Thousands across the world plan protests in solidarity with Sudan

Posted on: May 28th, 2024 by Thomas Foster
Protests against Sudan war outside of Downing Street last year

A protest against Sudan war outside of Downing Street last year (Picture: Steve Eason)

Thousands of people across the world plan to march this Saturday to highlight the slaughter and famine in Sudan, north Africa. It is five years since the military’s counter-revolutionary massacres in the capital Khartoum and other cities, whose horrors failed to break the surge for democracy by millions of Sudanese people.

Since April 2023, a murderous civil war between the state military and the competing RSF militia has seen ten million people forced from their homes. Around three million children are acutely malnourished.

A country of nearly 50 million is a war zone. In the Darfur region the militias carry out mass murder, rape, torture and looting. All the while the imperialists and the regional powers push their own interests.

The Sudanese people mean nothing to the overlords of profit and power. They are abandoned to war, starvation and catastrophic climate change. Capitalism offers no future to the vast majority of the world’s population. For five years Sudanese workers and the poor have fought for a different future.

They created grassroots structures to challenge rule from above. But Sudan also shows the terrible price of a revolution that is not carried through to the end. We stand with all those fighting against the warring generals in Sudan. And we also learn of the need for a socialist revolution, not a reshuffle at the top that ends with bitter ruling class revenge.

  • For protests, including in London, Cardiff, Oxford, Manchester and Edinburgh, go to tinyurl.com/SudanMENA

Starmer’s cosying up to bosses is a warning

Posted on: May 28th, 2024 by Thomas Foster
Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, during a visit to Dover, Kent, where he set out Labour’s border security strategy,

Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, during a visit to Dover, Kent, where he set out Labour’s border security strategy (Picture: Keir Starmer on Flickr)

Keir Starmer thinks he is having a great week. Not only does he have a 20-point lead over the Tories, he’s also received a gleaming letter of support from 120 business leaders in the Times newspaper. Starmer and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves have been working overtime to cosy up to corporate chiefs.

The bosses want “stability”—holding down workers’ resistance—to make profits. They want to give Labour the chance “to change the country and lead Britain into the future”. They correctly identify that “Labour has shown it has changed and wants to work with business”.

But this is not something workers should be cheering on. The wooing of bosses by Starmer and Reeves is part of their attempt to eliminate the Jeremy Corbyn era—and the left within Labour. Starmer is proving that he, unlike Rishi Sunak’s crumbling party, is the safer pair of hands for Britain’s rich at the cost of ordinary people’s interests.

The signatories include former executives from JP Morgan, Tesco Bank, the Financial Conduct Authority, Heathrow airport, Aston Martin, JD Sports and advertising giant WPP. Sir Malcolm Walker, the Iceland supermarket founder, signed a Tory business letter during the 2015 election campaign. And John Holland-Kaye, the former chief executive of Heathrow airport, was the target of the Unite union’s campaign to save jobs in 2023.

Starmer and Reeves will be celebrating their hard work coming to fruition. The pair have prioritised the voices of business people over ordinary workers. Why are business voices worth more than the working people they’ve made their fortune off? Why are their interests dominating the election, rather than parties listening to the voices of people who have suffered for 14 years under the Tories?

It’s telling that the Tories haven’t been able to put together such a letter. Now Starmer’s new friends will hope to shape a future Labour government. On Tuesday Reeves said Labour is bringing “hope back to Britain” with its business backing. She added that Labour has changed for good and will be a “pro-business, pro-worker” party.

That’s not possible—being friends with bosses is not the sign of a pro-worker government. Starmer and Reeves value corporate support over support from people at the bottom of society who live in misery.

Labour says it won’t promise more NHS funding, more council homes, higher benefits, pro-climate policies or more public spending. Instead it promises better deals, more profits and favourable taxation for the rich. No one should have any illusions about Starmer’s pro-business manoeuvring.

The election is a chance to push socialist ideas

Posted on: May 28th, 2024 by Arthur T
Rishi Sunak vying for election votes in Amersham (Photo: flickr/ The Conservative Party)

Rishi Sunak vying for election votes in Amersham (Photo: flickr/ The Conservative Party)

We need to tear up the establishment’s view of what the election means.

If it’s left to Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer we face five weeks of boredom and competing right wing programmes.

It will be slightly different versions of pro-corporate, pro-Israel politics interspersed with vicious racism from the Tories—and nothing different from Labour.

Sunak called the election for 4 July because he thinks waiting longer might produce an even worse result than the one predicted presently.

He launched the campaign drowning in pouring rain in Downing Street. It’s got worse since.

His brilliant advisers sent him off to the shipyard where the Titanic was built, triggering inevitable jibes about sinking ships.

We want the Tories, the open party of the bosses, booted out.

A Sunak victory would be a disaster for every working class person, for the NHS, for our schools, for people menaced by the cruel regime of Universal Credit, for all who want action over climate chaos, for people stuck on zero hours contracts and without union rights.

More people will be deported or jailed. Cops, generals, racists and fascists will feel stronger. Women and LGBT+ people will face renewed assaults.

The main threat to a Labour victory is that Starmer is so wooden, uninspiring and cautious that birds nest in his limbs and the voters stay at home.

Labour wants a boring campaign because it offers no real alternative.

It backs genocide in Israel and the bosses at home. It has its own plans to use terror laws and extra border guards against refugees.

At the election, Socialist Worker will support left candidates who help the movement over Palestine and break with Labour.

Those candidates need to be anti-racist and not dump support for women’s liberation, LGBT+ people and refugees in the grubby chase for votes.

Let’s be on the streets harassing the Tories and intensifying anti-racist, pro-Palestine, pro-environment and pro-worker campaigns.

And let’s push the union leaders to step up strikes and protests, not hold them back in the false belief that such resistance helps the Tories.

Fighting now is the best way to organise resistance to whoever wins the election.

Don’t be a spectator. Be part of the struggle now and shape the battles that will come afterwards.

If there’s a visit by Rishi Sunak or Keir Starmer make sure they receive the welcome they deserve—an onslaught of socialist rage.

When Reform UK candidates campaign, treat them like the rotten racists and Islamophobes they are.

Let’s drive Sunak out and to start the fight for real change. Build the fightback and build revolutionary socialist politics at the heart of it.


Harass the guilty

It was good to see pro-Palestinian protesters heckle Rishi Sunak as he arrived at South Staffordshire College in Cannock last Friday.

No politician should be allowed to escape from making clear statements about Gaza—or suffering the consequences if they back Israeli genocide.

On the same day campaigners sprung into action after hearing that Keir Starmer was launching the Scottish Labour election campaign in Glasgow.

Protesters chanted, “Keir Starmer, you can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide,” and, “What do we want, ceasefire, when do we want it, now.”

Labour intentionally held the launch on the outskirts of the city.

But that didn’t stop protesters from gathering at short notice to hit back at Starmer’s support for Israel’s genocide.

Angela from Glasgow Stop The War told Socialist Worker, “We had less than an hour to organise a picket outside the event.

“But we had to oppose Keir Starmer—or Kid Starver as we should call him.

“It’s important that for the whole of this election campaign the issue of Palestine is at the forefront.

“I hope that wherever they go, Starmer and Sunak will be hounded by protesters. They deserve it.”


‘Unions need to back left alternatives’

As Rishi Sunak announced the general election, PCS union members were gathered in Brighton at their annual conference.

Keith, who works in the revenue and customs department, told Socialist Worker, “I’m glad. It’s really the sooner the better—we can kick out the Tories.”

Ollie, who works in the lands registry department, said he will vote Labour with no illusions.

“I’m not keen on Keir Starmer, but I’ll vote Labour to keep the Tories out. The Tories only look after themselves and their mates,” he said.

Greg—from the Office of National Statistics—slammed the failures of both the Tories and Labour, saying, “I definitely won’t be voting for the Tories. I also don’t like the direction that Labour is going in under Starmer. I may well vote Green.

“People are done with the Tories and I think Labour will get in mainly because people are fed up.”

And a PCS member of the Leeds branch committee blasted Starmer’s leadership of Labour.

“The Palestine movement will have a key impact on this election. Keir Starmer’s position on Palestine has been shameful,” they said.

“Trade unions need to support the alternatives to Labour. We want politicians that actually represent us.

“Standing against the Israeli state and the atrocities it’s committing will be the bare minimum for me and probably for millions of others.”

They added, “Just like Palestine activists, anti-racists need to stay on the streets. We’ll always get push back from the government but keeping protests and campaigns going will be so important.”

Jack, who works in the culture sector, also spoke about the effect of the Palestine movement, saying, “The mobilisation of the Palestine movement has huge potential to create a new layer of politically aware and active people. The trade unions will be central to that.”

Industrial round-up: Low marks for UCU tops as bosses slash jobs

Posted on: May 28th, 2024 by Thomas Foster
Goldsmiths university protest and the UCU union congress is upcoming

Goldsmiths university are fighting back against cuts

Members of the UCU union must stand up to the trade union bureaucracy at this week’s yearly congress. They must demand hard-hitting action to combat wide-scale job cuts, falling pay and racism at the top of their union. Only three months after Jo Grady was reelected as general secretary, the union’s office is seemingly in chaos.

Around 200 workers for the UCU union, who are members of the Unite union, are planning to strike on Thursday—during the union’s congress. The union workers are furious that industrial relations have, according to Unite, completely broken down. Workers say the UCU has undermined existing industrial recognition agreements, failed to agree on key working principles and had a heavy-handed use of disciplinary procedures.

UCU staff has also previously spoken out about what they describe as a “culture of fear” in the union’s office. The union leadership has also been hit with multiple accusations of racism. The UCU’s Black Member Standing Committee (BMSC) has been refusing to take part in union decision-making processes.

A statement released by the BMSC said that “pervasive structural racism plagues our sector and our union”. “We feel obliged to share our disappointment in the entrenched racism and systemic disrespect within our union,” it added.

“For too long we have witnessed an active undermining of our voices and dismissal of our concerns within UCU and lack of meaningful representation. Our attempts to address these injustices have been met alternately with resistance, indifference, procedural setbacks and deliberate stalling.”

All of this comes as university bosses are taking a sledgehammer to jobs in higher education. Thousands of workers are facing the threat of redundancy, and so far, those at the top of the union haven’t offered a real plan about how to fight back. Several branches have voted to strike or take action over redundancies, such as Goldsmiths university in London.

Instead of pushing for a national fightback, Grady and the leadership have pushed for branches to fight redundancies university by university. According to a UCU Left report on a National Executive Committee in March, the general secretary “has given up on any pretence of defending national bargaining”. But the report argued, “Britain-wide bargaining is vital for the protection of pay levels and employment conditions.”

And a motion put forward by Brighton university was carried at a Special Higher Education Sector Conference earlier in May. It called for the union to “develop a strategy which includes returning to UK-wide action in academic year 2024-25” and “to organise strike committees to synchronise action and deliver maximum solidarity for branches in dispute”.

This kind of action is needed to counter the bosses’ threats of redundancies. At the conference, UCU members must push their leadership to back a plan for strikes all across Britain.


PCS conference debates pay campaign strategy

Civil service workers met for their PCS union conference last week in the aftermath of a national strike ballot over pay that ended on 13 May. In the ballot, 83.7 percent were in favour of strikes. But in most government departments, less than 50 percent of members voted, meaning they didn’t beat the anti‑union law threshold.

In any case, it shows there is a strong mood to fight. The PCS conference discussed strategies for the national pay campaign. The trade union leadership backed a motion that set out strikes at some point for the departments that did reach the turnout threshold, but it had no detail on when that would be. It also lacked a call for re-balloting the departments that did not reach the threshold.

Another motion argued for strikes and re-ballots to be called. It rightly laid out that it would be a mistake to waste the mood for strikes. Delegates voted for a motion calling for strikes and re-ballots.

But the motion that passed only “instructs the GEC to consider” its recommendations—so it is not binding. PCS members must immediately pressure their union leadership to organise and announce strike dates as soon possible. A serious strike programme can also help with the re-ballots, as it encourages more to vote to join strikes.


Delegates back Palestine and hit out at Rwanda plan

Firefighters met in Blackpool for their FBU union conference from Wednesday to Friday last week. The conference happened after members accepted a deal to settle their national dispute at the start of May. The deal included a four percent pay uplift and a rise in maternity pay.

At the conference, a motion calling for an immediate and unequivocal ceasefire in Palestine was unanimously passed by delegates. And an important emergency motion was brought to the conference arguing for the union to lobby for the legal overturning of the Rwanda plan—backing the PCS unions’ legal battle. It made a demand for all those who get deported to be brought back to Britain, and for all those currently detained to be immediately released.

Unfortunately it was remitted before a vote. The motion was remitted on the basis that if a Keir Starmer government continues the Tories’ attempts to deport refugees and migrants, a motion to disaffiliate from the Labour Party would be brought to conference next year. The union has also called for the scrapping of the anti-union law that requires a minimum service during strikes.

Thanks to Lee Hunter, chair of Merseyside FBU branch, for providing Socialist Worker with details from the conference.


Barnet workers keep up battle for retention pay

Mental health social workers in Barnet are still battling their north London authority over a proper retention and recruitment payment. They walked out for three weeks on 13 May until Friday this week. This followed two weeks of action from 15 April. The strikers also plan to strike from Monday next week for two weeks and from 17 June for four weeks.

Last Thursday their national Unison union issued a legal letter to the council’s chief executive John Hooton about the council’s use of agency workers during the strike. The council previously tried to break the strike with agency workers, until pressure from the union branch forced the agency company to pull out.

But the council didn’t give up with its strike-breaking and attempted to outsource some of the strikers’ roles permanently. In negotiations bosses have already stated that it would be “easier and cheaper” to agree to the demands for recruitment and retention payment for workers. Yet it refuses to end the dispute.

“Our members want to work in a safe working environment with no waiting lists and fair pay. A recruitment and retention payment will help encourage existing staff to remain and help Barnet Council recruit experienced mental health social workers that they badly need before it is too late,” Barnet Unison said. Unison nationally must keep up the pressure on Barnet. Legal threats are important, but escalated action by other council workers is the way to win.


Asda strikes bosses’ pocket

More than 100 GMB union members held a two-day strike at Asda’s Hollingbury store near Brighton last week. There was a big and lively picket line last Saturday morning, where the strikers greeted shoppers. Many of them were turned away as local trade unionists and other supporters joined a rally dozens-strong at the gates.

Across Britain, Asda workers are fighting on a range of issues, including a lack of collective bargaining, poor health and safety standards, poor quality training, equal pay not being resolved in a timely manner and cuts in hours. And workers at Asda have more reasons to be angry at bosses. Thousands of retail and logistic workers across Britain have been paid incorrectly for most of this year.

Some have been overpaid and Asda has warned them they have until Tuesday this week to repay the money or it will come out of their wages in June. The issue is down to a new payment system Asda bosses have started to use because the previous system was too expensive. The Asda management has so far refused to meet with GMB representatives.

By Phil Mellows


Morrisons warehouse revolt

Some 1,000 Morrisons workers are striking over changes to pension contributions. Workers at warehouses in Gadbrook in Cheshire and Wakefield in West Yorkshire supply 500 stores. The Unite union members walked out on Thursday last week until Sunday morning, and are set to strike again on 13 June for 72 hours.

Bosses are forcing workers to increase their own pension contributions while the company reduces its own contributions by the same amount. And a new “pick rate” monitors the speed at which items are packed.

Interested in socialism? Read our book

Posted on: May 28th, 2024 by Sophie
socialism socialist

New book is for those who want to learn about socialism and revolutionary politics

Why is the book coming out now?

SB: We chose to write Why You Should Be A Socialist because of the global movement for Palestine. It follows other explosive movements, such as Black Lives Matter (BLM) and the climate rebellion, and the strike wave.

LN: Something big is happening to a whole generation of people who have been involved in these mass movements that have shaken up politics in a big way.

None of the mainstream political parties provide any genuine answers to climate change, racism, Gaza, or the many crises society is facing. So many feel like mainstream politics doesn’t represent them anymore.

SB: Arguments for revolution are more relevant than ever as people seek an alternative. This book is aimed at them. Why should people read this book?

Sophie Beach

People should read the book because it introduces some of the most important arguments in society. It answers questions about how capitalism works and how racism, sexism, and imperialism are built into the system.

LN: And the book outlines what our revolutionary politics has to offer. It goes through big questions like, “Is revolution possible?”, “Is human nature a barrier to socialism?”, and, “What went wrong in Stalinist Russia?”

We want it to be used by those involved in struggles and to make them feel confident about convincing others of revolutionary ideas. If the book goes a small way towards that, then that would be a very good thing.

SB: Crucially, the book maps out a pathway of how we can win. Whether you are angry about the capitalist system or starting to think you might be a socialist, you should read it.

If you’re already a socialist, the book answers some big questions about socialism, such as how we organise society in a more democratic way. It is something everyone should read, and encourage others to read in their workplaces and in the movement.

Why is the book arguing for revolution?

LN: Because parliamentary politics has failed. Over the last few years we’ve seen the demise of left wing projects that think reform is the way forward. The 2010s was a decade when left reformism—a strategy that tries to achieve socialism through parliament—came to the forefront.

You had Jeremy Corbyn leading the Labour Party in Britain, Syriza in office in Greece, Podemos in Spain, the Left Bloc in Portugal and Bernie Sanders in the United States.

They were positive developments that, but all these projects failed. There is an opening now for people who recognise that even making reforms within a capitalist system won’t solve the many crises we face.

Capitalism is promising us a future of economic crisis, climate crisis, political crisis and relentless war—the instability in the political system means the far right is on the rise.

We argue that revolution is necessary to avoid capitalism taking us down this dangerous road. SB: And there’s a general election in six weeks’ time.

Nobody has any illusions in what Labour is bringing to the table. As Lewis said, this is not just because of how awful Keir Starmer is but also because there are deeper systemic issues about reformism’s failure to deliver change.

If you want real transformative change in society—which the recent mass movements show that many ordinary people also want—we need system change, not just a changing of hands at the top of society. 

Why aren’t movements enough?

LN: Movements, such as the Palestine movement, the climate protests or the BLM movement, can create huge political earthquakes and pull in big numbers of people.

But the ruling class can often find ways to tame them, channelling them towards a place that is respectable and safe.

In the book, we argue that if we want systemic change, we need these movements to enter the workplace much more widely. We’ve been saying for a while that we need to shut down the system to stop Israel’s assault on Gaza.

Workers walking out and striking would be impossible for our leaders to ignore and could force our government to stop its support for Israel.

When we talk about deepening the movement for Palestine, this is what we mean. SB: Also movements can go up like a rocket and down like a stick.

We need something more sustained where we struggle every day for revolution. This means a revolutionary organisation that is genuinely part of movements—not on the sidelines—fighting to bring workers into the struggle.

LN: The first task of revolutionaries is to get stuck in and be a part of a movement—the debates and actions and be a part of deepening it—while building a revolutionary pole of attraction within them. How are the problems we face today linked?

SB: The roots of all of today’s problems are located in the same thing— capitalism. But we also need to be more analytical than that.

For instance, large swathes of people involved in the Palestine movement are asking, “How did we get to the situation that we are in?”

To answer that we have to understand Israel as a product of imperialism and part of a system where war, violence and racism are endemic to it.

As revolutionary socialists, we argue that the problems we face are linked. The fight against Tories and their racism is the same fight against Israel’s genocide, the same fight against transphobia and the same fight against climate chaos.

LN: Following up from that, it’s a mistake to talk about the crises we face today as a series of crises happening at the same time. Instead they should be seen as part of the totality of capitalism.

Since the economic crisis of 2008, we are seeing more and more economic instability. This instability hasn’t happened in a vacuum but because capitalism is a chaotic, volatile system.

If you look at Palestine, a profound crisis of imperialism has flowed into an economic crisis. Houthi rebels attacking ships for Palestine in the Red Sea has disrupted the supply chains of global capitalism.

Capitalism creates a total crisis that requires a total response.

SB: It’s a system that has exploitation and oppression written into its fabric. You have to fight on all genuine issues that ordinary people face. Only a fight that links up all of the struggles against our broken system will get rid of it

What would you say to someone who thinks political parties are the problem?

SB: It’s no surprise that many working people don’t trust political parties. The Tories have presided over 14 years of austerity, and the Labour Party is headed by a man who has betrayed the Palestinians and promised he will stand with the bosses when he gets into office.

And again, it’s not like most left wing parties are much of an appealing alternative. Stalinist communist parties have repeatedly let workers down and been a barrier to them making real revolutionary change.

Lewis Nielson

A revolutionary socialist party like the SWP hopes to be different. Our aim in the SWP is to gather the most radical sections of the working class to lead struggle in every workplace and campus.

We see that the only way to have revolutionary change and to sustain it is to have a leadership that is coordinated and organised. Our rulers are organised and so we must be as well.

A revolutionary party that is organised in a democratic and centralised way is the best way to pull together leaders in any fightback.

LN: To echo that, the SWP is made up of people who are won to the idea that we have to break from the logic of capitalism—that we have to build a new socialist society from the bottom up.

We can play a role in building struggle—and in that struggle, pull it towards a confrontation with the state and capitalism. We don’t pretend to have all the answers.

We don’t pretend that the SWP is the finished article. But we do think that the whole history of revolutionary struggle shows us that we can’t wait for a revolution to build an organisation.

You have to build the embryo in the here and now. And that’s what we are trying to do with the SWP.

  • Why you should be a socialist: the case for a revolution by Lewis Neilsen and Sophia Beach £5, available at Socialist Worker shop

Keir Starmer retreats from the Left

Posted on: May 28th, 2024 by Arthur T
Labour leader Keir Starmer in the recent local elections (Photo: flickr/Keir Starmer)

Labour leader Keir Starmer in the recent local elections (Photo: flickr/Keir Starmer)

Keir Starmer may have his eyes firmly fixed on election victory but behind him lie a trail of broken promises, crumbled pledges and hastily taken U-turns.

He clawed his way to the top of the Labour Party by vowing to enact a slew of measures around taxing the rich, nationalising public services and delivering justice for ordinary people.

Yet he has spent the last four years smashing through any initial attempts to challenge the Tories’ rotten rule.

Starmer has consistently broken with any notion of defending workers’ rights, action on climate catastrophe and abolishing the Tories’ cruel benefits system.

He has effectively taken a sledgehammer to the ten promises put forward in his 2020 election campaign, brought together under the slogan “another future is possible”.

Each broken promise isn’t a momentary lapse of judgement—it is a deliberate act to set his party out as one that will rule to protect corporate and imperialist interests.

For instance, in 2020, Starmer said he’d back a Green New Deal which would pour investment into environmental infrastructure and jobs.

Yet last year he told the fossil fuel industry it could continue to drill into the North Sea “for decades to come”.

Getting her excuses in early, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, claimed a Labour government couldn’t afford the Green New Deal now as the Tories have “crashed the economy”.

This backpedalling serves to reassure nervous banks and businesses that a Labour government is a safe pair of hands for capitalism.

And recently Starmer is ramping up the racist rhetoric about the importance of guarding British borders.

He promised to be more effective at deporting migrants than the Tories are.

One of Starmer’s six key pledges, released earlier this month, is a promise to launch a border security command to stop small boat crossings.

This vicious attack is about entering into the political theatre of anti‑migrant rhetoric.


Labour backs Israeli genocide

Keir Starmer’s support for Israeli genocide in Gaza is his greatest crime.

He infamously supported war crimes when he said “Israel does have that right” to cut off water and power to the people of Gaza.

In February, fearing a revolt by dozens of his own MPs, he pressured house of commons speaker Lindsay Hoyle to prevent a vote on an amendment calling for an unconditional ceasefire.

At every turn he has backed Israel and confined any criticism of Binyamin Netanyahu to the limits set by United States president Joe Biden.

When the pressure from below became too great, Starmer started speaking of a ceasefire. But it was always conditional on Hamas surrendering.

Starmer told a meeting last week that recognition of a Palestinian state could happen only as “part of a process” of peace talks involving Israel.

Labour’s shadow Middle East minister, Wayne David, expanded on Starmer’s remarks to explain that Israel would have a veto. A two-state solution would only ever come to “fruition in a way which is acceptable to the state of Israel. That is the way to bring about peace,” he said.

Backing for imperialism is central before the generals, spymasters and the ruling class will back a potential prime minister. Israel, which plays such an important role for the West in theMiddle East, is a central test.

Starmer, who leads the self-proclaimed “party of Nato”, has passed the challenge set by the imperialists.


Labour Party’s right has full control

One area of Starmer’s leadership where there hasn’t been backsliding is in ousting the Labour left. He has pursued the remnants of left activists and leadership around Jeremy Corbyn.

Starmer wasted no time in forcing the left into humiliated submission.

In October 2020, just six months into his leadership, Starmer suspended Corbyn as a Labour MP for saying that the scale of the antisemitism crisis within the party had been “dramatically overstated”. It was a hammer blow to the hundreds of thousands of new members that had joined the party during Corbyn’s premiership.

Starmer has utilised every arm of the party to turn it from left toward right.

For instance, the national executive council (NEC) voted in July 2021 to ban Labour members who had been part of a number of left wing groups.

And the NEC repeatedly pushed back on members who have come up against the pro-business, pro-war and anti‑worker rhetoric of Starmer’s Labour. Yet despite driving the party further to the right, Starmer is proud of the changes made under his leadership.

In February 2023 he crowed, “The Labour Party is unrecognisable from 2019, and it will never go back.

“If you don’t like the changes that we’ve made, I say, the door is open, and you can leave.”

Industrial round-up: Tractor strikers keep the hand-brake on

Posted on: May 28th, 2024 by Daire Cumiskey
Pickets at Basildon  tractor factory earlier this month (Picture: Alan Kenny)

Pickets at Basildon tractor factory earlier this month (Picture: Alan Kenny)

Around 500 workers at the British headquarters for the CNH Industrial tractor factory in Basildon, Essex, continue strikes over pay that began on 14 May.

The workers also walked out on 15 and 16 May, Tuesday to Thursday last week and were set to strike on Tuesday to Thursday this week.

The factory makes New Holland farming equipment. Pay talks for 2024 began last October.

Management offered a 4 percent rise based on the CPI inflation rate in January 2024, rather than as an average for the whole previous year.

Bosses want the 2025 pay rise to be based just on December 2024.

Management and the workforce’s union, Unite, agreed in 2022 to increase pay calculated by the average rate of inflation over the year.

The workers estimate that they make 73 tractors a day—which can cost, on average, between £100,000 and £200,000 each.

That means the company could lose up to £10 million a day when workers strike. On some strike days all the strikers walk out together.

But for most dates the union calls out only a few departments at a time as production is still shut down and the bosses “lay-off” the other workers.

Unite should call more strike dates to extend the battle beyond this week and ramp up the pressure on the multi-billion pound company.


Better deal in Liverpool

Strikers in the National Museums Liverpool (NML) dispute are voting on an improved offer.

The PCS union has suspended action from Tuesday this week until Sunday—half-term week.

The offer is a one-off payment of £1,200, plus two additional days annual leave permanently and a 35 percent discount in the museum cafes and shops.

The branch is recommending a Yes vote. More strikes are planned if the deal is rejected.

“Our members at NML have taken more than 60 days of action in protest over the employer withholding a costof- living payment,” PCS said.

The Museum of Liverpool, the World Museum, the International Slavery Museum and the Maritime Museum, as well as the Walker Gallery, Sudley House and the Lady Lever Art Gallery have been hit by the strikes.

The £1,500 payment was part of the government’s pay offer for 2022-23. Strikes from last Saturday to Monday this week went ahead.


Hackney teachers set to walk out over workloads

Around 20 education workers at St Dominic’s primary school in Hackney, east London, are set to strike over workload.

The NEU education union has so far negotiated successfully to remove the plan for teaching assistants to become midday meal supervisors—removing them from classrooms for almost six hours a week.

But governors are refusing to negotiate on workload, currently claiming workers don’t have enough evidence to support our claims.

The governors have so far refused to share any details on the future of the school.

And so workers are set to strike, with the current dates confirmed for Tuesday and Wednesday next week.


More action in Birmingham

Workers at another 35 schools in the GMB union are planning to ballot for strikes in Birmingham.

Around 1,500 teaching assistants, catering staff and other workers struck earlier in May to demand equal pay.

The mostly female workforce is angry that it is paid less than men who work for the council in similar roles like refuse collecting.

Workers are also furious because the Birmingham council continues to delay talks with the GMB.

If workers vote to strike, staff at 70 schools could strike together.


Repair wage cuts at Greenwich council

Some 150 workers at Greenwich council in south London were set to strike on Tuesday this week over plans that could see them lose a third of their wages.

The Unite union members carry out repair services.

The council has done a pay benchmarking exercise enacted over four years that could see workers lose nearly £17,000.


Driving off low pay in Manchester

Over 60 bus drivers in Greater Manchester who transport elderly and disabled people have voted to strike over low pay given to them by bosses at Greater Manchester Accessible Transport.

The Unite union members are paid just above minimum wage at £11.50 an hour. Some 7,000 people depend on the service.

The current rate of pay for bus drivers is £16 an hour. Unite will announce strike dates later in the summer.


Welsh ceramic workers in pay fight

Workers at Ceramtec UK in Ruabon in north Wales were set to strike for four days from Tuesday of this week.

The 150 Unite union members rejected a 79 pence an hour increase in pay.

They want an offer to match the National Living Wage that has increased by £1.02 an hour.

Ceramtec produces ceramics for healthcare and the automotive industry. Some workers are paid just £11.44 an hour.


Northern station staff jump barrier

Contracted out ticket barrier workers at Northern, the train operating company, struck last Friday and are set to walk out again on Saturday of next week.

RMT union members employed by Carlisle Support Services work at Northern Rail ticket barriers and are paid less than directly employed staff.

They cannot enter the company pension scheme or receive sick pay from their employer.

The contractor also does not recognise the RMT for collective bargaining.


Ballot on the Clyde after deal rejected

Workers at the Coulport and Faslane naval bases on the Clyde are voting on strikes.

The 600 members of the Unite union employed by Babcock Marine (Clyde) Ltd work on Britain’s nuclear submarines.

Workers rejected a two-year deal for a seven and three percent pay rise by 99 percent.

They want a pay rise in line with RPI inflation last year, which was 9.1 percent. The ballot runs for two weeks until 11 June.

Tommy Robinson must be stopped

Posted on: May 28th, 2024 by Arthur T
Stand Up To Racism counter-protests Tommy Robinson

Stand Up To Racism counter-protests Tommy Robinson

Fascist Tommy Robinson is coming to London this Saturday. The English Defence League (EDL) founder plans to assemble his troops at Victoria station then march to Parliament Square.

Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) has called a counter-demonstration. Anti-fascists have to be ready to greet Robinson to ensure he leaves with his tail between his legs.

Robinson says he’s calling the demonstration because, “There’s a clear two tier policing and justice system in the UK, with independent voices quashed.”

But the real two tier policing is a racist police force. Robinson says he wants to “expose the British totalitarian state” and accuses the media and cops of curtailing his freedoms—to be racist and hateful.

This march is just an excuse for Robinson to spew his vile racism out on the streets. His Twitter is full of anti-Muslim and antitrans propaganda.

Islamophobe Robinson calls for “foreigners out”, uses racist fear-mongering and scapegoating and dubs Palestine protesters “terrorist scum”.

SUTR says Robinson wants “to pursue the agenda he has for years—spreading racism, Islamophobia and division”.

Robinson has been banned from London for six months since his arrest at a march against antisemitism called by Zionists. Organisers asked Robinson to not come to the November demonstration to avoid giving their pro-Israel protest a bad name.

Police arrested him outside the Royal Courts of Justice and he denied the charge of failing to comply with a dispersal order. But a judge threw his case out last month because the dispersal order signed by a Met cop had the wrong date on it.

Robinson tweeted after that he’d be suing the Met. SUTR says, “Robinson is a fascist who has a history of involvement with fascist and far right organisations.”

The likes of disgraced ex-Tory MP Andrew Bridgen who described Covid vaccinations as the “biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust” are supporting Robinson.

SUTR adds that Robinson’s re-emergence comes prior to “a general election where the government’s key priority is to demonise migrants”.

“And internationally the far right is set to make big gains in the European elections, and there is a very real prospect of Donald Trump returning to the White House in November,” it said.

  • Unite against Tommy Robinson—fascists not welcome in London demonstration. Saturday 1 June, assemble 11am outside Downing Street to march on Parliament Square