More than 1,000 trade unionists block four Israeli weapons factories

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Activists blockade Eaton Mission Systems in Bournemouth Photo:  Workers for a Free Palestine

FOUR arms factories producing parts for Israeli fighter jets were shut down in protests by more than 1,000 trade unionists today.

Campaigners calling for an end to Britain’s complicity in war crimes being committed in Gaza blockaded sites at Bournemouth, Glasgow, Brighton and Lancashire.

The demonstrations were organised by campaign group Workers for a Free Palestine in co-ordination with workers in France, Denmark and the Netherlands, involving members from trade unions including Unite, Unison, GMB, the NEU, the BMA, UCU, Bectu and BFAWU.

The campaign group said they targeted sites run by defence giant BAE Systems which produces parts for the F-35 stealth combat jet currently being used by Israel to bombard Gaza.

More than 600 blockaded Eaton Mission Systems in Bournemouth alone.

A spokeswoman for Workers for a Free Palestine said: “The fighter jets these factories help to produce are being used to imprison the people of Gaza in a death trap.

“Workers all over Britain are rising up for Palestine, saying we will not allow arms used in a genocide to be supplied in our name and funded by our taxes.

Craig Murray discusses the positive legal obligation to prevent genocide.

Every single state in the world has a positive duty to intervene to prevent the Genocide in Gaza now, not after a court has reached a determination of genocide. This is made crystal clear in para 431 of the International Court of Justice judgment in Bosnia vs Serbia:

This obviously does not mean that the obligation to prevent genocide only comes into being when perpetration of genocide commences ; that would be absurd, since the whole point of the obligation is to prevent, or attempt to prevent, the occurrence of the act. In fact, a State’s obligation to prevent, and the corresponding duty to act, arise at the instant that the State learns of, or should normally have learned of, the existence of a serious risk that genocide will be committed. From that moment onwards, if the State has available to it means likely to have a deterrent effect on those suspected of preparing genocide, or reasonably suspected of harbouring specific intent (dolus specialis), it is under a duty to make such use of these means as the circumstances permit.

This case was specifically on the application of the Genocide Convention. That the ICJ has ruled there is a positive duty on states to act to prevent genocide makes it even more astonishing to me that no state has invoked the Genocide Convention over the blatant genocide being committed by Israel in Gaza.

Continue ReadingMore than 1,000 trade unionists block four Israeli weapons factories

Paul Nowak: The Tories are today back doing what they enjoy most: Attacking unions

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Let’s be clear. These Conservative anti-strike laws are a dog’s dinner – they’re shambolic and unworkable and will frustrate employers, workers and unions alike.

Paul Nowak is the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress

MPs are to consider further draconian restrictions on the right to strike in the form of compulsory minimum service levels during strike action in ambulance service, rail and the border force.

Also in front of the House of Commons is a code of practice that seeks to force unions to act as the employer’s policeman.

In their rush to attack unions, ministers are even attempting to sneak in further anti-union restrictions, including absurd rules on picketing.

Let’s be clear. These Conservative anti-strike laws are a dog’s dinner – they’re shambolic and unworkable and will frustrate employers, workers and unions alike.

Rather than dealing with the problems working people face, the government is trying to tie unions up in more red tape.

And these new laws will stoke tensions between employers and workers, poison industrial relations and drag out disputes.

Regulations for minimum service levels have now been laid in rail, the ambulance service and border security. Ministers are also consulting on rules affecting workers in hospital settings, schools, universities and fire services.

The government has said regulations for the pernicious Strikes Act will be rushed into force by the end of the year.

A massive 1 in 5 workers in Britain – or 5.5 million workers – are at risk of losing their right to strike.

Continue ReadingPaul Nowak: The Tories are today back doing what they enjoy most: Attacking unions

Mick Lynch: ‘Democracy in this country is in a lot of trouble’

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Standing in a sunny Parliament Square surrounded by a colourful mix of trade union flags, Mick Lynch spoke to LFF about the troubling state of democracy in Britain.

The RMT general secretary was a speaker at the emergency protest organised ahead of the final Parliament vote on the anti-strike legislation, Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill.

For Lynch, the anti-strike legislation comes under a broader attempt by the Tory government to clamp down on any kind of opposition, warning that a threat to trade union power is a threat to democracy.

“The government has got an attitude towards anything they don’t agree with, any kind of dissent. It could be politically or more broadly socially, where if they don’t agree with people, they try to ban them,” said Lynch.

“We got these police bills and these counter-demonstration bills where people will be stopped from demonstrating or protesting.

“We saw that during the coronation, one of the most passive pieces of civil disobedience if you like, was banned in effect and people were put in jail for the day.

“They’re trying to clamp down on any dissent, and I think that’s a very troubling state, and it’s time for the British people to wake up to that and see that if trade unions, which are an organic part of life and grow in every society, if they’re not allowed to function properly, democracy in this country is in a lot of trouble.

“We’ve got to make sure that people are out opposing that and we’ve got to make sure that people understand the issues.

Continue ReadingMick Lynch: ‘Democracy in this country is in a lot of trouble’

High Court gives unions green light to challenge government’s anti-strike regulations

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UNIONS will be taking legal action against the government’s strike-buster agency worker regulations after the High Court granted permission for the challenge today. [yesterday]

The judicial review of anti-worker rules has been brought by 11 trade unions, co-ordinated by the TUC, to protect the right to strike.

Reports suggest that the government is considering new ways to undermine industrial action amid a surge in strikes across the country.

The 11 unions — Aslef, BFAWU, FDA, GMB, NEU, NUJ, POA, PCS, RMT, Unite and Usdaw — have taken up the case against the government’s new regulations, which allow agency workers to fill in for striking workers.

The unions argue that the regulations are unlawful as ministers failed to consult unions as required by the Employment Agencies Act and as they violate fundamental trade union rights protected by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Continue ReadingHigh Court gives unions green light to challenge government’s anti-strike regulations

NHS in crisis :: Unpatriotic militants? No, Jeremy Hunt – doctors are just fighting to be able to care for us all.

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Clare Gerada on the strike by junior doctors.


Image of George Osborne asking where is the money to be made in the NHS

Unpatriotic militants? No, Jeremy Hunt – doctors are just fighting to be able to care for us all.

Being a doctor – or any public sector worker – shouldn’t be such a battle. That’s why we must support junior doctors in their planned strikes.

For the last 9 years I have been the medical director of an NHS service providing confidential help to doctors and dentists with mental health problems, seeing a rising number of doctors week on week.

But our patients have changed.

In our early days the ‘typical’ patient was an older male (GP or psychiatrist) with alcohol problems.

Now nearly half of all new patients are under 30 years old. They come to us with depression, anxiety and symptoms akin to posttraumatic stress disorder. Many have worked in the NHS only a few years. They started out bushy tailed and bright eyed, but end up ‘burnt-out’ (a polite euphemism for depression) after only a few years working. Our youngest patients are only a few months qualified and many are in their Foundation years.

Patient after patient talks of feeling betrayed and bewildered by their loss of enthusiasm about a profession that they had strived to enter (often since their early teens). How their desire to care for patients is sapped by every working day. The language they use to describe their work is that of the battlefield. Being on the ‘front-line’, of ‘surviving’ another shift, being ‘at war’ with management. They talk of feeling abandoned by the NHS. Of working intolerable shifts that appear to have been designed by robots with no concept that humans will need to work them. Of having no sustenance – literally and metaphorically – as they try their best to deliver care to patients.

They talk of working in an unforgiving environment – where every error will lead to punishment and where every move is watched and recorded. They describe the fun having gone out of their profession. They say that they cannot see a future any more in medicine.

Hardly surprising therefore that the numbers progressing through training (from the early Foundation Years to the start of specialty training) is reducing. That now nearly half of doctors are not progressing. And that this is against a background of fewer of our brightest entering medicine in the first place.

Our junior doctors are striking for more than pay and conditions – important though these are. Their planned strike is consciously or unconsciously action to shine a light on what is going on within the NHS – to shine a light on the conflict between idealism and industrialization.

Increasing privatisation has changed the relationship doctors have with their patients. Constant reorganisation has fragmented services, and shattered long-standing teams. At a series of NHS listening events I held in 2014, the overwhelming term used by all NHS staff to describe their working environment was ‘Fear’.

The pay of junior doctors has never been good – not when calculated across the hours worked, the responsibilities they have and when compared to their non-medical peers.

But this was part of the compact we all had – we gave our all for our patients and the organisation we worked in gave their all to us – cared for us, nurtured us, trained us.  We also knew that the intolerable hours would end as we climbed the medical career ladder. Now all of this has been fractured.

Instilling ‘fear’ in doctors, teachers, nurses and other public sector workers is deliberate government policy – as explicitly set out by Cameron’s policy guru, Oliver Letwin, in 2011.

The new junior doctor contract will erode not just pay but also the current safety net against exploitative hours of work. Saturdays will be counted the same as week-days (tell their children that when they are off school and wanting to see Mum or Dad). Women and others who take career breaks will be discriminated against. Junior doctors have been forced to look into the abyss and chose between pain today (strike action) or pain tomorrow (agreeing to an unfair and unsafe contract). They are being treated as children rather than the committed adults they are – their please ignored, instead accused by Jeremy Hunt of being ‘extreme’, ‘militants’, and even unpatriotic.

The junior doctors are not alone in their discontent. The nurses who are marching this Saturday, the teachers and social workers, in fact most public sector workers have seen insecurity, exploitation, fear, and subtle discrimination as the backdrop to their working lives.

The junior doctors are fighting for fairness for all of these workers.  They are leading the charge for a restoration of the values that should drive our public services. For a change by those who employ them – ultimately our Government – who have a moral duty to protect those who care for some of the most vulnerable in society.

Without this change, goodwill will disappear forever and with it the glue that binds our public services together. The government must now stop their bullying tactics and accept that something is profoundly wrong the NHS today and act before it is too late.

This article is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.


Continue ReadingNHS in crisis :: Unpatriotic militants? No, Jeremy Hunt – doctors are just fighting to be able to care for us all.