Category Archives: International

CND Trade Unions: Trident and Jobs

Trident’s replacement will cost at least £205 billion of public money. A staggering figure, particularly when we consider the nuclear weapons system has no real military value and is useless in the face of the real threats we face today, such as terrorism, climate change and cyber-attacks and could be rendered obsolete by new technology. But many try to argue that this investment is worth it because of the jobs the nuclear weapon system sustains.

People’s livelihoods matter. But an objective appraisal of the jobs associated with Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons system, and its replacement will demonstrate that these are among the most costly jobs ever created. By simply re-directing a proportion of the money allocated to the Trident replacement programme to other industries, it would be possible to create many more, highly specialised and well-paid jobs. This transition programme would directly benefit those currently working on Britain’s nuclear weapons. Society as a whole would benefit from the shift to more productive jobs. And of course, humanity as a whole would benefit from the reduction in the numbers of weapons of mass destruction.

 

Read report here: Trident-and-Jobs

Stop the War’s Annual General Meeting – 8th September

Our Annual General Meeting will take place this year on September 8th in London. It will look at the belligerent policies of the Trump administration, including the development of a new US “national security” strategy and of the new Nuclear Posture Review, which open the possibility of using nuclear weapons in conflicts with non-nuclear countries, and of deploying “smaller” and more precisely targeted “tactical nuclear weapons”. The conference will also look at Britain’s continuing wars.

Stop the War’s AGM is part of the regular democratic process of the Stop the War Coalition and is the place where we decide policy and elect our steering committee for the coming year. It is also a great place to meet fellow campaigners and exchange ideas and practice.

 

The conference is open to all paid up members of Stop the War, who have voting rights. Stop the War’s local groups can send up to 4 delegates each, and affiliated organisations 2 delegates. All have full voting and speaking rights. Groups and affiliates can propose one resolution each. The date for the new members to join and attend the conference is 25th August 2018. Join now so you can attend the conference.

We need to strengthen anti-war voices and to organise against what our government is doing. Please book your places now.

Report on a useful TUC London, Eastern and South Eastern regional meeting

LESE, as it is now known, had a pretty useful meeting today, so those of us that were willing to not be at the football or Pride were able to say it wasn’t a wasted morning.

In addition to some good motions on abortion rights (pushing for women in Northern Ireland to gain these rights following the success of the Irish referendum) and setting up a homes and housing sub-committee, my own union, TSSA, moved a well-received motion on ‘climate jobs’. As the world sweats in a record-breaking heatwave, our regional TUC has now resolved create a sub-group on environmental sustainability and just-transition for workers and create a detailed plan for creating climate jobs. A further TSSA motion, urging a reconsideration of hugely controversial third runway at Heathrow, was ruled out-of-order because the TUC nationally supports the runway, but a long-standing TSSA activist with air traffic experience did get the opportunity to explain the union’s concerns that, in addition to the serious environmental case against the third runway, the employment and transport infrastructural case are also questionable. Ultimately, Heathrow has a bloated air traffic agenda because airlines are businesses that chase profits: a third runway does not fix this.

The first guest speaker was Phillipa Harvey, an NEU executive member and leading activist with Palestine Solidarity Campaign. She urged that the unions’ support for Palestinian rights remains as essential as ever. The relocation of the US embassy by Donald Trump in to Jerusalem has resulted in a massive crackdown in paltry autonomy Palestinians had up to recently had in the West Bank, as witnessed by the recent brutal destruction of a traditional Bedouin village. Imprisonment of children, currently highly controversial in America, is extremely common in Israel. But no situation is more serious than that of Gaza, the scene of so many killings of unarmed people by the Israeli army, which is estimated to become unliveable in just 18 months. Without urgent action by the international community, things will undoubtedly reach new levels of horror in Palestine.

The last guest speaker was particularly interesting. Victor Figueroa is former LSE academic who has been working with the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) to produce a study of the impact of new technology on transport work and workers worldwide. The full report will be out in September, but Victor gave us a digested preview. His finding is that the main narrative – that new tech is primarily about automation, that 100% automation is unstoppable and that this either the best or worst thing ever (depending on who you ask) – is largely a marketable fiction. In reality, automation is constantly running into limitations (no, crew-less freight ships aren’t coming) and never completely eliminates labour (‘fully automated’ warehouses have almost 50% of the staff they had pre-upgrade). Automation and AI are also not as important, in many ways, as data, but not enough people in the international labour movement have considered data and they need to talk about it more. The most important thing said to us about technology is that whether it is a good or bad thing is absolutely dependant on who uses it and how they use it: capitalism will not create a utopia with technology, it will use it make profits and this will mean that new tech it introduces will exacerbate existing inequalities. It is with this knowledge that our movement should seek to create it’s own alternatives and this has to be a combination of worker’s organising and progressive governments and movements demanding strong regulation of how tech is used. The extract report is here:ITF – Transport Workers Building Power

The TUC Transport Industry Network, which I attend, is looking to hold a major event on automation in September, and the sorts of findings that the IFT have produced can hopefully feed into this, as can the ideas about transition to sustainable jobs.

National Demonstration Against Trump

The Together Against Trump national demonstration has now been called for Friday 13th July, the day Trump visits Britain, starting at 2pm at the BBC in Portland Place and marching to Central London.

Given the worldwide outrage at Donald Trump’s aggressive, chauvinistic and belligerent policies, this is a crucial demonstration. We are urging all our supporters to take half a day off work to make sure they come to the demonstration. Please promote the demo as widely as possible. We are asking our groups and supporters across the country to organise transport to the national demonstration.

Solidarity with the People Of Turkey sends its support to: Afrin medical aid concert

A night of Middle Eastern music at Union Chapel (N1 2UN) on Friday 25 May 2018, 19:30.

Nearest station: Highbury & Islington

This is a night not to be missed with great performances by the Metin Kemal Kahraman brothers and the Reflection of Silence band

We wish to create a memorable night in solidarity with Afrin and provide an opportunity to listen to great music that touches our souls so deeply.

All proceeds from this concert will go to help people displaced from Afrin, Rojava (Northern Syria). Around 450,000 civilians have been displaced and are in urgent need of aid. In the wake of this humanitarian crisis, Re-build as one of the few charities helping the region. The proceeds of this concert will be used to purchase an orthopaedic medical device costing £30,000.

By purchasing a ticket you can help us get one step closer to buying this device.

France: Rail unions fight against privatisation

The French railway workers have expressed their strong disapproval of the proposed reform of the railway system leading towards privatisation. They have been taking part in massive numbers in national mobilisations. The government has chosen not to open any serious negotiations with them. The unions want to guarantee high social standards within a future unified public group in the rail sector. The unions argue that competition is not a solution designed to improve the rail system, but instead enriches private companies and firms. They are calling upon the government to open real negotiations covering such issues as debt and funding, the relaunch of goods rail transport, employee benefits, the social rights of railway workers, taking workload back in-house and the organisation of production. Please show you support by sending your message to the French government.

Act now.

Rana Plaza 5 year anniversary panel discussion

This year marked the 5th anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy where 1,100 Bangladeshi garment workers, mostly women, were killed when their factory building collapsed. They had been producing clothes for some of the UK’s high street fashion brands.

To mark this, War on Want is hosting a one-off panel discussion on Rana Plaza, the Bangladesh Safety Accord and key issues for garment workers’ rights. Join us.

This year marked the 5th anniversary of the Rana Plaza tragedy where 1,100 Bangladeshi garment workers, mostly women, were killed when their factory building collapsed. They had been producing clothes for some of the UK’s high street fashion brands. Rana Plaza focused the world’s attention on the horrendous conditions garment workers were producing clothes for the likes of Gap, Topshop, Primark and other fashion brands.

Following Rana Plaza and together with the campaigning efforts of international and Bangladeshi trade unions and NGOs, the Bangladesh Safety Accord was put in place. It was the first tripartite, binding agreement between fashion brands, trade unions and government to ensure that garment workers’ health and safety were secured in factories in Bangladesh.

This year the Accord is up for renewal. Questions are being raised as to whether the Accord was able to achieve much needed improvements for garment workers in Bangladesh. Could it have done more? Did it set garment workers back? Is it still a mechanism that can be and should be replicated in other countries? And was it sufficient to ensure corporate accountability?

War on Want will be hosting a panel discussion to try to address these questions. On the panel will be:

  • Stephen Russell (TUC) – will reflect on the Bangladesh Safety Accord using his insights from recent field visits to Bangladesh
  • Alessandra Mezzadri (SOAS Development Studies) – will reflect on the Bangladesh Safety Accord taking into account the global garment industry, corporate impunity and NGO complicity

The panel discussion will be followed by a screening of a short documentary film made by the Rainbow Collective. We will also have on display photographs from our Women are the Resistance exhibition. Drinks and snacks will be served thereafter.

This is a critical moment for NGOs, trade unions and campaigners who are working on corporate impunity and workers rights to have this conversation. So please do join us!

1 2 3 6