Wednesday, 13 February 2019

School climate strike children’s brave stand has our support

School climate strike children’s brave stand has our support

We are inspired that our children, spurred on by the noble actions of Greta Thunberg and other striking students, are making their voices heard, say 224 academics
Students protest for a climate-friendly policy in Frankfurt, Germany, on 1 February.
 Students protest for a climate-friendly policy in Frankfurt, Germany, on 1 February. This Friday children across the UK will join school climate strikes. Photograph: Frank Rumpenhorst/AP
We, the undersigned academics, stand in solidarity with the children going on school climate strike on 15 February, and with all those taking a stand for the future of the planet.
Nelson Mandela once said: “Our children are our greatest treasure. They are our future. Those who abuse them tear at the fabric of our society and weaken our nation.” Human planetary abuse *is*, in a very real sense, child neglect.
As many of us and other fellow academics have indicated previously in this newspaper (Letters, 27 October 2018), the scientific evidence of climate change is clear. For example, the summer of 2018 has been confirmed by the Meteorological Office as the hottest on record for England. The heatwave adversely affected crops across Europe, with wheat and potato harvests reduced by one quarter, which in turn impacted upon food prices. Australia is similarly experiencing “hottest on record” weather events. As citizens across the globe will know and testify, many comparably disturbing examples could be given. We cannot nurture our children without Nature.
We are rapidly losing sea ice in the Arctic. The warming of the ocean, the melting of land ice and the ensuing rising sea levels will threaten coasts. In 2018, the European Drought Observatory noted a high deficit in soil moisture across Scotland, Ireland and much of northern Europe. This increases the risk of wildfires, such as those we saw across England in 2018. As well as posing a direct threat to life, fires produce toxic smoke, which is a significant health risk to young and old alike. Sir David Attenborough has warned: “If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.” Many other organisations, like Extinction Rebellion, are now working to bring the truth about the ecological crisis to the public’s attention.
It is with these tragic and desperate events in mind that we offer our full support to the students – some of whom may well aspire to be the academics of the future – who bravely plan to strike on 15 February to demand that the UK government takes climate action. They have every right to be angry about the future that we shall bequeath to them, if proportionate and urgent action is not taken. We are inspired that our children, spurred on by the noble actions of Greta Thunberg and many other striking students all around the world, are making their voices heard.

full list of signatories at

Friday, 8 February 2019

50 members of Unite call on their general secretary to immediately withdraw from his negotiations with Theresa May,AND the official Unite reply

Len McCluskey and Brexit negotiations
50 members of Unite call on their general secretary to immediately withdraw from his negotiations with Theresa May, and urge MPs to vote down the Tory Brexit deal
AND the official Unite reoly
 Len McCluskey of Unite outside 10 Downing Street on 24 January 2019 after talks with the government over Brexit. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA
As members of Unite, we are deeply concerned by reports that our general secretary, Len McCluskey, is entering into direct negotiations with Theresa May over the Tory Brexit deal. The outcome of the Brexit process will affect the lives of all of us for decades to come. Workers face the prospect of lost rights, lost jobs and lost prosperity.
The Labour party, to which Unite is affiliated, has a clear policy to vote against any deal which does not meet its six tests or which puts the Good Friday agreement in doubt. Unite policy conference established a similar set of red lines in July. It appears that McCluskey is engaging in separate talks with the government in which he is putting forward a position which contradicts both the policy of the Labour party and Unite’s own policy. This is absolutely wrong.
AdvertisementBy voting down the deal, MPs can create the conditions to bring down the government and force a general election, giving us the chance to get a government for the many. Backing the Tory deal, or abstaining on it, means keeping the Tories in power with their agenda of cuts, austerity and privatisation. Unite must stand up for the jobs and rights of its members. We call on Len McCluskey to immediately withdraw from his negotiations with Theresa May, and urge MPs to vote down the Tory Brexit deal.

Rebecca Tonks NE/100/11
Salman Shaheen London ITC
Tracey Thatcher Unite community Shrewsbury & Telford
Mark Boothroyd Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Hospitals
Graham Martin York community
Rebecca Lawrence SE London Medical
Alena Ivanova LE524
Jane Lawson Manchester, community member
Sheila Ravnkilde Unite community Nottingham
Matthew Smyth NW/NW11 Liverpool and Merseyside Clearing Banks
Joshua Lovell Beds and Herts
Ana Oppenheim LE 524
Liz McShane Central London
Sandy Paul Tower Hamlets Unite
Dennis Leech Tower Hamlets community
Omar Salem LE/790 (legal workers) branch 
Steven Carver Tower Hamlets 
Catherine Overton Poplar & Limehouse/City 
Laura McCormack London and Eastern
Nick Dearden Central London 
Eugene Dalton-Ruark Unite community 
Sarah Parker Enfield
Kristian Ravnkilde Unite community Nottingham 
Michael Chessum LE524
Elias Eiholzer SC/156/AREA
David Kirk
Lee Griffiths Tower Hamlets
Roland Rance East London 
John Bowden 
Susan Pashkoff East London
Joseph Clough
Ruben de Dios Armesto Tower Hamlets
Terry Conway Islington 
Sabrina Huck 
Chris Brace York Community 
Matthew Jury Brixton
Joseph Healy
Hannah Webb LE524
Mark Findlay Retired
Michael Tucker West Midlands retired 
Katia Widlak ACTS
Lisa Homan Parliamentary 
William Conway Nottingham Community branch
David McNerlin Belfast
Jane Kelly Retired
Radhika Patel 
Anita Downs South East London Medical Branch
Debby Boon LE524
Barry Woodling Greater Manchester Unite Community Branch
Alan Rawnsley Yorkshire

Unite responds to misleading letter from Another Europe is Possible

·         Thursday 7 February 2019

Responding to today’s (Thursday 7 February) letter published in The Guardian coordinated by second referendum campaigners Another Europe is Possible, a Unite spokesperson said: “The criticisms of Len McCluskey from second referendum campaigners are malicious and deliberately misleading. Len McCluskey is not negotiating a Brexit deal with Theresa May.
“He has met the prime minister once, as have several other trade union leaders, when he took the opportunity to raise a number of concerns for working people, including the danger of a no-deal Brexit and the need for a customs union in order to preserve jobs.
“The terms of Brexit can only be determined by MPs, and Unite fully supports Jeremy Corbyn’s efforts to secure the best possible arrangements.
“We endorse the proposals set out in his letter to the prime minister yesterday as being an approach that can bring all people of goodwill together. We urge all Labour party members and supporters to get behind them.
“Len McCluskey continues to liaise with government ministers to ensure that jobs in manufacturing and elsewhere are safeguarded and makes no apologies for doing so. Posturing will not keep a single factory open.
“Unite activists for the most part know better than to believe media rumours about their union, and we urge Another Europe is Possible to take the same sceptical approach.”
Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Alex Flynn Unite head of media and campaigns on 020 3371 2066or 07967 665869 
  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Comments on 'Delinquent Genius':

Comments on 'Delinquent Genius':

(  Cooley, Mike (2018). Delinquent Genius: The Strange Affair of Man and His Technology. UK: Spokesman BooksISBN 978 085124 878 3

This is a romantic and, at times, a nostalgic book, which might not be surprising as it is a critique of modern technology. It is perhaps more surprising that the author, Mike Cooley, was a designer and engineer at Lucas Aerospace working on military technology and the main argument of the book is that relatively recent forms of technology, underpinned some aspects of scientific rationale are superceding and devaluing other forms of human knowledge, experience and ways of interacting with the world.

However, this is less of a contradiction, if one considers that Mike Cooley was one of the originators of the Lucas Plan which proposed using the design and technical skills of workers at Lucas Aerospace could to used to make products which were more socially useful than high-tech killing machines.
Mike Cooley’s approach is not anti- scientific, reactionary or anti-technological, there are passages which show that he is clearly in awe of what scientific design can achieve. Yet, in other places, he details the apparently unquantifiable and intuitive nature of human skills, which is something a scientific-technological world view tends to ignore or denigrate.

Perhaps at times Cooley falls into the trap of over stating the de-humanising effects of the European scientific revolution. He is critical of the way in which it promotes an impoverished and reductionist views of humans, seeing them as little more than biological machines.  However, this is not just the end result of changes in European thought that can be traced to the renaissance and the enlightenment. Many civilizations, in Europe and elsewhere, have engaged in large scale civil and military engineering projects using mass enslavement or other forms of forced labour. Some of these projects took place in pre-Colombian America, yet Cooley seems a times to use a generic ‘Indian’ as a exemplar of how systems of knowledge outside the European scientific tradition were more environment and people friendly than it was.

In one chapter Cooley is fascinated by how elements of Japanese culture survive sand co-exist with the adoption of western derived science, technology and forms of social organisation. This perhaps shows that the use of science does not necessarily displace all previous cultures, and that it can be adapted to fit in with them, and vice-versa.

So, does Cooley confuse the effects of bureaucratic social organisation with those of European originated science and technology? It would be interesting to know what he thought about the Chinese scientific and technological achievement which preceded western ones, such the invention of gunpowder, the development of a far larger ocean-going vessels and devising means to prevent their crews contracting scurvy.

But these criticisms maybe nitpicking, Delinquent Genius is  a fascinating examination of human creativity and intelligence with all its pitfalls and potential to go beyond the current confines it has made for itself with the narrow application of science and its diversion to serve the exploitative, and may be catastrophic interests of nation states.

P.MURRY 31/01/2019

Monday, 4 February 2019

Launch the Trade Union Clean Air Network

Launch the Trade Union Clean Air Network
Wednesday, 6 February, 2019 2pm - 4pm ITF Head Office, ITF House 49-60 Borough Road London, SE1 1DR This meeting is supported by the University and College Union, National Education Union, Greener Jobs Alliance and the Hazards Campaign. For further information and to register your attendance please contact Janet Newsham at: 

Air Pollution – all in a day’s work? Having decent work means being able to breathe clean air at work. The reality for most workers is that the air they are exposed to at work and on the way to work is polluted wherever they are working.

There is very little acknowledgement of this in most government and local authority clean air policies. Government strategy is essentially an exercise in kicking the can down the road by delaying vital measures or passing it over to local authorities to sort out. It needn’t be like this.

There is rightly a public outcry about air pollution as a public health emergency. But it is also an occupational health emergency. Most air pollution is caused by work-related activities. Yet you wouldn’t think this was the case if you read all the consultation documents and public policy pronouncements on the subject. Even many of the environmental organisations who are campaigning for clean air fail to properly acknowledge this fact.

Why set up a trade union network? The worker voice needs to be much more prominent in the public debate on this issue. We have the example of asbestos, another workplace killer, to show how more effective unions can be when they co-ordinate around a single issue. The Joint Union Asbestos Committee (JUAC) shows how this can be done.

What would a network do? The adoption of a charter will provide a set of demands which unions can prioritise in campaigns at local, regional, national and international level. The network can also support the development of resources like pollution checklists for health, safety and environment reps who want to monitor the level of risk to their members. It can promote best practice case studies and training that unions can use to raise awareness.    The trade union movement has a central role to play. We need to make sure our voices are heard.

That’s why a planning meeting has been called to discuss our response. All unions and supporting organisations are invited to attend a meeting .

Sunday, 3 February 2019

We are opposed to ‘Fortress Europe’ and to ‘Fortress Britain’. We want to lower borders, not raise them.

Join the meeting tomorrow in London

On Monday evening, Labour was set to abstain on the Tory Immigration Bill. At the last minute, under huge pressure from members and activists, it decided to vote against, though it didn't even whip all of its MPs to be there.

Jeremy Corbyn has a track record of fighting for the rights of migrants, and that is why so many have supported him. Yet, the Labour party combines pro-migrant rhetoric with deference to anti-immigration sentiment in terms of policy: supporting the end of free movement between Britain and the rest of Europe, and 'no recourse to public funds' for migrants.

We are calling this emergency meeting for Labour and labour movement activists to discuss what is happening in the party, and to organise for a radical change of direction.

Where the party already has positive policies, such as scrapping the net migration target and guaranteeing the right to family reunion, we call for further development and the launching of serious campaigns. Beyond that, we call for clear, strong pro-migrant policies to break up the 'hostile environment'.

We are opposed to ‘Fortress Europe’ and to ‘Fortress Britain’. We want to lower borders, not raise them.
See you tomorrow (Monday) at 7pm, New Cross Learning, 283 - 285 New Cross Rd, SE14 6AS.

In solidarity,

Nadia, Another Europe