The Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign, Annual Rally in Sheffield 17th June 2023
By Laurence Humphries, RCIT Britain, 20 June 2023, www.thecommunists.net
On the 17th June 2023, the Orgreave Truth and Justice campaign held their annual rally and demonstration. There were 1,500 people marching for a Public Enquiry into the events at Orgreave, at the height of the Miners’ Strike 39 years ago. Back then, when miners and their families were at Orgreave to picket, the police chased them with dogs and horses provoking a riot.
At the protest this year, there were banners and flags from ASLEF, UCU, NUM and UNITE who had a brass band leading the march. The RCIT attended and engaged in conversation with several members of Unite and other unions.
Joe Rollin, a National Officer with UNITE introduced some of the main speakers before the march walked through the city, led by the Hatfield Main Colliery banner.
Chris Kitchen, General Secretary of the NUM, welcomed everyone to the 38th anniversary of the Battle of Orgreave. He said that Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary in 2016, refused a public enquiry. The trial against the miners was based on falsified police evidence, so Chris Kitchen demanded a public enquiry.
Morag Livingstone, a film director, media journalist and co-author of the Book 'Charged', which details how the police suppressed protest from 1984 onwards, held a speech too. She said that what happened at Orgreave showed the collusion between the police and the Thatcher government. At that time, both the Police and the government denied any involvement. The events at Orgreave however had shown that there was a brutal police manual with operational tactics, with the sole aim to defeat the miners. These tactics included the use of horses and shields to suppress protests. It further included preventing people from moving from county to county as well as the police spying on miners and their communities. It was and still is obvious that Thatcher organised the policing of the strike.
Mark Serwokta, General Secretary of the PCS, and a noted left bureaucrat, showed his reformist outlook by asking Labour politicians to commit to a public enquiry. His reliance on pro-capitalist politicians around Keir Starmer proves again the utter bankruptcy of reformism.
The Miners’ Strike was an important historic event which has proven the willingness of the vanguard of the working class in Britain to fight by all means. At that time, they were supported by miners from Bosnia who donated to the miners’ trade union in Britain. The miners didn’t forget about this act of international solidarity and organized convoys to Bosnia during the war in the 1990s. The RCIT honoured the tradition by organizing solidarity convoys to Ukraine under the same slogan of Workers’ Aid.
It is the fighting spirit and the internationalist outlook of the Miners’ Strike in Britian that needs to be revived and with that it can be honoured properly.
The 42nd Annual March and Rally for May Day in Chesterfield
By Laurence Humphries, RCIT Britain, 2 May 2023, www.thecommunists.net
The rally and May Day march of 500-1,000 workers and their families were represented by many trade union supporters including banners from the GMB, NEU, UCU, ASLEF, RMT and other unions. The march weaved itself from Rose Hill to New Square where several speeches were held by various activists. The Ireland Colliery Chesterfield Band was also part of the march, as music is often incorporated in May Day tradition all around the world. The RCIT activists in Britain participated in the March, agitating for revolutionary politics, talking with several activists and supporters of the May Day march.
At New Square there were several speeches from trade union leaders and the Labour MP.
Toby Perkins, a right-wing labour MP, used the occasion as an electioneering event. Many workers barracked, booked, and interrupted him with catcalls and denunciations about the role of Labour. It was good to see the hatred the masses have of this reformist trying to defend the NHS when it was a Labour government under Blair who privatised the NHS. They have created the mess that the NHS is now in. Other reformist speakers were heard but there was one noticeable difference: Sen Senik, from the Kurdish Solidarity Movement. She spoke about the oppression of Kurds living in Turkey and how many had died in the recent earthquake. The regime in Turkey regularly arrests and imprisons Kurdish militants, denying them democratic rights. Aside of her rather vivid speech, the reformist closing event of the May Day march was not reflecting the militant mood of the recent wave of workers strikes in Britain.
RCN Nurses continue to Strike in Defence of the NHS
By Laurence Humphries, RCIT Britain, 10 February 2023, www.thecommunists.net
On the 6th and 7th February, the trade unions RCN, GMB and UNITE staged further one day strikes at hospitals and health centres in England in defence of the NHS and for increase pay and conditions.
In Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland there was no action as the Welsh government has offered a new increased pay offer. Such pay offer was not given in England. Steve Barclay, the Health minister of the Sunak government ignores the demands of the RCN and the other workers.
On Tuesday, 7th February, I visited the RCN picket line at Kettering General Hospital where I found 40-59 nurses from the RCN in a very determined mood to win their dispute. There was huge support from the nurses with car drivers hooting their horn in support of the nurses’ action.
I talked to Andy, one of the RCN representatives on the picket line. Andy told me: "Sunak and his government are refusing to go into negotiations with the RCN", he said further: "The NHS is a pinnacle of free health care when anyone can walk into a hospital and have care at no cost for any type of surgery, be it a heart attack or a broken leg." He stressed that the RCN wanted fairer wages for nurses.
The RCIT puts forward the following demands
1) For regular and automatic inflation increases in payment of wages for health workers and others
2) Against all attacks on the NHS! No to privatisation and private health care!
3) Coordinate the ongoing strikes into an indefinite general strike to bring down the reactionary government!
Nurses Strike to Defend the NHS, their Pay and Conditions
By Laurence Humphries, RCIT Britain, 18 December 2022, www.thecommunists.net
Nurses from the Royal College of Nursing took industrial action on the 15th December this year. They went on strike in defence of the NHS and to defend their pay and working conditions in the light of raging inflation running at over 14%.
Steve Barclay, the secretary of State for Health had instructed the Pay Review Board not to pay nurses above the 2% already awarded. This was a minimum payment and nurses had no alternative but to take action to defend the NHS, the only free national health service that Britain offers. Dramatically as it is, many nurses have such low income that they use food banks and rarely get by with the increased living costs.
Britain is experiencing massive action by the workers and the oppressed against the crisis of recession, the economic slump peaking since months now.
The British government, having an infatuation with Bonapartism, tries to save its crisis ridden system. Post, railway, port, bus, airport and university staff (likewise other sectors) are taking strike action to defend their pay and working conditions.
I visited the picket line by nurses in Kettering Northamptonshire and found determined workers who value the importance of the health service. They fight to stop the drain of nurses leaving hospitals. Their action continues on the 20th December with other health workers like ambulance drivers also striking in the new year. Unions like Unite, Unison and the GMB will join the action in the new year.
RCIT IN BRITAIN calls for a massive recruitment of doctors and nurses while all wages in the health sector must be increased by far more than the inflation rate! We need all health workers on a fair and wealthy income level, showing respect to their tremendous work if we want to turn NHS into a proper health care system. Furthermore, the strike wave of the various sectors of workers must be united in a general strike movement to bring down the current reactionary government and to replace it by a workers government.
Brazil: Public Workers in Diadema Announce an Indefinite Strike
Report by the Revolutionary Communist Current (RCIT Section in Brazil), 22 May 2022
The workers of Diadema, a municipality governed by the Workers' Party-PT, occupied the streets of the city center on Thursday morning, May 19th, in a big one-day strike for the adjustment of wages to inflation and against wage cuts.
The rally with hundreds of municipal civil servants left the headquarters of the Union of Diadema public workers and walked along Antonio Piranga Avenue to the Diadema City Hall. In the afternoon, the whole labor force of Diadema's public sector occupied the City Council to put pressure for the negotiations with the mayor, José de Filippi.
The administration, however, did not signal any willingness to meet the demands of the workers and proposed a new meeting only for May 31. Neither did it make any proposal for the compensation of salary losses.
Inflation during the current municipal govern administration (2021-2022) is 17.69% (inflation from March 2020 to February 2021 was 6.22%) and inflation from March 2021 to February 2022 was 10.8%.
The 2021 Wage Campaign agreement, contrary to what the Municipal Administration has announced, restored only part of the losses due to inflation. In fact, the wage losses until March 2022 did reach 8%. The workers can't give in, even more so in a scenario of the current high inflation.
A workers assembly held at the City Hall on May 19 therefore rejected the proposal of the City Hall to meet the Permanent Negotiating Table only on May 31. Faced with the intransigent opposition of the PT administration, the workers decided to strike indefinitely from the 25th of May.
João Evangelista, a representative of the Revolutionary Communist Current (RCIT Section in Brazil), made a strong and well-received speech at the assembly demanding that the PT administration be consistent with the speeches and the party's program during the 2020 election campaign when, at the time, the candidate Filippi defended the valorization of public workers in the city and the adjustment of wages to the rising inflation, but in practice he has the same traditional policy of rightists parties of lowering wages, privatization and outsourcing.
You can watch the speech of João Evangelista here: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=pfbid0bwT8MeLaN8pt62dbiT9uwjZhiFdkYAKynhdeob2xDrdySrxS779wM1bGz4f3LH42l&id=100008108617275
Britain: Mass Demonstration for Free Palestine!
Report by the RCIT Britain, 14.5.2022
On Saturday 14th May around 50,000 people marched and demonstrated for a Free Palestine and for the end to Zionist terror against Palestinians. The march was led by Palestinian students organised in the Friends of Al Asqua. The majority of demonstrators were Palestinians and Muslims migrants, supporters of pro-Palestine solidarity group as well as the Stop the War coalition. A group of Antizionist Jews also participated in the demonstration.
There were prominent pictures of Shireen Abu Alkeh – the Palestinian Al-Jazeera journalist recently murdered by the Zionist army without any provocation. There were placards in support of Palestinians fighting for a Free Homeland from the River to the Sea and denunciations of the Apartheid state of Israel. There were chants of “Free Palestine” and “We are all Palestinian's now”.
Comrades of the RCIT Britain participated in the demonstration and sold our journal.