Stop deadly incinerators
LEAKED documents reveal the danger of highly toxic dioxins produced from burning waste at incinerator plants. Yet New Labour is encouraging the development of some 160 waste incinerators around Britain.
A report from the US Environmental Protection Agency, leaked to the press last week, shows that dioxins linger in the body and are the cause of many cancers. Dioxins are some of the most poisonous chemicals released by incinerators, which burn sewage, household and medical waste. They are also released by many industries, such as steel making.
Cave-in on sheep dips
A parliamentary committee this week recommended lifting the ban on chemical sheep dips that many scientists believe are responsible for serious illnesses among farmers.
Organophosphate dips were banned last year following mounting concern over farmers reporting skin and nervous disorders after they had handled the dip.
Jobs axe still falling
Midlands are hit while Dagenham workers wait for fight
THE JOBS axe is still hanging over the West Midlands. Rover's giant Longbridge plant is safe for now, but tyre maker Goodyear announced plans last week to axe hundreds of jobs at its Dunlop factory in Birmingham.
Some 600 jobs will go before the end of the year. Massey Ferguson is also threatening to close its tractor factory in Coventry, which employs 1,800 workers.
And car maker Peugeot is warning it too may make big job cuts in Coventry. The jobs threat is not confined to the Midlands. Car maker Nissan is warning of job cuts in the north east of England.
Manufacturing employers may be using the strength of the pound as an excuse to threaten job cuts and so put pressure on the government for more state aid. But at Ford Dagenham in east London workers know their bosses are not just making threats.
Jac Nasser, Ford's global boss, was in Britain last week. He did not dare call in at Dagenham, where thousands of workers are to be axed if Ford's plans to end car production at the plant go ahead.
Instead Nasser visited the Land Rover factory in Solihull which Ford is buying from Rover for �2 billion.
Workers at Dagenham are frustrated they have not yet heard what their national union officials intend to do to fight Ford's plans. One Dagenham worker told Socialist Worker, "I came to Britain from the West Indies. When I came I did not have Ford stamped on my forehead. This job was not designed for me, it is not my job, and I have no right to sell it. We have to fight because this is not just about workers now. It is about workers' jobs in the future, and about whole communities."
Union officials at Ford are to meet next week. They must put into practice their own policy for a strike ballot to save Dagenham, and call a march for jobs in east London like the giant march for Rover workers in Birmingham in April.
Lyons lives it up
THE ALL-expenses paid lifestyle of Roger Lyons, general secretary of the MSF technical union, was exposed in the Guardian this week. Lyons gets over �68,000 a year. He also gets another �15,000 for serving on the government's competition commission.
Yet in just nine months Lyons ran up a bill on the union's credit card for over �6,000. Some �877 was spent in restaurants and off-licences near his home. He submitted expense claims for the internet, video recorders, a briefcase, batteries and a 25p bun.
Killed at work
THREE BUILDING workers were killed in east London's Docklands last weekend. They were building new offices for the HSBC bank when the crane cab they were working in crashed 25 storeys to the ground. Another three workers were killed in Hull last month after a building collapsed. Over 68 workers were killed in construction accidents last year, and thousands more were disabled. "We do not intend for these workers to have lost their lives without anything being done to bring those guilty to task," says the Construction Safety Campaign.
LABOUR-RUN Glasgow city council froze its funding to all HIV/AIDS organisations last week after anti-gay bigots threatened it with court action. All the charities have united to fight the move.
- Emergency protest against anti-gay bigotry, Sunday 28 May, 1.30pm, Whitehall Place, London (called by Stonewall).
Heads get tough
SCHOOL HEADS in County Durham lashed out at the government last week. Heads of all the 36 comprehensive schools in County Durham, including in Blair's own constituency, sent a letter to Blair which said that the "dreadful" state of school buildings threatened to make a mockery of children's education:
"What do we tell parents and pupils when they complain of inadequate and unsafe facilities? Where is the funding going to come from to repair and improve our decaying school buildings?" Woodham Community College, near Blair's own Sedgefield home, was given just �24,314 this year to deal with nearly �2 million worth of repairs.
What's going on, Ken?
KEN LIVINGSTONE is already letting down the hopes of Londoners who voted for him. First Livingstone made New Labour millionaire Nicky Gavron his deputy, then last week he appointed a Tory, City highflier Judith Mayhew, to his cabinet.
She will act as Livingstone's City and business adviser. Judith Mayhew tried to stand as a Tory MP in the 1997 general election, but just lost the nomination for a safe Tory seat in Hampshire.
She chairs the policy committee of the totally undemocratic City Corporation and is a special adviser to City law firm Clifford Chance. Leading City figures say her new position could pave the way for "her own mayoral campaign as Tory candidate in 2004".
Video buried, like body
THERE WAS mounting speculation this week as the Ulster Unionists once again took the Northern Ireland peace process to the brink. It came as BBC2's programme Brits exposed just how far British governments are prepared to go to cover up the truth about their dirty war in Northern Ireland.
The programme was to reveal this week how the Tories ordered MI5 officers to destroy a tape which contained vital evidence about a murder in the early 1980s. They wanted it destroyed because it could expose the RUC's "shoot to kill" policy.
Michael Tighe, a 17 year old teenager, was shot dead in a hayshed by Northern Ireland's RUC police in 1982. He had no connection with the IRA. Tighe's friend Martin McCauley, who was seriously injured in the shooting, said they were given no warning before they were shot.
John Stalker, the Manchester policeman then investigating shoot to kill, discovered the hayshed was bugged but was told the tape had been destroyed. MI5 destroyed the tape on the direct orders of then Tory attorney general Patrick Mayhew and Northern Ireland secretary Tom King.
- See page 11 for a review of BBC2's Brits.