Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 45 Number 32, November 14, 2015 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Trade Union Bill Is a Malicious Attack
on the Workers' Right to Organise

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index :

Trade Union Bill Is a Malicious Attack on the Workers' Right to Organise

From the Debate on the Third Reading of the Trade Union Bill

Ballot of Junior Doctors:
The Fight of Junior Doctors for the Future of the Health Service

Tax Credits – What Kind of Crisis?

Valletta Summit Fails to Address the Causes of the Refugee Crisis

Oxford Students Demand Statue of Cecil Rhodes Be Removed

Weekly On Line Newspaper of the
Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

170, Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2LA.
Phone: 020 7627 0599:
Workers' Weekly Internet Edition Freely available online
Workers' Weekly E-mail Edition Subscribe by e-mail daily: Free / Donate
WW Internet RSS Feed {Valid RSS}

The Line of March Monthly Publication of RCPB(ML) Subscribe

Trade Union Bill Is a Malicious Attack on the Workers' Right to Organise

The government's Trade Union Bill is a malicious attack on the dignity of the workers and their right to organise.

It threatens to introduce a 50% turnout requirement for industrial action ballots, in addition to the current requirement for a majority vote in favour of action. In addition, industrial action in “important public services” would require a positive vote by at least 40% of those entitled to vote in the ballot. These “important public services” are yet to be defined, but the health service, school education, the fire service, transport, nuclear industries and border security are the candidates. Unions would be required to include new types of information on ballot papers. Notice given to employers is extended from seven to 14 days. Mandates would expire after a four-month period after which action would require a fresh ballot. There would be new legal requirements relating to the supervision of picketing.

The Trade Union Bill does not stop there. It viciously interferes in the internal affairs of workers' organisations. The Bill would make it unlawful to require a union member to contribute to a political fund unless they have given written consent to opt-in to this arrangement. Furthermore, the agreement would expire after five years. Unions would be required to publish details of political expenditure if exceeds £2,000 per annum, and must give detailed information on this expenditure.

Public sector unions come under especial attack. A Minister may require a public sector employer to publish information relating to facility time taken by union officials, and the Minister may regulate to restrict facility time. Yet another clause has been introduced at the Committee stage of the Bill prohibiting the deduction of union subscriptions from the wages of relevant public sector employees.

The role of the Certification Officer is politicised by introducing investigatory and enforcement powers and the power to impose financial penalties.

Where is the justice in these measures, what is the problem the government is legislating to deal with? The fact is that the workers' right to organise to defend their interests is already shackled in so many ways, many of them dating from the Thatcher government's anti-trade union laws. The government claims that the public is inconvenienced by “unnecessary” strikes. But reality shows that the interests of the monopolies are being imposed on society, and not only the interests of working people but the well-being of the whole of society are under attack. Who is inconveniencing whom? The anger of the junior doctors relating not only to their pay and conditions but to the future of the health service which is being jeopardised is just one of the latest examples. Not only the interests and dignity of working people is at stake, but so is the broad issue of the public good.

The government is trying to crush the right of the workers to organise, resist, and fight for the future. “Reform” of trade unions and outlawing strikes in public services is an attempt to crush and criminalise the resistance of the working class and people to the austerity agenda with its associated privatisation, cuts to public services and attacks on workers' rights and interests. It is an attempt to prevent the workers from bringing their numbers and organisation into play in this resistance, and is itself an abuse of power by the government for which they have no mandate.

Experience also shows that those union activists and representatives of their members are themselves targeted, intimidated and victimised by their employers, particularly in the public services. This is also an attack on working women, since, as TUC data demonstrates, almost three quarters of the union members affected will be women, since women make up 67 per cent of public sector workers, 79 per cent of healthcare workers and 72 per cent of education workers. Their leverage to prevent unequal pay, discrimination and protect maternity and other rights being respected would be dramatically reduced.

What right has the government to impose such legislation in the face of the broad opposition of working people? It is displaying its crass arrogance and contempt for working people and what they hold dear. To the government, unity, solidarity, and defence of the rights of all, far from being respected, are symptomatic not of the vision and ideals of the working class, but of some dark malevolence standing in the way of their programme to impose the anti-social austerity agenda on the workers and society as a whole.

The government also refused to exclude Scotland from the scope of the Bill, despite the concern of such bodies as the Law Society of Scotland, especially as concerns the Bill's incompatibility with human rights legislation, and the right of both Wales and Scotland to decide how to organise their own affairs with regard to the rights of workers and their organisations.

Working people are having to wage a constant battle to defend their working conditions, uphold safety and resist the encroachments on their standard of living. The organised workers' movement, far from being “unnecessary” is vital. It has a role in demanding that the right to a livelihood be recognised. Not only that, but it must have a say in determining the direction of the economy. The government must not decide by representing the class interests of the rich, claiming to act on behalf of the society, and leave the movements of the working class and people out of account.

The government would like to wipe out the workers' movement in its entirety. But it cannot be eliminated through legislation or state oppression. It exists in the real world, despite the protestations of Cameron and Co. It is working people who are the producers of added value, of wealth in the economy. Indeed, the programme of the working class is a broad programme for defence of the rights of all, for a new direction for society and the economy, for a way out of the crisis and the capital-centred austerity programme, and for the alternative, a new society.

The government must not be allowed to succeed with the Trade Union Bill. Resistance is growing and the mood is to make it unworkable should it become law. It must be blocked!

For further details of the Bill see [wwie45-22] (on the Bill as originally presented), and the House of Commons Briefing Paper
[] (the Committee Stage Report). The latter includes a synopsis of the House of Commons debate on the Second Reading of the Bill, as well as of the Committee Stage debate.

{short description of image}

Article Index


From the Debate on the Third Reading of the Trade Union Bill

Angela Eagle, Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills:

As I did on Second Reading, let me begin by drawing the attention of the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests and declaring that I am a lifelong and proud trade unionist.

I believe that our country succeeds when government, employers and employees work in partnership to tackle our economic and social challenges. Evidence shows that good industrial relations are more likely to lead to increased productivity, higher skills, and greater safety in the workplace, so any Government who were serious about economic progress and wellbeing would be working to improve industrial relations, but this Bill demonstrates that we have a Tory Government hellbent on doing the exact opposite.

On Second Reading, I called the Bill “draconian, vindictive and counterproductive”, and during its passage through Parliament, this Government’s malign intent has been proved again and again. This Bill will do absolutely nothing to improve industrial relations in our country; in fact, it risks making them worse. It will do nothing to help build the modern economy we all want to see; in fact, it is an outdated response to the problems of decades past. It is bad for workers and bad for business.

What is it about this Conservative Government that they are so afraid of checks and balances on their power, including challenges from free trade unions and unshackled civil society? This Government are pursuing a very deliberate strategy to legislate their critics into silence or submission, whether through the gagging Act or the war being waged by those on the Tory Benches on the charities that dare to have an opinion contrary to the Government’s. They are attacking the Human Rights Act 1998, targeting the Freedom of Information Act 2000, and issuing threats against the House of Lords for daring to ask them to think again on tax credits. This Government increasingly like to use the law to clamp down on dissent. Now the Conservatives have the trade unions in their sights again.

In Committee, the Government gave no adequate justification for the many draconian measures in this Bill, and no evidence was provided to justify them. The sweeping changes to the opt-in for political funds go well beyond the current practices in Northern Ireland which have been used to justify the change. They are a nakedly partisan attack on Her Majesty’s Opposition. If enacted, these proposals would mark the abrupt end of the Churchill convention and of the long-standing consensus in British politics that the Government of the day should not introduce partisan legislation unfairly to disadvantage their political rivals. This is an abuse, and they know it.

The Bill does nothing to deal with the issue of big money in politics and it leaves Tory funding sources completely untouched, while all the while forcing through changes that threaten the very existence of all political activity and campaigning by trade unions, most of which is entirely unrelated to the Labour party, and which, by the way, is already heavily regulated.

In a healthy democracy, governing should be uncomfortable. Governments should be subject to real challenge. The Government should not use legislative means to shut down debate or dissent, as this Government are now doing. That is why Liberty, Amnesty International and the British Institute of Human Rights have opposed the Bill on the grounds of civil liberties. It breaches the international standards of the International Labour Organisation and the European convention on human rights.

The Bill gives an inadequate transitional period of just three months to re-recruit the 4.9 million current members of trade union political funds, which this Bill would arbitrarily and retrospectively set at zero. It deliberately allows insufficient time for trade unions to change their own rule books to accommodate that sudden, draconian legislative requirement.

The intrusive new investigatory powers for the certification officer make him the judge, jury and executioner on complaints, which flies in the face of the principles of natural justice.

The provisions on picketing were described by the Government’s own Regulatory Policy Committee as “Not fit for purpose”. The very minor concessions, which were made after Opposition pressure in Committee, do not go nearly far enough.

This Bill just does not fit with modern Britain. It acts as though devolution to our nations and regions never happened, with the Government seeking to ride roughshod over both check-off and facility agreements freely made between employer and employee in the devolved authorities and in English local government. If those agreements work well and facilitate good industrial relations, why do the Government wish to destroy them by central diktat? The obvious conclusion is that this Government want to destroy trade union finances and organisation and to effectively legislate trade unions out of existence.

Throughout the Bill’s passage, Labour has pushed for the introduction of e-balloting and secure workplace balloting, which are already used for a variety of purposes in both the public and the private sectors, including, of course, to choose the Tory mayoral candidate for London. I can think of no organisations besides trade unions where technological change and progress is not only discouraged by the Government, but actually banned by proscriptive legislation. There are no reasonable grounds for the Government’s continued refusal to countenance that wholly sensible change. Trade unions must be allowed to modernise and bring balloting into the 21st century, and I very much hope that my noble Friends in the other place will pick up on that.

We know that trade unions have a vital role to play in a modern economy where business, employees and Government work together for the mutual benefit of our country. It is time that the Government treated trade unions as an equal in that partnership and not as the enemy within.

The Bill is divisive and undermines the basic protections that trade unions provide for people at work. It is poorly drafted, legally unsound and in conflict with international obligations, and it undermines the devolution settlement. It does nothing to tackle the pressing national challenges our public services, businesses and industries alike are facing; instead, it tries to drive a false wedge between Government, industry, employees and the public.

Stopping this Bill requires a UK-wide and united response. I urge Members on both sides of the House to join Labour in the Division Lobby to oppose this nasty, vindictive Bill in its entirety.

Chris Stephens, Scottish National Party, Glasgow South West:

Today we have heard, once again, divisive rhetoric against this country’s trade union movement. We have heard from some Government Back Benchers that trade unionists who are on strike get paid by their employer. That will be news to the millions of trade union members in this country. The real difficulty with and objection to some of the rhetoric we hear is the suggestion that trade union members are somehow different from taxpayers and the public. Trade union members are taxpayers and they are members of the general public.

The Bill infringes human rights and civil liberties, and if unaltered, it can only lead to more work for the courts and, sadly, more blacklisting for trade union members in this country. The Bill attacks the ability of trade unions to organise, as we have seen with the proposals on facility time and check-off. This is not just about party political funding; it is an attack on the trade union movement’s ability to fund general campaigns, such as anti-racist campaigns and campaigns in favour of public services.

It is quite astonishing that the Government believe that aspects of the Bill do not require a legislative consent motion, either from the Scottish Parliament or from the Welsh Assembly, on public services across the board. I predict that that will come back to bite them.

The Minister for Skills was very kind in his words to me, so I will reiterate the words of my hon. Friend Dr Cameron: he gives the appearance of moderation, but his rhetoric is entirely disingenuous.

Jack Dromey, Shadow Minister (Home Affairs):

My dad came here as a navvy from County Cork, joined the British Army to fight Hitler and then became a train driver. Like generations before him and generations after him, he wanted to get on.

The evidence is absolutely clear that those who are in a trade union are more likely to be better paid and to enjoy equal pay, less likely to be unfairly dismissed, bullied or discriminated against, and more likely to work in a safe workplace and to enjoy a decent pension.

I have worked for 40 years in the trade union movement with good employers, including those in the automotive industry such as Jaguar Land Rover, who praise their trade unions for the transformation of the industry to a high-pay, high-quality, high-productivity culture. I have also fought the bad. My whole experience is that trade unions are a force for good and for liberty.

Now, the so-called party of working people wants to weaken working people. It is part of a wider agenda that will brook no opposition: first the charities, then the BBC, even the House of Lords and now the trade unions. The Tory party wants a one party, one nation state.

The great Jack Jones once said that the way for working people to access power was through their union card on the one hand and their right to vote for the Labour party on the other.

Let me show what is so obnoxious about this Bill. When I was treasurer of the Labour party in 2006, against the background of the secret loans scandal and the Hayden Phillips process, it was put to me, “Jack, if we impose a cap on donations of £5,000, it will bankrupt the Tory party.” I said no to doing that because it would be immoral for one party to abuse its power to bankrupt another party. Would that the Conservative party had the same moral compass now.

In conclusion, this is a pernicious and iniquitous Bill. It is born out of malice, informed by prejudice and has no place in a democracy. That is why the true party of working people, the Labour party, will vote against it tonight.

Article Index


The Battle for the Future Direction of the NHS

Ballot of Junior Doctors:

The Fight of Junior Doctors for the Future of the Health Service

The junior doctors committee of the British Medical Association (BMA) is currently balloting 53,000 doctors in England over the government announcement that it will impose a new contract on them in August 2016. Although they are described as junior doctors, the contract affects all doctors below consultant level from trainees to very experienced medical doctors who are not General Practitioners (GPs). The Scottish and Welsh governments have said that they will not impose the Tory government contract on junior doctors, whilst the Northern Ireland Assembly has not yet made a decision.

The demands of the junior doctors are opposed to the new contract that will see their pay for the unsocial hours they work cut and the safeguards removed on employers extending their hours of work. The doctors' demands are that “the government withdraw its threat to impose the new contract, proper recognition of unsocial hours as premium time, no disadvantage for those working unsocial hours compared to the current system, no disadvantage for those working less than full time and taking parental leave compared to the current system, pay for all work done, proper hours safeguards protecting patients and their doctors”. The BMA junior doctors committee points out that “the Government has not provided us with these assurances and so we are balloting on industrial action”.

The action that the junior doctors are voting on in the ballot is whether to take industrial action. The BMA guidance states: “We believe a mandate for industrial action will send a clear message from the profession to the Government that a fairer way forward should be found, while ensuring patient safety is protected. To maximise legal protection and to provide flexibility, there are two questions on the ballot paper – one asking whether you are prepared to take part in a strike and a second whether you are prepared to take industrial action short of a strike. To provide a mandate for the emergency care model (most likely Christmas day working) and for the withdrawal of all junior doctors’ labour, you should answer ‘yes’ to both questions.” The ballot concludes on November 18.

Over recent weeks massive demonstrations have taken place supporting the junior doctors not only against the attempt by the government to impose a worse contract on them but against this whole anti-social direction for the NHS. This resistance is building alongside the whole movement of the working class and people against the government's austerity agenda and the massive support for the junior doctors is a another upsurge that has taken the government by surprise.

On November 4, on the eve of the start of the ballot, Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health, was forced to make a hurried “concession” to the imposed contract to try and head off this movement of the doctors. However, whilst Jeremy Hunt's increase of the basic pay of doctors by 11% made good headlines for the monopoly media what he failed to mention was that the cutting of out-of-hours pay and the scrapping of yearly incremental pay to make pay rates stay the same for longer could reduce the income of doctors that work out of hours by 40-50%. This move also discriminates against women doctors, and both doctors that work part-time and those that work the longest hours. Jeremy Hunt also continues with his plans to press ahead with removing what the BMA says is “a vital safety net that prevents hospitals from forcing juniors to work excessive hours that could leave medics so tired that they pose a threat to patients”. For this reason the BMA has rejected this latest manoeuvre by the government and is continuing with the ballot.

On May 18, shortly after the Conservatives staged their electoral coup, Cameron made his announcement of a “new 24/7 NHS”. This astonished health workers and health professional when in the real world where most NHS workers from Consultants, junior doctors, nurses, to porters and domestics already work a 24/7 week. At that time, Workers' Weekly pointed out, “What is hidden in Cameron's promise is that 24/7
NHS is in fact more about satisfying the demand of the competing NHS employers and private health companies to cut health workers' pay, specifically at this time their weekend and unsocial enhancements. This is why the trade unions reacted angrily that this was an attack on health workers' conditions.” In other words, it was more about what health workers were paid for 24/7 working in order to make health workers work longer hours for less pay to make the NHS more attractive to the wrecking and privatisation plans of the government.

What followed this announcement on 24/7 NHS has been precisely an attack on the pay and unsocial hour payments to junior doctors as part of their plan to roll it out to all health workers. At the same time, there are specific issues facing junior doctors in the NHS although many of the issues also affect nurses and other health workers.

There are 53,000 junior doctors in England in the NHS. But the UK has fewer working doctors per head of population than almost all other European Union countries (EU). Figures show that although investment in the number of doctors increased between 2000 and 2012, particularly in Scotland, in 2014 Britain still had less doctors per population than 24 of the 28 EU countries: 2.8 doctors compared to the average of 3.4 doctors per thousand population.1 Norway which has a reputation for one of the best public health services in Europe according
to the 2014 Euro health consumer index has 4.2 doctors per 1000 of the population. These figures are further confirmation of why the NHS is so reliant on junior doctors working so many extra hours to the standard working week and for which they are paid unsocial hours payments. The government change of contract which they want to impose in August 2016 will extend the standard working week of junior doctors from 60 to 90 hours a week. The present contract is 7am – 7pm as standard hours and what the government is demanding is standard hours from 7am – 10pm. Doctors working these extra hours could lose 30% of their presented contracted unsocial hour payments. This is why the figures that the government claims for an increase in 11% pay are deliberately misleading.

The government sees the doctors like all NHS workers as an obstacle to their plans to increasingly pay the rich more, whether by increasing payment to the rich from the process of cuts to the NHS budgets and other public services, or by wrecking and opening up the NHS further to private profit at the expense of the pay and conditions of the health workers. The monopoly media
try in vain to claim that junior doctors are opposing the government's “24/7 NHS” merely to increase their income, while the reality is that there is already a 24/7 NHS as a necessity to meet the needs of patients.. The struggle of the junior doctors is entirely just.

The facts show that the junior doctors in defending themselves are taking up the fight against the anti-social offensive of the government, defending their pay and safe working hours and striving to open up the alternative direction for the people so as to safeguard the future of the NHS. The people must recognise the stand of the Scottish and Welsh governments in refusing to impose the British government's junior doctors contract as acting in favour of all. It must also be recognised that the working conditions of the junior doctors are the conditions for the health care of hospital patients.

WWIE calls on the working class and people to go all out to support the fight of the junior doctors. A victory for the junior doctors is a victory for all!

1Source: Health at a Glance: Europe, 2014 OECD

Article Index


Tax Credits – What Kind of Crisis?

On October 26, the House of Lords supported a motion from Baroness Meacher delaying the imposition of decreases to the tax credit thresholds until the House of Commons made a new consideration of the effects of these cuts. They are due to come into effect on April 6, 2016 (the beginning of the new “financial year”). The amount by which payment of tax credits is due to be cut is reported to be £4.4bn, part of £12bn the government is proposing to cut from what is being referred to as “welfare spending”. The government is targeting the claims of the low-paid, the unemployed, the differently-abled and the vulnerable in their neo-liberal “austerity” programme in their fraudulent effort to “balance the books”.

This was presented by the ruling Conservative Party as a constitutional crisis, with the unelected House of Lords overturning a decision by the elected House of Commons, a rather unusual argument for the Conservatives to employ.

Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn famously asked David Cameron six times at Prime Minister's Questions if any working families would be worse off in April 2016 without getting an answer, asking again at PMQs a week later. The Prime Minister was still working out his answer. Jeremy Corbyn also stressed that this was not a constitutional crisis, but a crisis for the low paid, who would be hit by the cuts in tax credits.

The decision to impose the cuts was taken through delegated legislation, over which there is no debate. The Opposition had to raise it through an Opposition Day debate on October 20, for an application on October 27 for an emergency debate (which was refused), and through Backbench Business on October 29, calling for the government to reconsider the effect on the lowest paid workers of its proposed changes to tax credits due to come into force in April 2016, to carry out and publish an analysis of that effect, and to bring forward proposals to mitigate it.

In the application for an emergency debate, SNP spokesperson on Social Justice and Welfare, Eilidh Whiteford, said: “Across the UK there are 7 million working-age families with children eligible for tax credits, and the impact of this Government’s proposed tax and benefits changes will be to reduce their incomes by an average of almost £1,300 a year. In Scotland, over 200,000 working families with around 350,000 children are set to lose out. That is an enormous and disproportionate impact on parents who are working hard in low-paid jobs to support their families.”

Not only is the government's attack on low-paid families vindictive and draconian, but the whole business of taxation, benefits and tax credits is incredibly anachronistic and out of place in a modern society. The government must fulfil its social responsibilities to all members of society or be held to account if it does not do so. It is ridiculous that it taxes individuals, taking away money that they have earned in the first place, let alone then go through the process of dispensing tax credits and removing them at a whim. The decision of the government on tax credits is an abuse of executive power.

Article Index


For An Anti-War Government!

Valletta Summit Fails to Address the Causes of the Refugee Crisis

Last week Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May joined other leaders and government ministers from over sixty African and European countries meeting at the Valletta Summit in Malta to discuss the continual flow of refugees and asylum seekers from African countries to Europe.

As the Summit commenced it was announced that another fourteen Africans had died after their boat sank crossing the Mediterranean. The Summit was originally planned following the deaths of over 800 African refugees who died off the coast of Libya in another tragic event last April. In total it is reported that almost 4,000 people are drowned or missing as a result of hazardous voyages across the Mediterranean this year. According to the UN, since January at least 800,000 refugees have reached Europe by sea, some 150,000 of these from African countries. The conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries around the world, in which British governments have played a leading role, account for the exodus of many of those willing to risk their lives to make the perilous journey to Europe. The anarchy in Libya, created by the NATO military intervention led by the British government and its allies, has created the conditions for the use of that country as an embarkation point for many thousands more of desperate men, women and children to leave Africa, and created many millions of Libyan refugees.

The attitude of the British government hitherto, has been to refuse to accept any responsibility for the massive flows of refugees and to do everything possible to prevent any of them reaching Britain. In keeping with this approach, on the eve of the Valletta Summit the Prime Minister announced that Britain would strengthen and extend the role of the Organised Immigration Crime Taskforce, established last June allegedly to tackle the “criminal gangs” that the government claims are “behind the migration crisis in the Mediterranean”. This taskforce
will now have its funding extended until 2020. The Prime Minister commented that although the government wished to help refugees, “we must also continue our efforts to break the link between setting off in a boat and achieving settlement in Europe…smash these human trafficking gangs and protect the UK from this threat”. In short, the Taskforce has done nothing to address the issues creating the mass exodus of refugees but has facilitated further intervention in the internal affairs of several countries in Africa. At the Summit Cameron once again refused to offer any help to the hundreds of thousands of refugees from Africa, Syria and elsewhere who have already reached Europe.

The Valletta Summit concluded with agreement on an “Action Plan” and “Political Declaration”, allegedly aimed at preventing or diminishing a problem which some commentators predict will be in existence for many years to come. Many of the proposals, which encourage more economic and other forms of intervention in Africa by EU members, are more likely to perpetuate the relationship between Africa and Europe than to change it. The European Commission has, for example, established a €1.8 billion “trust fund” and has announced other measures allegedly to encourage further economic development in Africa. At the Summit, Theresa May announced that Britain would also increase “aid” to Africa by some £200 million. There will also be joint EU-African Union programmes to enhance “conflict resolution” and counter “terrorist threats”. In short, the outcome of the Summit did nothing to alter the unequal relationship between Europe and Africa, but rather strengthened the basis for European interference in Africa’s affairs and the maintenance of neo-liberal economic arrangements. Nor did it represent a humanitarian solution to the consequences of this interference.

Rally, Refugees Welcome Here, Camden Town Hall, November 4
Not surprisingly, therefore, the Summit failed to address the main causes of mass migration flows: the economic, political and military intervention of the big powers in Africa and elsewhere in the world. Military and political intervention in Africa in recent years is part of a new scramble for Africa’s resources and markets conducted by the governments of the big powers on behalf of the major monopolies and financial institutions. Such external economic intervention in Africa, which is the continuation of the colonial relationship that once existed between Europe and Africa, has created the impoverishment and instability that is forcing many to seek refuge in Europe. Illicit capital flows from Africa by the big multinationals, for example, far outstrip the so-called aid provided by Britain and other wealthy countries, which in any case is designed as a subsidy for the multinationals not to assist the development of independent African economies.

There is now a global refugee and migrant crisis, further evidence that the capital-centred system creates not only poverty, instability and war, but also the displacement of millions, a crisis which cannot be solved within the existing conditions. It is also evident that successive governments in Britain have no concern for the lives and well-being of the millions of refugees who have been forced to flee their homes as a consequence of interventionist and warmongering policies pursued to maintain this system. The times cry out for the alternative, for an anti-war government and for a new people-centred world.

Article Index


Oxford Students Demand Statue of Cecil Rhodes Be Removed

{short description of image}
More than 250 students held a protest in Oxford on Friday, November 6, to call for the removal of the statue of colonialist Cecil Rhodes from Oriel College.

The students assembled at midday in Oriel Square outside of the college “to demand the glorifying statue of Cecil Rhodes – a brutal, racist colonial oppressor – be taken down”, as organisers Rhodes Must Fall Oxford said.

They handed a petition with nearly 2,000 signatures to representatives of the Oriel College governing body. The petition states:

“This statue is an open glorification of the racist and bloody project of British colonialism. An architect of apartheid in Southern Africa, Rhodes is the same apartheid colonialist who said: 'I prefer land to niggers...the natives are like children. They are just emerging from should kill as many niggers as possible.' Rhodes' actions in Southern Africa were informed by this philosophy, and in putting his murderous colonial project into practice – he committed a multitude of crimes that deserve international outrage instead of tacit complicity.

“We find it deplorable that Oriel College continues to glorify an international criminal through its uncritical, deeply violent iconography. As long as the statue remains, Oriel College and Oxford University continue to tacitly identify with Rhodes' values, and to maintain a toxic culture of domination and oppression. We believe that the colonialism, racism and patriarchy this statue is seeped in has no place in our university – which for many of us is also our home. The removal
of this statue would be a welcome first step in the University's attempt to redress the ways in which it has been an active beneficiary of empire. While it remains standing, the statue of Rhodes remains a celebration not just of the crimes of the man himself, but of the imperialist legacy on which Oxford University has thrived, and continues to thrive. While the statue remains standing, Oxford University continues to condone the persistent racism that shadows this institution.

“At the University of Cape Town, the statue of Cecil Rhodes has fallen and uncritical memory of his legacy has been discredited. It is at the University of Cape Town where the Rhodes Must Fall movement, a student-led movement to decolonise education, challenges the active influence of colonial relations in Africa, and caused the removal [on April 9, 2015] of the statue of Rhodes that overlooked the campus. Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford supports and continues this vital work by looking to critically interrogate the colonial relations on which Oxford University is founded, not just in Africa, but worldwide. We see no reason why here, at the heart of the High Street, at the heart of Oxford, Rhodes cannot also fall.

“For centuries, the University of Oxford has produced, profited from, and memorialised the violent conquests of Rhodes and other 'great' imperial men including Christopher Codrington, Benjamin Jowett, and Augustus Pitt Rivers. The University is strewn with visible symbols of its colonial inheritance, and remains the intellectual heart of unjustly attained global privilege. At Oxford, those whose histories have been marred by imperialism are shadowed by statues of their oppressors
as they walk through their own university, and find their history held hostage within the archives of their oppressors. Here, a growing number of students are pained by the absence of legitimate critical means to articulate their experiences, and excluded from a culture rife with colonial apologism.

“This exclusion violates the university's own purported commitment to 'fostering an inclusive culture which promotes equality, values diversity and maintains a working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all its staff and students are respected'. Whilst we emphasise that we do not wish to be included in a structure that remains violent towards us, that we, as agents, will continue to agitate for its reformation, we wish to highlight that having a statue of Rhodes violates even this low threshold, and provides a sufficient basis for its removal.

“The University of Oxford continues to colonise the minds of future leaders through its visual iconographies, the concepts and histories on its curricula, the gross under-representation of people of colour and other marginalised groups in its staff and student community, the exclusionary networks of power, the cultural capital, and the 'civilised' culture of 'taste' into which students are steeped. This will never be able to change if statues of racist and murderous men maintain their position and visibility as a part of Oxford. There is no place for Cecil Rhodes on the High Street or anywhere in the world. The statue must fall.”

The action follows a protest during the university's traditional matriculation ceremony on October 24, which marks the beginning of the academic year, at which a thousand students wore red ribbons as a “vivid reminder of the blood that has been shed as a result of colonial domination at the hands of renowned Oxford figures such as Cecil Rhodes and Christopher Codrington”.

See the Cherwell Broadcasting report on YouTube []

Article Index


RCPB(ML) Home Page

Workers' Weekly Online Archive