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Volume 53 Number 33, December 21, 2023 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Stop Israel! Stop the Genocide!

In Britain and Throughout the World, Actions
Continue to Show that the World Stands with Palestine

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index : ShareThis

Stop Israel! Stop the Genocide! In Britain and Throughout the World, Actions Continue to Show that the World Stands with Palestine

Stop Israel! Stop the Genocide!:
Starvation Used as Weapon of War in Gaza
Israel's War on Gaza's Hospitals and their Patients
Israel Assassinates Distinguished Palestinian Scholar

Workers' Movement:
TUC Holds Special Congress to Defend the Right to Strike

NEU Issues Press Release on Minimum Service Levels Talks:
Government Talks over Minimum Service Levels Were Never Meaningful

Workers' Movement:
Go North East Bus Workers Accept Pay Deal after Five Weeks on Strike

Workers' Forum:
Letter to Workers' Forum

DPRK and its Right to Be:
Democratic People's Republic of Korea Is Continuing the Revolution and Living its Own Way

Stop Israel! Stop the Genocide!

In Britain and Throughout the World, Actions
Continue to Show that the World Stands with Palestine

The national march on December 9, Stop the War on Gaza, again demonstrated that public opinion is with the people of Gaza and the occupied West Bank. As the organisers said, as long as the brutal attacks on Palestinians continue we will continue to demonstrate.

The demonstrations on December 9 and 10 across the world denounced the December 8 US veto of a UN Security Council resolution for an immediate ceasefire as well as the stepped up crimes of the Israelis in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. There is a growing concern and anger over the humanitarian catastrophe represented by the continued US/Israeli genocide. Answering the "Worldwide Ceasefire Call for Action", Palestinians and their supporters across the globe joined in the global strike for Gaza on December 11, with strikes in Ramallah and elsewhere in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Lebanon shut down completely, with the
Thomas Hardy school students walk-out, Dorchester.
government closing all offices and institutions in support of the Palestinian resistance and so too in many countries, school students, college and university students and workers from many sectors of the economy joined the strike. As one, peoples worldwide continue without let up to demand a ceasefire now, an end to the siege and support Palestine's right to resist and of return.

With Israel given the green light by the US and with the support of Britain and the big powers of Europe, the myth of western humanity and democracy has indeed been shattered.

Meanwhile, countless actions took place on December 16 and other dates around the country. Stop the War Coalition gave the call on December 15: "The British government is not just complicit in Israel's massacre in Gaza, it is an enabler of it. By abstaining on the UN Security Council draft resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza last Friday they are giving Israel the green light to continue its slaughter.

"It is not just political cover that that our government is giving, it's logistical support too. As Declassified UK revealed this week, the UK has 'secretly sent 500 extra troops to Cyprus base being used to supply weapons to Israel' and the RAF continues to fly transport planes to Tel Aviv, without any explanation of what is in the huge cargo loads. This is all done on the quiet because our weak government knows just how unpopular Israel's bombardment is with the people of this country.

"All this means we cannot relent in our demand for peace and justice for Palestine. We have to continue speaking up and force our elected representatives to listen to this overwhelming call for peace. This includes Keir Starmer's Labour which is losing councillors across the country and will continue to lose support as long as its tacit support continues.

"Tomorrow (December 16) we're asking everyone to keep building this determined, growing movement by taking action in your local communities as part of a Day of Action for Palestine."

The continuing and continuous stands of people across the world against the Gaza genocide are a powerful statement that Israel must be stopped, that the genocide must be stopped. These actions represent an indispensable factor in bringing the genocide to an end and shaming the US, Britain and other European powers, alongside the resistance of the Palestinian people themselves to the unconscionable consequences of the Israeli atrocities.

The next national demonstration for Palestine is on Saturday, January 13, 2024, at 12 noon, Central London. The organisers say, "As Israel continues its bombardment of Gaza our call for a full and permanent ceasefire remains unwavering. Let's make this demonstration the biggest yet. Please start organising transport from your area now."

The World Stands with Palestine!

Birmingham day of action, Saturday December 16

Newcastle day of action, Saturday December 16

West Bank Ramallah General Strike

Gaza, Design Hussein Miqdadi, Sculptor Toujani Choukri, Tunisia

Article Index

Stop Israel! Stop the Genocide!

Starvation Used as Weapon of War in Gaza

The Israeli government is using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare in the occupied Gaza Strip, which is a war crime, Human Rights Watch said on December 18. Israeli forces are deliberately blocking the delivery of water, food, and fuel, while wilfully impeding humanitarian assistance, apparently razing agricultural areas, and depriving the civilian population of objects indispensable to their survival.

Since Hamas-led fighters attacked Israel on October 7, 2023, high-ranking Israeli officials, including Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, and Energy Minister Israel Katz have made public statements expressing their aim to deprive civilians in Gaza of food, water and fuel - statements reflecting a policy being carried out by Israeli forces. Other Israeli officials have publicly stated that humanitarian aid to Gaza would be conditioned either on the release of hostages unlawfully held by Hamas or Hamas' destruction.

"For over two months, Israel has been depriving Gaza's population of food and water, a policy spurred on or endorsed by high-ranking Israeli officials and reflecting an intent to starve civilians as a method of warfare," said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch. "World leaders should be speaking out against this abhorrent war crime, which has devastating effects on Gaza's population."

Human Rights Watch interviewed 11 displaced Palestinians in Gaza between November 24 and December 4. They described their profound hardships in securing basic necessities. "We had no food, no electricity, no internet, nothing at all," said one man who had left northern Gaza. "We don't know how we survived."

In southern Gaza, those interviewed described the scarcity of potable water, the lack of food leading to empty shops and lengthy lines, and exorbitant prices. "You are on a constant search for things needed to survive," said a father of two. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reported on December 6 that 9 out of 10 households in northern Gaza and 2 out of 3 households in southern Gaza had spent at least one full day and night without food.

Human Rights Watch continues by pointing out that international humanitarian law, or the laws of war, prohibits the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court provides that intentionally starving civilians by "depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival, including wilfully impeding relief supplies" is a war crime. Criminal intent does not require the attacker's admission but can also be inferred from the totality of the circumstances of the military campaign.

In addition, Israel's continuing blockade of Gaza, as well as its more than 16-year closure, amounts to collective punishment of the civilian population, a war crime. As the occupying power in Gaza under the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel has the duty to ensure that the civilian population gets food and medical supplies.

On November 17, the WFP warned of the "immediate possibility" of starvation, highlighting that supplies of food and water were practically non-existent. On December 3, it reported a "high risk of famine," indicating that Gaza's food system was on the brink of collapse. And on December 6, it declared that 48 percent of households in northern Gaza and 38 percent of displaced people in southern Gaza had experienced "severe levels of hunger".

On November 3, the Norwegian Refugee Council announced that Gaza was grappling with "catastrophic water, sanitation, and hygiene needs". Wastewater and desalination facilities were shut down in mid-October due to fuel and electricity shortages and have been largely inoperable since, according to the Palestinian Water Authority. Even before October 7, according to the UN, Gaza had virtually no potable water.

Prior to the current hostilities, Human Rights Watch points out, 1.2 million of Gaza's 2.2 million people were estimated to be facing acute food insecurity, and over 80 percent were reliant on humanitarian aid. Israel maintains overarching control over Gaza, including over the movement of people and goods, territorial waters, airspace, the infrastructure upon which Gaza relies, as well as the registry of the population. This leaves Gaza's population, which Israel has subjected to an unlawful closure for 16 years, almost entirely dependent on Israel for access to fuel, electricity, medicine, food, and other essential commodities.

After the imposition of a "total blockade" on Gaza on October 9, Israeli authorities resumed piping water to some parts of southern Gaza on October 15 and, as of October 21, allowed limited humanitarian aid to arrive through the Rafah crossing with Egypt. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on October 18 that Israel would not allow humanitarian assistance "in the form of food and medicines" into Gaza through its crossings "as long as our hostages are not returned".

The government continued to block the entry of fuel until November 15, despite warnings about the serious consequences of doing so, leading to the shutdown of bakeries, hospitals, sewage pumping stations, water desalination plants, and wells. These facilities, which have been left unusable, are indispensable to the civilian population's survival. Although limited amounts of fuel were subsequently allowed in, on December 4, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Lynn Hastings, called it "utterly insufficient". On December 6, Israel's war cabinet approved a "minimal" increase in fuel supplies to southern Gaza.

On December 1, immediately after the seven-day ceasefire, the Israeli military resumed bombing Gaza and expanded its ground offensive, stating that its military operations in the south would carry "no less strength" than in the north. While United States officials said that they urged Israel to allow fuel and humanitarian aid to enter Gaza at the same levels observed during the ceasefire, the Defence Ministry's co-ordinator of government activities in the territories said on December 1 that it halted all aid entry. Limited aid deliveries resumed on December 2, but still at grossly insufficient levels, according to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Alongside the crushing blockade, the Israeli military's extensive airstrikes in the strip have resulted in widespread damage or destruction to objects necessary for the survival of the civilian population.

UN experts said on November 16 that the significant damage "threatens to make the continuation of Palestinian life in Gaza impossible". Notably, Israeli forces' bombing of Gaza's last operational wheat mill on November 15 ensures that locally produced flour will be unavailable in Gaza for the foreseeable future, as highlighted by OCHA. Additionally, the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) said that the decimation of road networks had made it more difficult for humanitarian organizations to deliver aid to those who need it.

"Bakeries and grain mills have been destroyed, agriculture, water and sanitation facilities," Scott Paul, a senior humanitarian policy adviser for Oxfam America, told the Associated Press on November 23.

Israel's military actions in Gaza have also had a devastating impact on Gaza's agricultural sector. The sustained bombardment, coupled with fuel and water shortages, alongside the displacement of more than 1.6 million people to southern Gaza, has made farming nearly impossible, according to Oxfam. In a report from November 28, OCHA said that livestock in the north are facing starvation due to the shortage of fodder and water, and that crops are increasingly abandoned and damaged due to lack of fuel to pump irrigation water. Existing problems, such as water scarcity and restricted access to farming land near the border fence, have compounded the difficulties faced by local farmers, many of whom are displaced. On November 28, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said that Gaza is suffering from at least a US$1.6 million daily loss in farm production.

On November 28, the Palestine Food Security Sector, led by the WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization, reported that over a third of agricultural land in the north had been damaged in the hostilities. Satellite imagery reviewed by Human Rights Watch indicates that since the start of the Israeli military's ground offensive on October 27, agricultural land, including orchards, greenhouses, and farmland in northern Gaza, has been razed, apparently by Israeli forces.

The Israeli government should immediately cease using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare, Human Rights Watch said. It should abide by the prohibition on attacks on objects necessary for the survival of the civilian population and lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip. The government should restore water and electricity access, and allow desperately needed food, medical aid, and fuel into Gaza, including via its crossing at Kerem Shalom.

Concerned governments should call on Israel to end these abuses. The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and other countries should also suspend military assistance and arms sales to Israel as long as its forces continue to commit widespread and serious abuses amounting to war crimes against civilians with impunity.

"The Israeli government is compounding its collective punishment of Palestinian civilians and the blocking of humanitarian aid by its cruel use of starvation as a weapon of war," Shakir said. "The deepening humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza calls for an urgent and effective response from the international community."

International Standards and Evidence of Deliberate Action

Human Rights Watch states: Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited under article 54(1) of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions (Protocol I) and article 14 of the Second Additional Protocol (Protocol II). Although Israel is not a party to Protocols I or II, the prohibition is recognised as reflective of customary international humanitarian law in both international and non-international armed conflicts. Parties to a conflict may not "provoke [starvation] deliberately" or deliberately cause "the population to suffer hunger, particularly by depriving it of its sources of food or of supplies".

Warring parties are also prohibited from attacking objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as food and medical supplies, agricultural areas, and drinking water installations. They are obligated to facilitate rapid and unimpeded humanitarian assistance to all civilians in need, and to not deliberately block humanitarian aid or restrict the freedom of movement of humanitarian relief personnel. In each of its four previous wars in Gaza since 2008, Israel maintained the flow of drinking water and electricity into Gaza and opened the Israeli crossings for humanitarian delivery.

Article Index

Stop Israel! Stop the Genocide!

Israel's War on Gaza's Hospitals and their Patients


Informed Comment of December 19 reports: "Over four days late last week the Israeli army repeatedly raided Kamal Adwan Hospital in the town of Beit Lahia (pop. 90,000) in northern Gaza and then over the weekend forced everybody out of it. Eight patients did not survive the expulsion, including a nine-year-old girl. The UN reports that media is saying that on Saturday, 'an Israeli military bulldozer flattened the tents of a number of internally displaced persons outside the hospital, killing and wounding an unconfirmed number of people'. That is, the army is alleged to have bulldozed people alive into a mass grave, which, if the assertion is true, is one of the more horrific atrocities it has committed in this campaign - which has been full of horrific atrocities. The Israeli army denies the reports, saying the hospital is a terrorism command centre, a standard propaganda line for which it has supplied zero evidence. Israel does admit that it took 90 hospital personnel captive, charging them with being Hamas.

"Officials at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank said that their Gaza contacts told them that after the Israeli troops bulldozed the tents and their denizens, 'They also took the wounded out of the hospital to the open air in light of the extreme cold weather, and attacked the medical personnel, and arrested a number of them. . The university indicated that there are 12 children still inside the hospital's incubators without water or food, after the occupation prevented their evacuation and its vehicles destroyed large parts of the hospital.' The West Bank is PLO territory, not Hamas, and that Bir Zeit University people are being told the same story at the UN's interviewees is at least some corroboration.

"This atrocity was committed during an internet blackout that lasted several days and ended on Monday.

"The Israelis have attacked and closed all but four hospitals in northern Gaza, and three of them can barely be said to be functioning as hospitals (usually you would like some anaesthesia while you are operated on). The World Health Organization (WHO) called the situation at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City a 'bloodbath'."

Tedros Ghebreyesus, the Director of WHO, posted to X on Sunday,

"WHO is appalled by the effective destruction of Kamal Adwan hospital in northern #Gaza over the last several days, rendering it non-functional and resulting in the death of at least 8 patients.

Many health workers were reportedly detained, and WHO and partners are urgently seeking information on their status.

"We learned that many patients had to self-evacuate at great risk to their health and safety, with ambulances unable to reach the facility. Of the deceased patients, several died due to lack of adequate health care, including a 9-year-old child.

"We are extremely concerned for the well-being of the internally displaced people who are reportedly sheltering in the hospital building.

"Gaza's health system was already on its knees, and the loss of another even minimally functioning hospital is a severe blow.

"Attacks on hospitals, health personnel and patients must end. Ceasefire NOW."

Article Index

Stop Israel! Stop the Genocide!

Israel Assassinates Distinguished Palestinian Scholar

Refaat Alareer

Palestinians worldwide are mourning the loss of Refaat Alareer, a distinguished academic, translator, poet and activist who was targeted, hunted down and assassinated in an Israeli air strike on his sister's home in Gaza City on December 7. He was 44 years old. The world's people stand with them; they mourn with them; like them, they fight to win.

Lewisham Friends of Palestine

Refaat Alareer was a respected scholar of English literature at the Islamic University of Gaza. He was highly revered as a tribune of the people, a mentor to a generation of Palestinian youth and a voice of the resistance to Israeli occupation and aggression. One academic colleague said, "It is no exaggeration to say that Refaat used almost every lecture to encourage his students to write about the occupation and our struggle as Palestinians in Gaza." Another wrote: "Israel killed Refaat, but people like him are very hard to die. Not only did he leave his words, poems, interviews, books, posts, and stories, but he also left behind him a generation of writers and activists who will carry on the powerful work he started and never be silenced. Refaat's voice will never die as Gaza will always write back."

Memorial at University College London Vigil

The European colonialists knew that in order to wipe out a people, their culture must be extinguished. That is why after initial attempts to wipe out the Indigenous Peoples of the United States and Canada failed, the residential school system was established to commit cultural genocide against them, deprive them of their language, thought material, spirituality and value systems.

The Nazis mercilessly slaughtered the Polish intelligentsia when they invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, for the same reason. The despicable former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in his endeavour to wipe out the Greek Resistance also declared that unless Greek culture were decimated, the Greeks would remain united.

The US imperialists in launching their vicious failed "shock and awe" campaign against Iraq, wiped out the treasures of antiquity of that cradle of civilisation, and mocked and distorted the meanings communicated through their language and thought material. So too, their disinformation campaigns are all based on denigrating a people's culture, the glue which holds together the relations between humans and humans and humans and nature, cemented over the years of their existence as a people.

The deliberate attacks of the Israeli Zionists on Palestinians' distinguished intellectuals are designed to smash their unity, coherence, and lofty aims to which these intellectuals give expression. Never will they succeed. Palestine's older generations have set the younger generations a course which upholds their dignity and right to be. They fight to win. The Zionists will be defeated.

On November 1, in the heat of Refaat's and his people's courageous resistance to the current Zionist assault on Gaza, he tweeted a now-famous poem, which he pinned at the top of his page, sharing how he wished to be remembered, if he must die. It reads:

If I must die,
you must live
to tell my story
to sell my things
to buy a piece of cloth
and some strings,
(make it white with a long tail)
so that a child, somewhere in Gaza
while looking heaven in the eye
awaiting his dad who left in a blaze --
and bid no one farewell
not even to his flesh
not even to himself --
sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up above
and thinks for a moment an angel is there
bringing back love
If I must die
let it bring hope
let it be a tale.

It will be done, over and over again, until victory.

(TML Monthly Supplement)

Article Index

Workers' Movement

TUC Holds Special Congress to Defend the Right to Strike

In response to the "unprecedented attack on the right to strike", the TUC held a Special Congress, its first in 41 years, on December 9. The Congress was prompted in particular by the passing of the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Act in July when it was railroaded through parliament, its use being threatened during the present waves of action by rail and health workers.

Under the Act, the government can set a Minimum Service Level for strike action in certain sectors, with the Business Secretary imposing the service level through consultation merely with "such persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate". Employers then declare the categories and numbers of workers required to continue working during the dispute to deliver this imposed minimum level, issuing a work notice to this effect, which then legally requires workers to break the strike and return to work. This rule affects workers in healthcare, education, fire, transport, border security, and nuclear decommissioning. Workers may be sacked for violating rules, and unions, which are effectively required to police their own strikes, may face damages claims of up to £1 million for non-compliance. The TUC estimates that some 5.5 million workers in Britain are at risk of being deprived of the right to strike through the Act [1].

These latest anti-strike laws have faced widespread opposition, including from the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, ACAS, civil rights organisations, and race and gender equality groups. Even Iain Stewart, the Conservative chair of the transport select committee, criticised the legislation for potentially worsening employment relations and making services less reliable [2]. Elected mayors and council leaders across Britain have also warned that the anti-strike laws could lead to longer and more frequent walkouts, with a number promising to avoid issuing strike bans in their areas. [3]

The Special Congress committed to direct defiance of the Strikes Act, including that the TUC's affiliated unions should refuse to tell members to cross a picket line. If a union is under significant threat of sanction, the TUC executive will hold an emergency meeting to consider how to provide practical, industrial, financial, and political support. The TUC will defend any worker who exercises their right to strike and will call an urgent demonstration in the event a work notice is deployed and a union or worker is sanctioned in relation to a work notice.

"Although this draconian legislation has now passed through parliament, the trade union movement stands united in its continued opposition. We shall not rest until the malicious, unnecessary, and unworkable Strikes Act is repealed," declared the TUC General Council in its statement to the Special Congress [4]. "In every workplace where employers attempt to deploy and impose these draconian rules, they can expect the trade union movement to respond with a show of force and solidarity for any workers affected."

"At today's historic special Congress, we agree to continue our campaign of opposition and non-compliance - across workplaces and across the country," the statement added.

Not only did the TUC state its intent to resist in the workplace and courts, it also extended this to the court of public opinion. The TUC will name and shame employers and public bodies who deploy work notices as anti-union and anti-worker. At the same time, the TUC will actively promote collective action and develop solidarity plans for non-compliance. The TUC has also called a national march and rally in Cheltenham for Saturday, January 17, to protest against the attack on workers' rights and build the resistance [5].

As Workers' Weekly said in March [6], the Sunak government introduced the legislation with the aim of blocking the resistance of the workers to the stepped-up attacks on their rights and interests. The Act is intended to curtail the opposition to privatisation of public services and to undermine the developing movement to build a human-centred society, by creating a combined power held by the government and employers to deprive workers of their right to act in self-defence.

It therefore entrenches the serious disequilibrium that exists in the social relation between employer and employed, just as workers are declaring that Enough is Enough! and when the actions of health service workers, teachers, and other key public service workers are enjoying overwhelming public support, and while the ruling circles stand isolated and mired in a profound crisis of illegitimacy.

The government has taken the issue of self-defence to a new level with its attack. Under conditions of such disequilibrium, and of the deep-going anti-social offensive that is restructuring all the arrangements of state around politicising private interests, the unions are having to struggle to renew themselves to remain effective. They are having to look to their own methods and structures, so as to move beyond the limitations of a "civil society" that no longer even truly exists. They are fighting in the court of public opinion. For the workers, the issue of their own empowerment is on the agenda, including what mechanisms they need to build that can enable this empowerment so as to politicise their own interests, in the interests of the whole society.

1. "TUC announces special Congress to fight Conservative attack on the right to strike", TUC Press Release, November 7, 2023
2. "UK anti-strike law is 'galvanising moment' for unions, says TUC boss", Heather Stewart, The Guardian, December 8, 2023
3. "Mayors and council leaders vow to thwart anti-strikes laws ahead of TUC special congress", Morning Star, December 9, 2023
4. "General Council statement - special Congress 2023", TUC, December 9, 2023
5. "Protect the right to strike", TUC
6. "The Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill: Anti-strike Bill Underscores Need for Continued Resistance to Exercise of Executive Powers", Workers' Weekly, March 8, 2023

Article Index

NEU Issues Press Release on Minimum Service Levels Talks

Government Talks over Minimum Service Levels Were Never Meaningful

National Education Union talks with the Department for Education about Minimum Service Levels (MSL) for striking workers on strike days in education settings ended on November 28. They have concluded without an agreement, which now opens the door to a consultation process by the Department for Education.

Commenting after the meeting, Daniel Kebede, General Secretary of the NEU, said:

"The attempt to impose further restrictions on our democratic freedoms is shameful. This Government wants to be tough on strikes, but not on the causes of strikes.

"We have an education system on its knees. A deep recruitment and retention crisis, rocketing workloads and falling pay. And thanks to underfunding we have the largest primary class sizes in Europe and secondary class sizes are the highest since records began more than forty years ago. This is clearly unsustainable, but the Government is indifferent to the enormous challenges facing schools and colleges. On the evidence of last week's Autumn Statement, they have given up.

"The attempt at dialogue was never meaningful. It was disingenuous and cynical. The end of talks was briefed out to the press by Number 10 before the talks ended. Sunak always intended to implement this draconian legislation without consent or mandate.

"The Government cannot stand the fact that the NEU passed the highly restrictive thresholds for strike action not once but twice during the recent pay dispute. They now seek to make the legislation even more severe.

"The proposed MSLs are an affront to those who democratically and legally vote for strike action, forcing a large proportion to go into work on strike days. This is a fundamental attack on the democratic freedoms and rights of school staff. It also demonstrates the Government's incredible lack of understanding of the provision that schools already ensure is in place for students on strike days.

"This is a policy not becoming of a modern, liberal democracy. We already have some of the most restrictive trade union legislation in Europe. In 2015 Conservative MP David Davis said parts of the Trade Union Bill were more fitting of Franco's Spain.

"MSL legislation is being rushed through. The time period of just 9 weeks - including the Christmas break - for consultation on the draft regulations is completely inadequate given the number of workplaces and employers covered by these proposals. The legal measures which Keegan [Gillian Keegan, Education Secretary] wants to impose are unworkable and show a startling ignorance of school settings.

"The proposals have already been questioned by the UN's International Labour Organisation and make this government an outlier internationally. This will only make the resolution of disputes more difficult and cause further disruption in schools."


Article Index

Workers' Movement

Go North East Bus Workers Accept Pay Deal after Five Weeks on Strike

Go North East workers outside the company's Dunston depot - Photo: Newcastle Chronicle

Following a prolonged industrial dispute, reports union Unite, transport workers at Go North East have secured a substantial pay increase [1].

Drivers, engineers and administrative staff earning up to £40,000 per year accepted a significantly improved offer, the details of which include:

"Go North East workers should be congratulated on their victory for better pay. They stood together in unity until their employer returned to negotiations and made an improved offer," Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said. Unite national lead officer Onay Kasab added: "I'm delighted our members have secured this substantial pay increase. Thanks to their tireless efforts on picket lines and at protests they have secured the pay increase they deserve."

The bus workers had been striking since October 28, and the agreement came just a week after the union announced that the workers were being balloted to continue strike action [2]. At that time said Unite, despite protracted negotiations, the company had still not formally made an improved offer.

Three weeks earlier, on November 10, TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak wrote to Go North East's Managing Director, Nigel Featham, urging for immediate action to resolve the dispute [3]. Nowak told of a "two-tier pay system", where bus workers in the North East were being paid 20% less than their colleagues in the North West. Many of the workforce have had to cut back on essentials, such as food and energy, and some have even been skipping meals and using food banks, he said.

The company could meet workers' demands with just 0.28% of its annual profits, he wrote, but the company was at that time continuing to refuse to change its offer. He also pointed to the pay-the-rich scheme whereby Go Ahead has received millions in public money.

The context of the dispute with the Go Ahead group is a situation in which the public transport, which is an important social programme, has, as part of the anti-social offensive, been converted from a public into a private concern. Rather than considered as a public service, that is, run with the aim of serving the people's needs, the sector is based on vested interests and fragmented into mutually-competing parts. Against that background, and in the conditions that they are disempowered and excluded from decisions affecting their work and conditions, as well as over the direction transport being taken, transport workers are having to fight on the basis that Enough is Enough.

To win this pay deal in this context against intransigent employers is indeed a victory in defence of their rights and claims on the value they create, and it points to the necessity to stop paying the rich, increase investments in social programmes, and to change the direction of the economy and its transport sector.

With the hardship of no buses for five or six weeks, still the support of the people of the North East for the transport workers remained strong, contributing to their victory. People are aware of the necessity of the workers to fight to continue to serve the public and receive a wage commensurate with their commitment to the public good.

1. "Unite, the UK's leading union, has secured a significant pay award for Go North East workers it was announced today", Unite, December 1, 2023
2. "Go North East workers balloted to continue industrial action for fair pay", Unite, November 24, 2023
3. "TUC General Secretary intervenes in Go North East bus dispute", TUC, November 10, 2023

Article Index

Workers' Forum

Letter to Workers' Forum

In line with bus workers across the country, the North East drivers have secured pay increases and improvements in working conditions.

Delaying tactics have been used in many disputes in recent times in attempts by employers and government to suppress the resistance of workers, particularly public sector workers, and curb attempts of the "Enough is Enough" movement to develop the workers' counter-offensive. Whatever the delaying tactics of the Go Ahead Group were meant to achieve in this dispute, it can be seen that the transport workers were not to be diverted from asserting their claims.

During the pandemic and since, workers in various bus franchises and oligopolies have had to fight the employers' tactics of "Fire and Rehire" and holding down wages, imposed under the pretexts of "rationalising" labour and creating revised or new contracts of employment. Transport workers in recent times have been having none of it. Instead, is it not the case that workers have been strengthening their organisations and also strengthening their unity and solidarity with the rest of the working class in these circumstances?

Workers are seeking to bring their organisational capability up to date to meet the requirements of the times. Workers are also demanding more say in their destiny as producers of wealth. Should not the workers envision going beyond "Enough is Enough", and look towards building new mechanisms and organisations to be effective in their claims? This may well spur the working class into greater and bolder action in their fight for the rights of all and for a socially responsible social system.

Retired Shop Steward

Article Index

DPRK and its Right to Be

Democratic People's Republic of Korea Is Continuing the Revolution and Living its Own Way

74th Anniversary of the Founding of the DPRK, Pyongyang, Korea.

An online meeting jointly organised by the Korean Friendship Association UK (KFA UK) and the Friends of Korea (Britain) (FoK) under the title of "People's Korea Continuing the Revolution and Living its Own Way " took place on December 10.

Dr Dermot Hudson, Chair of KFA UK introduced the meeting by saying that it is important to remember the great leader comrade Kim Jong Il and recall his life by emphasising that the revolution continues.

Michael Chant, Secretary of the FoK, explained that Friends of Korea seeks to unite all progressive forces around the principle that the DPRK has the right to exist, follow its chosen course, and live in its own way. Friends of Korea calls on all democratic people to stand with the Korean people against the hostility and aggressive policy of the US, in which Britain follows the lead of the US, and to stand with the Korean people in their heroic efforts to bring about peace on the Korean Peninsula, and reunification on the basis that the Korean nation is one.

Today, the DPRK stands proudly second to none in the family of nations, Michael Chant said. Despite the brutal racist and illegal sanctions that the US imposed on the DPRK during the Korean War, which have increased in intensity with successive US imperialist administrations, the DPRK prevails and thrives despite the most arduous and trying conditions.

Under the leadership of Kim Jong Un and the Workers' Party of Korea, the entire people of the DPRK have been mobilised to strengthen their socialist independent economy, and uphold the DPRK's independence and right to be. As one, they work collectively to improve the standard of living of the people, deepen and widen the people's culture, and maintain the nation's dignity.

Michael Chant said that Friends of Korea calls for the working class and people to stand with the people of the DPRK for their right to be, and that the British state and its governments must abandon their hostile anti-democratic, anti-communist policies toward the DPRK in the interests of peace.

He concluded by saying that we wish the DPRK every success in its work to secure peace and prosperity for their nation and to put an end to more than 70 years of US-engineered division, tension and strife on the Korean Peninsula.

The online meeting was conducted in a serious atmosphere, emphasising that just as the people of the DPRK have lived and are living in their own way, so must all attempts to stifle the DPRK's right to be, be opposed by all who love justice.

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