Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2104

Students demonstrated in Athens last week against government plans to privatise universities (Pic: Workers Solidarity)

Students demonstrated in Athens last week against government plans to privatise universities (Pic: Workers Solidarity)

Left on rise in Greece

Alex Callinicos is right that events in Greece show that it is wrong to simply see Europe today as being swept by a tidal wave of reaction (» Don’t overstate gains of the right, 31 May).

Last August New Democracy – the Greek Tory Party – was re-elected. Pasok – the equivalent of New Labour – did terribly.

Even more shocking, Laos, an extreme right wing party, managed for the first time to pass the 3 percent election threshold. Some of the most notorious Greek Nazis are now sitting in the parliament.

In the months before the election Greece had been swept by a huge wave of strikes and sit-ins in the universities. Many on the left interpreted the election results as a sure sign that things were now turning to the right in Greece.

But they were proven wrong. The government tried to proceed with its reactionary reforms but was confronted by a wave of workers’ strikes, rallies and demonstrations.

There were three one-day general strikes – in December last year, and in February and March this year – called by the private and public sector trade union federations.

The minister of labour who was in charge of the pension reforms was forced to resign. Hundreds of thousands of workers attended rallies across Greece. They were the biggest trade union rallies for almost 30 years.

Port workers went on all-out strike, forcing the government to postpone its privatisation plans for a second time in the past few years.

Workers in the public power company DEH struck for several days, also against privatisation. When the managers of DEH tried to have a meeting with the representatives of the private companies and the government, the workers stormed the building.

Employees in the Central Bank of Greece went on all-out strike against the pension reforms and forced the stockmarket to close.

The movement did not halt all the attacks, but the government is seriously wounded. In the polls the left is growing. No one can seriously argue that Greece is moving to the right.

Sotiris Kontogiannis, Athens, Greece

Keep up fight over custody deaths

I read your article about Lee Donovan who died in police custody (» 'How did my son die?', 31 May).

I would like to say to Lee’s family that I am desperately sorry for their loss.

My own son Paul died in prison custody in Frankland jail in Durham in 2002. To this day we are still fighting to find out the truth regarding his death.

We have been lucky in that we have fought and won a police investigation into his death that is still ongoing at the moment.

Keep fighting for the truth.The authorities hope that we will all go away if the answers are not immediately forthcoming.

Many of us are not going away. We can only say goodbye to our loved ones when we have the truth.

Stay strong.

Pauline Day, Southend

Indiana Jones and the Stalinists of doom

Sergei Malinkovich, the head of the Communist Party in St Petersburg, Russia, recently dismissed the newly released film Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull as “rubbish”.

Having seen the film, I am inclined to agree with Sergei on aesthetic grounds, but he objects to the film because of its lack of historical accuracy.

Sergei insists the film is poor because “in 1957 the Communists did not run with crystal skulls throughout the US”.

Sergei is concerned about the effect of the film on Russian youth. He warns, “They will go to the cinema and will be sure that in 1957 we made trouble for the United States and almost started a nuclear war.”

Sergei is right that a Russian cohort did not invade the US in 1957, nor did it kidnap the remains of an alien corpse which fell into US government hands in Roswell in 1947.

Neither did it use the crystal skull of the said alien corpse to conduct psychic warfare on the US.

But since when did Sergei’s Stalinists worry themselves about historical accuracy?

The Stalinists were the gravediggers of the Russian Revolution who thought nothing of carrying out the most foul distortions of history to justify their counter-revolution.

Their campaign against Leon Trotsky, which involved literally airbrushing one of the leaders of the workers’ revolution out of history, was just one example of many of their crimes against the workers’ state.

That Sergei’s “Communist Party”, an organisation which has no problems with free market economics, claims the ideological inheritance of Lenin and the party which he built is a far greater fantasy than anything George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have yet committed to film.

Sasha Simic, East London

Keep this spectacular Scottish garden open

I am one of a group of angry residents of the village of Poolewe in the Highlands of Scotland. We are campaigning against a National Trust for Scotland (NTS) decision to slash access hours and longstanding local access provisions to the world famous Inverewe Garden.

Since being gifted to the NTS in 1952, the garden has been open throughout the year until sunset. Now, the NTS has suddenly decided to deny access during summer evenings – which is when the garden is at its best.

There has been no local consultation, and the garden was closed without any announcement. Indeed the first that many people heard of it was when they found a “closed” notice on the gate.

There is total disbelief that the NTS – whose slogan is A Place For Everyone and whose remit is to conserve the nation’s heritage for the enjoyment of all – can do this.

The garden is a very special place for both the local community and garden lovers who travel from far and wide to see it.

Local opposition to the move has been very strong, and the campaign has also received numerous messages of support from NTS members, many of whom are prepared to cancel their membership in protest if the decision is not reversed.

For more go to our campaign website »

Tracy McLachlan, Poolewe, Scotland

Tribunal reveals shocking sexism

Your employment report exposing the hidden lives of vulnerable workers made interesting reading (» Exposing hidden lives of vulnerable workers, 24 May).

Here in West Yorkshire, a woman recently won a pay out for discrimination she faced from her bosses at bookies William Hill.

An employment tribunal heard that she was not given a full time job because she was pregnant. The word “bitch” was written on her pay packet.

On one occasion she was sent home by one of her bosses who told her, “You look a state.”

The bookies’ district operations manager told her “women should be at home in the kitchen”, and questioned who the father of the baby was.

A report issued by the tribunal found that she had not been offered a permanent job as manager of the Heckmondwike shop because she was pregnant.

This amounted to a “breach of the duty of trust and confidence,” it said.

It also found that William Hill had discriminated against her due to her pregnancy and her sex.

Needless to say William Hill has made no comment.

John Appleyard, Liversedge, West Yorkshire

Support the Raytheon 9

We must give full support to Eamonn McCann and co-defendants in the Raytheon 9 trial because they were just trying to save peoples lives (» Anti-war campaigners on trial for ‘crime’ of solidarity, 31 May).

It is a total waste of money to attempt to criminalise those campaigning to stop the deadly arms trade.

There doesn’t seem to be any trial for George Bush or Tony Blair for their war crimes.

It sickens me to see companies such as Raytheon making vast amounts of profits by arming Israel and other war criminals.

I want to see all arms wiped off the face of the earth. The money should be spent instead on feeding, clothing, housing and educating people around the world – and not forgetting hospitals.

Charlie Dowthwaite, Barrow-in-Furness

Unions should take on BA

The industrial problems at British Airways (BA) are well known.

Now we know why – with the arrogant attitudes from their management that you reveal (» The ‘lighter side’ of job cuts, 31 May).

The management clearly feel they are untouchable. They ridicule the unions that negotiate on the workers’ behalf.

When will the unions stop pandering to companies like BA and start properly representing their members?

Arnold Masterson, By email

Wrong on home grown

Does Alex Hopkins (» Letters, 31 May) really think that growing our own vegetables can solve the problem of supermarket power?

Most of us have neither access to land nor enough spare time to grow anything in it.

The scale of the grip of agribusiness and the big supermarkets over the food industry cannot be broken by tinkering round the edges – it must be confronted.

Of course there are many ways to fight for more control over the food industry, but ultimately – and urgently – food production has to be organised for need not profit.

Sylvia Elgrib, Sidcup, Kent

Michael Rosen right on Hackney

Michael Rosen’s article on “regeneration” in Hackney (» New Labour's private degeneration, 10 May) has upset the borough’s New Labour mayor Jules Pipe.

Pipe complained in the local paper that Michael’s criticisms were an example “of the ‘Keep Hackney Crap’ mentality so beloved of the borough’s far left contingent”.

He added that the council is “stimulating the local economy and creating more jobs”.

Elsewhere the same paper reports that the popular Ridley Road fruit and veg market has been without electricity since 16 May.

One stallholder said, “The only conclusion we can come to is that the council is deliberately trying to run down the market.”

Terry Cornot, Hackney, east London

Join campaign on autism

There is a small but growing effort to build a campaigning organisation in London to fight for the liberation of autistic people – a particularly marginalised and stigmatised group of disabled people.

This group came about after a meeting at City Hall, and has since met a number of times and attended parliamentary and other meetings.

Currently we are setting up our own internal structures and preparing to launch various initiatives. We also hope to set up similar groups in other parts of the country.

We are calling on socialists, trade unionists and others with an autistic spectrum condition to contact the London Autistic Rights Movement at [email protected]

Roderick Cobley, East London

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Tue 3 Jun 2008, 18:18 BST
Issue No. 2104
Share this article


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.