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Volume 51 Number 22, October 16, 2021 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Cartel Parties Address No Problems Facing the People

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis

Cartel Parties Address No Problems Facing the People

Necessity for an Anti-War Government:
British Government Plans Further Provocations in the South China Sea alongside US

Health and Care Bill 2021-22:
Continuing the Wrong Direction for a System of Health and Social Care

Workers' Forum:
Workers are resisting the assault on society - it is they who have the solutions

Cartel Parties Address No Problems Facing the People

The experience of the recent conferences of the Conservative and Labour Parties demonstrates that the cartel parties of the Westminster consensus have nothing to offer in terms of the solutions to the people's concerns.

The slogan of "Build Back Better" that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has adopted means that the old pre-pandemic normal is to be brought back, but with an increased onslaught on working people, their lives, working conditions and well-being. To the demands of so many sections of the working people that the government should address the problems for them that it has created, the government's response is that they should be more proud to be British, and that alone will cause the problems to disappear, only adding to the people's anger and frustration, and the realisation that the government is simply not listening.

Under Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour Party deliberately shies away from tackling injustice. The fraudulent logic given is that to do so would be to divide people, when the reality is that the overwhelming sentiment amongst the movements of the working class and people is the thirst for justice and defending the rights of all.

Above all, there is no questioning of the outdated Westminster system, with its so-called "representative democracy", in which MPs pledge loyalty to the sovereign and not the electorate, thus representing not the people's concerns but rather the old society, which these days is wholly geared to paying the rich, which for centuries has been in need of democratic renewal.

"Electability" is made the goal of the parties, an "electability" which ensures the perpetuation of a system where the people have no say, an "electability" in which what is just is turned on its head, as with the support given to Jeremy Corbyn when leader of the Labour Party, and now every aspect of what he stood for, including opposition to war, is to be crushed with no hope of return. The cartel parties' concern for "electability" is a fraud covering over that private interests rule the roost in society, and the cartel parties in the Westminster consensus serve these interests or do nothing to challenge them.

A cruel joke is played on the working class and people, in which rather than people uniting to voice their solutions to real problems, the powers-that-be divide them into "left" versus "right" and attempt to get the people's movements to express their allegiances on this basis, while the cartel parties are supposed to represent the centre ground.

What must be grasped is the necessity for what could be called completing the democratic revolution begun in the 17th century, the necessity for the people's forces to bring into being new forms which empower them. It is not a question of a multi-party democracy, or a one-party state, or a coalition government, or any variation of the Westminster model. It is a question of how the working class and people can and must gain the power to enable them to be the decision-makers, empowering them to solve the problems society faces.

All this emphasises the necessity for the people's voice to be heard, for the working class and people to speak in their own name, dealing with their actual problems and putting forward actual solutions. To strengthen this trend, to make it conscious, is the key to turning things around in the people's favour in the coming period, when, although the death rate from Covid-19 is rising, the cartel parties act as though the pandemic were a thing of the past, and refuse to deal with its consequences. The working class and people must strengthen their demand to participate in all the decisions which affect their lives.

Article Index

Necessity for an Anti-War Government

British Government Plans Further Provocations in the South China Sea alongside US

Portsmouth people demonstrating against the Carrier Strike Group - "Cut War Not Healthcare"

The attempt by the government to project post-Brexit "Global Britain" as part of a "rules-based international order" that is acting for "global security" continues with its deployment of the UK Carrier Strike Group (CSG) led by HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Asian Pacific seas and is planning to carry out further provocations in the South China Sea where Britain and its allies have no business to be. In a press release [1] the government claimed success for its CSG led by HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Asian Pacific seas and what it describes as its "Indo-Pacific tilt" in conducting a series of "engagements with regional partners."

The statement said that "over the next two weeks the CSG will continue to navigate the South China Sea with ships and aircraft from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States." The statement also announced the permanent deployment of HMS Tamar and HMS Spey to the "Indo-Pacific" and heralded that CSG will have a "busy autumn in the Indo-Pacific and Middle-East." It also said that HMS Diamond - a Type 45 Destroyer from the CSG - will also shortly be participating in Exercise Bersama Gold, marking the 50th anniversary of the Five Powers Defence Arrangements alongside Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand. In the press statement Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace said: "Exercising and cooperation with like-minded allies is vital to tackle the common threats we face, contributing to a safer and more secure world."

This comes just weeks after the Anglo-US and their allies were forced to withdraw from Afghanistan and the fact that the people of West Asia, the Middle East and North Africa have been left with the massive death toll, chaos and destruction over 20 years by this Anglo-US "war on terror". Most commentators agree that such an intervention by US and Britain has, on the contrary, led to a less safe and less secure world and has been disastrous for the people of those countries. Now these same powers claim that their latest warmongering expeditions into the Baltic, Black Sea and into the Asian Pacific aimed at surrounding Russia, China and the DPRK is going to bring about a "safer and more secure world".

The Global Times of October 14 commented on its relevance to ASEAN, the Association of ten Southeast Asian Nations [2], "The new tripartite defense alliance AUKUS, formed with the intention of intimidating China, will strain ASEAN's unity and integration as regional countries are divided over the pact, experts said Wednesday, noting that if it sparks an arms race, it threatens to destabilise the region." The Indo-Pacific region has been a strategic region and a theatre of war. As such, AUKUS and the strike force which has been despatched are a serious cause of tension, and represent an act of brinkmanship by the three big powers, spearheaded by the US. It poses a threat to the the non-proliferation of nuclear power, particularly as the AUKUS alliance is creating the conditions for Britain and Australia to develop a technologically advanced partnership, and for the Australian government to build at least eight US-designed nuclear-powered submarines.

Flight ramps of HMS Queen Elizabeth with RAF and US fighters lined up on the deck.

In this context, the US is seeking to combat its decline as a dominant global power. It is thus seeking to threaten wars of destruction and it cannot predict what the outcome of its brinkmanship will be. The US is put on a permanent war footing, threatening to destroy all it cannot control, and Britain is willing to follow suit with its own vain ambitions to resurrect a "Global Britain". No heed is paid to any norm of international law, but instead anarchy and violence reign.

The UK Carrier Strike Group represents "Global Britain" as a military threat to the world's people. It has also demonstrated how far this threat has gone with the integration of British warships with the US forces and the recently announced pact between the US, Britain and Australia (AUKUS). This is also an extremely provocative nuclear, cyber and military threat aimed at China and the DPRK. These dangerous attempts to continue the Anglo-US "might makes right" from their disastrous interventions in the Middle East into war preparations in rivalry with other powers must be condemned and opposed. The UK Carrier Strike Group must be recalled to British waters immediately. The people must continue to affirm the right to be of all nations and peoples of the world, and take a stand to renew international relations based on international law, declaring that international issues and world security is not settled by force of arms. They have the answer to replace the Old and build the New with their empowerment in forms such as Anti-War Governments. Another world is a necessity for the people to live in a peaceful world!

1. Carrier Strike Group Looks Forward to a Busy Autumn in Indo-Pacific and Middle East
2. Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam

Article Index

Health and Care Bill 2021-22

Continuing the Wrong Direction for a System of Health and Social Care

Demonstration against the Health Bill outside Parliament on July 14, 2021

On Wednesday July 14, the day that the Health and Care Bill was to have its Second Reading in Parliament, the British Medical Association (BMA) council called on MPs to reject the Bill. The Health and Care Bill is at present at its Committee Stage in the Commons, with sittings due to take place on October 19 and October 21.

In its press release, the BMA council said that it had "overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for the Health and Care Bill to be rejected, arguing that it is the wrong time to be reorganising the NHS, fails to address chronic workforce shortages or to protect the NHS from further outsourcing and encroachment of large corporate companies in healthcare, and significantly dilutes public accountability". In this resolution, the BMA reflected the sentiments and stands of the public and health professionals and health workers everywhere and also of patients. At the same time, Keep Our NHS Public also held a protest outside the Parliament at the Second Reading. The protest, led by its Chairperson Tony O'Sullivan, a retired paediatrician, was joined by MPs Jonathan Ashworth and Zarah Sultana. Caroline Lucas MP also sent a statement, and other MPs spoke against the Bill, either from inside the Palace of Westminster, or remotely. A petition was also launched by Keep Our NHS Public's ret ired GP Louise Irvine against the Bill, signatures to which presently stand at over 107,000 [1].

In the Second Reading in Parliament later that day the government once again ignored the overwhelming concerns expressed by the BMA and public and health professionals and informed public opinion. An Opposition Amendment which would have at least led to a redrafting of the Bill was rejected, as was to be expected, and the Bill passed through to the Committee Stage [2]. In moving the Bill, Sajid Javid, the new Secretary of State for Health following the resignation of Matthew Hancock, said: "We have seen bold new ways of working, of overcoming bureaucracy and of people working seamlessly across traditional boundaries. New teams were forged, new technologies adopted and new approaches found." In other words, the Bill is intended to allow the Secretary of State for Health and the new 42 Integrated Care Partnership Boards (ICBs) to perpetuate the handing out of contracts [3] worth vast sums of money to wealthy individuals and corporations at the expense of a publicly-provided and compr ehensive health care system that is accountable to all. This in the same way that previously Matt Hancock had claimed that this Bill was about removing some of the "cumbersome boundaries to collaboration".

During the debate, Dr Philippa Whitford, the SNP MP for Central Ayrshire, pointed to what was missing from the debate when she said: "Instead of taking the opportunity to return to a publicly funded and delivered health service, as we are lucky enough to have in Scotland, the purchaser-provider split remains and the principle of commissioning and procurement means that financial competition continues. The administrative costs of such transactional systems waste funding that would be better spent on direct clinical care. Unfortunately, the government are still wedded to the flawed idea that financial competition drives up quality, yet there is no evidence of that. Indeed, financial competition can mean that, when a service starts to struggle, the loss of funding makes its failure become inevitable. It is actually a relentless focus on safety, clinical audit and peer review that can drive improvement in the quality of patient care."

In the debate, the Health and Care Bill was also described as a "kitchen sink Bill, with many disparate components". Yet for a Bill that the Health Secretary claims to be "working seamlessly across traditional boundaries", it is almost silent on one of the most important questions as to how the alignment of health and social care services and funding of health and social care will take place. Previous governments introduced charges and "means testing" for "social" care and the whole care home sector was privatised.

Writing before the Second Reading of the Bill, Professor Allyson Pollock and Peter Roderick [4] pointed out that the Bill "does nothing to rebuild and restore local, primary medical services, community, mental health and hospital services (e.g., staffing and beds) which the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed as being seriously inadequate after years of service closures and cuts", "address the failings of the centralised communicable disease control system, and wider public health system, revealed during the Covid-19 pandemic", "address the broken social care system with which health services are supposed to be integrated" or "prevent corporate take-overs of GP services".

In other words, the Health and Care Bill is continuing the wrong direction for a system of health and social care in England. It is the wrong direction towards a corporate-led and privatised system of health and social care being rolled out on the back of the present health crisis. The government expects that the new legislation will be designed as a new corporate-led model of handing out contracts with their new ICBs, covering in some cases some 2 million people. These bodies will have no statutory duty even to make their decisions in public, but are said to be tasked with "overcoming the bureaucracy" of the regulatory systems of procurement and market bureaucracy. As Dr Philippa Whitford pointed out in the debate: "They should be statutory public bodies focused on how to provide the best services to their local population, including working with local government to provide social care and tackle the social determinants of health. Instead, private companies can sit on the integrat ed care partnership boards, as is the case with Virgin Care in Bath, Somerset, and could influence the commissioning of services for which they are hoping to win contracts. It is hard to see how this is anything other than a blatant conflict of interest and suggests that private providers are moving higher up the ladder and could exert influence on a larger scale."

This all points towards the necessity for a new direction where public authorities are based on health staff, and on the people in the communities they serve, and are empowered to speak directly about their needs and participate in making the decisions. A human-centred system providing a universal and publicly-funded health and social care system which is free to all is the requirement of the times.

1. Petition - Protect the NHS: Scrap the health and care bill
2.Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South) (Lab/Co-op); "I beg to move an amendment, to leave out from 'That' to the end of the Question and add":
"this House declines to give a Second Reading to the Health and Care Bill, notwithstanding the need for a plan for greater integration between health services and social care services and for restrictions on junk food advertising to improve population health outcomes, because the Bill represents a top down reorganisation in a pandemic leading to a loss of local accountability, fails to reform social care, allows further outsourcing permitting the private sector to sit on local boards and fails to reinstate the NHS as the default provider, fails to introduce a plan to bring down waiting lists for routine NHS treatment or tackle the growing backlog of care, fails to put forward plans to increase the size of the NHS workforce and see them better supported, and fails to put forward a plan that would give the NHS the resources it needs to invest in modern equipment, repair the crumbling NHS estate or ensure comprehensive, quality healthcare."
3. Formerly the role of over 100 Clinical Commissioning Groups which will be abolished by the Bill.
4. Health and Care Bill 2021-22 - Key points and questions for the second reading, 14 July 2021

Article Index

Workers' Forum

Workers are resisting the assault on society - it is they who have the solutions

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From the end of furlough, the rising cost of living such as utility prices, or the attacks on Universal Credit and pensions, workers are resisting an all-round assault on society at this time. The resistance in the workers' movement is reflected in the increasing and impending actions over recent months, but as is usual, this is receiving little coverage in the official and monopoly-controlled media. Workers' voices must be heard; who knows better than the workers what are the solutions to their problems? Certainly, the cartel parties have no solutions. To smash the silence on the conditions of work and life, and the developing resistance, we are giving prominence to these struggles of the workers and bringing out the solutions to the movement that workers are formulating from their own experience. For your information, the Workers' Forumcolumn of Workers' Weekly Internet Edition is listing below various significant actions that have been taking place over the past tw o months. We also encourage readers to keep up to speed with developments on the Workers' Daily News Feed.

Education unions call for additional safety measures in schools

Five education unions have written to the Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi, asking him to urgently reconsider the reintroduction of additional safety measures in schools, given the rising rates of Covid infection and absence among school students.

The five unions - GMB, NASUWT, NEU, UNISON and UNITE - will also be writing to all local authorities and directors of public health asking them to consider measures in their local areas.

Unison, October 9, 2021

Win! Derbyshire refuse workers secure improved deal after strike threat

The GMB has welcomed the decision by Norse Group management to agree to a fair deal for refuse workers in the Amber Valley area of Derbyshire.

The move comes after weeks of campaigning by members at the company, who recently voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in a ballot of GMB members. The deal will see a package of improvements to conditions at the company, as well as a pay deal in line with inflation.

Union News, October 8, 2021

Stagecoach drivers in Scotland vote for COP26 strike

Stagecoach drivers in Scotland have voted for strike action over pay during the COP26 summit.

The Unite members, employed by Stagecoach East in Fife, have backed action in Perth (91% on a 78% turnout), Fife (93.4% on a 74.4% turnout) and Strathtay (93.2% on a 67% turnout).

The workers involved in the dispute are drivers, engineering staff, administrative workers, and cleaners. Any industrial action, it is anticipated, would involve disruption to the COP26 climate change conference being held in Glasgow between October 31 and November 21.

Union News, October 8, 2021

National bus strikes

RMT has served notice for strike action on Stagecoach buses on Stagecoach South West, Stagecoach East Midlands and Stagecoach Derbyshire/Yorkshire as part of the national fight for pay justice for bus workers.

RMT, October 1, 2021

Stagecoach East workers in Fife, Perth and Strathtay 'emphatically' reject latest pay offer.

Unite, October 8, 2021

Lancashire bus strikes suspended as new pay offer on the table

Unite, October 8, 2021

Unite announce Abellio Scotrail strike action days in response to 'reckless' management.

Unite, October 4, 2021

Arriva Drivers Ballot for Strike Action over Pay.

Unite, October 4, 2021

GMB and Unite local government members reject "insulting" pay offer

GMB and Unite's local government members have voted to reject the Local Government Association's 1.75% pay offer.

GMB members voted by 75% to turn down the offer, while 81% of Unite members did the same. UNISON members on Monday voted by 79% to reject the LGA offer.

Union News, October 7, 2021

FBU warns cuts mean firefighters "might not be able to fight all fires"

The FBU has warned a decade of austerity cuts to firefighters means "there is a real threat that fire and rescue services may not be able to deal with every incident, and fight all fires".

Union News, October 7, 2021

Unite announces pay strike at Dundee University

Unite members at the University of Dundee are to take strike action over pay.

The university workers voted by 78% to back strike action on a 67% turnout. They will strike from October 25.

The University of Dundee propose to replace the existing Defined Benefit Pension Scheme with a Defined Contribution Pension Scheme for those on the lowest grades (i.e., grades 1-6). Workers in grades 7 and above will have their pensions protected through the existing UK wide Superannuation Scheme, which has a Defined Benefits element.

Union News, October 7, 2021

PCS to ballot members at DVLA as COVID concerns rise

PCS is to ballot DVLA members for strike action over the ongoing health and safety dispute.

Ministers have already undone two deals to date and refuse to admit there are health and safety issues left to address. COVID cases among DVLA staff have risen rapidly since mid-August and, with DVLA planning to again increase numbers on site, our members are once again left fearing for their health and safety as we enter autumn.

Union News, October 6, 2021

G4S Cash workers balloted for pay strike

GMB is to ballot more than 1,100 G4S Cash members for strike action over a real terms pay cut.

Workers are angry after the company offered a pay increase of just 2.5%, well below the current inflation rate of 4.8% RPI

G4S Cash refused to meet GMB's demand for a 7.5% pay increase, reinstatement of an overtime rate when they work more than 39 hours a week and night payment rates to be paid between 10pm and 6am. The ballot will begin on October 11 and end on November 1.

Union News, October 6, 2021

Lewisham leisure centre workers vote for pay strike

Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Unite members working at five leisure centres in Lewisham have voted 94% in favour of strike action over pay.

The workers, employed by Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) at five leisure centres, have given bosses "a reasonable timeframe" to sort out the issues, including failure to pay wages owed and redundancy enhancements.

Union News, October 6, 2021

This situation is not acceptable. Royal Parks strikers stand strong

Outsourced Royal Parks cleaners and attendants on strike are determined to keep fighting against unfair, racist conditions. Cleaners and attendants of the Royal Parks in London, employed by Just Ask Services, remain defiant in their strike action.

Counterfire, October 5, 2021

NEU launches Value Education, Value Educators campaign

The National Education Union (NEU) is today launching its Value Education, Value Educators campaign.

The pandemic has proved just how valuable schools are to children, young people, and society.

During the last year, education staff have created innovative ways to support learning, keep students connected and nurture those who need extra care.

The pandemic has caused huge damage to children and young people's learning. The costs of Covid-19 have been borne by schools and colleges, class sizes are ever increasing, child poverty is on the rise and our curriculum and assessment systems are not meeting children's needs.

NEU, October 5, 2021

Red light for Uber, strikers step up fight for justice

As the red carpet was rolled out for Uber boss, Jamie Heywood, at the Labour Party conference in Brighton, the ADCU rolled out the pickets and protests for a 24-hour national strike on Tuesday this week.

The strike hit every major city, receiving solid support across London, Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield.

The strike revolves around three essential demands. Firstly, scrap fixed pricing and increase the mileage rate, to a £2 per-mile base fee, combined with a drop in the commission rate from 25% to 15%. Secondly, end unfair dismissals (Robo-firings) and ensure that Uber complies with the UK Supreme Court ruling (which classed Uber drivers as workers and not self-employed). Thirdly, pay drivers for their true working time from log-on to log-off, and not from dispatch to drop, which means Uber drivers remain unpaid for waiting time, which makes up 40% of total working time.

Counterfire, September 29, 2021

Unite vows to tackle NG Bailey union busting at Aldermaston Weapons Establishment

Unite, the construction union, has vowed to tackle and stamp out attempts by contractor NG Bailey to union bust on the Mensa project at the Aldermaston Weapons establishment, in Berkshire.

Problems began on the project late on Friday 17 September, when five workers, including four members of Unite, one of whom was a health and safety representative, were informed that they had to leave the site immediately. No reason for this removal has been provided.

There then followed a walkout of the workforce on Monday 20 September in support of the affected workers.

Unite, September 24, 2021

Workers at Military Bases on the Clyde Fight for their Rights to Health and Safety Security

Capita employees, at Clyde's naval bases, have started a continuous overtime ban in a dispute over arbitrary cuts to fire and rescue crew levels, and a lack of consultation.

As is their tradition, Clyde workers in Scotland are organising knowing that their security lies in the fight for the rights of all and it is only them that can do this on behalf of all users of the base.

September 17, 2001

Construction facing cement shortages as Castle Cement drivers ballot for strike action

The construction industry will face severe cement shortages this autumn, if lorry drivers employed by Hanson, on the Castle Cement contract, vote for strike action in a dispute over pay.

Unite, September 6, 2021

Delivery disruption to 1,500 convenience stores in London and south east on cards as Thamesmead drivers vote to strike

The threat of severe disruption to deliveries to more than 1,500 convenience stores in London and the south east has moved a step closer after 40 drivers, employed by Booker Retail Partners at its Thamesmead site, voted unanimously for strike action.

Unite, September 6, 2021

Unite Activists Protest in Fight for Motorway Workers' Sick Pay

On Wednesday, August 18, Unite activists held a protest in support of key workers employed by construction company Kier, who keep the South East's motorway network operational. The protest was held at the company's offices over the refusal to pay sick pay to the key workers.

NSSN, August 24, 2021

Dray Drivers Prepare for Strike Action as More Workers Demand a Bigger Claim on the Product

Around 1,000 draymen, who deliver brands such as Heineken and are responsible for about 40 per cent of deliveries to pubs, are to walk out in the first of two 24-hour strikes. The first 24-hour strike will start 10am on Tuesday, August 24, with the second commencing from 10am on Thursday, September 2, according to Unite. This will be accompanied by an overtime ban and work to rule starting on August 24 and continuing to Monday, November 15.

Workers' Daily News Feed, August 23, 2021

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