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Volume 51 Number 24, October 30, 2021 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Confronting the Crisis of Climate Change

Worldwide Actions as the COP26 Climate Summit Gets Underway

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis

Confronting the Crisis of Climate Change Worldwide Actions as the COP26 Climate Summit Gets Underway

"Fire and Rehire":
The Solution Lies with the Workers' Opposition Itself

Defend the Rights of All! No One Is Illegal!
Stepping up the Opposition to the Nationality and Borders Bill

Developments in the DPRK in 2021:
Seminar on the present situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Latin America 2021 Conference:
Adelante!


Confronting the Crisis of Climate Change

Worldwide Actions as the COP26 Climate Summit Gets Underway


As the United Nations Climate Summit COP26 begins in Glasgow on Sunday, October 31, actions have already been taking place to affirm the necessity for protecting the environment in the interests of humanity. Workers, women and youth with their collectives are coming forward to put forward solutions, and to demand that for their part governments and relevant international bodies take up these solutions in a serious manner, and not just mouth platitudes. The world's people are being threatened by the disastrous consequences of unfettered despoliation and destruction of the environment and Mother Earth caused by industrial pollution by those whose only concern is private gain, not public good. In Britain, the people's forces are particularly sceptical about the Westminster government's actions and intentions. It is repulsive to see the likes of the Prime Minister strutting around as though Britain is the one trying to cajole other reluctant world leaders to toe the line.

Global Days of Action for Climate Justice


Glasgow field of climate fire

On November 6, people all over the world will be taking to the streets demanding global climate justice in a Global Day of Action. Reports are coming in of actions planned up and down the country, and, as one mobilising call put it, communities across the globe are making their voices heard, to show our leaders that we won't settle for empty pledges and polished speeches.


COP26 action by Extinction Rebellion Scotland at the Science Museum in London

Actions are being initiated by the COP26 Coalition [1] as part of a programme of activities taking place throughout the two-week conference. The programme also includes a People's Summit from November 7-10 and daily Movement Assemblies at Adelaide's Place, Bath Street in Glasgow, to hear report backs from the Summit negotiations, develop rapid responses, actions and discuss strategy questions facing global movements for climate justice.

In a call for the November 6 Day of Action, organisers state:

"Global problems need global solutions. The decisions made at COP26 will shape how governments respond (or not) to the climate crisis. They will decide who is to be sacrificed, who will escape and who will make a profit.

"So far, governments have done too little too late: colluding with corporations and hiding behind green washed 'solutions' that actually don't exist yet, that don't address the scale of the problem, and in many cases rely on more exploitation of people and the planet. Justice won't be handed to us by world leaders or delivered by corporations. Only we can imagine and build the future that works for all of us. The transformative solutions that we need to survive and build a more just and fair world can only be brought about through collective action, solidarity and coordination, from our local communities and international levels.

"We are bringing together movements from across the world to build power for system change - Indigenous movements, frontline communities, trade unions, racial justice groups, youth strikers, landworkers, peasants, NGOs, grassroots community campaigns, feminist movements, faith groups - to name a few. Wherever you are in the world, now is the time to join the fight for climate justice. We need all hands on deck: in workplaces, communities, schools, hospitals and across national borders. We will be putting Indigenous, frontline and Global South communities front and centre. We need your help to amplify their voices and demands."

Youth Global Day of Action, October 29

On October 29, with a youth global day of action, young people came together to stand against the financing of fossil fuel projects in a day of global protest against banks, investors and insurers who finance the climate crisis. Their demand was: "#DefundClimateChaos. Turn off the money pipeline for fossil fuels. NOW." [2]

The Struggle to Humanise the Natural and Social Environment

A virtual meeting with the above title is being organised by the Ad-Hoc Committee "The Things That Make For Peace", on Saturday, November 13, at 7.00pm. The organisers say that as "the world leaders meet, people in towns and cities across the world will take to the streets demanding global climate justice. COP26 is happening at a time when the destruction of the natural and social environment and the havoc that is being created are becoming ever more obvious, and the demand for solutions is growing. People's general interests lie with bringing about a situation where the natural and social environments are in harmony with each other, which means that both are humanised, bringing about social and natural environments that are fit for human beings. But people are being left outside the decision-making. What is being revealed is the need for the people to rely on themselves to resist and become empowered to bring about human-centred solutions to the global crisis of climate change." T he meeting will include contributions on the topic of COP26 and solutions to the demand for climate justice; discussion; and music and poetry. To register and receive a link, please contact the organisers, or email makeforpeace@protonmail.com

All Out to Humanise the Natural and Social Environment!


Notes
1. See: COP26 Coalition
https://cop26coalition.org/
2. See: https://bankonourfuture.org/defund-climate-chaos/
See also WWIE: People Need to Rely on Themselves to Confront the Crisis of Climate Change
[http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wwie-21/ww21-23/ww21-23-01.htm]

Article Index



"Fire and Rehire"

The Solution Lies with the Workers' Opposition Itself

"Fire and rehire", the unilateral tearing-up of employment contracts and rehiring on unfavourable terms under threat of termination of employment, has become a widespread phenomenon particularly since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. A part of the anti-social offensive, employers are restructuring workplace arrangements for self-serving ends, increasingly polarising the social relation in which they stand with workers. Its use is now so extensive that it is being taken up by various unions, the TUC, and in Parliament. Workers are calling a halt to the increasing polarisation of the relation with their employers, which is upsetting their lives and conditions. They demand an end to imposition.

On June 16, Labour MP for Brent North Barry Gardiner introduced a Private Member's bill, the Employment and Trade Union Rights (Dismissal and Re-engagement) Bill, in the House of Commons [1]. The Bill, which sought to reform employment legislation to discourage the use of fire and rehire and add some protection to workers affected by the practice, followed a number of previous parliamentary attempts to discuss the issue and change the law. These earlier endeavours include a report published by the Transport Committee in June 2020 and a Labour Party Opposition Day debate in January this year. A parliamentary motion was placed by Shadow Employment Rights Secretary Andy McDonald on January 25, calling on the government to set out a timetable to introduce legislation to end fire and rehire tactics. SNP MP Gavin Newlands introduced two identical Private Member's bills in May, both of which failed to progress through parliament.

In October 2020, the government gave the appearance of making a concession by commissioning a review into fire and rehire by arbitration service ACAS, which was published in June this year. The government, including the Prime Minister, has mouthed unease with the practice, but has singularly failed to act, and has blocked any attempt to do so.

Private Member's bills are public bills introduced by MPs who are not government ministers. Only a tiny fraction are ever enacted. However, Gardiner's Bill enjoyed the support of more than twenty trade unions, including funding a campaign of rallies and other events outside of parliament over a period of several months.

Employing the standard technique of "talking out" a bill, a form of filibuster, his bill was debated by MPs for nearly five hours. On behalf of the government, Business Minister Paul Scully spoke for over 40 minutes so that the bill's allocated debating time ran out, blocking further progress. The government also scheduled a statement on an unrelated health policy on Friday, a day usually reserved for proposed legislation tabled by backbench MPs, to add to the time pressure.

Gardiner told the Commons: "In politics, it's rare to find something that absolutely everyone agrees on and yet all the way from Len McCluskey to the Prime Minister himself, everyone agrees, fire and rehire is wrong. So why is the government determined to block this bill?"

On behalf of government, Scully gave the irrational position that such legislation, if enacted during a pandemic, would not be "the right way to reflect the concerns for the long-term issue about workers' rights".

"We will legislate if we need to," he said, "but we'll do it as a last resort, not as a first resort." In other words, the government intends to look the other way. The onus is rather on workers to protect themselves with "clearer guidance" from ACAS. It is made an individual matter.

"Fire and rehire" is part of the general disequilibrium in society in the social relation between employers and workers. It is a particularly sharp example of forcing decisions on workers without any consultation, but through simple dictate. The powerful oligarchy of huge global monopolies has organised an anti-social offensive to restructure all arrangements from the level of the state down to individual workplaces to increasingly polarise the social relation and exacerbate the prevailing disequilibrium for self-serving ends, against the interests of society. Unable to accept anything that restricts their assumed right to maximise private profit, they have torn up the civil society arrangements and increasingly exercise control through direct imposition. They are enforcing their control both politically and in the workplace.


Politically, the cartel party system disempowers the general population. The big parties are a block to any role by the whole polity in decision-making; they are the gatekeepers to power. The Labour Party itself is such a cartel party forming an ineffective "official opposition" in an anachronistic parliament. In contrast, outside of parliament, stands the real opposition, the Workers' Opposition, which continually strives to the cohesion and organisation that will empower the people so that they can speak and act in their own name.

Particularly arising from the conditions of the pandemic is a new consciousness amongst workers. They are demanding their rights, and speaking out that things cannot continue in this way. At the same time, the crisis is deepening massively and business is simply demanding further and further concessions out of workers to try to solve their crisis. But concessions are not solutions. This contradiction is getting sharp.

What is evident is the growing resistance. The workers are demonstrating that it is they who are able to provide the solutions for society, with their own outlook, not from the capital-centred perspective. It is only they who have as their own interests the general interests of society, not blinkered by the fragmentation of the socialised economy into its state of mutual competition. They look to a different direction for the socialised economy, which does not force concessions from them, but which is in fact aimed at meeting their needs and guaranteeing their rights.

The workers therefore increasingly require a say over all matters affecting society and the economy. In fact, they need to be the determining factor, the decisive force in decision-making. It is increasingly clear that the real political opposition is coming from the working class and broad sections of people on all fronts. Regarding fire and rehire, it is evidently the organised workers' movement that has provided even the parliamentary opposition. For workers to constitute themselves the opposition is not only what is necessary, but is actually what is taking place.

While the opposition of the workers comes from a position of resistance and blocking what the powers that be are trying to force from the workers, it goes beyond reacting to events. It is the workers having their own independent solutions and their independent thinking, and importantly creating their own forms of decision-making from this position of opposition.

In challenging the authority, the Workers' Opposition engages in the battle of democracy, aiming at winning it in favour of the working class and people with new forms of democracy, bringing the new democratic personality into being. This means working out what the mechanisms of decision-making are and the new forms of public authority that are required. The need exposed by "fire and rehire" is for a new kind of authority where workers speak in their own name and are empowered to restrict the rights of the monopolies. To achieve this requires building the Workers' Opposition itself.

Note
[1] The full title of the Bill is: "A Bill to amend the law relating to workplace information and consultation, employment protection and trade union rights to provide safeguards for workers against dismissal and re-engagement on inferior terms and conditions; and for connected purposes."

The major source for this article is the House of Commons Research Briefing on the Bill, published on October 18, 2021:
https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9344/

This source explains that the Bill would:

Article Index



Defend the Rights of All! No One Is Illegal!

Stepping up the Opposition to the Nationality and Borders Bill

On Wednesday, October 20, as the Nationality and Borders Bill received its second reading in the House of Commons, hundreds gathered in Parliament Square to protest against the latest assault on the rights of refugees. Those participating included Together With Refugees, a coalition of refugee support agencies, other anti-racists and refugees themselves.

Writing in Counterfire, Peter Bird points out that the provisions of the Bill include:

Peter Bird writes:


Together with refugees in London, 20-10-2021 - Photo Peter Bird

"A succession of speakers on Wednesday related highly distressing accounts of how they were unsafe and many of them persecuted, in the countries they fled from. They described imprisonment and abuse. Others described being incarcerated in detention centres in Britain on arrival, and many spoke of the torment of waiting inordinate lengths of time for their status in Britain to be determined. Poverty, war, and deprivation caused by climate change were also mentioned as reasons why life became untenable in the countries they fled from.

"A recurring theme expressed by those that spoke in Parliament Square is that they want to build a new life in Britain, in freedom and safety, and they wanted to work, apply the skills and talents they have, and to contribute. While they were saying all this, the bill was passed in parliament by 366 votes to 265, although it has some way to go before becoming law.

"Sarha, who arrived in Britain recently from Afghanistan, told the audience, 'I wish no one was forced to leave their homes because of war. War shows how anyone could be a refugee.'

"Many of the refugee support groups point out that the people this proposed law aims at already feel desperate enough to risk their lives travelling by precarious means, such as in small boats across the channel, and they are unlikely to be deterred.

"The government's attempt to justify the legislation, by saying it prevents people smuggling, has been rightly criticised by the Labour peer Lord Dubs who points out that the way to do that is to create safe passage for refugees.

"Speakers called the bill the most brutal, oppressive and unjust immigration law any British government has ever produced. Fortunately, refugees and immigrants are not alone in their fight. Actions such as the recent one in Glasgow, where a working-class community occupied the streets for eight hours and successfully stopped the deportation of two Indian Sikhs who had been deemed over-stayers provide an example of the kind of resistance that is possible. The Royal National Lifeboat Institute has said that it will continue to save the life of anyone who is in danger at sea, in spite of the possibility that the legislation, if enacted, will make them liable for prosecution."

It can be said to be ironic that at this time when the Bill, which attacks the humanity of refugees, asylum seekers and those living in this country whose birthplace is not Britain, is going through Parliament, October 30 marked the 40th anniversary of the watershed racist and chauvinist British Nationality Act. The racism and chauvinism of the British state is an attack on the rights of all, treating people not as human beings but as things to be classified as "patrials" or "non-patrials", "legal" or "illegal". This is repugnant to all democratic people and is being resisted on the basis of defending the rights of all!

No to the Nationality and Borders Bill! No One Is Illegal!

Note
For further discussion on the Bill, see:
Aaron Gates-Lincoln, "With the Nationality and Borders Bill, the UK is choosing cruelty over morality", Electronic Immigration Network, July 19, 2021
https://www.ein.org.uk/blog/nationality-and-borders-bill-uk-choosing-cruelty-over-morality

Article Index



Developments in the DPRK in 2021

Seminar on the present situation in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea


Celebrations on youth

The seminar aims to focus on the importance of taking a stand in support of the DPRK's right to exist and choose its own path of development, striving for peace and for the reunification of the Korean Peninsula. The seminar aims to provide an update about the DPRK and its achievements in building Korean-style socialism in this period opened up by the 8th Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea, improving the people's well-being as paramount, and putting the defence of the country and its sovereignty as an indispensable task. It will also look at the just stands of the DPRK internationally at this crucial time in the face of hostility from the United States and other big powers.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2021 at 4.00pm

Falcon Road, London SW11

For more information or to join the seminar virtually, please email beforehand: friendskorea@yahoo.co.uk

Hosted by Friends of Korea (Britain)

Article Index



Latin America 2021 Conference

Adelante!

Saturday 4 December 2021 10am-5pm at Friends House, London

Bringing together experts, academics, trade unionists, politicians, and activists from the UK, Europe and Latin America.

Speakers, workshops, films, discussions, stalls.
Tickets £10 waged/£8 unwaged.

Book online at bit.ly/LA21ticket or call 020 7490 5715

For full details, conference updates see www.latinamericaconference.co.uk

Article Index




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