Socialist Worker

Why don't our trade union leaders catch this mood?

Issue No. 1845

OPPOSITION TO this US war and an increasing fury at our own government's complicity have been growing in our PCS union branch. Our motion was carried at the 2002 PCS conference. It committed the union to a strong anti-war stance.

On the day war broke out, my members at the Equal Opportunities Commission in Manchester decided to leave their desks at noon to protest. Our members were just a small group of the thousands of workers who joined similar protests. But what has the TUC done? Why wasn't the general secretary speaking out on our TV screens?

Where were the press releases condemning this brutal carnage? Why have they not called a single demonstration or day of action? All we have had is a mealy-mouthed statement of concern that is a pale echo of even the European TUC statement which at least called for walkouts against the war, albeit for only 15 minutes!

What a missed opportunity to turn the anti-war voices of trade unionists into a deafening roar of opposition to Bush and Blair's sickening slaughter.
Sue Bond, PCS chair Equal Opportunities Commission (personal capacity)


Manchester

JOHN PRESCOTT has launched a bill allowing him to impose a settlement on firefighters. This must be an urgent call to action for the entire trade union movement. So why has the TUC, the body that is supposed to represent us, been completely silent on the issue? The TUC's attitude is sickening.

If Prescott's bill goes through, it means an end to collective bargaining for firefighters and could lead to a ban on the right to strike. Tube workers stood by firefighters during their strikes with strong solidarity action by drivers and station staff. We'll stand by them now. There are rumours that some inside the TUC are 'unhappy' about Prescott's actions. But rumours and private doubts aren't good enough.

Bob Crow of the rail workers' RMT union said that Prescott's bill is a 'direct threat' to every trade unionist. He shouldn't be speaking alone. Every union leader needs to push the TUC to lead the action against this attack.
Tony Collins, RMT member, London


Not so free to protest in Britain

I WAS arrested at the 15,000 strong anti-war protest in Glasgow on Saturday 22 March. The police penned in the bulk of the protest for hours. One policeman said to me, 'You're nothing but an ugly cow.'

I reached to check his police number and he and two other officers grabbed me. They have charged me with breach of the peace, resisting arrest and police assault. I am only five foot five inches tall! The police kept me in custody for six hours and handcuffed me for an hour. It wasn't until I saw my lawyer that I got a glass of water.

The authorities are trying to criminalise parts of our movement - it won't work. We will campaign against the charges against me.
Christine McGeachin, Glasgow

AN ARTICLE in the Bristol Evening Post newspaper reported that two police civilian workers quit their jobs because of police violence to anti-war demonstrators. Kelly Reid and Seldon Curry resigned after taking part in protests on the day war started. Kelly Reid told the paper protesters were 'threatened, ridiculed and terrified' by police wielding batons.

She said, 'I never thought I would witness such behaviour from the police in this country. 'It was unbelievable. There's no way I can work for an organisation that operates like that.' An Evening Post journalist, Sarah Key, was put in an armlock twice by riot police on the same protest.
Matt Gordon, Bristol


Bottle up G8

ON THE first three days of June this year, George W Bush is coming to Europe to attend the G8 summit in Evian, south east France. Anti-capitalists are already planning a major protest in opposition to the summit.

At this time of war and imperialism thousands will be eager to ensure the reception for Bush and Co is as big and angry as possible. The main demo will be on Sunday 1 June, when we will be blockading the G8 from all directions.

Coaches can easily be booked and filled, and flights to Geneva, just over the border from Evian, are very cheap. For more information in French go to www.evian-g8.org Come to France and join the resistance!
Guy Taylor, Globalise Resistance


Hit where it hurts the most

THERE WAS a demonstration at Fairford, the base for the B-52 bombers, on 22 March. Some were hoping for mass direct action to disrupt the base. However, the massive police operation made this impossible. Many coaches were simply turned around by the police.

Unfortunately the Fairford demo clashed with the huge London demonstration. Most activists instinctively felt a huge turnout in London would be reported around the world and weaken the myth of national unity. This argument prevailed in most anti-war groups so many marching at Fairford were from local towns with links to the peace camp at the base. The existence of the camp is an irritation for the US air force and the British police.

The police have harassed peace campaigners, so the camp's very survival has been a minor victory. Security at RAF Fairford is awesome, with the police and US army guards authorised to use 'lethal force'.

Despite some heroic sabotage the protesters really have no effect on the military capability of the base. The camp is part of the anti-war struggle, but to actually defeat Bush and Blair we need to fight where we are strong, on the city streets and in the colleges and workplaces.
Andy Newman, Swindon


Bush and Blair are criminals

HAVING WATCHED the machinations of Bush and Blair, I can state confidently there are better moral examples among my fellow residents than in the upper echelons of either government.

If any of us resorted to the hypocritical tactics of either of these politicians during our trials we would undoubtedly find ourselves attracting harsh sentences.
John Higgins, prisoner Scotland


MP stays behind closed doors

I WAS interested to read in Socialist Worker (22 March) about Stephen Twigg MP and his 'public-private' meeting. I was one of the organisers of the meeting. Enfield United Nations Association organised a public meeting with Andy Love MP on Iraq last November.

We wanted a similar meeting for Stephen Twigg on the Israel/Palestine situation. Mr Twigg initially agreed to this, but then stipulated that because of the security concerns, he would only take part if the meeting was invitation only. The only 'extremists' to infiltrate the meeting were Zionist ones, and Mr Twigg seemed quite happy discussing their concerns.
Elaine Graham-Leigh, North London


Proud to drive out the Sun

ON THE day war started a double decker bus plastered with the Sun's logo paraded pro-war propaganda round Manchester. It stopped outside Manchester University student union, where we were encouraging people to walk out.

We reacted angrily, surrounding the bus, chanting 'scum' and daubing it with anti-war graffiti. I'm proud that we chased their warmongering efforts off our campus.
Arlene Finnigan, Manchester University


Has US brought democracy?

IN THE Socialist Worker war special, point seven on the pin-up poster says, 'The US and Britain will not bring democracy to Iraq. They have never brought freedom to people whose countries they have invaded.' This is not correct.

In the Second World War the Allies, including the US, invaded France, Germany and Japan all of which are now so-called liberal democracies. The Allies removed the threat of Nazi world domination and a vicious feudal regime from Japan.
Jamie Rankin, Twickenham


Warmongers in the slow lane

ON MONDAY 24 March 30 taxi drivers from Chorlton, Manchester, led a cavalcade to town and back. They slowed down traffic into the city centre to make their stand against the war in Iraq.
Penny Kay, Manchester


Playing by the US's rules

THE US has now made it perfectly legal for one country to decide to attack another if it feels threatened. How can the US criticise if another country follows their lead? For example, if Pakistan attacks India or if Russia blasts its way into Georgia is that OK?

Of course not - because it's one rule for the US, and another for any other country.
L Thomson, Largo, Fife


Huge numbers in Portugal

I AM an anti-war activist in Portugal. I would like to correct your information on the demonstration here in Lisbon on Saturday 22 March.

The police said 60,000 demonstrated and the Anti-War Platform said 90,000, not the 35,000 you reported. It was one of the biggest demonstrations in Europe.
Nuno Sampaio, Portugal


What is left outside Labour?

THIS WAR is immoral. I helped New Labour get into office in 1997. I will never vote Labour again. I feel betrayed by them. I am looking for an alternative to this old Tory network we still have.
Lee Craven, Southend on Sea


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Article information

Letters
Sat 5 Apr 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1845
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