Tuesday, 26 November 2013

'Anonymous' petition against the Lobbying Bill

Dear Peter,

The controversial Lobbying Bill is steadily moving through the Lords on its way to becoming law, and we're currently being forced to respond to part three, which adds unnecesary and potentially damaging new regulations for trade unions.

One big concern is that the Bill risks the confidentiality of union membership lists - it's potentially a blacklisters' charter. Membership records will be opened to the government's Certification Officer, government nominated Membership Assurers and investigators appointed by employers or political opponents who want to raise a complaint.

Please help by signing our anonymous petition

This is really worrying. Whilst most people are happy to be open about union membership, many will be deeply concerned about bad employers finding out what they had previously had a right to keep a secret.
At a time when the full scope of the blacklisting scandal has still not come to light, giving employers and the government even more access to our sensitive personal data is a shocking development. We just can't trust them with a major change like this.
To dramatise the threat to confidentiality, we want to send a message to Andrew Lansley that thousands of people are concerned they will no longer have the right to keep secret whether or not they are a union member.
We will list all entries in the petition as "Anonymous", mentioning only your job and home town, to make the point that whilst you may have given us your consent to use your data, we don't think government should have this too.

Please sign the anonymous petition now

Thanks for your help in protecting our personal data,
John and the Going To Work team

Monday, 25 November 2013

Stop the Lambeth College Brixton Sell-Off!

Date: Mon, Nov 4, 2013 at 11:23 AM
Subject: Stop the Lambeth College Brixton Sell-Off!

Dear friends and contacts

The centre where I work at college is being sold off to private developers! And there are plans to sell off more of the college later next year too. The Brixton centre where I work puts on courses for students with learning diffculties and disabilities, for young people who have not engaged with school education and for people who don't have English as their first language.

These are exactly the type of students that Further Education is meant for. People who need a second chance, who are disabled, unemployed or on very low-paid jobs for whom education is a way out of a difficult situation.

I think it's dangerous and irresponsible to reduce Further Education at a time when 1 million young people are unemployed and over 60% of young black men are unemployed. This is more true in south London boroughs such as Lambeth where these figures are even higher.

Of course a petition isn't going to change things on its own but when we go into meetings with management over the coming weeks and we know, and they know, that we have 1000 people backing us, publicly, then they are much more likely to take notice of what we say to them.
Lee Jasper and comedian Jeremy Hardy have signed!
Please support our campaign and sign the petition and also send the email fromchange.org to all your contacts. Anyone who supports the campaign can sign the petition, friends, family, students, etc;
And don’t forget to like the Facebook page to keep updated on campaign events and the upcoming lobbies
Many thanks for your support, together we can win!
Acknowledgements To: mandy brown /martin francis/doug rouxel

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Councillors Against Cuts statement

New statement for a fighting policy against all local government cuts

We issue a new statement below in the lead up to the 2014 budget discussion calling for a refusal by Labour councils to implement cuts. Printable statement from this link
If you are a councillor elected on a Labour ticket, please give it your support.
If you are a Labour Party, trade union or other anti-cuts activist please challenge your local councillors to sign and add your support this statement (email councillorsagainstcuts@gmail.com).

The cuts that will be demanded of local government over the next 2 years will be “the end of local government as we know it.” says Sir Albert Bore, leader of Birmingham City Council. Sir Merrick Cockell, Tory Chairman of the Local Government Association, reveals that the latest round of budget cuts would lead to some councils going bankrupt. But what do the proposed cuts mean in human terms?
They mean:
  • Misery for the hundreds of thousands of people who have lost or are losing their jobs.
  • Anguish for the elderly, children and their carers, the poor, the undernourished, the educationally deprived who will lose the right to a dignified life.
  • The loss of democratically accountable services run for the public good to private institutions overwhelmingly motivated by profit-making.
We believe that what the government is doing to our communities is immoral. But we cannot denounce their actions without doing our utmost to stop them.
For years councils have claimed that if they didn’t implement cuts then Pickles’ underlings would come in and take control of the council services. But it is compliance with government cuts and the under resourcing of staff in Birmingham that is giving the Tories the excuse to take control of the Council’s child care services.
We do not accept that the local government cuts are necessary. Not in this era of increasing inequalities of wealth, low tax rates on the super-rich and huge profits for the banking sector and their senior staff.
We cannot simply wait for the general election. Implementing cuts will not help Labour beat the Tories. Instead it will make it harder to mobilise working class votes if Labour-led councils are:
  • handing out masses of redundancy notices and
  • cutting services or implementing charges that make it even harder for ordinary people to make ends meet.
We pledge
  • To fight the cuts demanded by the Tories and not just criticise them
  • To campaign alongside unions and the rank and file of local government workers in explaining to the public why these cuts are unjustified and to mobilise in opposition to them.
  • To support local government workers in their fight for jobs and for the protection of local government services.
  • To defend the living standards of working class communities by refusing increased charges or taxes.
  • To refuse to vote for budgets that will lead to an attack on jobs or reduce services.
We call on trade unions and the Labour Party nationally to support both councillors in the council chamber or workers in the workplace that oppose these cuts.
We call on the Labour Party to pledge that if successful at the next general election they will restore local government funding so that councils can do the job that was expected from them – providing care, education, housing, and other services for our people regardless of income and outside the grasping hands of companies driven by profit.
Cllr Kevin Bennett, Warrington Council
Cllr Greg Marshall, Broxtowe Borough Council
Cllr Gill Kennett, Hull City Council
Cllr George Barratt, Barking and Dagenham Council
Cllr Waida Forman, Harlow District Council

Fuel Poverty Action protest 26/11/2013

Fuel Poverty Action's photo.

Tuesday 26/11/13 at 11:30am
Outside the Royal Exchange, by Bank Station, to march to NPower offices together

Friday, 22 November 2013

The People's Assembly: Hands off our Unions

Hands off our Unions

Defend the right to resist

The People's Assembly has launched a new statement in today's Guardian in defense of our trade unions following recent attacks from the government. Please ask everyone to sign this statement, share on facebook and twitter and forward this email to your collegues, friends, family etc.

"The government’s announcement of an inquiry into trade union tactics is further proof of its determination to undermine the right to protest against its austerity programme.
David Cameron’s speech at the recent Lord Mayor’s banquet has revealed the government is determined that there will be no end to austerity.
The trade union’s customary right to strike and the right to protest are fundamental liberties that have already been significantly restricted by anti-union laws and other legislation. This inquiry is a new Tory-Lib Dem assault on the unions, demonstrated by the fact that the appointed chairman is the former QC for British Airways who led the attack on Unite the Union during the previous dispute between Unite and BA in 2011.
As millions of people face falling real wages, unemployment, part time or casualised low paid work, and the rapid destruction or privatisation of the welfare state they stand in need of trade union organisation and the right to protest more than ever.
We pledge ourselves to resist this attack. The right to protest is a fundamental civil liberty. The right to join an effective trade union is the product of generations of working class resistance. We have no intention of relinquishing it to a Government with no interests in the needs of working people."

Initial signatories:

Len McCluskey, Unite the Union, Mark Serwotka, Public and Commercial Services Union, Christine Blower, National Union of Teachers, Michelle Stanistreet, National Union of Journalists, Manuel Cortes, Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, Billy Hayes, Communication Workers Union, Matt Wrack, Firebrigades Union, Mick Whelan, Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, Ian Lawrence, NAPO, Tony BennMaxine Peake, Actress, Sam Fairbairn, Secretary, The People’s Assembly, Steve Turner, Unite the Union & Chair, The People’s Assembly, Romayne Phoenix, Co-chair, The People’s Assembly, Owen Jones, Journalist & The People’s Assembly, Jeremy Corbyn MPJohn McDonnell MPCaroline Lucas MPMurad Qureshi, London Assembly Member, Cllr Rania KhanMark Steel, Comedian,Francesca Martinez, Comedian, Roger Lloyd Pack, Actor, Carolyn Jones, Institute of Employment Rights, Andrew Murray, Unite the Union, Dave Smith, Blacklist Support Group, Kevin Courtney, NUT Deputy General Secretary, Zita Holborne, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition, Kate Hudson, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Lee Jasper, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, Aaron Keily, Black Students Officer, NUS, Alex Kenny, NUT national executive, John Rees, Counterfire, Paul Mackney, former General Secretary, UCU,Salma YaqoobJames Meadway, Senior Economist, New Economics Foundation,John Hilary, War on Want, Rob Griffiths, Communist Party of Britain, Hilary Wainwright, Red Pepper, Andrew Burgin, Left Unity, Roy Bailey, singer / songwriter,Mark Barratt, Occupy campaigner, Clare Solomon, former president, ULU, Fred Le-Plat, Socialist Resistance

Appeal from Owen Jones

Dear People’s Assembly supporter,
What a fortnight it’s been! Hopefully you enjoyed reclaiming Guy Fawke’s night on the 5 November, and seeing the reports of actions taking place up and down the country, from occupations of banks and Jobcentres to roadblocks and protests targeting privatisers and tax evaders. On Westminster Bridge, people fed up with choosing between eating and heating burnt their energy bills alongside guys of Cameron and Clegg. Thousands of new people are participating in the anti-austerity movement; the historic-sized rallies, meetings and actions in many towns and cities are testament to that.
It’s clear: the People’s Assembly founding conference in June launched a new movement. The 4,000 people who attended agreed to spread the People’s Asssembly movement across Britain; since then, over 80 local People’s Assembly groups have been set up with more springing up each day. This really is a fantastic achievement;  our local groups were instrumental in mobilising for the massive 29 September demonstration at the Conservative party conference in Manchester.
But we’re up against a government addicted to austerity, forcing millions into poverty while the wealthiest get richer. We have started to challenge this but if we want real change, we need to build a movement that mobilises millions of people.
So, we’re are organising a re-call People’s Assembly conference for early next year to help make this happen. We’ll be working with the unions and the TUC for a national demonstration in London this spring. We’ll continue supporting the growth of local groups, with a whole series of national initiatives including further days of action. And most crucially, we’ll work hard to engage with new organisations and individuals, and bring them into the People’s Assembly!
This means we urgently need to set up a functioning national office. So we’re asking every supporter of the People’s Assembly to set up a regular monthly donation. No amount is too big or small – if everyone on this list gave just £3 a month we’d have the resources we need to properly support our local groups and national campaigns.
Please help us build a movement impossible to ignore. Set up a monthly donation here:
Thank you for your continued support and I look forward to working with everyone in the coming months.
Owen Jones

Thursday, 21 November 2013

UCU London retired circular

  1. Strike on December 3rd
    Our UCU colleagues in both FE and HE, along with UNISON and UNITE will be on strike on December 3rd as part of their pay campaign. Can I urge members to visit the picket line in their local FE college or university to give present our solidarity.
    More details and updates on FE: http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=1935
    HE: http://www.ucu.org.uk/index.cfm?articleid=6759
    Our branch website front page is highlighting our solidarity:http://www.ucu-retired-london.org.uk/
  2. Bahrain
    Following the unanimous adoption of our branch motion on Bahrain at this year's UCU congress, the union national website has published an article by one of our branch members, Dave Binns. It can be downloaded from here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/media/pdf/r/t/davidbinns_bahrainopenletter_sep13.pdf
    The branch officers would be most grateful if members could circulate this article to any organisation to which they are affiliated.
  3. Dominican Republic 
    The Constitutional Court of the Dominican Republic made a ruling in September 2013, which denies citizenship to thousands of children, women and men of Haitian origin. It must never be forgotten that the army of the Dominican Republic massacred 20,000 people of Haitian heritage in 1937. Never Again.
    More details and a petition: https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/caricom-defend-the-children-women-and-men-of-haitian-descent-born-in-the-dominican-republic-against-this-latest-assault-on-their-rights-concernedcaribbean
    Statement from Caribbean Labour Solidarity: http://www.cls-uk.org.uk/haiti-DR.html
  4. Still the Enemy Within
    A film about the 84-85 Miners Strike. Everybody working on this project has been working full-time and part-time for free but unfortunately this is unsustainable. There is an enormous amount of work to do and they need to expand their team and pay the editors full time. Any donations will be gratefully received
    See more at: http://www.sponsume.com/project/still-enemy-within#sthash.ur5mssZN.dpufE

Next branch meeting - January 9th 2013

Meetings take place in the union office in Carlow Street NW1 7LH, nearest tube Mornington Crescent.
All retired academic staff are welcome (as well as those about to retire).
If you have items for the agenda, or wish to be put on the mailing list please let me know.

Caroline's comment on 'Green Crap' -

From: steve.harman@greenparty.org.uk
Subject: [GPMediaNet] Caroline's comment on 'Green Crap' - please send to your local media contacts
CC: gpmedianet@lists.greenparty.org.uk
To: wallddd@hotmail.com
 Lucas: PM’s attitude to green levies shows his contempt for the most 

Commenting on reports that the Prime Minister has dismissed fuel bill 
 levies that fund energy efficiency measures, as “green crap”, Caroline 
 Lucas, Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, said:
 “These levies include funding for energy efficiency measures which help 
 low income households cope with soaring energy prices.
 “Whatever language the Prime Minister has used to describe them, his 
 determination to roll them back says everything about his contempt for 
 the most vulnerable, and his lack of interest in serious action to 
 tackle climate change, or to bring down fuel prices in the long term
 “By focusing the debate on green levies, which represent only a 
 fraction of energy bills, the Government is obscuring the real reason 
 for rising costs – which is the increasing wholesale price of gas, and 
 the profits of the Big Six energy companies.
 “If the Prime Minister really wanted to help families with their fuel 
 bills, he’d be investing in a major energy efficiency programme to 
 super-insulate the country’s housing stock. This would bring nine out 
 of ten homes out of fuel poverty, quadruple carbon savings, and create 
 up to 200,000 jobs.”

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Inaugural Meeting for the Green Seniors

The details for the Inaugural Meeting for the Green Seniors are:

Friday 29th November 2013  7pm  Development House.Leonard Street, near Old Street Station.

Please bring along your ideas for this new group and list of issues you feel we should address.

I look forward to meeting you all.
Maureen Childs MBCS BSc CITP FRSA
Tower Hamlets Green Party
Press Officer
mobile 07979 386683


When: Friday, November 29th, 10.30am – 4.45pm *

*Where: TUC Congress Centre, London, WC1B 3LS*


LONDON'S Green MEP Jean Lambert is to host a public conference on the role
of the environmental sector in job creation and UK economic revival next

The 'green' sector is already worth £25.4bn a year – and employs more than
163,000 people in London alone, according to a recent report from the
London Assembly. (1)

“*Ensuring the UK's speedy economic revival and responding to the climate
crisis present a double challenge – but the solutions are linked,”* said Ms

“*We need to create good, skilled, well-paid jobs – but a truly
sustainable economic recovery must tackle climate change.*

“*The answer must lie in investing in key industries and the new skills –
required to make the UK a world leader in the renewable energy and 'green'
construction industries.*

“*How this investment is funded – directly by Government or via a
so-called 'Green Investment Bank' - is a debate we need to have, but it's
clear that this Government is failing to promote the discussion – or,
sufficiently, green jobs and environmental industries.*

“*That's why I'm hosting a day conference with trade unions, European
policymakers and leading industry figures to discuss how we can work
together to meet the economic and environmental challenges we face here in
the UK and help deliver the EU commitment to a low-carbon future.”*

Other speakers at the event include TUC General Secretary *Frances O'Grady*,
EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion *Laszlo
Andor*and Executive Director of the Aldersgate Group *Andrew

The event, which will take place at the TUC Congress Centre in London next
Friday, November 29, is free – but places are limited, so it's necessary to
register in advance atwww.greeneconfuture.eventbrite.com

Ms Lambert, a member of the European Parliament's Employment and Social
Affairs Committee, added: *“We have the potential here in the UK to create
thousands of new jobs and lead the way in tackling the great environmental
crises the world faces in the 21st Century. I hope we can rise to the
challenge, and that this conference can play a role in that.”*


*For details of the event, and to sign up, see:**

*Journalists and photographers are welcome at the discussion: please
contact Ben by email or on any number below to arrange.*

*Jean Lambert* is one of eight MEPs representing London and one of two UK
Green representatives in the European Parliament. *Jean was first elected
Green Party Member of the European Parliament for London in the 1999
European elections and was* re-elected in 2004 and 2009.

*For an interview with Jean, a print-quality picture, or for further
information please contact: Ben Duncan, Media & PR Officer to Jean Lambert
MEP: 020 7250 8417 / 07917 881648 /media@jeanlambertmep.org.uk
<media@jeanlambertmep.org.uk> *



Ben Duncan

Media and PR Officer to Jean Lambert, Green MEP

Can Mezzanine

49-51 East Road


N1 6AH

Office: 020 7250 8417

Mobile: 07917 881648

Email: media@jeanlambertmep.org.uk

Website: http://www.jeanlambertmep.org.uk <http://www.jeanlambertmep.org.uk/>

Facebook: http://www.tinyurl.com/jeanlambert

Twitter: @GreenJeanMEP

acknowkledgements to Romayne Phoenix

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

What would resistance against Tory cuts to public services in Brighton look like?

Yes – it’s that time of year again when thoughts are turning to Christmas – and how bloody expensive it is.
But as most people will be spending the first weekend of December thinking about their household budgets – my attention will turn to the Brighton Council budget for next year.
On Sunday, December 1, I’ll be speaking at a conference on the 2014/15 council budget that’s been organised by the Brighton People’s Assembly.
I’ll be speaking about the massive Government cuts to Brighton and Hove Council’s budget, our ability (legally and politically) to raise funds locally through Council Tax and fees and charges – and how the council should set a budget with the smaller pot that results.
I’ll discuss what principles should the council should use, whether it should, for example:
Seek to preserve services / benefits for the most vulnerable?
Ensure there are no service cuts?
Ensure there are no (compulsory) job losses?
Maximise CO2 emissions reductions from council activity?
None of the above?
Something quite different?
I’ll also talk briefly about why I voted against the council budget last year – and what options, politically, exist for acting differently this year: refusing to set a budget entirely, for example, or setting a so-called ‘needs’ budget, introducing a Progressive Council Tax or Land Value Tax.
What would resistance against Tory cuts look like? What would it mean, in practise, for the left? For the residents of Brighton and Hove?
And then I’ll look at how the Green administration’s draft budget for next year measures up against these principals, and look at the impacts for people locally, before discussing the timetable – and how best for people to input into the process before final decisions are made.
The principle purpose of the meeting is to mend (and build anew) relationships between ourselves as a political party and left-leaning residents and groups in the city gathering under the people’s assembly banner.
All the Green and Labour Party councillors in the city have been invited: I hope lots of them come!

details of the  conference (which will be preceded by a Green Left Commitee at the same venue at 1pm: all GL members welcome) as follows:

Brighton People's Assembly:Community Conference on Council budget

Must we accept job losses
and reduced services, or 
can we change the story?
A space for creative dialogue 
between councillors,
trade unions and citizens 
Speakers include: 
Cllr Ben Duncan Green, 
Queens Park Ward, Brighton 
and Hove Council 
Andy Richards Chair, 
Brighton & Hove Unison 
Speaker from Labour Councillors 
Against Cuts (invited) 
All Brighton & Hove Green
and Labour Councillors invited 
Open debate and discussion
Sunday, 1 December 2013 - 14:30 to 17:30
Community Base
Queens Road
BN1 3XG Brighton

Monday, 18 November 2013

Save London Fire Stations 10

Dear Friends,

Over 9,200 of us have signed!  Thank you for signing the petition, "Save our fire stations".  Please can you continue to the word by forwarding the link below to your family, friends, neighbours and colleagues?

Save London Fire Stations 10 (SLFS10) will be holding another Red Balloon Event at the London High Court on 26 November to coincide with the judicial review of the decision to close these stations.  Please contact them for more details:savelondonfirestations10@gmail.com.

These closures will affect us all and make us vulnerable at home, at work, at school, at university, on the bus, on the underground, on the train, on our bikes, in a restaurant, in the cinema.  Mr Cleverly, Chair of LFEPA and appointed by the Mayor to that position, describes LSP5, the plan which on 9 January 2014 will decimate the London Fire Brigade, as "risk based".  It is not risk-based.  A risk-based plan would not equate places with low density of population like Orpington with places with high density of population like Kingsland or Westminster.  It would not equate Stanmore with Southwark, the borough where fire deaths have increased by 300% in the last few years, or Clerkenwell.

The plan is not risk-based.  Is it based on a competent model?

Recent fire incidents have shown that fires do not queue up politely and wait their turn.  For example, on 24 October, crews were busy at St Thomas's Hospital.  This required engines from Southwark (due to close), Westminster (due to close), Lambeth and Dowgate.  Lambeth will be taking over Westminster's responsibilities and Dowgate will take over Southwark's after 9 January.

At the same time there was an incident in Warwick Way which needed four engines, including two engines from Brixton.

Or there was the fire on Oxford St.  Soho, the nearest station, was already busy.  It took the first engine, Knightsbridge (due to close) 11 minutes to get there.  The target for the first engine under LSP5 is 6 minutes.
There are questions about the competency of the model. So is the plan based on cost?  Yes, it does seem that money is the driver of this plan, but perhaps not in the way one would hope.  Allegedly, the Mayor wants to make £28.8 million savings this year by cutting these ten fire stations:

Belsize, a Grade II* listed building, already being viewed by free schools
Bow, a busy station
Clerkenwell, a Grade II listed Building, also being earmarked as a free school
Downham, a busy station
Kingsland, a busy station in an area of high-density population. Property prices rising due to Crossrail
Knightsbridge, a busy station, just behind Harrods and located in a conservation area
Silvertown, located in the crash zone for the City Airport and in an area approved by the Mayor in June 2013 for £1.5 billion redevelopment
Southwark, a Grade II listed building and a busy station. 26 fire deaths in the last five years, making it the deadliest borough. Also being eyed as a free school location.
Westminster, a Grade II listed building and a busy station. Located in a terror zone which is also 75% conservation area. Station for Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral and Houses of Parliament
Woolwich, a Grade II listed building and also busy. 

In 2010, Southwark Fire Station was valued conservatively at £10 million.  LFEPA at its recent meeting to discuss disposal of the ten fire station sites estimated their value at £50 million (which is questionable, given the value of Southwark alone).  Is the driver of LSP5 the value of the station?  Is LSP5 about delivering safety or harvesting a one-off windfall?

The Mayor will tell you that fire deaths are down.  That much is true (down but not by much).  That is because fire fighters do home fire risk assessment visits where they also fit smoke alarms for free.  They visit schools and universities, housing estates and high rise buildings, making sure to visit the old and disabled.  If LSP5 goes ahead, the stations taking over the duties of the closed stations will not have time to do more home safety visits in addition to their existing workloads.  They will not have the capacity to absorb that.  Westminster's nearest station will be south across the river in Lambeth, but Lambeth is already busy.  Southwark's nearest station will be north across the river in Dowgate, a busy station which also serves the City.  So will the Mayor send firefighters from outlying, less busy stations into central London to do these visits? 

Why do we have fire stations?  For much the same reason that we have home, travel or car insurance.  Fire fighters and fire stations are insurance and the majority of us to date have not needed OUR fire stations and OUR firefighters to rescue us from a road traffic accident, chemical spillage, gas leak, flood, helicopter accident, terrorist attack, smoke-filled station or a fire.

Mayor Boris Johnson's plans will change that.  And, just as President George Bush said, "Read my lips: no tax increase" before breaking that pre-election promise immediately upon election, Mr Johnson promised no fire cuts:

We should have a properly-funded fire service.  The Mayor has stated that one cycle death in one too many (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-24932541).  I agree.  Later he says, "Every death in London's streets is one too many."

He will spend £386 million over three years on cycling.  Yet he will cut £45 million over two years from the London Fire Brigade (and recoup at least £50 million by selling them). 

Surely every fire death is also one too many? Please save YOUR fire stations.
Thank you
acknowledgements to Romayne Phoenix

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Statement from the Labor Party of the Philippines about the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan.

Colleagues on this email list might be interested in reading the statement below from the Labor Party of the Philippines about the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan. They have set up a fund appealing for solidarity for victims.

Martin Empson
Treasurer, Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union group

CAPITALISM IS destroying the planet. Now we suffer. The devastating horror unleashed by the monster-typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) upon the eastern and central Philippines regions is unspeakable. As of this writing, estimates of the number of casualties and actual damages are tentative because many areas remain isolated, and communications, power, road and port systems are down.
An initial estimate by the provincial government of Leyte and the regional police put the death toll at more than 10,000. Some 70 to 80 percent of houses and structures along the typhoon's path were destroyed. In Tacloban City alone, officials told the media that the death toll "could go up" to 10,000, as people died en masse from surging tidal waves.

We have yet to account for some of our party members, including the leader of the city's federation of tricycle drivers and operators. Another member, a newly elected village official in Southern Leyte, is still not in contact. We just hope that they have survived the wrath of Haiyan. There is also little information about Eastern Samar towns where Haiyan made first landfall from the Pacific.
The massive loss of life and destruction are indeed beyond words to describe. The death toll will surely climb when actual rescue and retrieval operations reach the isolated areas. National and international aid is coming in, but there will definitely be a catastrophic scarcity of most essentials, such as food, water, power, housing and medicines. The national and local governments were caught unprepared to deal with the colossal impact of Haiyan. And we still have four or five more typhoons coming this year, according to official weather forecasts.

The poor--the army of low-income, unemployed and underemployed people--suffer the most in every disaster. It is because they lack the means to protect themselves during calamities, and the ability to survive and recover thereafter.
Most of the poor, both in rural and urban areas, live in hazard zones (slums, riverbanks, creeks, coastlines, mountain slopes) that are prone to both natural and man-made disasters. Their houses are made of light materials, just enough to cover them from sunshine and rain, but not from surging floods, landslides or tidal waves.

Moreover, the country's biggest employer, the agriculture sector, is first to suffer from the impact of both La Niña (floods) and El Niño (long drought), which are now common phenomena due to climate change, and further endanger the country's food security and employment opportunities.
Regrettably, the poor don't even know why nature is so unkind to people, most especially to them. They have not been informed that today's wrath is more man-made than a natural phenomenon. They have yet to understand that it was capitalism that exploited and destroyed this planet beyond its limits, creating in effect a destructive fusion of economic, social and climate crisis.
The Philippines has the highest stake and the strongest case to bring before the ongoing United Nation's Climate talks in Warsaw, Poland. Previous climate talks produced nothing, as the process is dominated by developed countries that are known for committing something, yet doing nothing.
The timing is indeed "tragically ironic," one writer has pointed out. The 19th Conference of Parties (COP19) in Poland opened right after the Philippines was hit by the Earth's strongest typhoon in recent history, leaving thousands of dead out of more than 4 million people who suffered from what scientists consider a monster storm.

We welcome all international aid and solidarity work coming from Northern countries. This is the least they could do--put their one cent to climate emergencies such as in the Philippines. But we demand more. We want climate justice. Capitalist countries must be held accountable for the climate crisis. They must be forced to pay the climate debt they owe to poor nations.
Capitalist countries, we emphasize, are responsible for the climate crisis. They emit more carbon into the atmosphere--many times over what the poor countries do. The greenhouse gases emitted from capitalist industries drive global temperatures to new levels. This causes climactic reactions like warmer oceans and rising sea levels, and eventually leads to the formation of monster typhoons as in the case of Haiyan.

For over a century, capitalists have profited from nature by monetizing it rather than protecting its rich natural resources. And the poor people and poor nations suffer the most from the climate crisis created by rich nations. The Philippines is among the topmost vulnerable countries. In fact, we have suffered enough from devastating typhoons such as Frank (Fengshen, 2008), Ondoy (Ketsana, 2009), Sendong (Washi, 2011), Pablo (Bopha, 2012), and now Yolanda (Haiyan, 2013). The worst may be yet to come.

What makes the crisis more devastating is that Haiyan struck the Philippines when Filipinos are still reeling from a recent earthquake that killed hundreds of people. The monster storm also came when Filipinos are fighting massive corruption scandals involving a huge amount of public service funds.
Corruption in the Philippines reduces the ability of both the national and local governments to respond to climate emergencies of this magnitude because billions of public funds are lost to official scams.

More than that, the ruling class's embrace of free-market ideology since the 1980s has made poor people more vulnerable. The rich therefore are equally responsible and must be held accountable for the peoples' miserable condition.
Neoliberalism made government rely completely on the private sector to create employment. Public services such as water and power were privatized. Prices of goods and services were deregulated. This resulted in massive unemployment and underemployment (close to 30 percent). Social infrastructure and services are in a poor state. The poverty rate remains at 28 percent while hunger affects 19 percent of the population.

Just imagine this number of poor people living in one of the country's poorest regions facing the wrath of super-typhoons. The post-Haiyan images will speak more of their miserable situation. They really are in dire need of immediate aid and rehabilitation. Many have already resorted to confiscations of available supplies in several stores and malls. We consider those as justified actions and much better if collectively organized to isolate criminal elements and individual push for survival. Where the government fails, the people should collectively rise up.

We therefore warn the government to avoid using force against our helpless people. The people need food, water and homes to stay in, not a police force to quell their spirit to survive. In the first place, a government that fails to eradicate high-level corruption has no justifiable reason to use force in suppressing the peoples' desperate struggle for life.