and irrelevant policies.

    Solution:
A. Cease and desist enforcing frivolous policies limiting phone access due to state change.
B. Issue and or display random dayroom list in ad-seg.
C. Increase ad-seg dayroom time to one hour.
D. Remove no-see tint from cell windows.

2. End: Placement in solitary confinement when there exists no serious rule violations to merit such placement.
a. Prohibit the use of long-term/indefinite solitary confinement.
b. Prohibit the use of solitary confinement based solely on gang allegations, affiliation, validation, etc.

    Solution:
A. Determine classification of housing based on individual behavior.
B. Allow a genuine opportunity to be down classed and integrated to general population through a modified group and dayroom program.
C. Jail officials read Ashker v Gov of California Settlement Terms.

3. End: Denial of adequate clothing to inmates.

    Solution:
A. Establish policy that promotes proper hygiene.
B. Provide two sets of all clothes.

4. End: Jail profiteering and exploitation of prisoners and our families through commissary and trust accounts.

    Solution:
A. Waive the fee associated with putting money on a prisoner’s account.
B. Set commissary prices equal to or cheaper than those set in CDCR e.g. 97 cents for a top ramen soup is outrageous.

5. Provide opportunities for religious services, self help, and educational programs.

IN ADDITION TO THE ABOVE DEMANDS

1. End: Housing mental health prisoners with regular prisoners.

2. Establish accountability for each grievance to catalog the concern.”

Meanwhile, the IWOC phone zaps list has a number of other ongoing calls for support (I’ve edited a few to add online contacts or fix broken emails):

Move James Shelby Back to WMCC

Call 573-526-6504 and ask for the Central Transfer Authority
Email: InspectorGeneral@doc.mo.gov
And say this: “Please move Missouri prisoner James Shelby #41244 back to WMCC. He has health issues that were being treated there which are not being treated at TCC. He needs to be moved back to WMCC where the doctors know his medical history and can treat him in a competent manner.”

Stop Punishing Jason Robb and Hasan

Call Director Gary Mohr at 614-387-0588 or email him at drc.publicinfo@odrc.state.oh.us as well as Northeast Regional Director Todd Ishee, 330-797-6398, todd.ishee@odrc.state.oh.us, and Warden Ed Sheldon at Ed.Sheldon@odrc.state.oh.us
And say this: “I ask you that the punishments being imposed on Siddique Abdullah Hasan (Carlos Sanders) # R130-559 and Jason Robb #308-919 be reversed, and that OSP authorities be reprimanded for violating their rights to due process and displaying bias toward them.”

For more information on the hunger strike, read: https://shadowproof.com/2017/03/03/ohio-prisoners-begin-hunger-strike-punishment-participation-netflixs-captive/

For more background information on the Lucasville prison uprising prisoners wrongfully sentenced:
lucasvilleamnesty.org and Lucasvillejustice.wordpress.com

Get Medical Attention for Antwon Guest

Please call: Jefferson City Correctional Center in Missouri at 573-751-3224, or use their online contact form at https://jccc.mo.gov/contact-us/

And say this:

If Antwon Guest #1025628 has not received medical attention in the past week, please send him to the infirmary now. He is developing diabetes, has a rash, and is suffering from digestive problems due to poor nutrition.

Give Virginia Prisoners Their Mail

Please call, email, fax these:
VA DOC Director Howard Clarke: 804-674-3000, Director.Clarke@vadoc.virginia.gov, docmail@vadoc.virginia.gov
VA Congressman Bobby Scott of the DOC oversight committee: 202-225-8351 (phone), 202-225-8354 (fax)
Warden at Wallens Ridge State Prison 276-523-3310

And say this:

I am deeply concerned about the impending policy change at Wallens Ridge State Prison concerning people’s incoming mail. I believe that denying people access to the original copies of their personal mail, including letters and other approved content, and restricting the length of correspondence is censorship and an aberration of civil rights. If this policy is implemented on its effective date of 4/17/17, I will continue to oppose it and stand in solidarity with the people incarcerated at Wallens Ridge.

**URGENT** CALL NOW, CALL CONSTANTLY FOR KINETIK

Call Limestone Prison Warden Christopher Gordy 256-233-4600
Call Commissioner Jeff Dunn & Ass Comm Grant Culliver 334-353-3883 webmaster@doc.alabama.gov
Call Gov Robert Bentley 334-242-7100
Call Department of Justice 205-244-2001 or email USA-ALN-WEBMASTER@usdoj.gov, Lyndon.Laster@usdoj.gov
Say this, “I am calling to demand that you release Robert Earl Council #181418 from solitary confinement and move him out of Limestone Correctional Facility immediately. He was brutally beaten on December 2nd and continues to fear for his life.”

Read about Kinetik’s work here http://freealabamamovement.com/

Support Compassionate Clemency for Walter Hunter

Call Governor Jay Nixon at (573) 751-3222 or email https://governor.mo.gov/get-involved/contact-the-governors-office
Call Missouri Department of Probation and Parole at (573) 751-8488 or email probation.parole@doc.mo.gov
Say this, “I am calling to request compassionate clemency for Mr. Walter Hunter, Missouri prisoner number #46747. He is terminally ill, yet was denied medical parole due to statutory requirements. His application for compassionate release is still pending.”

More info: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B13-UJjehXaISFduX29qanpVdTA

Get Showers and Cleaning Supplies for SC Prisoners

Call Lee Correctional in South Carolina at (803) 896-2400 or (803) 428-2800
Call/email DOC headquarters in Columbia at 803-896-8500 corrections.info@doc.state.sc.us

Say this, “I am calling to demand that you let the people in your prison take showers and clean their cells. Why are they not being allowed to do this? Please read me the directive that you rely on to guide this inhumane and unsanitary treatment”.

Support Executive Clemency for Eric Clemmons

Call Governor Jay Nixon at (573) 751-3222 or email https://governor.mo.gov/get-involved/contact-the-governors-office
Say this, “I am calling to request executive clemency for Mr. Eric Clemmons, Missouri prisoner number #99956. He was wrongfully convicted for a crime he did not commit. He has spent 34 years in prison.”

More info: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B13-UJjehXaITkdXNkNDV0NBSTA

Call In to Stop Medical Torture of Jose Latigo

Call/Email TDCJ Ombudsman in Huntsville (936) 437-4927 ombudsman@tdcj.texas.gov
Clemens Unit Front Office (979) 798-2188

Say this “Jose Latigo #1922794 has been being denied his medication by psychiatrists and been provoked by three officers to commit suicide. This is unacceptable an we demand that you give him his medication and
treat him with dignity.”

Additional information: Jose suffers from emotional disturbance, ptsd, and bipolar disorder for which he was previously receiving medication. He has attempted to file grievances to get back on medication, but the psychiatrist, E. Harris, is
wrongfully denying him his meds, and three officers, Neeribe, Owude, and Oladeji, have been provoking him to commit suicide.

Call to Support Prisoner Organizer Cesar DeLeon

Call and email here: Wisconsin Department of Corrections central office- 608-240-5000, docweb@wi.gov

Wapun Correctional Institution Warden Brian Foster- (920) 324-5571, brian.foster@wisconsin.gov

Sample script: “I am calling in support of Cesar DeLeon #322800, an incarcerated worker at Waupun Correctional. I am hearing reports of physical torture and psychological abuse happening to Cesar at the hands of Waupun’s staff, this is intolerable and needs to stop.”

Background info https://www.facebook.com/events/335295163503576/

Call in to Stop Torture of Robert Gamez

Call Arizona Dept of Corrections at 1 623.386.6160, email media@azcorrections.gov

Say this, “I am calling to demand that you release Robert Gamez #131401 from solitary confinement immediately. Due to nearly 15 years of torture in solitary confinement in Buckeye State Prison, Robert now suffers from mental health problems. He has depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide and depression. He needs mental health care, not solitary confinement torture.”

Read more here https://stopprisontorture.wordpress.com/2016/09/22/final-draft-by-mr-robert-c-gamez/

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Deliveroo riders tell their stories: new Rebel Roo and Unworkable out now!

It’s a busy day for media produced by Deliveroo workers: Rebel Roo 6 has just come out, with stories from the successful campaigns in Leeds and Brighton as well as a wildcat strike in Marseille, while Unworkable, a podcast on the hidden side of work, has just released its first episode, with stories from Deliveroo riders organising through the IWGB in Brighton.

As ever, you can help influence how the next chapter of this story plays out, by making sure Deliveroo riders in your area know what’s going on elsewhere. If you want to help spread the Rebel Roo around, you can print off your own copies from the PDF, or order some by emailing rebelroouk [at] gmail.com; for anyone whose commute takes them through a city centre on your way home, you can experiment with trying a route that’ll take you past the spot where Deliveroo riders hang around between jobs.

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Early April round-up: Irish Water, Workers’ Memorial Day and more…

Saturday the 8th of April will see a protest in Bradford against the scrapping of housing benefit for 18-21 year olds. That day will also see strike action against Southern Rail, Northern Rail, Merseyrail and Arriva Rail North, so if you’re thinking of heading over to Bradford for the day, you might be best off getting the coach, or seeing where rail workers might be picketing in your area.

Also on that weekend, Brighton will be playing host to an antifascist festival, there’ll be a “Take Back Control” event happening in Croydon, which may or may not be any good*, and over in Ireland there’ll be a mass demo continuing the fight against the hated water charges. I can’t claim a huge amount of inside knowledge about what the Irish water struggle looks like on the ground at the moment, but an interesting comment in the fb event for the anarchist bloc on the march led me to this group, which lists upcoming court dates – while the Jobstown case might be the most high-profile, it’s clear that there are also a lot of other people facing prosecution for taking part in such a bold and effective movement. There’s definitely one case that’s meant to be reaching a judgement on Friday 7th, with others still to come. Keep an eye on the court dates group for more info on that aspect of the struggle.

Further into April, there will be a silent vigil outside Westminster Magistrates’ Court at 2pm on the 12th, as a court case will be starting over the death of Rene Tkacik, a worker who was killed on the Crossrail project. The 22nd will see the Hackney/“yoof” leg of the Take Back Control project – again, I’m in two minds as to whether it’ll be at all worthwhile, but feel free to form your own opinion. On the 24th, the Jobstown trial will be starting in Ireland – it seems that there’ll be a protest outside the Irish Embassy in London on that date, although I can’t find any specific details yet.

Approaching the end of the month, April 28 is the annual Workers’ Memorial Day, commemorating all those killed by their jobs – see here and here for events to see if there’s anything in your area. So far, it’s looking like the most interesting event will be in Bristol, with a talk on blacklist and spycops hosted by the Bristol Hazards Group. And following that, of course, is May Day, which will also be observed all over the place. The weekend before May Day will feature events including the Cambridge Radical Bookfair and the Barnsley Festival of Solidarity.

Finally, a couple of things to note in passing – it’s been confirmed that “Roger Thorley” was the name used by Roger Pearce, a undercover spycop active from 1978-1980, so there’s an open appeal for information if anyone has any memories of a Roger Thorley from that time. And the United Voices of the World union, which took on the LSE and cleaning company Noonan after they failed to deal with homophobic abuse against a UVW member, are reporting that the account director who refused to take any action has now been removed from the contract.
*not the most brilliant analysis, I know, but I’m tired and there’s a lot going on.

Posted in Housing, Protests, Repression, Strikes, Unions, Work | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New evidence of union complicity in blacklisting workers

In the latest development from the long-running scandal over the blacklisting of construction workers, previously confidential files have been released that show the level of union complicity in helping employers to keep workers from getting jobs. The Guardian reports:

“Previously confidential documents from the secretive operation suggest that union officials privately warned managers of large companies not to employ specific workers because they were deemed to be politically troublesome.

According to signed statements by managers involved in running the blacklist, trade union officials helped to get some of their own members excluded from jobs as they wanted to prevent disruption on industrial sites.

Files from the blacklist show that trade union officials described individual workers as “militant”, a “troublemaker”, or with a warning to be “careful”.

Evidence of the apparent collusion between trade union officials and managers has led a group of 41 blacklisted workers to call on Unite to commission an independent inquiry into the claims.

They said officials working for Unite, and another union that has merged with Unite, have been implicated in what amounts to a “running sore” for the trade union movement. “We are not looking for a witch hunt, we simply want answers into possible union collusion in order to avoid repeating mistakes of the past,” they added.

Daniel O’Sullivan, who was once chairman of the secret agency that operated the blacklist, worked for more than 30 years until 2008 as a manager in the construction industry. He said that as part of his job, he had meetings with senior union officials. These included representatives from Unite and the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT), which has merged with Unite.

O’Sullivan said his discussions “made clear to me that the union officials were also concerned to prevent unnecessary disruption on site. Occasionally, union officials would give me information concerning a particular individual”. He gave as an example a worker who was described on his file in 2005 as a “troublemaker” by a union official.

Another manager involved in running the blacklist was Dudley Barratt, who worked as the head of industrial relations at the Costain construction firm in the 1980s and 1990s. He said he was friendly with officials in a number of trade unions who appeared to be aware of the covert blacklist.

He added they “would occasionally tell me names of individuals who they thought should not be employed on sites, on the basis that there might be a risk of these individuals using the opportunity to cause trouble to undermine a project and the official trade union activities on that site.”

“Overall, I gained the impression that there was a quiet acceptance by certain construction trade unions of the [blacklist] and the ‘benefits’ of the checking service as such individuals could be disruptive of organised labour and the unions saw the benefit of having an organised site.”

Mick Anderson is one of the blacklisted electricians who received compensation after being unemployed for many months. His file noted that a firm was told in 2005 by the Amicus union that he was “not recommended”. Anderson was a member of Amicus which later merged with TGWU to form Unite. The file also records another warning from the union to another firm two days later, to be “careful” about him.

Entries in the file on bricklayer Brian Higgins, who has also received compensation for being blacklisted, identify union officials as the source of information about his union activities in 1992, 2002 and 2003. In one, an official states that Higgins “is connected” to a rank-and-file organisation of builders that campaigned for better conditions.”

The Blacklist Support Group have stated:

“BSG applaud Len McCluskey’s pledge to hold an independent investigation into possible union collusion in blacklisting.

BSG are calling for such an investigation to be led by an independent legal expert.

The investigation should involve reviewing Consulting Association files that name union officials as the source of the information about union activists and other documentation that has become available to the union during its ongoing persistent campaigning against blacklisting.

But crucially, the investigation should also hear evidence from blacklisted workers in order to place the documentation in its full context.

The final remit for any investigation should be drawn up in consultation with blacklisted workers”.

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Call for international solidarity with jailed Indian workers

While I’m passing on things I spotted way too late for them to be of much use, here’s an appeal from the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union in India:

“Comrades,

You are aware of the repression on us by the nexus of Company management-Police-Government, as 13 MSWU members have been sentenced to Life Imprisonment and 4 more workers handed 5 years by the Gurgaon Sessions Court on 18 March 2017 – without a shred of evidence, and solely on the false witness accounts by the management.

The MSWU body members have been targeted because they have been the leadership of the struggle since 2011 against illegal contract worker system and for Trade Union rights and dignity of labour. It is a ‘class attack’ as in the words of Maruti CEO RC Bhargava. All workers know that this manifestly unjust verdict is to ‘teach a lesson’ to us by those in power that we should not fight for our rights and dignity on the shop-floor and beyond.

But against this repression, thousands of workers in this industrial belt and across India and world are protesting. On the evening of the Verdict on 18th May, 30000 workers in Gurgaon-Manesar did tool down strike against the injustice. The Maruti Suzuki Mazdoor Sangh (MSMS)–the joint platform of Maruti Suzuki factories–had given a call for Protest on the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh-Rajguru-Sukhdev on 23rd March in Manesar. Despite prohibitory orders of Section 144, thousands of workers from the industrial belts in Haryana and Rajasthan rallied in protest from factory after factory in Manesar. A letter from the Jailed workers was read out, and a call given to intensify the struggle for the release of the Jailed workers. It was also decided to give economic assistance to families of the Jailed workers.

On this 23rd March Protest program, we already appealed to all to observe 4th April as an all-India Day and International of Protest. Preparations for the same have already begun in various places. Meanwhile, recognized Central Trade Unions later issued a call to organize all-India Protest in solidarity with the Maruti Suzuki workers on 5th April. So, We appeal to all workers and pro-worker forces to observe 4th/5th April 2017 as all-India and International Days of Protest and show solidarity in whatever ways possible.

The struggling workers in the Gurgaon-Manesar-Bawal-Neemrana industrial belt in the states of Haryana-Rajasthan are showing that they will not relent on their legitimate rights and strengthen their class unity against the capitalist onslaught. We have also received great courage, encouragement and thank the amazing show of Solidarity of workers with the struggle for Justice of Maruti workers. Since the last few days, there have been protests by lakhs of workers in this and other industrial belts and by various workers, student-youth, human rights and other democratic organizations in over 30 cities in the country, and deputations and solidarity positions and actions in over 21 countries. This is a long battle, and only the growing force of the movement and wider solidarity can take the struggle forward.

 

Provisional Working Committee,

Maruti Suzuki Workers Union

Contact: 7011865350 (Ramniwas), 9911258717 (Khusiram) on behalf of the PWC, MSWU.

Email: marutiworkerstruggle@gmail.com

If you want more background about the Maruti Suzuki struggle, you can see the rest of the MSWU site, or try Gurgaon Workers News – there’s even a film about it:

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