THE MOST powerful corporations are vulnerable to workers' action. The mighty Ford motor company has had to halt production of Transit vans at its Southampton factory because disruption at its factory in Belgium left it without essential parts. The 1,603 Southampton workers were sent on training courses indefinitely last week.
The company said workers at Genk in Belgium were preventing vital metal panels being shipped to Southampton in a dispute over Ford's plans to axe almost a third of its 9,500 Genk staff. Southampton is now losing output of 375 vans a day, with a showroom value of £5 million.
Swiss poll shock
RESULTS OF the general election in Switzerland showed a worrying surge in support for the far-right SVP party. The SVP is led by Christoph Blocher, a multimillionaire. It campaigned hard against immigration and any possibility of entry to the EU and gained at the expense of more moderate right wing parties.
The SVP gained 12 seats in the lower house, raising its total to 56. The Social Democrats gained one seat bringing their total to 52, while the Greens upped their total by four seats to 13.
The Radicals and Christian Democrats (the rough equivalent of the Liberal and Tory parties) both lost heavily. The SVP gained from this crisis on the right and from people's anger against record unemployment.
Women left to die
FIGURES RELEASED this week by the World Health Organisation show that women in sub-Saharan Africa have a one in 16 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth. Of the 529,000 maternal deaths in 2000, 95 percent were in Africa and Asia, 4 percent in Latin America and 1 percent in the rest of the world.
Many of these deaths could have been avoided if women had access to a skilled health worker during pregnancy and delivery and to emergency care if needed. Go to www.who.int/reproductive-health/MNBH/maternal_mortality_2000/index.htm
Kosovo says 'UN out'
KOSOVO IS often used as proof of the benefits of Western military intervention. But four years after the NATO war against Serbia even Kosovans who backed the war are furious at what they call the 'corruption' and 'colonial ways' of the occupying forces.
There is also anger that after 1,500 days of 'nation building' Kosovo still suffers daily, large-scale power cuts. Before the war Kosovo was a net exporter of electricity. Demonstrators last week called for the United Nations forces to get out.