Friday, July 21, 2006

TUC win 'Pole tax' reform for Polish workers over-paying tax

An important victory here which indicates the benefits of union membership for migrant workers and should help in the unionisation campaign. What follows is a TUC statement.

The TUC today (Thursday) welcomed a major victory for Polish workers in Britain who have been paying double tax on their earnings. A campaign by the TUC South West region has led to a treaty being signed today between the Polish and UK Governments that will make sure Polish workers do not pay both tax in the UK and high level tax on the same earnings when they return to Poland. Thanks to this treaty, UK tax paid will count against Polish tax.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber is visiting the Polish church in Bristol today where the problem was first raised with the TUC by the Polish support group, Polski Bristol. The South West TUC took up the campaign with Dawn Primarolo, Bristol South MP and Paymaster General, highlighting to the Minister the complicated tax rules and the fact that workers in other countries such as Ireland get better tax treatment. The Government has subsequently reached an agreement that will benefit thousands of Polish workers employed in the UK. Dawn Primorolo has signed the treaty today on behalf of the British Government

Speaking at the Polish church in Bristol this evening, Brendan Barber will say: 'Unions, campaigners and community groups in Bristol have worked together to secure an important victory for thousands of Polish workers across the whole country and end this unjust 'Pole tax'. The Government rightly recognises the value that Polish workers add to the UK economy and has responded quickly to union concerns that they were not being treated fairly.'

Julia Verne , Polski Bristol, said: 'This is great news for Polish workers who have been penalised with unfair tax demands when they go home. The current double tax system doesn't take into account the high cost of living in the UK and is especially punitive to workers on low pay. The system means that workers are left with very little disposable income. When we first raised this issue, the church was packed with workers who wanted to know why they faced double tax. This treaty is great news and we are indebted to the TUC for helping us tackle this issue.'

Nigel Costley, South West TUC Regional Secretary, said:'Unions are giving on-the-ground support to Polish workers to make sure they are treated properly at work but we've proved we can also tackle bigger problems. I didn't realise that they had to pay double tax and was pleased to help them campaign for reform. Dawn Primarolo has been very quick to respond to this issue and make the system fairer for workers in her own constituency and across the country.'

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Stop this destructive war! Workers on all sides are paying the price!

An Israeli Workers Advice Center statement on Israeli attack on Lebanon.

Since July 12, Israel has been carrying out a disproportionate and murderous war in Lebanon . It has killed hundreds of innocent civilians, including whole families. It has destroyed much of the infrastructure in the south, creating a humanitarian disaster. Those who suffer most are the workers and the poor. At the same time, the IDF continues to pummel Gaza , here too killing innocent civilians. The goal behind all this destruction is to restore the country's power of deterrence. It needs this power so that it can continue to behave unilaterally––without concessions to the Palestinians or the Syrians.

But Israel too, in the present war, has suffered civilian casualties, both dead and wounded, among the half million or more who live in the Jewish and Arab localities of the north.

The working classes on all sides in the conflict have nothing to gain from this war, no matter what its outcome.

Concerning the Palestinian and Lebanese militias, WAC, which represents the progressive Arab and Jewish workers in Israel , sees no justification for their military actions, which they undertook without consulting their peoples, and which gave Israel a much-desired pretext for showing off its might while exploiting divisions within the Arab camp.

We are concerned about the passive way in which the international community accepts the IDF's exaggerated use of force. We call on political parties and workers' organizations, including the trade unions of the world, to demand a cease fire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces back to the international border.

Israel justifies its massive destruction by claiming that it was attacked first. But if it were truly interested in peace, it could have reached a treaty years ago with Syria , with Lebanon , and, most importantly, with the Palestinian people. All it would have needed to do would have been to withdraw from the areas it conquered in 1967 and recognize the legitimate rights of those peoples.

Without such a comprehensive Israeli withdrawal, there will be neither peace nor stability.

It is time to stop the fighting and begin negotiations on the basis of principles that will guarantee the independence and development of all the peoples in the region.