Sunday, 31 August 2008

Ramadan Mubarak to my friends both known and far

In these long summer days I wish you inner peace and strength with your fast.

InshaAllah, this beautiful poem by the master Rumi will guide you through til sunset.

You don't know how hard it's been,
to find you a gift.
Nothing fits.
Why bring gold to the seam, water to the sea?
Every idea of mine seemed like hauling spice to the East.
No good to give you my heart, soul,
you own both already.
So I got you a mirror.
Look at you.
Think of me.


You are more than yourself, my friend, you are the sky and the deep sea.

BBC recruiting for the BNP again

Compare 2 versions of a story about years of racist torment and provocation. First this one by the BBC's Phil Mackie:

Politics Fragments Stoke

As an Asian man from Stoke-on-Trent begins a jail term for killing his British National Party activist neighbour, what impact has the case had on the city?...Mr Brown's death and the subsequent trial have become an important part of British National Party (BNP) campaigning.

The party believes that had the roles in the fatal fight been reversed, Mr Brown would be serving life for murder. Its bloggers rail against a judicial system they say is hamstrung by political correctness and dominated by a middle-class liberal elite.

We've always known that the BBC has a tendency to distort stories of this ilk, but this takes the piss.

BNP leader, Nick Griffin, even attended Mr Brown's funeral.

Mr Griffin told mourners that Mr Brown's family was subjected to a reign of terror by racist neighbours and their gang friends. (emphasis my own) this one:

Racists made life hell by

Years of misery endured by a Pakistani family living next door to British National Party activists were outlined yesterday in the murder trial of a Muslim man accused of stabbing his far-right neighbour to death in the street...

...The accused man's son, Azir Habib Saddique, 24, told police that they had endured a nightmare since buying the property. According to Mr Saddique's statement, which was read to a jury at Stafford Crown Court, the Khans were called “Pakis” and their windows were smashed nearly every other day. There were threats to stab the whole family, Mr Saddique told detectives.

BBC Arabic service to ballot tmrw for strike action

A ballot will go to the members tommorrow over issues of outsourcing, unpaid overtime, compulsory 11.5 hour days and shift patterns.

More news once I speak to my contact in the NUJ (National Union of Journalists).

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Kashmir under indefinite curfew. Watch footage before it's removed from Youtube...Military killings of civilians rife.

The authorities in Indian-administered Kashmir have imposed an indefinite curfew throughout the Kashmir Valley.

But protests by the Muslim majority population have continued...Read about curfew here...

Read Arundhati Roys report here

BBC latest coverage here

These videos have been flagged (by people evidently wanting to hide the truth about what is happening in Kashmir)

Watch these clips before they are deleted from youtube and see the terrible truth behind what is CURRENTLY happening in the valley. These clips are days old only:

These are witness recordings from people in Kashmir (N.B. Viewer discretion advised)

Children attacked by Indian Soldiers:

Protesters brutally beaten:

2 unarmed protesters killed:


Lenin & the Party part II

Why do we need a revolutionary party?

Part I can be found here

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Justice 4 All Cleaners-What next?

Campaign planning meeting-all welcome

*Solidarity with Cleaners * For a Living Wage * Against Deportations

In June SOAS Justice 4Cleaners campaign won the fight for a London Living wage (LLW) for all its cleaners, reflecting similar victories at LSE and Queen Marys. Last weeks planned Tubelines strikes were called off at the 11th hour after successful negotiations demanding the LLW. With Britain on the brink of a recession we see strikes planned across the country and the return of militant campaigning.

Yet massive injustices persist. How do we stop the intimidation tactics that threaten deportation to activist migrant workers? How do we stop the isolation of cleaners in institutions such as universities? How do our various campaigns come together to secure fair pay and working conditions for ALL cleaners in London?

This meeting offers a forum to answer these questions and plan practical action to continue the struggle.

Philip Mambuliya - Chair, RMT cleaners grades, London Underground

Mohammed YellowRMT cleaner, Eurostar

Consuelo Moreno - SOAS Unison steward

Support the cleaners' demands for:

  • Bank holiday and sick pay

  • A Living wage of £7.45, promised by Boris Johnson to SOME cleaners, to be extended to ALL.

  • An end to reduction in service hours

  • and an end to racist immigration policies which are used to intimidate & victimise cleaners

Hosted by SOAS SU with support from RMT cleaners campaign, SOAS UNISON, SOAS UCU and the SOAS Detainee Support Group .

Call Clare on 07958 034 181 for more info

Justice 4 All Cleaners

SOAS ALUMNI and ex-SU Honorary President on hunger strike?

Nobel Peace Prize winner, Ex-Honorary President of SOAS's Students' Union and also SOAS Alumni Dau Aung San Suu Kyi is today reported as being on hunger strike.

Under house arrest for over 13 years, Suu Kyi was elected Honorary President of SOAS Students' Union in 2006. Read more

The System...

...the main pupose of the system is not to solve problems in society; but to solve problems in the system.

No Confidence in Camden PCT-Defend our National Health Service.

Keep Camden’s GPs in the NHS


We the undersigned patients in Camden wish to express our concerns about the future of National Health Service General Practice in this borough.

Government plans threaten to move public funding from local GP practices to private companies who are primarily accountable to shareholders rather than patients.

We have no confidence in the Camden Primary Care Trust to protect NHS services in this area.

Camden PCT has already transferred three surgeries in Camden to United Health, one of the largest US private health insurance companies.

  • Many patients in these surgeries complained they were not consulted.
  • Doctors complained the goal posts were changed during the tendering process making it impossible for GPs to compete against huge private companies.
  • Camden Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee referred the lack of consultation over the decision to put services out to tender to the Secretary of State.

Camden PCT proposes moving a number of GP surgeries into Polyclinics at University College and Royal Free Hospitals. The PCT chairman stated publicly at a meeting on 1 July 2008 there were no plans to privatise Polyclinic services. But documents have been disclosed showing the PCT had discussions with Richard Branson’s Virgin Healthcare inviting them to run Camden’s Polyclinics.

The PCT does not intend consulting over any possible private tendering of GP services.

We all value and depend on our local doctors. We want to be treated by GPs who see us as patients not customers. We urge Camden PCT to halt any further plans for privatisation of GP services and instead to add their voices to those campaigning to ensure our GPs are kept local and in the NHS.


This letter will be sent to NHS London, the Secretary of State for Health and Camden Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee.

Please add signatures to this letter by email to or post to Camden Keep Our NHS Public c/o 194 Levita House, Ossulston St, NW1 1EZ

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Support OCS cleaners at Oval station picket

After the brilliant, vibrant and angry picket line at Eurostar, St Pancras Monday Bank hoiliday just gone a further picket and demonstration is arranged for THIS Friday 29th August.

OCS are corporate sponsors for Oval cricket ground. How can they afford a massive sponsorship bill if they can't afford to pay their cleaners a Living Wage?

RMT will be picketing the international match against South Africa. Meet 9.15am outside Oval underground station. Please forward to all your contacts to ensure big turnout and maximum support for Eurostar cleaners fight for the Living Wage.

Call me on 07958 034 181 for more details or if you cant find us.

Read the report from Monday in Socialist Worker here.

Read about the Tubeline Cleaners here

A London wide organising meeting to discuss where next for ALL the cleaners will be held next week. Please contact me if you want to attend, have anyone who would like to speak or if you want more info.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Public Meeting on The Recession: What does it mean for us?

All welcome to this public meeting at Friends Meeting House, Euston Rd, WC1.

Hosted by People Before Profit

Paul Mason, economics editor of Newsnight, in discussion with...

Graham Turner, GFC economics and author of Credit Crunch

Please call Clare Solomon (me!) on 07958 034 181 for more details

Arrests up at Notting Hill Carnival as police given new search powers

Why was i suprised by the 11,000 police drafted in to Nottinghill Carnival this year?

Getting tough on criminals is a constant refrain of the police and the government. The police announced that the Notting Hill Carnival last weekend would be a "hostile environment" for criminals.

But like every other clampdown on crime, it did little to stop crime but much to add to the climate of alienation and racism felt by young people.

Up by an extra 8,000 from last year, it's no coincidence that arrests were also up given the numbers of pigs and methods employed.

One black professional said how he was stopped and searched no fewer than 5 times. Chief Inspector Jo Edwards said: “The number of arrests is up on last year, but that is predominantly because of proactive policing.” Even early in the day we had witnessed many arrests being made-all of them were young black males. The governments Stop and Search policy is as racist now as it was when first introduced.

(my sons very own 'Stop and Search'
document-apparently hanging around on the
South Bank with brown-ish skin means
you are likely to be 'causing trouble')

Violence broke out in the final 30minutes over the police's heavy-handed approach to closing down the music. Around 40 angry revellers pelted the pigs with bottles and other missiles hitting one in the face and grounding another. One witness said "it was a full-scale riot. Bottles were flying everywhere. The mob weren't scared, they were running towards the police chanting 'one, two, three' and charging at reminded me of the Brixton riots'.

Read Carnival crackdown hits young black men

Amongst the usual tables and stalls selling food, drink, souvenirs etc there were a few with a distinctly political message. Our Socialist Worker table, covered in anti-BNP and #1 Terrorist posters was well received. The odd person moaned at us to 'take a day off will ya-this is supposed to be a festival'...the fact that Nottinghill carnival has for over 30 years, had a strong anti-racist message, had clearly passed them by.

The photo on the right shows an impromptu stunt we helped organise using police barricades with campaigners for Binyam Mohammed

Monday, 25 August 2008

Eurostar cleaners strike. "Pay London Living Wage-show us dignity"

I have never been up early enough to catch the sunrise unless i haven't been to sleep from the night before. But 5am yesterday morning I attended my first crack 'o' dawn picket line. Around 30 cleaners from OCS were on strike over pay and conditions.

"Good Pay, Good Cleaning" was the favourite chant of the morning.

At present the cleaners are paid a basic rate of £6.37 per hour. They get NO sick pay, no bank holiday pay not even extra pay for night shifts. They never get a pay rise either, no matter how long they have worked for the company.

OCS is the private cleaning contractor paid £6million to keep the London-Paris 400m long highspeed train clean. With no cleaners available the company will receive massive fines.

Being in the middle of the chants, whistles, banging, dancing and singing was a brilliant experience in itself. The cleaners, who come from all over the world, came together to fight for a single cause-fair pay, fair treatment, dignity and respect.

As we picketed we received news from the other depot in Leyton that the engineers had refused to cross the picket line.

We encountered all the usual arguments from toffy nosed prats who said stuff like 'i really don't care', or 'I dont get holiday pay either', not realising that being paid £100 per hour self-employed or as boss of a company is not the same as being paid £5.52 ph with no sick pay, bank holiday pay, night shift allounace or even getting a measley annual payrise no matter how long you have worked for the company.

The grandson of the owner of OCS, who is obviously a managers, was twitching with annoyance. He said the cleaners should have accepted the deal they offerd them on Friday of £6.50 per hour. No mention of all the other demands.

SOAS Justice for Cleaners campaign and Eurostar cleaners are now arranging a joint meeting to discuss the way forward. And in October SOAS will be hosting a party to bring together cleaners and activists for a night of music, food and dancing. Please contact me for more details.

On a side note, the British Transport Police who were drafted in to make sure we didnt overstep the mark were unusually supportive. One of them was telling me how after only 10 years in the 'service' (!) he hated being on his side of the picket. And cant wait to retire in a years time. He complained about how the police are now target driven so when, for example, he used to be able to let people off for minor offences such as 'pissing up a wall', now they have to have 5 arrests or bookings per day.

Trotsky Tango anyone?

for my favourite camarada milonguera...

Consuelo Luz - Los Biblicos(the Nightingales)

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Olympics Hypocrisy

For idealists, the Olympics are about men and women at the peak of their physical fitness competing in their specialised field, representing their respective countries.

For the realist, it is political, a war, a battle by another means. Countries face each other in the ring, pool and track fighting to top the medal table; America and China always near the top.

The 2008 Olympic games, held in China have presented an opportunity for the western media to focus and scrutinise Chinas human rights record, one party state and anything else the ‘West’ frowns upon.Before the games began, the Western media were suggesting political leader’s boycott the games because of Chinas Human rights abuses and failure to pressure Sudan to act on the Darfur crisis.

Free Gaza boats arrive in Gaza

BubbleShare: Share photos - Create and Share Crafts

AZA (23 August 2008) - Two small boats, the SS Free Gaza and the SS Liberty, successfully landed in Gaza early this evening, breaking the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The boats were crewed by a determined group of international human rights workers from the Free Gaza Movement. They had spent two years organizing the effort, raising money by giving small presentations at churches, mosques, synagogues, and in the homes of family, friends, and supporters.

About 2,000 residents came out to greet them at the small seaport near Gaza City. Many were singing, while others swam or set out in fishing vessels to meet the boats.

Israel had told the activists to keep their boats away but ultimately decided to allow them to land, apparently to prevent a potentially more damaging public relations drama.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

SOAS home grown band, Portico Quartet, nominated for Mercury Award

Our boys have been awarded for a Mecury award (link to BBC). Good luck guys. After all those long days playing in the rain on the Southbank, and all the free concerts you gave at SOAS and around London, you deserve it.

See their Myspace page for all their songs:

This is not the best sound quality but it has, in the background, our lovely 'War Is Not Our Language' banner which we made in the main courtyard. Written in 47 languages including 3 different scripts from Afghanistan-only at SOAS! Typically, I lost this beautiful banner in a post-demo pub :-(

Short clip of one of my favourites:

Knee deep in the North Sea live:

Troopers in the rain:

Friday, 22 August 2008

The Making of Grassroots Politics & Power in Argentina

In Search of Alternatives: The Making of Grassroots Politics and Power in Argentina
Bulletin of Latin American Research, Vol. 27, No. 3, pp. 368–387, 2008

(Comrade) HEIKE SCHAUMBERG University of Manchester, Manchester

TThe regional panorama since the 2001 uprising offers an interesting
background scenario. Huge popular mobilisations swept a left-wing coalition into government in Uruguay in 2004. The indigenous movement leader, Evo Morales, emerged as elected president and partially renationalised Bolivia’s gas reserves. Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez offers consistent defiance to US hegemony, benefiting from high oil prices, important oil deals with China, hungry to feed its own unprecedented economic growth, and a US absorbed in her Middle Eastern military campaigns. Despite some ongoing regional antagonisms, Chavez’s economic and political strategies helped to generate an extraordinary
show of regional unity at the July 2006 Mercosur summit, announcing the death of the Cuba embargo and the birth of a ‘new united Latin America’ ( Annonymous, 2006 ).

These are unpredictable times for the region, but it is clear that a key
facet of the contemporary struggles is that they counter the powerlessness and atomisation of neoliberal society and project the re-making of collective power and politics ‘from below’. With the persistent nature of subaltern struggles, the rise in labour militancy and the electoral move to the Left, Latin America today continues to constitute the ‘weakest link’ in the global neoliberal chain, where subaltern movements condition their governments’ agendas, as the search
for viable alternatives intensifies.

This article analyses ethnographically the reconfigurations of the state and relations of power through their dynamic interactions with subal-tern alternatives that emerged in the 2001 uprising in Argentina. In this regard, it counters influential interpretations of these events articulated within John Holloway’s framework of ‘anti-power’, which ignores the reconstruction of the state, and rank and file trade unionism. The article concludes that intensified class and political struggles in the region offer new spaces for contesting hegemonic reinventions of populism and‘top-down’ socialism in Latin America. Keywords : class , neoliberalism , politics , power , resistance , state . Introduction Subaltern responses to neoliberal crisis in Argentina included the Piqueteros, a militant movement of the unemployed demanding ‘genuine work’ and social assistance, es-craches, 1asambleas populares [neighbourhood assemblies] demanding collective ‘self-government’, and workers seizing the means of production...

More will be posted through Google pages once i work out how to do it!
Email me at for a copy because i cant work out how to use Google pages widget.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Lenin & the Party-Tony Cliff part 1

Excellent animated video recording of Tony Cliff, the founding member of SWP from notthe BBC

Why do we need a revolutionary party? Marx said "the emancipation of the working class is the act of the working class". But, at the same time, there exists a contradiction. That is: the ruling ideas are in society are the ideas of the ruling class.

How do we overcome these contradictions? Who are strikers fighting against? What can and should revolutionaries do to intervene?

Join the protest, bring the troops home - Manchester 20 September

Central London Coach leaving Euston Station, 7am, Eversholt St coach layby. Second pick-up point in North London.

Call Rachel Page on 07780 626 511 for more details or to book a seat. Tickets are going fast. Please also call us to help with arrangements. Start takiin deposits from work mates. Make sure your workplace affiliations to Stop the War are up-to-date and book places for the whole team!! Central London coach is always fun and i will try to bring a breakfast picnic. Feel free to bring share-able goodies too!

Stop the War Coalition - A message from Tony Benn

War in the Caucasus has highlighted the growing danger of war spreading. Seven years after the start of the war on terror, occupation continues to bring misery to Iraq and Afghanistan but the consequences of the war are spreading. US policy of expanding Nato eastwards has been an important feature of the conflict between Russia and Georgia, as has the west’s desire to control the oil and other natural resources of the region.

The British government continues its uncritical support for George Bush, with foreign minister David Miliband echoing Bush’s claim that invading other people’s countries is not acceptable n the 21st century.

Their hypocrisy is staggering. The war on terror has been a failure, and the majority of people in Britain want the British troops out of both countries. Their view is matched by the majority of citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan, where high levels of violence, deaths, refugees and lack of basic facilities are all part of everyday life for millions. Despite all this, the US is stepping up its threats against Iran. When he came to office, Gordon Brown promised to plan troop withdrawal from Iraq. He has reneged on that promise. We are demonstrating in Manchester to make clear we want to stop the war spreading and we want all the troops home now.
We urge you to join us.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Migrant workers: why were two tube cleaners deported?

London Underground cleaners have been fighting for decent pay and conditions for many months. Now some have been targeted by immigration police and deported to their “home countries” - even where these are recognised as unsafe (Pic: » Guy Smallman)

by Matthew Cookson
Pic: Guy Smallman

Thursday 3 July was no ordinary day for the mainly migrant workers at the contractors that supply cleaning services to London Underground.

The workers’ RMT union had called a strike against the cleaners’ pitiful wages and poor conditions, and everyone knew that this would be an important battle.

But for three cleaners who reported to the offices of their GBM Services employer only to find a squad of immigration officers laying in wait for them, it was to be a day of humiliation, rather than protest.

The three men – from Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Congo – did vital work to keep the capital running smoothly, but all have been treated like criminals whose very identities are being kept a closely guarded secret.

Each was interviewed then taken into custody.

Two of them have already been removed from Britain. The other is waiting to be deported.

Now campaigners are demanding to know what has happened to the three since their arrest, and whether the company had asked them to report to work at a specific time knowing that immigration officers were awaiting them.

London Underground cleaners have been fighting for decent pay and conditions for many months. Now some have been targeted by immigration police and deported to their “home countries” - even where these are recognised as unsafe
© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place

Tubelines Strikes postponed to be put to referendum

Let’s start by congratulating the cleaners—and the RMT which has stood by them.

Through their courage and defiance, the cleaners have humbled giant multinational firms who make their money by paying poverty wages and intimidating workers who stand against them.

The cleaners faced huge odds, but in a few months they will have won the London living wage (£7.50 an hour) across the network.

That’s a historic achievement. Of course there are still issues over sick pay and holidays and the way people can be sacked without going through the proper procedures. And there is the sickening use of immigration laws to deport, intimidate and harass workers.

Campaigns have to continue over these issues. But none of that takes away from what the cleaners have achieved.

The companies crumbled once it was clear there would be coordinated action on the Tubes. They feared the power of workers united.

But the cheers for the cleaners can’t extend to the Tube Lines deal. The new offer is 4.99 percent in year one, and the inflation rate as defined under the retail price index (RPI) plus .85 percent in year two. That’s at the top end of what’s been offered in Britain at the moment. And there are also some other concessions which will help some of our lowest paid members.

But let’s also remember that the original offer was 4.95 percent in year one, and RPI plus .75 percent in year two. So the improvement for the big majority is just .14 percent over two years, compared to the previous offer.

The company will increase travel subsidy from home to place of work from 80 to 90 per cent from April 2009. But there’s nothing on pension improvements—which is a big issue for many.
The limitations of the deal were the reason it only went through the Tube Lines negotiation committee by three to two.

For all their bluster, the bosses were panicking. If the Tube Lines strike had gone ahead it could have won a lot more.

It was absolutely right to coordinate the action. It should not be thrown away lightly. When the bosses are down we should kick them hard! It’s not too late to get more.

Tube Lines members should vote against the deal in the referendum and continue to build for coordinated action. This isn’t just a Tube matter. A victory for the RMT across the grades would echo through the union movement.

Cleaners on the Eurostar will strike on Bank Holiday Monday, 25 August, after a 100 percent ballot vote for action! At present they get just £6.37 an hour, however long they have worked for the company and whether they do nights or days. This strike deserves all our support.

Charlie Kimber

This evening the RMT (Rail Maritime and Transport) union negotiating committee voted 3 to 2 in favour of accepting a pay rise of 4.99%. The RMT NEC's recommendendation will be to accept this offer and this will be put to referenda next week. If rank and file members reject the offer strikes will resume Sept 1st. This is a mere 0.14 % the opening demands. We need to question why the union bureaucrats capitulated to such a low offer at the last hour.

ASLEF, the other main tube workers union has been criticised for selling out putting both staff and customers safety in jeopardy. If strikes had gone ahead, the Emergency Response Unit would have also been on the picket lines. The Fire Brigades Union, in solidarity, had said they would not respond to emergencies...

Last night (Monday) Metronet, another private maintenance company, have agreed to pay the London living wage to all it's staff from 1st Sept, and GMB will pay from 25th August. ISS, another MNC in control of other cleaning contracts put forward a deal for an extra 60p as of 1st Sept, another 60p from 1st Jan and a further 60p as of 1st April 2009.

To many people to win payrises like this, some amounting to 30%, is a major victory and we applaud the gains these campaigns have achieved. However, these offers fall far short of the mark. Not least because the proposed strikes on London underground would have had the power to bring London to a halt. But also because many of the important demands will not be won without collective industrial action.

To be completed tmrw...

*Eurostar cleaners vote 100% for strike action
*travel fares
*arrests over immigration papers-National Insurance tax numbers only became an issue when workers spoke out
*agents of government called to arrest non-NI workers now been deported and another facing deportation
*sexist sackings
*ACS negotiations-wont settle for anything less the London Living Wage-2 yr campaign although they have no power over TubeLines.

Need to fight for equality of ALL conditions for ALL workers

At tonights rally called by the trade union RMT, we heard from Bob Crow, Gen Sec of RMT and a host of reps.

more tmrw-too tired...


Thanks Comrade Ady for this brilliant video of Martin thrashing out the political arguments of flag waving patriotism

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Justice for Tube Cleaners-Tell the Bosses to Clean Up Their Act

The work that our cleaners do is essential to London and we want to show that it is about time they saw some of the billions of pounds that are made in this city every day.

Public Rally with speakers from all the disputes

Thursday 21 August, 1pm
Southwark Cathedral Gardens
(if raining, under the arches at Railway Approach-London Bridge Station)

Bring props from home such as mops, scrubbing brushes, buckets, vacuum cleaners etc. Aim to be as visible as possible.

Make T-shirts and placards bearing the above slogans of the campaign

This week London is facing a wave of strikes by London underground workers. In addition to track and maintenance workers, RMT cleaners, who are employed on private contracts by multinationals like ISS and GBM are also fighting for justice. Since the introduction of the PPP scheme, and the privatising of cleaning services, these companies make MILLIONS of pounds profit while the cleaners, some of the lowest paid people on the tube, are even worse off than before. Some are paid just £5.50 per hour!

We want to show the bosses that the cleaners are not fighting alone

United we Stand: Divided we Fall.

As usual media coverage of these strikes has been one-sided: we need the public to know the real reasons why the cleaners are on strike and why we stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with them, along with staff employed by Tube Lines and Eurostar, victimised individuals, and all the other workers who are striking this week.

Support the cleaners’ demands for:

· Bank holiday and sick pay
· A Living wage of £7.45, promised by Boris Johnson to SOME cleaners, to be extended to ALL.
· An end to reduction in service hours
· and an end to racist immigration policies which are used to intimidate & victimise cleaners

Contact Clare Solomon on 07958 034 181 or Robin Sivapalan on 07974 331 053 for more details.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Racism in the Student Movement

From Black Students Campaign on Ednet.
At an NUS training event this week, Chris Mullan, President of Kings College London Students Union questioned encouraging more students from the local Black community to attend a university, as he thought the presence of such students would increase gun and knife crime and so require more security. He then went on to say that there should be thought put into whether they want such 'undesirables' at the university. In the same session another student officer, Craig Cox, Education Officer of the University of Nottingham, thought it would be funny to hold up a poster saying 'BRING BACK SLAVERY'!

It is unacceptable that Black students should have to put up with blatant racist stereotypes at NUS events. It is unacceptable that slavery can be treated as a joke; it is one of the greatest crimes in human history and the root cause of modern racism that has left us with a legacy that continues to mar the lives of Black people today.

Furthermore, it is unacceptable that nothing was done about this by the NUS NEC present, and it was only when the Black Students Officer was involved that action was taken. This only happened because a distressed Black Student who felt it hadn't been dealt with immediately contacted me. I advised her that the offending students must be made to leave as they had contravened the NUS Equal Opportunities policy. This whole process took nearly 3 hours, and included me having to contact the NUS President again. Some Black students were so upset that they left and others intend to boycott future NUS events. I urged them to stay – no Black Students should ever feel so ostracized and insulted by comments and actions that they should have to leave an event. Incidents of racism should be dealt with immediately.

Last term Black students were enraged to hear that the NUS VP Welfare had been told by a member of the NUS NEC that her brother's name was 'too foreign sounding' to be used in promotional materials for the NUS discount card. The National President expressed regret for these comments and his own failure to challenge them at the time. And yet on Thursday, no action was taken until a series of complaints, including my own, were made. This is simply not good enough!

Unfortunately this is not the first time that the needs and concerns of Black students have been ignored. I have already called on the National Secretary and President to ensure that Muslim students are not excluded from training following an event earlier in the summer, where practising Muslim students were forced to eat their dinner behind a screen, separated from other delegates, as a non-alcoholic venue had not been provided. One Muslim student accidentally ate a dessert unaware that it contained alcohol. At NUS 'Liberation' training I was told by the National Secretary that no action could be taken against a student advocating support for the fascist BNP because the NUS 'no platform' policy did not apply to training events! Only when I insisted he leave, was any action taken on this. What do we have to say or do before the needs of Black students are addressed?

These incidents send out an alarming message to Black students and are part of a wider culture where our needs are sidelined. Following the offensive comments regarding the discount card last term, NUS agreed to demands from the Black Students' Campaign for compulsory equality training to be given to NEC members. We have now been in office for nearly two months and it is only now that this is being arranged. Black students have had to fight for years for proper representation in NUS. But clearly we still have a long way to go. It is not good enough for officers of NUS to pay lip service to anti-racism while they pander to racism in practice.

The NUS Black Students Campaign will to continue to fight every manifestation of racism in society, in our colleges and universities, our students' unions and in NUS. We are not taking these incidents lightly. Discrimination requires immediate action. I encourage all Black students to get active in the Campaign and all those genuinely committed to driving back racism to join us in this fight.

I urge you to join us in calling for the following :
1. Support for Black students to holding officers to account Sabbatical Officers who make racist comments.
2. All NUS events to have a clear statement against racism made clear to all participants.
3. Compulsory Equality training for NEC - including how to deal with incidents of racism amongst NUS members and officers - for this to be an a part of the induction for all new members of the NEC.
4. Equality training at sabbatical training events.
5. Call on the National Secretary and President to ensure that no event is organised to the exclusion of Muslim students, as happened earlier this summer with a training event.
6. All students to join our campaign for 3 minutes silence to remember the brutal legacy of slavery and colonialism.

Septuplets in Egypt receive an initial good bill of health-alhamdulillah

Tarek Fawzy/Associated PressNurses tended to the newborns - four boys and three girls - at the El-Shatbi Hospital in Alexandria, Egypt, yesterday. The septuplets were delivered by caesarean section. (Tarek Fawzy/Associated Press)

CAIRO - A 27-year-old Egyptian woman gave birth to septuplets early yesterday in the coastal city of Alexandria, family members and the hospital director said.

Ghazala Khamis was in good condition after a blood transfusion during her caesarean section because of bleeding, said Emad Darwish, director of the El-Shatbi Hospital where she gave birth.

The newborns, four boys and three girls, weigh between 3.2 pounds and 6.17 pounds and are in stable condition, Darwish said. They have been placed in incubators in four hospitals that have special premature baby units, he said.

"This is a very rare pregnancy - something I have never witnessed over my past 33 years in this profession," Darwish said by phone from the hospital. Darwish carried out the caesarean section at the end of Khamis's eighth month of pregnancy because of the pressure on her kidneys.

He said Khamis, who has three other daughters, took fertility drugs in an effort to have a son.
Khamis, the wife of a farmer in the northern Egyptian province of Beheira, was admitted to the hospital two months earlier, Darwish said. "From the initial checkup, I say that none of the babies have any sort of deformities or incomplete organs," he said.

In a separate report of multiple births, doctors in southern Iraq said yesterday that a woman gave birth to sextuplets, but two of them died because the hospital lacked the equipment to keep them alive. "Two of the children died because of problems breathing," said Dr Ali al-Jabiri, who is in charge of premature infants at Al-Habboubi Hospital in Nassiriya, Iraq.

Khamis Khamis, the brother of the Egyptian woman who delivered septuplets, said his sister was trying to conceive more children so she could have a son, but her relatives were astonished when they found out that she would give birth to multiple babies.

Egypt's health minister said the babies will get free milk and diapers for two years, Khamis Khamis said.

© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Wildcat strikes in NZ/Aotearoa-report and pics here now

Cash from Chaos- Casino Crippled!

This weekend, Socialist Aotearoa activists in the Unite Union joined organisers and comrades walking the floor of Auckland's Skycity Casino, calling out random gambling tables on strike in a guerrilla campaign of chaos. Over one thousand Skycity workers are members of Unite, and a further 300 are with the SFWU. The casino at Auckland's heart makes millions of dollars profits every year, and for every winner, generates hundreds of losers, creating misery and poverty for thousands of working class gambling addicts. Its ruthless management cares little about this, and even less for its staff, who it offers the minimum wage.

The chips are down

The hypnotic lights and chimes of the main gambling floor were punctured by the bellow of Unite President, Matt McCarten, who called out random tables on strike, and gave management only minutes to close the table and secure their chips. The guerrilla strikes ensure maximum disruption to management schedules and planning- they never know which game or table will be disrupted, and thus have to hire more workers or keep tables in reserve. The actions are leading to a further campaign of disruption in surveillance, security, catering and entertainment- if there is no cash for workers, then there will be chaos for bosses. And union membership is increasing as a result!

The battle with Skycity management is now on-anyone who wants to volunteer their help or lend their solidarity to the picket lines, please contact Unite Organiser Tom Buckley at 029 4455 703

Posted by Joseph at 8:26 PM Aotearoa/NZ time

Saturday, 16 August 2008

People before Profit stunt at Eurostar.

Just after lunch on Friday 15 August ten comrades armed with props, banners and leaflets descended upon the entrance of Eurostar terminal at St Pancras to protest about the treatment of its' cleaners. Eurostar cleaners get just £6.37 an hour even if they work nights and for however long they have worked for the contractor, OCS, with no pay rises EVER. They are not entitled to sick pay for the first three days and do not get the statutory bank holiday pay. Like the Tube cleaners they are demanding dignity at work and proper rights.
We put on a small visual stunt to show the Eurostar bosses that we will stand by the cleaners in their struggles. What ensued slightly freaked us out!

St Pancras station, once publicly owned, is now private property belonging to Eurostar so we knew we wouldn't have long before the police turfed us off. A comrade donned a fat cat outfit complete with greedypig mask and we gathered behind the People Before Profit banner for a speedy group photo. We then began to quickly hand out leaflets to unsuspecting staff and customers, particularly targeting people with luggage. The reception was very warm and immediately other St Pancras staff, security, cafe and shop workers took notice of what we were doing and came out to give us their full support.

A few Eurostar staff came over to us from the other side of the barriers, grabbed a stack of leaflets and took them back through the barriers. We could see them surreptitiously handing them out to all the staff within the Eurostar offices. They then re-approached us, gave us their phone numbers and expressed their gratitude that we are taking up these issues The were very angry about the treatment the cleaners receive and continued to describe how all the staff are also treated appallingly. They are looking forward to coming out on strike with other RMT members on Wednesday, and they will also be attending the rally on Tuesday.

A couple of Community Support Officers (the lesser paid plastic police with bugger all power but who generally strut around as if they do) walked slowly towards us. We tried to ignore them but we could not help noticing them staring at the banner; they smiled, nodded in agreement then went on their merry way leaving us to carry on-which we did in total bewilderment.

The goodwill continued to flow: Carole Vincent (infamous Big Brother contestant) got into friendly banter, as usual, another member: he said he was a fan of hers and had wanted her to win BB-he was only too pleased to he had talked to the police because he totally agreed with the cause and wanted us to continue.

In the end, after a full 50 or so minutes (bearing in mind that we had prepared to be removed within 2 minutes) and after running out of leaflets we gathered our kit, wished everyone solidarity for the impending strike actions and bid our farewells. We left with a resounding feeling of confidence that next weeks strikes are going to be lively, angry and no doubt will impact in a big way.

We send a clear message to the government and the big bosses that we will not stand for further cuts and demand the reinstatement of the most basic rights that should be afforded to every human being.

What can i say: It's been emotional...

Clare Solomon

Read more about the People Before Profit charter

Read more about the industrial battles on London transport scheduled for next week

Videos from Stop the War meeting on "Georgia, Nato and the Spread of War"

Lenin has kindly uploaded Ady's youtube videos.

These are our streets

A shopping centre manager and security staff attacked the longstanding Socialist Worker stall in Wood Green, north London two weekends ago. This is the latest incident in a long battle for socialists and community activists to run stalls down a high street that the shopping centre increasingly claims as its property.

Police arrested the manager for criminal damage to our stall. This is not a regular occurrence. The manager was bundled into a police car to the applause of a large crowd who had gathered in the street to protest against his actions.

The damage to our materials included the destruction of an aluminium table and the ripping up of our newspapers and books.

It is important that street campaigners know the law and use it where they can. Whether a pavement is owned by a private company or not, people have a right to campaign and sell registered newspapers on all public rights of way.

The response from passers-by to the incident was fantastic. Many of them stood around for over an hour to shout at the manager and security staff that the pavement was not theirs and that we had a right to be there.

We had been petitioning against rising gas prices and demanding the renationalisation of British Gas. It seemed that this issue was linked in the minds of the public who supported us against the attack with their increasing concerns over the privatisation of public space.

When private corporations begin trying to claim that something as public as a pavement is now private property, they can arouse anger among people who may previously have had little sense of politicisation.

We know it and the public know it – the streets are ours, and the corporations can expect a long and bitter battle if they attempt to take them away from us.

We will continue to return to the same pitch to sell Socialist Worker and agitate for a society in which greedy capitalists own nothing.

Adam Lambert, North London

Friday, 15 August 2008

Israel Kamakawiwo'ole - Somewhere over the Rainbow HQ

Mashalla - a professionally recorded version here but doesn't have the same lovely video.

Ghurabaa-alienated strangers

And from an Egyptian prison sung straight from the heart...

"This is a video clip that shows "Ikhwanul Muslimeen" prisoners in Egypt during the time when Syed Qutb was in jail. In the video the prisoners are in a jail cell and have been sentenced to death. And one of the prisoner starts to recite a poetry known as "Ghurabaa"(Strangers). Subhanallah, it is not dificult to feel their pain..."

Thursday, 14 August 2008

"Apartheid" Wall at SOAS graduation

SOAS Graduation is an event that, despite its semi-formality, brings together students (or, in the words of the neo-libs; learners), parents, academics, honorary degree awardees, support staff and generally any other friends of SOAS graduates.

This year, however, SOAS management has brought shame on itself and on the reputation of the school.

This year saw an unprecedented degree of segregation. So much so that even those affected by the event were so dumbfounded that they could not think clearly as to how to deal with this issue. This year the school operated what has been described by those who experienced it as "Apartheid".

Every year, after the official graduation ceremony, everyone converges onto the main SOAS grass; into and surrounding a marquee to enjoy an afternoon of great SOAS music and company, and (crap Sodexho) food and drink.

This year, unbeknown to the majority of us, the 'event organiser' organised 3 separate areas. In the marquee students, parents and Students' Union staff and officers ate, danced and drank like every other year. There was also small a number of support staff. We didn't even notice that the management and 'VIP' guests were not there.

They were secretly entertained in the Brunei suite. Upon entry management, staff and guests were ushered into one of two clearly signposted areas: Academics and VIP to the left; AV staff and other helpers to the right. These two areas were divided by a full length temporary screen. On the VIP side a full buffet was offered complete with top level champagne and strawberries and cream. The 'rest' were provided with a packed lunch in a paper bag with paper cups. A large poster on the wall informed the 'helpers' that if they should require strawberries and cream, that they were not to enter the VIP side but instead to go to the marquee with the students.

It doesn't take a genius to imagine what happened-there was a very clear and visible divide between the white elite on one side and majority black and minority ethic workers on the other. The 'helpers', who are some of the most low paid workers in th school and who already face discrimination in a number, and all the usual, ways, were absolutely appalled and embarrassed by this segregation.

SOAS is a prestigious institution with a world-class reputation for both it's regional focus and its critical engagement with international relations of power and dominance. Those of us who work or have chosen to study at the school are rightly proud of that reputation. But we also believe that the school should practice what it preaches and not build its reputation on practices that contribute to the problems in society which for the focus of the research of so many of us. We believe that the school should ensure that all those employed on the campus deserve the same dignity and respect afforded to the most senoir of staff.

"Staff - SOAS's staff are its most valuable resource and will play a vital role in achieving the School's vision. SOAS aims to provide all staff with a positive working environment, and proper levels of recognition and reward." (SOAS 2016: A Vision and Strategy for the Centennial, p13)

It is hard to equate the above statement with the treatment suffered by some of the lowest paid workers in the school.

We (the Students' Union) have been approached to start a campaign to ensure this never happens again: we have also been asked to threaten to host our own parallel graduation ceremony next year should this disgusting practice be repeated .

SOAS-the School of Oriental(ist) and African Studies-has also earned its reputation for being a place which has it's own unique community. This community spirit, as lauded by both the Students' Union and then echoed by the director in their speeches at this years ceremony, does not happen magically. It is a product of many years of fighting to break down the barriers between us and them. Through the struggle, through solidarity, through lively and visible campaigns the Students' Union, along with the other unions, have fought to bring about a atmosphere of inclusivity.

For the last 2 years the SU officers contacted all the staff members to remind them that they, as honorary members of the SU, are welcome and encouraged to attend society meetings, events and parties. Collectively, we have co-hosted parties as part of the successful campaign for a Living Wage for the cleaners, we have academics in societies such as the Boxing club, Stop the War and the World Music Choir, we go on a whole host of demonstrations and strike action together. We are regularly approached by members of staff to help fight against injustices that take place at SOAS.

Who on earth thought that organising the graduation ceremony in this degrading manner wouldn't go unnoticed? It has come to our attention that this year the school employed an expensive external consultant 'Events Coordinator'. A job that is usually carried out by permanent members of the registry, who do a sterling job despite the pressure they face from being underfunded and with little support.

We understand that the main person in the registry has left the school, but we don't understand why, even if it was absolutely necessary to bring in outside people, the management did not veto the decision to divide up our wonderful community at a time so important as graduation.

Well, actually, we do understand. And this is the problem...

Part ii soon...Universities in a Neo-Liberal World.

Oppose Neo-Nazi march through Berlin immigrant district on 23rd August 2008 ...نحن نصفق عاليا وفرحين بقرار بناء اول معبد هندي في برلين

The Neo-Nazis have announced that they will march on 23rd August to protest at the proposed building of a Hindu Temple in Berlin. They have decided to march through the largest immigrant district of Berlin (Neukoelln) ending at the proposed site as they believe that "symbols" of this nature attack 'German' culture.

Curiously this ignores the fact that the swastika is an ancient hindu symbol which was hijacked by the Nazi Party as its' official emblem. It's ironic that the neo-nazis themselves don't see this 'foreign symbol' as an attack on their fragile identity and may even use it during the march.

We stand in opposition to the objectives and attitudes of this march and stand in solidarity with the immigrant communities of Berlin. We seek to take action to minimise the negative impacts of this march.

نحن نصفق عاليا وفرحين بقرار بناء اول معبد هندي في برلين.
نحن فرحين ان برلين اصبحت متعددت العرقيات, وخاصتة في ضوء تاريخ المدينة في العهد النازي.
نحن نتطلع الى الوقت الذي يصبح فيه كل المواطني برلين يعيشون في سلام و مساواه.

There'll be more information shortly on what you can do to prevent this from taking place there. At this stage, we need both local and international solidarity and:

1: press contacts (international)
2: Individuals to distribute flyers in Berlin
3: people to write to and email the Berliner senate and police department or other local contacts (details either on the wall below or to follow) Sign the petition at the German Embassy here:
4: additional strategy advice/other support
5 German lawyers who know about the law relating to marches

Please get in touch at

Please also write to Chancellor Angela Merkell and the Mayor of Berlin

Mayor of Berlin: Klaus Wowereit

Der Regierende Bürger-
meister von Berlin
- Senatskanzlei -
Rathausstr. 15
10178 Berlin
German Chancellor: Angela Merkel
Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel
Willy-Brandt-Straße 1
10557 Berlin
German Embassies in US:
German Ambassador to UK
Minister Plenipotentiary Dr. Eckhard Lübkemeier,
London Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany
23 Belgrave Square
London SW1X 8PZ

Tel. 020 7824 1300
Fax. 020 7824 1449 They have a form on the website but bureaucrats HAVE to
do something with a real piece of paper!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Legal drugs for the masses taken sitting/lying down, with the lights and brain activity switched off. Ensure to take entire dose (the last 30 secs are probably the best).

Not the most political lyrics in the world but, what the heck, we all need to switch offf sometimes.

Enjoy Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians - Air of December


Public meeting-all welcome

Friends Meeting House (Small Hall), Euston Road, London
Date: Thursday 14 August, 2008
Time: 6.30 pm


MARK ALMOND, lecturer in History, Oxford University and expert on the Caucasus

KATE HUDSON, Chair of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament

BORIS KAGARLITSKI, former director Institute of Globalisation Studies, Moscow
and author of, 'Empire of the Periphery: Russia and the World System'

JOHN REES, Officer of Stop the War Coalition and author of 'Imperialism and Resistance'

The outbreak of war in Georgia is already a disaster for the people of the region. It risks being turned into a still broader problem by Dick Cheney's threats. The conflict is in large measure the product of George Bush's policy of US global hegemony, in the Caucasus as in the Middle East. Attempts to extend NATO eastwards, specifically incorporating Georgia, directly challenge Russian interests.

Please come to the meeting to discuss this latest flashpoint in an increasingly dangerous world and forward this message to your contacts.

You can read Mark Almonds analysis here:

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Fuck the Government-Someone Blow up Parliament

Oh, the joy of watching your son turn from a good young boy into a rebel. A couple of months ago he swore in front of me for the first time; 'Fuck the Government', he said.

I feel so proud.

Release prisoners of conscience now! Birzeit R2E campaign

Release prisoners of conscience now!

Right to Education Campaign, Birzeit University, 1 July 2008

On Sunday 25th November 2007, the president of Birzeit University's Student Council, Fadi Hamad, was arrested by Israeli military Special Forces while travelling on the road between the al-Jalazoon refugee camp and the city of Ramallah in the occupied Palestinian territories. Eyewitnesses reported that the car carrying Fadi was suddenly ambushed in what seemed like a premeditated operation.

As a student leader, Fadi represented the interests of some 7,000 students before the university administration, and was responsible for welfare programmes for students, providing them with sports and cultural activities as well as help with registration, paying fees, their studies.

Since 1967, the Israeli army has passed military orders outlawing all student societies which promote Palestinian nationalist ideas or parties, including Fatah, despite the fact that Israel officially negotiates with all such political parties at different moments in time. In this way, the army can 'legally' detain any student leader simply on the grounds of his or her political affiliation and in practice, persecute certain political opinions over others thus aggravating political tensions in Palestinian society at any given moment.

Read more here

PLEASE WRITE to your government representatives asking them to raise questions in Parliament or Congress, and to put pressure on the Israeli government to release student prisoners of conscience and to respect their rights to freedom of association, thought and liberty - ultimately, calling on Israel to respect the right to education of Palestinian students.

* Click here to read the UN definition of Human Rights Defenders, and here to view the General Assembly resolution A/RES/53/144 adopting the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

SOAS Alumni Zionist Thug and Comrade Sabby - Is the World Loosing Faith in the Zionist Regime?

Palestinians stranded at Rafah terminal go on hunger strike

From Egypt: Allow the medicines through Now!
August 6 2008

RAFAH, (PIC)-- Palestinians trapped at the Rafah border terminal between Gaza Strip and Egypt have gone on hunger strike to protest the Egyptian authority's continued refusal to open the border for them.

They said in an urgent appeal sent to the PIC on Wednesday that they have been suffering for the past few months on the border terminal and have been sleeping in the desert in the open. They said that out of their total number of 150 persons they group old people and women who suffer chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and heart ailments.

Many of the young men suffer from skin and other diseases, they said, adding that they did not have any medication except sedatives and other simple medicines.

They also said that many suffer malnutrition and scarcity of potable water, and appealed to human rights groups to end their ordeal.

They asked local and foreign media to shed light on their plight in a bid to solve their problem.