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Volume 53 Number 3, January 28, 2023 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

No to NATO! No to War!

Latest Move of the Anglo-US and NATO Powers to Fuel the War in Ukraine

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis

No to NATO! No to War!:
Latest Move of the Anglo-US and NATO Powers to Fuel the War in Ukraine
Turning the Whole of Europe into a Battlefield

Workers' Movement:
International Working-Class Movement Develops as French Workers Strike over Pensions

Workers' Forum:
Strike Dates Confirmed for February 2023

SOS NHS NATIONAL DEMO:
ACT NOW TO SAVE OUR NHS!

10th Anniversary of the Mass Demonstration to Safeguard the Future of Lewisham Hospital

News in Brief of Strike Actions:
Outsourced UCL security staff to strike alongside UCU as part of 1 February national day of action


No to NATO! No to War!

Latest Move of the Anglo-US and NATO Powers to Fuel the War in Ukraine

On January 14, it was reported that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had confirmed in a call with Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy that Britain's intention was to provide a small number of Challenger 2 tanks to "help push back Russia's invasion". The reports also claimed that these 14 tanks "would make Britain the first western power to supply the Ukrainians with main battle tanks, which would be used to help train Ukrainian troops". The reports also say that the move was intended to put pressure on Germany, as the US and the Ukrainian regime has been trying to get Germany to allow its Leopard 2 tanks - used by armies such as Poland, Finland, the Netherlands and Spain - to be re-exported to Ukraine. The German government has now agreed within the last few days to supply some tanks and to authorise the export of these tanks from these other European countries. Furthermore, although the United States had previously declined to provide its M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, arguing it would be "more productive" to send German Leopard 2 tanks "since many allies have them", on January 25, following the German government's announcement under pressure from the US, Britain and others, President Biden announced that the US would also send 31 M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine.


US Army M1 Abrams tanks and German Leopard 2 on military exercises in Germany

The British Ministry of Defence also announced that 600 more Brimstone missiles and four batteries of AS90 self-propelled guns will be donated to the Ukrainian regime, "to boost its offensive capability, as well as air defence missiles". These are set to start arriving in Ukraine in the coming weeks. Defence secretary Ben Wallace lauded the most recent package of military aid for Kyiv as showing Britain was "leading international support for Ukraine", and urged allies to build on this momentum, claiming that it was to "ensure that Putin's illegal and unprovoked invasion fails".

Taken together, these moves are further fuelling the war in Ukraine, in the wake of the Anglo/US nuclear exercises "Steadfast Noon" [1] carried out at the end of last year to confront Russia as a nuclear power. They are a further provocation, blocking a peaceful solution, and further institutionalising the character of the Ukraine conflict as a proxy NATO war against Russia. As one commentator suggested, the number of tanks being supplied to Ukraine will in practical terms make little difference. Russia has the armaments to counteract them, and some may not even be supplied for months, or just used for training. However, the US and Britain are determined to break the "taboo" of supplying heavy weapons such as western battle tanks in order to open the door to further escalation and institutionalisation of the war. The latest escalation also seems to have come as an attempt by the British government to restore NATO morale following Russia's military operation to secure Soledar. This location, part of the Donetsk region of the Donbass, was seized by the Ukrainian military as its military front line since 2014 when Donetsk declared itself as a Republic in a referendum, having rejected the Maidan coup.

A research briefing in the House of Commons Library, "Military assistance to Ukraine since the Russian invasion" [2], confirms that "the UK, US and Poland have taken a leading role in co-ordinating international military assistance to Ukraine". It also confirms Britain's role in this latest escalation when it points out that Britain's commitments form part of the Tallinn Pledge [3], "which was announced by the UK and eight other European allies on 19 January 2023". That pledge "recognises the renewed effort that is now required to assist Ukraine" in "defeating Russia" and "to that end, the signatories of the pledge commit to collectively pursuing delivery of an unprecedented set of donations including main battle tanks, heavy artillery, air defence, ammunition, and infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine's defence". It is worth noting that the countries that signed this pledge with Britain do not include any of the major powers in Europe and that the pledge has no formal standing among European countries.

The Library research briefing also reveals that so far the British government has committed "£2.3 billion in military assistance to Ukraine" as the second largest provider of the escalation of the NATO proxy war in Ukraine. It confirms that Britain is planning to "match, or exceed, that £2.3 billion of military assistance in 2023/24". Of course, it is the United States which is by far the largest benefactor, which, to "date, has provided $26.7 billion since February 2022".

For Britain to incite a handful of European nations to further escalate the war in Ukraine and use that to pressurise Germany to join in without any attempt to bring about a peaceful solution reveals much about the reactionary Anglo-US aims that are plunging Europe ever further into this proxy war in Ukraine, and much about the Anglo-US attitude to Europe in general and Germany in particular.

As has been shown so many times in European history, the problems and security of the peoples of Europe cannot be settled by escalating such conflicts but only by identifying just solutions and pursuing them peacefully. It is Britain's involvement in eastern Europe as the main ally of the US that is the real threat to peace as the Tallinn Pledge has confirmed. The British government also played a major role in the Maidan coup that brought to power a Russo-phobic government in 2014 that would pursue NATO's interests and glorify neo-Nazism. Since then, successive British governments have played a major role in provoking the war in Ukraine and ensuring that it is escalated.

Assessing NATO today, it can be seen that Britain has a key warmongering role in this military alliance. Britain refuses to stand for peaceful solutions to conflicts in the world, whether in the Ukraine, Afghanistan, Somalia, Syria Yemen, Libya or Palestine. Successive British regimes have played this same role following WWII. Britain and the US are the main powers behind expanding NATO in Europe, Africa, Asia and the East Pacific. Following their disastrous "war on terror" in the Middle East against smaller countries, they have now turned to military and economic provocations against major powers such as Russia and China, further endangering the peace of the peoples of the world.

Britain's participation in NATO must be brought to an end. Britain urgently needs an anti-war government. People cannot rely on any salvation from Westminster and its warmongering cartel party system. It is in the hands of the peace loving people to build the resistance to NATO. It is in the hands of a renewed anti-war movement that is prepared to take the lead in developing the discussion and actions of the working class and people of Britain to stop NATO and stop its drive to world war. No to NATO! No to War!


Notes
1. US and Britain and NATO Escalate Ukraine Crisis with Nuclear Rehearsal in Europe - Workers' Weekly, October 26, 2022
http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wwie-22/ww22-25/ww22-25-05.htm
2. Research Briefing Military assistance to Ukraine since the Russian invasion - January 24, 2023
https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9477/
3. Tallinn Pledge. A joint statement by the defence ministers of Estonia, the United Kingdom, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania; and the representatives of Denmark, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and Slovakia - January 19, 2023
https://www.gov.uk/government/news/joint-statement-the-tallinn-pledge

Article Index



No to NATO! No to War!

Turning the Whole of Europe into a Battlefield


Leopard 2 tank - Getty Images

Voltaire Network of January 24, 2023, carries a commentary by Manlio Dinucci which gives figures for the stockpiling of weapons throughout Europe which, it argues, are destined for global confrontation. The article says:

"The Federation of American Scientists confirms in January the news given by Grandangolo in December 2022 based on a US Air Force document: the C-17A Globemaster aircraft has been authorised to carry the US B61-12 nuclear bomb to Italy and other European countries."

It continues: "The US and NATO are pouring into Ukraine huge amounts of heavy artillery munitions supplied to the Kiev armed forces. The US - according to official figures - has so far sent more than one million rounds of ammunition for 155 mm howitzers to Ukraine, plus tens of thousands of missiles. About 300,000 rounds of ammunition come from US military depots in Israel. The arms shipment is managed by an international network, in which Camp Darby - the largest US arsenal outside the motherland, connected to the port of Livorno and Pisa military airport - plays a central role."

"At the same time," the article points out, "the US and NATO are enhancing the deployment of their forces in Europe, increasingly close to Russia. In Romania, NATO deployed AWACS aircraft, equipped with the most sophisticated electronic equipment, kept constantly in flight near Russian airspace. Also in Romania, the Pentagon deployed the 101st Airborne Division, which is being deployed to Europe for the first time since World War II."

Voltaire Network quotes from remarks given by Charles Michel, President of the Council of the European Union: "NATO remains the foundation of [our] collective defence." European Council President Michel made the remarks at a joint press conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg on January 10, 2023.

EU-NATO sign co-operation pledge

NATO and the EU signed a new 14-point joint co-operation declaration at their meeting on January 10. The new EU-NATO document builds on two previous joint declarations from 2016 and 2018.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, both sides stressed they aim to "take the partnership to the next level".

The declaration points to tackling "growing geostrategic competition", protecting critical infrastructure, and dealing with threats from emerging technologies and in space as important areas for deeper cooperation.

According to reports, EU and NATO diplomats point out that the document itself represents a diplomatic achievement given years of fears in some quarters that efforts to bolster the EU's role in defence could undermine the US-led military alliance.

Twenty-one of the EU's 27 member states are members of NATO, with Sweden and Finland on a path to join the military alliance by the end of 2023.

The new joint declaration says that "we recognise the value of a stronger and more capable European defence that contributes positively to global and transatlantic security and is complementary to, and interoperable with, NATO."

The two organisations "play complementary, coherent and mutually reinforcing roles in supporting international peace and security," it states.

Asked by reporters whether "strategic autonomy" is to be considered "dead" with the new push for co-operation, Michel said that the two main military doctrines of the two organisations would complement each other. "NATO's Strategic Concept complements, supports, and is consistent with the EU's [military] document, the Strategic Compass," Michel said. "Strategic autonomy does not say that you do not co-operate, you co-operate with like-minded partners," Von der Leyen said.

A key element of the declaration on co-operation between EU and NATO, signed by the heads of the institutions, is a vow to back Ukraine.

(Voltaire Network, EURACTIV)

Article Index



Workers' Movement

International Working-Class Movement Develops as French Workers Strike over Pensions


People gather on Place de la Republique in Paris - Photo Lewis Joly_AP

On Thursday, January 19, literally millions of workers across France took strike action and over two million joined massive protests against French President Emmanuel Macron's pension bill, rejecting the increase to both the minimum retirement age and the length of the pension contribution period. A reported 400,000 people marched through Paris on the day of the strike. French youth and workers combined to organise a further 150,000-strong "march for our pensions" on Saturday, January 21.

There is enormous anger against the widely-hated bill. Macron attempted to push through the same measures in 2020 after rail workers struck in opposition. Huge popular resistance forced the government to postpone the pension changes at that time.

Despite this, the French government on January 23 moved forward with the plan that would raise the retirement age to 64 by 2030, giving the fraudulent reasoning that "balancing the books" must be top priority. The government bill would also increase the minimum number of years people must pay into the system to get a full pension to 43 from 42 at present.


Demonstrators protect themselves near riot police officers in Paris - Photo Lewis Joly_AP

Workers throughout the world find their living standards under threat as they face massive inflationary price rises in food, fuel and energy. World trade is affected by supply chain problems and trade embargoes, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, a war which is further demanding escalating finance. The French ruling elite is determined to raise the pension age from 62 to 64 in order to extract greater value from the working people by extending the working life so as to pay the rich and finance war.

The workers in France and their unions are now, in response to the refusal of the government to respond to the depth of feeling, gearing up for a further day of strike action on January 31, as well as declaring that they are prepared to step up their actions even further against the imposition of these measures which are part of the anti-social offensive imposed by decree against the will of the people.

Not only in France, but workers across the world are beginning to put their foot down against these neo-liberal measures. At the same time, movements among the people are developing for democratic renewal. People are shouting "Not in our name!" in the face of the war and neo-liberal austerity that have characterised the present. Working people are demanding a say over economies and the direction they are taking, and are demanding empowerment and control over their livelihoods and destiny.

Article Index



Workers' Forum

Strike Dates Confirmed for February 2023

Workers from many walks of life are taking a stand that their dignity must not be undermined as in many sectors, particularly public services, the government and other authorities are refusing to negotiate, claiming that a pay rise in line with inflation is "unaffordable".

This is particularly the case in transport, health, and education, as the government introduces its anti-strike law, the Minimum Service Level Bill. This legislation is targeting front-line or key workers, which are defined by the government as such. These are specifically the nurses, paramedics, firefighters, rail workers and teachers and educators for which the government decrees that a "minimum service" must be maintained, and hence the right to strike must be made unlawful.

Now, with no resolution to talks with union representatives in sight across multiple crucial industries, February will begin on the first of the month with a massive national day of actions. These actions bring together professionals and workers from many sectors united by a common theme that they refuse to be counted as things, not human beings, and hence are considered disposable.

Workers and professionals, from train drivers and railway workers to nurses, emergency services staff teachers and civil servants, point out that in taking action they are part of and at one with working people as a whole, and they refuse to be considered as in contradiction with the general interests of society.

Their struggle is without question justified, and the blame for any "disruption" or "inconvenience" lies with the government in these vital industries. Furthermore, the Minimum Service Level Bill is a means to legalise the dictate of those that wield power.

Working people are beginning to reach the conclusion that their struggle must in this context also focus on creating a society which affirms rights by virtue of being human. It can be said that such a society has social emancipation as its constant striving. If, in attempting to turn back the clock to before the struggles of the workers' movement won the right not to be criminalised for withdrawing their labour, those who hold political and economic power wish to wipe out the humanity of working people, they should also be reminded their system is one of wage-slavery which must be ended in order that the relations between humans and humans and humans and nature are humanised. This has been the conclusion of progressive thinkers and revolutionaries from the 19th century brought further up to date in the present.

Let the workers speak for themselves and work for that power to control their own lives which is so conspicuously absent at present!

Here are the strike dates scheduled for February, as compiled from reports.

Wednesday 1 February

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) representing approximately 100,000 civil servants will stage a 24-hour demonstration, involving staff from government ministries, driving test centres, museums, ports and airports.

National Education Union (NEU) members in England and Wales will strike, as will around 70,000 staff from 150 universities joining a University and College Union (UCU) demonstration.

Train drivers belonging to the Aslef and the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) unions will walk out. This will render 14 train operators without staff, and therefore bringing services to a standstill across more than a dozen railway lines.

Friday 3 February

Aslef and RMT train drivers will strike.

Monday 6 February

Members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) will strike for 12 hours.

Paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff belonging to the GMB union will stage a walkout, as will ambulance workers from Unite the union who work at the following trusts: West Midlands, East Midlands, North West, North East and Wales.

Tuesday 7 February

Royal College of Nursing members will strike for a further 12 hours.

Thursday 9 February

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) Council strike places NHS physiotherapy staff on the picket line.

Tuesday 14 February

NEU members in Wales stop work once again.

Thursday 16 February

In northern Ireland, Unite members working in health and social care and as ambulance staff begin the first of two 48-hour strikes.

Friday 17 February

The Unite action continues in the north of Ireland.

Monday 20 February

Paramedics, emergency care assistants, call handlers and other staff from the GMB union stage a further walkout, as do Unite ambulance workers across trusts in the North East, East Midlands and Wales.

Wednesday 22 February

Unite ambulance workers strike in the North West of England.

Thursday 23 February

The second round of 48-hour strikes by health and social care workers and ambulance staff with Unite begins in northern Ireland.

Friday 24 February

The Unite action continues in northern Ireland.

Tuesday 28 February

NEU members in the Northern, North West, Yorkshire and The Humber regions of England are set to strike.

Article Index



SOS NHS NATIONAL DEMO

ACT NOW TO SAVE OUR NHS!

SATURDAY, 11 MARCH 2023 AT 12:00

Tottenham Court Road, NW1 3AA

The government is quick to blame everyone and everything but themselves for the current crisis they have created in our NHS. Health Secretary, Steve Barclay told already exhausted NHS staff to work even harder if they want a pay rise. We believe it is the government that should be working harder to fix a crisis caused by 13 years of its mismanagement.

We stand with all NHS staff forced to take strike action in order to protect the service from further damage and demand the government changes course and finds the will to do what's right for both staff and patients.

WE DEMAND THE GOVERNMENT FIXES THE CRISIS IN OUR NHS!

National demo to save our NHS - save the date!

NHS Workers Say NO, Keep Our NHS Public

Article Index



Workers' Forum

10th Anniversary of the Mass Demonstration to Safeguard the Future of Lewisham Hospital

On a momentous January day ten years ago, Co-Chair of Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) Dr Tony O'Sullivan reminds readers of his Facebook page, the mass demonstration of over 25,000 people organised by the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign took place on January 26, 2013. The campaign was eventually successful in saving Lewisham Hospital from obliteration by Jeremy Hunt (now Chancellor) and NHS London. Six months later, Dr O'Sullivan writes, we won the Judicial Review against Hunt at the Royal Courts of Justice on July 10, and his appeal was rejected in five minutes of Appeal Court deliberation on October 29, 2013. Tony O'Sullivan concludes: "The battlefront is now an existential one for the NHS led by Keep Our NHS Public and fellow campaigners and unions in www.SOSNHS.org"

Ten years later to the day, imbued with the same spirit as that campaign, many young physiotherapists took part on the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy strike picket line, in that same hospital which would not have existed but for the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign which did so much to unite NHS staff, unions and the community in a just cause and succeed. We are convinced this struggle too will succeed!

See "Mass Demonstration to Safeguard the Future of Lewisham Hospital", Workers' Weekly, January 29, 2013: http://www.rcpbml.org.uk/wwie-13/ww13-03.htm

Article Index



News in Brief of Strike Actions

Outsourced UCL security staff to strike alongside UCU as part of 1 February national day of action

Outsourced security guards at UCL, represented by the IWGB, are back on strike on 1 February, demanding an end to outsourcing, £15/hr pay and union recognition.

They will be joined by striking lecturers from UCU, taking part in the national day of strike action which includes teachers, rail workers and civil servants. Due to school closures, this will be a family friendly day of action.

UCL came under fire in October for subcontracting workers on a lower rate of pay in an attempt to break the last IWGB strike, despite running a £90 million yearly surplus.

Physiotherapists join NHS strike in one-day walkout

Thousands of NHS physiotherapists in England have become the latest group to join the ongoing industrial action over pay in the health service.

Members of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) at 30 NHS services - one in seven - staged a 24-hour walkout on Thursday.

The walkout involved both physios and support staff.

As with other striking health staff, they continued to provide care in the most urgent cases.

This includes supporting people in critical care, those with severe respiratory problems and some stroke patients who require urgent physiotherapy.

But rehab work and discharge planning and community physio is expected to be disrupted.

North of Ireland strikes: Ambulance staff and nurses among 20,000 to walk out

More than 20,000 healthcare staff in northern Ireland staged a one-day strike on January 26 as part of a pay dispute.

The move from Unite, Unison and Nipsa members, involved some nurses, ambulance and hospital support staff. Ambulance staff includes paramedics, call handlers and support workers.

Workers were told they would get a 2022-23 pay award of £1,400, but unions said this would not settle the dispute as it was lower than inflation. The strike is a result of the failure to deliver a cost of living pay increase. Unite members across all five health trusts and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service returned an average 87 per cent vote in favour of strike action.

Under trade union law, emergency cover will still be provided and staff can leave the picket lines to attend.

Trusts have been in contact with patients who will be affected and further details are available on trusts' websites.

Abellio London bus strikes to go ahead

Strikes scheduled for next week by bus drivers employed by Abellio in London are set to go ahead, in the long running pay dispute.

The approximately 1,900 workers, who are members of Unite, will stage further walkouts on 1, 2, 3 February. The dispute will primarily affect bus services in South and West London.

The decision to go ahead with the strike action follows the rejection of two offers made by the employer, as they did not meet members' expectations.

Further DWP strike dates announced

Six Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) offices will strike during February and March as the PCS continues its strategic strike action. Its targeted strike action, part of the PCS national campaign over pay, pensions, job security and redundancy terms, began in December last year and DWP members in six offices have already taken strike action.

The initial phase of the PCS strike action has been targeted at areas that would have a significant impact on employers' operations. Redundancies and job security are two important parts of our national campaign and the government announced last year its plans to close over 40 DWP offices.

The next phase of the strike action, which will follow on from the national strike on 1 February, will involve members in Stockport Contact Centre, Bolton Benefit Centre and at four Liverpool jobcentres.

University strike dates in February and March confirmed

Unprecedented strike action will hit 150 UK universities throughout February and March unless university employers make substantially improved offers in disputes over pay, working conditions and pension cuts.

In total, 70,000 UCU members will walk out.

Underground drivers strike for a safe railway

ASLEF members on the Bakerloo line on London Underground have voted in favour of industrial action by more than 99% in a dispute over a plan by management to allow trains to go into sidings and depots without a check to ensure that passengers have left the train.

The proposal by management has been dubbed "flash and dash" and means that passengers would have to depend on hearing unreliable PA announcements on 50-year-old trains to avoid being taken into depots and sidings.

Currently, trains are physically checked to make sure they are empty and it is safe for the driver to proceed. But, as part of its cost-cutting drive, management want to remove this safety check.

Further Imperial College strikes as pay dispute intensifies

More than 200 workers, members of Unite the union, at London's Imperial College took strike action on 23 January over a 3.3 per cent pay offer.

The workers, who are non-teaching staff, last took strike action in November. Further strikes will be scheduled in the coming weeks if the dispute is not resolved.

With the real rate of inflation, RPI, at 13.4 per cent, this is a pay cut in real terms. Imperial College’s latest financial figures show it brought in an income of over £1.2 billion for 2021/22 and had cash reserves of £1.7 billion.

NASUWT Scotland announces further strike action by teachers

Members of NASUWT-The Teachers' Union in Scotland will be taking two further days of strike action on 28th February and 1 March in its ongoing dispute with the Scottish Government and employers over teachers' pay.

These further dates are a result of the continuing failure of ministers and COSLA to come forward with an improved pay offer.

The NASUWT is calling for a fully funded 12% pay award for 2022/23. The current pay offer of 5% for most teachers amounts to a further real-terms pay cut, following over a decade of pay freezes and below-inflation pay awards which have left teachers in Scotland almost £50,000 worse off as a result of their pay failing to keep pace with inflation.

Alongside the strike action NASUWT members will continue to undertake ongoing action short of strike action. Members are refusing to cover for absent colleagues and are attending no more than one meeting per week outside pupil sessions.

Members will continue to teach, plan lessons, and assess pupils' work.

(LabourStart)

Article Index




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