Italian neo-fascists & anti vaxers attack union headquarters

Italian police used water cannon and tear gas on Saturday to push back hundreds of people, including neo-fascist activists, demonstrating in Rome against a government drive to make the COVID-19 “Green Pass” mandatory for all workers. One group of protesters tried to break through police lines to reach Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s city centre office, while a separate group tried to smash their way into the headquarters of Italy’s main CGIL trade union.

Opponents of the Green Pass say it tramples on freedoms and is a back-door means of forcing people to vaccinate. Their cause has been backed by far-right neo-fascist groups who local politicians accused of orchestrating Saturday’s violence. Local media reported that around 10,000 people took to the streets of the Italian capital, with many chanting “freedom, freedom” as some looked to break past police in riot gear deployed to guard access to Draghi’s office.

CGIL, which has accepted the Green Pass system for workers, condemned the attack on its offices.

“The assault on CGIL’s national headquarters is an act of fascist thuggery, an attack on democracy and on the world of work,” its leader Maurizio Landini said. “No-one should think that they can return our country to its fascist past.”

Under the pass system, any worker who fails to present a valid health certificate from Oct. 15 will be suspended with no pay, but they cannot be sacked.

Some 80% of all Italians over the age of 12 are now fully vaccinated and the vast majority of people seem to back the inoculation drive and the use of the Green Pass.

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Tony Burke : Speech at VSC AGM October 9th

It’s been six years or so since the United States first imposed sanctions on Venezuela, absurdly declaringVenezuela “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”.  

Under Trump those sanctions – which are illegal under international law – were ratcheted up to become a blockade of the sort that Cuba has endured for decades.

The impact has been devastating. 

The interim report earlier this year by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights described how these sanctions have completely debilitated the Venezuelan economy, massively degrading the quality of life of the population.

On top of that, Venezuela has had to deal with the pandemic while the US sanctions have severely restricted its ability to buy the full range of necessary medical supplies.

But while Venezuela is emerging from the pandemic with less than 5,000 deaths, US sanctions are still a major concern. 

There was perhaps a sliver of hope that when Biden took office there might be some relaxation of the blockade. But Biden dashed that hope in March by renewing the declaration of a state of national emergency regarding Venezuela.

And in June the US, with the EU and Canada, laid out a number of conditions that Venezuela must meet in order for them to “review” their sanctions regimes.

Yet nonetheless, the talks between some of the right-wing opposition and the Maduro government have looked promising.

After the first round of talks, there was a published agreement that sanctions should lifted and there should be no more violent coup attempts.  

And some right wing opposition parties have announced they will take part in the regional and local elections taking place on 21 November, instead of boycotting them.

But we need to be cautious about the final outcome. Other talks in previous years between the government and the opposition have looked promising, only for the hidden hand of the US to be waved and break them up.

Here in the UK we also need to keep talking about the ownership of Venezuela’s gold, held by the Bank of England, that rightfully belongs to the Bank of Venezuela. This is still an issue that VSC needs to keep campaigning on.

The overarching issue, though, that we need to carry on campaigning on is the sanctions imposed by the US, with support from the British government, Canada and the EU.

This means raising it in trade union branches and other organisations. We need to continue seeking support for our petition and explain why sanctions are unjust, illegal and so harmful to the Venezuelan people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable

Our solidarity is an important source of strength and comfort to the Venezuelan people.

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Speech at Labour Party Labour & Palestine Fringe Meeting September 28th

Yesterday the Labour Party members made a momentous decision committing our Party to stand solidly behind the Palestinian people.

In 2020 I was proud to move the motion that committed the TUC to a very clear policy on Palestine and we can be proud that the Labour Party has aligned itself with TUC policy. 

The TUC motion was clear: the path being taken by Israeli government “will be another significant step in the creation of a system of apartheid.”

Two weeks ago, the TUC Congress again passed a motion that said the TUC “stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people following the latest attacks by Israeli state forces on the people of Gaza, East Jerusalem and the occupied territories.”

The Motion noted how Human Rights Watch have concluded that the Israeli regime is guilty of apartheid.

The motion was passed overwhelmingly at the TUC and was not a source of controversy – so standing in solidarity with the people of Palestine, and their rights, is something the Labour Party can now be proud to do.

The seriousness of the situation facing the people of Palestine is confirmed by the fact the International Criminal Court is holding an inquiry into abuses committed in the occupied Palestinian Territories since 2014.

Speaking up for Palestine is essential at this vital time and I want not only to commend the unions that supported these motions but also the many constituencies who have signed the Labour & Palestine statement published on our website – my constituency in North East Bedfordshire have endorsed it I am pleased to say, and I am here to ask that other constituencies do the same.

We want you to get your constituency to commit to signing the Labour & Palestine statement published on the website.

I know there is significant controversy still within the Party but now with the TUC Unions who are affiliated to Labour and the Labour Party all now aligned it is imperative that Constituencies support the Labour Palestine statement.

Comrades – going away from this Conference, we must now be united to call upon the British government to work towards a full and lasting peaceful solution to the conflict that recognises Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

And as a movement we must support “effective measures” including sanctions, as called for by Palestinian civil society, against actions by the Israeli state that are illegal according to international law. 

The never ending occupation, the building of illegal settlements, the ethnic cleansing, and the massive human rights abuses are plain enough for anyone who wants to see it.

As Labour & Palestinehas said, this must include action to ensure that Israel stops 

  • the building of settlements, 
  • reverses any annexation, 
  • ends the occupation of the West Bank, 
  • ceases the blockade of Gaza, 
  • brings down the Wall 
  • and respects the right of refugees to return to their homes under international law.

It was unfortunate that Unite were not called to speak on Palestine yesterday as we had hoped so I just want to use a comment that our speaker Paula Brennan would have said and that is this:

“Our party was built on the basis of solidarity with the downtrodden and standing shoulder to shoulder with those facing oppression – whether that is here in the UK or outside of our borders – and that is exactly what we must do”.

Let’s build that solidarity.

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Tribute to Richard Trumka

By Liz Shuler Acting President and Secretary-Treasurer AFL-CIO

I’m heartbroken to inform you that our brother and leader, Rich Trumka, passed away this week at the age of 72. He was doing what he loved: spending time with his family.

Rich cared deeply about working people. He wanted to create a better life for every single person going to work. He dedicated himself to that m
ission, and he never stopped fighting.

He is a legend in the labor movement and will be remembered.

He’ll be remembered in the White House and the halls of Congress: where he fought on the national stage and walked away with historic legislative victories for workers’ rights and health care.

He’ll be remembered in 815 Black Lives Matter Plaza: where he led the AFL-CIO for 12 years, when times were good and when they weren’t, as he liked to say.

He’ll be remembered at the United Mine Workers of America: where he refused to back down against Pittston Coal Company and Peabody Coal, winning fair contracts for thousands of mine workers across the country.

He’ll be remembered in Nemacolin, Pennsylvania: where he was a third-generation coal miner, who left for a law degree and came back to fight for his community.

And he’ll be remembered on every picket line. In every fight to better the lives of working people.

Rich Trumka is a legend. And legends are always remembered, even if we lose them.

He gave the labor movement everything he had, and so will we. We’ll keep fighting for you, Rich.

In Solidarity,

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Hands Off Cuba – Stop The Blockade


The right wing media, including the Guardian and BBC, are stepping up the onslaught on Cuba and hiding any mention of the 60 year US blockade and the 243 additional sanctions imposed by Donald Trump’s administration.

The Cuba Solidarity Campaign appeals to the Biden administration to observe the recent United Nations General Assembly vote on 23rd June 2021 which voted 184-2 for an end to the blockade of Cuba.

Unfortunately US President Joe Biden described a new raft of sanctions on Cuba as “just the beginning” last week as Washington tightened the screws on the socialist island.

“This is just the beginning,” Mr Biden said in a statement. “The United States will continue to sanction individuals responsible for oppression of the Cuban people.
Genuine efforts to support the Cuban people are welcome. Individuals and organisations can directly help by becoming members of CSC.

Please donate generously if you can.

All donations will be sent to CSC’s COVID-19 Medical Appeal.

Please come to this important meeting to get some truth about what is going on in Cuba and do circulate to your contacts who may be interested.

To Register paste in your search bar.

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Cuba Solidarity Campaign statement on the current situation in Cuba

The Cuba Solidarity Campaign calls on the US government to suspend the blockade of Cuba to allow emergency medical and humanitarian aid into the country in order to ease the economic and health crisis the island is experiencing.

The current emergency is a result of the ongoing US blockade, an additional 243 sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cuba has shown incredible resilience in the face of six decades of economic warfare by the US government in the form of a blockade intended to strangle the economy and create hunger and hardship in an attempt to destabilise the country.

The Cuba Solidarity Campaign opposes any calls for foreign intervention coming from those in the US who seek to exploit the current difficulties and provoke unrest. The solution to the challenges Cuba faces must be resolved by the people of Cuba and we support the efforts that the Cuban people and their government are making to fight the pandemic in the face of ongoing sanctions and provocations from the US.

On Sunday 11 July, some street protests took place against the scarcity of food, medicines and power supplies. The vast majority of these protesters have genuine concerns regarding these shortages. President Miguel Díaz-Canel travelled to San Antonio de los Baños, site of the original demonstration, and spoke to people about their grievances.

Some groups are seeking to exploit and provoke this difficult situation. They called for people to protest in other locations, resulting in protests in some towns and cities. In response, thousands of Cubans supporting the government have taken to the streets across the island in counter-demonstrations against US interference.

Now right-wing, pro-blockade, and regime-change politicians and groups in the US are also seeking to manipulate the situation. They have called for a so-called “humanitarian corridor” (a pretext for US intervention) to be set up. Anyone genuinely interested in helping the Cuban people at this time should instead be calling for the US government to ease the crippling sanctions.

The calls for US aid delivered through a US-imposed “humanitarian corridor” are disingenuous and fraudulent. These are the same people who hypocritically call for humanitarian intervention while supporting blockade policies which have caused shortages of food, fuel and medicines.
CSC condemns those in the US and internationally who are cynically using the situation to destabilise Cuba, and supports Cuba’s right to self-determination.

The Cuba Solidarity Campaign appeals to the Biden administration to observe the recent United Nations General Assembly vote on 23 June 2021 which voted 184-2 for an end to the blockade of Cuba. It is immoral and dangerous to seek to exploit the current struggles of the Cuban people to serve the political objectives of a few hardliners in Miami.

Genuine efforts to support the Cuban people are welcome. Individuals and organisations can directly help by becoming members of CSC. Donations can also be made to CSC’s COVID-19 Medical Appeal here:

COVID-19 Medical Appeal for Cuba

Background information
In recent days Cuba has experienced its worst increase in COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with a severe outbreak in the Matanzas which has stretched capacity in hospitals and isolation centres to the limit. Five hundred medics from other parts of the country have been deployed in the province to help. It is important to note that while the situation is severe, the numbers of cases and deaths are far below those in most other countries of the region including the United States itself which as of 10 July had a death rate of 1,870 per million compared to Cuba’s 139 per million.

At the same time Cuba is in the midst of its most severe economic crisis for more thirty years. The sixty year-old US blockade was tightened by the Trump administration by imposing 243 extra sanctions – all of which remain in place. These measures had already resulted in grave food, medical and fuel shortages before the pandemic struck. In addition, increasing numbers of banks are refusing to transfer funds to Cuba for fear of US fines, and it is now almost impossible for Cubans living abroad to transfer money to family on the island. With the onset of COVID-19, Cuba has also lost vital income from international tourism, which was down 94 per cent in the first four months of 2021.

Fuel shortages are causing many power cuts, which in the height of summer mean that air conditioning and fridges don’t work. There are long queues for food, medicines and basic goods. Without doubt the Cuban people are experiencing incredible hardship. People with friends or family in Cuba will have heard how difficult things are.

Last year the US blockade even prevented delivery of a consignment of COVID-19 medical aid for Cuba, including PPE, ventilators and testing equipment. Despite having two home-grown vaccines, Cuba’s vaccination roll-out programme is hindered by a lack of syringes and raw materials as a direct result of the blockade. Solidarity organisations around the world have had funding sites raising money for COVID-19 medical aid closed down because of blockade measures. CSC itself receives numerous enquiries from people who can’t find a way to transfer money to friends and family in Cuba. Meanwhile, the US government spends millions of dollars every year on so-called “democracy promotion” on the island, funding groups and individuals who work undercover attempting to build US-supported opposition.

If those calling for humanitarian aid to Cuba were genuine in their intentions they would start with calling for the blockade to be lifted to allow medical and other supplies to be sent to Cuba. However their true objectives are those of the blockade itself. As the infamous US State Department memorandum on the blockade of 1960 laid out:

“The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship… every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba… a line of action which, while as adroit and inconspicuous as possible, makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.”

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May Day Statement From EU Unions

” It is only when the sky is dark that we can see the stars .”

Long live the 1st May

This sentence, pronounced a few decades ago by Martin Luther King, has not aged a bit. We chose to take it as thread and across borders, at a time when we are preparing to write our speeches and trade publications for the feast of 1st May

The health crisis we are still facing has indeed plunged us into the dark. An intense black in which very quickly appeared thousands of stars ! Workers in factories, supermarkets, couriers, nurses, storekeepers, garbage collectors, taxi-train-tram-metro-bus drivers, energy specialists, garages, all of our service providers and “basic necessities ” , all the public service and administration agents, who ensured the continuity of basic or essential products … All the representatives of these professions in which we often have to fight to make ends meet and who have maintained the ” System ” standing !

Go further than simply limiting the damage :

• Workers are the biggest victims of the coronavirus crisis. Those temporarily unemployed have lost much of their purchasing power and many are now at risk of losing their jobs, such as temporary workers and workers on fixed-term contracts. No way for us to leave them by the wayside !

• Moreover, if society and the economy continue to turn in times of crisis, it is thanks to the workers, as well as to the maintenance of their purchasing power. It will therefore be necessary to restore the human dimension of work as well as reassess its value, which the system has lowered to the rank of a simple cost of production, in the same way as goods or raw materials. Recognise work and pay it fairly, with a special focus on the lowest wages. A fair job, not “just a job”!

• The global pandemic in which we are immersed is proof of this, health and safety must be put back on the agenda of our priorities. Trade unions have a key role to play as negotiators both in companies and at sectoral and inter-professional levels.

• The prevention and protection plans in the workplace must be the result of consultation between workers, employers, medical advisers and experts. Investments in personal protective equipment must be stepped up. It is unacceptable – with or without a pandemic – that workers do not even receive adequate protective equipment from their employers.

• We plead for a strengthening and tightening of inspections in this area. This idea meets with strong reservations, as if the only goal was to sanction. But if all the guidelines are followed, there is no problem. The employer who protects the health of his workers has nothing to fear from the inspection.

• The collective reduction of working time must be put back on the negotiating table, especially in this context where everyone is working harder and longer. This will promote a better distribution of work while significantly reducing the number of accidents, burnouts and other ailments linked to stress and overwork. It will also promote a much better work-life balance.

• Solidarity is the glue of a society just as a good health system is essential to our well-being. If the damage was limited during this unprecedented health crisis, it is thanks to the State and social security. This is why we must invest to strengthen public services and consolidate the funding bases of social security… Invest, refinance, consolidate, shape a more sustainable and united world. Review the redistribution of wealth to assign it to new priorities.

This of course requires tax justice, so that the tax is better and more equitably distributed.

Digitisation, energy transition, environmental impacts, short circuits, industrial relocation,… all against a backdrop of post-corona societal reorganization… In memory of activists, the challenges have never been so numerous nor have they seemed so complex.

The health situation, which we are going through, cannot serve as a pretext for multinationals and the rest of the economic power to deregulate labor relations, by leveling wages down, increasing working hours or making the situation of workers even more precarious. workers.

The months to come and the years that follow will be decisive for the international trade union movement because at a time when vaccination seems to be at cruising speed, at a time when a return to a normal life seems to be on the horizon , it is up to us to organise ourselves to prevent a return to the abnormal and demand a fair distribution of wealth. The return of profit as the sole engine of society, while companies have benefited from billions of euros of public money.

It is only when the sky is dark that we can see the stars, we wrote, beginning with these few lines. But one cannot live forever in the dark any more than one can deny the existence or underestimate the importance of the stars in broad daylight. We will remember it, wherever we go, wherever we sit: ” Do not play with our workers, the shareholders and the bosses at the risk of triggering…the real star wars”

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Unite Statement On The Union’s Birmingham Hotel, Conference & Education Centre

Responding to the piece broadcast by Sky News in relation to the Birmingham hotel, conference and education facility built for Unite the union, the union said:

Unfortunately, Sky News has let itself and it viewers down by producing and broadcasting a deeply misleading report on our new conference hotel and education facility in Birmingham.

“The report is inaccurate from the outset.  The roots of the story are not in Liverpool but lie firmly within the union’s democratic decision-making body, our Executive Council, which gave the go-ahead to embark on this wonderful facility for our members nearly a decade ago in 2012.

“The insinuation that Unite is somehow caught up in an entirely unrelated series of events in Liverpool is nothing other than a shallow attack on our union, but is also an insult to all those who worked on this world-class facility, as well as to the great people and city of Liverpool who are too often demonised by our lazy media.

“It seems that Sky News prefers guilt by association over the facts.

“The truth of the matter is that this is old news, reheated with not a single new fact in order to attack our union, using underhand tactics, innuendo and persons hostile to our union.  This is not journalism of which Sky can be proud.

“Every step of the way, the production of this complex was overseen by independent surveyors and architects.  Accountability was built into the process to ensure that at every stage of this development we got value for this union’s money.   All this was overseen by our democratically-elected, independent 62-strong Executive Council.  It is insulting in the extreme to infer that their oversight is at fault and should be somehow replaced by another body.  This is the body elected by our members to keep this union properly run and accountable, and they do this superbly.

“The result is a tremendous facility for use by working people in this country.  It is an incredible asset for our union, valued by an independent auditor at cost price now but recognised as a facility that will only increase in value.  It will produce huge amounts of income in revenue for our union, which will be reinvested in services and support for our members, and save the union millions a year alone in conference costs.

” Those in any doubt of the wisdom of this development need only compare it to similar projects in our cities to see for themselves what a sensible investment this development is for our union. This facility is an investment for shop stewards and 1.2 million working people by their union, because we their best interests are our driving force. 

“Unite is proud of this amazing facility, and proud to be a union that wants the best for our members.  We bow to nobody, and certainly not to a hostile media, in our dedication to delivering the best to our members.”

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Unite slams ‘abysmal’ removal of black bus driver from Labour’s London campaign

London’s biggest trade union, Unite, has slammed  the ‘abysmal’ decision to remove the only male Afro-Caribbean candidate from the Labour party list of candidates for elections across the capital this May.

The union says that the removal of Preston Tabois, a bus driver and Tottenham Labour councillor, reveals the party’s ‘double-standards’ and is calling for the decision to be reversed.

Mr Tabois had previously been endorsed by an NEC Panel, following a complaint about a tweet from several years ago. The panel explicitly said that Mr Tabois should remain a candidate.

However, an NEC panel has now voted to remove Mr Tabois. No reason for his removal has been given. Condemning the move, Unite regional secretary Pete Kavanagh said: “This is just an abysmal decision by the Labour party.  It’s an insult to Preston, to our union and more importantly, to London’s voters.

“One in three London voters is from the BAEM community. Candidates like Preston from the Afro-Caribbean community show that Labour stands up for and speaks for all our London communities.

“Preston is Labour through and through. He is a bus driver who knows this city inside out and who will always work to advance the interests of working-class people.  

Unite national officer for the union’s BAEM membership, Harish Patel, added: “Voters will rightly be asking why the Westminster candidate for Hartlepool has been allowed to apologise and move on for his insulting comments about women, but Preston Tabois is not allowed to do the same about one post he shared seven years ago.

“Such transparent double-standards will cause anger. The party already has a real problem reaching and engaging the BAEM community at the best of times. This just made that job so much harder.

“To remove the only male Afro-Caribbean candidate from the party’s entire list of 10 for the capital is an appalling move.

“It has to reverse this decision before irreversible damage is done to our relationship with the Afro-Caribbean working class, not just in London but across the country.”

All of which begs the question what is going on the Labour Party? The Party rams through the nomination of a candidate in the Hartlepool by-election with a long list of one and despite sexist tweets referring to women as MILFs he gets excused as it was ‘historical and he apologised’, yet Preston, a decent man, a black man, and a working bus driver who originally gets through is removed from the party list of candidates by another panel?

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Book review: Walter Citrine: Forgotten Statesman of the Trade Union Congress

Walter Citrine: Forgotten Statesman of the Trade Union Congress
Author:  Dr Jim Moher

By Roger Jeary

Political biographies can be hard going at times but this well crafted and detailed view of Walter Citrine does not fall into that category. Jim Moher has chosen to rely heavily upon the extensive diaries and document of Walter Citrine (who was the third General Secretary of the TUC) and intertwined that with extracts/comments from biographers of contemporary figures in the political period covering the first half of the 20th century and beyond.

The book takes us through a chronology of Citrine’s life including his early family/work background and initial steps into the trade union movement.

It then leads us into the period from 1925 to 1946 which focuses on the most influential period of Citrine’s trade union and political career. We then learn of his contribution to the Nationalised Industries, post war, and conclude with his contributions to the House of Lords.

I, like many who have spent their lives involved in the trade union movement, have known of the existence of Citrine through his extensively used “ABC of Chairmanship” originally published in note form as a guide to Electricial Trade Union branches in Liverpool to enable them to complete their meetings without deteriorating into inconclusive shouting matches. Many will have known that he was also General Secretary of the TUC for two decades from 1926 to 1946 but I suspect most will not be familiar with his contribution during that time to the movement and internationalism.

Dr Moher, through his creative analysis of Citrine’s own records and records of meetings throughout that period, is able to provide an insight into discussions and arguments behind the headlines which covered the General Strike, the failed Labour Government in 1931, the fight against fascism in the 1930’s and his international role during the war years.

To cover such a breadth of activity in just over 400 pages and still leave the reader feeling they have an in depth knowledge of the period is a gift that few biographers emulate. To provide this insight into a man who has frequently been dismissed by trade unionists as simply an administrator with a passion for files, has meant that his true contribution to the movement, and the country, is released to all who take time to read this excellent biography.

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