May Day in Coventry

May Day in Coventry

cof

PCS Vice-President John McInally speaking at Coventry May Day rally

As part of protests, rallies and demonstrations around the world to mark International Workers’ Day an event was held in Coventry city centre, organised by Coventry TUC and Coventry against Racism.

As well as local speakers from a wide variety of unions and campaigns, the main speaker this year was John McInally, national Vice-President of the PCS civil service union.

John outlined the current situation facing working class people, and the need to get rid of capitalism and fight for socialism. He pointed out that 100 years ago in Russia, many people would have said it was impossible to get rid of the Tsar. Yet working class people not only overthrew the Tsar, but also capitalism.

Other speakers included Dave Nellist on the history and origins of May Day, a speaker from UCU, an NUT rep, a member of the Indian Workers’ Association, a Socialist Party member calling for solidarity with LGBT people in Chechnya and an activist from Stand up to Racism.

Coventry TUC have ensured that the tradition of May Day is kept alive and hundreds of shoppers will have heard pro trade union, anti racist and socialist arguments. In the coming years this event will grow as the working class begins to find its voice, and rediscovers it’s revolutionary history and the relevance for today’s struggles.

On Monday we will be publishing an article by Dave Nellist in the current issue of The Socialist newspaper on the real origins of May Day.

Coventry commemorates International Workers’ Memorial Day

Coventry commemorates International Workers’ Memorial Day

cof

Trade unionists from across Coventry came together for International Workers’ Memorial Day 

Today is International Workers’ Memorial Day, and an event was held in Coventry to remember those that have died through work related issues, all those that suffer through a lack of appropriate health and safety regulation and increases in workplace stress.

Each year thousands of workers are killed, fall sick or are injured in the workplace. This is linked to increasingly exploitative employment practices such as zero hour contracts and attacks on holiday entitlement and sick pay.

One of the themes this year was the growing ‘Gig economy’ with more workers being employed through companies like Uber and Deliveroo. Joel, a campaigner with Youth Fight for Jobs highlighted this very point, explaining that unless the economy and society are re-organised on socialist lines to put people before profit, things are very bleak for young people under the capitalist system.

Two speakers from Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre told the audience about the problems being faced by workers from abroad. Organising these workers in to trade unions will be a key task for the movement, to ensure everyone has a decent wage and to stop employers and their ‘race to the bottom’.

Other speakers included the Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Tony Skipper, who thanked Coventry TUC for organising the event, Sarah Feeney from UNISON, Stephen Cowden from UCU, JP Rosser from PCS, and Alan Lewis and John Swift from UNITE.

In closing the meeting, Jane Nellist President of Coventry TUC urged those gathered to pledge to “remember the dead and fight for the living”. A key part of that will be building stronger and more militant trade unions, linked to a socialist programme to end the capitalist system that puts profit before the lives and wellbeing of workers and their families.

Coventry TUC have organised a May Day Rally for Saturday 29th April, 11am in Broadgate. One of the main speakers will be John McInally, vice-president of PCS.

Time to wage war on the system that brings us foodbanks

Time to wage war on the system that brings us foodbanks

foodbank

Foodbank use is on the up

News has emerged that the use of foodbanks in the United Kingdom has continued to rise. The Trussell Trust has reported that in “between 1st April 2016 and 31st March 2017 (they) provided 1,182,954 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis compared to 1,109,309 in 2015-16. Of this number, 436,938 went to children.”

This has been blamed on a number of factors, not least the introduction of Universal Credit as well as the continued use of Benefit sanctions as a way of punishing those most in need. It is also true that due to poverty wages and zero hour contracts, that people who are in work can also be forced to foodbanks in order to survive.

How can this be right in the 6th richest country in the world? A country where there is no shortage of money and wealth. Why is it that working class families have to suffer the sheer indignity of going to foodbanks, whilst the rich corporations manage to avoid paying their taxes?

The answer is simple – it is the capitalist system to blame. A system that sees the majority of the world’s population suffer, even in supposedly advanced countries like the UK.

We need to be able to control the vast wealth and resources that exist on our planet, so we can plan the economy in the interests of ordinary people. That means getting rid of capitalism, fighting for public ownership and workers control of the key sectors of the economy, so we can truly put people before profit. In short, we need to fight for socialism. Join us!

If you are interested in finding out more, fill in the form below

#JobstownNotGuilty meeting in Coventry this Wednesday – Irish activist speaks

 #JobstownNotGuilty meeting in Coventry this Wednesday – Irish activist speaks
Image result for jobstown not guilty
This week the trial of seven protesters began in Ireland, including Solidarity TD (MP) Paul Murphy. They have been charged with “false imprisonment” of the then Deputy Prime Minister Joan Murphy during a sit-down protest against water charges in November 2014. This has been described as “the biggest political trial in Ireland for a generation”.
In a recent interview with The Socialist, Paul Murphy highlighted the shameful attempts by the prosecution to stop the defendants from speaking about the trial. These were unsuccessful, as were the attempts to rig the trial by banning anyone from Tallaght area – over 100,000 people! – from serving on the jury. The trial is clearly politically motivated, with two Solidarity councillors, Keiran Mahon and Michael Murphy, also charged – with an offence that can carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
International solidarity with those on trial has poured in, and this will continue in Coventry on Wednesday. Dublin-based activist Shane O’Fionnain will be speaking at a meeting upstairs in the Four Provinces pub at 7.30pm. This trial is an attack on the right to protest, and must be defeated – please share and attend this important event!

France prepares to go to the polls with race wide open

France prepares to go to the polls with race wide open

melanchom mass rally april 9

Mass rally of 70,000 in Marseille for Jean-Luc Melenchon

France will go to the polls on Sunday 23rd April in the first round of the presidential elections. In a reflection of the political and economic instability that exists around the world, the race is wide open with 4 of the 7 candidates vying to reach the top two and go forward to the run off on 7th May.

This election has been highly significant from the point of view of the rise of Jean-Luc Mélenchon of ‘France Unbowed’, who in railing against the rich, austerity policies and the political establishment has drawn enormous crowds across France who are enthused by his message. This also provides useful lessons for the campaign of Jeremy Corbyn here in the UK.

We are pleased to reproduce two articles as background reading for those interested in these elections, critical not just for France but people across Europe and indeed the world.

The first is by Clare Doyle of the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), the worldwide socialist organisation that the Socialist Party is part of. It was written on 8th April and provides useful background information about the context of the election

The second is from the comrades of Gauche Révolutionnaire (Revolutionary Left), our sister organisation in France. Members of GR have been actively supporting and intervening in the movement developing around Mélenchon, whilst at the same time putting forward a programme to take the movement forward. You can read what they are saying, including the text of the leaflet being distributed, by clicking here.

If you are interested in the issues raised here and want to link up with socialists in Coventry looking to change society and fight for socialism, then fill in the form below and we will be in touch!

Get the Tories out – fight for socialism!

Get the Tories out – fight for socialism!

Labour leadership contest

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn speaking at a rally in Newcastle 

After Theresa May’s surprise announcement today of a snap election on June 8th, the Socialist Party has produced the following statement. Please read and share – this election is a chance to fight the Tories and fight for socialism!

Theresa May has called a general election for one reason – not the reason she gave – but because of the government’s weakness in face of a rising tide of anger in British society.

Workers are suffering the most prolonged squeeze on wages since the start of the nineteenth century. Benefits cuts are leaving millions without enough money to feed themselves and their families. Last year a record 200,000 people were admitted to hospital suffering from malnutrition. Education and the NHS are facing life-threatening cuts. The housing crisis is acute. The new ultra-draconian anti-trade union laws are creating bitterness and frustration among trade unionists.

Far from being a strong government, May fears that, given the Tories’ wafer-thin majority in parliament, she could be overwhelmed by forced u-turns. In the first year of the government alone there were eleven, now – in order to try to prevent more – May has made the biggest u-turn yet. Having pledged not to call a snap election she has gone ahead and done so. This shows how capitalist politicians change the rules whenever it suits them.

Cameron and Clegg introduced the Fixed Term Parliament Act in order to try to shore up the Coalition government for five years, now May is over-riding it to try to strengthen a weak Tory government. She is gambling, based on current opinion polls, that she will win the general election with an increased majority and will then be more able to carry out her real programme – not the warm words about helping the ‘just managing’, but vicious austerity.

High risk for Tories

Her gamble is high-risk. The real poll will take place on 8 June, and a lot can happen between now and then. She is partly posing the election as a referendum on Brexit, hoping that the third of Tory voters who supported ‘remain’ will reluctantly continue to support her government. This is not guaranteed however – some may well switch to the pro-remain Liberal Democrats.

Moreover, the hated Tories are very unlikely to make significant inroads in Scotland. The Scottish National Party is not yet fully exposed and is likely to largely maintain its electoral base. Winning the Copeland byelection has probably given May hope that theTories can improve their position in the North of England. However, in both the Copeland and Stoke byelections the Tory vote actually fell in absolute terms. The Tories only scraped victory in Copeland because the Tory vote held up better than the Labour vote.

Globally the lesson of recent elections – from the US, to France, to the Netherlands – is that voters want to punish the capitalist establishment; and those parties and candidates that claim to be anti-establishment can have a mass appeal. Look at Melenchon in France, who by standing on a left programme, has soared to 19% in the opinion polls with a possibility that he will even go through to the second round. Jeremy Corbyn has already stated that Labour will not oppose the general election going ahead. Now he needs to launch an election campaign based on socialist policies that are relevant to working class people’s lives.

Policies for socialist change

It is clear that much of the pro-capitalist cabal at the top of the Labour Party will be secretly welcoming this election because they think Corbyn will be defeated and they can then replace him with some pro-capitalist pro-austerity leader. However, they could rue the day this election was called. If Corbyn fights on a clear socialist programme – for a Brexit in the interests of the working and middle-class – he could win the general election.

The policies that first thrust him into the leadership of the Labour Party would be a good beginning – an immediate introduction of a £10 an hour minimum wage, free education for all, mass council house building and nationalisation of the rail and energy companies. These should be combined with policies such as an immediate end to all cuts in public services and a pledge to immediately renationalise Royal Mail.

Jeremy should make clear that he would kick the privateers out of public services and education. He should pledge to introduce a real socialist NHS – a well-funded, comprehensive, high quality NHS, under democratic control, with care free at the point of use. These demands should be linked to the need for fundamental socialist change – for a society run in the interests of the majority instead of for the profits of a few.

Such an election campaign should not be limited to speeches and election broadcasts. The campaign to defend the NHS should be linked to the mass movement which began with the national demonstration on 4 March. Jeremy Corbyn spoke at that demonstration. Now he, together with the trade union movement and health campaigners, should call a second demonstration, during the election campaign, mobilising millions onto the streets against the Tories and in defence of the NHS.

Scrap the Tory ‘rape clause’ and all benefit attacks

Scrap the Tory ‘rape clause’ and all benefit attacks

rape-clause

The form

 

The following article about the disgraceful latest attacks on benefit claimants was written by a DWP worker and member of the PCS trade union. A version was published in The Socialist newspaper. The full article is reproduced below.


Changes to Child Tax Credits and the ‘Universal Credit’ benefit system mean that people making a new claim from 6 April will have the number of children they can claim for capped at two. One exception to this is if the third child was born as a result of what the government calls “non-consensual conception.”

However, in order to prove this was the case, there is an eight-page mandatory form that the victim will need to fill out.

Dubbed the “rape clause,” it will require the claimant not only to name the child the exception will apply to, but also have a “third-party professional” fill out part of the form.

This represents a new low for the government.

Disgracefully, the exemption will not apply to claimants who still live with their rapist – despite a British Crime Survey finding that 45% of rapes happen within current relationships. Attacks can be extremely difficult for victims to disclose, let alone prove.

In evidence presented to the House of Lords, the manager of the Glasgow Rape Crisis Centre said: “We have more than 30 years’ worth of empirical evidence that tells us that the most dangerous time for a woman and her children is at the point of leaving an abuser. In the UK a woman is murdered every three days by a partner or ex-partner.”

This latest attack on women compounds the threat to women posed by the Housing Benefit cap, which could close two-thirds of the already insufficient number of women’s refuges.

Women and children need material support to escape abusive relationships and live stable, independent lives. The Tories’ rape clause punishes victims and will endanger lives for the sake of reducing the bosses’ tax burden. 

This vile Tory government has shown time and time again that there is no limit to how low it will stoop to in its attacks on the working class and the most vulnerable in society.

Our previous article reported on the callous measures to remove eligibility to Personal Independence Payment – a benefit designed to help with the extra costs of living with care or a disability – from 160,000 people, saving £3.5 billion.

Cuts to the weekly rate of Employment and Support Allowance for those in the ‘Work-Related Activity Group’ will see claimants losing almost £30 from their payments – measures the government claim are beneficial as they will incentivise people to find work!

The heavy-handed nature of the sanctions and conditionality regimes in the benefit system have really been brought to the forefront with the release of Ken Loach’s film I, Daniel Blake, which showcases the miserable living conditions faced by so many in Britain today.

A recent report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission on living with a disability in Britain today says:

“It is a badge of shame on our society that millions of disabled people in Britain are still  not being treated as equal citizens and continue to be denied the everyday rights non-disabled people take for granted, such as being able to access transport, appropriate health services and housing, or benefit from education and employment.  The disability pay gap is persistent and widening, access to justice has deteriorated, and welfare reforms have significantly affected the already low living standards of disabled people.”

It is clear that capitalism isn’t working – we need to fight for the transformation of society along socialist lines, to ensure it is run in the interests of the majority, not the minority.

Under a socialist programme, everyone would be guaranteed a decent job, housing, and education, with the full support there for those who need it most.

Under capitalism, not even these basic demands are possible for so many people. If the system cannot afford these, then we cannot afford the system.

The Socialist Party says: scrap the rape clause. Reverse all benefit cuts and fund secure, genuinely affordable housing for all. You can’t fight domestic violence without also fighting the cuts.