Leaving the European Union

Now that the details of Brexit have been finalised its timely that we remind ourselves of why we supported not a Brexit but a Left Exit – ‘Lexit’

At midnight on 31 December we are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe.

We are as European today as we have ever been. Our social, cultural, political and our economic links remain. We will develop new relationships – but we are still Europeans and those of us who believe in the socialist project, still hold to the unity of working people in all countries and the overthrow of capitalism.

What we don’t believe in is the EU.

This is not a new position for the Workers Party We opposed entry to the Common Market in 1973 and again to the EEC in 1975. We have opposed every European treaty since, including the Maastricht Treaty, the Amsterdam Treaty, the Nice Treaties, the Lisbon Treaties and the more recent Fiscal Stability Treaty

We opposed them on the same basis that we opposed entry in the first place – because the founding principles, the direction of travel and the policies of the European Union were designed to strengthen and secure the capitalist economic, financial and social model and smother any radical socialist alternative to that system.

Here are just four reasons why leaving the European Union is a progressive step.

The EU is undemocratic

• The EU is not just undemocratic. Its centralised fiscal policy makes it inherently anti – democratic.

• We’ve witnessed the EU’s treatment of Ireland and Greece which demonstrated its contempt for national sovereignty, democratic rights and the welfare of working people.

• Membership of the European Union prohibits the socialisation of the economy, the nationalisation of strategic sectors of the economy and, of course, the banks, unless of course, the losses are to be socialised to bail out the bankers

• Countries joining the EU stop being sovereign states – they become member states of an increasingly monolithic structure designed to facilitate multi- national corporations, progress the modern capitalist project and prioritise markets, profit and control over working people.

The European Union is anti- worker

• The myth that the EU promotes and protects workers’ rights is exactly that – a myth. The EU is anti- worker.

 • The EU has cut living standards and economies have withered under forced austerity measures. • Thousands of people have been forced to move abroad to look for work.

 • One in four workers are now unemployed in Greece and Spain, with youth unemployment at double that.

• Three-hundred thousand Irish working people have left their homes to look for work overseas since the 2008 banking crisis

The European Union is an aggressor

• The European Union has taken part in the imperialist wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya together with the US and NATO, and has played a leading role in the intervention and threats against Syria and Iran.

• “Fortress Europe” ensures that those outside the EU cartel of nations are subject to vicious discrimination – if they are lucky – and drowning in the Mediterranean if they are not. Opposing the EU is an act of international solidarity with other countries and other workers world wide

International Solidarity

Socialists are primarily and instinctively internationalists. Voting to leave the EU was an international act of solidarity with the working class people of Greece, Portugal Italy and the many other European countries – including of course the Republic of Ireland – whose living standards, jobs, opportunities and democratic rights were trampled on by the Troika as the European Union bailed out banks and stretched the more marginal and weaker members states on the economic rack to pay for it.

 It was an act of international solidarity with all those who stood against the EU directives to sell off and privatise public utilities, including water and lay off millions of public sector workers.

It was an act of international solidarity with the many, many thousands of people who lost their lives on the doorstep of Fortress Europe as they were forced to flee from the economic and military adventures of the EU.

Nursing still in crisis one year on

Nurses in Northern Ireland continue industrial action - The Irish News

One year on from having to take industrial action in pursuit of fair pay and safe staffing levels, the nursing profession in Northern Ireland remains in crisis.

There has been limited progress on staff recruitment but legislation on safe staffing levels and improvements in nursing pay remain unresolved.

The Covid pandemic has underlined the central and fundamental role played by nursing staff in hospital and in community care, but despite effusive praise and admiration the Executive has yet to act on the key outstanding issues.

There is still a serious shortage of nursing staff, improvements in pay and conditions have not materialised and safe staffing levels have yet to be secured.

Many of the current difficulties stem from a lack of workforce planning and the reduction in the number of nurses in training. It will take time to rectify those issues and there must be public guarantees and detailed plans from the Executive and the Department of Health to address them.

For the safety of patients, and for the good of the nursing profession, there must be immediate legislation passed by the Assembly to guarantee staff staffing levels.

Last year’s strike action was the first in the RCN’s 104-year history. It should not need to be repeated.

Teacher Training: business as usual

A significant report which finds that how teachers are trained in Northern Ireland reinforces “educational division and duplication” along sectarian lines, is most likely destined to sit on a shelf gathering dust.

The report, produced by the Ulster University’s UNESCO of Education, has highlighted the consequences of four teacher training facilities based largely on religious affiliation and the implications that has for underpinning and perpetuating sectarianism.

Assembly members are unlikely to even read the report let alone debate it or act on its recommendations. It will be a one day wonder on the local media.

Despite the Good Friday Agreement being very clear. about the Northern Ireland Assembly’s responsibility towards Integrated Education – it was to “encourage and facilitate its development” – Sinn Fein and the DUP in particular have spent that past twenty-two years ensuring that no progress was made on integrated education or on integrated teacher training, one of the key milestones on the journey to de-sectarianise education.

Instead, they have prioritised and promoted the concept of ‘shared education‘, deliberately side-lining the integrated education project.

Only those committed to the implementation of integrated, secular education in Northern Ireland will  look to this report to confirm what is already known: but for the Executive, the Assembly and the Department of Education it will be business as usual as they collectively help to maintain and consolidate division in this society.

Venezuelan progressives face obstruction and aggression

Important and significant elections for the working class of Venezuela take place today against a backdrop of obstruction and censorship against the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV) and the Popular Revolutionary Alternative (APR).

Amongst other measures designed to silence and disadvantage Venezuela’s progressive forces the PCV has been prevented from advertising in public and on private television channels and radio stations. Nor has there been a response to the Party’s request to pay for space to transmit their election message.

Coups, blockades and puppets

Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution has faced many attempts to reverse the gains of the Hugo Chavez led revolution from as far back as 1998. They include a United States sponsored coup, an economic blockade and attempts to foist the USA’s puppet, Juan Guaidó, on the Venezuelan people.

The Workers Party continues to support the independence and territorial integrity of Venezuela and demands an end to the interference and aggression against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

The Workers Party wishes the PCV and the APR success in today’s elections and applauds their efforts to overcome the aggression and obstruction they and their supporters have had to face and for their continuing commitment to class struggle and the pursuit of a radically different social, economic and political system where the capitalist system is abolished and where the working class controls its own destiny.

See Party message of solidarity in full below:

Support for striking council workers

Nicola Campbell

Workers Party spokesperson Nicola Campbell has expressed support for the Newry, Mourne and Down District Council workers as they prepare to take industrial action  in pursuit of an equitable pay settlement.

“The council workers have been left with no alternative but to come out on strike. This is a situation that almost everyone was keen to avoid, with the exception it seems of the Council Management.”

This issue has been rumbling on for over five years, during which time senior management in the Council have concluded their own pay settlements but have dragged their heels on the pay and conditions of front line workers.”, Nicola said

“The council workers and their trade unions should have the full support of the people of the Newry, Mourne and Down area. The outstanding issues must and can be resolved quickly. It is unfortunate that they have had to take industrial action three weeks before Christmas to highlight that point”, Nicola concluded