Socialist Worker

Socialist Worker


Issue: 1850

Dated: 10 May 2003



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Defend George Galloway

EVERY DAY the brutal reality of the occupation of Iraq becomes clearer. It means repression in the interests of profit and US power. New Labour's response is to suspend anti-war MP George Galloway from the party. The target is not just one individual, but every one of the millions who marched against the bloody war on Iraq.


International Comment Features Reviews What We Think Other

News

Guards put on safety brakes

DETERMINED strike action by more than 3,000 train guards has won significant concessions from hard-nosed train operating companies over safety. The success by the RMT union is a blow not only against 12 profit-hungry train companies (and behind them three transport conglomerates), but also against the government.

Nursery nurses

SOME 140 nursery nurses in the Unison public services union in Kirklees, Yorkshire, are set to start a five-day strike from Monday of next week. They are fighting for pay regrading. They have already taken four days of action.

Mood grows against Agenda

AROUND 500,000 health workers have started voting on the government's Agenda for Change plans. The proposals will mean insulting annual pay packets of £10,000, performance-related pay and flexible working.

Teachers

TEACHERS AT one of the government's flagship schools in north London are balloting for strike action over intolerable conditions. The Greig City Academy in Hornsey opened in September 2002. Tony Brockman, an executive committee member of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), says, "City academies were one of the quick fix wheezes dreamt up by the government's spin doctors. They were given extra cash by the government and in return were allowed to opt out of the state sector, becoming 'independent' schools."

Remploy

AROUND 4,000 workers at the Remploy factories, which mainly employ disabled people, have voted to reject a pay offer by 81 percent. The workers, based across 82 factories, defied their unions' recommendation to accept the pay deal. Most of the workers are in the GMB and TGWU unions. The two-year deal was "self funding", which meant workers had to give up their travel expenses to fund the pay package.

Reports round-up

Legalise Cannabis | Enraged over Kirklees homes closures | Refugees in Yarl's Wood trial | Fight needed to save Corus steel jobs | Wigton campaigners shame Nazis

May Day

SOME 2,000 people attended the May Day rally in Liverpool on Monday of this week. They heard Mick Rix, the leader of the Aslef train drivers' union, and George Galloway MP attack Blair's war on Iraq.

Anti-war

AROUND 200 people attended the first Greenwich Stop the War Coalition meeting in south east London on Tuesday of last week. Speakers included Tony Benn, Dr Siddiqui of the Muslim Parliament and Lindsey German. Laura Nolan

Shop workers

MEMBERS OF the shop workers' Usdaw union showed anger towards the union's Blairite leadership at its annual conference in Blackpool last week. The leadership faced criticism after trying to put through a motion which would effectively give them control of the union without recourse to the membership. The motion was convincingly defeated.

News hounds bite back

WHO WRITES the wrongs of journalists? They suffer bad pay and long hours, and it takes around five years of studying to become fully qualified. Now journalists are beginning to take action, utilising the watered-down "Fairness at Work" union legislation, reluctantly brought in by New Labour in 2000.

London weighting

Some 2,000 Unison union members at pre-1992 universities in London were due to strike on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. It is part of the ongoing campaign to win an increase in London weighting, the allowance for the extra costs of living and working in the capital, to £4,000. After three one-day strikes across all the London colleges employers in the post-1992 universities made an offer. The 6.5 percent increase was narrowly accepted.

Turn heavy vote into action on London weighting

IN ONE of the most extraordinary trade union ballots in history, London postal workers have voted by 19,803 to 91 votes for action over pay. This could lead to unofficial action that would stop the post across London. The ballot was a 99.5 percent vote to take on Post Office bosses. It was called unofficially because national CWU union leaders refused to sanction it.

US troops gun down protesters in Iraq

GEORGE BUSH may say the war is over, but the killing in Iraq is still going on. A 14 year old Iraq boy was seen laughing and joking on Monday of last week with a British soldier. Minutes later the boy was shot dead. The US and British soldiers' practice of killing unarmed civilians is fuelling widespread and growing fury.

Landslide result shows pay feeling

POSTAL WORKERS in London last week voted by 99.5 percent for action over pay. The result, 19,803 votes to 91 in an unofficial ballot, could lead to action that will shut down postal services across the capital. The remarkable sign of unity and anger came just as Tony Blair was blustering that he would allow no return of "trade union militancy". It isn't just postal workers who are defying Blair.

Action possible

THE MOOD for hard hitting strikes among firefighters and control operators is boiling up again as the government tries to drive through dangerous cuts and an appalling pay offer.

Teachers will face the sack

THOUSANDS OF teachers could receive redundancy letters this month as schools face the kind of cash squeeze last seen in the dying days of the Tory government.

Back Evian protests

THE WORLD'S number one war criminal is set to face huge protests when he comes to Europe at the end of this month. George Bush is to attend the G8 summit of "world leaders" in the town of Evian, in France. Protesters will be travelling from across Europe to greet him.


International


Comment

The blood and the money are not added up

HERE'S A simple question - who is an expert on war? Watching TV during any war gives us a simple answer. Experts on war are made up of the reporters "out there", and back in the studio, the ex-generals or "defence analysts" - people who work for military hardware catalogues, departments of military studies or for strange "institutes" devoted to studying wars.

US still has to win the peace

IN ONE of these carefully staged media events so typical of this global "war on terrorism", George W Bush used the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to announce victory in Iraq on May Day. Actually, he didn't use the word "victory".


Features

Children's author Pat Thomson: 'I failed the test set on my own book'

I SUPPOSE I must be an educational failure. I sat the English test. I failed to get full marks - and I had written the story on which the test was based. Presumably I had failed to fully understand the intentions of the author. The story was from my book A Chest of Stories for Nine Year Olds, but being in the folk tale style it was indeed suitable for the 11 year olds taking the test.

Why they're such a threat to the NHS

THE GOVERNMENT says foundation hospitals will mean modernising the NHS and more choice for patients. In truth they are a dagger at the heart of the NHS. In every locality they will mean an elite of hospitals which will prosper by poaching staff from others and by borrowing from the private sector.

Backlash hits Blair

THERE WAS no comfort for New Labour from last Thursday's elections, and little for any of the other mainstream parties either. There were, however, dramatic breakthroughs for the left. The Scottish Socialist Party won six seats in the proportional voting element of the Scottish Parliament elections.

'We will defy Bush's plans'

ALVARO URIBE Velez is a good friend of George Bush and Tony Blair. The right wing president of Colombia was the only South American ruler to back war on Iraq. Uribe now sounds like he wants his powerful backers to send their forces to Colombia.

Let Corus workers make steel for Africa

ALAN MILLER, a steelworker at the Stocksbridge plant in South Yorkshire, was sickened by the news last week of massive job cuts at the plant. Bosses of the Corus steel firm decreed that 1,150 jobs are to go across Britain - including hundreds at Stocksbridge. This was part of their "restructuring" plan to boost profits.


Reviews

To Russia with love

GUY BURGESS, Donald Maclean, Kim Philby and Anthony Blunt were Britain's most notorious and successful 20th century spies. Their lives are depicted in the watchable BBC2 drama Cambridge Spies, a four-part series starting on Friday of this week.


What We Think

Successes provide hope for alternative

LAST WEEK'S elections revealed not a "Baghdad bounce" but a sharp backlash against Tony Blair, especially in Labour heartlands. The sense of utter betrayal by this Labour government, which grew this week over the issue of foundation hospitals, brought breakthroughs for socialists.


Other Categories

Truth, lies, propaganda over war and occupation

WATCHING NEWS at Ten (29 April) revealed blatant distortion by the BBC over the killing of Iraqi civilians in Fallujah by American troops. The BBC suggested US troops fired upon an aggressive protest and that protesters headed for a US "base" or "compound".

The road map points to more suffering

THIRTEEN Palestinians were murdered by Israeli tanks and troops in a single day in Gaza last week. The dead included a two year old child. Yet the British media did not care about these victims. Instead they devoted pages to the suicide bombing by a pro-Palestinian British citizen that killed three people.

Don't pipe up about links with Saddam

"THIS IS the big one. Everyone is saying, how do we get in on this?" That's how one business lobbyist summed up the frenzy of companies trying to profit from the ruins of Iraq.



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