Dated: 14 Jun 2003
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MILLIONS OF words have been written about the euro this week. But there is one currency question that neither Tony Blair nor Gordon Brown will confront - the scandalous poverty wages that millions of workers in Britain are forced to exist on.
THE US claimed that Iraq's restrictions on United Nations inspectors was the reason it had to go to war. Now it occupies Iraq it has placed more limits on UN-appointed nuclear experts than Saddam Hussein did. The US has only allowed seven members of the International Atomic Energy Agency into Iraq.
OVER 500 workers marched on Downing Street last weekend to protest against losing their pensions when their company went into receivership. The issue they highlighted already affects tens of thousands of workers and could hit millions more.
CAMPAIGNERS against the British National Party (BNP) are building support for marches on 28 June in the areas where 16 BNP councillors have been elected. Those who have signed the statement urging people to join these unity Demonstrations include trade union leaders, Labour Party MPs and MEPs, Manchester United football club and the band Heartless Crew.
THE FORD car company and two of its managers pleaded guilty last week to safety breaches which had contributed to the death of Christopher Shute, a contract worker, at its Southampton plant.
ACTIVISTS WERE fighting to stave off surrender at a special conference of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) on Thursday of this week as Socialist Worker went to press. The FBU executive and general secretary Andy Gilchrist have gone flat out over the last few weeks to persuade firefighters and control staff to accept an awful deal to end their long-running pay dispute.
THE SENSE that New Labour has betrayed its working class supporters ran throughout the GMB union's congress in Blackpool this week. Delegates voted unanimously to review the donations to MPs who do not share the "aims, values and priorities of the union".
SOME 500 people marched against plans for a third runway at London's Heathrow airport last Saturday. A third runway at Heathrow would require the demolition of hundreds of homes, local schools and churches, destroying two village communities.
SCHOOL SUPPORT staff were on the picket line at John Scurr school in Tower Hamlets, east London, on Monday morning. They and hundreds more workers employed by local councils across London were on strike all this week as part of their continuing fight for an increase in the London weighting allowance they get for the extra costs of living and working in the capital.
DELEGATES TO the conference of the train drivers' union Aslef unanimously reaffirmed the union's support for the anti-war movement and condemned the war against Iraq. Conference adopted an executive committee report condemning the "unnecessary, immoral and unlawful" war.
THE ALL-OUT strike by journalists in Bradford was set to end on Wednesday as Socialist Worker went to press. Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) have been striking against a below-inflation pay rise offered by Newsquest bosses.
THE 28 June conference called to launch the campaign to boycott the government's SATs school tests looks set to be massive. Already parents, teachers and governors from all over the country have committed themselves to attending the conference.
OVER 1,000 bus workers began an angry strike in Sheffield and South Yorkshire last Saturday over a pay deal from the First Group bus and rail company. The solid strike by members of the TGWU union continued on Monday and Tuesday of this week, and was due to escalate to three days next week. "The company conned us, that's what's behind this strike," one of the strikers told Socialist Worker.
TRADE UNIONISTS joined a march and rally in Sheffield on Saturday in support of the Cook's workers who have been involved in a two-year dispute. The foundry workers were sacked in 2001 while the 90-strong workforce was taking official strike action over pay.
AROUND 200 people came to hear George Galloway speak in Ealing in west London on the continuing occupation of Iraq last week. There was a great mix of people at the meeting, all united in their anger at Blair and his lies, while support for George Galloway was stronger than ever. This meeting proved wrong anyone who had thought the anti-war movement had disappeared. There was a real feeling that action against Bush and Blair must continue. George Buckerfield
UP TO 200 people protested outside Downing Street on Thursday of last week against Israel's targeting of international activists in Palestine. "We want an inquiry into the deaths of the internationals targeted by Israel," the Palestinian film-maker Leila Sansour told Socialist Worker. "The British government has shown incredible lameness in tackling the situation."
STRONG unofficial action has beaten back a management attack on postal workers at Ilford in outer east London. Workers walked out on Wednesday of last week in protest at the suspension of three delivery staff.
A MASS meeting last weekend saw over 120 airport workers at Liverpool's John Lennon Airport argue for possible strike action over huge pay cuts. Management want to cut baggage handlers' pay by up to 40 percent. The GMB union members are spitting blood. One worker said, "We work long hours, the shifts wear you out and now this." Paul Sillett
HEALTH WORKERS in North Lincolnshire were set to strike again on Friday of this week as part of their battle against poverty pay. The workers in the North Lincolnshire and Goole NHS trust-which includes three hospitals in Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole-plan to strike again on Monday, and then on every other day during the week. This is part of a series of strikes the workers have held against their bosses, private firm Carillion.
OVER 100 Amicus union members at IT company Fujitsu Services in West Gorton, Manchester, attended a mass meeting last week. They met to discuss their pay claim, and the company's attacks on their long-standing union recognition and redundancy agreements.
FOLLOWING ON from two weeks of national strike action, nursery nurses in Scotland are now taking a rolling programme of selective strike action to win a regrading claim of up to £4,000 per year. Nursery nurses in Ayrshire, Inverclyde, Shetland and Orkney took two days of strike action last week.
THE LABOUR Party's top committee has sparked outrage by refusing to lift the suspension of anti-war MP George Galloway and even closing down discussion on the issue. The undemocratic scenes at Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) on Tuesday of this week underline widespread suspicions that Labour's hierarchy will use every dirty trick against the most prominent anti-war figure in Britain.
ZIMBABWE IS in ferment after a big strike closed down much of the country's economy last week. The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the main parliamentary opposition to President Mugabe, called the action as an intended "final push" to bring down the government.
MASS STRIKES and protests rocked the South American country of Peru as anger exploded against the government's International Monetary Fund (IMF) backed policies. Hundreds of thousands of teachers have been on strike for four weeks demanding higher wages. They have been joined on strike and in demonstrations by students, small-scale farmers, health workers and others.
THERE HAS been much optimistic comment on the meeting last week in Aqaba, Jordan, between US president George W Bush, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority representative Abu Mazen. The fact that Bush seems to be putting his shoulder to the wheel and making a serious effort to implement the so-called road map, intended to revive the Middle East peace process, has surprised many people.
WILL DAVID Beckham leave Manchester United? That's the question every tabloid newspaper is asking. And in the chase to get the latest scoop, the exploitative world of big business and football is being exposed. One friend of Beckham says he feels Manchester United have betrayed him. He feels he is being "traded round like a piece of meat".
THE YEAR is 2003. I work in the NHS and I find myself relating more each day with the character Frank Owen (the house painter) from The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.
"WE ARE just reeling. We didn't expect that. It was a real kick in the teeth. Nobody could work afterwards. Everyone was dumbstruck." That is how Norman Baddely reacted to the huge blow that has hit the Staffordshire city of Stoke-on-Trent.
THE neo-conservative warmongers in the White House have taken critical steps towards attacking more countries even as occupation brings further suffering to the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan. The two states next on George Bush's "axis of evil" list are Iran and North Korea.
THERE ARE many hundreds of people who could help solve the chronic staff shortages and long waiting lists in the NHS. They are not being used because the press and politicians treat them with hatred and suspicion. They are refugee doctors. The waste of doctors' talent, skills and energy is just one example of how the skills and willingness to work of all refugees is thrown away by government policy.
THE ELECTION result was a shock, but a tremendous success for the Socialist Alliance. In the last month I have received messages of support and congratulations from all over the country.
THIS YEAR'S conference of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) was the most political ever. There is sometimes a sense in the union that the "big politics" discussions are the preserve of relatively few activists and that the rest do not really get engaged until the nitty-gritty discussions about pay, jobs and hours. If that were ever true, it certainly wasn't this year.
THE ANTI-war movement has to be seen in the context of what we built when we opposed war not just on Iraq but on Afghanistan. The strength of our movement was its breadth and its depth. The core of the movement has been increasing in size and in depth of knowledge.
THE TRIAL of strength between French workers and their Tory government reached a decisive stage on Tuesday. The government pressed ahead with its attacks on workers' pension rights, presenting its plans in the country's National Assembly.
THIS YEAR is the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the writer and socialist George Orwell. BBC2 is showing documentary - drama George Orwell: A Life in Pictures this Saturday, which charts both his artistic and political development. The most intriguing question about Orwell is how an Eton schoolboy went on to become perhaps the greatest critic of class privilege and tyranny writing in the English language.
THE LIES told by Tony Blair to justify war on Iraq are coming back to haunt him. This week the conference of Britain's fourth biggest union, the GMB, called for a public inquiry into events leading up to the war. If Blair was found to have lied, said the motion, he should resign. The conference also supported the Stop the War Coalition and voted to review its links with Labour MPs.
GORDON Brown "yesterday set the government on course for another nine months of wrangling over the euro". That was the verdict of the Financial Times business paper on the government's euro announcement.
MANY PEOPLE will be deeply saddened to hear of the death of Linda Morgan last week after a short illness. Linda became a political activist in the mid-1970s following her involvement in the Inland Revenue Staff Federation. She became a key figure in the rank and file organisation and was elected to her union's executive on a socialist platform.
Smoking, diet: should we change lives or lifestyles? I WAS shocked but sadly not surprised to hear of New Labour's plans to make people who smoke, are overweight or who don't take regular exercise sign agreements with their GP. Any breach of these agreements could potentially jeopardise access to NHS treatment.
"GIVE OIL a chance," sang Exxon Mobil shareholders during a meeting in Dallas. Some oil companies, like BP and Shell, have tried to give themselves a "green" makeover in recent years, pretending they care about the environment.