Coventry trade unionists join massive protest at Tory Party conference in Manchester

Coventry trade unionists join massive protest at Tory Party conference in Manchester

Coventry Trades Council on the march

Coventry Trades Council on the march

Dozens of trade union members from Coventry and Warwickshire joined over 50,000 protestors today in Manchester against the Conservative Party conference. The annual gathering of the Tories was met by this huge protest made up of people disgusted with capitalist austerity. The start of the demonstration was delayed for some time due to the numbers arriving from all over the country. The protest was called against the privatisation of the NHS, and this was the main focus. However it was also an outlet for anger against many government policies – including the attacks on other public services and the bedroom tax.

Socialist Party trade union activists from NUT and Unite

Socialist Party trade union activists from NUT and Unite

There were huge contingents from many different unions, as well as student organisations. The march took place as teachers in the NUT and NASUWT prepare for action next week, as CWU members get ready to defeat Royal Mail privatisation, and the FBU who took action last week. This was a brilliant turnout in Manchester – now we need to link up and co-ordinate industrial action across the whole economy building for a 24 hour general strike.

Socialist Party members distributed thousands of leaflets outlining the way forward for the trade union movement and sold many copies of ‘The Socialist’ newspaper.

Firefighters take strike action – report from Coventry picket line

Firefighters take strike action – report from Coventry picket line

On the picket line at Radford

On the picket line at Radford

FBU members took strike action today against attacks on their pensions. Across the country firefighters walked out between 12-4pm, including here in Coventry.

Dave Nellist of the Socialist Party reported from the picket line

‘There was a very determined mood amongst FBU members today. They’re been told to pay even higher pension contributions and to work longer. The Tories have told younger firefighters I met on the picket line that they have to work 40 years now for a full pension compared to existing staff’s 30 years. Firefighters will now have to work to 60 (would you want a 60 year old having to climb up a burning building to rescue you?).

Oh, and the head of the West Midlands Fire Service retires (from a desk job!) in November. He’s 53 years old!’

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Coventry protest against the privatisation of the probation service

Coventry protest against the privatisation of the probation service

Dave Nellist supporting the protest

Dave Nellist supporting the protest

Workers in the probation service in Coventry have staged a protest against the privatisation of this vital public service. Members of NAPO, Unison and GMB organised the lunch time action last Thursday in Coventry. This was part of a national day of action which saw similar protests across the country. Dave Nellist attended to bring the support of the Socialist Party – also raising the issue that evening at a meeting of Coventry TUC.

40th anniversary of bloody overthrow of Allende government

In re-building a socialist movement, lessons of coup need to be learnt

Tony Saunois, Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI)

 The terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001 was not the first ’9/11’. In Chile, on 11 September 1973, a bloody coup, led by General Augusto Pinochet and backed by the US administration, overthrew the democratically-elected, Left government of President Salvador Allende. In its aftermath, thousands of trade unionists and socialists were slaughtered and thousands more imprisoned, tortured and exiled.

On the fortieth anniversary of the coup, Chile is embarking on a new presidential election scheduled for 17 November 2013. Following a massive student movement, which has continued to rock the country, the first possible important steps are being taken to rebuild an alternative for the working class.

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The two main political blocks, the ‘New Majority’ and the ‘Alliance’, both represent the existing ruling elite. They have offered no alternative for the working class and poor of Chile. The parties of the “left”, like the Socialist Party and Communist Party, have long since abandoned the radical left ideas they adhered to during the Allende-era. Like there counterparts internationally, these parties have embraced capitalism and the market and offer no alternative to the working masses.

Former President Michelle Bachelet of the Socialist Party and New Majority coalition is standing again, as no other credible candidate emerged from the former governing coalition. Bachelet is the daughter of air force General Bachelet, who supported Allende and died under torture following the coup.

The right-wing Alliance is fielding Evelyn Metthei, daughter of former Pinochet junta member, General Matthei.

Neither candidate offers anything but a continuation of neo-liberal policies. Yet also running in this election is Marcel Claude, the candidate of the Humanist Party and Left Alliance. Defending the students’ movement, demanding free quality education for all, and re-nationalisation of the copper industry, banks and big monopolies, Claude’s campaign has drawn big crowds and won enthusiastic support from workers and young people. The campaign represents an important step forward in re-building the workers’ and socialist movement. To build on this and to take it forward following the November election, the lessons from the bloody coup 40 years ago need to be learnt by a new generation. The reasons for the defeat 40 years ago are relevant for the workers and youth of Chile and all countries.

Tony Saunois, 11 September 2013

To read about the background to the coup and the lessons workers and youth must draw from it, we are re-publishing,

‘The other 9/11 – 1973 bloody coup against Popular Unity government, lessons for today’, by Tony Saunois, written in 2011.

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Nellist calls for halt to Bedroom Tax evictions

Former city councillor, Dave Nellist, has called for an end to Bedroom Tax evictions. The call came as the Leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband, was reported, by the Sunday People (01 Sept), as planning to announce later this month that a future Labour government would scrap the Tax.

Dave Nellist speaking on a Anti-Council Cuts Protest

Dave Nellist speaking on a Anti-Council Cuts Protest

Mr Nellist said:

“If the announcement takes place, and if it is honoured, that would be welcome. But if Labour now finally agree that the Bedroom Tax should not exist they should immediately take measures to shield people from its consequences.

Firstly, where councils own housing stock, or where councillors sit on housing association boards, they should immediately halt enforcement measures against tenants in arrears.

Secondly, councils should step up discretionary housing payments to all affected tenants so no one goes into arrears because of the Tax.

And Labour nationally should announce a future Labour government would reimburse any council for spending, using reserves, or borrowing to protect tenants between now and the abolition of the Tax.

Anything less than such a robust response and some might think the Labour leak is less a genuine proposal than a cynical attempt to shore up Labour’s weak opinion poll position in the run up to their Conference.”

Mr Nellist has been speaking at a number of meetings in the Midlands setting up ‘anti Bedroom Tax’ groups following the suicide in May of 53 year old grandmother, Stephanie Bottrill, of Kingstanding, Birmingham.  The groups have set up networks to support people in arrears, and to organise community opposition to evictions.

Mr Nellist added:

“Whilst this Labour announcement would be welcomed, on its own it’s not enough to reverse the savage attacks which have taken place on working people in general, and on the poorest sections of society in particular.

Ed Miliband needs not only to promise to scrap the Bedroom Tax, but announce policies to end the indignity of the need for food banks, to reverse the cuts in the real value of benefits, to lift real wages and pensions, and to end the growing scandal of zero hour contracts which for many hundreds of thousands of young people are the only alternative to long-term unemployment.

It’s to tackle those wider issues, which Labour is still ignoring, that needs a new political party, one that will challenge all the pro austerity parties at the ballot box. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition intends to stand 600 candidates at next May’s elections highlighting all the attacks on working people and their families and offering a break from the austerity coalition which still unites all the big four parties.”

Syria: Con-Dems in crisis – Now bring them down!

Name the day for a 24-hour general strike!

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The following article should be read alongside the following article that the Socialist Party released before the No Vote by MPs – https://coventrysocialists.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/no-to-imperialist-intervention-in-syria/

The Con-Dem government has suffered a huge defeat over Syria and its plan for UK involvement in a US-led attack.

After being humiliated in the House of Commons vote, David Cameron has been forced to concede that there will be no British military participation in Syria.

This defeat will complicate Obama’s planned bombing campaign, leaving US imperialism more isolated, perhaps having to rely on backing from the “socialist” Hollande in France, dictatorial pro-Sunni Arab regimes and the Israeli government.

But this debacle has consequences way beyond Britain’s imperialist military adventures. Cameron and Clegg could over the coming days and weeks be forced out.

The government itself could be brought down. The trade union movement – particularly the TUC which meets in early September – should finish off this floundering cuts coalition by calling a national day of strike action – a 24-hour general strike – against cuts and austerity.

Cameron is a ‘dead man walking’. 30 Tory MPs opposed the government motion on Syria and nine Lib Dems.

The last time a British prime minister was defeated on a war motion was in 1782 when MPs voted to end Britain’s involvement in the American war of independence.

For weeks prior to the vote on Syria, Cameron and William Hague were agitating for support for an attack on the Assad regime.

The horrific chemical attack that killed hundreds in the outskirts of Damascus on 21 August gave them the opportunity to pose as ‘humanitarians’ in order to justify the bombing campaign.

But internal divisions inside the Tory party and in particular the mass opposition to an attack among millions of people in Britain, led to their defeat.

The long shadow of Iraq has made it much more difficult to secure support for British imperialism’s foreign policy.

This was as much a defeat for Tony Blair and NewLabour‘s “dodgy dossier” and alleged WMDs legacy on Iraq as it was for the current Con-Dem government.

The Socialist Party is completely opposed to the murderous Assad regime. Nor do we give any support to the reactionary, sectarian forces who dominate the anti-Assad opposition.

We stand instead for the building of a united, non-sectarian mass movement of workers and the poor to establish independent trade unions and a mass workers’ party that can play a key role in overthrowing Assad.

Labour Party

Cameron’s humiliation will bolster Ed Miliband’s position in the short-term, despite his and Labour’s tepid and partial opposition over Syria.

Miliband, we should remember, did not oppose outright an attack, only that more time should be given to the UN inspectors to allow evidence to be collected.

Nevertheless, Labour’s stance does show the massive potential for a political party that stands on a platform of consistent and principled opposition to war and austerity.

Very quickly such a party – that champions mass struggle against cuts and promotes anti-capitalist and pro-socialist policies – could become a mass force in society.

However, Miliband’s determination to stick to Con-Dem austerity if elected and his attack on the trade union involvement in the Labour Party means he will not be widely seen as a real alternative for workers – at best more of a lesser evil.

The entire legitimacy of the Con-Dem coalition and its austerity programme has taken a battering. It is vital that the main opposition in society, the organised trade union movement and the broader working class, take this opportunity to finish off the government.

The trade union movement must build urgently for a mass coordinated strike. Name the day for a 24-hour general strike and link that to the building of a new mass working class party to oppose war, all cuts and poverty!


No attack on Syria!

  • No to imperialist intervention!
  • Against all oppression, the Syrian people must democratically decide their own fate
  • For the building in Syria of united, non-sectarian defence committees to defend workers, the poor and others against sectarian attacks from all sides
  • Prepare a movement to fight for a government of representatives of workers and the poor
  • For independent trade unions and the building of mass workers’ parties with a programme of land to the masses and the factories to the workers, implemented through a programme for a socialist democratic planned economy
  • A democratic socialist confederation of the Middle East and North Africa

Lobby the TUC

All out together in November

Sunday 8 September 2013

12.30 Hardy Suite, Hermitage Hotel, Exeter Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5AH (opposite the TUC conference venue)

No to imperialist intervention in Syria

Editorial of the Socialist

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Via social media, smart phones and traditional news channels a flood of bloody images, footage and reports of the unbearable suffering inflicted on the Syrian masses has been broadcast around the world.

Initially in 2011, following the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, there was a popular uprising against Assad’s police state. But, as has been explained in the Socialist, interventions and enormous financial and military backing came from the semi-feudal monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Qatar and imperialist forces in the hope of derailing that movement.

The uprising against Assad’s dictatorship has been skewed now into a sectarian conflict and has, moreover, unleashed a dangerous battle between the Sunnis and the Shias on a regional scale. The death toll of Syria’s now years-long conflict is estimated to be over 100,000. Two million people have fled the country and around five million are internally displaced. This is horror piled upon horror.

For the overwhelming majority of people the news that chemical weapons have been used in Ghouta, a district of Damascus, appears to represent the opening of a new circle of hell for the suffering masses. The reports that the dead are numbered in their hundreds and the injured in their thousands are as heart-breaking as they are horrifying.

Given what has taken place, combined with the threat of regional instability looming, a desire for a solution to this horror is a human response. But to hope that the US and UK governments and their allies in France, Germany and Turkey could bring any solution, given history, both recent and long-term, is horribly mistaken.

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