Thursday, October 22, 2015

Screening of 'Reds', 25 October, Regent Street Cinema

Reds, showing Sunday 25 October, 14:00, Regent Street Cinema

'Celebrating acclaimed playwright and screenwriter Trevor Griffiths’ 80th birthday this year, Warren Beatty’s epic, Academy Award winning drama of the Russian Revolution (which Griffiths wrote) is showing where it needs to – on the big screen. Co-starring Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson and Gene Hackman among many others, it’s a remarkable achievement.'

Visit Regent Street Cinema's page here, for more information on the event, and to book tickets.

Copies of Trevor Griffiths' published works will be on sale at the screening, and can also be found on the website of Spokesman Books at the following address:

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

CSSGJ Seminar: 'Working into Poverty?' - Lucia Pradella (26 October)

[click to enlarge poster]

The next CSSGJ seminar will be held on Monday 26 October, 4-5.30pm in B7 The Hemsley, University Park. Dr Lucia Pradella from King’s College London will present on ‘Working into Poverty? The international political economy of the working poor in Europe’.

All are welcome!

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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Unmasking Austerity Reviewed in Red Pepper

Unmasking Austerity: Opposition and Alternatives in Europe and North America by Dexter Whitfield, Spokesman Books Reviewed by Edward Dingwall for Red Pepper

The historical currents in which Dexter Whitfield wrote this book came before a flood: before the UK election, the Greek escalation, the redoibled attacks on the already-battered sections of society. But also before the movement found a man for the moment in Jeremy Corbyn.

Part economic expose of austerity's origins, aprt instruction to a potentially renewed labout movement from myriad campaigns around the world - if the prose is sometimes dry, it is at least clear, sharp and short on inessential rhetoric. The analysis and ambition are credible, the examples are instructive, the scope is global and the observations astute. Were we to persue Corbyn-style participatory policy-making, Whitfield's is certainly a valuable voice ... (Read more)

A copy of the paperback or eBook can be bought from Spokesman Books


Recently Dexter Whitfield gave a talk on ‘Capitalist dynamics reconfiguring the state: alternatives to privatising public services’ at The University of Nottingham on Wednesday 16 September 2015. A recording of his talk from the event is available via the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSJG) website.

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Monday, October 5, 2015

TUC march in Manchester #TakeBackMcr

At the ‘No to austerity, Yes to workers’ rights’ rally in Manchester on Sunday 4th October, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady told marchers that the Trade Union Bill is proof that the government is not on the side of working people.  She said:

“I am incredibly proud to be here in Manchester today – the city where the trade union movement was born.

Today tens of thousands of us –public servants, private sector workers, families, students –have come together to send a clear message to the government - no to austerity, yes to workers’ rights.

Trade unions are facing one of the most challenging times in our history. The trade union bill is a fundamental attack on the right to strike. It is, in the words of Liberty and Amnesty International, a major assault on civil liberties in the UK.

Strike action is always a last resort – nobody wants to lose a day’s pay. But let’s not forget that without it we wouldn’t have equal pay or an eight hour day.

Without the right to strike steelworkers at Tata wouldn’t have been able to safeguard their pension rights. Hovis workers wouldn’t have been able to stop new starters being put on zero-hours contracts. And midwives, who took strike action for the first time in their 133-year history, wouldn’t have secured the pay rise their independent pay review body said they were entitled to – a modest 1%.

The government’s Trade Union Bill is about shifting the balance of power in the workplace and silencing union opposition to cuts. Its measures go well beyond changes to how strike ballots are carried out.

For the first time since the 1970s, bosses will be able to bus in agency temps to break a strike. This will make strikes less effective and reduce workers’ bargaining power. And it could mean agency workers without proper training and proper support delivering important services that we all rely on.

The bill will impose stifling restrictions on peaceful pickets and protests. Unions will be forced to tell the police and employers what they are planning to put on Facebook 14 days beforehand. If they make a mistake they could be fined up to £20,000 a time.

And if union organisers forget to wear an armband on a picket line, employers will be able to rush to the courts to get the strike called off.

The British people don’t want their police officers monitoring what trade unionists post on social media or checking if they are wearing the correct armband. They want them out there catching the real criminals.

Is it any wonder that that David Davis – yes, David Davis, the Conservative MP – has likened these plans to Franco’s Spain?  They are an affront to all fair-minded democrats.

How can ministers prioritise undermining British liberties over getting our economy running at full steam again? And how can they prioritise threatening the basic right to strike over dealing with the issues that really matter to people, such as getting decent jobs for everyone?

But I’ve got news for them. We will fight this bill every inch of the way and show the public there is a positive alternative.

Because if the Conservatives were really serious about boosting democracy at work, then they would allow electronic and secure workplace balloting. If it is good enough for them to use to select their candidate for London mayor, then why can’t teachers, factory workers, shop assistants and nurses use it too?

The contrast could not be clearer. The government wants to turn the clock back to Victorian times and settle old grudges. We want to embrace the twenty-first century.

These may be testing times for unions, but we are ready for the challenge. So that’s why today, we stand together to say a resounding ‘No!’ to austerity – and ‘Yes!’ to workers’ rights.”

Original article:

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Sergio Duarte: International Day for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

Ambassador Duarte kindly sent the Russell Foundation his thoughts on a notable date.   

26 September 2015
International Day for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons
Former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs

Sculpture depicting St. George slaying the dragon. The dragon is created from fragments of Soviet SS-20 and United States Pershing nuclear missiles. Credit: UN Photo/Milton Grant

Debate on nuclear disarmament is starting again at the United Nations in New York. A number of activities marked the International Day of Peace on 21 September, and more are scheduled for the forthcoming International Day for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, on Monday 26 September 2015.

High-level discussions at the 2016 Session of the General Assembly will focus on the one of the most pressing global issues of our time: how to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. A proposal to establish an Open Ended Work Group to that effect, made in May at the 2015 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, met with general approval. Unfortunately, the draft Final Document of the Review Conference, which endorsed it, was not adopted because of disagreement on another issue. In early October 2015, the First Committee of the General Assembly will likely take up the proposal again. The overwhelming support given at the NPT Review Conference to the “Humanitarian Pledge” by which 113 States committed to “stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate” nuclear weapons provides a suitable basis for advancing work on the multilateral front.

For twenty years substantive work at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva has been stalemated. Non-nuclear weapon States have consistently argued for the start of negotiations on concrete measures of nuclear disarmament but meet stubborn opposition from the possessors of atomic weapons and some of their allies. They consider nuclear disarmament “premature” and advocate a so-called “step by step” approach. However, for the past seventy years that approach has been successful only in promoting measures to contain proliferation; no nuclear weapon has ever been dismantled as a result of a multilateral agreement. Despite bilateral agreements and unilateral decisions on reductions and caps in arsenals, those States seem intent on retaining their nuclear arsenals indefinitely and on keeping open for as long as possible the option of utilizing them as they see fit.

The international community has long agreed that non-proliferation and disarmament should proceed in parallel. The considerable progress already achieved on the former issue must be met by similar progress on the latter. It is high time that the international community as a whole engaged in serious work to take forward nuclear disarmament negotiations. Several civil society groups are actively promoting a ban on the use of nuclear weapons, which is seen as a catalyst to effective measures of nuclear disarmament. Among other constructive suggestions, a Convention on such a ban would be a matter for the discussions at the Open Ended Working Group. The participation of nuclear weapon States is essential. They should take this opportunity to show that they are seriously engaged in finding meaningful progress in averting the catastrophic consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, either by accident or design. 

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