Bhopal

BHOPAL, India (AFP) – Survivors of the Bhopal gas leak in India on Thursday marked 25 years since the world’s worst industrial accident with rallies demanding those to blame for thousands of deaths finally face justice. Residents and activists capped a week of commemorations with a march to the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, where on December 3, 1984 a cloud of methyl isocyanate killed up to 10,000 people in three days.

Studies released earlier this week showed the shanty towns surrounding the site were still laced with lethal chemicals that are polluting groundwater and soil, causing birth defects and a range of chronic illnesses. “The survivors of the tragedy, through these protests, are venting their ire against the state government for its inaction in clearing the toxic waste,” said Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group of Information and Action.

Research by the Indian Council for Medical Research showed 25,000 people had died from the consequences of exposure since 1984. After those studies concluded, government statistics said 100,000 people were chronically sick, with more than 30,000 people living in areas around the factory where water was contaminated.

Criminal cases against former Union Carbide executives are pending in various Indian and US courts which hold them and Dow liable for the catastrophe. Amnesty International called on Dow to “cooperate fully in the ongoing legal proceedings in order to ensure that those responsible are held accountable”.

Posted in Environment, Human Rights. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Bhopal

The Fight Against The New Indentured Servitude Begins

Via Earwicga, The Socialist Way Plotting and scheming for Welfare not Workfare

On 12 November, it became legal to force unemployed people to work for their benefits – to do 40-hour-weeks for under a third of the minimum wage. The Government’s Welfare Reform Act introduced ‘Work for your Benefit’ pilot schemes, which once completed can be rolled out without any further debate. It also attacked single parents – who face sanctions if they fail to prepare for work outside the home as soon as their child turns three – and people with impairments, disabilities or severe and enduring illnesses.

Two days later, members of twenty-three different groups from around the UK met to share information and plan resistance to these pernicious attacks, which will take their toll on working-class and low-income communities.

Groups present included Unemployed Workers Unions from six cities across the UK, the Disabled People’s Direct Action Network, Southwark Mind, WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities), Single Mothers’ Self-Defence (part of Global Women’s Strike) and members of the union in the Department of Work and Pensions – PCS. They were joined by feminist and other groups (all listed below).

The strength to be gained from meeting in solidarity with each other was immense and created a real sense that a movement is building: a movement which will not only fight the immediate attacks of the Welfare Abolition Act, but draw out the connections between our struggles and together challenge the ideology driving them.

The Act seeks to make our worth dependent on work; work defined in the really narrow terms of waged work for someone else’s profit. By making us compete with those in waged work for non-existent jobs, it helps drive down wages and conditions. We all take the brunt as the rich make even more money out of us.

• We want solidarity with and from people in low-income, temporary and insecure work. These are the jobs that ‘work-for-your-benefit’ would replace.

• We want caring to be recognised as important work in society. Single parents are already working and benefits are their entitlement to a social wage.

• We want justice for people with severe or enduring illnesses. The drive to get people off incapacity benefits and Employment and Support Allowance and into work is making people more ill with stress. Only we know what we are capable of and it is wrong for conditions and sanctions to be imposed on us to force us into unsuitable work, unwanted “work-related activity” or “motivation sessions” which press us into their programmes of treatment for addictions and other conditions.

• We want the right not to work. People not in waged work contribute loads to their communities. We do not want to be forced into mind-numbing, insecure work that leaves us no better off, or worse off than on benefits and definitely not at £1.27 an hour!

• We want free, high-quality, public services to support older people and people with impairments/disabilities. People should not have to become employers managing ‘individual budgets’ in order to access the care they need.

• We want to stand in solidarity with migrant workers. Just as unemployed people are pitted against people in work, so migrant workers are pitted against us. We believe that we must stand together and demand all of our rights together.

• We want to fight privatisation of the Department for Work and Pensions. Attacks on DWP and Jobcentre Plus workers are attacks on our rights to access welfare. We will support the PCS’ fight against cuts.

• We want an end to the apartheid system of benefits, healthcare and housing for asylum seekers. UK Border Agency support should be scrapped — where people are forced to survive on incomes far below benefit levels – which are already set at subsistence level. No slum housing and dangerous and dirty hostels, dispersal, or vouchers.

After a day of info-sharing, outrage and scheming, we formed a few working groups. If you’re able to help out with any of the projects, please email hackneyunemployedworkers@gmail.com

1. Media working group – monitor and respond to hostile articles in the media.

2. Our propaganda – creating posters, newsletters etc to get our messages out

3. Website – put together a website as a space to share resources, feedback and comment, get the word out about our campaign and publicise local and national action.

4. Our welfare rights – compiling information to help us access our rights now and creating ‘Know your rights’ leaflets.

5. Defeating the Work for your Benefits pilots – research to support the network to take action against the pilots.

If you want to stay in touch, please join our discussion list here:http://groups.google.com/group/no-to-welfare-abolition

If you agree with our demands above and would like to take part in our campaign, please ask your group to sign up to this statement and email hackneyunemployedworkers@gmail.com

And put the next national meeting in your diary now…. 17 April in Manchester!

The meeting had people in attendance from: South Manchester Community Union, London Anarcha-Feminist Kolektiv, London Coalition Against Poverty, Feminist Action, Defend Welfare Newcastle, Manchester Unemployed Workers Union, Cambridge Unemployed Workers’ Union, PCS, Hackney Unemployed Workers, Single Mothers’ Self Defence, Winvisible, Alliance for Workers’ Liberty, Disabled People’s Direct Action Network, Southwark Mind, Women’s Office Manchester Student Union, Riveters feminist group in Manchester, Feminist Fightback, Industrial Workers of the World, No Borders, Stop Deportations, Anarchist Federation, Communist Students, Salford Unemployed Workers’ Union.

I Don’t See The Downside

RBS directors: Pay bonus or we quit

No bonuses and the chumps are out, or are we meant to think they are talented & irreplaceable or some such fairytale?

Clue 1- We will own 84% of RBS because they were so bad at running a bank it would have collapsed.

Clue 2- RBS  ‘the sole aim of the place is to get back to the way things were pre-August 2007. Humpty Dumpty has to be put back together again... The directive comes from the top.’

Don’t let the door hit you in the ass etc.

Posted in Capitalism. Tags: . 2 Comments »

Patrick Stewart On Domestic Violence

(ht2 Earwicga & Feministing)

Amnesty International Stop Violence Against Women

Many of the same points are reiterated in the Guardian article by Stewart (see below) but the video is worth it for the humanity it communicates. The video is also interesting in what it reveals of class and the military, also the term ‘weekend alcoholic’ rang some bells with regard to people I have known. And also although at first he refers to ‘losing control’ he later makes clear that violence is a choice and in his story shows how that choice was condoned by much of the community and the police, I would also make the wider connection that it was sanctioned through the war and military culture. So (although we had to defend against the Nazis) after conflict we should acknowledge that violence will come home and without an unlearning process and dealing with PTSD and class issues it is women in their homes who will become part of the next wave of casualties. And yet we surge on.

Patrick Stewart: the legacy of domestic violence. My father was, in many ways, a man of discipline, organisation and charisma – a regimental sergeant major no less. One of the very last men to be evacuated from Dunkirk, his third stripe was chalked on to his uniform by an officer when no more senior NCOs were left alive. Parachuted into Crete and Italy, both times under fire, he fought at Monte Casino and was twice mentioned in dispatches. A fellow soldier once told me, “When your father marches on to the parade ground, the birds in the trees stop singing.”

In civilian life it was a different story. He was an angry, unhappy and frustrated man who was not able to control his emotions or his hands. As a child I witnessed his repeated violence against my mother, and the terror and misery he caused was such that, if I felt I could have succeeded, I would have killed him. If my mother had attempted it, I would have held him down. For those who struggle to comprehend these feelings in a child, imagine living in an environment of emotional unpredictability, danger and humiliation week after week, year after year, from the age of seven. My childish instinct was to protect my mother, but the man hurting her was my father, whom I respected, admired and feared.

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