MORE than 300 youth and workers filled the News Line Anniversary rally at the Park Crescent Conference Centre in central London on Sunday, celebrating 36 years of the daily News Line and commemorating 65 years since the assassination of Leon Trotsky by Stalin’s agents.
The rally also celebrated the 10th anniversary of the victorious Hillingdon Hospital strike.
A big delegation of sacked Gate Gourmet workers striking for reinstatement at Heathrow brought their banner and spoke at the rally.
Opening the meeting, chairman Bill Rogers welcomed the sacked Gate Gourmet workers and the Hillingdon Hospital workers who won their fight for reinstatement after five years of struggle.
Assistant WRP General Secretary Jonty Leff told the rally: ‘The recent events in France show young people are taking up a courageous fight, a real struggle, against the state.’
He said in today’s world all young people witness ‘is imperialism invading country after country, like the Zionist armies that have taken over Palestine and oppress the Palestinian people.’
He said these wars were solely to control the world’s supply of oil.
He warned: ‘You see the same brutality from the British government as the Israeli Zionist regime.’
He said: ‘They bombed hospitals in Iraq and they are closing down accident and emergency departments in Britain.’
He continued: ‘Everything is up for sale.’
But he added: ‘These things are not the government’s to sell: they’re our hospitals, our schools, our council estates.’
All Trades Union Alliance National Secretary Dave Wiltshire paid tribute to the Hillingdon Hospital strike.
He also saluted the sacked Gate Gourmet workers for tearing up ‘the rotten deal by the TGWU and TUC leaders.’
‘You deserve the support of the entire trade union movement,’ he told the sacked workers to loud applause.
Speaking about the role of the trade union leaders, he said: ‘One of these leaders actually said a few years ago that his job was to keep BA going as a viable company.
‘These union leaders are beyond the pale now. (TGWU leader) Tony Woodley has to go.
‘These union leaders are the only thing keeping capitalism going today.
‘If a company like Gate Gourmet is bankrupt, then nationalise it. Put these companies under the control of the working class. Let the working class take the power.’
Hillingdon Hospital strike leader Malkiat Bilku received a standing ovation after speaking on the 10th anniversary of the strike.
She said: ‘They thought they could cut our wages because we were only Asian women workers.
‘We beat the big employer and the trade union leaders and we are very proud.
‘We won our Industrial Tribunal and we won full compensation and our jobs back at Hillingdon Hospital and I am working back now at Hillingdon Hospital and I am also shop steward again in the hospital.’
She continued: ‘We learned lots of lessons.
‘First, we learned that the whole working class is behind us. Black, white, Asian workers.
‘We also learned the union leaders take the side of the bosses and the government and we also learned these bosses are not stronger than the working class, they can be beaten, and these trade union leaders are not stronger than us, they can be beaten. We beat them.’
She said the lesson was that ‘if you have a correct leadership you can win.’
Sacked Gate Gourmet worker Parmjit Bains told the rally: ‘We are over 700 sacked workers.
‘I went to work on August 10, but when I reached the security they didn’t allow me to go inside.’
She said: ‘Every day we are gathering on the picket line and we are thankful to our colleagues who come every day and give us more support.
‘Our union leaders met Gate Gourmet and agreed to the “Compromise Agreement’’.’
But she said the agreement had a whole series of conditions attached to it, which would effectively bar the sacked workers from getting jobs at Heathrow if they signed it.
She said it was not a ‘compromise’ on the sacked workers’ behalf, but ‘a compromise agreement only for the management’.
‘How can we sign it if it means we can’t get another job?’ she asked.
Speaking about the role of the Transport and General Workers’ Union leadership, she continued: ‘We met Tony Woodley. We said the letters outlining the agreement put everything in the company’s hand.
‘He told us to talk to Brendan Gold. Now this Thursday we are going to see Brendan Gold to ask him what has he done for us. This deal is for the company.
‘I will tell him, please organise national action. Give us support.’
Alex Pereira, the cousin of Jean Charles de Menezes, told the meeting: ‘Excuses were made to justify the killing of Jean Charles just as lies had been told to justify the war against Iraq.
‘They didn’t find anything to make a link between my cousin and a terrorist attack,’ he said.
‘It’s unbelievable what these people do.
‘It is difficult to speak,’ he added, sitting down.
Later he continued: ‘We need your support. Jean is gone, but thousands of people are dying every day because of two people (Bush and Blair).
‘If we stop them doing what they’re doing, everything will be okay.’
He said to applause that Bush and Blair were the real terrorists and were responsible for causing terrorism.
He also condemned the attempts to introduce 90-day detention without charge.
Sacked Gate Gourmet worker Mrs Grewal said that on August 10 the workforce was working as normal when they were told to go to the canteen where their union representatives would tell them what was happening.
‘Within five minutes everyone was sacked,’ she said. ‘Hundreds of leaflets were distributed in different languages. It was pre-planned.’
She said most of those still arriving at the gate were told not to go into work.
‘From midnight on the 10th people started getting letters saying, you’ve been sacked.
‘Some were on their rest days or off sick. They didn’t know what to do.’
She appealed to the audience: ‘We need your support as much as you can help us to fight this battle.
‘If Gate Gourmet win this time, god knows how many companies will do the same thing to other people.
‘Keep your unity.’
Another sacked Gate Gourmet worker, Harminder Singh, said: ‘Our union leaders and Gate Gourmet say this dispute is finished. But the deal is finished. It has collapsed already.
‘This war is still on. So please support the sacked Gate Gourmet workers.
‘This fight is for the workers in England and the whole world because our fight is with capitalism.’
Workers Revolutionary Party General Secretary Frank Sweeney said: ‘This rally shows the fighting determination of the working class, not just in Britain but internationally.
‘The source of imperialist wars we’re witnessing in Ivory Coast, Iraq and Afghanistan is the whole economic collapse of the capitalist system.
‘The capitalist system is bankrupt.
‘At the same time they are trying to drive workers in Britain back to slave conditions, they are trying to recolonise places like the Middle East and Africa.’
He said ‘The same people who want 90-day detention are the ones who introduced the shoot-to-kill policy.’
Sweeney concluded: ‘What’s important about all these struggles is the leadership the working class has.
‘The only way to resolve the problems facing the working class today is for the working class to take state power and smash capitalism.’
Nash Campbell, assistant YS National Secretary, also addressed the rally.
‘Young people in Britain hate the capitalist system. ‘This system is organised to attack us for no reason.
‘Today is 65 years since the assassination of Leon Trotsky, who fought for workers and youth for a different kind of society.
‘He successfully led the Russian Revolution when the working class took power.
‘We want a European socialist revolution.
‘This is the only way we will have a life.
‘I say join the YS and WRP. Learn how to beat the ruling class and let’s see an end to the Blair government and have socialism very soon.’
News Line Editor Paddy O’Regan told the audience: ‘Today’s rally is taking place in exceptional times.
‘Trotsky fought for world socialism. He understood, with Lenin and Marx, that you can’t have socialism in one country and capitalism everywhere else.’
He said that ‘globalisation’ had seen the Bush and Blair governments, the imperialist powers, ‘rampaging round the world like wild beasts’.
He said: ‘The people of Venezuela fear an invasion.
‘They say if Syria doesn’t do what it wants, they will invade Syria.
‘They say if Iran doesn’t give up nuclear power for peaceful purposes, they will invade Iran.
‘Imperialism is like a mad dog. There can be no solution to it in a single country.
‘The workers of the world have to unite to put an end to imperialism. The only answer to capitalist “globalisation” is world revolution.’
‘This means building the world party to go forward to world socialism.’