Socialist Worker

Heathrow can teach us all how to fly

Issue No. 1964

When you read of bullying Gate Gourmet bosses planning to sack a workforce, engineering a dispute, dismissing staff by megaphone, or delivering dismissal letters to workers off sick — does it ring a bell?

Every day across Britain people go to work to be humiliated by jumped up little Hitlers who think management can do whatever they like.

Whatever the final outcome at Heathrow, a union-busting multinational has received a bloody nose thanks to the defiance of a group of workers and some good old fashioned solidarity.

There is a lesson here for all of us, whether we work in catering, IT, finance, a supermarket, or any of the “precarious” jobs where the new working class can be found.

Despite a desperate media search for hostile public reaction, it is clear that many people not only sympathised with the strikers, but also felt the Heathrow workers’ situation echoed their own work experience.

And there is a lesson for the trade union movement too. Either it can preside over a stagnating, or even declining, membership linked to New Labour like a ball and chain.

Or it can take a lead from Heathrow and launch a vigorous fightback based on securing decent pay, conditions and job security.


Multiculturalism

United action is much stronger than racism

For weeks the government and media have been pumping out the message that brown or black skinned people should be treated with suspicion. But last week’s solidarity strike at Heathrow showed how working class unity can brush off such attempts to whip up racism.

A group of mainly white workers took action in support of mainly Punjabi women — costing BA some £30-40 million. This is real multiculturalism — something that runs deeper than sharing the odd samosa then retreating back into separate lives.

Artificial divisions burn out slowly, if ever, when people just preach about removing them. But they collapse into thin air when we stand up together to be counted.


Resistance in Iraq

Rumsfeld’s nostalgia for Ho Chi Minh

Giving his thoughts on the Iraqi resistance US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently pronounced, “There is no Ho Chi Minh or Mao there, no national movement in that country. They’re losers, and they’re going to lose.”

Any honest reporting of the Iraqi resistance presents a picture of a mosaic of different groups—mainly nationalist, most identifying themselves as Muslim and with a murderous fundamentalist fringe.

The absence of a Mao or Ho figure, or of a single national liberation movement speaks volumes for the failure of the left in Iraq—in particular the decision of the once powerful Communist Party of Iraq to participate in the occupation administration.

But this is little comfort for Rumsfeld. Despite its weaknesses, the Iraqi resistance can still reduce the US military to chasing its own shadow and demonstrate that occupying forces are incapable of holding down the whole country on a permanent basis.


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What We Think
Sat 20 Aug 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1964
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