A UNISON member responds to Dave Prentis

A UNISON member responds to Dave Prentis

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We have received the following short article from a UNISON member in Coventry concerning the comments of union general secretary Dave Prentis about the 7 MPs who have resigned today from the Labour Party. We also refer readers to the latest editorial from our newspaper The Socialist.


The news that 7 Labour MPs today walked away from the Labour Party has been met with a mixture of laughter and anger from many trade unionists who want to see an end to this Tory government. Laughter, because the 7 seem to take their claims seriously that Labour (and by extension the trade unions) have somehow become a hotbed of ‘anti-semitism’ ‘bullying’ and ‘abuse’. It should be said that this laughter has increased even further with one of the 7, Angela Smith, making a disgusting comment on live TV regarding people of ‘funny tinge’. How can anyone take their supposed anti racist credentials seriously?  But also anger, because at the same time as working class people are struggling to get by, that workers face more pressure at work due to austerity and have to rely on foodbanks, these so called public representatives are doing everything they can to undermine the chances of a government that may act in the interests of working people.

It is in this context that the general secretary of our union, Dave Prentis, has taken to Twitter to attack the left wing leadership of the party. Once again Prentis shows his true colours with regard to what he thinks of Jeremy Corbyn and anti austerity policies in general. Rather than call the 7 what they are – traitors acting in the interests of the Establishment in order to undermine a potential Labour government, he attempts to lay the blame everywhere other than at the door of the MPs that have resigned.

The only ‘terrible news’ concerning them leaving the Labour Party is that they had not been removed by the democratic mechanism of mandatory reselection, and replaced with socialist fighters who would act in the interests of working class people.

Dave Prentis has once again shown what side he is on. It is high time we had a general secretary and union leadership prepared to fight for our members who have suffered year on year from austerity cuts.

 

UNISON holds ballot for industrial action among school staff

UNISON holds ballot for industrial action among school staff

By an education worker and UNISON member in Coventry

The public sector union, UNISON, is currently holding a consultative ballot for industrial action among school support staff.

Three questions are being asked:

  • Do you believe that government funding cuts are having a negative effect on jobs, workloads, stress, pay and terms and conditions in your schools?
  • Do you believe that UNISON should continue to campaign on school funding for jobs, pay and terms and conditions?
  • Would you be prepared to take industrial action to secure more money for jobs, pay and terms and conditions in schools?

Socialists in UNISON are calling for a Yes vote on all three questions. School funding has reached crisis levels, and support staff are now expected to cover classes and take on more and more work. Our children, our teachers and our support staff deserve better than this, and the “little extras” we were promised by the chancellor, Philip Hammond, aren’t going to cut it.

We also need to go further and demand that our union ballots for industrial action properly, and co-ordinates action with other unions representing school staff and teachers. Parents and students should also be involved in a movement to demand more funding for our schools – we were promised an end to austerity, let’s fight for it!

Lively Coventry protest in solidarity with the mass uprising in Sudan

Lively Coventry protest in solidarity with the mass uprising in Sudan

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A large protest took place today organised by the Sudanese community in Coventry and Warwickshire in solidarity with the protests taking place in Sudan. Socialist Party members attended to show our support.

Broadgate was filled with men, women and children showing their anger against the brutal regime of Omar al-Bashir. His government have overseen attacks on protestors with many killed and even more injured.

As we wrote in a recent article, Sudan has been rocked by extensive anti-government protests since 19 December.

People in the diaspora have come out in large numbers outside Sudanese embassies to show their solidarity. In contrast, most media outlets in neighbouring countries have been silent.

State subsidies on flour have been removed in River Nile state, tripling the bread price overnight, and provoking the biggest protests in this part of Sudan for years.

After school meal costs were more than doubled, school students and hundreds of other people marched in Atbara. Protesters set fire to the main office of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and local government headquarters and ransacked the offices of the notorious NISS security services.

Protests continued into the night and spread to other towns. A state of emergency and curfew was declared in Atbara and all schools were shut down in the city.

On the second day, demonstrations continued in all River Nile towns, despite the state of emergency, and spread to the far east of the country. By 21 December, five states had declared night time curfews.

The government banned all social media apps, shut down the internet, suspended classes, and closed all universities and schools. From the next day, western parts of the country started to rise up in protest

Iman Elkhatim, a lawyer from Coventry gave us this message

Dear Friends from all around the world. My country Sudan is uprising against the dictatorship, massive protests are happening, death tolls increasing, social media had been suppressed by telecom companies. Please, help us to highlight the regime’s awful practices against demonstrators. Pass our voices to your media. #Sudan_towns_uprising.

The Socialist Party and the Committee for a Workers’ International pledges our solidarity to this movement and we urge working class people in Coventry and across the world to do the same.

To read more about the situation in Sudan, click here for an article in the current issue of The Socialist newspaper.

Photos from the protest will be posted in our Facebook page

If you would like to find out more about what where we stand on the situation in Sudan, and other issues, please fill in the form below!

 

 

Coventry Socialists attend Trans Day of Remembrance 2018

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Coventry Socialist Party members at an LGBT vigil in 2016

On Tuesday 20th November thousands of people across the world come together to commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance.

 

Trans Day of Remembrance is a day to remember those who have been murdered due to anti-transgender hatred, as well as trans people who have committed suicide, and to recognise the oppression and suffering so many trans people face.

 

One such event was held in Coventry, and members of Coventry Socialist Party attended to pay our respects.

 

In the evening around 50 people gathered in a hall in an event organised by the local Pride group.

 

The event began with speeches, personal stories, and poems. From the start it was clear that this is a community not just saddened but deeply infuriated by the hatred they have collectively endured.

 

Many of the speakers called for urgent change in an unjust world, criticising governments across the world for failing to protect them.

 

Socialist Party members spoke at this vigil as members of the trans community and as trade unionists.

 

We emphasised that the capitalist system we live under has caused the suffering and deaths of many trans people. Under capitalism they are left homeless when they could be housed, suffering mental illness when they could and should be helped, desperate when they need not be, and so often commit suicide or are forced into the dangerous situations that lead to their murders because of a system that deprives them of the chance to live.

 

We gave an idea of how to fight this, stating the vital role trade unions play now and the real potential they have to defend and fight for trans people alongside all of the working class, linked to the struggle for the socialist transformation of society.

 

These messages were well received by a community that has been at the forefront of right-wing attacks and austerity cuts in recent years and has been subject to such horrific treatment for far too long.

 

This was all too clear when the names were read out of the three hundred and twelve recorded murders in the last year. Each name was read out, with their age, and where and how they died.

 

Many were in Brazil, where the far-right proud homophobe Bolsonaro has just been elected president.

 

Many were also in the USA, where Trump has sought to erode the rights of trans people, and plenty of Republicans express hatred for them.

 

The rights, protection, and ultimately the liberation of transgender people cannot be obtained without fighting for revolutionary change across the world.

 

In this, the working class must be united in our collective goals for healthcare, for safe communities, for rights not limited by reactionary ideas or by greed.

 

 

 

If you agree with what we say on this, please get in touch with the form below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panorama documentary shows horror of Universal Credit

Panorama documentary shows horror of Universal Credit

The BBC’s Panorama documentary tonight gave a brief glimpse of the appalling experiences of claimants on Universal Credit.

Filmed in Flintshire, the programme focussed on the problems caused by not having housing costs paid directly to landlords.

One claimant ended up with around £4000 worth of rent arrears for his council property, and was one of two people spoken to who ended up facing eviction in the winter months.

Another spoke of having found a possible place to move to nearby – underneath a bridge in the area.

Landlords spoken to were also clear about the failure to have the rent money paid on time, by vulnerable people unable to budget the single monthly payment to cover all their costs.

Council tenants on Universal Credit have more than double the rent arrears than those on other benefits.

Tory minister Alok Sharma insisted that “Universal Credit is working well”, but that is an entirely false claim.

In areas where Universal Credit has been rolled out, there has been a 52% increase in those needing to use foodbanks.

Panorama also spoke to a single father, who had been forced to live on foodbanks for six months because of an error in his online account reporting.

Universal Credit has “put us in poverty, put us in debt”, and was “very, very stressful” said one female claimant.

Clearly Universal Credit is more than a complete failure; it is an appalling system that means utter misery for those forced to claim it.

The Panorama programme ended on a gloomy note about the many thousands more people across Britain who will eventually have to claim the benefit.

In its current form, Universal Credit is unfit for purpose. It must be scrapped; and this demand must go hand-in-hand with other demands.

• A £10 minimum wage now!

• No to precarious work! Full trade union rights for all workers!

• Proper support for those unable to work! An end to the need to use foodbanks!

An invite to Socialism 2018! A weekend of socialist discussion and debate

An invite to Socialism 2018! A weekend of socialist discussion and debate

Socialism 2018

Coventry Socialist Party would like to invite you to a very important event – Socialism 2018. Organised by the Socialist Party and taking place in London in November, there will be rallies, debates and discussions about how to fight back against the capitalist crisis and how we can strengthen the global movement for socialist change.

It is a weekend event, with cheap accommodation available on the Saturday night. It is also possible (as some do) to come for either just the Saturday or Sunday. Ticket prices, including where you can buy, timetable for the event, and find out more are here. There is currently 10 per cent off tickets (discount shows when they are purchased)

There will be international speakers, including Kshama Sawant, elected socialist representative from Seattle, who will talk about the movement against Trump, racism and building an independent political alternative for working class people in the USA.

The event is not to be missed. There will be many of us travelling down from Coventry. Please respond to this email if you want to come, have more questions, or want to get your tickets.

So why should you come and what are we going to discuss? 

Austerity is destroying lives, driving down our living conditions while the rich get richer. The Tories aim to continue it forever. Can we get rid of the Tory government? Can councils actually set a no-cuts budget? Do they have any power to resist?

Women are rising up across the world against sexism. But how can liberation from oppression be won? How does the fight for trans rights connect? Can we build a movement to fight for all?

Brexit has split the Tories down the middle. Does the EU single market act as an obstacle to implementing socialist policies? Is a socialist Brexit possible? What will Brexit mean for Northern Ireland? Can the EU ever act in workers’ interests?

Trump is hated – but how can he be stopped? What will be the consequences of Trump’s America First policy? Will we go from trade war to military war? Will he cause a new world economic crisis?

Marxism says that philosophers have interpreted the world – but the point is to change it! 200 years after the birth of Karl Marx does Marxism still help us in the fight for socialism?

Corbyn was raised to the Labour leadership by people hungry for an end to austerity. And yet every step he takes is blocked by the right-wing in the Labour Party. Can the Labour Party be transformed into a party of the working class?

Racism must be countered whenever it emerges. But how? What kind of organisation is the Football Lads Alliance? How can they be stopped? Why did Malcolm X come to the conclusion that you can’t have capitalism without racism?

Trade unions have over six million members but what can they do to defend workers in the gig economy, zero-hour contract workers in retail and hospitality, refugees? What is their role in Austerity Britain? Is there a crisis of leadership?

These and just a taste of some of the topics. There will be large bookstalls, a social event, and much more.

Make sure you are part of the debate, in order to build a strong socialist movement!
Get your tickets here

If you want further information, please contact us using the form below.

Ahed Tamimi addresses Coventry meeting “It is true that suffering is high. But we are not victims. We are freedom fighters”

Ahed Tamimi addresses Coventry meeting 

“It is true that suffering is high. But we are not victims. We are freedom fighters”

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Ahed Tamimi speaks to Coventry meeting

The following report was written by a Coventry Socialist Party who attended the meeting with Ahed Tamimi. An edited version appears in the current issue of The Socialist, the weekly Marxist newspaper of the Socialist Party.


“It is true that suffering is high. But we are not victims. We are freedom fighters”

These were the words of 17 year old Ahed Tamimi, the young Palestinian arrested and imprisoned by the Israeli military who rose to worldwide prominence as a symbol of resistance against oppression and occupation.  Ahed spoke via Skype to a recent enthusiastic meeting of Coventry Friends of Palestine, organised around the issue of the treatment of Palestinian child prisoners.

Horrendous treatment of children

Karen, a member of the National Education Union (NEU) in Coventry and regular visitor to Palestine, and Mahmoud, a Palestinian living in Coventry and member of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, explained in detail the situation facing Palestinians with regard to how the occupying Israeli military treats children.

It was explained how between 500 and 700 Palestinian children are prosecuted each year according to UNICEF. Reports have stated that ill treatment of prisoners is “widespread, systematic and institutionalised”.

Night time arrests

The whole process was described in graphic detail – 40 to 50 per cent of children are arrested between midnight and 5am, with the arrestees being blindfolded and tied. They are rarely informed of the reasons for their arrest with parents not being allowed to accompany their children when they are taken without warning by the military.

After arrest they are transferred which can take hours, often being kept at military bases in the West Bank, being denied access to food, water, toilets and other basic human rights.

Mahmoud reported how child prisoners are not informed of their rights, are denied access to legal counsel, suffer solitary confinement and are ‘encouraged’ to sign confessions written in Hebrew.

When in court it may be the first time they have had access to legal support or the first chance to see their parents since being arrested.

Long term effects

Punishments include prison terms, fines, suspended sentences, with 60 per cent transferred to prisons inside Israel – an act which is against the Geneva convention. The average fine is the equivalent of around £300, a huge sum of money for a people often denied the right to earn a living.

But it is not just the immediate effects of military detention, which include dropping out of school. There are long term psychological effects such as repressed memories, sleeping problems, bed wetting – no one let alone a child should have to suffer these things.

All of this needs to be put in to the context of the Occupation, it is not a separate issue but a direct consequence.

Ahed Tamimi – a symbol of resistance

Ahed began by saying that “The most difficult thing for a human to lose is their freedom”

She explained how she had suffered verbal and sexual harassment at the hands of the authorities in an effort to break her. Despite her formal education being interrupted by her arrest and detention, she had continued her education within prison with other Palestinian prisoners including arrested teachers, who organise regular classes for their comrades.

After a battle with Israeli authorities to be allowed out of the country, she and her family had spoken around Europe to large rallies to explain what is taking place and to help increase the solidarity movement.

Ahed went on to explain that in her view “It is true that suffering is high. But we are not victims. We are freedom fighters”

She urged the Coventry meeting to “keep up the solidarity and to put pressure on the government to end the occupation”.

The way children are treated is a direct result of the occupation and is a brutal consequence of this nightmare. As speakers pointed out, this is taking place in the context of the 1948 Nakba, with the forced expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians from their land with now millions living outside historic Palestine in refugee camps.

Fight for socialism

Ahed, along with all Palestinians resisting the Occupation, are inspiration to millions around the world.

We need to build a mass movement of ordinary people here in the UK to show solidarity with the Palestinian masses – capitalist governments around the world, with the EU and United Nations, are part of the problem not the solution, only the solidarity of working class people can be relied upon.

The continuation of capitalism in the region means war, instability and oppression. We support the fight to build a revolutionary socialist movement across Israel-Palestine with our sister organisation the Socialist Struggle Movement, and the wider Middle East. Mass struggle can put an end to racism, insecurity and the nightmare of occupation. Socialism would guarantee the right to self-determination of all national groups, as part of a voluntary, socialist confederation of the Middle East.

If you are interested in discussing the ideas contained in this article, and want to find out more about the work of the Socialists in Israel-Palestine and the fight for revolutionary change across the Middle East, please fill in the form below.