Dated: 22 May 2004
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THE US and British led occupation of Iraq is a disaster. It is a disaster for the Iraqis, scores of whom are dying every day at the hands of occupying troops or falling prey to hunger and disease. Every day there are more killings, more torture, more horror. The scale of the misery inflicted on Iraq has shocked even those who supported the invasion.
US SECRETARY of state Colin Powell now admits the \"hand-over\" of power in Iraq on 30 June is a sham. He said on television last weekend that Iraqi generals and the new defence minister will put their troops \"under the direction of the multinational force commander, who will be an American\".
ANGER OVER lousy pay and vanishing pensions is causing rising tension between the government and leaders of Britain's biggest unions. Civil servants are locked in a growing confrontation, local government workers are moving towards possible strikes and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called a national demonstration over pensions next month.
IN THE four months since Respect: The Unity Coalition's launch on 25 January we have achieved a minor miracle. We've set up a new party with members all over England and Wales. We are standing candidates in every constituency for the European and Greater London elections, as well as a few local ones. So far we've raised and spent more than £250,000.
THE REVOLT against \"Agen-da for Change\"-the government's flagship plan for the NHS-is growing. The TGWU has become the latest trade union to come out in opposition to the scheme.
TESCO, THE company that makes £63,900 profit every minute, wants to axe sick pay for its workers-and a trade union is helping them do it. The supermarket chain is trying out a scheme where workers do not get any sick pay until they are four days in a row.
THREE HUGE unions had set a deadline of Friday of this week for the government to back down over its pay insult to over one million local government workers. The government has offered a pay deal of just 7 percent over three years, with an orchestra of strings that will hit low paid workers.
WORKERS AT EURO Packaging in Birmingham began a three-day strike on Tuesday this week. This follows their first strike two weeks ago. Workers at the plastic bag factory are demanding a cut in working hours, union recognition, the reinstatement of those unfairly sacked, and the removal of the threat of further redundancies.
Choc shop stop mars bosses' day
SOME 25 Further Education colleges came out on strike across London on Thursday of last week over London weighting. Members of the Natfhe lecturers' union are demanding £4,000 London weighting.
NATIONAL LEADERS of over 90,000 civil servants in the PCS union met this week but postponed calling further action in the long-running pay dispute. The union will meet with management on Tuesday of next week. If there is no movement union leaders could call new strikes at a meeting on Thursday of next week.
FIREFIGHTERS IN many brigades are responding to the call for resistance at last week's Fire Brigades Union (FBU) conference by withdrawing cooperation with management and even taking unofficial action. \"Every whole-time station in the brigade has gone onto 999 calls only action,\" says Neil Day, secretary of the FBU union in Norfolk.
RMT UNION members on London Underground are balloting for strike action over pay. Members on Metronet and Tube Lines, which run the tube's infrastructure, are also being balloted.
HIGH-HANDED managers at the Mitcham Belle bus company have forced workers to ballot for strike action and for action short of a strike. The workers are members of the RMT union. They are fighting for better pay and conditions and against bosses who refuse to recognise the union.
PIERS MORGAN was sacked as Daily Mirror editor because he told the truth about British forces, torture of prisoners but may have used staged photos to illustrate that truth.
DONALD RUMSFELD, the US defence secretary, personally authorised the expansion of a secret programme that led to US torture of prisoners, it was revealed last week. The programme encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation to obtain information.
The job we face shapes the form of socialist organisation. If all we had to do was make general propaganda in favour of socialism, then the loosest form of association would be enough. But that would mean sitting on the sidelines, only commentating on real struggles and actual movements.
BEWARE. FUNDAMENTALIST fanatics are on the streets of Britain and are coming to a town near you. No, this isn't a front page of the Sun or the Daily Express. These are Christian fanatics from the US and they come with Blair's blessing.
\"TONY BLAIR is swept away in October. George W Bush loses in November. President John Kerry and Prime Minister Gordon Brown rush to pull US and British troops out of an Iraq descending into civil war. The Saudi monarchy falls before the triumphant march of Islamist extremism. The oil price breaks through $60 a barrel and the world economy heads for stagflation. America's growing isolation in the world makes way for the return of American isolationism, globalisation for global protectionism.\"
THE NAZI British National Party (BNP) is hoping to make a breakthrough in the European elections on 10 June. The BNP hopes to capitalise on the disillusionment with New Labour and a low turnout. But the forces exist that can stop the BNP. Unite Against Fascism has been drawing those forces together in unprecedented numbers to campaign against the Nazis.
INDIA'S RIGHT wing Hindu chauvinist party, the BJP, suffered a shock defeat in last week's general elections. It had a net loss of nearly a third of its parliamentary seats, while its main opponent, Congress, had a net gain of a third. At the core of the BJP is an organisation with some similarities to European fascism, the RSS. It lay behind a murderous onslaught on the Muslim minority in the state of Gujarat that caused some 2,000 deaths just two years ago.
'GEORGE BUSH'S administration is in a terrible mess. They have been extraordinarily arrogant since the attacks on 11 September 2001. But now they are on the defensive over the reports about the torture of Iraqis. They are very shaken by this.
SOCIALIST WORKER has argued hard over the last year that the US/UK occupation of Iraq won't bring peace. We've supported groups of workers like the firefighters, postal workers and nursery nurses who have taken on Blair's government. And the paper has argued for an alternative to New Labour. Now Respect is set to challenge Blair at the polls and there are just three weeks to go until 10 June.
I WAS relieved that Troy is not a film that glorifies war. Amid the sumptuous costumes, it is a film full of human sadness, of people caught up in a war that they do not want and have no control over. As well as showing opposition to war through sympathy with characters who face death and destruction, it draws striking comparisons between Homer's Iliad and Iraq today.
TONY BLAIR is drowning. As the seas rise to swallow him up he tries in vain, like King Canute, to turn back the tide. Two weeks ago a panicked Blair invited senior journalists from the Guardian newspaper to a cosy chat at his Chequers country residence. The journalists included Martin Kettle, a personal friend of Blair.
A MASSIVE blast last week destroyed a four-storey factory in seconds. Nine workers at Stockline Plastics in Maryhill are dead and 40 others have been maimed or badly injured. The carnage happened in a densely populated part of Glasgow. It has stunned the city.
THE LIBERAL Democrat MP and mayoral hopeful Simon Hughes never misses an opportunity to have a go at the Tory candidate Steve Norris's links with big companies. Hughes linked Norris to the Potters Bar train crash in a London mayoral election leaflet. Norris is chairman of Jarvis, the company that recently accepted joint legal responsibility.
LONDON SUNDAY 6 JUNE 12 NOON-7.30PM FINSBURY PARK, NORTH LONDON (FINSBURY PARK tube)