Updates

Articles

Articles posted by Radical Socialist on various issues.

Radical Socialist on the Bihar Elections

The Bihar elections have shown that the BJP and the forces supporting them are not yet in a position to dictate terms absolutely. And the results show firmly a defeat for Narendra Modi. Though it was a state assembly election, the BJP fought it clearly on a Modi-Shah plank. Their campaign strategy was based on Modi speaking at a large number of meetings, while it was Amit Shah, the Party President, who dictated strategy. And the electoral strategy was clear. As the elections proceeded, it was an ever more strident Hindutva campaign, a degree of communal poison that even by BJP standard has not been matched perhaps since the 2002 Gujarat carnage. To this was added a simple calculation, that by having parties claiming to represent Mahadalits and other downtrodden the caste equations would also be changed in a big way.

The election results were also a blow to the controlled “free” media, which consistently presented the BJP alliance as ahead, and even through their exit polls tried to predict at most a neck and neck race. Now, after the elections, various spurious explanations are being put forward. The most hilarious was of course the live jokers’ pack on NDTV. For an hour, supposed experts seriously explained how the people of Bihar had voted and how their upward aspirations for development had cost Nitish Kumar, and the rest.

The simplest explanations have come in two forms. Firstly, that the caste vote addition worked in favour of the JD(U), RJD and Congress bloc; and the other is, that the people voted against BJP but not for the JD(U) alliance. Some features cannot be explained by either of these explanations.

Votes for the BJP have been routinely described, not only by explicitly BJP forces but by economic liberals from upper caste orientation, as votes for development; while it is only the RJD and JD(U) votes that were called caste votes. As the CNN-IBN discussion showed, upper castes voted disproportionately for the BJP and no one called that a caste vote. In other words, Hindutva politics in the last one and a half year has shown aggressively that not only is it anti Muslim but it is brahminical. And if not just the OBCs but a good part of the dalits decided that under the circumstances voting for the JD(U) alliance was the best survival strategy for them, that also tells a lot about the BJP.

The voter choice shows that under the circumstances, the people of Bihar have decided that all mainstream parties are more or less corrupt, so corruption is not the core issue, while communalism and fascism is. However, we do not see the Bihar election results as the victory of the issues facing the Indian people. While commentators are saying that this is the result of decades of anti-upper caste struggles, thus does not mean that Dalits are living in an oppression-free, extremely tolerant atmosphere. And we also need to remember that with BJP support, Nitish Kumar has in the past ruled Bihar with an iron hand. Expression of democratic rights, struggles for peoples’ livelihood, are not particularly backed by him and his government. That he has found a new friend in West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also says much about his commitment to democracy and people’s livelihood issues.

What has been happening is that the political failure of the left to combine anti-fascist, anti-communal struggles, with struggles against capitalist exploitation, caste oppression, gender oppression, has meant, that pre-electoral “polarisations” are manufactured polarisations within the bourgeois forces. We do not assume that the existence and the non-existence of democratic rights are one and the same for us.. So we do not say that the victory of the BJP would have made no difference. But we do say that this polarisation is not a polarisation where the fighting masses have been united at one pole. The failure of radical forces to keep up sustained mass work and gradually extend their voice among the toiling masses means that anti-BJP fight does not get converted to sustained radical political consciousness and organisation.

The united left campaign resulted in the CPI(ML) winning three seats. Overall, the votes received by the left went up a little. The CPI did not win any seats. This may indicate that due to years of collaboration with bourgeois parties, masses of workers, dalits, Muslims might have taken their protestation of class politics sceptically. The lesson is, the left must think long-term, must fight for issues of the working class and the other exploited and oppressed, instead of short term electoral benefits. The radicalisation of the masses, and an integration of the left in their struggles, are the preconditions for a real radical turn, not anyhow getting a few, or even a number of parliamentary or assembly seats.

However, the Bihar elections can also prod the left in wrong directions. There already exists a right-wing within the CPI(M), calling for an open alliance or adjustment with the Congress. Before the elections in West Bengal coming up in 2016, that trend may get strengthened. Even if that does not happen, any question of left unity in West Bengal is far off. The far left cannot expect, and would be politically naive to expect, the CPI(M) to even use revolutionary rhetoric, much less to act in any such way. The CPI(M) has not even explicitly apologised for the violence it unleashed in Singur and Nandigram, and has not repudiated its neoliberal economic line. Whether in jute mills, or tea gardens, or in campuses, being out of power has not led to serious militancy by mass fronts of the CPI(M). On the contrary, sectarianism towards all but one or two selected radical left organisations continues unabated.

The task of the far left therefore is to consolidate its own forces, to campaign against capitalist globalisation and fascism, and to deepen its work within the working class. Only when the far left is a significant force can a united working class front be a realistic issue at the all India level.

 

 

Radical Socialist, 14 November 2015 

Statement by NPA, France

The cruelty of imperialist wars results in the cruelty of terrorism

NPA STATEMENT

Saturday 14 November 2015, by NPA

 

The NPA issued this statement on the 14 November 2015, after the attacks in Paris of the evening of 13 November.

The horrible attacks which took place in Paris on Friday evening, killing 120 people, causing dozens of casualties, this blind violence, provokes revolt and indignation. The NPA shares these feelings and expresses its solidarity with the victims, with their close relations. This tragedy is even worse in that it hit innocent victims, the murderous attacks were aimed at the population.

This contemptible cruelty in central Paris responds to the equally blind and even more fatal violence of the bombings by French planes in Syria following the decisions of François Hollande and his government.

These strikes are supposed to fight the Islamic State, the terrorist Jihadists, in fact, with the Russian intervention and bombings, they protect the regime responsible of the martyrdom of the Syrian people, the dictator Assad .

And in fact there too the civil populations are the first victims condemned to live under terror or to flee at the risk of their lives.

Imperialist cruelty and Islamist cruelty feed each other. And do so to control oil supplies.

In a pitiful intervention, Holland broke down and stammered some words on the Republic. He who plays the war leader and carries an enormous responsibility in this new tragedy asks for “confidence”. He decreed a state of emergency throughout France, considering that the answer was to trample on fundamental freedoms. He was immediately supported by Sarkozy. The political authorities can thus from now on ban public meetings and control the press.

Once again, main people responsible for this surge of barbarian violence are calling for national union. They are trying to turn the dramatic situation to their advantage to choke off indignation and revolt. They have a ready-made scapegoat, Muslims. We reject any national union with those responsible for wars, the bourgeoisie, Hollande, Sarkozy and Le Pen. We denounce the racism that the State vehicles in the name of alleged “values of the republic” at the time when, in the guise of fight against terrorism, in fact democratic rights are threatened. We ask for the lifting of the state of emergency.

The only response to wars and terrorism is the unity of the workers and people, over and above their origins, their skin colour, their religions, across the borders, to fight together against those who want to silence them, to dominate them, to do away with this capitalist system which generates cruelty.

To put an end to terrorism, it is necessary to put an end to the imperialist wars that aim to perpetuate the plundering of the wealth of the peoples dominated by the multinationals, to force the withdrawal of the French troops from all countries where they are present, in particular in Syria, in Iraq, in Africa.

Montreuil,

November 14th, 2015

Paris COP21: They prepare us "an agreement to burn the planet"

Paris COP21: They prepare us "an agreement to burn the planet""The COP will strengthen climate crime processes"

Interview. Bolivian activist Pablo Solon participated alongside Evo Morales to the latter's accession to the presidency. He was a member of the Bolivian government and Bolivian ambassador to the United Nations. Executive Director 2012-2015 Focus on the global south, think tank based in Bangkok, it is always invested in the struggles for the rights of indigenous peoples in the declaration of the International Mother Earth, and participated in the Conference on Climate Change in Cochabamba in 2010 to COP15 in Copenhagen, COP16 in Cancun and COP17 in Durban.

Pablo Solon Solon now heads the foundation he created in tribute to his father, the muralist Walter Solon, including foundation involved in climate, cultural and social struggles in Bolivia.

As part of a tour of meetings in Europe around the climate issue, intervened in Paris Tuesday, October 27 and agreed to answer our questions.

Why did you distance yourself Evo Morales that you were a very close?

Pablo Solon - Our political break is consecutive to the decisions of his government that I reject. First the will to build a road through the Tipnis National Park, one of 22 parks in Bolivia. This would have led not only to destroy the forest road, altering its ecosystem and automatically recreating cultures and habitat in preserved areas, but, again, no information or consultation of indigenous peoples concerned had been made. It was a regal decision in the context of a strategy under the influence of private economic groups.

Then I am committed against the large dam projects, expensive and destructive of nature.Bolivia is a country with a sunshine in the highlands: they could develop solar energy, replacing both dams and deforestation.

Today I fight for the goal of zero deforestation by 2020, for the development of a solar energy produced by the consumers themselves - not for panels fields in the hands of private - and for social participation all communities, including indigenous peoples.

Deforestation is a major problem in Latin America?

Yes, not only deforestation destroyed primary forest (160 000 ha per year in Bolivia), robs indigenous peoples, mainly to plant corn for export, but, again, the burning and burial are responsible for 24% CO emissions 2.

Deforestation is one of my disagreement with the current government that develops a development strategy based on "growth" does not respect the rights of peoples and under influence of multinationals.

How do you analyzes the sequence of successive COP and their inability to act really?

To summarize the process, we can say that there was in 1992 the first UN climate convention, UNFCCC, the first stage of an international will to understand and fight against climate deterioration. Then there were two agreements: Kyoto, covering the period 2000-2012 and Cancun, covering the period 2013-2020. And there will be Paris for the period 2021-2030 ...

Each of these agreements is a weaker version of the above. Kyoto committed the States that had signed (which did not include in particular the United States and Canada).Cancun was a failure because to limit temperature growth below 2 ° C, the agreement provided to limit the emissions of CO 2 to reach 44 gigatonnes and 35 GT in 2030. In reality the emissions reached 53 GT 2013, and will reach 56 in 2020 and 60 GT GT in 2030! There must have been in 2014 a "picking  year", when the trend reversed, but in reality, the growth in emissions continues.

Paris is even worse: the announced agreement is even lower, it will not impose any commitment to the signatories and the United States have already indicated that they will not propose the ratification of the convention. The reason for the predicted failure is simple: at first, the negotiators came from environmental movements, but now they come from the business, multinationals. It is an agreement for burning the planet!

The draft agreement as it was announced does not refer to the limitation of fossil fuels.Yet it is the latter that in Bolivia are responsible for 60% of CO emissions 2, and 24% of the CO 2 is due to deforestation that also produces a lot of methane.

This agreement actually opens the door to say to all the carbon capture experiences and geoengineering. It is an agreement that is good from the point of view of companies.

What he expected about the Southern States and funding?

Previous agreements had planned to release $ 100 billion by 2020 to support Southern countries and allow them to avoid the pathways in the North. But since Copenhagen in 2009, the richest countries have not paid the money and try to mobilize private funding.

With a few exceptions like the endangered island states, states South themselves do not make efforts. They consider that they are not responsible for the situation, awaiting potential funding to act, and are in the very process of "growth" imposed by big business which they have linked their destiny.

The COP will strengthen climate crime process, legalize crime against the climate, against climate migrants against indigenous peoples in rural and island countries.

How do we react?

During the COP, there will be large gatherings, but it is feared that they are diverted and recovered by the French Government and the participating States to the COP in their favor.

An international tribunal of rights of nature will meet Friday, December 4 to judge the crime against nature and biodiversity  [1]. And after December 12 we will develop local strategies to tackle climate crime.

We will have to lead by example, developing local and concrete actions, such as those that have already proven themselves in Bolivia when people managed to oust the Suez group in water management by blocking the streets. Everyone must take his share.

Interview by the National Commission NPA ecology


PS

* "An agreement to burn the planet." Published in the L'Hebdo Anticapitaliste - 310 (05.11.2015).https://npa2009.org/

Notes

[1] From 9 pm at the House of steelworkers, 94 rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, Paris 11 th.

The Denial of Minimum Wage should be a Cognizable Offence

 

11 October by Sushovan Dhar

phgaillard2001 /Flickr cc

Fulltime trade unionist of the Progressive Plantation Workers’ Union and Executive Council Member of one of India’s youngest national trade union federations, the New Trade Union Initiative, Sushovan Dhar spoke to Ceylon Today about trade unions and workers rights.

By Ruwan Laknath Jayakody and Umesh Moramudali

? : What are the challenges facing trade unions?
A: In India, at this point of time, the biggest challenge is that there has been a wholesale casualization and informalization of labour. This is there if one looks at the big, organized sectors. If one takes the estimated size of the entire workforce, over 93.5 per cent are in the informal sector. This is huge. Out of the remaining 6.5 per cent in the formal sector, around 60 per cent are contract workers or casual workers. Casual workers means that one does the same work but is employed at the wage of 25 per cent or 30 per cent of a regular worker for doing the same thing but with no job security and much less benefits and are contractual up to three months, six months or one year. Only 1per cent of the labour force has a certain degree of job security, employment guarantees and employee benefits which are due to any worker. In the contract labour system, how one regularizes employment is a big challenge.

Traditionally, the unions have never paid much emphasis on the huge bulk of and number of informal sector workers. This is a big workforce. Therefore, the challenge is that one has to have minimum wages, social security measures and provident funds and health benefits including hospitalization covered.
The third challenge is that in the specific case of the plantation sector where the workers are indentured to the formal sector, the workers are treated worse than the informal sector workers. They do not get minimum wages and there is absolutely no social security coverage which the employers must provide in spite of there being certain rules in the plantation labour acts. In many sectors, workers are notionally in the formal sector but are treated worse than the informal sector.
There is also of course a severe, serial attack on the right to association and the right to unionization. A number of reforms must take place. We should have a successful general strike on a national scale all over the island. The demands of the strikers should be that the type of reforms the government is trying to do will actually in reality attempt to get the workers out of any formal, legal coverage, legal security or legal guarantee. The government is trying to play around with the acts governing factories and contract labour. After a brief phase of growth, growth has now hit a stumbling block, and is though not in a crisis, getting hit. When growth is getting hit, the employers will always try to keep their profits intact by putting every cost including social costs on the workers. These are the largest challenges to the trade union movement in the region at this point in and of time.

? : What has happened to trade unions in Sri Lanka?
A: The trade union movement of Sri Lanka has a long tradition. There were very powerful trade unions in the country led by people like Philip Gunawardena and Bala Tampoe. What has happened is that a number of factors taken together, the defeat of the left and the strikes of the 1980s, and following the war, the cultivated growth of a kind of chauvinism on ethnic lines, have weakened the working class very much. In fact, the workers were taught to think of themselves as either being Tamils or the Sinhalese instead of all being workers working for workers demands. This is the impact we see in the degrading living conditions here. In fact in a certain point of time in the 1970s, Sri Lanka was much ahead of the other South Asian countries in terms of the human development index with a number of aspects taken together including health, education and the female’s status in the society. Yet, after this, wholly damaging conditions have wreaked havoc.

? : What do you think of legislating the minimum wage for both the public and private sectors?
A: Legislation of course is the way out. In one of the judgments given in 1991/1992, Workmen Employed under IT Shramik Sena vs the Management of Raptakos Brett and Company Limited, the Supreme Court of India said the minimum wage is the wage or earnings needed for subsistence beneath which the humanity cannot be allowed to sink as human beings would not be able to survive. For example, minimum wages should be included in the Constitution as it is a question of human rights. Below the minimum wages, humans cannot survive. The minimum wage is the non-negotiable minimum. One cannot lead a decent human life beneath that. One asks for the minimum wage when in fact the Indian Supreme Court in one of its judgments said whoever that is not paying a minimum wage is not employing workers but bonded labourers. Thus, any violation of the minimum wage must be seen in this light.
We have steps – minimum wages, living wages and fair wages. The goal is to go towards fair wages. These are basic, minimum living conditions, so there has to be legislation and enforceability as well. The employers go to courts and obtain an injunction, or either there is such an inefficient system of monitoring, complaint mechanisms and redressing and there are no minimum wage inspectors and these are not followed up.
The enforceability of minimum wage is a major issue. The denial of minimum wage should be a cognizable offence. Otherwise, one cannot deal with this. The government of Sri Lanka must be progressive about minimum wages and must make it a law and make it compulsory.

A minimum wage of Sri Lankan Rs 10,000 would barely cover the cost of living. The money they are offering is a pittance. If one looks at the current basic minimum living conditions in Colombo for a family of four, the minimum wage earner of a family of four should be taking in at least Sri Lankan Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000. It is otherwise a very serious question of how it is very difficult for workers families to manage with Rs 10,000, in the absence of any social security benefits. Minimum wage is of course necessary, and must be harmonized with the number of rules and international norms on how to calculate the minimum wage. Any of the calculations of minimum wage do not come to Rs 10,000, as this amount is much less than the minimum wage.
Minimum wage demands can be met through minimum wage components. Minimum wage is not the wage one has to pay in cash. The state should rather make a component of a non-cash component in the sense that one has a good quality, free public education system, free public health system and free food, including thereby the right to food and other different programmes and the provision of free shelter, build houses for the workers, do social housing as practised in Europe and many other parts of the world and subsidize on transport. All these things count. These components will actually take out a lot of the cash components. This will also ensure that the minimum wage that one is giving will be properly utilized by the workers and that workers will not spend it on drinks or any other purpose other than looking after the upkeep of the whole family in a proper, decent fashion.

? : What are the issues with the plantations in the estate sector?
A: The plantation labour acts and corresponding laws are quite outdated, the enforceability is a problem and the mechanisms are problematic. For example, in the Plantations Labour Act of 1951 of India which provides for the housing, school buses, playgrounds and the social functions and the water connections, the fine and penalty for non-compliance is Indian Rs 400 (just over Sri Lankan Rs 800) while for a small tinkering the estate owners and the employers can actually pay Indian Rs 40,000. In a number of cases the fine or penalty imposed on owners for non-compliance is much less than the penalty on trade union workers. A similar condition prevails in Sri Lanka as well and owners take advantage of this. We need a strong law and strong mechanism. We need to fundamentally change labour relationships and plantations. The modern world cannot survive with this type of labour practice.

? : What should be done with regard to the workers and the labourers?
A : Number one is that there must be policies. Crises may come and go, but there has to be policies to create funds and to have funds for the workers so that their upkeep and benefits are not hampered. Human lives have to roll on in spite of good or bad markets. This cannot be reduced to the level of penury.
Sri Lanka has a big export market that has not gone through a collapse of demand. There may be temporary problems but in tea, the exports are growing.
Guaranteed price is called the minimum support price in India. In tea too one can think of the production and the ways and means to when in the lean season one can have the banks help out the owners at such a point of time if the production is affected.
The level of workers’ well-being must be taken care of. One can create various trusts and insurances to take care of these things. These things are possible.

? : What should the state and the government do?
A : Firstly, different workers’ rights have to be guaranteed.
They can have different acts. Secondly, it is the enforceability of the rights. If one has a right, the question is how one enforces it. The employers who do not comply go scot-free. This has to end. This has to be changed.
Especially without ensuring this our dreams of looking towards a decent society will remain an illusion. Without ensuring and instituting basic workers rights and their enforceability, our dreams of seeing a just society would be an illusion.

Source : Ceylontoday

Police Violence on Workers Rally in Indonesia

Indonesia – LBH Jakarta: Activists Assaulted by Police at Labor Rally

Saturday 31 October 2015by Jakarta Globe

Jakarta. The Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta) has criticized the police for allegedly beating up two of its activists during a labor rally at the State Palace on Friday.

The two, Tigor Gempita Hutapea and Obed Sakti Luitnan, were reportedly accompanying the protesters when police started to violently disperse the crowd after the time allotted for the rally had run out.

Organizers had been given permission to protest at the State Palace in Central Jakarta until 6 p.m., but apparently laborers were still present by 8 p.m., prompting the police action.

According to LBH Jakarta, Tigor and Obed then grabbed their cellphones to snap pictures and when some police officers noticed that, they immediately hit both activists and dragged them the ground and into a police vehicle, where the alleged assault continued.

The two activists suffered injuries to the head, face and stomach.

Police also arrested 23 laborers at the rally, according to LBH Jakarta, who reportedly were beaten as well.

"Police [officers] have to respect human rights and are not allowed to use violence [in circumstances like Friday’s rally],” Alghiffari Aqsa, LBH Jakarta’s director, said on Friday. “What they [the police] have done is completely against the law and legal steps must follow,” he added.

Tigor and Obed on Saturday were still being detained by the Jakarta Police for questioning, along with the 23 protesters.

LBH Jakarta has urged the Jakarta Police chief, Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian, to release all 25 and investigate the officers involved in disbanding the rally at the State Palace.

But the police chief said the laborers were to blame for the violence.

“It is such a shame that the protest had to end up that way,“Tito said.”Had the protesters respected the law, this would not have happened. They should have obeyed [the law].”

Nearly 1,500 police officers were deployed for Friday’s rally, which attracted some 10,000 protesters calling for a higher minimum wage.


P.S.

http://jakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/news/lbh-jakarta-

Portugal After the Defeat of the Right wing Government

PORTUGAL

What will happen after this weekend’s agreement between the Socialists, the Left Bloc and the Communists?

Tuesday 10 November 2015, by Francisco Louçã

On Tuesday 10 November, the rightwing government in Portugal was defeated by a vote of 123 against, 107 for. [1] The Socialist Party has concluded an agreement with the Communist Party and the Left Bloc that would make it possible for the Socialist Party to form a government if the President invites them to do so. Françisco Louçã, former national spokesperson of the Left Bloc explains what is at stake.

Over the weekend, the Socialists and the Communists signed an agreement. Since the Left Bloc and the Socialists had already done likewise, there is, right now, a parliamentary majority to defeat the briefest government in the history of Portuguese democracy, bringing an end to the Passos Coelho and Paulo Portas saga. The outcome is fundamental as much as it is historical: after the horror of austerity, a new page is being turned.

Over the previous weeks, I have been quite critical of the time it took to close a deal and of its lack of audacity, because two separate agreements – even if they are basically the same – and three motions for rejection to take down the government mean a choice was made not to come up with a strong statement. But now that an agreement has been reached and it is public, it’s time to focus on its contents and durability, which I shall discuss from the only point of view that matters (to me): how to answer to the social crises exacerbated by the torment of austerity.

I will start with the agreement’s contents.

The three conditions mentioned by Catarina in her television debate with Costa were, even before the electoral campaign, the starting point for this weekend’s agreement: the SP must drop the reduction of the Single Social Tax paid by the employers, as well as the Single Social Tax for workers whose pensions have been cut; forget the so-called “conciliatory lay-offs” and unfreeze pensions. Faced with electoral results, which left the right wing with no majority, the SP accepted these conditions. And there were plenty of socialists sighting in relief, for they did not support those three ideas put forward by their own party.

But the agreements that have now been made public go further than that — much further than that, actually. They did come up with an emergency response embodying emergency measures, but did go the extra mile, inasmuch as some of them could become longstanding alternative answers to austerity if there is a will to do so.

The agreements stipulate the end of privatisations — there will be no more privatisations. They also cancel the recent processes of handing the urban public transports of Lisbon and Oporto to private companies. They protect water as an essential public asset.

As for labor incomes, which affects millions of workers, public sector wages will be fully restored (in 2016), while wages in the private sector will benefit (those over 600€ due to a reduction in the surcharge, which will be abolished in 2017; the ones bellow 600€ because of a decrease in social security contributions, with no future impact on pensions nor the sustainability of the social security). Four public holidays will be restored. Bearing in mind that losing them meant workers that to work more hours for the same wages, all workers will be positively affected — all 4,5 million of them.

All pensioners will be better-off (pensions bellow 600€ will be unfrozen and shall see a small recuperation, while those above 600€ will no longer have to pay the IRS surcharge), and that means two million people will be better-off. In contrast, the right wing had vowed to go ahead with a 4000 thousand euros cut in Social Security (1600 millions by freezing pensions, plus 2400 in 600 million a year in benefit cuts, as promised to Brussels). The difference is abyssal.

New fiscal rules will apply: IRS progressivity is restored with more tax brackets; the familiar quotient, beneficial for wealthier families, is replaced by an IRS deduction per child; there is a limit clause for rises in Municipal Property Tax (it cannot exceed 75€ per year) and Corporate Income Tax reductions will come to a halt; the deadline to report company losses will be reduced to five years, instead of the twelve, and new rules will curb fiscal benefits from dividends. Finally, VAT in restaurants will return to 13%.

To fight poverty, the minimum wage will rise to 557€ on January 1st, 2017, and to 600€ by the end of the mandate. Poor families will be entitled to reduced electricity fares. Such measures will benefit one million people.

Measures shall be adopted to make sure false autonomous workers are provided with proper contracts; collective bargaining shall be reinstated; the special mobility regime for public workers, which lead to lay-offs, will be cancelled.

Attachment orders on people’s homes due to public liabilities will no longer be allowed. Mortgage debts will from now on be settled whenever there is dation in payment (that is, the bank keeps the house), if there is no alternative in terms of new deadlines and interest rates.

The list of measures on health and education includes reducing NHS user charges and a textbook exchange mechanism.

The Socialist Party withdrew its electoral law proposal, which included single member constituencies (the “first to pass the post” system used in the UK).

Finally, a parliamentary cooperation proceedings have been agreed, with multiple meetings between the parties, and including setting up committees on external debt sustainability and the future of social security. These committees shall write trimestral reports.

What is thus achieved is stability in people’s lives, relief for pension holders, wage recovery, jobs protection and more fiscal justice. On the other hand, such an increase on aggregate demand will cause an immediate positive economic reaction.

What is then missing?

The agreements lack structural solutions for investment and on how to manage and improve both external and income accounts. Only debt restructuring will enable it; otherwise, there will be no leeway to resist external pressures and launch employment. It will take investment and promoting the productive capacity, and the State will have to play a strategic pivotal role in reacting to the protracted recession we have been dealing with.

Besides, we cannot yet foresee what the conditions imposed by Brussels, Berlin or the ECB will be, but we know they won’t be favourable. We must keep in mind the statement issued by the European Commission only two days after the elections, which demanded new measures on social security — the subject will remain a matter of dispute. And we must also keep in mind how rating agencies have been threatening the Portuguese Republic. Lastly, the Novo Banco issue [the bank that was created after the bankruptcy of BES and that the government has been trying to sell, unsuccessfully] will blow up before the summer, bringing about wither important losses to the budget balance, demands for recapitalisation or a new bank resolution process, which must be carried out in accordance with technical demands that protect the public welfare and cut down on external debt.

These are the problems that will be knocking on our doorstep over the next months and years. The new majority is quite aware of it, because there is a safeguard clause guaranteeing that no budgetary unforeseen event or situation will lead to higher taxes on labor or lower wages and pensions. The time has surely come to start devising the answers to such unforeseen events and situations, because they will be here before the new Budget.

Source: Esquerda.net.

Footnotes

[1The Guardian“Portuguese MPs force minority government to quit over austerity ”.

 

From International Viewpoint.

Francisco Louçã is an economist and a Left Bloc member of the Portuguese parliament. He was the candidate of the Left Bloc in the presidential election of January 2005 (where he won 5.3% of the votes).

Migrations and Rural Workers – In solidarity with migrants

Migrations and Rural Workers – In solidarity with migrants

Monday 14 September 2015by Via Campesina (Europe)

 

The European Coordination Via Campesina in solidarity with migrants

Brussels, 14th September 2015

In view of the humanitarian crisis that we are living in Europe, the peasants of La Via Campesina Europe want to show their sincere solidarity with all refugees who were and who are forced to leave their villages and their countries. We show our solidarity especially with Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, Kurds, those coming from all different regions of Africa dying by the hundreds on their way to Europe.

We would like to denounce the current cruel European migration policies, as well as all measures put in place to prevent or to complicate the free access to Europe.

Even though the media rarely talk about it, we want to call the reasons that force refugees to flee their countries to mind. We have to tackle the problem at its roots in order to end the aggressions and to change the living conditions these people suffer from in their home countries.

Finally, we want to remind that once more civil society as well as peasants have reacted faster and much better than most of our governments. With our commitment and solidarity we aim to build a Europe where human beings are more important than neo-liberal economic interests.

Spokespersons on this issue:

Unai Aranguren, ECVC Coordination Committee

Paula Gioia, ECVC Coordination Committee

Subcategories