Palestine and Pensions: Letter to local MP Justine Greening

Dear Justine Greening,

As your constituent, I am writing to ask you to meet me in Parliament to discuss the prospects for peace and justice for Palestinian and Israeli people, and what steps need to be taken by the International community to make that possible. I would also like to discuss the recent pension scheme crisis and cuts to workers pay in the public sector. I would like to meet you on the afternoon of Wednesday 30th November at some time between 2pm and 6pm at the House of Commons. I am coming as part of last week’s national lobby day for Palestine and as part of the strike force mobilised on the 30th, as a member of GMB and a young person’s representative.

The issues I would like to discuss with you include:

The Siege on Gaza: Israel’s blockade of Gaza has been in place since June 2007. The UN and EU have repeatedly stated that the blockade of Gaza constitutes collective punishment of a civilian population, prohibited in international humanitarian law.

Ending the Arms Trade with Israel: although the UK officially does not trade arms with countries that use those arms for internal repression, we know that this does happen, including arms components supplied to Israel which were ‘almost certainly’ used against Palestinian civilians during Operation Cast Lead.

Ethnic cleansing: Israel has just announced plans to evict 30,000 Palestinian Bedouin from the Negev from their homes and land, forcibly removing them to ‘townships’. Israel is also moving thousands more from the West Bank – who are refugees from earlier programmes of ethnic cleansing from the Negev – in order to make space for further illegal settlements.

Jerusalem: Palestinians are being removed from their homes in East Jerusalem, and Palestinian life and livelihood is under serious threat. If urgent action is not taken now by the international community it will be impossible for East Jerusalem to serve as a Palestinian capital.

Robin Hood Tax: I’d like to discuss the positive impact a Tobin or Robin Hood Tax (aka FTT) would have on the public sector and help cutting the budget deficit without inflicting unnecessary pain on the working population of Britain.

Public Sector Pension scheme: the general mismanagement by government of the situation.

The government has forced billions of pounds of debts onto public sector workers. The cost of bailing out the banking system has been placed onto our shoulders, while profits continue to rise, bonuses roll in, and the richest 1,000 people in Britain own £397 billion between them.

The cuts are not ‘fair’, they are aimed at boosting the profits of a rich minority in big business and the finance markets by squeezing the lives and wages of the majority. The government is more concerned with calming the international financial markets than providing decent jobs and public services to the majority.

The crisis was caused by the banks and finance markets, not by public sector workers; however these debts have now been passed on to workers, unemployed, youth, pensioners and poor people. The government claims there is not enough money for decent pensions or public services. However, British companies are sitting on around £90billion of reserves (equal to 6.2% of GDP). According to a TUC study this is twice the amount needed to create enough green jobs for the 2.5 million people unemployed in the UK, however they will not invest that money because they are not confident they will make a profit.

Tax evasion and avoidance, mainly done by the very rich, totals up to £120 billion per year. Hand in hand with the cuts is the government’s privatisation agenda, with plans to open up the NHS to greater private sector involvement and competition and plans to sell off large swathes of what remains of the public sector. As well as being a straightforward theft of deferred wages from workers to soothe the markets, the attack on pensions is part and parcel of easing up the sell-off of public services.

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