Grim economic context of Gleision mine disaster
Here in South Wales we thought the destruction of the coal industry would have at least one beneficial effect. No longer would families have to endure the agonising wait to find out if their loved ones underground were alive or dead.
But we were wrong. The price of anthracite—a smokeless fuel—is rising on the world markets. Private drift mines like Gleision are springing up around the Swansea valley, and wherever else anthracite can be mined.
Dangerous though it is, people come to mining out of economic necessity. One of the four men who died at Gleision (Profit drive keeps miners in danger) had been made redundant in February and then found work underground.
Conditions in some of these places are grim. There was no union organisation at Gleision. The tunnels in the mine looked like something from the Victorian era.
A Swansea-based company called Coal Direct ran Gleision from 2006 to 2009, when it went into liquidation and was taken over by MNS Mining. The activities of these companies must be properly investigated, and the inquiry by the Health and Safety Executive into the cause of the flooding must be detailed and thorough.
Most importantly, from now on there must be much stronger regulation of the private mining industry. But with deregulation and cuts to health and safety being driven forward by the government, this is unlikely to happen.
With anthracite fetching a good price on the market, the result can only be more accidents, more injuries—and more tragedies like Gleision.
Tim Evans, Swansea
We’re being hit very hard by the cuts and rising prices in South Wales. Mining and steel have been important parts of our history. But after those industries were destroyed nothing came to replace them.
Our young people are losing faith in the future. They can’t get permanent work that’s worth doing. The bosses know that working people are feeling the pressure and are trying to take advantage, putting the screws on people.
What’s happened here at the Gleision mine is a tragedy. But it was only a matter of time. The companies come in and out of the area, leaving people hanging with no work when they go. And they don’t give a damn.
Attacks on the right to protest
Police closed down a Socialist Worker stall on Market Street in Manchester on Saturday 17 September. Another socialist stall in the area was also targeted.
This was the second successive Saturday that police have tried to close down the stall. This time they manhandled paper sellers and arrested them—only to release them later.
Anyone who lives in or knows Manchester will be aware that the Socialist Worker stall on Market Street is a bit of a local landmark. We’ve been there over 30 years.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Tory conference in Manchester is just around the corner—as is the TUC-backed demonstration against it.
But we haven’t let ourselves be intimidated. Last Saturday we went ahead with big and lively sales—without being stopped.
Matt Hale, Manchester
Three students hung a banner saying “Traitors not Welcome. Hate Clegg, Love NCAFC” from a bridge near the Liberal Democrat conference in Birmingham last month.
He was held for ten days before eventually being released on bail on Monday of this week.
The prosecution asked for all three to be remanded in custody because they believed them to be involved with the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC). In Edward’s case it was because he is already on bail after taking part in the peaceful sit-in at Fortnum & Mason in London earlier this year.
This ruling essentially means courts can prevent people from engaging in peaceful protest by imprisoning them before a trial determines if any laws have actually been broken.
This is a disgraceful attack on principles of free speech, free association and peaceful protest. The charges should be dropped.
Banner Drops Are Not A Crime, bannerdropsarenotacrime.wordpress.com
We must not forget the murder of Troy Davis
The US state of Georgia last week decided to murder Troy Davis by lethal injection. This was after he had spent over 20 years on death row, and despite compelling evidence that questioned his supposed guilt, including witnesses recanting their testimonies.
Troy was 42-years old and had spent most of his existence caged. His human life was taken in the most animalistic way. What is legally acceptable in Atlanta is not morally so elsewhere in the world. It is heart-wrenching, and makes one look at the human race with much pain and sadness.
One rages in frustration at the powerlessness of such atrocity. One weeps yet again at how the vulnerable in our “developed society” are coldly dismissed. One asks, how many more times will such injustice continue?
Troy’s last words to his family were “keep the faith”. Amnesty International quotes him as saying, “The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me.
“This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I’m in good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace.”
Please write to Troy’s family to show that humanity overcomes man-made borders and boundaries between countries. And please do not let his murder quietly disappear when the media moves on to another headline.
Devi Hardeen, Glasgow
Cops pay out over Rizwaan’s arrest
In 2008 I was arrested under anti-terrorism laws along with Rizwaan Sabir, a postgraduate student at Nottingham university.
We were both released without charge, but the Home Office then tried to deport me.
We defeated that attempt, thanks to the fantastic, determined campaigning of thousands of friends and supporters.
A few days ago we scored another victory. Rizwaan took Nottinghamshire police to court over his treatment. He has now forced them to apologise and pay his legal fees along with £20,000 in damages.
Our victories, important though they are, are only partial. Dr Rod Thornton is a Nottingham university lecturer who wrote a report exposing the shameful role played by our senior management in the saga. He remains suspended and threatened with dismissal.
Only an open, independent inquiry into the actions of the university senior management during and after our arrests will ensure full closure on this matter. Until then, the fight continues. Go to academicfreedom.co.uk to find out more.
Hicham Yezza, Nottingham
Smash this rotten state
I am grateful for the review of my little book on anarchism (Anarchism: A Marxist Criticism). But it’s not true that I defend “capturing the state”.
Following Marx and Lenin, I argue that the working class cannot “capture” or take over the existing capitalist state. It must smash it and replace it with its own state based on workers’ councils.
This may seem a small point, but Lenin wrote his greatest book on it—The State and Revolution. And it has played an important part in Marxist debates with anarchism.
John Molyneux, Dublin
Cable is telling us all fables
The government’s business secretary Vince Cable tells us the public will only accept austerity measures if they are seen to be fair.
But the public are not accepting these austerity measures because they see them for what they are: economic warfare.
There is no such thing as “responsible capitalism”. That is why the government cannot regulate banks and restrict the pay of top executives.
Instead it forces the unemployed to go and work for nothing in order to claim benefits.
If Cable wants an economic war, he’ll get one. Millions will take to the streets on 30 November. He’ll see what solidarity means.
David Quigley, South London
British bosses arm Bahrain
In February, Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima, a young Bahraini activist, used social media to organise a protest. The police shot him dead.
When other Bahrainis camped out in the capital’s square to demand justice for Ali and basic human rights, the police fired on them too. Doctors who treated the injured protesters have been imprisoned and tortured.
Britain is supposedly a democratic country, yet it sells arms to murderous regimes like the one in Bahrain.
There is little moral difference between people who knowingly sell arms to these killers and the actual killers themselves.
Mark Richards, Newcastle-under-Lyme
Doncaster is fighting back
I am proud that Doncaster Unison is striking against cuts to jobs and services.
Proposed job losses will devastate Doncaster, which already paid a high price during the 1992 pit closure scheme.
Now is the time to “rise like lions” and fight for our right to work and our right to services. The bankers who caused this financial chaos should dig into their coffers and pay for this crisis, not the workers.
Ann Hird, Doncaster
Demonising public services
How despicable can Wandsworth council get? First they try to evict people in the borough because they are related to people who might have been involved in the riots.
Now they plan to privatise what are left of our libraries. It’s the usual demonisation of public-run services.
They starve them of cash. Then they say how badly run they are. Then they privatise them.
You’d think that they’ve got it in for us poor folks.
Colin Crilly, South London
Wall Street? Our street!
There is an amazing protest in Wall Street, New York’s financial district, which started last week. Some 2,000 protesters occupied the area for several days from Friday 17 September.
There's a near total media blackout surrounding the events, but protesters have kept a live internet feed going.
The police made several arrests, including violent ones, despite the protest remaining peaceful. Go to occupywallst.org to find out more.
Thai Holland, via email