Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Revolutionary Communist Group: Ecuador Delegation Publicity and Fundraising Appeal – December 2013

Hi my name is Dominic O’Hara,

As part of a Revolutionary Communist Group delegation I will be traveling as a representative to the World Festival of Youth and Students this December in Quito, Ecuador. The aim is to increase our understanding of and links with progressive movements building across Latin America. We will be sending and bringing back with us reports, lessons and inspiration that can be used in the struggle here in Britain against ruling class austerity, racism and imperialism.

For a number of years I have been active in our organization Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI). I have learned a lot during this time and for my involvement have been subject to three years of arrest and trials on framed charges by Strathclyde police (now Police Scotland). This has disrupted my personal and family’s life and I now have a criminal record.  My next trial is on 6 January, 2014, for speaking on a megaphone during a peaceful static protest against welfare cuts in Glasgow City Centre.  The Glasgow Defence Campaign (GDC) has supported me throughout this harassment. To find out more visit the GDC link at the bottom of this piece and support our protest at my trial.

The Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, the Citizen’s revolution in Ecuador, The movement towards socialism in Bolivia, are expressions of the masses organising to meet their needs by opening access to subsidised energy, food and housing as well as free higher education and health care. They look to socialist Cuba as a real living example of what can be achieved, even under a US blockade, when the masses organise for socialism. These are achievements for the world and show in practice that socialism is the only system capable of meeting the needs of humanity.

This lesson must be taken up in Britain where thousands are being punished by cuts to welfare while the ruling class plan their next imperialist venture abroad. The poor suffer in Britain, the oppressed suffer abroad. The British ruling class maintain their power and wealth at the expense of the world. They must be smashed. To successfully resist the war on welfare and peoples abroad we must support the war for welfare and for people’s freedom taking place across Latin America. 

We have much to learn and be inspired by! As the Venezuelan revolutionaries say -   
Venceremos! We Will Win!

Support our delegation
Donations can be made via the donation button on the FRFI website (below) or by contacting myself on 07734348065. Please email domifrfi@gmail.com if you are donating.

Support FRFI work in Britain
Buy a copy or subscribe to our newspaper Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!
Visit our website for latest news and events for areas around Britain.

Show our new film ‘Viva Venezuela! Fighting for Socialism!’
Organise, with our support, a showing of the film in your community. Speakers can be provided.
To watch online for free or order copies of the film (£5 with a pamphlet) visit

Donations to the cost of this work are very much welcome. See the donate button on our blogspot

Glasgow Defence Campaign Court Picket–Defend the Glasgow Against Atos 2! Defend Free Speech!
Monday 6 January 2014, 9 – 10am,
Glasgow Sheriff Court,

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Day of Action! Strathclyde University and beyond...

‘Anyone who thinks the change in 2010 was merely a rise in fees, and that things have settled down and will now carry on much as usual, simply hasn’t been paying attention. This government’s whole strategy for higher education is, in the cliché it so loves to use, to create a level playing field that will enable private providers to compete on equal terms with public universities...the overriding aim is to bring the universities to heel: to change their character, to make them conform to market ideology. Universities must be made into businesses, selling a product to customers: if they reduce costs and increase sales, they make a profit; if they don’t, they go bust. Profit is the only indefeasible goal, competition the only effective mechanism.’  

(Stefan Collini, ‘Sold Out’, 24 October 2013, London Review Of Books, http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n20/stefan-collini/sold-out)

A one day walkout by staff and workers across 149 UK universities took place on 31 October. Deteriorating pay levels and working conditions were among the issues highlighted. According to the joint strike leaflet produced by the trade unions participating; the Universities and Colleges Union, Unison and Unite; ‘In the last four years, pay in real terms has fallen by almost 15% for most support staff in higher education. This has eroded living standards and we believe this year’s 1% offer is inadequate and that it is time to take action for fair pay’. Indeed; protest is long overdue and serious sustained action is yet to be taken by the unions to defend those working and studying at universities.

The university strikers were joined by 1,000 pupil support assistants in Glasgow fighting against the Labour Council’s demand that they must now ‘undertake specialist health care tasks and administration of medicines’ to those in their care, with little training and no pay increase, ‘in addition to their core duties of supporting the delivery of education.’ (see http://unison-scotland.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/glasgow-city-council-intransigence.html)

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! spoke to staff picketing the main library at Strathclyde University in Glasgow. To avoid victimisation they wished to remain anonymous. One staff picketer warned that “a precedent has been set with the introduction of £9,000 fees down South...we need to do everything to fight the marketisation of education here in Scotland”. Another staff picketer commented that “people feel powerless to change things...we have been badly let down by the unions and the Scottish Government” for their lack of action “caterers and cleaners at the university have been put on zero hour contracts since last summer” and “education has become like a badge, a service...we need more education to look after each other”. The increasing use of zero hour contracts is a central part of this dispute. According to the university newspaper, the Strathclyde Telegraph (Edition 2 – November 2013), 36% of Strathclyde staff are not on full time wages and young university technicians and academics are increasingly signed onto zero hour contracts. The article adds that ‘some of Strathclyde’s catering staff are on zero hours contracts or receive low wages but were too afraid to strike’ and that these same workers were only getting 7 of the 17 hours employment they had been promised per week during the 2012 summer recess.

It is important not to forget the blows that have already been struck against staff, workers and students at the University of Strathclyde.  In June 2011, amid student protests supported by Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (see http://nocutsfullstop.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/education-under-attack-at-strathclyde.html), senior university management, including £250,000 principal Jim McDonald (see http://www.strath.ac.uk/jimmcdonald/), voted to scrap Community Education, Geography, Music and Sociology from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. If you go on to the university website now you will politely be told that these courses are no longer available and swiftly directed to the so called alternatives like ‘the University’s internationally renowned Business school’ and ‘our year abroad option which provides an invaluable opportunity to experience study and life in another culture’ (see http://www.strath.ac.uk/humanities/faq/prospectiveundergraduatestudents/). These ‘alternatives’ in no way replace the courses that were cut and are exclusively geared towards privileged students, financially secure and independent, looking for a career in the profit driven internationally based finance/business sector. For working class students, many holding down jobs to support their education and caring for or supporting families, understanding the collective community and world around their daily lives, is the main concern. In cutting the courses of Community Education, Geography, Music and Sociology the university management made working class students bear the brunt of their cuts. Across the road the public and privately financed £89 million Strathclyde Technology and Innovation Centre is rapidly built with no talk of cuts.

These cutbacks are compounded by the outrageous restriction of free speech and democracy on campus with the rapid commercialisation of university space. In the week running up to a Glasgow city centre screening of a new film on the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporters had their posters publicising the filmshowing repeatedly ripped down from the public announcement boards in the Strathclyde university  library entrance. On seeing security staff rip down one of the posters an FRFI supporter confronted them only to be told ‘your not allowed to put anything up which isn’t taking place in Strathclyde University or the student union’. This was not the case in the 2012- 2013 academic term with many free events, of educational value, taking place outwith the University, being publicised on campus. Like the university courses that were cut this censorship of freedom of speech and ideas has been passed with no real student consultation or vote taking place and has the effect of restricting rather than enhancing the ever important ‘student experience’.

United resistance by workers and students is urgent!

Free education from the chains of profit!
Freedom of speech and ideas now!
Victory to those fighting back!