Tag Archive: workers


Ukraine Fraudsters Again – A Message from the LRP

League for the Revolutionary party
April 2014


Reports on the events in Ukraine in recent months have mentioned three activists whose names some readers may recall: Oleg (Oleh) Vernik and Zakhar Popovych in Ukraine and Ilya Budraitskis in Russia. In the early 2000s, while members of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI), they conspired to assume multiple fake personal identities as representatives of several fictitious socialist groups in Ukraine. Under these disguises they posed as supporters of a number of far-left groups in North America and Europe, from whom they stole funds, time and other resources. Their crimes further corrupted the reputation of a socialist movement already burdened by mistaken association with the heinous crimes of Stalinism.

We reported on this political and financial scam in CWI Group Guilty of Ukraine Fraud (Proletarian Revolution No. 69, Winter 2004), and we posted personal identifying information at Photos of the Perpetrators on this website. A list of many other articles on the affair at the time is at Statements from various sources on the Ukrainian fraud (wwww.bolshevik.org). A summary of the fraud, the CWI’s response and the current activities of these perpetrators was recently posted on the website of the Greek organization Communist Revolutionary Action. See Maidan and Ukranian Story of a Lasting Fraud.

The perpetrators of the fraud have not to our knowledge ever issued any explanation of, or apology for, their political, personal and financial dishonesty. Today Vernyk is chairman of the All-Ukrainian independent trade union “Zakhyst Pratsi” (Labor Defence). See tradeunion.org.ua. Budraitskis belongs to the Socialist Movement of Russia, which is affiliated with the organization long known as the United Secretariat of the Fourth International (USec). See for example his article Ukrainians fighting for a better society.

Popovych belongs to “Left Opposition” in Ukraine whose views are also disseminated by the Usec’s magazine International Viewpoint. See A mass revolt for democracy. He also made a widely reported visit to London where he spoke about the Ukrainian events. See for example Russian and Ukrainian socialists speak out. A video of Popovych speaking at a public meeting at the House of Commons is at Crisis in the Ukraine (House of Commons Meeting) – Videos. By comparing this video with the photos of Popovych in the original articles about the fraud, one can see that today’s activist is the same person as yesterday’s fraudster.

We warn the left in Ukraine and around the world: these people are not to be trusted in their political, organizational and financial adventures.

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Where the World’s Unsold Cars Go To Die

Above is just a few of the thousands upon thousands of unsold cars at Sheerness, United Kingdom. Please do see this on Google Maps….type in Sheerness, United Kingdom. Look to the west coast, below River Thames next to River Medway. Left of A249, Brielle Way. Timestamp: Friday, May 16th, 2014. There are hundreds of places like this in the world today and they keep on piling up…

THE WORLDS UNSOLD CAR STOCKPILE
Houston…We have a problem!…Nobody is buying brand new cars anymore! Well they are, but not on the scale they once were. Millions of brand new unsold cars are just sitting redundant on runways and car parks around the world. There, they stay, slowly deteriorating without being maintained.

Below is an image of a massive car park at Swindon, United Kingdom, with thousands upon thousands of unsold cars just sitting there with not a buyer in sight. The car manufacturers have to buy more and more land just to park their cars as they perpetually roll off the production line.

There is proof that the worlds recession is still biting and wont let go. All around the world there are huge stockpiles of unsold cars and they are being added to every day. They have run out of space to park all of these brand new unsold cars and are having to buy acres and acres of land to store them.

NOTE:
The images on this webpage showing all of these unsold cars are just a very small portion of those around the world. There are literally thousands of these “car parks” rammed full of unsold cars in practically every country on the planet. Just in case you were wondering, these images have not been Photoshopped, they are the real deal! Its hard to believe that there are so many unsold cars in the world but its true. The worse part is that the amount of unsold cars keeps on getting bigger every day.

It would be fair to say that it is becoming a mechanical epidemic of epic proportions. If anybody from outer space is reading this webpage, we here on Earth have too many cars, why not come and buy a few hundred thousand of them for your own planet! (sorry but this is all I can think of) Below is shown just a few of the 57,000 cars (and growing) that await delivery from their home in the Port of Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. With Google Maps look South of Broening Hwy in Dundalk for the massive expanse of space where all these cars are parked up.

The car industry would never sell these cars at massive reductions in their prices to get rid of them, no they still want every buck. If they were to price these cars for a couple of thousand they would sell them. However, nobody would then buy any expensive cars and then they would end up being unsold. Its quite a pickle we have gotten ourselves into.

Below is shown an image of the Nissan test track in Sunderland United Kingdom. Only it is no longer being used, reason…there are too many unsold cars parked up on it! The amount of cars keeps on piling up on it until its overflowing. Nissan then acquires more land to park up the cars, as they continue to come off the production line.

UPDATE: Currently May 16th, 2014, all of these cars at the Nissan Sunderland test track have disappeared? Now I don’t believe they have all suddenly been sold. I would guess they may have been taken away and recycled to make room for the next vast production run.

Indeed next to that test track and adjacent to the Nissan factory, they are collating again as shown on the Google Maps image below. So where did the last lot go? This is not an employees car park by the way.

None of the images on this webpage are of ordinary car parks at shopping malls, football matches etc. Trust me, they are just mountains and mountains of brand spanking new unsold cars. There is no real reason why you should be driving an old clunker now is there?

The car industry cannot stop making new cars because they would have to close their factories and lay off tens of thousands of employees. This would further add to the recession. Also the domino effect would be catastrophic as steel manufactures would not sell their steel. All the tens of thousands of places where car components are made would also be effected, indeed the world could come to a grinding halt.

Below is shown just a small area of a gigantic car park in Spain where tens of thousands of cars just sit and sunbathe all day.

They are also piling up at the port of Valencia in Spain as seen below. They are either waiting to be exported to…nowhere or have been imported…to go nowhere.

Tens of thousands of cars are still being made every week but hardly any of them are being sold. Nearly every household in developed countries already has a car or even two or three cars parked up on their driveway as it is.

Below is an image of thousands upon thousands of unsold cars parked up on a runway near St Petersburg in Russia. They are all imported from Europe, they are all then parked up and they are all then left to rot. Consequently, the airport is now unusable for its original purpose.

The cycle of buying, using, buying using has been broken, it is now just a case of “using” with no buying. Below is an image of thousands of unsold cars parked up on an disused runway at Upper Heyford, Bicester, Oxfordshire. They are seriously running out of space to store these cars.

It is a sorry state of affairs and there is no answer to it, solutions don’t exist. So the cars just keep on being manufactured and keep on adding to the millions of unsold cars already sitting redundant around the world.

Below are parked tens of thousands of cars at Royal Portbury Docks, Avonmouth, near Bristol in the United Kingdom. If you look on Google Maps and scan around the area at say 200ft you will see nothing but parked up unsold cars. They are absolutley everywhere in that area practically every open space has unsold cars parked up on it.

Below is that same area in Avonmouth, UK, but zoomed out. Every gray space that you see is filled with unsold cars. Anyone want to hazard a guess at how many are there…

As it is, there are more cars than there are people on the planet with an estimated 10 billion roadworthy cars in the world today.

We literally cannot make enough of them. Below are seen just a few of the thousands of Citroen’s parked up at Corby, Northamptonshire in England. They are being added to daily, imported from France but with nowhere else to go once they arrive.

So there they sit, brand spanking new cars, all with a couple of miles on the clock that was consummate with them being driven to their car parks. Below is the latest May 2014 Google Maps image of unsold cars in Corby, Northamptonshire.

Manufacturing more cars than can be sold is against all logic, logistics and economics but it continues day after day, week after week, month after month, year in year out.

Below is shown a recent (April 2014) screen grab from Google Maps of the Italian port of Civitavecchia. All those little specks are a few thousand brand new unsold Peugeots. Just collecting dust and maybe a bit of salty sea spray!

Below, all nice and shiny but with nowhere to go. Red and white and black and silver, purple, pink and blue, all the colors of the rainbow and be they all brand new. Indeed all the colors of the rainbow are down there on those cars, making pretty mosaics, montages of color and still life. Maybe that is all they will now ever be, surreal urban art of the techno production age. Magnificent metal boxes, wasting space and saving grace, all sitting still, because its business at mill.
All around the world these cars just keep on piling up, there is no end in sight. The economy shouts out quite loud that nobody has the money anymore to spend on a new car. The reason being that they are making their “old” cars go on a lot longer. But we cannot stop making them, soon we will run out of space to park them. We are nearly running out of space to drive them that’s for sure!

Below, more cars mount up in the port of Valencia in Spain. They will not be exported as there is nowhere for them to go, so they just sit and rot in their colorful droves.

Gone are the days when the family would have a new car every year, they are now keeping what they have got. It may be fair to say that some families still get a new car every year but its the majority that now do not.

The results are in these images, hundreds of thousands if not millions of cars around the world are driven from their factories, parked up and left.

Could we say that these cars have been left to rot! Maybe, as these cars will certainly rot if they are not bought, driven and cared for. It does not look like they will be sold any day soon, many of them have been standing for over 12 months or even longer and this is detrimental to the car.

Below, as far as the eye can see, right into the background, cars, cars and more cars. But what’s beyond the horizon? Have a guess…Yes that’s right…even more cars! All brand new but with no homes to go to. Do you think they will ever start giving them away, that may be the only radical solution. Who knows, you could soon be getting a free car with every packet of cornflakes.

When a car is left standing idle, all the oil sinks to the bottom of the sump, and then corrosion begins to set in on all the internal engine parts where the oil has drained away.

Cold corrosion is when condensation builds up in the cylinders and rust forms in the bores. The engines would then start to seize and would need to be professionally freed before they could be started. Also the tires start to lose air and the batteries start to go flat, indeed the detrimental list goes on and on.

So the longer they sit there the worse it slowly becomes for them. What is the answer to this? Well they need to be sold and that just isn’t happening.

The epidemic is not improving, it is getting worse. Car manufactureres are constantly coming out with new models with the latest technology in them. Hence prospective buyers of, for example, a new Citroen Xsara Picasso want the latest model, not last years model. Hence all the unsold Citroen Xsara Picasso cars from the previous year will now have even lesser chance of being sold.

The problems then just keep on mounting up. In the end, the unsold cars that are say 2 years old will have no alternative but to be either crushed up, dismantled and/or their parts recycled.

Some car manufacturers moved their production over to China, General Motors and Cadillac are examples of this. They are then shipped over in containers and unloaded at ports. However they are now being told to put a big halt in their import into the U.S.A. as they just can’t sell them in the quantities they would desire. Consequently Chinese car parks are now filling up with brand new American cars. Well nobody in China can afford them on their meagre pittance wages, so there they will stay until our economy improves..And lets not hold our breath for that!Enemy Is Profit

voice of anti-capitalismThe truth is out: money is just an IOU, and the banks are rolling in it

David Graeber, theguardian.com
Back in the 1930s, Henry Ford is supposed to have remarked that it was a good thing that most Americans didn’t know how banking really works, because if they did, “there’d be a revolution before tomorrow morning”.

Last week, something remarkable happened. The Bank of England let the cat out of the bag. In a paper called “Money Creation in the Modern Economy“, co-authored by three economists from the Bank’s Monetary Analysis Directorate, they stated outright that most common assumptions of how banking works are simply wrong, and that the kind of populist, heterodox positions more ordinarily associated with groups such as Occupy Wall Street are correct. In doing so, they have effectively thrown the entire theoretical basis for austerity out of the window.– moneyTo get a sense of how radical the Bank’s new position is, consider the conventional view, which continues to be the basis of all respectable debate on public policy. People put their money in banks. Banks then lend that money out at interest – either to consumers, or to entrepreneurs willing to invest it in some profitable enterprise. True, the fractional reserve system does allow banks to lend out considerably more than they hold in reserve, and true, if savings don’t suffice, private banks can seek to borrow more from the central bank.

The central bank can print as much money as it wishes. But it is also careful not to print too much. In fact, we are often told this is why independent central banks exist in the first place. If governments could print money themselves, they would surely put out too much of it, and the resulting inflation would throw the economy into chaos. Institutions such as the Bank of England or US Federal Reserve were created to carefully regulate the money supply to prevent inflation. This is why they are forbidden to directly fund the government, say, by buying treasury bonds, but instead fund private economic activity that the government merely taxes.

It’s this understanding that allows us to continue to talk about money as if it were a limited resource like bauxite or petroleum, to say “there’s just not enough money” to fund social programmes, to speak of the immorality of government debt or of public spending “crowding out” the private sector. What the Bank of England admitted this week is that none of this is really true. To quote from its own initial summary: “Rather than banks receiving deposits when households save and then lending them out, bank lending creates deposits” … “In normal times, the central bank does not fix the amount of money in circulation, nor is central bank money ‘multiplied up’ into more loans and deposits.”

In other words, everything we know is not just wrong – it’s backwards. When banks make loans, they create money. This is because money is really just an IOU. The role of the central bank is to preside over a legal order that effectively grants banks the exclusive right to create IOUs of a certain kind, ones that the government will recognise as legal tender by its willingness to accept them in payment of taxes. There’s really no limit on how much banks could create, provided they can find someone willing to borrow it. They will never get caught short, for the simple reason that borrowers do not, generally speaking, take the cash and put it under their mattresses; ultimately, any money a bank loans out will just end up back in some bank again. So for the banking system as a whole, every loan just becomes another deposit. What’s more, insofar as banks do need to acquire funds from the central bank, they can borrow as much as they like; all the latter really does is set the rate of interest, the cost of money, not its quantity. Since the beginning of the recession, the US and British central banks have reduced that cost to almost nothing. In fact, with “quantitative easing” they’ve been effectively pumping as much money as they can into the banks, without producing any inflationary effects.

What this means is that the real limit on the amount of money in circulation is not how much the central bank is willing to lend, but how much government, firms, and ordinary citizens, are willing to borrow. Government spending is the main driver in all this (and the paper does admit, if you read it carefully, that the central bank does fund the government after all). So there’s no question of public spending “crowding out” private investment. It’s exactly the opposite.

Why did the Bank of England suddenly admit all this? Well, one reason is because it’s obviously true. The Bank’s job is to actually run the system, and of late, the system has not been running especially well. It’s possible that it decided that maintaining the fantasy-land version of economics that has proved so convenient to the rich is simply a luxury it can no longer afford.

But politically, this is taking an enormous risk. Just consider what might happen if mortgage holders realised the money the bank lent them is not, really, the life savings of some thrifty pensioner, but something the bank just whisked into existence through its possession of a magic wand which we, the public, handed over to it.

Historically, the Bank of England has tended to be a bellwether, staking out seeming radical positions that ultimately become new orthodoxies. If that’s what’s happening here, we might soon be in a position to learn if Henry Ford was right.Enemy Is Profit

VOAG-Logo-(Brick)13Anti-fascists organize resistance
as crisis grips Ukraine coup regime

Workers World, March 28, 2014
Just a month after a U.S.-backed coup d’état in Ukraine brought to power a regime dominated by neo-Nazis and pro-Western capitalist politicians, the ruling junta finds itself in deep crisis.

Threats from the government in Kiev and its U.S. and Western European patrons were unable to intimidate the people of the Crimean autonomous region, who voted overwhelmingly to break away from Ukraine and affiliate with Russia on March 16. Russian President Vladimir Putin and local leaders made it official on March 18.

Now infighting has exploded among the fascist factions in the ruling coalition in Kiev.
The International Monetary Fund, meanwhile, has agreed to give the coup-makers an $18 billion loan — but only if they accept painful austerity measures. These are almost certain to throw Ukraine deeper into chaos.

Further, Kiev has been unable to subdue the rebellious eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, where anti-fascists are digging in to organize grassroots resistance.

People in these major working-class industrial and mining areas are rising to oppose the junta and demand political and economic autonomy. They reject the rule of the billionaire oligarchs appointed as new regional governors by Kiev. Some are even calling for re-nationalization of privatized industries.

Thieves fall out
Overnight on March 27-28, members of the neo-Nazi Right Sector gang surrounded the Ukrainian Rada [parliament] and threatened to storm it — much as they had done a month earlier, when the elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych was toppled.

But this time, the Right Sector was protesting its own erstwhile partners, some of whom were barricaded inside, including members of the far-right Fatherhood party and neo-Nazi Svoboda party. European television broadcast images of Svoboda politicians hanging out of windows shouting epithets while Right Sector goons hurled rocks at them from the street.

What happened?
On March 24, Right Sector leader Aleksandr Muzychko was shot dead during a police raid in the western city of Rovno. Muzychko had a long history of fascist terrorism and was on several international “most wanted” lists — a Ukrainian version of the anti-Cuba terrorist Luis Posada Carriles.

The assassination of Muzychko was followed by raids on Right Sector hideouts and seizures of weapons. The hit came on orders from acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, a representative of the Fatherland party associated with former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Avakov has established a “National Guard” under his command to deputize the fascist gangs and bring them all under the junta’s control. He also masterminded the joint neo-Nazi/police patrols that have suppressed any resistance in the western cities.

Avakov represents the coalition of far-right forces that control the commanding heights of police, military and prosecutorial powers of the new regime. Some forces in the Right Sector, like Muzychko, didn’t want to follow orders. Avakov and his colleagues decided that those who wouldn’t play ball must be eliminated.

The fascist street gangs served their purpose as the violent fists of the Euromaidan protests that ousted Yanukovych. But when it comes to investments and military strategy, Washington, Bonn and the IMF prefer to work with well-groomed, business-suited fascists like Avakov and Svoboda leader Oleh Tyanhybok.

Tymoshenko: ‘Grab a machine gun’
U.S. imperialism has big plans for Ukraine. First, it contains pipelines that control much of the flow of oil and gas between Russia and Western Europe. In addition, stationing NATO troops and weaponry there is also key to U.S. plans to isolate and dismember Russia.

Even after promising the Kiev junta $10 billion in loans, Washington is worried about the stability of the coup. Means have to be found to stabilize the country — that is, make it profitable for the Western imperialists. That means not only controlling the far-right factions in the western part, but quelling the anti-fascist resistance in the south and east.

While the inter-regime crisis was unfolding in Kiev, a leaked phone call posted online revealed more about the fires of war that the Obama administration and congressional leaders are furiously stoking. The call was from former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, considered a leading candidate in the presidential elections planned for May 25. Tymoshenko, a leader of the so-called Orange Revolution of 2004, was imprisoned for corruption before the coup.

Speaking with a former military official after the Crimea referendum, Tymoshenko urged her supporters to “take up arms and kill the fucking Russians along with their leader.” Tymoshenko also said she was ready to “grab a machine gun and shoot [Putin] in the head.” The recording ends with Tymoshenko threatening to use nuclear weapons against the 8 million Russian-speakers living in Ukraine. After the call went public, Tymoshenko claimed the part about using nukes was manipulated. The rest, she confirmed, was accurate.

Anti-fascists build resistance
In the cities of southern and eastern Ukraine, the leftist Union Borotba (Struggle) is one of the groups organizing anti-fascist resistance. Borotba’s central office in Kiev was ransacked after the coup and its activists forced underground. Outside Kiev, Borotba and other anti-fascists work in a hazy state of semi-legality, operating more or less openly depending on the level of organized resistance in each city.

This creates special challenges for organizers. For example, print shop owners refuse to print flyers or newspapers due to threats from the fascists. However, Borotba has managed to get help from sympathetic workers to publish its materials. A 10,000-copy run of “Front,” the first issue of a newspaper published by Borotba and the Antifascist Resistance Center, sold out in just three days. Borotba activists have set up tents and information tables to spread their message and recruit people to local anti-fascist defense committees composed of activists, workers, youths and former Red Army soldiers.

In Kharkov, where the Right Sector murdered two anti-fascists on March 14, Borotba plays a leading role in organizing mass resistance. On March 22, some 2,000 people defied a ban and rallied at Freedom Square for a people’s speakout initiated by Borotba. A major goal of the event was to recruit supporters for the local defense organization, People’s Unity.

The following day, hundreds marched down Rymarska Street to remember the two slain activists. They chanted: “Fascists kill! Power covers up!” Police then charged Borotba leader Denis Levin, a convener of the rally, with violating the ban and ordered him to appear in court on March 26. After a crowd of supporters picketed the court during his hearing, the judge dismissed the charge as “baseless.”

In Odessa, Borotba activists took up the case of Anton Davidchenko, a local resistance leader who was seized by the “Alpha” special police unit on March 17 and kidnapped to Kiev, where he is being held incommunicado. Some 1,000 people defied fascist threats and rallied at Odessa’s Kulikovo Field on March 23 to demand a referendum on autonomy. Led by Regional Council Deputy and Borotba activist Alex Albu, they marched to the prosecutor’s office to demand Davidchenko’s release and an end to the regime’s political repression.

Communist Party holds congress
The Communist Party of Ukraine (KPU) has also been targeted by the junta. On its first day, the new regime threatened an outright ban of the KPU. The party’s headquarters in Kiev was trashed and is still occupied by the Right Sector. Party members have been attacked and beaten. KPU leaders have continued to assert their membership in the parliament although they have been effectively banned from Kiev since the coup.

On March 26, the KPU held its 47th Extraordinary Congress in the eastern industrial city of Donetsk. The party nominated its general secretary, Peter Simonenko, to run for president in the May elections. It is unclear whether the KPU will be allowed on the ballot, or what dangers party candidates might face.

Emphasizing the need of the party to preserve its cadres and organization, Simonenko said: “We have grounds for optimism. In a short time, the new regime showed its anti-people nature and incompetence, its inability to govern. The inevitable deterioration of the situation of workers as a result of the requirements of the IMF will inevitably create the basis for a new protest movement.”

Workers, youths and retirees alike are determined to defeat the far-right gangs and push back Western imperialism. They remember their history as part of the Soviet Ukraine, which defeated the fascist occupation during World War II, with support from the Red Army.enemy is at home

voice of anti-capitalismModern Day Slavery In Qatar: Workers Paid Less Than 60p An Hour – The VOAG Investigates

The VOAG has been aware of the issue of foreign workers in Qatar for some time. RT, Press TV, and Aljazeera, as well as Amnesty International have made documentaries on the issue, and the VOAG has received a variety of articles on the subject. foreign workers mainly from India, Pakistan and other developing countries are encouraged to go to Qatar to work in the construction industry. Once there they are stripped of their passports and forced to work for very little money, and in some cases, for free.

UCATT, the British construction union recently went to Qatar on a “fact-finding mission” to investigate for them selves, and spoke to the VOAG of their results. UCATT now plan to put further pressure on the Hukoomi – Qatar Government Portal and British based companies working in the country. The plight of workers will become increasingly high-profile, as construction is now beginning for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.ucattUCATT met workers who were being paid less than £0.60 pence an hour and who were being paid a little over £50 a week, while being expected to work excessive hours, 6 days a week in temperatures up to 55 degrees in the summer. The levels of poverty pay are especially stark given that Qatar is one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

The 2 million construction workers in Qatar work under the kafala system which means they are bonded labour. The workers have their passports confiscated and cannot leave the country without their employer’s permission. For many workers this means that they cannot return home for at least two years. The workers also have to pay up to a thousand pounds each before they are allowed to work in Qatar, which are often financed through loans at very high interest rates. Often workers do not receive the wages owed to them. During the mission UCATT met workers who had not been paid for five months.

UCATT also visited the accommodation provided for many of the workers and saw how workers live in abject squalor. UCATT met a group of nine workers who were expected to live in one tiny room measuring 10 square metres. Welfare facilities were entirely inadequate with just five poorly maintained toilets provided for 200 workers. The facilities for workers to prepare food were also atrocious. Workers report there is often no running water and they are forced to wash in sea water.

Steve Murphy, General Secretary of UCATT, said: “The treatment of migrant construction workers in Qatar is appalling. If animals were being treated in this way in Britain there would be a national outcry. The fact that this is happening overseas means that many companies are prepared to look the other way in the pursuit of profits.CONSTRUCTION WORKERHundreds of migrant construction workers die in Qatar every year. In the last two years 500 Indian workers have died. Last year 195 Nepalese deaths were recorded 123 of these were recorded as being due to cardiac arrest. UCATT learnt that deceased workers do not receive a post mortem and if the death was recorded as natural causes then no compensation was paid. Mr Murphy added: “The way that migrant workers are treated in Qatar demonstrates that those in power consider their lives to be cheap and expendable.”

The fact finding mission to Qatar was jointly organised with Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) the international federation of construction unions.

Reporting on the preparations for the 2022 World Cup, an RT (Russia Today news channel) investigation discovered foreign construction workers “toiling in terrible conditions and having received no salaries for months”, and their “passports confiscated by employers”.

One of the men interviewed worked for 12 years as an accommodation specialist, but, as Peter Giesel, the film maker, indicated to RT, “ironically, his accommodation itself doesn’t even have a fan.” The man hasn’t been getting his salary and bonuses for a number of years, and his main difficulty is to fight a case against his boss and his firm: the employer took his passport from him, and the 35-year-old worker hasn’t made the money necessary to return home, “the devilish circle”, as the RT report put it. Another group of guys – there were four of them – weren’t paid for seven months in a row and were trying to file a case when Giesel met them.

As the filmmaker explained, one of the main issues surrounding migrant workers is that they are employed under the so-called kafala system, which is “a law basically stating that every migrant worker that comes into Qatar has to find his own personal sponsor meaning his boss, the firm or corporation he’s working for.”

“And that sponsor has to take care of him legally and medically, but obviously, most of the sponsors take their passports away from the migrant workers. That puts maybe tens of thousands of them in a miserable situation. They can’t make any money to go home, so they’re trapped down there.”

Moreover, migrant employees can’t rely on outside forces such as their countries’ embassies, according to Giesel. “I had a chance to sneak into the Nepalese embassy and do my recordings down there. It seems to be some kind of chaos: the bureaucracy not only in the embassies, but also in the Qatari system is too overwhelming for those 1.4 million migrant workers to be treated fairly,” reported Giesel.

InjusticeThe VOAG has been concerned for a long time at the actions of PCS union members who work at Employment Centers. Many of the members of the Surrey United Anti-Capitalists – a local, independent,  left unity project, which the VOAG supports – have been unfairly treated, bullied and victimized by the staff. They have had their only source of income taken away from them on the whim of apparent union members who later go on strike and demand “working class unity and support”

The VOAG was pleased to read the article below, dealing with this very question on the Socialist Unity blog, and re-publishes it here.

 The role of PCS members in the bullying of benefit claimants

Members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) are engaged in the widespread bullying and intimidation of benefit claimants in Job Centres up and down the country. The evidence can no longer be denied and the union’s leadership must now take steps to educate its members that solidarity is more than just a word on a leaflet during a PCS pay dispute, or else face the accusation of collaborating with the government’s vicious assault on the most economically vulnerable in society under the rubric of austerity.

The upsurge in the number of claimants having their benefits sanctioned for increasingly minor infractions correlates to the upsurge in the demand for the services of the nation’s food banks. This shocking revelation was contained in a report by MPs in January, the result of an investigation by the Work and Pensions Select Committee, which called for an independent review into the rules for sanctioning claimants to ensure that the rules are being applied “fairly and appropriately”.

Among its findings the report stated: “Evidence suggests that JCP staff have referred many claimants for a sanction inappropriately or in circumstances in which common sense would dictate that discretion should have been applied”.

The report continued: “Some witnesses were concerned that financial hardship caused by sanctioning was a significant factor in a recent rise in referrals to food aid. The report recommends that DWP take urgent steps to monitor the extent of financial hardship caused by sanctions”.

The majority of Jobcentre staff are members of the 270,000 strong PCS, the sixth largest trade union in the country, which represents thousands of Britain’s civil servants and public sector workers. The PCS has been a strong critic of the coalition’s austerity policies, making the case for an investment led recovery from recession and calling for mass opposition to spending cuts that have ravaged the public sector and been accompanied by a concerted campaign of demonization of the unemployed and economically vulnerable that is unparalleled in its viciousness. This only makes the role some of its members are playing in intensifying the hardship faced by the unemployed and people on out of work benefits even more deplorable.

It is unconscionable that any trade union would allow its members to engage in the wilful and systematic sanctioning of benefit claimants without offering any meaningful resistance. It flies in the face of the very principle of social solidarity that is the cornerstone of a movement founded on the understanding that the interests of working people – employed and unemployed – are intrinsically the same.

The human despair not to mention humiliation being inflicted on people in the nation’s Jobcentres is evidence that the Tory campaign of dividing working people section by section has borne fruit. It has reached the point where the oppressive atmosphere found in your average Jobcentre is on a par with the oppressive atmosphere associated with a district or sheriff court. Job seekers are not criminals and those sanctioning them so readily are not parole officers, yet you could be easily mistaken in thinking they are after spending just a few minutes in a Jobcentre anywhere in the country.

Enough is enough.
This culture of bullying, harassment, and intimidation against the unemployed must be confronted by the leadership of the leadership of the PCS as a matter of urgency. By no means are all PCS members working in Jobcentres guilty of this shameful practice – indeed many are low paid workers reliant on various benefits to survive themselves – but enough are involved in the practice to leave no doubt that we are talking about an institutional problem rather than the actions of a few rotten apples.

Many of those being sanctioned are being trapped due to mental health issues or language issues making them more vulnerable to violating the plethora of rules regarding the obligations they must fulfil when it comes to searching for work. Many are being sanctioned for turning up five minutes late to a scheduled appointment, regardless of the reason why. In some cases suicide has been the result.

You would hope that the leadership of the PCS would at least acknowledge the despair their members are inflicting on the most economically vulnerable people in society. You’d be wrong. In an article which appeared on the PCS website back in February, addressing the volume of criticism being levelled at the DWP over sanctioning, the union denied culpability in the process. On the contrary they assert in the article:

PCS believes our members do the best job they can in very difficult circumstances. Rather than face criticism, this work should be recognised and valued by management and they should start by ensuring a proper pay increase for DWP staff in 2014.

Any trade union member who allows him or herself to be used as an instrument to attack the poor and the unemployed is deserving of contempt. And any trade union leadership that fails to act to prevent it happening is reactionary.Voag-Logo-34

InjusticeThe Queen and Prince Charles are using their little-known power of veto over  new laws, according to Whitehall documents.

The Telegraph, January 2013.

At least 39 bills have been subject to Royal approval, with the senior royals using their power to consent or block new laws in areas such as higher education, paternity pay and child maintenance.

Internal Whitehall papers prepared by Cabinet Office lawyers show that on one occasion the Queen vetoed the Military Actions Against Iraq Bill in 1999, which aimed to transfer the power to authorise military strikes against Iraq from the monarch to parliament. She was also asked to consent to the Civil Partnership Act in 2004.

In the Whitehall document, which was released following a court order, the Parliamentary Counsel warns that if consent is not given by the royals “a major plank of the bill must be removed”.

Legal scholar John Kirkhope, who fought to access the papers following a freedom of information case, said the document revealed senior royals have “real influence and real power”. “There has been an implication that these prerogative powers are quaint and sweet but actually there is real influence and real power, and totally unaccountable,” he said.

The document also contains a warning to civil servants that obtaining consent can cause delays to legislation. Royal approval may even be needed for amendments to laws, it says. Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP for St Ives, which includes land owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, said the findings showed the Royals “are playing an active role in the democratic process”. He called for greater transparency in order to evaluate whether the powers were “appropriate.” “This is opening the eyes of those who believe the Queen only has a  ceremonial role,” he said.

“It shows the royals are playing an active role in the democratic process   and we need greater transparency in parliament so we can be fully appraised   of whether these powers of influence and veto are really appropriate. At any stage this issue could come up and surprise us and we could find parliament is less powerful than we thought it was.”

The power of veto has been used by Prince Charles on more than 12 government bills since 2005 on issues covering gambling to the Olympics.Voag-Logo-34

How science is telling us all to revolt

Is our relentless quest for economic growth killing the planet? Climate scientists have seen the data – and they are coming to some incendiary conclusions.

Naomi Klein speaks to The VOAG (Well kind of)Irrigation

In December 2012, a pink-haired complex systems researcher named Brad Werner made his way through the throng of 24,000 earth and space scientists at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, held annually in San Francisco. This year’s conference had some big-name participants, from Ed Stone of Nasa’s Voyager project, explaining a new milestone on the path to interstellar space, to the film-maker James Cameron, discussing his adventures in deep-sea submersibles.

But it was Werner’s own session that was attracting much of the buzz. It was titled “Is Earth F**ked?” (full title: “Is Earth F**ked? Dynamical Futility of Global Environmental Management and Possibilities for Sustainability via Direct Action Activism”).

Standing at the front of the conference room, the geophysicist from the University of California, San Diego walked the crowd through the advanced computer model he was using to answer that question. He talked about system boundaries, perturbations, dissipation, attractors, bifurcations and a whole bunch of other stuff largely incomprehensible to those of us uninitiated in complex systems theory. But the bottom line was clear enough: global capitalism has made the depletion of resources so rapid, convenient and barrier-free that “earth-human systems” are becoming dangerously unstable in response. When pressed by a journalist for a clear answer on the “are we f**ked” question, Werner set the jargon aside and replied, “More or less.”

There was one dynamic in the model, however, that offered some hope. Werner termed it “resistance” – movements of “people or groups of people” who “adopt a certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture”. According to the abstract for his presentation, this includes “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups”.

Serious scientific gatherings don’t usually feature calls for mass political resistance, much less direct action and sabotage. But then again, Werner wasn’t exactly calling for those things. He was merely observing that mass uprisings of people – along the lines of the abolition movement, the civil rights movement or Occupy Wall Street – represent the likeliest source of “friction” to slow down an economic machine that is careening out of control. We know that past social movements have “had tremendous influence on . . . how the dominant culture evolved”, he pointed out. So it stands to reason that, “if we’re thinking about the future of the earth, and the future of our coupling to the environment, we have to include resistance as part of that dynamics”. And that, Werner argued, is not a matter of opinion, but “really a geophysics problem”.

Plenty of scientists have been moved by their research findings to take action in the streets. Physicists, astronomers, medical doctors and biologists have been at the forefront of movements against nuclear weapons, nuclear power, war, chemical contamination and creationism. And in November 2012, Nature published a commentary by the financier and environmental philanthropist Jeremy Grantham urging scientists to join this tradition and “be arrested if necessary”, because climate change “is not only the crisis of your lives – it is also the crisis of our species’ existence”.

Some scientists need no convincing. The godfather of modern climate science, James Hansen, is a formidable activist, having been arrested some half-dozen times for resisting mountain-top removal coal mining and tar sands pipelines (he even left his job at Nasa this year in part to have more time for campaigning). Two years ago, when I was arrested outside the White House at a mass action against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, one of the 166 people in cuffs that day was a glaciologist named Jason Box, a world-renowned expert on Greenland’s melting ice sheet.

“I couldn’t maintain my self-respect if I didn’t go,” Box said at the time, adding that “just voting doesn’t seem to be enough in this case. I need to be a citizen also.”

This is laudable, but what Werner is doing with his modelling is different. He isn’t saying that his research drove him to take action to stop a particular policy; he is saying that his research shows that our entire economic paradigm is a threat to ecological stability. And indeed that challenging this economic paradigm – through mass-movement counter-pressure – is humanity’s best shot at avoiding catastrophe.

That’s heavy stuff. But he’s not alone. Werner is part of a small but increasingly influential group of scientists whose research into the destabilisation of natural systems – particularly the climate system – is leading them to similarly transformative, even revolutionary, conclusions. And for any closet revolutionary who has ever dreamed of overthrowing the present economic order in favour of one a little less likely to cause Italian pensioners to hang themselves in their homes, this work should be of particular interest. Because it makes the ditching of that cruel system in favour of something new (and perhaps, with lots of work, better) no longer a matter of mere ideological preference but rather one of species-wide existential necessity.

Leading the pack of these new scientific revolutionaries is one of Britain’s top climate experts, Kevin Anderson, the deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, which has quickly established itself as one of the UK’s premier climate research institutions. Addressing everyone from the Department for International Development to Manchester City Council, Anderson has spent more than a decade patiently translating the implications of the latest climate science to politicians, economists and campaigners. In clear and understandable language, he lays out a rigorous road map for emissions reduction, one that provides a decent shot at keeping global temperature rise below 2° Celsius, a target that most governments have determined would stave off catastrophe.

But in recent years Anderson’s papers and slide shows have become more alarming. Under titles such as “Climate Change: Going Beyond Dangerous . . . Brutal Numbers and Tenuous Hope”, he points out that the chances of staying within anything like safe temperature levels are diminishing fast.

With his colleague Alice Bows, a climate mitigation expert at the Tyndall Centre, Anderson points out that we have lost so much time to political stalling and weak climate policies – all while global consumption (and emissions) ballooned – that we are now facing cuts so drastic that they challenge the fundamental logic of prioritising GDP growth above all else.

Anderson and Bows inform us that the often-cited long-term mitigation target – an 80 per cent emissions cut below 1990 levels by 2050 – has been selected purely for reasons of political expediency and has “no scientific basis”. That’s because climate impacts come not just from what we emit today and tomorrow, but from the cumulative emissions that build up in the atmosphere over time. And they warn that by focusing on targets three and a half decades into the future – rather than on what we can do to cut carbon sharply and immediately – there is a serious risk that we will allow our emissions to continue to soar for years to come, thereby blowing through far too much of our 2° “carbon budget” and putting ourselves in an impossible position later in the century.

Which is why Anderson and Bows argue that, if the governments of developed countries are serious about hitting the agreed upon international target of keeping warming below 2° Celsius, and if reductions are to respect any kind of equity principle (basically that the countries that have been spewing carbon for the better part of two centuries need to cut before the countries where more than a billion people still don’t have electricity), then the reductions need to be a lot deeper, and they need to come a lot sooner.

To have even a 50/50 chance of hitting the 2° target (which, they and many others warn, already involves facing an array of hugely damaging climate impacts), the industrialised countries need to start cutting their greenhouse-gas emissions by something like 10 per cent a year – and they need to start right now. But Anderson and Bows go further, pointing out that this target cannot be met with the array of modest carbon pricing or green-tech solutions usually advocated by big green groups. These measures will certainly help, to be sure, but they are simply not enough: a 10 per cent drop in emissions, year after year, is virtually unprecedented since we started powering our economies with coal. In fact, cuts above 1 per cent per year “have historically been associated only with economic recession or upheaval”, as the economist Nicholas Stern put it in his 2006 report for the British government.

Even after the Soviet Union collapsed, reductions of this duration and depth did not happen (the former Soviet countries experienced average annual reductions of roughly 5 per cent over a period of ten years). They did not happen after Wall Street crashed in 2008 (wealthy countries experienced about a 7 per cent drop between 2008 and 2009, but their CO2 emissions rebounded with gusto in 2010 and emissions in China and India had continued to rise). Only in the immediate aftermath of the great market crash of 1929 did the United States, for instance, see emissions drop for several consecutive years by more than 10 per cent annually, according to historical data from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre. But that was the worst economic crisis of modern times.

If we are to avoid that kind of carnage while meeting our science-based emissions targets, carbon reduction must be managed carefully through what Anderson and Bows describe as “radical and immediate de-growth strategies in the US, EU and other wealthy nations”. Which is fine, except that we happen to have an economic system that fetishises GDP growth above all else, regardless of the human or ecological consequences, and in which the neoliberal political class has utterly abdicated its responsibility to manage anything (since the market is the invisible genius to which everything must be entrusted).

So what Anderson and Bows are really saying is that there is still time to avoid catastrophic warming, but not within the rules of capitalism as they are currently constructed. Which may be the best argument we have ever had for changing those rules.

In a 2012 essay that appeared in the influential scientific journal Nature Climate Change, Anderson and Bows laid down something of a gauntlet, accusing many of their fellow scientists of failing to come clean about the kind of changes that climate change demands of humanity. On this it is worth quoting the pair at length:

 . . . in developing emission scenarios scientists repeatedly and severely underplay the implications of their analyses. When it comes to avoiding a 2°C rise, “impossible” is translated into “difficult but doable”, whereas “urgent and radical” emerge as “challenging” – all to appease the god of economics (or, more precisely, finance). For example, to avoid exceeding the maximum rate of emission reduction dictated by economists, “impossibly” early peaks in emissions are assumed, together with naive notions about “big” engineering and the deployment rates of low-carbon infrastructure. More disturbingly, as emissions budgets dwindle, so geoengineering is increasingly proposed to ensure that the diktat of economists remains unquestioned.

In other words, in order to appear reasonable within neoliberal economic circles, scientists have been dramatically soft-peddling the implications of their research. By August 2013, Anderson was willing to be even more blunt, writing that the boat had sailed on gradual change. “Perhaps at the time of the 1992 Earth Summit, or even at the turn of the millennium, 2°C levels of mitigation could have been achieved through significant evolutionary changes within the political and economic hegemony. But climate change is a cumulative issue! Now, in 2013, we in high emitting industrial nations face a very different prospect. Our ongoing and collective carbon profligacy has squandered any opportunity for the ‘evolutionary change’ afforded by our earlier (and larger) 2°C carbon budget. Today, after two decades of bluff and lies, the remaining 2°C budget demands revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony” (his emphasis).

We probably shouldn’t be surprised that some climate scientists are a little spooked by the radical implications of even their own research. Most of them were just quietly doing their work measuring ice cores, running global climate models and studying ocean acidification, only to discover, as the Australian climate expert and author Clive Hamilton puts it, that they “were unwittingly destabilising the political and social order”.

But there are many people who are well aware of the revolutionary nature of climate science. It’s why some of the governments that decided to chuck their climate commitments in favour of digging up more carbon have had to find ever more thuggish ways to silence and intimidate their nations’ scientists. In Britain, this strategy is becoming more overt, with Ian Boyd, the chief scientific adviser at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, writing recently that scientists should avoid “suggesting that policies are either right or wrong” and should express their views “by working with embedded advisers (such as myself), and by being the voice of reason, rather than dissent, in the public arena”.

If you want to know where this leads, check out what’s happening in Canada, where I live. The Conservative government of Stephen Harper has done such an effective job of gagging scientists and shutting down critical research projects that, in July 2012, a couple thousand scientists and supporters held a mock-funeral on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, mourning “the death of evidence”. Their placards said, “No Science, No Evidence, No Truth”.

But the truth is getting out anyway. The fact that the business-as-usual pursuit of profits and growth is destabilising life on earth is no longer something we need to read about in scientific journals. The early signs are unfolding before our eyes. And increasing numbers of us are responding accordingly: blockading fracking activity in Balcombe; interfering with Arctic drilling preparations in Russian waters (at tremendous personal cost); taking tar sands operators to court for violating indigenous sovereignty; and countless other acts of resistance large and small. In Brad Werner’s computer model, this is the “friction” needed to slow down the forces of destabilisation; the great climate campaigner Bill McKibben calls it the “antibodies” rising up to fight the planet’s “spiking fever”.The VOAG is everywhere

National march to release the jailed minersMarch 12, 2014 is the 30th anniversary of the beginning of the National Miners Strike. Local strikes had began at several Yorkshire collieries over pit closures, when Arthur Scargill, the NUM Miners union leader formerly called a national strike, that was to last from March 12, 1984 to March 3, 1985.

Over the coming weeks the inter-web is going to be full of miners strike commentaries, obituaries and articles, so The VOAG thought it would get its post in early. By the time March 12 arrives we will all be sick of miners strike articles and reminiscences.

It seems superfluous to write anything about the miners strike. It is such a well known, momentous event in working class history, that even the generation which has grown up since the strike is well acquainted with it. However, the news of an upcoming Conference on the Miners Strike, “Still The Enemy Within”, to be held on March 8, has prompted The VOAG to mark the anniversary with a short post.Still The Enemy WithinThe Tory government claimed its intention was to close 20 pits with the loss of 20,000 jobs. When the strike began, Scargill said that the government had a long-term strategy to destroy the industry by closing over 70 pits. Not only did the Government deny this but Ian McGregor, the head of the Coal Board which managed the industry, wrote to every member of the NUM claiming Scargill was deceiving them, and that there were no plans to close any more pits than had already been announced. Cabinet Papers released this year indicate that McGregor did indeed wish to close over 90 pits.Miners SupportSupport for the miners brought together disparate radical groups across Britain, involving more people in a greater intensity of activity, over a lengthier period than any other campaign in the history of the labour movement. There were many violent incidents during the strike, the worst being clashes between striking miners and police at Orgreave. Police charged crowds on horseback with their batons and several people were seriously injured. Watch this documentary which tells some of the story of “The Battle Of Orgreave”

The miners and their families suffered great hardship during the strike, many relying on food parcels, soup kitchens and other donations. On 3 March 1985 NUM delegates voted to abandon the strike at a specially convened conference. Two days later the miners returned to work. After the strike the pit closure programme of the conservative Government continued rapidly. In 1984 there were 170 coal mines open in the UK, by 2004 only about 11 mines were still open. The strike was a terrible defeat for the miners and following the strike the coal industry and British trade union movement were never the same again.The Voag is everywhere

SF Logo2The Marxist theory of the state:
Deformed and Degenerated Workers’ States and Capitalist States

From Socialist Fight (British Section, Liaison Committee for the Fourth International) 
The post WWII debate in the Fourth International of the late 1940s and early 1950s on the class character of the ‘Buffer States’ in Eastern Europe was resurrected in 1989-92 with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR following the Yanayev coup and Yeltsin’s counter-coup of August 1991. We will see from the struggles we have outlined below that the Stalinist bureaucracies became divided into three camps following the defeat of the Brezhnevites by Gorbachev in 1989; those Gorbechevites on the left who wished to retain the degenerate and deformed workers’ states by opening up the economic plan by glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring), those in the middle (Yanayev and Deng in China) who sought the restoration of capitalism by slow, planned measures, maintaining the Stalinist bureaucracy as the vehicle of restoration and those on the right like Yeltsin who sought a rapid capitulation to western Imperialism and their own enrichment by plundering the state assets in alliance with western transnational corporations. We can observe at least elements of these three tendencies in most of the counter-revolutionary overturns of 1989-92.

The first debate on the nature of the East European countries behind the ‘iron curtain’ in the FI in the late 1940s eventually resulted in the correct conclusion that they were deformed workers’ states, but much confusion remained. We will look at the position again as it emerged in the debate over the class character of Cuba in the early 1960s and the debate about the class character of Cambodia in the late 1970s following the invasion by Vietnam on 25 December 1978. And of course, as we have mentioned, the debate following the victory of the counter-revolutionary restoration of capitalism in Eastern European and Asian states in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Continue reading