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Volume 51 Number 26, November 20, 2021 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Successful Virtual Meeting on Humanising the Natural and Social Environment

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Successful Virtual Meeting on Humanising the Natural and Social Environment

Commemorating the Anti-Fascist World War II:
Act of Remembrance at Soviet War Memorial

UK Carrier Strike Group:
Ominous Visits of Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to Oman

Workers' Forum:
Workers Continue as Class to Oppose "Fire and Rehire" and Seek Solutions

The Pay-the-Rich Direction of the Government in the NHS:
Opposing the Health and Care Bill

Successful Virtual Meeting on Humanising the Natural and Social Environment

The Ad-hoc Committee "The Things That Make For Peace" organised a virtual meeting on November 13 on this topic which is of crucial importance to the people as a whole at this time. The Ad-hoc Committee had previously organised a number of well-attended public meetings before the Covid-19 pandemic, including on the centenary of World War I, and on the 70th anniversary of NATO, amongst others. The concrete event which prompted the latest meeting was obviously the COP26 conference in Glasgow, in which the political leaders attending clearly demonstrated their inability to provide solutions to the challenge of climate change. Accordingly, the virtual meeting was subtitled, "People need to rely on themselves to confront the crisis of climate change." The meeting was centred around a main presentation illustrated by Powerpoint, with discussion, as well as poetry and music focusing on the topic.

The main presentation, after explaining the background to the COP26 climate conference, illustrating the points with concrete examples of the effect of climate change, questioned what progress had been made over recent years, especially since the Paris Agreement of 2015. Not sufficient, specifically in the case of Britain, is the conclusion. In this context, the speaker said, there is a growing consciousness that the people themselves, particularly the youth, have themselves to take action. During the COP26 itself, demonstrations were held not just in Glasgow, but globally, with a day of action in towns and cities across the world on November 6, and a People's Summit for Climate Justice taking place in person in Glasgow and online from November 7-10. There were daily assemblies in Glasgow to hear reports from the conference and have discussion.

The speaker explained the growing demand for solutions and urgent action, so as to ensure that the natural and social environments are fit for modern human beings. The speaker explained that people have rights by virtue of being human and that human productive forces are themselves a force of nature, crying out to be brought under conscious control. The presentation then focused on the question of the direction of the economy in this context. For a human-centred direction, people need a system of production that works in their favour, and fulfils their material and cultural needs. This requires a complete change in the direction of the economy in order to humanise the natural and social environments. In contrast, with the present capital-centred direction, the environment and a socialised economy is directed to serving competing private interests, with plunder to fulfil the aim of maximising profit, and with complete disregard for sustainability and social responsibility.

The speaker elaborated on the pay-the-rich schemes under which oligarchs view public money as their entitlement, and the role of government is simply to facilitate this profit-making. Under the solutions on offer of global competition, empowering big business to decide and paying the rich the cost of eco-profits, the people themselves have no determining role. Furthermore, war and war production have an especially detrimental impact on the natural and social environment, including the economy. There is a necessity therefore to end the militarisation of the economy, and produce only for those aims which are in the interests of the natural and social environment.

In this present world context of imperialist globalisation, US imperialism is desperate to remain the world's "indispensable" power and reverse its decline, and destroy what it cannot control. Even Britain is integrated into the US war machine, with a "rules-based international order" replacing international law itself.

The question of "who decides" is fundamental. The working class and people themselves need to be empowered to be the decision-makers, rather than being relegated to a pressure group, lobbying parties they do not control. There is a need for effective public authority directed by an empowered populace.

In conclusion, the speaker said, the need is for humanisation, which means bringing the huge productive forces under control in favour of nature, society and humanity. Any agenda of further plunder under the banner of high ideals must be rejected. People need to rely on themselves to bring human-centred solutions to the global crisis of climate change, the speaker concluded.

A number of other short interventions were given in the meeting, including, for instance, on the role of the workers themselves in taking the lead, turning things around and fighting for what serves their interests, not the interests of the oligarchs who despoil the human and natural environment.

After discussion, some pertinent poems were read out, both against war and against the destruction of the environment. A calming, harmonising audio-visual clip of music was relayed, the meeting concluding with a piece written for an earlier symposium and concert of July 1, 2007, on the subject of confronting the crisis of climate change, and the need to pay respects to Mother Earth.

See below for the slide show presentation:

Article Index

Commemorating the Defeat of Fascism in World War II

Act of Remembrance at Soviet War Memorial

Michael Chant pays tribute on behalf of RCPB(ML) at the Act of Remembrance ceremony, November 14, 2021

Soon after a tawdry gaggle of decadent Royals, war-criminal current and ex-Prime Ministers, war-mongering service chiefs, went through their fraudulent rituals at the Cenotaph on November 14, Remembrance Sunday, attempting among others to justify and glorify the slaughterhouse of 1914-18 as well as all of Britain's criminal military interventions since 1945 - Greece, Malaya, Korea, Kenya, Ireland, Malvinas, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria to name the most glaring - a smaller, almost entirely unpublicised ceremony took place at the Soviet War Memorial in Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park, by the Imperial War Museum, albeit correctly attended by British army representatives and former diplomats. The Memorial commemorates the 27 million Soviet citizens and service men and women who died for the Allied Victory in World War II.

This ceremony honoured those who had made the supreme sacrifice in the defeat of fascism in the Second World War, in particular those of our allies the glorious Soviet Red Army, who played the main role in the defeat of Nazi Germany, and stood in the very forefront of the forces of the democratic countries and the brave partisans of the world who all played their part in overcoming fascism. In the ceremony, wreaths and flowers were laid by representatives of Southwark, in whose London borough the memorial stands, representatives of embassies and military attachés, veterans' organisations, and other political parties and organisations who pay tribute to the still unfolding world-shaking legacy of the Soviet Union. The act of remembrance was conducted by Philip Wilkinson, Vice Chair of the Soviet War Memorial Trust.

The contrast in ceremonies, it must be said, did bring to mind that the governing circles in Britain, in particular, did much to encourage the rise of fascism in Germany in the 30s, hoping thereby to destroy the new workers' state, the Soviet Union, refusing that state's proposal for collective resistance to fascism, instead signing the Munich Agreement with Nazi Germany and fascist Italy which opened the way for war. It must be said also, that even as the great documents of Yalta and Potsdam were being signed, the UN Charter and Nuremberg Judgements adopted following the end of the Second World War, the Labour government of Attlee and Truman's US administration were rejecting the possibility of a new world of peace, democracy and the well-being of the peoples, turning back to the rabid anti-communism and opposition to the peoples' liberation struggles of the '30s, which had contributed to the outbreak of devastating war in the first place, leading as it has to disaster after disaster for the world's peoples.

Such ceremonies, however, indicate that the glorious struggles are not forgotten, and never will be. They serve as an inspiration, as the peoples forces gather their strength yet again, in equally dark times, to build the New, a new world fit for humans.

For more information on the Soviet War Memorial in London, visit:

Article Index

UK Carrier Strike Group

Ominous Visits of Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to Oman

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace with Oman Deputy Prime Minister for Defence Affairs, His Highness Shihab bin Tariq, onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth

On November 5, a government defence press release [1] reported that Ben Wallace, Defence Secretary, was visiting Oman for "joint exercises with Oman". This is the second time that he has been to Oman this year. During the visit he hosted the Oman Deputy Prime Minister for Defence Affairs, His Highness Shihab bin Tariq, onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Navy's flagship aircraft carrier, which was docked at that time [2] at Duqm port in Oman. This was timed as the UK Armed Forces carried out joint land, sea and air exercises with the Omani Forces, which are still ongoing.

Previously, on September 12, Ben Wallace had announced that the British Joint Logistics Support Base on Oman's south east coast will be enhanced with a further £23.8 million in funding for infrastructure expansion [3]. Also, revealed during the the Defence Secretary's visit to Oman, the investment in Duqm port will "triple the size of the existing UK base" and help facilitate Royal Navy deployments directly through the Arabian Sea to the Indian Ocean and Asia Pacific. At the same time, the Duqm base is strategically located to support the operations of the Anglo-US forces and their allies in the Persian Gulf, mainly threatening Iran in its own territorial waters, and complementing the recently enhanced UK Naval Support Facility in Bahrain on the other side of the Hormuz Strait in the Persian Gulf.

Run as an Omani joint venture with the British-based company Babcock International, Duqm Naval Dockyard has two dry docks capable of receiving Britain's new Queen-Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and handling major ship repairs. It is also offering its services to other navies and has won repair contracts for two US fleet tankers and an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. In addition, the port has a military-grade 4,000-metre airfield, and it is reported that London will likely use Omani warehousing and maintenance facilities to store equipment for an armoured brigade group.

This according to reports is said to be very significant for Britain's ability to fast-generate forces in the Gulf without needing to place permanent manpower in the region. This is a demonstration of how Britain, along with the US and their allies, aim to continue their military interventions having been forced to withdraw from Afghanistan, Syria and other countries in the Middle East and West Asia following their invasions and occupations that caused so much death and destruction. Now they want to continue their warmongering by expanding the ability to rapidly deploy and intervene with navies, armies and air force anywhere without having to ship out heavy weapons and equipment which will already be installed in their expanded bases like Oman. During the visit, the government statement points out: "RAF Typhoon jets arrived in Oman in advance of Exercise 'Magic Carpet' - a joint air exercise between the UK, Oman and Qatar Air Forces which will take place in the coming weeks."

The visit by the the Defence Secretary was also described as a "renewal" of a "hugely valuable relationship" with Oman when Britain had already signed a new Joint Defence Agreement with Sultan Qaboos in February 2019. So what are the British imperialists renewing for the US and their allies? Britain first signed treaties with Oman which go back to 1798 and 1800. The treaties barred other powers from Oman and gave Britain exclusive access in communication and navigation for the British East Indian Company and its Royal Navy so that they could carry out their brutal colonial exploitation and rule over India and other colonies in Asia and Africa. In return, Britain guaranteed the Sultan's rule over Oman against its rival powers and in brutally suppressing the Arab people of Oman who rose up against injustices and the occupation of Britain and other powers of Arab lands in the following centuries.

HMS Queen Elizabeth

The present situation in which the old sultan had died in January 2020 without a son, bringing his Royal line at an end, has called into question the Joint Defence Agreement he signed in 2019. As one defence commentator put it [4]: "That agreement was interpreted [by US and Britain] as the ailing and fiercely Anglophilic Sultan Qaboos making institutional arrangements that would outlast him, in keeping with the spirit of the original 1800 agreement, which declared that the bond between Oman and Britain should be 'unshook till the end of time'." The current Sultan is Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, reigning since 2020. Oman's open policy towards China in these circumstances is the concern of the Anglo-US imperialists as they see Oman as integral to their attempt to dominate the Indian Ocean and Asia Pacific and surround Russia and China. Ben Wallace claimed that his visit represented "the UK's integrated approach to defence and foreign policy and the UK's enduring commitment to working with Oman and Gulf partners on promoting regional security and stability". But the interests of the Anglo-US imperialists are the opposite of integration. Their plan is to exclude Oman's neighbour Iran, as well as Russia and China. Neither has it anything to do with friendly relations with the people of Oman and the Arab peoples, nor is it aimed at "regional security and stability".

Regional security and stability can only start to come about if Britain ceases its expansion, and its occupation of Anglo-US military and naval bases in Oman, Bahrain and elsewhere. Britain should get their Carrier Strike Group and all Britain's forces out of the Persian Gulf and Arabia and all foreign lands and recall them to Britain immediately. The necessity is to oppose the warmongering ambitions of the British ruling elite and its Westminster consensus alongside the US. The people must continue to affirm the right to be of all nations and peoples of the world, and take a stand for the renewal of international relations based on international law rather than a self-serving "rules-based international order". International issues and world security cannot and must not be settled by force of arms.

1. "Defence Secretary Visits Oman for Joint Exercises"
2. HMS Queen Elizabeth at time writing has come through the Suez canal and is presently in the Mediterranean sea, whilst British-led military exercises continue in Oman.
3. "Defence Secretary announces investment in strategic Omani port"
4. "Britain in Oman: Washington's Strategic Partner", Jonathan Campbell-James, The Washington Institute for Near East Studies

Article Index

Workers' Forum

Workers Continue as Class to Oppose "Fire and Rehire" and Seek Solutions

The underlying causes and effects of "Fire and rehire", are revealed in the resistance to the anti-social offensive. Along with employers restructuring of workplace arrangements for self-serving ends, as the increasingly polarising of the social relation in which they stand with workers, takes place. Opposition has even reached the Parliament. A bill, put forward on June 16 by Labour MP for Brent North Barry Gardiner, was talked out by the government. The polarisation of relations is upsetting their lives and conditions. The workers continue to struggle against imposition.

Today Workers' Forum highlights the struggles by workers at Weetabix in the East Midlands and Clarks in the South West.


Clarks Village, Somerset

Clarks workers marched through the streets in protest at "fire-and-rehire" policy. Members of the public applauded the marchers as they walked through the village. TUC Deputy General Secretary Paul Nowak joined the huge march and protest in "Clarks Village". As well as the march, striking workers have held pickets at the Clarks Westway Warehouse.

They have been on strike since October after the shoe retailer introduced contracts that would equate to a pay cut of up to 20%. Demands included a 5.6% pay rise for workers. Workers said that the current offer "still isn't good enough and represents a pay cut". Long-standing employees say they will suffer.

A deal was introduced after the firm - which is one of the west of England's oldest employers - posted loses of £172m last year as worldwide sales dropped by 44%. In March, Hong Kong-based private equity group LionRock Capital bought a majority stake in the Somerset-based firm after investing £100m. Mendip Trades Union Council previously said the offer would represent an average reduction in pay.

The company demanded concessions. The deal would include new contracts and productivity drives that would mean the abolition of paid 30-minute meal breaks and daily 10-minute coffee breaks, and cuts in sick pay and redundancy entitlements. One worker, Francis Foley, said he had not taken a sick day in 34 years until the new terms and conditions were announced. Another, Trevor Stephens, said the changes were "barbaric". He said that a reduction in earnings could see him lose his home


Workers at Weetabix factories in Kettering and Corby in Northamptonshire are currently taking strike action four days a week against the company moves. Unite the union has blasted Weetabix for using "fire and rehire" tactics to attack the wages and conditions of engineers, including the threat of sackings. Unite estimates this could cost some engineers a loss of wages amounting to £5,000 a year. This despite the fact that last year Weetabix turnover grew by 5 per cent to £325 million and profits leapt by almost 20 per cent to £82 million.

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham says: "These attacks are totally unjustified. They are a serving of corporate greed. And what's more, although Weetabix deny it, we have irrefutable evidence that they are using 'fire and rehire' strategies."

In company letters sent to Weetabix engineers in May this year, the Weetabix engineers' manager explained the new contract offer unequivocally. He declared: "One of the options available to us, if your agreement cannot be reached is to terminate your current contract of employment and offer re-engagement on a new contract."

Sharon Graham says: "So there we have it in black and white. Weetabix this week declare 'fire and rehire' strategies have nothing to do with the current dispute, when they are slap bang in the heart of the new contract letters originally sent to their own engineers. It seems Weetabix managers are playing fast and loose with the facts."

Using double speak, a Weetabix declaration stated: "We have repeatedly reassured our engineering team and their union representatives that no individual is at risk of dismissal." It is also flatly contradicted by the threat "to terminate your current contract" made in the May letter.

On Thursday, November 11, the arbitration service ACAS issued their findings on "fire and rehire" tactics. They warned employers: "Our new advice is clear that fire and rehire is an extreme step that can seriously damage working relations and has significant legal risks for organisations."

Unite's Sharon Graham agrees. She says: "Weetabix management ought to take the advice offered by ACAS. Drop 'fire and rehire' and get back to the negotiating table with Unite to sort this dispute."


Politically, the cartel party system disempowers the general population. 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. We can see this in the continued struggles of the workers and their unions against "fire and rehire", which is the strategy and tactics of the financial oligarchy and employing classes and their state's outlook.

There is a new consciousness amongst workers. They are demanding their rights, and speaking out that things cannot continue in the same old way. The crisis is deepening massively and business is demanding further and further concessions out of workers to try to solve their crisis. But concessions are not solutions.

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 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 provided the impetus to even the parliamentary opposition. For workers to constitute themselves the opposition is not only what is necessary, but is actually what is taking place. It is why the struggle against "fire and rehire" has continued and is stepped up. The issue is taking on more scope and depth.

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.

Workers' Forum congratulates the workers in their stand against "fire and rehire", a stand which is also a contribution to the overall struggle to defend the rights of all and to the general interests of society.

(Sources: Union-News, Unite the Union, TUC, BBC)

Article Index

The Pay-the-Rich Direction of the Government in the NHS

Opposing the Health and Care Bill

'NHS workers say NO', Parliamentary protest, July 20, 2021.

Monday and Tuesday, November 22 and 23, are important days for the progress of the dangerous Health and Care Bill through the House of Commons before it is passed to the Lords.

Unite in Health, alongside Keep Our NHS Public, Health Campaigns Together, We Own It, NHS Workers Say No, Your NHS Needs You and may others have called a protest in Westminster, central London, from 5pm on Monday evening November 22 to oppose the Bill. A stage for the protest will be set up at the corner of Whitehall and Richmond Terrace opposite Downing Street for speeches and assembly point.

This Health and Care Bill represents a dangerous assault on accountability and professional standards. Without adequate protection on terms and conditions of staff, the current staffing crisis will be set to get worse.

The campaign against the Bill has already seen protests outside parliament, and opposition to the Bill is growing all the time

Speakers So Far Include

" Holly Turner - NHS Workers Say NO
" Richard Burgon MP
" Jacqueline Williams - Unite National Officer
" Colenzo Jarett Thorpe - Unite National Officer
" Grahame Morris MP - Chair of Unite MPs
" Margaret Greenwood MP
" Tony O'Sullivan - Keep Our NHS Public
" Louise Irvine - Health Campaigns Together
" Baroness Shami Chakrabarti
" The NHS Choir
" Dr Bob Gill - Your NHS Needs You
" Cat Hobbs - We Own It
" Jeremy Corbyn MP

There are also events being planned nationwide to oppose the Bill.

South Warwickshire KONP is holding a stall and rally at 1pm, Monday, November 22, outside Leamington Town Hall to Protect the NHS and Scrap the Health and Care Bill.
Coventry KONP and local trades unionists and NHS campaigners are holding an event at 5 pm, Monday, November 22, in Broadgate, Coventry.
Join Merseyside KONP in Liverpool 12pm-1:30pm Monday, November 22, outside Royal Liverpool Hospital.

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