Overview of Venezuela’s Current Situation

The current situation of institutional instability that the Venezuelan society is experiencing, are a consequence of actions lacking political rationality by radical sectors of the opposition adverse to the Administration of President Nicolás Maduro Moros.

With the arrival of president Hugo Chávez, an internal process of delegitimization and smear began with recurring attacks against a legally constituted government through aggressions that were supported by powerful foreign actors, actions which have been committed by the same opposition players today who wish to displace the current government.

A ruthless economic attack targeting the stability of the Venezuelan currency has been added to this contumacious behaviour of the Venezuelan opposition, causing a crisis in the national economy without historical precedent that has been aggravated by the fall of hydrocarbons’ international prices, affecting government efforts to ensure the supply of medicines and basic food products, especially to the most vulnerable sectors of the population.

In this regard, it is worth remembering that on December 6, 2015, parliamentary elections were held, in which the Venezuelan opposition obtained most of the votes, a triumph recognized by the Bolivarian Government. However, the results in three constituencies were questioned as being the product of fraudulent electoral practices, and the affected political actors filed a complaint with the Supreme Court of Justice, which ordered the removal of the three deputies of the State of Amazonas in question.

On January 6, 2016, the National Assembly swore in the deputies who had been ordered to be removed by the Supreme Court of Justice, in open noncompliance with its decision. That same day, the then president of the National Assembly declared that the objective was to remove President Nicolás Maduro from his position in a period not exceeding six months from that time, in total violation of what is established in our National Constitution. From that moment, the National Assembly began to ignore the decisions of the Judiciary, as well as the constitutional mandate assigned to the Executive Branch. In a year that the opposition has controlled the National Assembly, it has not made any contribution towards seeking solutions to the country’s challenges.

Due to this controversy between the National Assembly and the President of the Republic, which threatened to halt the public administration, the Supreme Court of Justice in response to an appeal for annulment and one for interpretation filed against the actions of the highest body of the Legislative Branch, issued two decisions on March 27 and 29, 2017 (decision number 155 and 156), having as a main objective to preserve the rule of law in the face of the contumacious conduct of the National Assembly.

In order to overcome these institutional discrepancies, President Nicolás Maduro activated Article 323 of the Constitution, which provides for the meeting of the Defense Council of the Nation, as the highest consultation body for advice of the Government in Venezuela, with the objective of finding a solution to the differences of interpretation between the Moral Power and the Supreme Court of Justice, two of the five powers established in our constitutional text. This guarantees the necessary collaboration within the classic separation of powers.

It is worth mentioning that it was also agreed to insist on the dialogue efforts and to urge the Venezuelan opposition to join the national dialogue promoted by the Head of State without delay, a process that has been endorsed by the Vatican. It is also worth noting that the President of the National Assembly was invited to participate in this session of the Defense Council of the Nation; however, he did not attend. Likewise, it was agreed to repudiate any intervention that would undermine independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and self-determination, since, according to the principle of self-determination of peoples, the affairs of Venezuelans must be resolved exclusively by Venezuelans, without interference or intervention and with strict respect for the internal jurisdiction of the Venezuelan State.

The decision of the National Defense Council and the statement of the Supreme Court reiterate the existence of a vigorous democracy with full liberties in Venezuela, where the separation of powers exists, where differences of opinion exist, and are accepted as part of the diversity of a plural society, and processed according to the proper mechanisms of protection of our Constitution. Our country is so democratic that every day there are expressions in different media outlets against the governmental administration, in exercise of freedom of speech, manifested without the required authorization, exhibiting an alleged civil disobedience, a situation that is not allowed in other countries.

Regretfully, in 2017, the same sectors of the Venezuelan opposition have maintained their agenda of street demonstrations, many of which have resulted in violent acts with fatalities, injuries and material damages. These situations have been augmented by actions from external players — such as the OAS and its Secretary General — resulting in Venezuela’s withdrawal from this international body.

Given the situation of violence generated by the opposition and the need to guarantee peace in the country, on May 1, 2017, the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros, in a sovereign manner and in conformity with the National Constitution, convened the National Power to activate a National Constituent Assembly, in accordance with the powers conferred by the National Constitution in Articles 347, 348 and 349. It is a sovereign action, adjusted to the full exercise of a participatory and protagonist democracy that has been established in Venezuela since 1999, and for which we demand respect from all the nations of the international community as it develops.


Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro (centre) meets with foreign guests from more than 35 countries to explain the decision to convene a Constituent Assembly at this time and the situation Venezuela is facing, Caracas, May 12, 2017.

The continuous incidents of violence as evidenced by the attacks carried out against institutions of the Venezuelan State, such as the episode that took place on June 27, 2017, are part of a coup-mongering escalation against the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and its institutions. For the Bolivarian Government, these are attacks of a terrorist nature, within the framework of an insurrectional offensive put forward by extremist factors within the Venezuelan right-wing, supported by foreign centres of power.

These attacks will not hinder the popular constituent process, nor will they impede the people’s exercise of their right to vote on July 30, 2017, in order to elect the members of the National Constituent Assembly, called by the Constitutional President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros. Said Constituent Assembly will draft a new constitution adapted to current times and challenges, as a text that will be subject to the approval of Venezuela’s electoral population.

U.S. Senator Threatens “Severe Sanctions” If Constituent Assembly Proceeds


“The Constituent Assembly is the solution,” Miranda State, July 15, 2017. (PSUV)

United States Senator Marco Rubio threatened the Venezuela government with “severe sanctions” if the National Constituent Assembly is held, eliciting a response from Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro declaring that Venezuela will not be intimidated, TeleSur reported on July 12. The report continues:

Rubio issued a list of three stringent demands to Venezuela on his Twitter account.

“1. Release and grand amnesty to all political prisoners. 2. Cancel ‘constituent assembly.’ 3. Schedule and hold international supervised elections,” the Senator said.

“Reconciliation possible in Venezuela if Maduro follows this path. But expect severe U.S. sanctions if ‘constituent assembly’ happens,” he said.

President Maduro tweeted shortly after that “Venezuela is a free, sovereign country and does not allow itself to be threatened by any global empire.”

“No government can come to tell us what can be done… Venezuela will overcome with the Constituent Assembly process, and imperialism will swallow its words,” he said.

The Constituent Assembly aims to arrive at a peaceful solution to Venezuela’s current political crisis through dialogue. The final vote is scheduled for July 30, when nearly 20 million Venezuelans will vote for 6,120 candidates representing diverse sectors and regions.


Buses burned in Bolivar State, an example of the ongoing opposition violence and destruction of property, May 22, 2017.

Many opposition groups have refused to participate in the constituent processes and dialogue to jointly solve the problems facing the country.

President Maduro has said previously that Presidential elections will be held in 2018 as already scheduled and constitutionally required.

Senator Rubio has pressured for increased intervention in Venezuela previously, most recently at a Permanent Council of the Organization of American States on March 28, when he threatened various member organizations with diplomatic action if they voted in favour of non-interference and respect of Venezuela’s sovereignty.

Rubio is also a prominent voice in favour of a harder stance against Cuba within the United States, advocating for a continuation of the blockade in spite of widespread popular opinion to the contrary.

 

U.S. Schemes to Gain Mandate for Organization of American States’ Intervention Fail Again
at Mexico Summit

At the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) held in Cancun, Mexico, June 19-21, the U.S. and its allies, including Canada, once again failed to pass a declaration that would give them a mandate to intervene against the government of Venezuela. As a result of their failure to pressure, bribe and blackmail enough OAS member states to submit, and following previous failed attempts, the Assembly fizzled.


Demonstration against OAS interference in Venezuela, Caracas, April 25, 2017. (AVN)

An earlier consultation of OAS Foreign Ministers on May 31 was suspended with no vote taken or consensus reached after all 14 members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and countries in Central and South America belonging to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) upheld the principle of non-interference in the affairs of other member states and refused to go along with the hostile, interventionist declaration on Venezuela that the U.S., Canada, Mexico and others put forward.[1]

The consultation reconvened on the eve of the General Assembly. This time the U.S. and its group were convinced they had the cat in the bag with a new draft declaration arrived at through “negotiations” with CARICOM. The U.S. entered the meeting confident it would receive the two-thirds majority support (23 votes) needed to pass. However, that did not happen. A number of countries broke ranks with the U.S. and others, exposing all the back-room deals by objecting to the fact the new “consensus” document had been “negotiated” behind their backs and without their consent. When the vote was held it was three votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for it to pass with 20 countries voting in favour, five opposed and eight abstentions. Venezuela did not participate in the vote.

The next move made by the U.S. and 10 other countries was to issue a communiqué to the General Assembly lamenting the lack of a regional consensus on taking action against Venezuela and putting forward a whole shopping list of demands the Venezuelan government should be made to accept. These included cancelling the National Constituent Assembly called by President Nicolás Maduro to empower the Venezuelan people to address the country’s problems through peaceful, constitutional means. It also called for the OAS to create a “group of friends” — a “balanced group of countries” as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John J. Sullivan put it — “that would be interested in helping to effect a resolution of the crisis in Venezuela on behalf of the Venezuelan people.” It was reported in the Canadian media that Canada was being considered to head such a group. Venezuela rejected the OAS assigning itself any such role given its sordid history as an instrument of U.S. intervention. Instead, the government of Venezuela invited members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) — the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Uruguay — to assist it in renewing dialogue with opposition parties. Earlier talks that the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Vatican had tried to facilitate were derailed after elements of the reactionary forces in Venezuela sought to destabilize the entire country through violent protests and acts of terror.

The dilemma faced by the U.S., Canada, Mexico and others was that the door was quickly closing on their ability to get anything passed at the General Assembly that could be used as a “mandate” for open foreign intervention in Venezuela to bolster the internal forces they direct, who are pushing violence. Unlike the prominent role Canada had played up to this point calling for intervention, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland maintained an uncharacteristically low profile at both the Foreign Ministers’ meeting and the General Assembly. This is likely linked to the rumour that Canada was being tapped by the U.S. to head up the “group of friends” the interventionists hoped to impose on Venezuela but so far have been unable to.

In the end however no resolution on Venezuela made it to the floor of the General Assembly. It would have taken the backing of 24 member states to table a late resolution, something the interventionist group could not count on, as they could only muster 20 votes the day before.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro and Freeland were reduced to tweeting photos of themselves hob-nobbing with Venezuelan opposition figures who showed up in Cancun, somehow registered as guests, to harass the Venezuelan delegation and lobby others to intervene in their country.

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Public sector worker wages down

Public sector workers’ real wages in 2017 are down thousands of pounds a year compared to 2010, the TUC has found.

Prison officers, paramedics and NHS dieticians are all down over £3,800 a year. Firefighters are down nearly £2,900, while nuclear engineers and teachers are down approximately £2,500.

Lifeguards’ real pay is £2,200 lower than 2010, while crown prosecutors’ have seen a pay fall of £4,400.

Workers across the public sector have seen their real pay fall for seven consecutive years, as the result of artificial government pay restrictions.

A post-election poll by the TUC showed that 76% of voters want to give public sector workers a pay rise – including 68% of Conservative voters.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“It’s been seven long years of pay cuts for our public servants. And ministers still won’t tell us if relief is on the way.

“Recent months have shown how brave and dedicated the people in our public services are. It’s time to give all of our hardworking public servants the pay rise they’ve earned.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:
– A full briefing on the figures is available here:  http://bit.ly/2urN2mk
– Pay loss figures compare 2010 and 2017 public sector salaries, and adjust for CPI inflation, including the OBR’s projected inflation for 2017. RPI is listed in the table below.

Occupation Pay in 2017 (£) Pay in 2010 at CPI in 2016 prices (£) Nominal real terms pay cut at CPI (£) Pay in 2010 at RPI in 2016 prices (£)            Nominal real terms pay cut at RPI (£)
NHS Paramedic 35,577 39,435 3,858 41,717 6,140
Teacher 33,160 35,574 2,414 37,633 4,473
Prison Officer 29,219 33,038 3,819 34,930 5,731
Lifeguard 22,658 24821 2163 26257 3,599
NHS Specialist Dietician 35,577 39,435 3,858 41,717 6,140
Firefighter 29,638 32,526 2,888 34,408 4,770
Nuclear Maintenance Engineer 33,633 36,224 2,591 38,320 4,687
Crown Prosecutor 58,679 63083 4,404 66,735 8,056
NHS Ancillary staff 15,671 16,568 897 17,527 1,856

– Analysis of the TUC post-election poll can be read here: bit.ly/2uhOLqn
– All TUC press releases can be found at tuc.org.uk/media
– TUC Press Office on Twitter: @tucnews

 

Press Release
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High Court permanent ban on industrial action by prison officers:

Prison officers permanently banned from striking after Home Office win High Court bid

‘It’s only a matter of time before a member of staff gets killed,’ warns deputy general-secretary of Prison Officers’ Association following court ruling

May Bulman

The Independent (July 19th)

The Government has won its High Court bid to obtain a permanent ban on industrial action by prison officers, in a move unionists have warned will leave “only a matter of time” before a member of staff gets killed.

The Ministry of Justice’s application follows a move in February by the Prison Officers Association (POA) to call on its members to take action short of a strike over a lack of safety in a prison run by Her Majesty’s Prison service.

This led to a judge granting an interim injunction requiring the POA to withdraw instructions to members to refuse to undertake certain voluntary tasks, in tune with the Government’s demands.

Following the permanent ban on industrial action on Wednesday, the POA accused the Government of failing to confront a situation in which lives are at risk, warning that, without the ability to take action, prison officers will be at risk of serious harm while carrying out their jobs.

The ruling in London followed a hearing earlier this month when Daniel Stilitz QC told Mr Justice Jay that the case was brought “to ensure that POA does not seek to breach the law again”.

“Any inducement which leads prison officers to cease to provide services which they otherwise would have done is unlawful,” said counsel.

“The Secretary of State is concerned that, unless the position is determined definitively by the court, there will be renewed calls for unlawful industrial action in the future.”

It comes just a day after the UK prison watchdog reported a “Staggering rise” in violence in prisons across England and Wales over the past year, with not one youth jail in England and Wales now deemed safe.

Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, warned that easy access to drugs and soaring numbers of inmates locked up for well over the recommended period have also contributed to a “vicious cycle” in which emphasis on rehabilitation has declined.

In response to the ruling, Andy Darken, deputy general secretary of the POA, told The Independent: “It’s our opinion that we shouldn’t be doing industrial relations through the court.

“In this case, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service should have sat down with us to discuss the real issues around the violence in our prisons and the health and safety of staff. But they decided to seek relief through the courts to run their industrial relations. We’ve got some issue with that.”

Mr Darken, who worked as a prison officer 25 years ago, said the ruling now left staff unable to act if they feel unsafe, warning that the situation could likely lead to a member of staff being killed.

“We heard just yesterday from the prison inspector Peter Clarke about the lack of safety in our young offender institutions. It appears that our members now can’t do anything about it,” he said.

“If someone is not safe, and staff now can’t walk out of that area and keep themselves safe, what do they do now? Following this ruling, it is only a matter of time before a member of staff gets severely injured or killed.”

He denied that the action they had taken earlier in the year amounted to a strike, and claimed the union was being “handcuffed” by the Ministry of Justice because of a lack of funds to resolve a severe staffing and funding shortage.

“It’s not striking. It was taking action to protect our members and themselves. We’re saying we couldn’t go in there because it’s not safe, and that the employer should be ensuring that they are keeping us safe,” he said.

“The violence in our prisons is going up and up month on month, year on year, and we do know that it has gone up in the last quarter, even though they haven’t yet been published.

“The budget cuts and staffing cut has reduced the amount of security searching going on. The regular searching of cells have reduced and reduced. All the security procedures you had in place have been watered down to the effect that there’s hardly any. And that’s been the big problem.

“To reverse violence and improve health and safety in prisons it will take money they haven’t got, so they’ve decided to handcuff the union, by getting an injunction that might stop our members protecting their health and safety.”

Commenting on the ruling, Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), said the decision would “do nothing to fix the crisis in our prisons”, adding: “Ministers should be listening to prison officers’ concerns about staffing and safety, rather than pursuing legal action against them.

“The ban on industrial action has demoralised staff providing a vital service. It needs to be overturned.”

A Prison Service spokesperson said: “We fully share the POA objectives to make prisons safe and decent places where frontline staff are recognised and rewarded for the challenging work they do. Unlawful industrial action is not the way to achieve that aim.

“We are committed to building on the essential reforms that are already underway to make prisons places of safety and reform.

“We are investing £100m a year to recruit an extra 2,500 frontline prison officers. The most recent figures show the number of prison officers in post has increased by 515 compared with the previous quarter, meaning we are on track to delivering this important commitment.”

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Transaction tax:

The circulation of goods from the point of manufacture to the point of consumption should be carried out by administrative means only.

The market economy of commodity exchange, is an unwieldy and clumsy system of transactions in which people fulfill their personal material needs by using one another. Market exchange is where those involved in it and praise it, view other human beings as a means to fulfill personal individualistic ends.

The point is that deals and dealing within a market economy resembles theft. It means heartless manipulation of a customer seen with a parasitical eye ready to suck the blood or demand the pound of flesh out of credit and loans in order to entice the buyer. The buyer also entices the seller with the colour of money.  Each interaction between two counterparts is a transaction, To sell on terms involves transactions that depend on such things as usury or the confines of controlled market. Such a controlled market is exemplified by the EU single market but can also be seen in global free trade deals.

Socialisation of exchange plans the economy at the level of distribution in a controlled and even manner without any element of barter or dealing. It extends social production as an aspect of society to society at large. Why does it do this? Because the accumulation of wealth is concentrated at the point of production as a result of adding value to a product by the productive forces, which is labour in the main. The selling of the product in a market realises the value added. The issue is that any claim on new values created can be transferred either to the capitalist, the Government and the state or the workers in the form of wages. Taxation, such as, Value Added Tax, or purchase taxes, can be taken as a form of claim. Credit loans and higher purchase schemes have been methods of extracting claims against added value by the financial institutions because of interest on such loans and insurance schemes. Other such claims are made by levies attached in the distribution system involving transportation, wholesale and retail and commercial marketing through advertising.

Transaction tax? Why should the financial oligarchy be able to do transactions in the first place?

The European Union financial transaction tax (EU FTT) was a proposal made by the European Commission to introduce a financial transaction tax (FTT) within some of the member states of the European Union initially by 1 January 2014, later postponed to 1 January 2016, then to the middle of 2016 and then to September 2016. In October the European Commission was instructed to draft the tax by the end of 2016.

In April 2013, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that his country had filed a legal challenge of the decision authorizing the use of enhanced cooperation to implement the FTT with the European Court of Justice.

There are proposals by the Labour Party to target the financial sector with a transaction tax. It has been labelled a, “Robin Hood Tax” to give the impression that it steals from the rich to give to the poor.

The monopolies and banks have squealed, “foul play”, protesting that they will be forced to move vast swathes of their operations out of Britain. Employees in the City, with crocodile tears and threats over 400,000 jobs, as workers in the City would face the sack as Finance Capital flees, so tax receipts would fall and the deficit grow.

It is said that the EU would welcome a financial transaction tax, because Germany could claim the financial headquarters from the City of London and move it to Frankfurt. The European Commission proposed it in 2013 as a way to ‘bolster national coffers’ and “temper irresponsible trading”. The contradiction has sharpened between EU states, particularly the powerful German economy versus the rest and their interests. France was previously the main sponsor of an EU financial transaction tax, but new President, Macron has now said that the levy is not a priority. A financial transaction tax was raised in the EU referendum and since that time, the oligarchs and Conservative representatives in Government still obsess about the dangers to their industry from Brexit.

The real threat to Britain’s economy comes from the transactions and those that control them, the oligarchs. Why should there be such transactions at all either in London, the EU, Hong Kong, Frankfurt or New York? Without which, there would be no such transactions. Mutual exchange of products on the basis of mutual benefit in any part of the world can easily take place without the interference of financial monopoly institutions, The prices of goods can easily be calculated on any new values created on products for comparative exchange. It was estimated by Labour that £4.7bn a year with tax on derivatives trade and bond sale could be made (predicated on a tax rate of 0.2 per cent of the value of transactions for banks) . The billions changing hands in the form of transactions, are nothing compared to the stock and bond exchanges made out of claims on the product extracted through such transaction taxes. These are the real controls sovereign nations could make over trade without such “deals”.

John McDonnell, during the election, had said, ‘In terms of the City of London, the hedge funds, the banks, we need you to pay a bit more, because we need you to invest fairly in our society’ . In response to the Conservative “Magic Money Tree” taunts over funding arrangements, Labour has given its own costings,  Labour wants to expand the current stamp duty on share transactions so that it would apply to market makers. It has said that it would use the money to fund public services.

In 2015, then-chancellor George Osborne, vowed to sue the commission in the European Court of Justice if the tax affected the City of London. The contradiction has sharpened between EU states and their interests. France was previously the main sponsor of an EU financial transaction tax, but for now the new French President has said that he does not now want to make an issue of it.

Modern Communism does not recognise a “transaction tax” as a solution to long-term investment in a sustainable modern economy. At best it can only be seen as a concession to finance capitalism and control of the monopolies and concessions are not solutions. A real solution lies in socialisation of exchange and planned economy at the level of distribution, in a controlled and even manner without any element of barter or dealing. Exchange encompasses transactions and monopoly right to claim on the product through ownership and share in the product. This Monopoly right has to be fundamentally restricted out of the equation, so that the producers can raise their claim to the point, where they are the decision makers as to where investment in the social economy and manufacture can take place.

 

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Hospital Cleaners’ Strike:

Cleaners at London hospitals stage seven-day strike over pay

More than 700 cleaners, security guards, catering staff and porters walk out after Serco refuses 30p a an hour pay rise

Domestic staff in London hospitals have begun a week-long strike in a dispute with private contractor Serco over low pay and job cuts, with organisers saying it is the biggest cleaners’ strike in the UK’s history.

Hospitals that are part of Barts Health NHS trust were expected to face serious consequences as more than 700 cleaners, security guards, catering staff and porters employed by Serco walked out on Tuesday. The action came after a ballot resulted in 99% of workers voting to strike.

“We are the people who often get forgotten about but our work is an essential link in the chain of care that makes the NHS,” said Len Hockey, one of the striking workers, who has been a porter for 28 years at Whipps Cross hospital in east London.

Unite members employed by Serco requested a 30p per hour increase in pay last month, which was rejected. “Our claim is a modest claim,” Hockey said. “We don’t want to take industrial action but we have been forced to in order to maintain very basic standards of living.”

Hockey said that since the Barts trust was taken over by private contractors standards for workers had dropped dramatically. According to Hockey, many workers have suffered real-time pay cuts greater than the 14% cuts experienced by other NHS staff. “Until recently there were some members of staff here on less than the London living wage,” he said.

Last week a two-day preliminary strike at Barts hospitals – including the Royal London, St Bartholomew’s and Mile End – caused significant problems, the union said.

By the second day, Unite said, toilets were unclean, beds were left on floors as no porters were available to carry them, and many patients did not receive hot meals due to lack of catering staff. Barts said that members of its hospital staff did not recognise that account.

“Serco feel they can just ride it out,” said Unite’s digital organiser, Matthew Dore-Weeks. “But the two-day strike so far has seen huge effects on the public which will get worse as the strikes continue.”

Last year Serco won the £600m “soft services” contract for Barts trust and made an overall profit of £82m.

Cleaners say the company has increased their workloads to unsustainable levels and many have reported severe hygiene issues in hospitals which have been hotspots for infections such as MRSA and C diff.

“Since Serco came there has been a lot of changes,” said one cleaner at the Royal London. “We never have time for breaks, which has affected my health. Now I have to take other work during weekends, which was my time to see my family and go to church. We are so important to keeping patients healthy but they don’t listen to us – they think domestic staff are invisible. But without us who is going to feed patients or keep the hospitals clean?”

The seven-day stoppage will run until Monday 17 July and will be followed by a 14-day strike starting on 25 July. If no changes are made further strike action will be planned for August and September.

 

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Russian-Chinese Joint Statement On Korean Conflict (full text)

The Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China are the Korean Peninsula’s neighbours, therefore the development of the situation in the region concerns the national interests of both countries. Russia and China will closely coordinate their efforts in order to promote a complex solution to the Korean Peninsula’s problems, including that of the nuclear issue, for the sake of achieving a lasting peace and stability in Northeast Asia. In the spirit of strategic cooperation the foreign ministries of Russia and China (hereinafter referred to as Parties) state the following:

  1. The Parties are seriously worried by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)’s statement of July 4, 2017 about a ballistic missile launch and consider this statement unacceptable and in disharmony with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
  2. The Parties express serious concern about the development of the situation on the Korean Peninsula and around it. Mounting political and military tension in that region, fraught with the eruption of an armed conflict, are calling on the international community to adopt collective measures to settle the situation peacefully through dialogue and consultationsThe Parties oppose any statements or moves that might escalate tension or aggravate the contradictions and urge all countries concerned to maintain calm, renounce provocative moves or bellicose rhetoric, demonstrate readiness for dialogue without preconditions and work actively together to defuse tension.
  3. The Parties are putting forward a joint initiative, which is based on the Chinese-proposed ideas of “double freezing” (missile and nuclear activities by the DPRK and large-scale joint exercises by the United States and the Republic of Korea) and “parallel advancement” towards the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and the creation of peace mechanisms on the peninsula, and the Russian-proposed stage-by-stage Korean settlement plan.

The Parties propose the following:

 The DPRK, by way of a voluntary political decision, announces a moratorium on the testing of nuclear explosive devices and ballistic missile tests, and the United States and the Republic of Korea should, accordingly, refrain from large-scale joint exercises. Simultaneously, the conflicting parties begin talks and assert common principles of their relations, including the non-use of force, the renunciation of aggression, peaceful coexistence and determination to do all they can to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula with a view to promoting a complex resolution of all problems, including the nuclear issue. During the negotiating process, all parties concerned push forward, in a format suitable to them, the creation on the peninsula and in Northeast Asia of a peace and security mechanism and consequently normalise relations between the countries in question.

The Parties urge the international community to support the aforementioned initiative that paves the real way for resolving the Korean Peninsula’s problems.

4.The Parties are resolutely committed to the international non-proliferation regime and are firmly aimed at the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and a comprehensive and full implementation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. The Parties intend, jointly with other parties concerned, to continue making efforts to facilitate the balanced removal of the existing concerns via dialogue and consultations.

The Parties confirm that the DPRK’s justified concerns should be respected. Other states must make relevant efforts to have talks resumed and jointly to create an atmosphere of peacefulness and mutual trust.

The Parties are calling on all parties involved to comply with the commitments formulated in the Joint Statement of September 19, 2005, and to re-launch, as soon as possible, the dialogue on the comprehensive resolution of problems on the Korean Peninsula. Any possibility of using military means to solve the problems of the Korean Peninsula should be ruled out.

  1. The Parties express support for the North and the South of the Korean Peninsula to conduct dialogue and consultations, display benevolence towards each other, improve relations, cooperate in the matter of a peaceful settlement, and play a due role in defusing the situation on the Korean Peninsula and in resolving its problems in a proper manner.
  2. The Parties confirm that they are paying sufficient attention tothe maintenance of the international and regional balance and stability, and emphasise that allied relations between separate states should not inflict damage on the interests of third parties. They are against any military presence of extra-regional forces in Northeast Asia and its build-up under the pretext of counteracting the DPRK’s missile and nuclear programmes.

The Parties confirm that the deployment of THAAD antimissile systems in Northeast Asia is inflicting serious damage on strategic security interests of regional states, including Russia and China, and does nothing to help achieve the aims of the Korean Peninsula’s denuclearisation, nor to ensure peace and stability in the region.

Russia and China are against the deployment of the said systems, call on the relevant countries to immediately stop and cancel the deployment process, and have agreed to adopt the necessary measures to protect the two countries’ security interests and to ensure a strategic balance in the region.

This statement was signed on July 4, 2017, in Moscow.

 

For the Ministry of Foreign Affairs             For the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

         of the Russian Federation                       of the People’s Republic of China

 

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Durham Miners Gala:

Upholding the Spirit and Traditions of the Miners! Building the Independent Political Movement of the Working Class!

Statement of the Northern Region of RCPB(ML), July 8, 2017

The Durham Miners Gala epitomises the spirit and traditions of the mineworkers and their communities, some of the best that the working class has given rise to in Britain. At the same time, it epitomises looking to the future, to renewing this spirit, to uniting the workers around their aims, to anticipating a society where working people are the decision-makers and share weal and woe with their sisters and brothers across the world in the spirit of proletarian internationalism. RCPB(ML) greets all the participants in this 133rd Gala in this spirit.

This year’s Durham Miners’ Gala and Big Meeting is being held following the June 8 general election which was a debacle for Theresa May and the Conservative Party. The deep political crisis which started with the EU referendum before last year’s Gala has continued when the people said No to May this year. At the same time this has also created a dangerous situation, with Theresa May attempting to carry on with a minority government in creating a post-Brexit consensus and implementing an anti-social agenda in Britain whilst engaging in a pro-war empire-building aim abroad.

May’s now infamous and derided call for “strong and stable leadership” has only resulted in the deepening of the political crisis. Her erstwhile colleagues regard her as a “dead woman walking”. Rumours abound about plots within her party to remove her as soon as is practicable. Her minority government is shored up by a corrupt deal with the DUP while she is reportedly begging for support from the Lib Dems over crucial issues not covered by the “confidence and supply” arrangement with the DUP. A general election before the full term of five years specified by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act is widely predicted. However, the austerity programme is being implemented as never before.

Theresa May’s Queen’s Speech represents a reactionary programme for a so-called “global Britain”. It goes without saying that it will do nothing to safeguard public services, or the future of the NHS, the right to decent, safe housing, or even the right to life, as was so tragically exposed by the Grenfell Tower inferno.

Thus despite the eloquent partisanship of Jeremy Corbyn on behalf of working people and against austerity, the election has demonstrated the illegitimacy of the Westminster electoral democracy, that it is the financial oligarchy which holds the power, and that as long as this is the case, anarchy rules, a government of police powers, not laws, holds sway, and the working people are deprived of power.

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The vital question for the working class in these circumstances is what must be done to chart a path to bring about a change that favours the working class and people.

Rightly, today the Big Meeting will be talking a lot about the remarks made by Alan Cummings in his eve of Gala message from the Secretary as to how Jeremy Corbyn confounded all his critics by increasing the Labour Party vote. Sadly, Dave Hopper, the longest serving General Secretary of the Durham Miners Association, died just one week after last year’s massive gathering and is not here to see it. As Alan Cummings points out, the Durham Miners Association has had a proud history long before the Labour Party and “became a political force in the land our mining communities built their own co-operative stores, their aged miners homes, their clinics and doctors panels, their reading rooms, welfare schemes and social clubs”.

The immediate programme of the working class is to block the agenda of austerity, racism and war, charting a path for a pro-social and anti-war government. It has been said that the miners were hewers of coal, and what the workers need to be in the present are the hewers of society. It is so crucial that, in the modern era, the working class builds on its traditions of struggle and comradeship by taking up its responsibility to the whole of society and to upholding and defending the rights of all. One might say that this is the modern rendition of the slogan that has been upheld by workers throughout society that an injury to one is an injury to all.


David Hopper, Jeremy Corbyn and Alan Cummings at the 2016 Durham Miners Gala

So what steps are required? What must the workers do to build and strengthen the Workers’ Opposition? Of course, workers must and will step up their resistance to the anti-social agenda and privatisation, and demand and fight for the right to health care, education, decent pensions and standards of living, and overall for a change in the direction of the economy. But workers must crucially also reject and oppose the institutions and old political arrangements which have so amply demonstrated to be in crisis and keep the people out of power. How and with what to replace these archaic forms which are incapable of embodying the will of the people? The working class must become an organised political force in its own right. It must work out its own independent politics. This requires new basic organisations of the class, which empower the workers to identify their interests and work out how to unite to effectively implement them. It requires their being able to select candidates at election time and have control of the agenda they implement.

As we take part in the Durham Gala, let us all unite around the need to build a Workers’ Opposition to fight for the alternative, to defeat austerity and defend the rights of all. Let us adopt the programme for democratic renewal so that the people are increasingly empowered to make all the decisions in society. The independent political movement of the workers can be built which will bring about change that favours the people and the nations which at present constitute Britain. Grasp the opportunity to bring about a new direction for the economy and society!

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