Socialist Worker

Two days to fight war and for services

Issue No. 2041

There should be two dates in every workplace activist's mind – 20 March and 1 May. The People's Assembly on 20 March is a tremendous opportunity to root anti-war opposition at work.

And 1 May, the day of a proposed strike by 250,000 civil service workers in the PCS union, became even more important last week after an announcement from Gordon Brown.

He underlined his determination to continue Tony Blair's neoliberal legacy by announcing a big pay cut for health workers. Most will get a 1.9 percent rise at a time when even the government's (fake) inflation measure is 2.7 percent and the retail price index stands at 4.2 percent.

If the government gets away with imposing this cut in the NHS, what's in store for local government workers, postal workers, civil service workers, teachers and many others in the public sector?

Brown's attack underlines the centrality of unity against the government over pay, pensions, cuts, job losses and more.

Everyone can try to get their workmates to join PCS strike rallies on 1 May and – in London – to attend the Organising for Fighting Unions meeting in the evening. They can pressure their union leaders to back the PCS and call their own protests alongside the civil service workers.


Bailiffs

One rule for the rulers

Labour ministers were outraged when police officers had the cheek to enter the home of key Blair aide Ruth Turner, to arrest her over cash for peerages, before she'd even had her breakfast.

They have no such reservations about allowing another group of thugs to forcibly enter the homes of the poor, vulnerable and indebted.

The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Bill will give bailiffs wider powers to force entry into homes to enforce debts, including credit card and other consumer debts.

Bailiffs are already notorious for intimidation and abuses of power. Citizens Advice has monitored case reports related to bailiffs in England and Wales over the past six months.

Looking at 500 cases, they found 64 percent of bailiffs used harassment or intimidation, 40 percent misrepresented their powers of entry and a quarter threatened debtors with prison.

New Labour's low wage economy, spiralling living costs and attacks on benefits push increasing numbers into debt. Now those in debt will also face the threat of what Dave Harker, chief executive of Citizens Advice, calls 'a recipe for abuse on an unprecedented scale'.


Environment

Hot air but no change

After ten years of New Labour bleating about putting the environment at the top of the agenda, it turns out that Britain will not reach its 2020 target to reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent until 2050.

In fact carbon dioxide emissions have risen slightly since Tony Blair came to power in 1997.

This year the government was due to make a 2050 target of reducing emissions by 60 percent legally binding – while many scientists agree that we need cuts of 90 percent by then.

The reality is that manufacturing, big business and transport need to be fundementally changed. Empty promises are not enough – we need a mass movement to force the government to act.


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Article information

What We Think
Sat 10 Mar 2007, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2041
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