Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Campaign against Climate Change: join our bus to Yorkshire solidarity demo 30 July

[Now with correct link!] Calling Londoners against fracking: join our bus to Yorkshire solidarity demo 30 Julyhttp://supporters.campaigncc.org/index.php… (more info about the protest here: http://frackfreeryedale.org/yorkrally/) Facebook event here:https://www.facebook.com/events/1223902057643231/ Many apologies about the confusion with the previous post.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Licensed Larceny: Infrastructure, Financial Extraction and the global South by Nicholas Hildyard

The Corner House July 2016

NEW book

Licensed Larceny: Infrastructure, Financial Extraction and the global South

by Nicholas Hildyard

This new 144-page book, just published by Manchester University Press,
argues that the current push worldwide for Public-Private Partnerships
(PPPs) is not about building infrastructure -- roads, bridges, hospitals,
ports and railways -- for the benefit of society but about constructing
new subsidies to benefit the already wealthy. It is less about financing
development than developing finance.

Understanding and exposing these processes is essential to challenge
growing inequality. But equally important is critical reflection on how
the wealthy are getting away with it. What does the wealth gap suggest
about the need for new forms of organizing by those who would resist elite
power? What oppositional strategies unsettle elite power instead of making
it stronger?

Chapter 1 summarises 'the injustices of wealth', inequality and wealth

The case study in Chapter 2 traces the flows of money into and out of a
PPP project in one of the world's poorest countries, Lesotho's national
referral hospital, highlighting who benefits from them in an entirely
lawful process.

Chapter 3 describes the ways in which 'finance' views infrastructure: a
road, hospital or oil pipeline is not 'infrastructure' unless it provides
a stable, contracted cash flow for the long-term.

For investors, 'infrastructure' has become an 'asset class', as Chapter 4
explores further. What started off with investments in economic
infrastructure (utilities, roads, ports, airports) now include investments
in resource/commodity infrastructure (oil and gas facilities, mining,
forests), social infrastructure (hospitals, public housing, schools,
prisons, law courts, military bases), information infrastructure (big data
harvesting) and, still in its infancy, natural infrastructure (payments
for so-called environmental services).

The trajectory is profoundly undemocratic, elitist and unstable --
infrastructure-as-asset class is a bubble set to burst.

Chapter 5 takes a global tour of massive infrastructure corridors planned
to enable further economies of scale in the extraction, transportation and
production of resources and consumer goods by compressing space by time.

Chapter 6 raises questions about how resistance might more effectively
challenge the trajectory of contemporary infrastructure finance – and the
inequalities and injustices to which it gives rise. It is likely to be
more fruitful when part of wider efforts to foster and support
commons-focused resistance to accumulation.

Copies of 'Licensed Larceny' can be ordered from Manchester University Press:

Other recent posts on The Corner House website

1) 'Nigger' and 'Nature': Expanding the Concept of Environmental Racism

by Larry Lohmann, 6 May 2016

Environmental racism is usually defined in terms of the racialised
distribution of pollution. But it's also about the ways people, ethnic
groups, nature and pollution are co-defined in the first place. This
aspect of environmental racism is perhaps even more visible in forests
than elsewhere.

2) What is the 'Green' in 'Green Growth'?

by Larry Lohmann, April 2016

'Green growth' promises to:

--respond to economic crisis by developing new environmental assets that
can become profitable investments;

--address ecological crises – climate change, water shortages,
biodiversity depletion, deforestation – without imposing constraints; and

--relieve the state of the increasing expense of environmental protection.

Can this implausible triple promise ever be fulfilled? There are reasons
for scepticism. This book chapter asserts that green growth is not about
solving ecological crises but reinterpreting them, creating new
opportunities that business can take advantage of while diffusing
responsibility for them. It is full of contradictions and resistances to
it are inevitable.

3) 'Energy and Climate as Labour Issues'

by Nicholas Hildyard, April 2016

Recognising that energy is a labour issue is critical if the shift away
from fossil fuels is to do more than just help elites find new, greener
tools for exploiting the majority world.

This presentation at a seminar held at the Austrian Federal Chamber of
Labour asserted that coping with and resisting capitalist exploitation of
labour means questioning just what ‘energy’ is: energy as the abstract
'stuff' that keeps factories working, consumers consuming, trains and cars
running, the economy rolling and capital accumulating is very different
from the actual energies that are part of living well.

4) 'Energy Transitions: Some Questions from the Netherworld'

by Nicholas Hildyard, April 2016

The term 'energy transition' usually signifies a shift away from fossil
fuels and the technologies that require them. The question that then
follows is: how is this shift to be paid for?

But there are pitfalls in looking at climate and energy like this. This
public lecture raises questions about the direction of mainstream
discussions on energy, technology, finance, accumulation, and organising.

5) Mausam 6

by India Climate Justice Collective

The sixth issue of the new Mausam, a magazine connecting climate debates
to local struggles over land, livelihood and food rights, highlights the
acidification of the oceans caused by high emissions of carbon dioxide and
other greenhouse gases; analyses the December 2015 Paris climate
agreement; and reports on a WTO judgment against India’s solar power plans.

We hope you find these posts interesting and useful, and welcome any
comments you may have.

best wishes from all at The Corner House.

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Sunday, 10 July 2016

Kwug delegate's report on having attended Boycott Workfare Welfare Action Gathering in Manchester on Saturday 9 July 2016

acknowledgements ro Alan Wheatley,   Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group

Sunday, 10 July 2016

The actual programme for the day differed in some ways from the programme content outlined at the Boycott Workfare website on 29 June yet was still well worth attending, especially as travel expenses were repaid with no trouble or embarrassment.(1) 

Hosts Boycott Workfare and Unite Community Manchester are dedicated to equipping benefit claimants and our allies with what we require — especially in terms of knowing our rights and treating us as human beings. That is very unlike the 'corporate culture' of the Department for Work & Pensions, its jobcentres and its contractors and subcontractors. The over-riding ethos of 'austerity' Government is apparently dedicated to so disappointing people that the reactions from the vulnerable people to, say, not having their travel expenses paid and barring 'claimants' from using jobcentre toilets, are likely to warrant their being sanctioned, etc. (Note: to the DWP we are 'claimants' to be intimidated, harassed and bullied, not 'customers' to be wooed.)

My main unique-to-the-day memories from attending Boycott Workfare Welfare Action Gathering 2016 include:

  1. The contrast between my feeling ridiculed for my health-condition-induced dress code by passers-by as I was leaving Manchester Piccadilly Station to walk to the venue, compared to the sense of being a welcome addition to the crew while accompanying Gill Thompson and Maggie Zolobajluk plus benefit sanctions death banner (2) and Manchester local Debbie upstairs in the same building to see Andy Burnham MP who just happened to be in the building as the Gathering was coming to a close, and later walking with Gill, Maggie and Maggie's mobile art installation-style 'Cuts Kill' placard — complete with 'bloodied' cleaver — through the campness of Manchester's Gay Village where we engaged with caring locals as we were en route to Piccadilly Station on our homeward bound run
  2. An 'intelligence gathering' insight revelation that the DWP has devised a way of minimising staff solidarity possibilities in the face of the jobcentre staff being mandated to sanction colleagues for not doing enough to find sufficient extra paid work to top up inadequate DWP incomes: The DWP is separating the staff member's workplace from their Universal Credit registration place. That is like what Stanley Milgram's Experiment reveals about directors of torture prioritising 'obedience to [external] authority over personal conscience'.(3)
  3. "In your campaigning, you are not 'working' or 'volunteering', you are engaging in political activism and freedom of association"
  4. A new breed of DWP worker is dubbed the 'work roach' or 'workroach'
  5. When the jobcentre calls in the police to remove activists, activists can get onto the local press to alert them to what is happening
  6. Each jobcentre has its own 'corporate culture'
  7. If you leaflet someone who refuses your leaflet and they then say to you on exiting the jobcentre, "I've just been sanctioned," offer to accompany them back into the building for better treatment
  8. Scottish Unemployed Workers Network managed to pressure local key decision makers into declaring Dundee a 'no workfare city' and thus Keep Volunteering Voluntary
  9. Andy Burnham MP said that he knew of benefit sanctions death names that could be added to Maggie and Gill's banner — "constituents whose cases I've been working on" — and said emphatically that he did not think Universal Credit to be a good idea: "I've seen the mess it has made of people's lives in Wigan where it was trialled."
  10. The purpose of Universal Credit is not to redeem the welfare state but to destroy it
  11. Targeting jobcentres with highest sanctions rates, and getting the local press on board, can help to reduce the amount of sanctioning they do
  12. I am now better able to put faces and voices to names

I also collected documents that I will pass on to other Kwug members, particularly our caseworkers.

Link addresses

  1. http://www.boycottworkfare.org/?p=6628
  2. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/sister-ex-soldier-who-died-7527564
  3. https://explorable.com/stanley-milgram-experiment

Trident renewal

In case you missed it, Cameron has announced a vote on Trident renewal for 18th July - see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36754911 

CND have long since planned a mass lobby of Parliment on 13th July, therefore this is all the more important now in light of this news.  

Finally, it's also being reported that the Labour Defence Review will propose options for retaining some form of nuclear weapons systems which Corbyn is likely to accept - see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36752920

Friday, 8 July 2016

Grunwick and Lucas 40 Years On: Union Rights, Workers' Control

Grunwick and Lucas 40 Years On: Union Rights, Workers' Control
Screening of The Year of the Beaver and The Lucas Plan, with discussion and brief talks by Kerria Box (Grunwick 40) and Solfed.
22nd July 7pm at LARC, 62 Fieldgate Street, E1 (nearest tubes Whitechapel, Aldgate East.)
Organised by Breaking the Frame, Grunwick 40 and North London Solidarity Federation. FREE/donation.
1976 was a high tide of workers’ struggle and the year it all began to change. Giving the lie to racist and sexist myths that Asian women were submissive and would work for a pittance, workers at the Grunwick plant in Willesden rallied the left behind their struggle for the right to join the union. At the Lucas Aerospace arms company, the Shops Stewards’ Combine Committee took the fight to the bosses, with their workers’ Alternative Plan for socially useful production.
In 2016 we are still facing the fiction of ‘foreigners taking our jobs’. In the face of climate change and militarism, we again need industrial conversion, from fossil fuels and Trident to renewables, and to stop the bosses replacing our jobs with robots. Join us for 2 films and discussion, showing how workers’ rights and ideas are crucial to facing those challenges.
Refreshments will be available for a donation. Contact info@breakingtheframe.org.uk for more information. Venue is wheelchair accessible.
  • !Save the date for the Lucas Plan 40th Anniversary Conference in Birmingham Saturday November 26th - more information soon at http://lucasplan.org.uk/

In the news: 8 July 2016: UCU update

In the news: 8 July 2016

A look back at some of the week's news
EU nationals must not be used as pawns in Brexit negotiations, says UCU
UCU this week called on the government and Conservative party leadership candidates to make a firm commitment that all EU nationals already in the UK can stay. The union was responding to a refusal from Tory frontrunner Theresa May to confirm that EU nationals could stay, and the suggestion that their status could be up for negotiation as part of Britain's Brexit strategy.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'Politicians have been ducking the difficult fallout from the Brexit vote for too long. It is simply not acceptable to try and use EU nationals who have been living, working and paying tax in this country as pawns in any Brexit negotiations. It's time for the government, and those who wish to lead it, to clearly state that EU nationals can remain in this country.'

Forty universities hit by strikes this week with more to come
UCU members at 40 universities were on strike across the UK this week, fromScotland to Plymouth. Thirty-three institutions took action on Tuesday with many joining regional rallies with colleagues in the National Union of Teachers, who were also on strike on Tuesday. Ten institutions will be out next week with Edge Hill and Exeter kicking things off on Monday.
Writing in Public Sector Focus magazine, Sally Hunt takes the employers to task for their failure to close the gender pay gap and refusal to make a fair pay offer. She also says it's a scandal that universities have allowed insecure contracts to become the norm and warns that the more normal they become, the more their existence will lower the bar of acceptable employer behaviour. 

Sainsbury review of technical education
The government must invest properly in colleges and the further education workforce if proposed reforms of technical and professional education are to succeed, said UCU today. The union was commenting ahead of the Sainsbury review of technical education, due to be published today.
The review is expected to recommend significant changes such as young people at 16 being asked to choose between an academic A-level option, or to take one of 15 new technical options. The new technical routes will be delivered through a mix of college-based courses and apprenticeships, with a focus on developing core skills including English and maths, as well as specialist occupational skills.
UCU welcomed the report's emphasis on college-based learning as a key part of each new route, but warned that government will need to invest in colleges and address the falling value of lecturers' pay if it wants to ensure that the new routes are high-quality and delivered by expert teaching staff.
Sally Hunt said: 'These significant reforms can only happen if the government supports college staff. Addressing declining staff pay will be vital if colleges are to attract the best staff to deliver core and specialist training.
'While there are some welcome proposals, the government needs to ensure it does not pigeon hole young people too early. The option to mix A-levels with vocational options like BTECs has been helpful in widening participation, so we need to ensure a broad and flexible curriculum is still available for students, including older people looking to retrain. The key will be delivering proper careers advice so people are making informed decisions that allow them to fulfil their potential.'

UCU and the National Union of Students confirm national demonstration date
UCU and the National Union of Students (NUS) have set Saturday 12 November 2016 as the date for a national demonstration in central London. The union said the demonstration would take concerns about the cost of education and the worsening pay and conditions of staff right to the heart of government.
Both organisations will be meeting and working with local representatives and members to build support for the November event. Speakers and a route will be confirmed at a later date. Follow the #DemoN12 Twitter hashtag for all the latest news.
Sally Hunt said: 'We announced plans for a national autumn demonstration at our congress in May and can now confirm it will take place on Saturday 12 November. The world has changed a lot in those few months and it is absolutely vital that students, lecturers and supporters of a fair education system join us to take our message to the heart of the government.'

Invest in staff, not just "shiny buildings" says Sally Hunt
Writing in the Financial Times this week, Sally Hunt challenged the idea that students and their parents want, and are impressed by, "shiny buildings". Responding tocomments from Higher Education Policy Institute director Nick Hillman, Sally suggested he should revisit his own study that showed students offered a decidedly lukewarm approval of universities' building projects, with half (49%) saying they should cut back and instead invest in other areas such as teaching.
Explaining why UCU members are on strike over pay, Sally says that behind the veneer of shiny buildings, 49% of teaching staff are on insecure contracts, female academics are paid 12.6% less than their male colleagues and staff have seen their pay drop by 14.5% in real-terms since 2009.

The failings of for-profit education: from Socrates' fears to Trump's fraud
Writing in the Guardian, A J Angulo - the author of Diploma Mills: How For-Profit Colleges Stiffed Students, Taxpayers and the American Dream - echoes many of UCU's concerns about for-profit colleges and their attempts to get a stronger grip on UK higher education.
He lists the many failings of for-profit education and says as early as 400BC Socrates had warned that establishing students as consumers would be a mistake. Angulo says recent attempts to detoxify the for-profits' brand are mere cosmetic alterations as changing those at the top does little to address the conflicts of interests that arise when profit motivates owners and shareholders.
He concludes that, like Socrates, we must reject the canard that a university education is just another commodity.

UCU says it's time to look properly at how to fund Scottish universities
A report has found it has become more difficult for Scots to get a university place at an institution in Scotland. In a major review of higher education in Scotland, public spending watchdog Audit Scotland highlighted a 6% real terms cut in the amount of cash universities receive from the Scottish Funding Council.
The BBC reported that the Scottish government provided more than £1.7bn to universities and students in 2014/15 but the study said institutions were "placing increasing reliance on generating income from fee-paying students from the rest of the UK and outside the EU."
UCU Scottish official, Mary Senior, said: 'The report's conclusion makes it clear that public funding is central to our universities' success both in widening access and remaining world-leading institutions. The Scottish government needs to take a hard look at the level of funding it gives to higher education and how it raises that money. We believe the time has now arrived to properly appraise taxation policy and whether we need to use the parliament's new powers.'

University of Bolton criticised for cash and iPad incentive student recruitment scheme
Academics at the University of Bolton are being offered cash rewards potentially worth thousands of pounds if their courses meet or exceed recruitment targets. UCU described the student recruitment incentive scheme, seen by Times Higher Education, as "just wrong".
Leaders of undergraduate courses that recruited 15 or more students last year will be eligible for a reward of £1,000 if they match the 2015 figure this autumn. For courses that signed up fewer than 15 students in September, the target is to hit 15 for the first time. Then, for each additional student beyond the threshold, programme leaders will receive an additional £200, in the case of full-time students, and £100 for part-time students.
Programme leaders will be eligible to share half their total bonus with other academics who have been directly responsible for the increase in student numbers. Under the scheme there are other prizes on offer, including iPads.
UCU regional official, Martyn Moss, said that the Bolton scheme would be illegal in the US. 'We are unhappy with the idea of staff being given blatant financial incentives to help bring in more numbers; this is just wrong. We would rather student recruitment is based on students and courses finding a match that ultimately suits them best and we have faith in professional recruitment staff being best placed to do this,' he said.

Cornwall College principal resigns in salary row
The principal of Cornwall College has resigned following calls from UCU to consider cutting his own £229,000 salary package - a rise of 9% on the previous year - rather than make redundancies. The BBC said Amarjit Basi will leave his post as principal and chief executive of Cornwall College at the end of July.
At the end of May, UCU called on Basi to re-assess his own salary in the light of more redundancies at the college. UCU regional official, Philippa Davey, said: 'Our proposal was that the principal considers a pay cut. It was one of several put forward by the union in response to yet another round of redundancies at Cornwall College.'

South Downs College strikes off as contracts dispute resolved 
Strike action planned at South Downs College has been cancelled after an agreement was reached between the college and UCU over new contracts.
Staff were due to walk out yesterday and Tuesday this week following on from two days' action last week. However, an improved deal was put to members, including assurances over salary protection, holiday entitlement and strike pay deductions, which they overwhelmingly voted to accept.
UCU regional official, Moray McAulay, said: 'UCU members have overwhelmingly voted to accept the new deal put forward by the college. Strike action planned for this week is off and the dispute is resolved.'
Last updated: 8 July 2016

Thursday, 7 July 2016

March with us to defend migrants' rights


promotion for Demo this Saturday below

+ the annual Stop Racism Demo the following SAT 16TH JULY is now a joint event with the People's Assembly - 'No to Austerity / Tories Out / No to Racism - refugees welcome'

Best Wishes

Subject: March with us to defend migrants' rights
Dear Romayne,
Today, many EU citizens living in the UK will be breathing a sigh of relief. Since the referendum result, the future of their lives, homes and relationships in the UK was shadowed in doubt. But last night, parliament sent a clear signal to the government that EU nationals settled in the UK should have the right to remain after Brexit.
Labour MP Andy Burnham said it was "a victory for common sense and decency". And at Global Justice Now, we agree. But we also believe that this fight goes beyond protecting the rights of a privileged few within the boundaries of “Fortress Europe”.Yesterday’s vote is a promising sign in the fight for freedom of movement - a right that we expect, and even take for granted in the UK. Now is the time to stand in solidarity with those around the world who are denied this right.

March with us

On Saturday, we’ll be marching with Another Europe Is Possible to say: defend free movement and extend it beyond Europe. No one is illegal! Will you join us on Saturday at1pm outside Downing Street? You can sign up on the Facebook page, or just come along on the day.

Other ways to get involved

If you can’t make it, don’t worry - there are lots of other ways to stand in solidaritywith those denied freedom of movement. We’ve already been arguing that Europe’s so-called migrant crisis is in fact a crisis of inequality, poverty and conflict. We have leaflets, posters and briefings on freedom of movement. Please will you order a pack of materials? You could give a few to friends, neighbours or leave some in your local library.
Yesterday’s vote is a step in the right direction. We’ve shown solidarity with those fleeing economic downturn in EU countries like Greece. Let’s demand the same for those fleeing poverty and destitution  around the world. Our government will be bargaining for the rights of UK nationals living abroad - what about those stuck at borders in France, fleeing bombs and terror? We believe everybody has the right to free movement, not just those with the ‘correct’ passports.
Global Justice Now is a movement working for a fairer, more equal world. Together, we can build a world where nobody is forced to flee their homes. But in the meantime, we can’t stand by while fences are built to stop them from fleeing.

Take action now

Will you stand arm in arm with people around the world who are denied their right to freedom of movement? Please, join us at Saturday’s march, where a representative of Global Justice Now will be speaking. Or order a pack of leaflets to help spread our message.
Thanks for your support,
Kahra Wayland-Larty
Campaigner at Global Justice Now
Join Global Justice Now:
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