In brief...

Stealing Tory tax clothes

LABOUR’S bid to become more Tory than Tory took its inevitable turn this week into the sensitive tax field. Gordon Brown announced his plans to reduce the tax band to 10 or 12p in the pound.

He veiled the accompanying plans to slaughter public spending by claiming to be champion of the low income family and those on benefits. But his real aim is to force them into low paid jobs - an incentive to entice people “from welfare into work”, as he puts it. You can imagine how pitifully low Labour’s minimum wage will turn out to be on this reckoning. And he is open in stating that even the rich will gain from his tax proposals.

Already the poorest 20% of households pay 39.3% of their income in tax compared with the richest 20% who pay 35.2%. In other words the rich rake in the profits while our wages are slashed and services - even basic services like healthcare, childcare and education - are hacked to death.

When challenged by Major on the plans in parliament Blair promised not to shirk ‘hard choices’ on welfare spending. As if he needed to make this any more obvious.

No concession

IRSP responds to release of prisoners

COMMENTING on the release of prisoners on November 17 as a result of the re-introduction of 50% remission, Irish Republican Socialist Party prisoners spokesperson, Gino Gallagher, said:

“While we would naturally welcome the return of political prisoners to their families, it is important that people are not carried away on a wave of contrived media hype. Despite what both the British government and the DUP would have us believe, this in no way should be misconstrued as any form of ‘concession’. What we are witnessing is the re-introduction of a remission rate taken away in 1989. No more, no less.

“For our part, the IRSP stand firm behind the demand of Irish National Liberation Army prisoners of war for a complete and unconditional release of all political prisoners.”

Gino Gallagher confirmed that a number of INLA prisoners were among those released from Long Kesh.

Cleaners victimised

THE BRENT branch of the Communist Party hosted a meeting for the striking Hillingdon Hospital cleaners last Wednesday. Unison representative Florence Portugal’s report explained how the health trust contracted out the cleaning services to Pall Mall Services and cut everyone’s wages by 25%.

Everyone at the meeting supported the strike and criticised Unison for leaving the cleaners to fight alone without strike pay.

Rahila of Southall Black Sisters felt the strikers were being treated so offhandedly because of racist attitudes in the unions towards the mostly black cleaners. Other speakers thought that union leaders were not racist - only interested in staying within the anti-trade union laws to protect their funds from sequestration, although they knew this was undermining the ability of workers to protect their jobs.

Wages are being driven down throughout the health service. This needs a national, coordinated response from all the health unions to protect living standards. Anyone who wants to help the strikers should join the daily picket outside Hillingdon hospital.

Dundee health fight

DUNDEE CPGB branch continues to lead the struggle against hospital closures and health cuts in the city. On Saturday November 25 at a campaign conference our comrades are proposing the resolution below:

This conference resolves, in line with the aims of the campaign, to carry out the following:

1. To intensify the campaign to democratise the health trusts by

a) demanding the resignation of all appointed hospital trust board members and their replacement with elected and accountable members.

b) using all sections of the media to expose the undemocratic nature of the trusts.

2. To write to every councillor and MP in the city, asking them to state whether they are for or against the hospital closures and getting them to support the call for the democratisation of the trusts. Elected representatives who fail to support the aims of the campaign should be targeted for a publicity campaign and pressure from their constituents.

3. To carry out actions including a delegation to Tim Brett’s house to deliver completed petitions on Sunday December 10 and a lobby of every trust meeting.

4. To link up with other campaigns fighting health cuts and hospital closures across Scotland.

The battle continues for:

Proposed: Nick Clarke
Seconded: Mary Ward