Successful ‘Who’s Watching Whom’ conference discusses the fight for justice

Successful ‘Who’s Watching Whom’ conference discusses the fight for justice

CWU solidarity

The conference showing solidarity with the Communication Workers Union

By John Smith, PCS trade union rep (the videos of Ricky, Helen, Dave and Chris appear after the report below)

A successful conference was held in Coventry on Saturday entitled ‘Who’s Watching Whom – justice, trade union and democratic rights’. Organised by Coventry TUC and Unite Tom Mann branch, the event drew 115 people through the day.

Many people involved in different unions and campaign groups attended and were able to share their experiences and put forward some concrete points about how this can be fought against across the trade union movement. Some of the unions and campaign groups that also held stalls at the event to raise awareness and solidarity were the Communication Workers Union, Keep Our NHS Public, National Shop Stewards Network, British Pensioners Trade Union Action Association and the campaign against cuts to severely disabled childrens transport.

Ricky Tomlinson (known by millions for his role as Jim Royle in the BBC hit ‘The Royle Family’) was one of the main speakers – describing his victimisation for trade union activism which saw him receive a jail sentence! He gave a very passionate speech which received a standing ovation from the entire room.

Alongside Ricky there was also Dave Smith, author of the book ‘Blacklisted’, who spoke about the blacklisting of trade unionists in the construction industry, and Helen Steel, who spoke about her experience of abuse by an undercover policeman who went so far as to get into a relationship with her before suddenly disappearing – all part of a spying operation targeting political groups and activists.

Chris Baugh, assistant general secretary of the PCS civil servants union spoke about the surveillance of unions by the state and the attempts to sabotage them – and also highlighted the need for action against the public sector pay cap.

There were also examples given of the attempts by the state to also actively work to undermine unions – such as what happened with the CPSA (predecessor of the PCS union) in the 1980s following the election of John Macreadie as general secretary, who was a supporter of the Marxists grouped around the Militant newspaper (forerunner of the Socialist Party).

From the contributions from the speakers and also from people who attended, it was clear that undercover surveillance of unionists and political activists has taken place – contrary to the myth that “it couldn’t happen in Britain”! Indeed, we reported in 2016 the activities of one ‘Carlo Neri’, who the state had placed at tax payers expense in the Socialist Party.

The event was illuminating and inspiring for all who attended. It also helped remind us what we are up against in trying to build fighting, democratic trade unions and ultimately getting rid of capitalism. However the speakers were not pessimistic, on the contrary, all who attended left the conference fired up and with a greater understanding of how the state works and the lengths it will go to. One of the key messages was to ‘keep campaigning’, as the system can be defeated by a mass movement armed with a socialist programme to change society.

We encourage all our readers to check out the videos of the speakers below!

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Give May and the Tories their real P45

Give May and the Tories their real P45

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Theresa May is handed her P45

Today’s speech by Theresa May will go down in history as the one where she was famously handed a P45 by a protestor.

Millions of working class people around the country will have great sympathy with this action; little wonder when May’s Tories continue to cut benefits, refuse to fully break the pay cap, when foodbanks exist in every major town and city throughout the UK and our standard of living is dropping.

The only thing better than this stunt today will be when we can give May her real P45 and the Tories are turfed out of power. We all need to put maximum pressure on the Tories to get them out of office, particularly with the trade unions co-ordinating action on the issue of pay and austerity.

Lets get the Tories out and campaign for Corbyn-led Labour government on socialist policies.

Join us in this struggle and the fight against capitalism

Fill in the form below to find out more

Brutal state violence in Catalonia – support the general strike and the Catalan people’s right to decide

Brutal state violence in Catalonia – support the general strike and the Catalan people’s right to decide

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The brutal attacks of the ‘Francoist’ Spanish state forces in their attempts to prevent the democratic rights of Catalan working class to vote in the independence referendum on Sunday 1st October has sent shockwaves across the world.

Plastic bullets have been fired on protesters, elderly people have been brutally attacked and around 500 people reported injured so far by the Spanish state forces. A tirade of attacks were launched by the forces this morning and last night to close down polling stations, physically attack and arrest those attempting to defend the referendum and voting process. Trade unions have now called for a general strike this week in response. 

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A general strike in response to this brutal repression has been called for Tuesday 3rd October. Coventry Socialist Party gives its full support and solidarity with the working class and youth of Catalonia engaged in this historic struggle!

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The images emerging from Catalonia only give a glimpse of the tremendous and fearless will of the Catalan working class to take on the Spanish states brutal oppression. 

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The below is part of a statement on today’s events from our sister organisation in Catalonia and Spain Izquierda Revolucionaria/Esquerra Revolucionaria and a link to the full statement. Due to the fast pace of events only a basic translation has been possible, however it explains the position socialists take on the current situation.

Wild Police violence and exemplary resistance from the people of Catalonia!

General strike on 3 October against the repression and the right to decide!

Down with the PP government!

Immediate withdrawal of repression forces!

Thousands of police and civilian guards have deployed savage repression to prevent the right to vote in the referendum of 1 October. Facing a tens of thousands of citizens, families, children and the elderly, stealing the ballot boxes as trophies, the riot police sent by the PP and the state to occupy Catalonia have been met with a massive and exemplary resistance from the people.

Despite the campaign of fear with which for days has attempted to frighten those who want to vote (arrests, millions of fines, records, web closures) the answer is being massive and exemplary in today’s day. This is the way. The mobilization must continue with a major general strike in Catalonia on 3 October and in the following days, and with mass demonstrations of the left fighting and the working class trade unions in the Spanish State. It’s time to break down the PP.

The images of Francoism have returned with all their strength from’s hand and his government of thieves, reactionary and National-Españolista. The heirs of the dictatorship have tried to teach the people of Catalonia a lesson, but what they will reap is a complete failure. The Rage, indignation and fury of millions of young people and workers will grow until they turn into a wall against which Franco’s right and his repressive state will crash against…”

http://www.izquierdarevolucionaria.net/index.php/estado-espanol/catalunya/10782-violencia-policial-salvaje-y-resistencia-ejemplar-del-pueblo-de-catalunya-huelga-general-el-3-de-octubre-contra-la-represion-y-por-el-derecho-a-decidir

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Here is a collection of photos of solidarity protests from other parts of Spain with the people of Catalonia

Here are two recent articles from the last week on the events leading up to the referendum:

Catalonia: Historic student mobilisation against Francoist repression

Spain/Catalonia: One million demonstrate in Barcelona for self-determination referendum

For further background the following extract is from a recent  statement published last week  by our sister organisation – Esquerra Revolucionària:

In an operation reminiscent of the days of the Franco dictatorship, members of the Civil Guard arrested 14 officials of the Catalan government responsible for the organisation of the referendum on 1 October. They have also seized referendum literature and raided printing premises.

Madrid has also moved to take control of the Catalan police force.

In addition there has been the imposition of a massive news blackout; arrests of youth for pasting posters; threats of criminal action against hundreds of mayors who backed the referendum; indiscriminate seizure of records in the headquarters of government buildings and attempts to raid the headquarters of the CUP [Popular Unity Candidacy].

The prohibition of political acts supporting the right to decide in Madrid, Gasteiz and Gijón; the intervention in the finances of the Catalan government by the central government, and the deployment of thousands of police officers in Catalonia to intimidate the population, all amount to the imposition of a state of emergency.

Scandalously, the Psoe leaders support this Francoist offensive against the people of Catalonia.

This is the consequence of Psoe embracing pro-Spanish nationalism for years and merging with the ruling class in all essential matters. The Psoe leaders have not only abandoned a socialist approach to the national question, they are placed alongside Franco, who denied that Catalonia is a nation.

The idea that the referendum represents a ‘coup d’état’ and is an ‘anti-democratic’ imposition against a section of the Catalan population is one of the biggest lies that the media, at the service of the Spanish capitalist class, is trying to sell.

If the state, the PP and the parties that are supporting them are so sure that the supporters of independence are a minority, why not accept the result of the ballot box? Why prevent the vote?

The real reason that explains the closed-mind attitude of the right-wing and the state is not that they defend democracy, but quite the opposite. They deny that the people of Catalonia have a right to decide and make Catalonia a nation.

The PP is a party flooded with cases of corruption. It has savagely cut public education and health and given more than €100 billion to the bankers. It evicts us from our homes and condemns us to precarious jobs and low wages. It supports dictatorships like the Moroccan or Saudi regimes, and encourages the foreign military interventions of imperialism. This party wants to give us lessons in democracy!

The attack on democratic freedoms represents a tremendous threat to the population of all of the territories, and especially for workers, young people and their fighting organisations throughout the Spanish state.

Leadership

Esquerra Revolucionària fully supports the general strike mobilisations being developed in Catalonia, but if we want to defeat the authoritarian assault perpetrated by the central government it must be accompanied by an appeal for the mobilisation of the working class and the youth of the rest of the Spanish state.

A mobilisation of this character is the way to more effectively confront and defeat the PP and its nationalist policies, and win the right of Catalonia to govern itself.

Unfortunately, the parliamentary formations to the left of the social democracy (CUP, Can, Comu, Izquierda Unida in Catalonia), and trade unions, have abandoned the struggle to lead a mass movement. They have failed to fight for a programme that unites the struggle for self-determination with economic and social demands that are being demanded by the majority of the working class, youth and the wider sectors.

It has given the formal leadership of the struggle against the state and the government of the PP to the PDeCAT (Catalan European Democratic Party), allowing these capitalist politicians to appear as victims of the authoritarian politics of the Spanish right wing.

The leaders of the PDeCAT looked for every excuse not to call the referendum. Finally, the pressure of the movement, and prospect of heavy election losses if they did not call a referendum, compelled them to do so.

The repression unleashed from the PP is a shock to millions of workers and young people from working class neighbourhoods of Catalonia.

Right now the conditions are present for many more to join the millions who are already mobilised, ready to defend the referendum, together with the sectors that also want to fight against repression but are suspicious of PDeCAT.

Esquerra Revolucionària calls on all workers and young people in Catalonia to fight for the right to decide their own future, against this authoritarian coup of the PP and the state.

A Catalan socialist republic would generate overwhelming sympathy among workers in the rest of the Spanish state and in all other countries of Europe, opening a path to transformation social and the liberation of all oppressed peoples.

For the right of the Catalonian people to decide!
Down with Rajoy and his Government of austerity! 

For a socialist Catalonia, for a socialist Spain and a socialist world!

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