Dated: 05 Jul 2003
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BEHIND THE noise of the row between the government and the BBC over the war on Iraq one thing is absolutely clear. Tony Blair lied to justify the war, and is still lying today. "There is not a single fact in either dossier that is actually disputed," claimed Blair last week. He was trying to defend the two dossiers his government produced in the run-up to war.
DEPUTY PRIME Minister John Prescott has revealed the reality of the deal which ended the firefighters' dispute. He said on Monday that 6,000 jobs, one in ten, could be cut under government plans to "modernise" the service.
THE LATEST British contribution to peace and stability in Iraq is to send one of Northern Ireland's top policemen to run policing in the city of Basra. Stephen White is an assistant chief constable in the Northern Ireland police force. His "achievements" include policing "flashpoints" like Drumcree.
DELEGATES gathered in Blackpool for the last AEEU engineers' and electricians' union conference last week. The union is to officially merge with the MSF union to form Britain's second biggest union, Amicus.
SOUTH YORKSHIRE bus workers voted to accept First Group's latest improved pay offer, which they won through strike action. Over 1,100 workers, members of the TGWU, held three days of strikes and threatened to stage a four-day strike.
PRESSURE FROM local campaigners in Lewisham, South London, has won Tham Sarki, an asylum seeker from wartorn Nepal, a temporary reprieve from deportation. Over 750 letters were written to David Blunkett in support of the Lewisham College student.
SOME 1,000 Otis lift engineers, members of Amicus, went on strike on Friday of last week in their continuing dispute over pay. Ken Biggs, the national organiser of the lift section of the union, told Socialist Worker, "This is not just about a 1.7 percent pay deal and an extra 2.2 percent only granted by local managers after individual interviews.
SOME 59 NUT union members at Crofton School in Lewisham, south London, took strike action on Thursday of last week. They are fighting against the redundancies of three teachers on annual contracts at the school.
Hackney AROUND 200 people came to hear George Galloway speak against the occupation of Iraq in Hackney, east London, on Saturday of last week. The meeting was part of the Turkish and Kurdish Day Mer Festival for Peace. Mustafa Yalciner, from the Turkish Labour Party, joined Galloway on the platform.
THE RMT rail union delegates at their conference on Monday signalled an uncompromising struggle against the British National Party (BNP) and other Nazis.
SOME 175 teachers, parents and school governors launched a national campaign against SATs tests at a conference in London last Saturday. John Illingworth, a primary school head teacher from Nottinghamshire and a former president of the NUT union, summed up the confident mood of the day. He told the conference, "I have never felt as optimistic as I do now that we can get rid of these national damaging tests imposed on children. "East Midlands TV did a phone poll and found 95 percent of respondents against the SATs. We know the government will hit back hard to maintain SATs. But we should be confident that this is a campaign we can win."
FREE TRADE was attacked by thousands of protesters across Britain last Saturday. Events ranged from rallies and marches to fairs. The main focus of the day was to lobby MPs to make them aware of how unfair the present trading system is to poorer countries. Many of the marchers and protesters held "scales of justice" and tugs of war with unequal sides to illustrate the unfairness of the world trade system.
AROUND 120 people recently packed into a local meeting called by the Residents Against Port Expansion group in Harwich. The group has taken on the giant multinational Hutchisin Whampoa, which is planning to build a massive automated container dock. This will be just a few hundred yards from a working class residential area. The meeting had trade unionists, environmentalists and Socialist Alliance members.
PEOPLE PACKED into the council chamber in Birmingham last Sunday evening. But this was a very different type of meeting from the usual stuffy, bureaucratic gatherings of councillors. The chamber was filled with over 250 Birmingham residents - young and old, black, white and Asian.
WORKERS AT Goss printers in central Preston were due to start an overtime ban on Friday of this week against management attempts to impose a wage freeze. The workers are members of the TGWU union and Amicus union-both the AEEU and MSF sections.
OVER 400 people attended a union mass meeting in Liverpool on Monday of this week. The workers, members of the Unison union, are employed by the Liberal Democrat run council in Liverpool.
THE RMT rail union took a historic step this week towards building a mass left wing challenge to New Labour. The union which moved the resolution setting up the Labour Party 103 years ago voted overwhelmingly at its conference in Glasgow to allow funding for socialist candidates standing against New Labour.
TONY WOODLEY, the newly elected general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU), laid into New Labour at the union's conference in Brighton this week. He accused the government of surrendering to big business. He made a devastating criticism of Alan Johnson, former leader of the CWU union, who is now a New Labour minister.
HEALTH WORKERS from the North Lincolnshire NHS Trust were coming to the end of their eight days of alternate strike days last week. They wanted to end with a bang and decided to take their fight to the multinational company that refuses to pay the £5.02 an hour they are demanding.
SOCIALIST WORKER is different from all other newspapers. It does not just report events that happen - it aims to help people fight back. The paper creates a space for activists from the movement and working class people to tell their side of the story. And it lets people know that others are fighting the same battles as they are.
A HOUSING estate in Wrexham, North Wales, hit the headlines two weeks ago when it erupted in two nights of rioting. One of the Iraqi Kurds living on Caia Park estate was in a relationship with a local woman. A dispute over this led to a gang of local white thugs attacking another Iraqi's house. They severely beat him when he stepped outside.
"THEY MAKE profits on our backs," "Private companies are only in it to make a fast buck," "The only thing they care about are the shareholders, not us or the patients." These were just some of the angry comments by low paid strikers from Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole hospitals as they descended on the headquarters of their bosses Carillion last week.
ONE OF the most well-known figureheads of the global movement against corporate power was thrown in jail in France last week. José Bové, leader of the radical farmers' Conféderation Paysanne, faces ten months inside.
ALL THE blustering of Alastair Campbell and his chorus of tame ministers and Labour backbenchers can't conceal the fact that the Iraq war is turning very nasty for its perpetrators. The row over the fact that George W Bush and Tony Blair lied their way to war wouldn't be half so bad if the situation on the ground in Iraq weren't becoming so serious.
MARK SERWOTKA, general secretary of the civil servants' union PCS, spoke to Socialist Worker as part of our series on the future for the left.
The four local Unity marches took place in areas where the British National Party (BNP) have won council seats. Over 300 people marched through Halifax.
"REFORM" USED to mean things would improve for the better. Under Tony Blair "reform" means things will get worse. New Labour fears its plan for the reform of the NHS through foundation hospitals could produce another rebellion inside its own ranks next week in parliament. That prospect saw the government attempt to soften up MPs this week. It scuppered its own bill over foxhunting. This has paved the way for a vote on an outright ban on hunting.
Wales is no advert for sticking with Labour IN HIS very interesting interview (Socialist Worker, 28 June) Billy Hayes praises the "clear red water" of Welsh Labour Party policies. He adds that this shows we can win Labour to more progressive policies. Other union leaders have repeated the same theme recently. In truth it is a reflection of how bad things have become under Blair that Welsh Labour is held up as a shining example for others to follow.
YOU MIGHT not recognise him, but the picture shows education secretary Charles Clarke. Clarke, then president of the National Union of Students, was on the platform of a public meeting of 200 people in 1975.