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70th Anniversary of Formation of NATO: Britain Out of NATO! Dismantle NATO! Work to Establish an Anti-War Government!

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70th Anniversary of Formation of NATO:Britain Out of NATO! Dismantle NATO! Work to Establish an Anti-War Government!

70th Anniversary of Formation of NATO:
Stand of the People's Forces in Britain against NATO and for Peace

Origins of NATO:
Conditions at the Time of NATO's Founding

Meetings on the 70th Anniversary of NATO:
Developing the Cause of Peace and Progress

Workers' Forum:
Ealing Tax Workers Militantly Continue with Strikes

Workers' Forum:
Hospital Security Workers on Strike


70th Anniversary of Formation of NATO: Britain Out of NATO!
Dismantle NATO! Work to Establish an Anti-War Government!

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is an aggressive military-political alliance conceived at the beginning of the Cold War and brought into being on April 4, 1949. It has, however, described itself as a defensive alliance with its pretext of defending Europe against "communist invasion", together with the claim that communism is an "evil" and that its "totalitarianism" was a threat to Western "freedom and democracy".

Since the collapse of the former Soviet Union and people's democracies in eastern Europe, NATO has been enlarged to incorporate some of the former people's democracies. With its original raison d'être having disappeared, new claims have been presented in an attempt to justify its continued existence. In 1991, NATO heads of state declared that while the Soviet threat had "been removed... and thus no longer provides a focus for Allied strategy", "the risks to Allied security that remain are multi-faceted in nature and multi-directional, which makes them hard to predict and access".[1]

Ten years later, 9/11 provided NATO with a new rationale and a new focus of fighting "terrorism". Today, its raison d'être is again being recast: the latest danger is said to be from "authoritarian" and "rogue states" threatening "freedom" and seeking to overthrow liberal democracy and the "rules-based international order" it claims to uphold.



NATO Today

The first Secretary General of NATO, Lord Ismay, stated that the main purpose of the Atlantic Alliance in Europe was "to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down".[2] Today, NATO is being utilised to fight a global war on different fronts. It is doing so by making use of its own forces, but also utilises proxy forces as "agents of chaos". At the same time, the spectre of war hangs over Europe. There are contradictions within the ranks of the big European powers as well as between these powers and the US, not to mention within the ranks of the US imperialists themselves. These conflicting interests continue to sharpen over who will control Europe and thereby dominate Asia. However, standing against these big power interests is the fact that never are the peoples of Asia, as well as Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, going to accept to be dominated.


March against the NATO Summit Washington DC, 30 March 2019

This situation with NATO too is in the process of change, as each big power strives for a bigger share of the spoils of war. Donald Trump does not favour negotiations with NATO member countries. Rather he is petulantly threatening to leave NATO if he does not get his own way. His present demand is that other members of NATO must significantly increase their military budgets. And the European powers are consolidating their own military forces, and plans are afoot for consolidation of an army of the European Union. In short, there are divisions within the ranks of NATO itself and within each NATO country, including the United States, over the role NATO should play today. Its enlargement has failed to ameliorate or resolve the differences within its ranks. On the contrary, each big power pursues narrow private interests which come into contradiction with the NATO concept of "collective security".

One of the most important issues to grasp today is that the wars in which the United States and the other NATO members are engaged are no longer those of "politics by other means". It can be said that these powers no longer pursue the interests of even their own polities. They engage in nation-wrecking, not nation-building. They have abandoned the principles and norms of the UN Charter. They do not abide by the international rule of law which upholds the equality of nations big or small. Nor do they recognise the right to self-determination and the principle of non-interference in their internal affairs.

When the US imperialists and their allies wage wars of aggression and occupation, it is to destroy those countries that refuse to submit to their dictate. They are wars of destruction. With no politics, neither are there negotiations to conclude peace treaties. Such treaties would bring with them obligations and accountability.

From US/NATO intervention in the Balkans in 1999 where a humanitarian pretext was used to bomb Yugoslavia, to the Gulf Wars, and wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and other countries, nothing has been sorted out. These aggressive powers are now attempting to pursue the same path against Venezuela. In this regard, membership in NATO affects not only military matters but all aspects of the national state and the political life of the country. Through its Office of Public Diplomacy and other means, NATO puts as a priority the political manipulation of parliaments, information warfare and the wrecking of public opinion. It works in conjunction with governments, including that of Britain. It has always had a hand in formulating the political structures which are to be permitted in not only Europe, the United States and Britain but, since the collapse of the former Soviet Union and former peoples' democracies, in all countries which are deemed to be liberal democracies or "on the road to democracy" as in the case of Ukraine. Any country which refuses to submit is subject to attempts at regime change by the NATO bloc. Successive British governments have taken this as a given.

Therefore it is not necessary to be a pacifist to be deeply concerned about a foreign and defence policy that is governed by US/NATO. To develop and invest in rapid deployment forces that are not designed for defence one's own country cannot be sanctioned. And Britain has been and is one of the states that gives the most concern to peace-loving people.

Right from the outset, the stand of the people's forces was against NATO and for peace. And from the 1950s, there was broad opposition to nuclear weapons on British soil, which grew into the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and still continues, most notably against the Trident nuclear submarines based in Scotland.


March against the NATO Summit Washington DC, 30 March 2019

Britain played a leading role in the creation of NATO, and the British government declares that its mission is to ensure that NATO "remains fit to serve as the bedrock of the UK's defence and a leading instrument of our national security and that NATO military operations meet UK strategic objectives". But there are calls that its "leadership position" in NATO is in jeopardy, and it must invest even more in its armed forces, and pay more attention to its "usefulness to the US". In this regard, the concept of "interoperability" between the military forces of Britain and the US is promoted, while the reality has been the subordination of Britain to the US. This issue alone has caused deep rifts within the ruling circles, with Britain's "over-reliance" on the US being cited.

According to a recent House of Commons select committee report, it is estimated that Britain provides 12-14% of total NATO capability, contributing £138 million a year to NATO (with an additional £96 million for providing 971 UK personnel to work in NATO). Britain itself hosts two NATO headquarters (MARCOM, the Maritime Command and ARRC, the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps), and also hosts NATO exercises. Britain commands one of the Enhanced Forward Presence battlegroups (in Estonia), providing roughly 800 personnel, and contributes a squadron to the US-led battlegroup in Poland. Furthermore, Britain also contributes assets and personnel for NATO missions and operations, including Resolute Support in Afghanistan, Enhanced Air Policing in Romania and the Standing Maritime Group in the Mediterranean. Significantly, Britain is taking a leading role in NATO on the issue of cyber-warfare. This is a crucial front of NATO's aggressive focus today along with information warfare and "election meddling".

The cartel party system in Britain has ensured that Britain's membership of and leading role in NATO is a fait accompli and part of "business as usual". The Westminster consensus never questions a conception of sovereignty where decision-making about the crucial issues of war and peace are not in the hands of the people. Britain attempts to bolster the credibility of NATO at every opportunity. George Robertson, who was Defence Secretary in a Labour Government, was Secretary General of NATO from 1999 to 2004. The present President of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly is Labour MP Madeleine Moon.


March against the NATO Summit Washington DC, 30 March 2019

The peoples of the world continue to fight to realise their aspiration for peace. All over the world, as they affirm their rights and fight for the rights of all, they translate their desire for peace, freedom and democracy into a political force which puts decision-making in their own hands. Taking up the work to establish an Anti-War Government in Britain is to occupy the space of change. Such an Anti-War Government must be the creation of the people themselves settling scores with all the Cold War outlooks, the falsification of history, and the pretexts for aggression and force.

Whether or not NATO survives in its present form, what is certain is that the peoples' striving for peace, freedom and democracy today is favoured by taking up the call to make their countries zones for peace and by uniting in action to establish anti-war governments which express a modern democratic personality which defends the rights of all as a matter of principle.

The strength of the people's striving for peace and the defence of the rights of all cannot be underestimated or downplayed. Attempts to smash this movement and deprive the people of a collective consciousness and action must be opposed. This includes waging the ideological struggle against attempts to portray military interventions abroad as being about "responsibility to protect", "peace-making" and upholding a rules-based international order and other fairy tales.

The meetings, rallies and articles on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of NATO involve activists and experts from different backgrounds who take principled stands that the existence of NATO is incompatible with the desire of the people for a modern and humane conception of security based on defending the rights of all.

Britain Out of NATO! Dismantle NATO!
Work to Establish an Anti-War Government!

Notes

1. "The Alliance's New Strategic Concept", NATO, November 8, 1991

2. Nye, Joseph. The Paradox of American Power. London: Oxford University Press, 2002. p. 33

Article Index



70th Anniversary of Formation of NATO

Stand of the People's Forces in Britain against NATO and for Peace


Demonstration aganist Trump in London, July 13th 2018

NATO was formed by the Anglo-US powers in 1949 under the post-war Labour government of Clement Attlee. The Attlee government immediately joined the US war to occupy Korea in June 1950. This was a very serious blow to the working class and people's aspirations striving against war and for their rights. The aim of NATO to break the alliance and friendship with the Soviet Union and unleash a new wave of wars was also the main deterrence to the working class and peoples to secure democracies that favoured them in their own countries. It was in these circumstances that the working class and people of Britain took up the work of the world peoples' movement to build the peace and oppose war.

Alongside efforts by the Soviet Government, communists from various countries took the lead in developing the Peace Movement. In the summer of 1948 a successful Conference of Intellectuals for Peace was held in Wroclaw, Poland. This was followed by an even larger Conference in Paris in April 1949, with a parallel Conference in Prague for those excluded by the French Government. These Conferences led directly to the foundation of the World Peace Council. The attitude of Attlee's Labour Government to these developments was made clear by a ban on Labour Party members associating with the WPC, on pain of expulsion.

A call for a Second World Peace Congress was enthusiastically taken up, and plans were made to hold the Congress in Sheffield in November 1950. At first the Labour government, despite pressure from the most reactionary forces, indicated it would not obstruct the Congress, citing "our ancient freedoms". In the event, however, in the few days before the Congress was to be held, every delegate of the slightest significance was denied a visa, or turned back at the port of entry where a visa was not necessary, but not before the security services had obtained every contact in Britain they could find. The Labour government meanwhile levelled a continual stream of invective against the Peace Congress, calling it "bogus" and "an instrument of the Politbureau". This calumny was levelled against the President of the World Peace Congress, Frédéric Joliot-Curie, Professor of Nuclear Science at the Sorbonne, a communist, who had worked with Marie Curie and had married her daughter, with whom they were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935 for their work on radioactivity, a hero of the French Resistance against the Nazi occupation of Paris, whom President de Gaulle had appointed High Commissioner for Nuclear Science, in which capacity he oversaw the construction of the first nuclear reactor in France. Ilya Ehrenberg and Dimitri Shostakovich were also among those refused entry. The main Congress did not go ahead in Sheffield, but was moved and held successfully in Warsaw.


Demonstration against NATO, April 4 2019

British delegates also took part in the Third World Peace Congress was held in Vienna in December 1952. It was again an enormous meeting, with 1,859 delegates from 85 countries. Its programme at this time was to fight to ban nuclear weapons; to slash the various nation's war budgets; against the rearming of West Germany and Japan; for the development of East-West trade; against biological and chemical warfare; for military disarmament; for the national independence of the various countries against US domination; for the development of the UN as a genuine peace organisation instead of a US war alliance; and to end the Korean and Indo-China wars.

In July 1955 a Peace Manifesto was launched under the names of Albert Einstein and British philosopher Bertrand Russell, which came to be known as the "Russell-Einstein Manifesto"[1] and April 1958 saw the start of the annual mass Aldermaston March to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment to oppose Britain's nuclear weapons placed in the service of NATO.

In September 1981, the Welsh group "Women for Life on Earth" arrived on Greenham Common, Berkshire.[2] They marched from Cardiff with the intention of challenging, by debate, the decision to site 96 US Cruise nuclear missiles on the base. On arrival they delivered a letter to the Base Commander which among other things stated, "We fear for the future of all our children and for the future of the living world which is the basis of all life." When their request for a debate was ignored they set up a Peace Camp just outside the fence surrounding RAF Greenham Common Airbase. They took the authorities by surprise and set the tone for a most audacious and lengthy protest that lasted 19 years. Their protest and under the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty between the US and USSR, the missiles were eventually flown back to the USA along with the USAF personnel in 1991/92.

In 1982, Margaret Thatcher's government used its NATO allies' particularly the US' to pursue its colonial interests in launching its war against Argentina over the disputed Falkland Islands (Malvinas). Demonstrations took place in London and other major cities demanding Britain's military withdrawal and for a negotiated settlement. This war cost hundreds of British and Argentinian lives.


The Lakenheath Action Group demonstration in 2013 at USAF Lakenheath in Suffolk against the 30 US nuclear weapons deployed at the base. At the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review in 2000, the nuclear weapons states, including the US and Britain, made an "unequivocal undertaking ... to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals". The disarmament has neither begun nor has a timetable been set.

In May 1999, thousands of people demonstrated in London and other cities against the Blair government over Britain's involvement in NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia. At the time even the media was forced to admit that what it refers to as "public opinion" in Britain is firmly opposed to the bombing of a sovereign country and that this opposition is mounting and the The Times bluntly stated that "the war of public opinion is being lost". Although not known at the time, more than 100,000 people were killed as a result of the NATO action and destruction of the heavy bombing has not been overcome to this day. On May 8, 15,000 demonstrated in London and on May 11 there were protests opposite the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square to express outrage at NATO's terrorist bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. The demonstrators demanded: Hands off China! Disband NATO! End the bombings now!

In 2001, thousands took to the streets in demonstrations in London and other cities to oppose the Blair government's involvement in the NATO countries' invasion and NATO's occupation of Afghanistan, which still continues to this date 17 years on. At that time thousands of people stepped up their efforts to put an end to this Anglo-US state terrorism, aggression and war against Afghanistan and its people. This upsurge in the anti-war movement led to the formation of people coalitions such as the Stop the War Coalition and led to the millions that demonstrated against the Anglo-US invasion and occupation of Iraq two years later in 2003. A war which followed the previous Anglo-US Gulf war against Iraq in 1990 followed by 13 years of the Anglo-US criminal bombing of Iraq and sanctions including medical sanctions against against the country.

In 2011, David Cameron's government used the excuse of the "Arab Spring" land led on the NATO bombing of Libya alongside the French government. Again thousands took to the streets to demonstrate to block the NATO warmongers, let the people decide and demand hands off the Middle East and North Africa. NATO's criminal bombardment of Libya carried out for six months, included thousands of military strikes, and resulted in great destruction and the deaths of thousands of men, women and children whilst the people in Britain demonstrated their opposition demanding that the British government and its NATO allies get out of Libya and that only the Libyan people can decide their future. Britain and its NATO allies had openly intervened in a civil war, which they assisted in instigating in breech of international law and the UN Charter. Death and destruction were brought to the Libyan Jamahiriya, a country that was formerly an important independent voice in the world, particularly in Africa, with its own system of direct democracy and an economy in which the country's massive mineral wealth was used not only for the benefit of its citizens but also for the benefit of others throughout the African continent.


2014 opposition to NATO summit in Wales

The US and Britain and their NATO allies then immediately made plans to interfere as they had done in Libya in Syria again on the side of the "rebels". However, the stand of the people to oppose Britain's involvement in the destruction of Syria and support for the millions of refugees created by this war has been a major factor in hamstringing NATO's ambition to destroy Syria as it had destroyed Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan, especially when the Prime Minister David Cameron lost the vote in Parliament in August 2013 to get support for air strikes and put troops on the ground in Syria.

In 2014 thousands of people in Wales and throughout Britain and Ireland took part in opposition to the NATO summit in Wales at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport. On Saturday, August 30, there was a mass demonstration and rally in Newport. This was followed by two counter-summits, and culminated with a march on Celtic Manor a protest outside the Cardiff Castle "banquet of death" of the world's ruling elite the same evening. Among other actions, protesters also opened a peace camp opposed to the summit at Newport's Tredegar Park.

Around 150 people took part in the counter-summits, easily matching the number of leaders taking part in the NATO summit. These were held on Sunday August 31 at Cardiff County Hall and then the second conference took place on Monday September 1 at the Newport Dolman Theatre. These alternative conferences condemned NATO as the greatest threat to world peace and had the aim of building the anti-war movement against NATO, war and militarisation and for planning future joint actions across Europe. For example, in a session on "Ukraine and the new cold war", John Rees representing the Stop the War Coalition said that what the government and their media outlets are trying to remove from the picture was the entire post-war expansion of NATO to the east. They were trying to focus on eliminating any memory of NATO's massive crimes over recent years and over the post-war times. He said that on the foundation of NATO in 1949 the first President of NATO, Lord Ismay, was the one who put the purpose, definition and function of that military alliance very clearly. Rees quoted Lord Ismay as saying that "the purpose of NATO was to keep the Russians out the Americans in and the Germans down".

The conferences exposed that today the US, along with its big power allies, are the biggest spenders on, and suppliers of armaments and weapons of mass destruction, which together dwarf any other industrialised state including Russia and China. Thus the conferences highlighted that it was the US and its big power allies along with their criminal military alliance of NATO that is behind the mayhem and destruction and war in every part of the globe, the cause of the most dangerous world situation to date.

Notes

[1] http://archive.ppu.org.uk/learn/texts/doc_russelleinstein_manif.html

[2] For further details on Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp see http://www.greenhamwpc.org.uk/

Article Index



Origins of NATO

Conditions at the Time of NATO's Founding

The period that immediately followed the end of World War II, a time the whole world was celebrating the defeat, through so much sacrifice, of Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and militarist Japan, was imbued with the forward march of humanity which had hoisted the banner of peace, freedom and democracy.

The need of the time was to carry out all the decisions which had been taken by the Allied powers at the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences in 1945 to carry out the "four Ds": denazification of Germany; demilitarisation of the former Nazi Wehrmacht (armed forces); democratisation, including the formation of political parties and trade unions, freedom of speech, of the press and religion; and decentralisation of the German state into a federal system, which included establishing a new basis for Germany's economy, as well as other post-war tasks in Europe which presented themselves at that time.

The need to preserve the peace and interdict the dangers posed by imperialism was astutely grasped by the leader of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, Joseph Stalin. J V Stalin was General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), and then Chairman of the Council of Ministers from 1941 when he led the Soviet Union, Red Army and partisans in achieving that victory. He summed up the experience and repeatedly emphasised the need to implement the agreements for the post-war arrangements so as to preserve the peace. As he assessed the situation, he warned the peoples of the Soviet Union and People's Democracies and the entire world of the threats to peace as a result of the betrayal of those agreements on the part of the Anglo-American imperialists.

Stalin on Preserving the Peace and Dangers from Imperialism, 1945-1952

On May 9, 1945, Stalin hailed the victory over Hitlerite fascism in a broadcast to the Soviet people. Henceforth, he said, the great banner of the peoples and peace among peoples will fly over Europe.[1] In September in a further address, he stated that "now we can say that the conditions for peace all over the world have been gained".[2]

Early in the following year he spoke several times of the origins and character of the Second World War. He explained that the capitalist system of world economy harbours within itself elements of general crises and armed conflicts. The result is a splitting of the capitalist world into two hostile camps and war between them. The Second World War had been prepared by international reaction and started by the main fascist powers. They had declared for all to hear that they were out for world domination and the establishment of a fascist regime throughout the world. They had showed that they were prepared to carry out their threat of enslaving all the freedom-loving nations. Thus, unlike the First World War, the Second World War against the Axis states from the very outset assumed the character of an anti-fascist war, a war of liberation, one aim of which was also the restoration of democratic liberties. The entry of the Soviet Union into the war against the Axis states could only enhance, he argued, and indeed did enhance, the anti-fascist and liberation character of the Second World War.[3]

In his May 1 address in 1946, Stalin pointed out that the smashing of fascism had led to a profound growth of the democratic movement of the people. People who want to change their lives take the fate of their state into their own hands, he said; they erect a democratic order and lead a struggle against the reactionary powers, against what he termed "the arsonists of a new war". The Soviet Union, he declared, was in the vanguard of this movement. It would continue its politics of peace and security, equality and friendship of the peoples. At the same time, he warned, the armed forces of the Soviet Union must be on guard, to protect the peace.[4]


Soviet cartoon of Churchill's Iron Curtain speech

First among these "arsonists", he maintained, was Winston Churchill. In March 1946 at Fulton, Missouri, Churchill had given his infamous Iron Curtain speech. Several days later, Stalin, in an interview with Pravda, stated that Churchill's speech had unquestionably prejudiced the cause of peace and security. He had taken the stand of the warmongers, and was not alone. He was calling for war on the Soviet Union. Stalin likened Churchill to Hitler and his friends, in setting out to unleash a war backed by a race theory - in Churchill's case, calling upon the English-speaking peoples to decide and rule over the destiny of the world. He denounced Churchill's disregard of solemn Anglo-Soviet treaties. He ridiculed Churchill's talk of the Soviet Union's "expansionist tendencies" and the subservience of the People's Democracies, while pointing out his support for former Nazi collaborators. He said that Churchill's correct observation of the growing influence of the Communists in Europe was a logical result of their fearless and self-sacrificing fight against the fascist regimes. He ridiculed too Churchill's patronising reference to "plain people from little homes", pointing out that these plain people in Britain had just swept Churchill out of office! He ended by asserting that should Churchill succeed in launching war against the Soviet Union - not probable because millions of "plain people" stood guard over the cause of peace - he would be thrashed as surely as he was when he led the intervention of 14 states against Russia in 1919-20.[5]

Later that month, questioned by an Associated Press correspondent about safeguarding world peace, Stalin replied that he attached great importance to the UN as a serious instrument for maintaining peace and international security. He did not believe nations or armies sought a new war, but that certain political groups engaged in propaganda for a new war in order to sow seeds of dissension and uncertainty. He went on to say that the public and ruling circles in the freedom-loving countries should organise widespread counter-propaganda against the propagandists of a new war, that not a single utterance should go without rebuff.[6]

Stalin expanded on this theme later in 1946 in an interview with a Sunday Times correspondent. He said that he did not believe that there was a danger of a new war. The clamour about it was aimed to scare naive opponents and win concessions from them, to obstruct reductions in arms production, and to hinder troop demobilisation to prevent a rapid growth in unemployment. When asked about "capitalist encirclement" of the Soviet Union, he said this could not be done, even if desired. He called for a demilitarised and democratised Germany, as one of the most important guarantees of stability and lasting peace. He said that friendly and lasting co-operation between the Soviet Union and the Western democracies was possible. Asked about the US atom bomb monopoly as a danger to peace, Stalin replied that he did not think it such a force. It was intended to intimidate the weak. It could not decide the outcome of any war. It was certainly a threat, but the US monopoly would not last long, and its use would be prohibited.[7]


Cartoon of the signing of the the North Atlantic Pact

Towards the end of 1948, Stalin said that the policies of the leaders of the USA and Britain were policies of aggression, of unleashing a new war. Asked in an interview with Pravda on October 28, 1948, about the USA and Britain declaring null and void agreements already reached regarding Berlin, Stalin explained that they did not want agreement and co-operation, but rather to show that co-operation with the Soviet Union was impossible and to show the necessity of a new war, and thus to prepare the ground for the unleashing of war. The policy of the present leaders of the USA and Britain, he said, was a policy of aggression, a policy of unleashing a new war.

Asked how this would all end, Stalin replied that it could only end in ignominious failure on the part of the instigators of a new war. Churchill, he said, the main instigator of a new war, had already managed to deprive himself of the trust of his own nation and of democratic forces throughout the world. The same fate lay in store for all other instigators of war. The horrors of the recent war were still fresh in the memory of the peoples; and public forces favouring peace were too strong for Churchill's pupils in aggression to overpower them and to turn them towards a new war.[8]

On February 17, 1951, again in an interview with Pravda, Stalin refuted as a slander British Prime Minister Clement Attlee's claim in the House of Commons that the Soviet Union was not demobilising its forces but increasing them. He pointed out that no state could develop its war industry while, as was the Soviet Union, reconstructing its economy demolished by German occupation, expanding that economy and reducing prices, and developing huge hydro-power works, without risking bankruptcy. Attlee's government, he said, was justifying carrying on its own arms race, misleading the British people, blindfolding them with lies about the Soviet Union, dragging them towards a new world war that would be organised by the warmongering circles in the USA. If Attlee were for peace, he asked, why was he against the proposals of the Soviet Union to limit armaments and immediately forbid atomic weapons? Why had he forbidden the holding of the Second World Peace Congress in Britain?[9] Could the campaign for the defence of peace possibly threaten the security of Britain? Stalin concluded that it was clear that Prime Minister Attlee was not for keeping the peace, but for unleashing a new world-encompassing war of aggression.


Victory in Europe Day, Trafalgar Square, London

Asked in the same interview about the Korean War, then into its second year, Stalin said that if Britain and the USA declined the proposals of the People's Republic of China for peace, the war in Korea could only end in defeat for the interventionists. He explained that while the soldiers had considered the war against Hitler and Japan just, it was difficult to convince them that Korea and China were not right to defend their security on their own territory or on the borders of their state. That is why the war was unpopular among the American and British soldiers, why they did not believe in the justice of their mission, or feel enthusiasm.

As to the UN declaring China the aggressor, this was scandalous, he said. The UN, Stalin argued, which was created as a bulwark for keeping peace, had been transformed into an instrument of war, a means to unleash a new world war.[10]

Asked if he considered a new world war unavoidable, Stalin replied that he did not consider war unavoidable. He explained that in the USA, in Britain, and also in France, there were aggressive powers that longed for a new war. They needed war to achieve super-profits and to plunder other countries. These aggressive powers held reactionary governments in their hands and guided them. At the same time, they were afraid of their people who did not want a new war and were for keeping the peace. Therefore they used the reactionary governments to ensnare their people with lies, to represent a new war as a war of defence, and the peaceful politics of peace-loving countries as aggressive. They feared the campaign for the defence of peace. They feared the proposals of the Soviet Union on the conclusion of a peace treaty, on the limitation of armaments and on the forbidding of atomic weapons.

Peace will be kept and strengthened, Stalin said, if the people take the upholding of peace in their own hands and defend it to the utmost. War could be unavoidable if the arsonists of war succeed in trapping the masses with their lies, in deceiving them and drawing them into a new war. Therefore a broad campaign for the upholding of peace, as a way of exposing the criminal machinations of the arsonists of war, is of prime importance. The Soviet Union, he said, would continue to carry through the politics of preventing war and keeping peace.[11]


March 5 1946 Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech in Fulton, Missouri

Later that year, on October 6, 1951, Stalin spoke on the issue of atomic weapons in a further interview with Pravda. He asserted that there were no grounds for alarm regarding the Soviet Union's atomic bomb test. He explained that the Soviet Union not only opposed the employment of atomic weapons, but also stood for their prohibition and the termination of their production. The Soviet Union had several times demanded prohibition of atomic weapons, but each time this had been refused by the Atlantic bloc powers. Therefore, in the event of an attack by the USA on his country, he said, the ruling circles of the USA would use the atom bomb. This had compelled the Soviet Union to have the atomic weapon in order to meet the aggressor fully prepared. Thus, he argued, if the USA had no intention of attacking the Soviet Union, the alarm was false, as the Soviet Union did not contemplate ever attacking the USA or any other country.

Stalin went on to say that the Soviet Union stood for international control of atomic weapons. He explained that US personages also spoke of control, but presupposing not termination but continuation of production relative to the amounts of raw material at the disposal of different countries. This was not control but a mockery of control, he said. This could not satisfy the demands of the peace-loving peoples.[12]

That same month, significantly, Stalin sent a telegram to Kim Il Sung, President of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, wishing the brave Korean people success in their heroic struggle for the freedom and independence of their homeland.[13]

The following year, on March 31, 1952, in answers to US newspaper editors, Stalin said that he did not consider a Third World War likely in the coming years, that he thought a meeting of the Great Powers would possibly be useful, that the time was ripe for German reunification, and that capitalism and communism could live side by side if both sides co-operated, and had the readiness to do so, if both fulfilled their international duties, and if the basis was equality and non-interference in the affairs of other states.[14]

On October 14, 1952, in his Speech to the 19th Congress of the CPSU, Stalin spoke of the struggle for a better future for the people, the struggle against war, the struggle to keep peace. He expressed thanks for the support of the fraternal parties. He noted the special quality of that support of the peace endeavours of his Party by each fraternal party simultaneously signified the support of their own people in their struggle to keep peace. His Party must do its duty by its fraternal parties and support them and their peoples in the struggle for liberation and in their struggle for keeping peace.

Stalin ended his speech with his famous call concerning national independence and national sovereignty. Earlier, he said, the bourgeoisie, as the heads of nations, were for the rights and independence of nations and put that "above all". Now there was no trace left of this "national principle". Now the bourgeoisie sell the rights and independence of their nations for dollars. The banner of national independence and national sovereignty had been thrown overboard. Without doubt, he said, you the representatives of the communist and democratic parties must raise this banner and carry it forward if you want to be patriots of your countries, if you want to be the leading powers of the nations. There is nobody else to raise it.[15]

Most significantly, Stalin finished with these slogans:

Long Live the Peace Between the Peoples!
Down with the Arsonists of War!

Notes

1. Victory Speech: broadcast from Moscow, May 9, 1945. Works, Volume 16

2. Stalin's Address to the People, September 2, 1945. Works, Volume 16

3. Origin and Character of the Second World War, February 9, 1946, from a speech to the voters of his district during the election to the Supreme Soviet. For Peaceful Coexistence: Post-War Interviews (International Publishers: New York, 1951)

4. Order of the Day of the Minister of the Armed Forces of the USSR, No 7, May 1, 1946. Works, Volume 16

5. Interview with Pravda Correspondent Concerning Mr Winston Churchill's Speech at Fulton, March 1946. J V Stalin on Post-War International Relations, Soviet News, 1947

6. Replies to Questions put by Mr Eddie Gilmore, Associated Press Correspondent, March 22, 1946. J V Stalin on Post-War International Relations

7. Replies to Questions put by Mr Alexander Werth, Moscow Correspondent of the Sunday Times, September 24, 1946. J V Stalin on Post-War International Relations

8. For Peaceful Coexistence, op. cit.

9. The Second World Peace Congress had been scheduled for Sheffield, England in 1950, but British authorities sought to undermine it on an anti-communist basis. They refused visas to many delegates, with Prime Minister Attlee denouncing the congress as a "bogus forum of peace with the real aim of sabotaging national defence" and saying that there would be a "reasonable limit" on foreign delegates. In light of this, the congress was moved to Warsaw.

10. The UN flag was criminally co-opted by the US to give a veneer of legitimacy to the Korean War. In reality, it was a police action led by the US that involved 15 other countries, including Britain, in this unjust anti-communist aggression. A UN Security Council Resolution supporting military aggression was illegitimately passed when the Soviet Union was absent from the council, due to a boycott in support of the People's Republic of China's inclusion in the Security Council, rather than the Republic of China which had been defeated in the Chinese Civil War. The People's Republic of China later sent 780,000 troops of its People's Volunteer Army to bolster the forces of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

11. Interview with a Pravda Correspondent, February 17, 1951. Works, Volume 16

12. Prohibition of Atomic Weapons, October 6, 1951. Interview with Pravda Correspondent. For Peaceful Coexistence, see above

13. Answering Telegram to Chairman of Council of Ministers of DPRK, October 20, 1951

14. Answers to Four Questions from a Group of Editors of American Newspapers, March 31, 1952. Works, Volume 16

15. Speech to the 19th Party Congress of the CPSU, October 14, 1952. Works, Volume 16

Article Index



Meetings on the 70th Anniversary of NATO

Developing the Cause of Peace and Progress


Chris Nineham speaking at the meeting in Newcastle

No to NATO - 70 years of war and aggression!

Based on a report from Newcastle Stop the War Coalition

On April 4, on the 70th anniversary of the Founding of NATO, a public meeting was held in Newcastle. The Chair introduced three speakers, Syed Ullah of Newcastle Stop the War, Charlotte Austin from Young Labour and Chris Nineham, Vice Chair of the Stop the War Coalition.

Syed Ullah, who himself is from Afghanistan, spoke about the destructive role of NATO in that country. In the last three years alone 45,000 Afghans and Afghan army have been killed in the NATO occupation. NATO continues to occupy and use Afghanistan to try out their weapons such as the "mother of all bombs". The speaker highlighted that NATO was using Afghanistan to confront Russia and China.

Charlotte Austin said that Young Labour had passed a motion in favour of withdrawing from NATO at its last policy conference and that there is significant support for this. Speaking about confronting NATO head on, she pointed out that in a student debate she had to oppose the claim that because Ernest Bevin of the post-war Labour government, who was one of the founders of NATO "was a working class hero" this was why we should support NATO! She pointed out the problem that the Labour Party had been a supporter of NATO from the Korean war to Afghanistan and to Syria nowadays. She spoke about the discussion on defence diversification projects to replace the heavy reliance on military production in Britain and the stand being taken within the Labour Party to oppose NATO especially by the Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Chris Nineham said that NATO was set up as a vehicle for western power projection and in the words of a British General, Hastings Lionel "Pug" Ismay; "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down". In the attack on Yugoslavia, NATO dropped more bombs than the number that were dropped in World War II, he said. Talking about the forthcoming programme of demonstrations to coincide with the government's NATO celebration in December and Trumps visit, Chris Nineham said this must be used as part of an educative process to get people to understand that NATO is part of the problem, that it is a toxic network that is designed to promote and defend the policy that is causing so much damage around the world.

Following the speeches there were many contribution and questions discussed on the role of NATO the anti-war movements role to end Britain's involvement in NATO by bringing about an anti-war government in Britain.

NATO: The Myth and the Reality


A.S.F. Maynard, speaking on the Creation of NATO and the Falsification of History.

A well-attended meeting was held in Central London on April 6, organised by the Ad-Hoc Committee "The Things That Make For Peace". This meeting followed on from that successfully organised by the Committee last November marking the centenary of the end of the First World War. A representative of the Ad-Hoc Committee, in welcoming everyone, pointed out that at the end of World War II, in order for the forward march of humanity to proceed, and to preserve the peace, it was necessary to implement the decisions of the Potsdam and Yalta conferences of 1945. The betrayal of these agreements led to the formation of NATO. The peoples continue today to strive for peace, freedom and democracy, and work to establish Anti-War Governments. Their strength lies in the people's movement itself, imbued with collective consciousness and action. On this basis, he said, the Ad-Hoc Committee was formed, the aim of which is to develop unity around an anti-war perspective.

The main talk, "The Creation of NATO and the Falsification of History", was given by A.S.F. Maynard, the co-ordinator of the Young Historians Project. We give below a summary of her illustrated presentation.

* * *

This week marks the 70th anniversary of NATO, and it has also been a week of condemnation and protests around the world. NATO currently has 29 members, but it began with 12, developing out of the atmosphere of the Cold War in the post-war era. It was certainly anti-Soviet, but it was also a calculated step towards greater Anglo-American control of Europe and American access to European colonies in Africa and elsewhere.

The events I am going to run through today are the civil war in Greece and the British involvement in that, the construction of the Western Union, the Marshall Plan, the Dunkirk Treaty of 1947, and the London conferences throughout 1948, and the subsequent Berlin crisis which came up then and led to a justification for the formation of NATO.

While Britain was seemingly fighting a war against fascism in Germany, they were also colluding with fascism in Greece. On Churchill's orders, the British government in 1944 sent many thousands of troops to attempt to quash the resistance against fascist occupation. In 1944, these troops massacred 28 people peacefully demonstrating in Athens. This was an indication of things to come after the defeat of Nazi Germany, and the British government's attitude to the anti-fascist forces and its support for aggression and reaction.

At the end of the Second World War, the Yalta and Potsdam agreements were working towards demilitarising Germany, de-Nazification of Germany, the decentralisation of Germany into a Federal government, and democratisation. That is what was agreed in 1945. But in the months and years afterwards, we can see that Britain, the US, and also France as well, did not adhere to those agreements.

The Dunkirk Treaty was signed between Britain and France in March 1947. The rationale for this treaty was that it was a step towards a military alliance to prevent a Nazi resurgence on the Rhine, although it is worth saying that in 1947 there was no possibility of a Nazi resurgence. Germany had been demilitarised and it was being governed by the four powers. In reality, the conception of the Western Union was that it would lead to development in air power, in opposition to the land power of the Soviet Union. When Ernest Bevin became the Labour Foreign Secretary in 1945, he carried forward the baton of the Churchill plans. In March 1946, a year before the signing of the Dunkirk Treaty, he stated that his intentions were "the closest co-operation and integration, economically, socially and militarily, with our western neighbours". The first phase of the plan was meant to be the Dunkirk Treaty, and several months on from its signing Bevin spoke of his belief that Europe would inevitably divide into eastern and western camps. Bevin's message was that it "therefore became necessary to attempt to organise the western states into a coherent unity, and the time had now come for a return to the political plane". He envisaged a tight-knit cohort made up of Britain, France and the Benelux countries, with an outer circle to include the US and Canada.

In June 1947, the US Secretary of State at that time, George C Marshall, proposed what would become known as the Marshall Plan, the European Recovery Programme. This set out a US commitment to provide "economic assistance to Europe to support its recovery from the war". This act of generosity, of course, was conceived as part of the US policy of "containment", to "prevent the spread of communism" in Europe and in European colonies, and increase US political and economic influence on the European continent. During his unveiling of the plan, Marshall had delivered the following statement: "Our policy is not against any country or doctrine but against poverty, hunger, desperation and chaos. Any government which manoeuvres to block the recovery of other nations cannot expect help from us. Furthermore, governments, political parties or groups which seek to perpetuate human misery in order to profit therefrom politically or otherwise will encounter the opposition of the United States."

The Marshall Plan signified the US's investment in Europe to ensure that post-war recovery took the direction that it wanted it to, and the US now could assert its leadership of the Western alliance.

The Western Union is realised in 1948 with the signing of the Brussels Treaty. Ernest Bevin delivering a speech to the House of Commons in January 1948 in an unjustified condemnation of the formation of the Cominform, stated: "His Majesty's Government cannot agree to four-power co-operation while one of those four powers proceeds to impose its political and economic system on the smaller states." Throughout his speech, Ernest Bevin held Western Europe as "sharing a common destiny based on unity and shared political and moral principles". He stated: "The conception of the unity of Europe and the preservation of Europe as the heart of western civilisation is accepted by most people." Bevin argued that it is imperative to expand the Dunkirk Treaty to form alliances with the Benelux countries. He also had plans for Germany and Italy to be incorporated into this in later years. So the Western Union would exist as a collaboration between those countries on military, political and cultural lines. It was signed on March 25, 1948. It established the long-anticipated Western Union which had been planned since 1944. The Union established its own military committee and defence staff which was headed by the British general Montgomery, and military exercises were undertaken. But the Soviet Union was not informed about any of this, and it was also excluded from participating.

The Berlin crisis would be used by Britain and the US to provide justification for the creation of NATO. In 1946, Britain and the US had already merged their zones in Germany to form bilateral states. France had also been approached but had initially refused to participate in this. In 1948, they were persuaded to form a tri-zone in Germany. This isolated the Soviet Union in Germany and disregarded the Potsdam and Yalta agreements. The Soviet Union had not been invited to attend any of these conferences that took place in London, and was not informed of any of the plans that Britain, the US and France had ahead of time. So those conversations back in 1945, the 4 D's and the need to craft Germany into a peaceful and democratic state, were being unravelled by the actions of the British, US and French states.

Not only this, the three powers then proposed to form a separate government and also introduce currency reform for western Germany and west Berlin. If this had gone ahead it would have crippled east Germany's economy as it would have been flooded with the old currency. So on June 19, 1948, the Soviet military administration issued a statement to the German public on the situation, stating: "Another serious blow has been dealt to the state unity of Germany. The agreement on control machinery and the Potsdam Agreement, which stipulated that Germany must be treated as one unit and that unity of currency circulation be preserved, has been violated. The financial reform which has been carried out in the three Western occupation zones of Germany completes the splitting up of Germany." So as a safeguarding measure, the Soviet Union enforced travel restrictions in Berlin. This was a reaction to those calculated attempts to destabilise east Germany. This was labelled as the Berlin blockade.

{short description of image}
Michael Chant playing the Shostakovich prelude and fugue from 1950-51, the performer pointed out that it was in 1950 that Dmitri Shostakovich had been one of those delegates denied a visa by the British government to attend the planned Second World Peace Congress in Sheffield.

This entire display and false narrative finally gave Britain, France and the US an excuse to bring to the UN and justify the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty. So in September 1948, the western governments issued a statement which concluded: "The Soviet government has thereby taken upon itself sole responsibility for creating a situation in which further discourse and means of settlement prescribed in Article33 of the Charter of the United Nations is not in existing circumstances possible, and which constitutes a threat to international peace and security. In order that international peace and security may not be further endangered, the governments of the United States, France and the United Kingdom therefore, while reserving to themselves full rights to take such measures as may be necessary to maintain in these circumstances their position in Berlin, find themselves obliged to refer the action of the Soviet government to the Security Council of the United Nations." They mentioned Article 33 of the Charter of the UN. Article 33 is as follows: "The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement and resort to regional agencies and arrangements or other peaceful means of their own choice." Those were the steps that they were supposed to have made before bringing the subjects to the UN. But they did not take those steps.

What we can learn from these events and from Greece, from the Dunkirk Treaty and the Marshall Plan, is that the core founder members of NATO - being Britain, France and the US - had initiated aggression, violence and, in the case of Greece, massacres, all in order to form an apparent peace-keeping military organisation. These members had lied to the UN, had broken international law, and therefore founded NATO on illegality. This has become a central theme of NATO, of its existence over the past 70 years. From Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, we can see that NATO has acted outside international law, continually created violent situations and manipulated narratives in order to carry out military intervention and destabilise democratic process in countries across the world. Although NATO is formed along the lines of anti-communism, and it does describe itself as that on its own official website, it is also more than that, in that it is a machine for neo-colonialism and imperialism and Western expansion.

NATO today very much revolves around its most powerful member, the US. But the British role in its creation should not be overlooked or diminished. We are at the 70th anniversary, and it is important for us to question what relevance the largest military organisation in the world, which was founded on mistruth, has to do with peace-keeping. It is actually the antithesis of peace-keeping, democracy and liberation. History must be defalsified, and put into the possession of the people who are also key to writing history, because we perform it every day.

* * *

In the discussion period which followed, many issues were aired, centred on how to turn things around today. It was mentioned that the people of Britain can make a very big contribution if they can block Britain as a pro-war government, which would be a powerful blow to the powers that make up NATO.

A cultural programme concluded the evening, with the involvement of many of the participants in the meeting. An ensemble of Turkish musicians played newly-composed music, in opposition to Turkey's membership of NATO. Several poems were read out on anti-war, pro-peace and anti-NATO themes, a number of which were authored by the speakers themselves. In playing a Shostakovich prelude and fugue from 1950-51, the performer pointed out that it was in 1950 that Dmitri Shostakovich had been one of those delegates denied a visa by the British government to attend the planned Second World Peace Congress in Sheffield.

In concluding the proceedings, the representative of the Ad-Hoc Committee invited everyone to join in the work of The Things That Make For Peace. It had been mentioned that the people are the key to writing authentic history, not the ruling elite. And it is the people also who are decisive in the making of history.

Forthcoming Meeting

There is only one world - No to the use of force to settle conflicts between nations and peoples!

On the 70th Anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). The old geopolitical world of big power rivalry and world domination through military alliances is continuing to create a very dangerous situation. The interest of the peoples is to resolve conflicts between nations without war in the modern world.

Thursday 18th April 2019 Doors 6 pm Programme 7-9 pm

Tickets: Free@truthandmemory.eventbrite.co.uk

Brinkburn Community Centre Harton Lane, South Shields

Programme:

Hakim Adi - Professor of History, University of Chichester, Specialising in Africa and the African Diaspora
Dr Keith Hussein - Lecturer in International Politics Media Selection

Film Clips & Poetry Selection

Organised by the South Tyneside Truth & Memory Preparatory Committee

Article Index



Workers' Forum

Ealing Tax Workers Militantly Continue with Strikes

Since their strike on March 20, Ealing tax workers at HMRC have continued with their militant actions. This is happening at time when civil servants are generally being balloted for industrial action[1].

International House in Ealing is threatened by closure. More than 150 PCS union members walked out of this office at noon on March 20, in the first action there in five years.

The PCS union website reported that General Secretary Mark Serwotka spoke at a rally near International House, which could close as early as 2020. "If management think this is a one off, they should hear us loud and clear - this strike will carry on as long as you are prepared to support it and we will be with you all the way," he said. "You got over the government's laws that make strikes like these as hard as possible. And by a massive majority, you said we are not going to take it and that you will go on strike today, next week and into the future to get a resolution."

On that occasion more than 84% voted in favour of striking, and 95% backed action short of a strike in a ballot. This was followed by walkouts on March 26 and April 3, for which PCS reported "great community and political support". There is also an overtime ban in place.

"I send you my 100% support for the action you are taking," said Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. "Your campaign has my backing because you are seeking to ensure that the vital public service you provide locally is not undermined".

PCS said that HMRC has already lost tens of thousands of years of tax experience as a direct result of its misnamed "Building our Future" proposals[2], which will see 90% of HMRC offices closed and replaced by fewer than 20 "regional centres and specialist sites". The National Audit Office has also forecast a further 5,000 job losses and said that the costs of redundancy and travel had tripled from £17 million to £54 million due to this programme.

In defending their jobs and livelihoods, the tax workers are defending the value of the work they do and their accumulated experience, which is crucial for the functioning of society as presently organised. Workers and the public recognise the need to gather revenue to fund social programmes as essential for their well-being.

From the workers' independent standpoint, renewal of how government claims revenue, and for what purpose this revenue is used, is required as a key part of changing the direction of the economy. If, rather than the present system of individual and corporate taxation, this claim were made directly on the value workers produce at the point of production, then first place could be given to the needs of society itself rather than narrow competing private interests. The collective experience of revenue workers would be invaluable if put to this end.

Yet this important human factor is being cut back; the "Building our Future" plans, as the Tax Justice Network explains[3], are based on the notion "that change could still deliver the service required on a lower budget".

Such cuts can be seen as more than cuts; they are part of the restructuring of the state. That article tells us: "Since the HMRC was formed in 2005 as a merger between the Inland Revenue and HM Customs, the department has been subject to a series of internal reorganisations and change programmes. The current proposals formulated by HMRC management... are the most radical and far reaching changes proposed so far."

The PCS last year exposed that: "The '2020 vision'... involved the mass, compulsory transfer of staff working on Tax Credits to the new [Department of Work and Pensions] Universal Credit. Commitments made to staff were subsequently broken by the DWP, who said that, other than the staff who had transferred over already, no further managed moves were required for HMRC staff. This had the consequence of leaving thousands of members effectively stranded in sites facing closure, meaning the prospect of redundancy for those unable to travel to any of the retained offices."

This is the context of the current struggle at Ealing. The notorious Universal Credit is itself a part of the anti-social offensive brought in under austerity and part of an increasingly arbitrary and inhuman set of arrangements being brought into being.

"Building our Future" boasts of "a bold vision for the future of HMRC: a flexible, highly-skilled workforce, using smart data and innovative digital systems to prevent error, root out tax evasion, avoidance and fraud and maximise revenues". The aim is to create new methods of particularly individual taxation that are part of a state functioning to enforce compliance through digital means, but with an anti-social consciousness that people are a cost. The move towards operating in an increasingly mechanical and dehumanised way is part of how the state is becoming restructured around politicised private interests and becoming ever-more arbitrary.

An example of the increasing method of imposition is the intransigence of the employer in this very dispute. PCS warn that if they are met with continued refusal, a three-day strike was on the cards for April 10-12. Workers' Weekly wishes the Ealing tax workers success in their struggle to defend their office, the value of their work and their years of experience.

Notes

[1] See "Civil servants aim to break through government's arbitrary wage freeze policy", Workers' Weekly, Volume 49 Number 3, March 2, 2019, http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wwie-19/ww19-03/ww19-03-06.htm

[2] HMRC, "Building our Future: Transforming the way HMRC serves the UK", July 2015, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/450017/BoF_-_Transforming_the_way_HMRC_serves_the_UK_-_2015.pdf

[3] George Turner, "New Report: HMRC's "Building our Future" programme", November 16, 2016, Tax Justice Network, https://www.taxjustice.net/2016/11/16/new-report/

[4] PCS, "Building our Future - Even further changes made to the estates plans", August 20, 2018, https://www.pcs.org.uk/pcs-in-hm-revenue-and-customs-group/latest-news/building-our-future-even-further-changes-made-to-the; and with other files from PCS.

Article Index



Workers' Forum

Hospital Security Workers on Strike

Security staff employed by Mitie Security in Accident and Emergency at Southampton General Hospital struck work at the beginning of this month and began an overtime ban over pay rates, sick pay and safety concerns. Two further 24-hour strikes are planned for April 19 and May 24, a 48-hour stoppage starting on May 3, and a 72-hour strike starting on June 7.

Unite said that the workers are at "breaking point". Unite lead officer for health in the south east, Scott Kemp said: "Our members are at the forefront of providing security and a safe environment for staff, patients and visitors. At present, if the security staff are injured at work, and if the resulting investigation finds in their favour, they get two weeks' full pay and then two weeks' half-pay. After that, it is the statutory minimum. What we want is enhanced sickness payments for those off work due to being injured protecting patients and hospital staff; proper and transparent investigations into all attacks; and our members having the necessary personal protection equipment. Our members are seeking six months' full-pay, followed by six months' half-pay for all sickness absences."

Reflecting the increased stress of the job, the pay demand is from the current £8.64 to £10.50 for security officers and £12.16 for supervisors, with additional payments of 50p per hour on night rates; £1 an hour on Saturday and double time on Sunday.

So far, the company offer is £9 per hour, and would double the amount of sick pay and provide some protection equipment. Unite has called for personal protection gear such as stab vests and safety restraints, six months' full-pay followed by six months' half-pay for all sickness absences and "transparent investigations" into any attacks. Unite also asked that leg restraints be used across the hospital rather than just in A&E.

A security guard at the hospital, interviewed by the BBC said, "We've been punched in the face, we've been kicked, we've been stomped on, we've been strangled, scratched. We've had people spit in our eye. Other guards I've seen have had broken ribs. My concern is not if, but when, is one of us going to get stabbed because of the level of violence happening on a week to week, day to day, basis at the moment?"

The company has also now been forced to look at body-worn cameras. According to the BBC, Mitie had only been prepared to consider stab vests, had not agreed a timescale for their introduction, and indeed would not guarantee that they would be introduced at all.

Security staff in the health service are facing the brunt of the violence in society, which is in a state of profound crisis and decline as a result of the deepening anti-social offensive and attack on the rights of all, along with the increasing use of force to sort out problems. Blame is attributed solely to individuals the rather than the crisis of society itself and the violence within it, so that these social problems are reduced to individual ones and made into an issue of law and order.

Part of the offensive is the denial that society has a responsibility for its members so that people are left to fend for themselves. In such a situation, the security workers have had to take the issue into their own hands. Only through the defence of the rights of all and affirming the politics of social responsibility will security be ensured.

Article Index





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