Socialist Worker

I'm proud to be biased in favour of Palestinians

Issue No. 1722

I'm proud to be biased in favour of Palestinians

THE LETTER from Ursula Zemek (Socialist Worker, 28 October) considers Socialist Worker's coverage of the Israeli war on Palestinians to be one-sided.

Her opinion that there are "no goodies or baddies in this dispute", and that it is "simply too complicated for us living in this country" to comprehend reflects the way it is presented by the mainstream media.

It's because Socialist Worker understands the history of Zionism as a brutal imperialist project based on excluding Palestinian Arabs on purely racial grounds that it must stand out against the mainstream presentation of the conflict.

I am a Jew born and living in this country with a "right to return" to Israel, a land I have never visited.

Until the millions of Palestinians dispersed from their homeland have a right to return, and until Israel ceases to be a bulwark of Western imperialism in the Middle East, I will continue, as I hope will Socialist Worker, to be totally one-sided on this issue.

  • DAVE GOODFIELD, Coventry

Truck driver speaks out

We need action over key issues

IT IS easy to assume that if thousands of trucks hold up motorways many of the drivers are supportive of that action.

You could also assume that Trans Action, the organisation at the heart of the road haulage sector of the dispute, is a trade union that represents truckers' interests.

In fact Trans Action is an association for small employers trying to represent the commercial interests of owner-drivers and haulage operators. Their number has spiralled since the haulage industry was privatised and deregulated during the Thatcher era.

The majority of those subscribing to Trans Action's cause are hard working and risk-bearing. Unlike car and steel workers or miners they have the option of selling up and becoming employees themselves in an industry where there is a shortfall of drivers.

Trans Action's strategy and other types of direct action like blockading fuel depots is politically flawed. It exploits industrial and public dissent over fuel prices rather than addressing more fundamental economic concerns.

The Tories hike up VAT to fund tax cuts for the rich. New Labour hikes up fuel tax to keep corporation tax at one of the lowest levels in Europe.

Action against one unfair tax is utterly futile unless there is a far more coordinated political campaign by real trade unions against other key budgetary and political issues.

These are state pensions, renationalisation, reversing tax breaks for the super-rich-issues which unfortunately don't warrant Trans Action's Fair Play logo.

  • NICK VINEHILL, member of the United Road Transport Union, Norfolk

Overworked with under 5s

I HAVE been working in under five year olds education for the last eight years and feel very strongly about the workload staff have to take on.

Changes to the system mean staff now have to write up observations and records, individual play plans and activity assessments, as well as the work involved in preparing for Ofsted and social services.

Much of this work is done voluntarily by the staff. However, if the paperwork is not done this would mean a failed Ofsted inspection and the loss of vital government funding.

To achieve anything like a decent wage means coming out of working with the children and going into the management/development side. The result is a shortage of experienced, qualified staff at the grassroots level.

Unions should be raising awareness about this and recruiting staff to the union.

  • JULIE JONES, Telford


THE BRITISH public is threatened with the loss of vitally important health rights by the government's decision to abolish over 200 Community Health Councils (CHCs) from April 2002.

During the public consultation clear indications were given that the CHCs would form an integral part of the new NHS plan.

The government now plans to "reform" the NHS by abolishing CHCs. CHC staff and members only discovered this by careful reading of the plan when it was published.

The government proposes a set of national and local organisations to "enhance patient involvement and citizen empowerment in the health service". But many of the new proposals are vague and ill thought out.

The public must be made aware of the facts and allowed to express their views on the proposed abolition of our independent CHCs.

  • GEORGE SCOTT, president of Bromley branch, British Pensioners Trades Union Action

World Bank kills babies

ON A recent visit to Zambia I was able to talk to a group of trade union leaders about the worldwide demonstrations against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

They were pleased to hear about these protests, and to talk to someone involved in the struggle against globalisation.

Zambia is one of many Third World countries on the receiving end of World Bank and IMF policies. Zambia's best hospital does not have intravenous drips so one in three babies in the hospital die.

Some doctors there have been on strike since early this year demanding improved working conditions and better healthcare. It is not hard to see why Zambian trade unionists are searching for alternatives to World Bank and IMF imposed policies.

The recent Socialist Worker poster "10 reasons to protest against the IMF" now adorns the doors to the TUC offices in Zambia.

  • ANDY WYNNE, Leicester

Toxic class

AROUND 30 members of Glebelands Action Group in Newport lobbied a meeting of the Labour council last month against a PFI school being built on parkland.

The PFI consortium also wants to build 150 houses on the same site, which has over ten feet of untreated toxic waste underneath. Local resident Brian Donovan said, "This contamination is the biggest worry. You will have children sat for hours on contaminated land."

Pensioner Dave Thorndale said, "Instead of borrowing millions from the Private Finance Initiative the money for a new school should come from the council's general purposes fund."

A similar PFI school was built in Aberystwyth by a consortium of three building firms financed by Nat- west bank. Under the deal the council has to pay �1.5 million in rent for 30 years.

  • DES MANNAY, Newport


OVER 3,500 people took to the streets of Klagenfurt, southern Austria, recently to protest against the Nazi Haider and the Freedom Party. Old and young, trade unionists and international delegations marched together in the heart of Carinthia, where Haider is governor and gets 40 percent of the vote.

Haider has boasted that since he took office no left wingers have dared to protest against him in Carinthia. Now the struggle against fascism is firmly on his doorstep.

This will further upset Haider, who is at the centre of a corruption scandal dubbed the "Austrian Watergate". The Freedom Party is being charged with bribing the police for information about its political opponents.

The protesters listened to speakers from SOS Racisme in France, Rifondazione in Italy and the Anti Nazi League in Britain.

Many speakers were from local and national groups in Austria which have been formed to combat the alliance between the Freedom Party and the Conservatives in government.

Klagenfurt was inspirational, demonstrating that the movement against fascism can intensify over time.

  • CLAIRE DISSINGTON, Anti Nazi League

Postal points

  • DOZENS OF protesters demonstrated recently outside the Leith Agency's offices in Edinburgh over its decision to go ahead with an advertising campaign targeting homeless people.

The �240,000 campaign has been commissioned by Louise Casey, the "homelessness tsar". She has taken an aggressive approach to rough sleepers and threatened to remove funding from housing agencies that don't sign up to this.

The protesters were concerned the advertising campaign would encourage the bullying of homeless people and not solve any of the problems they face.

  • IAN HOOD, Edinburgh
  • SOCIALISTS MUST be honest about what can be achieved with attempts to reform capitalism.

Reformism is an endless treadmill of treating thousands of symptoms instead of abolishing the single cause.

Renationalisation is state capitalism, not socialism. How can you buy back what is already yours?

A �7 per hour minimum wage is better than the current �3.70, but as long as a wages system exists so does capitalism.

A genuine world democracy based on common ownership and control of the world's resources will benefit all humanity.

  • HARLEY WEARS, Durham

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Article information

Sat 11 Nov 2000, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1722
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