Dated: 30 Nov 2002
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"This is no longer just a dispute between the Fire Brigades Union and the government. It is a fight between the government and the whole union movement" GMB union leader John Edmonds
ANGER AT low pay exists across the public services. That's why other groups of workers as well as the firefighters are taking action. On Tuesday tens of thousands of teachers and council workers in London struck for a rise in the allowance they get for living in London, with its spiralling housing and transport costs.
ON THE same day as the firefighters' eight-day strike started, over 300 health workers at the Glasgow North Health Trust voted to continue their unofficial strike action. The strikers' mood was determined and defiant. One striker said, "We struck for a decent pay rise for all, and we shouldn't return until we get it."
OUR RECENT strike action has had an effect. At the conference of the Association of Colleges last Tuesday the education secretary, Charles Clarke, announced new government funding of £1.2 billion over a three-year period.
WORKERS IN the Amicus-AEEU union working at the press and paintline section members at Raven Manufacturing near Burnley have now entered their ninth week of selective strike action for a 3 percent pay claim.
A STOP the war demonstration drew around 1,000 people on to the streets of Sheffield last Saturday. The march was led by a delegation from South Yorkshire FBU and addressed by CND, trade unionists, socialists and students. Later the same night a massive Stop the War Coalition benefit raised £1,800 as DJs from across Sheffield's club scene attracted hundreds of people. Greg Challis
BRITAIN'S BOSSES were under siege at their annual conference in Manchester this week. Hundreds of anti-war and anti-capitalist protesters stormed the conference centre on Sunday. That was just one of a wave of protests that greeted the conference. The fat cats of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) gathered in Manchester's plush GMEX centre.
SHOW YOUR support for those who defended their community against racists rampaging in Burnley last June. Some of the Asian men were given harsh jail sentences. You can write to them: Tariq Saddique, prison number GK 8480, HMP Risley, Risley, Warrington, Cheshire WA3 6BP. Tariq was sentenced to three years. Mohammed Maroof Bashir, prison number GK 8481, HMP Risley, Risley, Warrington, Cheshire WA3 6BP. Maroof was sentenced to two and half years. Abdul Rahim Kayani, prison number JA 6670, Unit 3, HMYOI Thorn Cross, Arley Road, Appleton Thorn, Warrington, Cheshire WA4 4RL. Rahim was sentenced to 18 months. Abdul K
I TOOK part in a two-day tour of aerospace factories two weeks ago with Derek Simpson, who defeated Sir Ken Jackson to become general secretary of the AEEU section of the Amicus union.
"SHOCKED". "DISGUSTED". "Horrified". Those were the reactions of many people on the streets of Blackburn last weekend. The Nazi British National Party won a council by-election in the Lancashire town that is the parliamentary seat of New Labour foreign secretary Jack Straw. The Nazi candidate was elected by a 16-vote margin in the town's Mill Hill ward on Thursday of last week.
FRANCE SAW a wave of industrial protest this week in the biggest challenge to the country's right wing government since it came to office earlier this year. On Tuesday strikes and demonstrations took place across a range of public services.
THE VICTORY of Lucio Gutierrez in Ecuador's presidential election on Sunday is another sign of the growing rejection of neo-liberal policies and associated austerity across Latin America. Some 13 million people live in Ecuador, and 60 percent of them exist below the official poverty line.
AUSTRIA'S FAR right Freedom Party saw its support collapse in the country's general election last weekend. The party caused shock across Europe when it won 27 percent of votes in the 1999 election and joined a coalition government with Austria's Conservative Party. Last weekend its support collapsed to 10 percent. The Freedom Party's key figure is Jörg Haider, who has praised Hitler's Nazis in the past.
IMAGINE IF an unarmed United Nations official was shot by Iraqi troops while he was inside a UN compound in Baghdad. Imagine if the Iraqi army then delayed an ambulance taking the official to hospital and the man died as a result.
ONE PERSON you won't see running into burning buildings to rescue people is Jean-Pierre Garnier. He's the boss of the British drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline who has achieved notoriety by announcing that he can't survive on his £7 million annual salary. It's not enough, he says, to "keep him motivated". He wants more to continue running the company from his penthouse in Philadelphia. That's global capitalism for you - a British drugs firm run by a French man from the US.
HARDER, MORE determined, and disgusted with John Prescott, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. That was the mood among 52,000 firefighters and control room staff as they learned that the government had scuppered negotiations and forced them into an eight-day strike.
SOME 40 percent of people in Britain firmly oppose war on Iraq, according to a poll on Monday. You wouldn't get that impression from the debate over Iraq in parliament that same day. Most of the debate was over how to wage a war.
THE GOVERNMENT says it would cost too much to pay the firefighters a decent wage. Ministers can't pretend that Britain is not rich enough to fund such an increase.
"WHAT'S WRONG with elitism?" The fact that education secretary Charles Clarke asked this question tells us exactly where he is coming from. He and the whole cabinet are engulfed in a crisis about university funding which goes to the heart of the New Labour project.
CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown constantly argues that the government has made major inroads into tackling child and pensioner poverty. Both claims were demolished by shocking studies published last week.
"WE ARE just knocked out down here by the coverage of our dispute in Socialist Worker," says John Drake, chair of the Fire Brigades Union in Gloucestershire. "It's the only paper telling the truth about our dispute, with the exception of the Daily Mirror. But Socialist Worker does more - it helps build solidarity from the wider trade union movement.
A BOMB blast rips through a market square full of people. The horrific aftermath is blamed on terrorists. More standard Hollywood fare post 11 September? In fact it is part of an excellent film, The Quiet American. This is directed by Philip Noyce (who also directed Rabbit-Proof Fence), and it stars Michael Caine and Brendan Fraser.
AFTER THE huge success of the anti-racist carnival in Manchester in August, the Anti Nazi League (ANL) is launching Love Music Hate Racism as a national campaign. We want to use it to target the areas where groups like the Nazi BNP and NF are trying to grow. Music is a very good way of getting people involved in the fight against the Nazis. Lots of people are getting in touch and saying, "Manchester was great - we want to do something in our area." There have been gigs in Barrow-in-Furness and Oldham. There are others coming up in Huddersfield, Burnley and Blackburn. The leader of Sunderland council has approached us to set something up there. Trade unions are getting involved.
"THIS IS a strike you can't win." That was Tony Blair's message to the firefighters this week. And the Sun pushed the same argument. No one should fall for this bluster. Blair may want to present a tough image. But in reality his government is totally split over the firefighters.
I HAVE been watching the troops running Green Goddesses during the firefighters' strike. I used to be a squaddie many years ago. In 1975 the Labour government faced a strike over pay by dust workers in Glasgow.
ON ALL of our demonstrations we chant "Another world is possible". But what does this mean? On one of the anti-capitalist marches in London last year several people arrived with a big home-made banner that said "Overthrow capitalism and replace it with something nicer".
THE INQUIRY into Bloody Sunday, the day in January 1972 when British paratroopers killed 14 unarmed civilians, continues to expose the violence and lies at the heart of the British state.