Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Action against the planned welfare changes

The government's planned welfare "reforms" are stimulating increasing opposition. A good account of what is wrong with these plans was recently a centre page spread in the newspaper of the Socialist Party (CWI) and is available online here.
Here are some actions that are to take place in the next few weeks -

* 3 March: a public meeting in Parliament and lobby of MPs -- called by PCS, the union which represents DWP staff, and others. See and the letter from Mark Serwotka of PCS below. Also see the “Welfare for All” letter

* 7-15 March: Week of action on “Welfare Abolition Bill”. “The London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP), Disabled People’s Direct Action Network (DAN) and Feminist Fightback are calling on all groups and individuals concerned with the eroding of our welfare rights to take part in the week of action against the “Welfare Abolition Bill". A toolkit will be available soon with more information on the Bill and suggestions for action. For more information see and join the emailing list for the planning group via

* 10.30am on Wed 11 March: direct action during the week of action. The press will be there and more details will be available nearer the time. For more information and contacts see the DAN site.

* Letter, “Workfare protests face New Labour” in the Guardian

* Parliament website with more info about the measures in the Bill and its timetable

EMAIL FROM Mark Serwotka, PCS:

Welfare Reform Bill – the next steps in the campaign

Lobby of parliament and public meeting

Tuesday 3 March – all welcome

We are inviting you to attend a public meeting and lobby of parliament about the welfare reform bill on Tuesday 3 March starting at 12.30 in committee room 14 at the House of Commons.

The lobby and public meeting are supported by a range of organisations including trade unions and the TUC, service user groups and campaigning organisations

PCS are campaigning against plans to introduce -

- the privatisation of the employment service and social fund

- ‘work for your benefit’ schemes

- the abolition of income support

- cutting the benefits of single parents and those with long-term illness

- requiring all parents of young children to seek work

PCS wants the government to introduce progressive measures to help people in these difficult times. This is why we are fully supporting the TUC’s demand for the government to urgently raise benefit levels.

We are asking people to attend the meeting and to lobby their MP. If you plan to meet with politicians on the day to discuss the welfare reform bill then you need to tell your MP beforehand. If you can not attend the lobby but support the campaign then please write to your MP about your concerns.

If you would like more information about this campaign, please visit

If you have any questions please email

Please feel free to pass this information on to others who may be interested to attend the event.
We hope you will join us on Tuesday 3 March.
Best wishes,

Mark Serwotka

PCS General Secretary

With the economic situation the effect of these so-called reforms will be even more severe - now is the time to apply pressure and force the government to abandon their attack.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Defend a Universal Public Postal Service!

The demonstration this week by Postal workers against the proposed privatisation of parts of Britain's postal services was fully supported by the Green Party Trade Union Group and Green Left. The comments of Peter Mandelson, which postal trade unionists have described as blackmail, served to enflame feeling even more - a major revolt is in the offing on this issue, stretching even as far as my own (normally timid on most contentious issues) Labour MP.
Here is Green Lefts' Joseph Healy on the demo and rally.

The public is opposed to it and the mess which other privatisations such as rail have created stand as a grim warning. As a rebel Labour MP said today: "Privatisation is going out of fashion." It was MacMillan, the former Tory Prime Minister who warned during the Thatcher privatisations that the government was "selling off the family silver". Once again New Labour demonstrate that if necessary they will use Cameron's Tories to vote through this disastrous policy with the consequent loss of jobs and decrease in service. The public are opposed to it, as are the Green Party. Will the Lib Dems find their consciences or will they troop into the pro-privatisation lobby with Mandelson and Cameron?

The following informative e-mail has been distributed by a CWU branch secretary:

To all the owners of the Royal Mail,

(this means you, as it’s a publicly owned industry).

Do you realise what the government is trying to do to your Postal service and the effect it will have on your service?

In the 1980’s and early 90’s the Thatcher Government pulled off the greatest national con in history, they used Public money to advertise shares to the Public in nearly all the service industries that the Public already owned.
They justified this on the grounds that competition was good, would force the prices down while using shareholders money to improve the services concerned.

Well that worked didn’t it? We the taxpayers are still subsidising the “Private” Railway industry (while the shareholders still get a dividend), and I for one cannot think of any of the privatised industries that are cheaper or better than when they were Nationalised industries. In fact most of them have been allowed to put their prices up, way above the rate of inflation year on year ever since privatisation.

But in 1994 the Thatcher Government were soundly defeated in their attempt to privatise our Postal Service, the general consensus being, that it would not be in the Public interest.

In 1997 we voted in a new Government “New Labour” and although one of their Manifesto commitments was that they had “No plans to privatise the Postal Industry”

It seems that was exactly what they set out to do.

First step;-
The previous Government had allowed the Post Office to take a 13 year Pensions holiday ( because the pension fund was in surplus).

When New Labour got in one of the first things they did was to Tax pension funds.

Result — now a £5.9 Billion pension deficit, and climbing.

Second step;-
Open our Postal service to competition from the European Union, 3 years before they were supposed to, and by the way the rest of Europe baulked at doing it themselves, the new “target” for them is 2011.

Result - Now TNT, DHL, etc; are all over here taking our profit. But we cannot compete over there.

Third step;-
Appoint Alan Leighton as Chairman (a known privatiser, who lives in Canada and pays no tax on his salary or bonuses), who in turn appointed Crozier who came from messing up the F.A. and knows exactly that much about the Postal industry, but takes £2-3 million in salary and bonus per year out of the industry.

Result - Much later deliveries, thousands of town and rural sub offices closed, many Crown offices sold off to W.H.Smiths, (privatisation by any other name). Going from putting £500 million a year into the exchequer – to making a loss.

Fourth step;-
When the Postal staff went on strike because they had their Pension and attendance times changed by executive action, stand to lose 40-50 thousand jobs, their canteens have been closed, their Union ignored, their jobs made harder, are bullied and treated with contempt by managers.

The Government promise a Postal review, John Hutton M.P. oversees the Hooper review, the interim report looks favourable to the Unions viewpoint, the review is due to be published in October 2008, is not, John Hutton is moved sideways and Mandleson (a known privatiser) is made a lord and put in charge.

Result - The Hooper review reappears, much changed and recommending, …………partial privatisation, Mandleson says 49% sell off (mooted as probably TNT one of our European competitors, who we are not allowed to compete within their own market).

49% exactly what they sold off of B.T. (to start with)……But was soon fully private.

He has backed off a tad and now says a 30% sell off, after getting a drubbing on National television. But it’s a safe bet that the end game will be total privatisation.

Unlike Thatcher you may notice that New Labour have cut out the middle man (you), they do not intend to give the owners of the Post Office (you) the chance to have a say in how it is run, by holding shares.

What will this mean to your Postal Service?

Leighton, his cohorts and successor favour the Dutch system.

Which is, only handling letters which can be machine sorted down to walk order, can be packed into pouches which will then be delivered by part time workers (they envisage 84% of Postal delivery staff being part time by 2011).

The part time workers in Holland are mostly women who drop their children at school, pick up a pouch or so from the school and deliver the letters. (Royal Mail has already been talking to schools).

Other part time staff will collect the pouches from lock up garages etc; which means Royal Mail can also sell of the majority of Delivery offices.

So how far away will the new Delivery Processing office be from you if you have to collect something?, because you have the effrontery to be at work when delivery is attempted.

You may have noticed that there is no mention of packets, recorded, registered or any other special delivery service! Now what, I wonder will the 30 or 49% sell off consist of?

Surely not all the profit making products? And how much will they then go up by?

The hijacked Hooper report says that we are a loss making industry, compared to those of Europe!

It does not take into account that they are over here now taking our profit, nor does it stress that it may be because the European Postal industries charge up to three times the amount that we do, in their own countries!

So instead of the best and cheapest Postal service in the world (as it was a few short years ago), serviced by mostly friendly, honest, caring and helpful staff, which cost you the same to send an item 800 miles as it does to send it next door -


(Zoned pricing has been mentioned)!

Your Posties will most likely lose their livelihood as well as getting a
reduced pension.

Who pays for poor pensioners or those out of work? YOU DO, THE TAX PAYER.

Pass the word.

Write to your M.P. Demand the Postal service that you deserve (because you
own it).

Also sign this <> petition - only 5900 have signed, it should be all voters.

We can give you the service you want and deserve !

Unless of course, Mandelson gets his way.

I apologise in advance if we have to go on strike to protect our jobs and your service, we don’t want to (it costs us money), but it is after all the only weapon we have left.


Please send this to all your e-mail contacts, - Friends and family.

Clive Marshall,

CWU, A.D.R. (T.W.)

There is a national march planned for March 14th in Wolverhampton in the West Midlands which I mentioned in my posting last week.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Weekly Links 22/02/2009

Internationally the political temperature continues to rise, particularly for the Sarkozy regime in France, in Ireland, where 100,000 took to the streets and the inspiring Waterford occupation continues, in Latvia where the government has just fallen, and around the world as governments and their finances begin to look increasingly wobbly.

British Politics
The PCS union is mobilising around the proposed Labour Governmnent Welfare "reforms", with a lobby planned for next week.

Also this week, the Independent revealed the sorry tale of the possible destination of large quantities of British toxic waste.

On his Euro election blog this week, Derek Wall reports on the nasty effects of some EU policies on peasants and workers in Colombia.

There was a good turnout of Greens from London area (with some good work in achieving this from Green Left and the Campaign Against Climate Change)at the Downing Street demo last week against Heathrow expansion.

More details came out this week on the potentially disastrous crash between British and French nuclear submarines in the Atlantic. BBC report here and CND commentary here.

Gender Politics
For readers in England I have received the following about forthcoming events in Wolverhampton for International Women's Week -

A unique opportunity to listen to two prominent women leaders will take place in Wolverhampton on 12th March 2009. Ludmila Ermakova: Director and founder of the Crisis Centre “Ekaterina”, Ekaterinburg, Russia and Mavluda Shirinova: Director and founder of the Socio-Economic Development Centre “SABR”, Samarkand, Uzbekistan will be presenting their work together for the first time. You will also have the opportunity to listen to a contribution from Natalia Sukhareva, Head of the Sverdlovsk Regional Guild of Lawyers and her colleague Marina Zakharova, who were the first women in Russia to develop a training programme on domestic violence for lawyers.

The presentations will provide an opportunity to discuss the development of services for women abroad as well as debate and bring women’s issues to the forefront. The presentation is organised by The Haven Wolverhampton which has worked in partnership with the above organisations for over a decade and helped to support their work with vulnerable women and children (read more on

The presentation will take place on 12th March 2009, from 1.00pm-4.00pm at the Light House Media Centre, Fryer Street, Wolverhampton. The event is free and open to anyone who wishes to learn more about women’s organisations in post-Soviet society. The presentations will be in Russian and in English. Please hurry, as places are limited.

On the same day the Light House will be hosting The Women’s Fair (11am-4pm) organised by WOW, The Haven Wolverhampton, YWCA and V Involved. This is a free event entitled ‘What Women Want’ which will include information stands, workshops covering everything from self defence and confidence building to pampering sessions, a children’s area and a large number of stalls from local groups and organisations. Free snacks and drinks will be provided. What’s more, the night will be rounded off with an evening of comedy from some of the UK best comediennes, courtesy of the Light House.

The events will take place as part of the City celebrations for International Women’s Week 2009 which was supported and managed by Wolverhampton City Council. All International Women’s Week events taking place in Wolverhampton are included in a programme which has been published by Wolverhampton City Council.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Defend Joel Kovel - Support Free Speech!

Just back from a short break in York (a great place for a visit and a hive of Green activity, home to my old friend from Sheffield and now Green Councillor and blogger Andy D'Agorne)

The big news in the ecosocialist community is the victimisation of leading ecosocialist thinker and writer Joel Kovel. It seems Joel has fallen victim to the increasingly vicious Zionist backlash against anti-Zionist Jews and other anti-racist leftists who dare to speak out about the crimes and malevolence of the Israeli regime and the IDF. More from Derek Wall on his blog here, including contact details for Joel's former employer.

This comes in a week where on this side of the pond an appalling article by author and journalist Howard Jacobson took up two pages of the mainstream "intellectual" broadsheet The Independent, casting aspersions of anti-semitism left, right and centre at just about anyone who dares to voice any negative opinion about the actions of Israel and its military. Needless to say this has ignited one of the fiercest flame wars ever seen on the website and pages of that normally reserved organ!

There are real anti-semites out there, and some of them have posted comments on Jacobson's article and need opposing, but attempts to silence criticism of the actions of the state of Israel by smear and innuendo against brave people with good anti-racist credentials and histories is really contemptible and should not be allowed to succeed.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Links and Events

Many upcoming events in the UK and elsewhere that might interest those of a green/left persuasion, so a section on these as well as some other links this week.

Coming Events
Keep The Post Public National March and Rally
CWU Midlands region proudly hosts a national march and rally on Saturday 14th March 2009.
To be held in the constituency of the minister for postal services Pat Mc
Fadden MP.

Assemble 11.30am at the SIKH TEMPLE, corner of Greencroft & Arthur Street, Bilston, Wolverhampton

Speakers include

Billy Hayes GS CWU

Dave Ward DGS(P) CWU

Geraldine Smith and John Grogan CWU supported MP'S

Roger McKenzie TUC

Gerard Coyne UNITE

Chaired by Jane Loftus CWU Vice President.

The CWU also have a National Rally and Lobby planned for 24th February in London.

Anti-Heathrow Expansion Demo 19th Feb - Beat the counter-demo !

A message from the Campaign Against Climate Change -

Urgent - now is the time to fight on Heathrow !
Demonstrate against Heathrow Expansion, Downing Street,
London from 5.30 pm this Thursday 19th February
This is a demonstration against the crass decision to expand Heathrow – 5.30 pm to 7.00 pm opposite Downing Street.
Speakers to include John McDonnell MP, Susan Kramer MP, Jean Lambert MEP.
Pre-demo photo-op 1.00 pm, see below.
However, a counter-demonstration in favour of expanding Heathrow is happening at the same time in Parliament Square. See here –
We need maximum number of people to make sure their effort is dwarfed. Please make it if you can – its only an hour or so after work. No doubt there’s aviation money behind the counter-demo (it also looks to have links with the whole sceptic backlash network..) …we have to beat them with people-power !
If you can make it lunchtime – 1.00 pm – for our photo op outside the Dept of Transport, Horseferry Road (St James Park or Westminster tube) that would be really helpful. This is for media for whom the demo is too late in the day, and is our chance to get our message across in advance.
The theme is Green Future versus the BROWN past – please come dressed/equipped appropriately for either of these – on one side, the colour Green - windmills – solar panels – placards saying ‘low carbon economy’ ‘Green jobs’ ‘renewable revolution’ etc…and on the other side the colour Brown, aeroplanes, smoking chimneys, coal, placards saying ‘business as usual’, ‘carbon-intensive growth as usual’ ‘climate suicide’ etc..etc…(note we have Gordon Brown masks – we need appropriate placards for Brown to be holding – and props to go with them)
You can also bring the themes, as described above, to the demo itself. Or your own brilliant ideas and creativity. (We will be there from 4.30 pm if you want to help us get set up)
Finally - they will never build the 3rd runway but this decision shows that Brown is happy to continue in ‘carbon-intensive-growth-as-usual’ mode just when we should be sending out a strong signal that we are making climate change priority number one, in advance of the critical Copenhagen Climate Talks coming up in December …….. Another reason this decision has to be challenged ….to the maximum degree possible !

March for Jobs, Justice And Climate - 28th March
I have mentioned this before, and it looks to be shaping up to be a biggie. Now is the time to pull together our local networks of activists to mobilise and organise transport for this and the other events around the G20. Despite the usual, predictable, soggy centrist pleading to the ruling class of the union and NGO leaders these events will offer an opportunity to raise more radical demands and strategies and connect with broad swathes of the population coming into socio-political activity and conflict with the status quo. This is the press release that went out last week -

A huge new platform of unions, development agencies, faith and environmental groups plans to tell world leaders attending the G20 summit in April that only just, fair and sustainable policies can lead the world out of recession.

The alliance, which includes the TUC, Oxfam, ActionAid, Friends of the Earth and CAFOD, is calling on people to join a major demonstration for jobs, justice and climate in London on Saturday 28 March, five days before the summit.

Under the banner Put People First - March for Jobs, Justice and Climate, the groups will demand decent jobs and public services for all, an end to global poverty and inequality, and a green economy.

The march will assemble on the Embankment en route to Hyde Park for a rally to be addressed by speakers and celebrities from the UK and around the world.
The organisations backing Put People First say: “Recession must not be an excuse for putting off action for global justice or to stop climate chaos. The only sustainable way to rebuild the global economy is to create a fair distribution of wealth that provides decent jobs and public services for all, ends global inequality and builds a low carbon future.”

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “People are angry at the job losses caused by this recession made in the world’s banks and at the slow response of world leaders to the challenges of poverty and climate change.

“But while these are going to be desperately tough times, the collapse of free market fundamentalism and the big changes already brought about by President Obama provide the hope that world leaders can change course and start to build a fair and sustainable world.”

Director of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition Ashok Sinha said: “We can and must tackle climate change and the economic downturn together. Only by investing in green jobs and thriving low carbon economies will a sustainable way of life be secured for generations to come.

“The lives and livelihoods of millions of poor and vulnerable people across all countries are at stake. The leaders of the G20 owe it to those most at risk yet least responsible for both the economic crisis and the threat of climate chaos to help create a global Green New Deal to tackle both.”

ActionAid Head of Policy Dr Claire Melamed said: “The crisis is more than a banking failure - it is a crisis of the whole system, but also a huge chance to put the economic system on a new and fairer path.

“With rising inequality and poverty made more desperate by the impact of the financial crisis, world leaders have to step up to the challenge - and the world is watching. The time is now: to make finance transparent and accountable, to share wealth more fairly, and to make markets work for everyone.”

People can keep in touch with the campaign via the website

Text of the statement endorsed by organisations backing the march: On Thursday 2 April the leaders of 20 of the world’s biggest economies meet in London to tackle the recession and global financial crisis. Even before the banking collapse caused recession, the world suffered vast poverty and inequality and faced the looming threat of climate chaos. Governments, business and international institutions have followed a model of financial deregulation that has encouraged short-term profits, instability and an economy fuelled by ever-increasing debt, both financial and environmental. There can be no going back to business as usual. The only sustainable way to rebuild the global economy is to create a fair distribution of wealth that provides decent jobs and public services for all, ends global inequality and builds a low carbon future. Recession must not be an excuse for putting off action for global justice or to stop climate chaos. Creating a just, fair and sustainable world is the only lasting way out of recession.On Saturday 28 March thousands of people will march through London as part of a global campaign to challenge the G20 leaders.
Our message is clear.
We must put people first.
Put People First: Decent jobs and public services for all.
Put People First: End global poverty and inequality.
Put People First: Build a green economy

Initial list of organisations backing the march: ActionAid, Action for Global Climate Community, ACTSA (Action for Southern Africa), Advocacy International, Akina Mama Wa Africa , BECTU, BOND (British Overseas NGOs for Development), Bretton Woods Project, CAFOD, Centre for Democracy and Development, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, CHIC (Change is Coming), Christian Aid, Equity, Everychild, Fairtrade Foundation, Fatima Women’s Network, Friends of the Earth, Global Call to Action Against Poverty, GMB, Jubilee Debt Campaign, MRDF (Methodist Relief and Development Fund), Musicians Union, Muslim Council of Britain, National Union of Journalists, National Union of Teachers, New Internationalist, One World Action, Oxfam, Pants to Poverty, PCS, People and Planet, Progressio, Salvation Army, Save the Children, Stamp Out Poverty, Stop AIDS Campaign, Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, Tax Justice Network, Teach a Man to Fish, Tearfund, Trade Justice Movement, Trades Union Congress, Trading Visions, Traidcraft, UCU (Universities and Colleges Union), UK Aid Network, UNISON, UNITE, War on Want, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, World Development Movement, World Vision, WWF.

Jim, at Daily Maybe has info and links on a whole lot of other events coming up, including the Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union conference and a Hands Off the People Of Iran benefit and Pete Postlethwaite talking about his climate change themed film - Age of Stupid.

Tyne and Wear Working Class Bookfair
Tyne and Wear GMB of the IWW are organising a Working Class Bookfair in March -
Saturday 14th March between 11 and 4.00 at the Linskill Community Centre, North Shields, Tyne and Wear.

During the bookfair we also have 3 meetings on site:-

Dave Hopper, Gen Sec, Durham Miners Association
(NE Area NUM) and Davie Guy, President North East Area of NUM (and DMA) are speaking at 12.30 on the Miner's Strike 25 Years on, and the NUM today.

Tyne and Wear IWW on organising at work.

Trevor Bark (WEA) on the Credit Crunch.

Printed publicity available.

Web site:- (comments welcome!)

Unions and Work

A message from the (UK) Labour Research Department
The TUC and its affiliated unions have asked the Labour Research Department (LRD) to carry out a survey on climate change and the workplace. We hope to find examples of union workplace action on global warming and to identify the problems faced by union reps and activists in this area. The survey will contribute to union campaigning and publications on the environment.

The survey is on LRD's website:

Please spend a few minutes completing the questionnaire as soon as

The campaign of Jerry Hicks in the Unite union election continues to be supported by various left bloggers including Green Left's own Derek Wall.

Meanwhile, Dave Osler blogged this week on the dispute at the Morning Star newspaper.

British Politics
Surprise, Surprise! the architect of New Labour's Draconian Welfare "Reforms" has defected to the Tories. I'm surprised he bothered really, but I suppose he is trying to get in with the likely new regime - looking after number one, no change of personal politics and prejudices required! Says it all really.

The crisis rumbles on. The question is now being seriously asked as to which country in the EU will be the first to default on its debts. One contender for this dubious honour is currently Ireland. We are on the verge of completely new political and economic territory internationally - the ancient Chinese curse of "living in interesting times"!
Derek has blogged this week on death threats and harassment of journalists, peasants and environmentalists in Peru.

Finally this week, a good post on the Socialist Unity Blog from Phil BC, where he links a selection of lefty blogs, some new, some old friends. Plenty of good reading!

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Saturday, February 14, 2009



Organised by the
GREEN PARTY TRADE UNION GROUP & London Federation of Green Parties

The world plunges headlong into Recession, but could this provide the opportunity for a ‘NEW GREEN DEAL’ or a ‘JUST TRANSITION’ from our current economic arrangements which cause economic & ecological disaster.? What will this new economy be like? How can workers’ rights be defended as it is built?


Jean Lambert,MEP
Green Party Member of the European Parliament for London

Tony Kearns
CWU Senior Deputy General Secretary

Ann Elliot-Day
PCS Communications Officer (Green Issues)

Sian Jones
Trade Union Sustainable Development Advisory Committee

2.00pm Saturday 21 February 2009
St Pancras Church Hall ,
Lancing Street off Eversholt St,
London, NW1 1AN,
020 7388 1461,
(next to Euston BR, tube and bus station)

To reserve a seat contact ; P.Murry, Secretary GPTU at

PDF for this meeting available at

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Day Blood Service Protest

IWW Valentine's Day Blood Service protest - Sat 14th Feb
On Saturday 14th February the IWW is taking a mobile protest to hospitals around the city, to inform the public and healthworkers about the looming closure of the Birmingham blood processing lab in March.

Solidarity forever

This vital link in the blood supply chain is to be transferred down to Bristol under a centralisation regime, with the loss of around 70 jobs, leaving local hospitals’ blood supply at the mercy of the clogged motorways of the South-West of England.

The IWW, along with other unions and organisations, has campaigned against this dangerous move during the last few years. Unsurprisingly when management proposed these cuts there was the bare minimum of consultation with hospitals and none with the public. Now that the cuts are happening, the least we can do is take the message to the streets and make sure that Birmingham is well informed of exactly what is happening to our public services.

Show some love for the blood service on Valentine’s Day!

* We need cyclists! Lots and lots of cyclists! - To form the body of the convoy behind a large van with banners.

* We also need car drivers who can carry extra protestors.

The protest will meet at Birmingham Uni North gate turning circle, pass the Blood Centre and the QEH/Women’s hospital in Edgbaston, then call at Selly Oak, City, and end up at the Children’s hospital in the city centre.

Meeting points

@ B’ham Uni North Gate (Prichatts Rd) - assemble from 11am

@ Selly Oak Hospital (Oak Tree Lane) - approx 12 noon – 12.30pm

@ City Hospital (Dudley Road) - approx 1.30pm – 2pm

@ Children’s Hospital (Steelhouse Lane) - approx 2.45pm

Finishing in the city centre on foot at 4.30pm

Please put this date into your diaries, and help us build numbers by letting your friends and family, workmates, neighbours and union contacts know about the event. Leaflets and posters are available now. It really helps us if you get in touch to let us know you are planning to join the protest. For more info, to confirm attendance, to book a seat as a car passenger, or to get copies of the pre-event leaflet please contact

In addition NBS blood processing labs are proposed to close in Leeds and in Tooting, London. Cuts at these centres are on a longer timescale though and haven't happened yet! There are still several months more left in which the proposals could be beaten and the labs saved with enough pressure from all sides. It ain't over 'til it's over!

Find out more about planned cuts in the blood service here:

IWW Health Workers Union
- e-mail: iww.nbs@gmail
- Homepage:

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Weekly Links 10/02/2009

British Politics
One of the least popular New Labour Ministers, uncritical Blair-bot Hazel Blears, has this week been getting a proper thrashing on the Guardian Comment Is Free pages after her attack on posh environmental lefty George Monbiot.
Monbiot's apparent crime in Blears eyes was to dare to criticize her government, assert that their "consultations" are meaningless and sometimes corrupt and to speak the truth about politics in Britain (that it has become a game for corporate interests, lobbyists and professional politicians whilst the public are systematically shut out, marginalized and patronized.)
Blears voting record on key issues is recorded as follows -

* Voted for introducing government registers on everyone in Britain backed up by ID cards.
* Voted for introducing foundation hospitals.
* Voted for introducing student top-up fees.
* Voted for the Iraq War
* Voted against investigating the Iraq war.
* Voted for replacing Trident.

Monbiot's response to Blears was majestic and devastating, uniting even some of his usual harshest critics against the pompous arrogance displayed by the Labour Minister and topping the table of comment replies, the vast majority backing Monbiot and laying into his opponent. I do not always agree with Monbiot, but he has done a great service to all friends of freedom, equality and honesty here.

Green and Green Left Politics
It is good to see serious Green political education getting under way in London with a series of meetings and an interesting book list of ten key Books to read and critique.
Long time left activist and Green Left supporter Sean Thompson recently produced an analysis of the current political situation for Green Left, published here.

Unions and Workers
The Socialist Party and Respect have come together in a welcome show of left unity to put on a meeting this Friday in London with a member of the recent Lindsey Strike Committee and Jerry Hicks, the candidate backed by most of the left (the Morning Star/CPB are cringeworthily backing the incumbent Labourist Simpson) in the Unite (Amicus) union election.

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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Coming Events To Raise The Political Temperature

A series of coming events should help to raise the political temperature and build the kinds of coalitions we need to see developing in the current period.

This week there is to be action on the London Underground situation - the RMT have arranged a demonstration in London against LU/TfL proposed job cuts

Wednesday 11th February 2009
Demonstrate against the proposed job cuts on LUL / TFL.

Meet outside St James Park tube station at 07:30 am to demonstrate outside 55 Broadway.

At the end of the month, various anti-poverty, environmentalist and campaigning groups have organised a discussion and "teach in" day in London entitled
6 Billion Ways -

As climate, food and financial crises start to look like a GLOBAL MELTDOWN
Come to 6 BILLION WAYS to discuss making another world possible...
Debates, films, music, workshops, art

Saturday 28 February
10am - Midnight @ Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA

Including discussions on: the financial crisis and economic alternatives, conflict and liberation in Palestine and Iraq, climate catastrophe and building a green new deal, the future of feminism, the impact of Obama on race politics, when resistance is successful and how to change consumer culture.

Speakers include: Tariq Ramadan, Mark Thomas, Susan George, Karma Nabulsi, Meena Raman, Tariq Ali, Ken Livingstone, Trevor Ngwane

10am - 7pm. Workshops, debates and discussions FREE
7pm - 8.30pm. Final plenary with keynote speakers FREE
8.30pm -Midnight. Gig £7/£5 concessions

Organised by City Circle, Friends of the Earth, Jubilee Debt Campaign, People and Planet, Rich Mix, War on Want and the World Development Movement.

Big mobilisations are planned for March and April around the meeting of the G20 - various organisations and publications including New Internationalist have come together to form a coalition known as Put People First which is planning a mass march in London on 28th March - Unions like Unison are amongst the sponsors.

A second series of major demonstrations are planned for 2nd April - these involve the peace movement, the conclusion of a Socialist march for jobs, and potential mobilisations or radical activists from all over Europe that are planned from 28th March onwards.

Then, immediately afterwards the focus shifts to the NATO summit in Strasbourg, Kehl and Baden Baden.

And then we have Mayday, everywhere! A good head of steam of resistance, defiance and protest should have built up by then.

The ruling class must be told in no uncertain terms that we will not pay for their crisis. The demands of the rising social and political movements are non-negotiable - real democracy, real freedom, real equality - an end to militarism, the surveillance state and corporate rule. There must be a real, effective programme for combatting climate change and resource depletion on an international scale and on an egalitarian basis.

Hopefully, our would-be rulers will now see, as the failed leaders of countless regimes saw before them, that the game is up. The bribes, the threats, the "bread and circuses", the lying propaganda machines have all failed them. People have begun to believe that another world really is possible.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Workplace Survival Kit

Workplace Survival Guide
1. Join a union. Ask around and see if your colleagues are mainly in one union. Consider joining and becoming a "dual card carrying" member of the IWW as well. If there are various or no unions in your workplace consider contacting the IWW. Try recruiting your colleagues too.
2. Get involved with your union! Just like a gym, you get a lot more out by being active, and a strong union is more likely to be a successful union.
3. Get others to join your union(s) and get them active too.
4. Ask questions. Anyone can make mistakes, including managers. If it doesn't sound right, it might not be. Check it out.
5. Check your payslip. Mistakes can be made, but there are always those that will try to rip you off!
6. Like the Clash said, "Know your rights!" The minimum wage in the UK is currently £3.53 p/h if you are 16-18, £4.77 if you are 18-21 and £5.73 if you are 22 plus. (Why is it lower for younger workers? A tin of beans doesn't cost less when you are 17!) The minimum wage is there for everyone.
7. Don't suffer in silence! If you have problems, get help from your union. That is one of the reasons they are there.
8. Bullying - e.g. on the grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation - is illegal.
9. Check the policies of your employer. You wouldn't bet your money on poker if you didn't know the rules. Why bet your wages when you don't know the rules? Your union will help.
10. It bears repeating - join a union, get involved, and get others to join!

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Workplace or institutional occupation is a tactic having an international comeback. It is ideally suited to situations where workers have little to lose and can force concessions in the most desperate circumstances. Occupation can be used by students as in the recent wave of University occupations pressuring Israeli links of UK Universities around the Gaza situation, but is also a time honoured method of working class struggle.

Poster for the Movimiento Nacional de Empresas Recuperadas (MNER), at a worker-recovered print shop, Chilavert Artes Gráficas in Buenos Aires, Argentina - from Wikipedia entry by Brian Zbriger.

Info here on recent or ongoing occupations in Ukraine, in Ireland (complete with the reappearance of the Starry Plough flag - the symbol used by James Connolly's Irish Citizen Army in the early 20th Century)and in Chicago, USA.

The plus points of occupation as opposed to other tactics are that it prevents lockouts, it actively prevents any economic activity that is not under the control of the workers, it captures plant and buildings and holds them as a bargaining chip, it is often warmer inside at this time of year (!) and last but not least it prefigures more generalised self management. Let us hope that these good examples begin to spread around the world. Things may be about to get quite exciting.

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Weekly Links 01/02/2009

A big welcome to the world of blogging to my fellow Green Left supporter and ecosocialist Joseph Healy, who has started blogging here. His first posts include something on the Green campaign for a living wage in Lambeth, a report back from the Convention of the Left recall meeting in Manchester and something on fellow Green GE candidate Peter Tatchell.
Jim this week blogged on the Labour Heathrow rebels and the SNP budget. He also posted his final reflections on the "Progressive London" event.
The refineries dispute has spurred furious debate across the left blogosphere - a small sample here - A Very Public Sociologist published that blog's take on the dispute at AVPS and Socialist Unity held a debate on the piece as well as publishing articles by Andy Newman (on the position of Amicus-Unite General Secretary left candidate Jerry Hicks), Respect's George Galloway and Labour (soft populist) left John Cruddas.
Dave Osler also started a debate here.

Unions and Workplace Struggle
For French readers I have linked the website of the French "social movement" unionists of Solidaires, who came to my attention as a result of the recent upsurge in struggle in France. As I understand it Solidaires came about as part of the grouping of some of the more militant and radical French unions - a process that created SUD.
The Green Party Trade Union Group this week produced a statement on the London Underground redundancies in support of the workers involved in that struggle.
The RMT's video on European Rail Transport "Liberalisation" and Privatisation is now available online as well as via a DVD.

The European Emissions Trading Scheme is once again exposed this week as a means of generating colossal profits for the big polluters while doing nothing to reduce carbon emissions. Indeed, the scheme is now actually inhibiting the development of clean technologies in developing countries!

The two British Green MEPs this week doorstepped the Israeli ambassador over the question of Gaza.

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