Year 2000 No. 168, October 9, 2000
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
Party in North East Holds Forum on the Mass Party Press
IWA (GB) Meeting in Coventry Celebrates October Revolution
News In Brief
London Underground Tube Workers: Picket Balfour Beatty, Lobby Greater London Assembly
Construction Safety Campaign
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On October 8, the Northern Regional Committee of RCPB(ML) organised a forum on the Mass Party Press. The forum was attended by Party activists in the workers and student movement. Chairing the meeting, a representative of the Northern Regional Committee welcomed the participants and emphasised the importance of holding such forums. He said that it was crucial that everyone takes a lead in setting the agenda for these discussions and participating fully in the discussion. The representative outlined the work of the Party in the region and said that the positive developments are a direct result of the success of the Party's 3rd Congress and the forums and national events which have been organised by the Party since then to take up the work post-Congress in the start up period. He said that it was opening up an exciting prospect for the work in the region. He said that it was important to understand how necessary it is to develop the unity of our thinking and action around the Party's line and the line of march. This is what is crucial, not our numbers, in order to give rise to revolutionary organisation and a revolutionary movement in the region.
The Chairperson then introduced a representative from the Party centre to lead the discussion on the Mass Party Press. In his presentation the representative from the Party centre pointed out that what the Party is particularly concentrating on right now is what has been termed the development of the Mass Party Press. He said that this is particularly important in the whole scenario of the Party's work, which has been characterised as consolidating the Party on a new historical basis. He pointed out that this concept is to do with the participation of people in setting the agenda, which is a very profound concept because this is an ingredient that has been lacking in creating the subjective conditions for revolution in this country. After explaining this further, he went on to look at the concrete task that the Party has set to develop the Mass Party Press. Among other things, he said that when this task is addressed practically, it calls for the participation of the whole readership of Workers' Weekly, the Party press, in developing the newspaper, in charting its way forward, in writing for it and in participating in disseminating it. He said that this was a very practical issue and at the same time it was a very political issue. The participation of the readership in this way is a politicising experience. He emphasised that this is what the Party is saying is crucial at this stage, and this is what is meant by developing the Mass Party Press. Another way of putting it is that what is required is that Workers Weekly becomes a tribune of the workers. In other words, it actually represents the voice of the workers. This, in the Party's opinion, is more than anything what is really required to transform the situation in Britain so that the workers do become politicised, end their marginalisation and set the agenda in society.
Further on, after discussing the Party's Millennium Project which is to ensure a significant advance in this central work, the speaker emphasised the importance of holding such forums and the contribution that can be made by the work of the comrades in the North East. He pointed out that such work would contribute towards building a revolutionary movement as a whole in Britain, as summed up in the report to the 3rd Congress. This would in a very concrete way be striking out on this line of march to a new society, which is a society fit for human beings, a society where it is the workers who take hold of what belongs to them, a society where it is people who decide the direction of the economy and actually participate in making the decisions that affect their lives.
In the discussion that followed, activists of the Party taking part in the forum gave their views on this question of developing the Mass Party Press both by contributing to the discussion of the question and in a practical way contributing their views on how the content of the paper can be improved and how the work in the region can be further developed around this task. Central to this discussion was how to develop the participation of the readership in the writing, disseminating and study of the paper itself. The direction that these deliberations took brought forth a proposal and unanimous recommendation for the regular organisation of a Party Forum in the Region as an excellent vehicle for discussing how to tackle this issue, how to approach the question of the participation of the readership of the paper in its writing, discussion and dissemination.
A militant meeting attended by some 100 people to celebrate the anniversary of the October Revolution was held by the Indian Workers Association (Great Britain) in Coventry on Sunday, October 8. Among the speakers were Jatinder Pannu of the Communist Party of India and editor of the Chandigar journal Naya Zamana (New Age), Hardip Duhra of CPI, Chris Coleman of RCPB(ML) and Salvinder Dhillon. Patriotic and revolutionary songs and poems were also a feature of the programme. We reproduce below the speech of Chris Coleman.
I should first like to say how pleased and honoured we are to once again be joining you to celebrate the anniversary of the October Revolution. We have, as you know, fought shoulder to shoulder with IWA(GB) over many years and are very proud of this co-operation. We have always applauded the fact that IWA(GB), as well as taking such a firm stand against racism and keeping the community informed about events in their homeland, has always asserted that the workers of Indian origin in Britain are an integral part of the working class here and should be at the forefront of its struggles. It is entirely appropriate and in keeping with this tradition that it should be holding a meeting to celebrate the anniversary of the Great October Revolution in this city. We congratulate you on this.
To us the path of the October Revolution remains, in this new century as it was in the last, the only path of struggle for the working and oppressed people in every country. The history of the last century has shown that all major successes have come when following this path, while deviating from it has resulted in disaster. So that when the counter-revolution took place, when capitalism was restored and socialism destroyed beginning in the 1950s and culminating with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990, this was a terrible setback for the working and oppressed people of the world, particularly in the period of retreat of revolution which has followed, where not only communism but everything progressive has come under unprecedented attack. But it has left a great challenge to the communists and workers throughout the world: to stand on their own feet, to find their own bearings, to be their own models.
There is often much debate about the Soviet Union. Was Stalin right or wrong at a particular period? Did revisionism begin with Khrushchev or after? And so on. To us these are not the important questions. History has already delivered its verdict on Stalin on the establishment of the first stage of socialism, on the uniting of the nations of the old Tsarist empire on the new basis, on leading the democratic forces of the world to defeat fascism as well as on the restoration of capitalism and the restoration of socialism. The burning questions to us are what problems remained unsolved in the Soviet Union which went even further from solution from the 1950s on and remain for the communists and progressives to solve today. Such questions as how the people can come into governance themselves; how the working people themselves can decide their worth and the direction of the economy; how to put human beings in the very centre of things.
Nowhere do these questions cry out for solution so loudly as in this country. Three years ago there was some confusion about the role of Tony Blair. There is little now. It has become clear that Blair was put in power by the monopolies to take Thatcherism further, where the Tories could no longer do this. The privatisation of huge swathes of the public services for private profit has gone on apace, as well as the globalisation of the economy in the interests of the monopolies. The government calls with the collaboration of the TUC for "partnership" between the workers and their employers. Rights have come further under attack. None of the racist laws the British Nationality Act, the various Immigration and Asylum Acts has been repealed. The foreign policy has been so chauvinist and warmongering one thinks even Thatcher would have hesitated.
Last week, I returned with our Party delegation from North Korea. Amid all the developments resulting from the historic North-South Summit in June a whole number of countries are in the process of establishing relations with the DPRK. We heard that one country lags behind, behind even the Americans and Japanese Britain!
Now, with the falling popularity of Blairs government following the fuel price protests, the Tories are being floated as an alternative. The situation, however, cries out for a fundamental break, for the working class to have its own independent programme, an agenda opposite to that of Tony Blair, not to mention William Hague, and the monopolies they both serve, a programme which will reverse the whole direction of gearing the economy to globalisation and the profits of the few, as summed up in the slogan Stop Paying the Rich, Increase Investments in Social Programmes! From such an agenda will flow all the other demands of the working class: for example, for democratic renewal of the archaic political processes and institutions; for full recognition of the national rights of the Scots, Welsh, English and Irish, for modern sovereign states and a free and equal union between them if so desired; for an end to the chauvinist and warmongering foreign policy; for support for those struggling for the same aims throughout the world. Such a programme will enable the working class to unite the people to overcome the crisis and open the way for a new society, for a socialist Britain.
It is the need to fight for such an independent programme of the working class that seems to us the main lesson to be drawn on this anniversary of the October Revolution.
Once again, our warm congratulations to IWA(GB) on organising this beautiful meeting and very best wishes for success in your important work.
Thank you very much.
The London Transport Regional Council of the RMT Union, supported by the Campaign Against Tube Privatisation, have announced two actions in opposition to the proposed Public Private Partnership sell-off of Londons Underground transport network:
The Campaign for Construction Safety, which works to highlight construction workers safety concerns, is to protest at the high levels of work-related illnesses and dangers faced by construction workers at a conference on construction industry occupational health and safety.
The conference is to be held under the slogan Demand a Better Deal for Construction Workers.
The Campaign emphasises the dangers faced by construction workers from work-related injuries, stress and cancers caused by exposure to asbestos, and calls for immediate action to prevent further suffering and death. They estimate that a high proportion of construction workers are forced to retire before normal retirement age because of work-related illnesses; and that non-existent employer-based sick pay and fear of dismissal for absence pressurise workers into continuing work after an accident.
The main strategy employed by the Health and Safety Executive, who acknowledge the increase in stress-related sickness, repetitive strain injuries (RSI) and back strain, has been to encourage "partnership" with employers. They reason that defending occupational health reduces costs caused by sickness absence and is therefore good for business.
Recent research, added to that already known about the 250,000 workers expected to die as a result of exposure to asbestos, reveals that the construction industry has the highest of all work-related cancer rates. Though asbestos has been banned from import into Britain since July 1999 and recognised as the biggest workplace killer, the Campaign for Construction Safety maintains that the Health and Safety Executives proposals on the Control of Asbestos at Work regulations ignore the problems of the 3.2 million tons already installed. CSC argues that without prior survey and safe removal, workers will still face danger from asbestos-related diseases. They reject Health and Safety Executive assurances that risk assessment will be done before any work is carried out on the basis that there is no binding requirement for either preliminary survey of non-domestic properties or the removal of all asbestos from the country.
The Conference, to be addressed by Minister for Health and Safety, Lord Whitty, by Bill Callaghan, Head of Health and Safety Commission, and Peter Andrews of the Construction Employers Confederation, will be made aware of the Campaigns demands for:
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