Saturday, 24 January 2015
The conclusions on United Kingdom concern 13 situations and are as follows:
"There will be a demonstration against Maximus and the Work Capability
Assessment on Monday 2nd March 2015 from 12pm at Albert Bridge House,
Bridge Street, Manchester, M60 9AT (meeting point St Mary's Parsonage
(the road/square off Bridge St on the Manchester side of Albert Bridge
House), Facebook event:
This demonstration is part of the national day of action against
Maximus and the WCA called by Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) on
Monday 2nd March 2015:
Maximus is the company taking over from Atos running the despised Work
Capability Assessments (WCAs) for sickness and disability benefits.
These crude and callous assessments have been used to strip benefits
from hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people after a quick
computer based test ruled them 'fit for work'. A growing number of
suicides have been directly linked to this stressful regime, whilst
charities, medical staff and claimants themselves have warned of the
desperate consequences for those left with no money at all by the
In a huge embarrassment for the DWP, the previous contractor Atos were
chased out of the Work Capability Assessments after a sustained and
militant campaign carried out by disabled people, benefit claimants
and supporters. In a panicky effort to save these vicious assessments
Iain Duncan Smith hired US private healthcare company Maximus to take
over from Atos this coming April.
This is not the only lucrative contract the Tories have awarded this
company. Maximus are also involved in helping to privatise the NHS,
running the Fit for Work occupational health service designed to bully
and harass people on sick leave into going back to work. Maximus also
run the notorious Work Programme in some parts of the UK, meaning that
disabled people found fit for work by Maximus may then find themselves
sent on workfare by Maximus. There is no greater enemy to the lives of
sick and disabled people in the UK today than this multi-national
poverty profiteer who even are prepared to run welfare-to-work style
schemes for the brutal Saudi Arabian government.
Maximus have boasted they will not face protests due to their
involvement in the Work Capability Asessments and have even stooped as
low as hiring one prominent former disability campaigner on a huge
salary in an effort to quell protests against their activities. We
urgently need to show them how wrong they are and call for all
disabled people, benefit claimants and supporters to organise against
this vicious bunch of profiteering thugs.
Albert Bridge House is the assessment centre used in Manchester by
Atos to carry out Work Capability Asessments. The building is owned by
the DWP and it is likely that it will continue to be used for these
assessments with the premises and staff handed over from Atos to
Details of other national and local actions:
Links for more info about Maximus and the WCA:
All the problems with the Snoopers' Charter - that its figures were fanciful and misleading, that it, pays insufficient attention to the duty to respect the right to privacy, are still there. Laying 18 pages of amendments before the Lords to insert the Snoopers' Charter into an already complicated Bill is an abuse of our democratic system.
The Lords cannot have time to properly consider the bill, and would deny the Commons the opportunity to consider the clauses as well. You can stop this happening! Please
1. Write to a Lord (they don't have constituencies, so you have to pick one at random)
2. Ask them to debate Snoopers Charter on Monday
3. Send them our briefing
Wednesday, 21 January 2015
I think it was fairly well received although I do detect a 'generational gap' between the older-end who may remember trade unions as they used to be in the 1970s & 80s, and the younger ones who are fresh which ideas about the environment. This may not be a problem if they can find some way blending the two tendencies.
Yet, with Labour Councils like Manchester City Council and Tameside MBC under Kieron Quinn, freely handing out contracts to blacklisting companies like Carillion it would be good if we could get the Greens to take up a policy of 'Ethical Procurement' using the 'Islington Model' as suggested at Liverpool TUC last Thursday night, to try to turn it into an election issue.
That would, I think, help put some of these Labour Councils who are collaborating with blacklisting companies on the back-foot.
Tuesday, 20 January 2015
Unite's Gail Cartmail & the Northern Narative!
I didn't know then, what we all know now, that this would lead the most significant industrial struggles of this century so far.
Soon after these early pickets was when at the Manchester Employment Tribunal that Michael Fahey, a manager for the sub-contractor DAF Electricial Contractors PLC, famously declared:
'AMICUS IS OUR UNION!'
'YES' , he says, 'We pay the union dues!'
Thus the boss of DAF Electrical Contractors PLC pays the union affiliations for his own workforce on site.
That was a signal, the vital signal that something is anmiss in the culture of labour relations on the British building sites.
Sometime in 2004, on a picket in Crown Square, while standing with the electrician Sean Keaveney I took a photo of Dave Fahey, the senior boss or managing director of DAF.
In this booklet over a decade ago we stated that:
'it aims to capture the essence of /// a small but important dispute: The Manchester Lockout of the DAF electricians.'
and in our conclusion, at that time in 2004, we stated an analysis that was very different from that that we are proposing today in the 'Boys on the Blacklist'.
What has happened here is, that in just over a decade, a dispute that kicked-off with health and safety issues on the British building sites, and cheap labour on British building sites, has clearly moved on to something much more significant.
With this new book I think that we have now come to realise that we're up against something very much more radical; and fundemental than health and safety or cheap labour however important these issues are. Now in this later book the 'Boys on the Blacklist' I think we now know that we're up against something more serious, and that in dealing with the affiliates of the Consulting Assocaition we have seen a culture, a spirit of capital, that both red raw in tooth and claw.
There are two areas of serious concern which are alluded to in both these books - the 'Manchester Locked-out Electricians' and the 'Boys on the Blacklist'. Both deal with what are for all of us trade unionists two serious matters, but neither resolve the two problems:
PROBLEM 1. TO WHAT EXTENT WERE FULL-TIME TRADE UNION OFFICIALS INVOLVED IN EITHER PROVIDING INTELLEGENCE OR ENFORCING THE BUILDING SITE BLACKLIST?
Over this there has been strong evidence and convincing claims from another whistle-blower called Alan Wainwright: I think he told Gail Cartmail, Deputy General Secretary of UNite, that the company Carillion paid AMICU £100,000 a year in union dues.
So there you go comrades! & that you know that we're 'EVERYDAY SEXISTS!'
What's interesting here is that Gail Cartmail didn't really want to dig the dirt on AMICUS and full-time officials who may have been involved in the blacklist. She just wants to hand the problem over to a future Labour Government. The last thing she wants to do is to say the Emperor has no clothes. Of course, Gail talks of an 'independent public inquiry' into blacklisting but how can it be genuinely independent when the biggest donor to the Labour Party is Unite the Union?
Charlie Hebdo And The War For Civilisation
IN 2003, a top security expert told filmmaker Michael Moore, 'there is no one in America other than President Bush who is in more danger than you'. (Michael Moore, 'Here Comes Trouble – Stories From My Life,' Allen Lane, 2011, p.4)
Moore was attacked with a knife, a blunt object and stalked by a man with a gun. Scalding coffee was thrown at his face, punches were thrown in broad daylight. The verbal abuse was ceaseless, including numerous death threats. In his book, 'Here Comes Trouble', Moore writes:
A security company, which compiled a list of more than 440 credible threats against Moore, told him:
But why was Moore a target? Had he published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad?
The problem had begun in the first week of the 2003 Iraq war when Moore's film 'Bowling For Columbine' won the Oscar for best documentary. At the March 23 Academy Awards ceremony, Moore told a global audience:
About halfway through these remarks, Moore reports, 'all hell broke loose'. On arriving home from the ceremony, he found three truckloads of horse manure dumped waist-high in his driveway. That night, Moore witnessed for himself the extent to which US corporate journalism defends the right to offend:
This is the reality of respect for free speech in the United States. If, on Oscar night, he had held up a cartoon depicting President Bush naked on all fours, buttocks raised to a pornographic filmmaker, would Moore still be alive today?
War - Total, Merciless, Civilised
In stark contrast to the campaign of near-fatal media vilification of Moore, journalists have responded to the Charlie Hebdo atrocity in Paris by passionately defending the right to offend. Or so we are to believe. The Daily Telegraph's chief interviewer, Allison Pearson, wrote:
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy agreed, describing the attacks as 'a war declared on civilisation'. Joan Smith wrote in the Guardian:
New York Times columnist Roger Cohen tweeted:
The Western tendency to act with ruthless, overwhelming violence is, of course, a key reason why Islamic terrorists are targeting the West. Glenn Greenwald asked Cohen:
Sylvain Attal, editor of new media at TV station France24, replied:
End of discussion. American journalist and regular Fox News talk show host, Geraldo Rivera, raved:
The 'entire free world', then, should resort to ruthless, merciless violence to defend 'civilisation', a term some naïve souls have associated with compassion, restraint, and even the bizarre exhortation:
Cohen retweeted Anand Giridharadas, who writes for the New York Times:
Thus, we live in a time when a 'war for civilisation' is seen as something more than a grotesque contradiction in terms.
Much, but thankfully not all, media coverage has been this extreme. To his credit, former Independent editor Simon Kelner managed a rather more nuanced view.
Journalism - Part Of 'The Murder Machine'
In The Times, the perennially apocalyptic David Aaronovitch wrote:
The Guardian took a similar view:
But, in fact, the bloodiest attack on journalism in living memory, at least in Europe, happened on April 23, 1999 when Nato bombed the headquarters of Serbian state radio and television, killing 16 people. The dead included an editor, a programme director, a cameraman, a make-up artist, three security guards and other media support staff. Additional radio and electrical installations throughout the country were also attacked. The New York Times witnessed the carnage:
Presumably this had been some kind of terrible mistake by the civilised West crossing a boundary that could not be recrossed. No, Nato insisted that the TV station, a 'ministry of lies', was a legitimate target and the bombing 'must be seen as an intensification of our attacks'. A Pentagon spokesman added:
Amnesty International responded:
In all the corporate press discussion of the Paris killings, we have found no mention of Nato's bombing of Serbian TV and radio.
In August 2011, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, condemned Nato's bombing of Libyan state broadcasting facilities on July 30, killing three media workers, with 21 people injured:
Again, Nato confirmed that the bombing had been deliberate:
In November 2001, two American air-to-surface missiles hit al-Jazeera's satellite TV station in Kabul, Afghanistan, killing a reporter. Chief editor Ibrahim Hilal said al-Jazeera had communicated the location of its office in Kabul to the American authorities.
In April 2003, an al-Jazeera cameraman was killed when the station's Baghdad office was bombed during a US air raid. In 2005, the Guardian quoted the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ):
According to the Daily Mirror, Bush had told Blair of his plan:
Similarly, during last summer's blitz of Gaza, Israel killed 17 journalists. An investigation led by Human Rights Watch concluded that Israeli attacks on journalists were one of many 'apparent violations' of international law. In a 2012 letter to The New York Times, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, head spokeswoman to foreign media for the Israel Defense Force, wrote:
'Sorry For Any Offence'
Aaronovitch warned that 'appalling' as previous attacks on Western free speech had been, 'they were generally the work of disorganised loners', whereas the Paris attacks seemed to have been more organised. What then to say of lethal attacks on journalists conducted, not by a group of religious fanatics, but by democratically elected governments?
Given this context, corporate media commentary on the Charlie Hebdo massacre all but drowns in irony and hypocrisy. The Telegraph commented:
In fact, as LSE student Daniel Wickham clarified, 'men of violence' were among the marchers. Certainly the White House is a good place for people to do some serious thinking about violent extremism and how to stop it.
A Guardian leader observed:
True, but if it is to be meaningful, support for the right to offend must not defer to a self-serving view of a world divided into 'good guys' and 'bad guys', 'us' and 'them'. Like the rest of the media, the Guardian protests passionately when 'bad guys' commit an atrocity against 'us', but emotive defences of free speech are in short supply when 'good guys' bomb Serb and Libyan TV, or threaten the life of progressive US filmmakers. Far fewer tears are shed for Serb, Libyan or Palestinian journalists in US-UK corporate media offices.
The Guardian added:
The sentiment was quickly put to the test when BBC reporter Tim Willcox commented in a live TV interview:
This mild statement of obvious fact brought a predictable flood of calls for Willcox to resign. The journalist instantly backed down:
A BBC spokesman completed the humiliation:
Glenn Greenwald describes the prevailing rule:
Chris Hedges notes:
A point emphasised by the recent arrest of a French comedian on charges of 'defending terrorism'.
The irony of the BBC apology, given recent events, appears to have been invisible to most commentators. Radical comedian Frankie Boyle is a welcome exception, having earlier commented:
The Guardian leader concluded:
The term 'western misadventures' is a perfect example of how media like the Guardian work so hard to avoid offending elite interests with more accurate descriptions like 'Western atrocities' and 'Western genocidal crimes'.
A leader in The Times observed of the Charlie Hebdo killers:
Fine words, but in 2013 Times owner Rupert Murdoch apologised for a powerful cartoon by Gerald Scarfe that had appeared in the newspaper. The cartoon depicted the brutal Israeli treatment of Palestinians but was not in any way anti-Semitic. Murdoch, however, tweeted:
In its response to the Paris killings, The Times perceived 'a vital duty for Muslim clerics who must embrace a new role actively deradicalising their followers. It also imposes an urgent responsibility on Muslim political leaders'.
Did the paper have any positive role models in mind?
The Times went on:
Thus, Sisi, leader of a military coup, someone who oversaw the massacre of 1,000 civilian protestors on a single day in August 2013, is hailed as a 'champion' of 'moderate political Islam'.
There is so much more that could be said about just how little passion the corporate media have for defending the right to offend. Anyone in doubt should try, as we have, to discuss their own record of failing to offend the powerful. To criticise 'mainstream' media from this perspective is to render oneself a despised unperson. In response to our polite, decidedly inoffensive challenges on Twitter we have been banned by champions of free speech like Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, Jon Snow of Channel 4 News, Jeremy Bowen of the BBC, Peter Beaumont of the Observer and Guardian, and many others.
Even rare dissident fig leaves on newspapers like the Guardian dismiss as asinine and, yes, offensive, the suggestion that they should risk offending their corporate employers and advertisers. Not only is no attempt made to defend such a right, the very idea is dismissed as nonsense unworthy even of discussion.
Charlie Hebdo And The War For Civilisation