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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 November 2005

Campaign for a new workers' party

LAST WEEK the socialist reported on the launch of the Campaign for a New Workers' Party. The campaign is appealing for trade unionists, community campaigners, environmentalists and others to come together in support of the 'declaration for a new workers' party'. The declaration states:

The campaign is asking for all those who sign the declaration not just to leave their support at that level but to go further, organising to build support for it in their trade union, organisation or local town. If you would like to read the full version of the declaration, to sign up to the declaration, to get copies of the declaration or other publicity material, or to invite a speaker from the campaign to speak at a meeting contact

Supporters of the campaign (all in a personal capacity) to date include:

Janice Godrich PCS President, Chris Baugh PCS Assistant General Secretary, Marion Lloyd PCS NEC, Rob Williams PCS NEC, Mark Baker PCS NEC, Jane Aitchison PCS DWP President, Sevi Yesidalli PCS NEC, John McInally PCS NEC, Danny Williamson PCS NEC, Kevin Greenway PCS NEC, Diane Shepherd UNISON NEC, Glenn Kelly UNISON NEC, Jean Thorpe UNISON NEC, Raph Parkinson UNISON NEC, Roger Bannister UNISON NEC, Andrew Price NATFHE NEC, Bernard Roome CWU NEC, Gary Jones CWU NEC, Linda Taaffe NUT NEC, Robbie Segal USDAW NEC, Molly Cooper NUJ NEC, Jim Barbour FBU NEC, Dave Nellist Coventry Socialist Party Councillor, Karen Mackay Coventry Socialist Party Councillor, Ian Page Lewisham Socialist Party Councillor, Chris Flood Lewisham Socialist Party Councillor.

Why does New Labour get our money?

OVER 120 delegates attended last week's UNISON London Region Health training day, with new delegates not previously involved at regional level. Full-time officers introduced the subjects - organising and building the union, Agenda for Change, pensions, nursing strategy etc., followed by debate from the floor.

The threat to privatise primary care services, including the jobs of district and school nurses and therapists, was rightly seen as one of the most serious attacks ever on health with the opening up of services to profiteering along the American model.

The platform speakers spoke of their disappointment and shock at the New Labour government's attacks and of the "good" or "bad elements" in the parliamentary party.

They replied to one delegate's question as to why we have an Affiliated and a General Political Fund that it was members' 'democratic right' to pay into the Labour Party. A black female delegate asked how on earth was it that our services were being taken apart before our eyes. The union bureaucrats were totally unable to draw the correct conclusions from their own analysis.

But the contribution that got the biggest applause came from Socialist Party member and Waltham Forest delegate Len Hockey. He argued that, in the face of such attacks by this government, it was now surely time to have a debate across the entire union on why 3 million a year of members' money was handed over to New Labour.

He said that, even on a value for money basis, there was no case whatsoever for it continuing and that such resources would be better employed at the sharp end and in championing the membership's interests.

Say no to raising of pension age!

WORKERS IN Britain are told that there's a pensions' crisis, that we're living too long or not saving enough for our retirement. The government actuary - the person who predicts how long we're likely to live on average - says he no longer assumes there's a limit to life expectancy. He's hinting at immortality for all of us.

Ken Smith

This good news that we're living longer seems bad news for government and private company pension fund actuaries. The government is considering pension reform in 2006 based on the Turner Pensions Commission's report.

Adair Turner, the government and the bosses say 'tough choices' are ahead on pensions. This is code, meaning we face working longer, saving more or paying more tax or possibly all three. Last week's leaks to the Financial Times confirmed exactly that.

As 60-year-old BERYL RUSSELL from Windsor said, on the BBC's website after Turner's plans were leaked: "The plan to raise the state pension age stinks because low-paid workers do not live as long as the upper crust. Labourers generally do not live much beyond 65".

Turner's Commission looks likely to recommend raising the state pension age to 67 from 2020 and then rise in line with expected increases in longevity and introducing a new national pensions saving plan - probably modelled on New Zealand's system.

A poll in The Guardian says that a clear majority oppose these plans, but the proposals don't go far enough for some employers - the bosses' CBI hint at raising the retirement age to 70.

At this year's TUC, National Union of Teachers delegate and Socialist Party member Linda Taaffe challenged Turner's assumptions on affordability: "He says taxes might have to rise to cope with pensions demands but... accountancy firms are such specialists in avoiding tax that 100 billion has been lost to the Treasury by accountancy firms getting around the so-called laws..."

She asked Turner: "What laws are you going to introduce to make sure the rich are taxed as much as they possibly can be?" Turner's reply implied that the Treasury would rap him over the knuckles if he tried to tackle tax evasion. Not that Turner, a former CBI head, is likely to try to tax the rich more!

Bosses' and New Labour lies

BOTH EMPLOYERS and government want to make us work until we drop. But the government's argument that an ageing population is an unsustainable burden to the public purse is a deceit.

Turner and Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson forget the tens of billions handed out in cuts in corporation tax and other handouts to big business in recent years. They also ignore the 'blank cheque' written to cover the invasion and occupation of Iraq - costing over 7 billion at the last count - whilst calculating whether or not the country can 'afford' decent pensions.

A report last January showed that the size of someone's pension can determine their life expectancy. People on pensions below 4,500 a year are likely to die earlier than those with pensions of over 13,000 a year.

Making workers work longer will increase health inequality, which New Labour's policies have already widened. Now the bosses and the government could send more workers to an early grave if they get away with cutting pension entitlements even further.

Many workers will see resisting the attacks on pensions as a matter of life and death. Working-class people must defeat these attacks through co-ordinated and united, mass strike action.

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In The Socialist 24 November 2005:

Don't let 'fat cats' axe our NHS

Save our health service

Campaign for a new workers' party

Big business destroying the planet

On the threshold of genderquake?

Demo opposes deportations

The Constant Gardener directed by Fernando Mereilles

Iraq - anger grows at brutal occupation

Turbulent politics as Sharon divorces Likud

Big gains for United Socialist Party

Venezuela: Stop the repression of trade unionists

Sheffield bus protest

Defending jobs, services and rights

FE colleges on strike!


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