fight racism and poverty in Burnley
THERE IS a small but significant left wing alternative to the ruling Labour and Liberal coalition on Burnley council, where the Nazi BNP got a worrying level of support at the general election.
I am a Socialist Alliance councillor representing the area of Brunshaw.
I have been an independent councillor for three years. Since last year November I've been a Socialist Alliance councillor.
All the estates in Brunshaw were council homes until the council pushed through privatisation. I campaigned against the transfer of council housing to private landlords. With the transfer of their homes, tenants on my estate are worried and uncertain about the future.
The council wanted to allow monstrous telephone masts by the multinational company One2One in a local beauty spot. They didn't care that it was in a residential area. We got together a community campaign and won.
While I was standing up for the people of Burnley the Nazis were busy attacking me in the local papers. We need to build the biggest possible opposition to the Nazis, including the biggest possible carnival against them here on 1 September.
We also need to tackle the underlying social conditions they feed off. We have a low pay economy in Burnley. We need decent wages to address the poverty here. We need to tax the rich to put the money in this area.
- ANDY HOLDER, Socialist Alliance councillor on Burnley council
targets of Cyprus protests
VIOLENT CLASHES broke out last week between British police stationed in Cyprus and angry local demonstrators. The demonstrators' demand was straight and simple-to put an immediate stop to the erection of a new gigantic antenna within the British base at Akrotiri.
The new antenna will emit radiation and poses a threat to local people. It is also an essential component for US president George Bush's Star Wars program. Greek Cypriot Tory president Glatkos Clerides apologised to the British authorities.
Unfortunately all main political parties echoed the government position, including the AKEL Communist Party which recently gained 35 percent of the popular vote.
But the resistance to the antenna and the very presence of British bases in Cyprus will continue. A new demonstration is planned, this time outside the Greek Cypriot parliament in the capital, Nicosia.
- WORKERS DEMOCRACY, Cyprus
Barbie against Nazis?
IN A meeting at the Marxism 2001 event in London last week someone raised the point of her young daughter wanting Barbie dolls and how it's not easy to steer clear of stereotypical, sexist toys.
I have a daughter, and as a small child she had Barbie dolls. She had a Barbie doll on a march against pit closures. She had a Barbie doll on a picket line for sacked mushroom workers. She wore a School Kids Against the Nazis badge while playing with her Barbie.
Today she is 11 and will argue against racism, sexism and homophobia with anyone.
While at Marxism, Auschwitz survivor Leon Greenman wrote my daughter a message, "Do not forget-never again," in the copy of his autobiography she bought. My daughter is so proud of the book and has taken it into school to show everyone.
She is proudly sporting her Anti Nazi League T-shirt while trying to build a school ANL and, of course, looking forward to the carnival against the Nazis in Burnley.
- T WALKER
Why I've quit
I AM a member of the Watford branch of the CWU postal workers' union and this is a letter I have recently sent to my local Labour Party branch:
"AFTER SEVERAL months of deliberation I have concluded that I can no longer remain an individual member of the Labour Party. Whilst relatively inactive at a local level, the reverse was true via the CWU.
So it disappointed the branch and myself very much that no support (moral or otherwise) was afforded to us during our ongoing disputes (most of it legally balloted).
The threat of privatisation is, I feel, a very real one indeed, and feeling as such was displayed last month in an unofficial dispute which spread to much of the country.
Trade unions do not pay affiliation fees to look good in the end of year treasurer's report. Postal workers are the forgotten public sector workers and are being fed to the wolves in the name of competitiveness (remember the 1980s), and sadly it is under a Labour government."
- ANDREW O'BRIEN, Watford
This is the reality of the benefit attack
SOCIALIST Worker (14 July) was right to highlight how bad New Labour's new policy on disability benefits is.
But the paper didn't stress enough that the sidelining of the patient's own GP was a serious attack on the disabled.
Four years ago I developed angina and applied for Disability Living Allowance. The Benefits Agency sent round a doctor to examine me. He claimed he could find nothing wrong with me.
Less than a month later I found that I needed a triple heart bypass operation. A few months after the operation I lost my Incapacity Benefit after visiting the Benefit Agency's doctor. His report said that I had spent 45 minutes in the waiting room and was therefore capable of work.
- GEOFF COLLIER, Hull
WORKERS AND parents marched on the town hall in Waltham Forest, east London, last week to protest at our Labour council's plans to privatise education. The 150-strong protest followed a vote to strike by NUT, UNISON and TGWU union members in education.
I am a local parent and was the local Socialist Alliance candidate at the general election.
The mood here is getting really angry, and there is a growing feeling that if need be we will take direct action to stop the privatisation. When the strike takes place this week we will be lobbying the council and also holding a forum on privatisation.
The unity and spirit in the fight against privatisation is inspirational and shows the kind of fury New Labour's right wing agenda is stirring up.
- SALLY LABERN, East London
POSTAL WORKERS at Kingston mail centre in Surrey were disgusted recently to receive a performance bonus payment of just 28p despite being the fifth most efficient mail centre in the country.
Conditions here are appalling. Staff are working in cramped conditions in temperatures that would not be allowed for animals.
At a time when the right wing press is keen to portray postal workers as the new "enemy within", this sums up the contempt in which Royal Mail holds its staff.
- POSTAL WORKER, Surrey
Obituary Moss Haley
COMMUNICATION Workers Union members will be saddened by the news of the death of Moss Haley.
Moss is best remembered for leading the successful campaign to reinstate the "Rem 11" in the 1990s.
They were remittance unit workers at South East District Office in London sacked for taking solidarity action with striking Royal Mail colleagues.
As secretary of South East London Counter and Clerical branch, Moss was also a tireless campaigner against crown office closures. Moss defended union members' interests without seeking to climb up the union career ladder.
He was respected throughout the union for his principled conduct and his warm personality.
- GARY WATT
These dreaded 3 'P's
THE DRIVE to push privatisation into the public sector under New Labour's second term is beginning to rear its ugly head.
At a recent staff conference at Hackney Community College in east London we were presented with a series of speakers.
They asked us to accept private funding for education. The director of education spoke of how, though we may not approve, if private finance is the only way to raise standards for the underachievement of black male students then so be it.
The three dreaded "P"s-public private partnership-resonated from each speaker as lecturers were encouraged to swallow New Labour's dogma and work with private business.
The majority of staff felt insulted.
- COLLEGE LECTURER, East London
A step forward
TRANSGENDER issues have been firmly put on the agenda of the trade union movement after the TUC's lesbian and gay conference voted in favour of trans being included in its title.
I moved the motion for the MSF union, and the support from other delegates was amazing.
The recognition of trans people within official TUC structures is a real step forward.
- DANI JACKSON