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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 August 2018

Newcastle fans protest against Mike Ashley

Socialist Party members at the Mike Ashley out protest on 11 August 2018. photo Elaine Brunskill

Socialist Party members at the Mike Ashley out protest on 11 August 2018. photo Elaine Brunskill   (Click to enlarge)

John Hird and William Jarrett

The long campaign to force Mike Ashley out of Newcastle United football club continued on the first day of the season on 11 August. Hundreds of Newcastle fans protested at the city centre Sports Direct, owned by Ashley, organised by fan groups and supported by the Socialist Party and National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN).

A Socialist Party member entered the store to assure staff and security contractors drafted in that the protest was not directed against them, but their greedy Victorian-era villain of a boss.

As the protest grew fans unfurled a giant banner: "He is only one man, we are a city." During the last five minutes of the match fans staged a stand-up protest against Ashley.

Cut-throat capitalist Ashley is at Newcastle United to make money. Crowds increased from an average of 49,754 in 2015-16 to 51,992 in 2017-18 and tickets prices have gone up. With shirt sales, merchandising and TV money, the club makes a massive profit. Yet manager Rafa Benitez has to beg for cash to buy players and keep the ones he has.

In 2016 Sports Direct was forced to admit it paid staff at its Shirebrook warehouse less than minimum wage. An MPs' report compared its operations to a "Victorian workhouse." In reality it was a grassroots campaign led by Unite the Union and the NSSN which forced the issue into the open.

Ashley claimed to know nothing about the 'six strikes and you're out' policy at Sports Direct which meant staff were sacked for chatting too much, spending too much time in the toilet or being sick and unable to attend work. Three quarters of Sports Direct staff are on zero-hour contracts.

Ashley claims he has no money to pay staff decent pay and invest in decent players at Newcastle yet revenue in the year to 30 April 2017 rose by 11.7% to a whopping 3.24 billion. He recently found 90 million down the back of the sofa to buy House of Fraser.

The Socialist Party has long campaigned to kick fat cats like Ashley out of the beautiful game and for it to be run democratically by and for the fans.

There were excellent discussions at the Socialist Party campaign stall with supporters about the next phase of the campaign. 40 copies of the Socialist were sold and generous donations were gratefully received - fans acknowledge our role in this fight.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

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In The Socialist 22 August 2018:


What we think

Antisemitism smears against Corbyn are battering ram of the right


News

Blairites go on saving Tories - boot them all out!

Nationalise rail! Tories out!

Bosses' pay up a fifth while workers' pay falls ...

Birmingham Prison crisis: a catastrophe of cuts and privatisation

Johnson's burqa outburst highlights racist Tory hypocrisy

Tories fear housing anger... but offer no solutions


Workplace

Strategic discussion needed in civil servants' union after pay ballot

MOJ pay offer: robbing Peter to pay Peter

Victory: NHS workers say no to privatisation

London cleaners' strike: 'Pay us a living wage!'

Liebherr strike for better pay

Workplace news in brief


International socialist news and analysis

Argentina: The struggle for women's lives has been painted green!

Huge anti-government demos in Romania

Morandi Bridge disaster - private profit to blame


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Waltham Forest Labour council votes to close library - campaign goes on

Fight Leicester NHS cuts plan

Keep Middlesbrough hospital staff in the NHS

Newcastle fans protest against Mike Ashley

The Socialist sales drive - how can you help?

End Runcorn school PFI rip off

Huge but chaotic Brighton Pride needs to be politicised

Building Fund boost

Why I joined the Socialist Party: "I was searching for an alternative to this system"

Revolt and Rebellion West London walk success


Opinion

Ahed Tamimi - worldwide symbol of self-esteem in face of oppression

Union bureaucracies, soviets and workers' power

The Socialist Inbox


 

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