Dated: 10 May 2003
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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.
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.
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.
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 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."
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.
Legalise Cannabis | Enraged over Kirklees homes closures | Refugees in Yarl's Wood trial | Fight needed to save Corus steel jobs | Wigton campaigners shame Nazis
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
"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.