Dated: 09 Nov 2002
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US Stealth bombers to fly from Britain... Blair calls up 10,000 reservists... Thousands of marines head to Gulf
THOUSAND-strong British delegation - from union leaders to students. Up to 20,000 expected in all. Hundreds of debates and forums every day. First ever Europe-wide anti-war demonstration on Saturday.
THE BRITISH government this week plans to issue a rarely seen Queen's Order to enforce the mobilisation of up to 10,000 armed forces reservists for war on Iraq. The procedure has not been used since the Korean War in the 1950s, and gives the government massive extra powers to call up reservists.
THREE YEARS in jail. That is the shocking sentence Judge Boulton handed to 28 year old Tariq Saddique, who acted in self defence against a racist mob in Burnley in June last year. He was sentenced in Preston on Monday of this week, along with Mohammed Maroof Bashir who got two and a half years, a 17 year old who got a 12-month sentence, and Asif Kahn who got two years.
WORKERS AT a swimwear factory in North Wales began an occupation last week in protest at the company's refusal to pay wages owed to them. The mainly women workers are fighting Fineline Cymru in Rhyl. Elaine Round is one of 30 workers who began the occupation on Thursday of last week.
PRIVATE FIRM ISS Mediclean has once again been forced to make an improved offer for low paid health workers because of threatened strike action. The firm has offered all ancillary workers at Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride a minimum wage of £5 per hour - the rate the workers were demanding. ISS Mediclean has also offered workers improved weekend, night shift and sick pay entitlements - something it had previously refused to negotiate on.
STRIKING RAIL workers on Arriva Trains Northern led an 800-strong march in Newcastle on Saturday called by the Public Sector Alliance. Other delegations included firefighters, postal workers (with a significant delegation from Oxfordshire), GMB and Unison union members, further education college lecturers, university lecturers, anti-war activists and others.
AROUND 350 students from around the country attended the Shared Planet conference last weekend. This is an annual event organised by student anti-corporate network People and Planet.
What you think - a forum for activists to discuss the struggle
WORKERS ON the press and paintline section at Raven Manufacturing near Burnley were on strike again last Monday in their sixth week of action. The workers, who are paid only £5.08 an hour, are fighting for a decent pay rise. Management met the workers recently but refused to budge from its claims that no more money is available, despite a full order book. Meanwhile solidarity with the Raven strikers continues to grow.
UNIVERSITY staff across London have voted overwhelmingly for a one-day strike next Thursday, 14 November. The strike is the latest step in the campaign against the employers' ten-year freeze of the London weighting allowance. During this time transport costs in the capital have risen by over 50 percent and property prices by over 150 percent.
WE'VE WON a brilliant victory in Bridgwater, Somerset, after a seven-day unofficial strike. Around 130 of us walked out for a shorter working week, for overtime rates when we cover for workers in emergencies, and for an end to management bullying and harassment.
RMT MEMBERS on Arriva Trains Northern struck for the 22nd time in their long-running pay dispute on Saturday. "We have issued four more strike dates for next month," one member of the strike committee told Socialist Worker, "21, 23, 24 and 31 December. "That is our answer to Arriva's attempt to break us. Our strikes in December are aimed to hit Arriva hard. But we will need financial support from other trade unionists to sustain such strikes so close to Christmas."
MARK HARDING, a driver on London Underground and a member of the RMT union, won an important legal victory over union representation last week. The decision in favour of the RMT at his employment appeals tribunal has implications for members of every union. Mark explained to Socialist Worker:
CIVIL SERVANTS in the PCS civil servants' union in the Department of Work and Pensions in central and west London have voted by a 70 percent margin to take strike action. The strike is in defence of branch secretary Chris Ford and leading activist Phil Henry.
THE NAZI BNP is standing in a council by-election in Blackburn, east Lancashire. The vote, in the Mill Hill ward, takes place on 21 November. During the campaign the BNP has been stirring up racism and targeting asylum seekers. This propaganda is particularly disgusting because it is going out in an area where three asylum seekers were attacked, two of them hospitalised.
BUS WORKERS in Orpington, Kent, walked out on strike on Wednesday of last week in solidarity with a fellow driver. They are employed by Metrobus, which covers routes in the south east and south coast of Britain. The management came down hard on a woman driver after a minor accident while she was driving.
AROUND 50 pensioners and trade unionists met in London last Saturday at a conference organised by the Greater London Pensioners Association. Pensioners were angry that restoring the link between pensions and earnings was not raised at Labour's conference.
OVER 1,000 college lecturers, teachers and other trade unionists marched through Glasgow last Saturday demanding the reinstatement of Jim O'Donovan. Jim is the president of the college lecturers' section of the EIS education union. He was sacked from Glasgow's Central College following a campaign of victimisation against union activists by the management.
OVER 50 people attended a very moving commemoration for Surjit Singh Chhokar, who was murdered by racists over four years ago in Wishaw. Scottish Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan, SNP MSP Linda Fabiani and the family's lawyer, Aamer Anwar, addressed the commemoration.
TONY BLAIR restated his hard line against the firefighters on the very day leaders of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) suspended another strike in the hope of getting a pay offer in talks. He said on Monday of this week, "If people make excessive wage claims we will have to resist them."
PICKETING lecturers and support staff at over 300 further education colleges forced management to close colleges in a one-day strike on Tuesday. This is the second strike this year by members of the lecturers' union Natfhe, who also struck for two days in May.
THE "social explosion" which the International Monetary Fund and the Turkish employers' organisation have long been worrying about has, in a sense, expressed itself in the general election in Turkey on Sunday. The centre ground of established politics in a key US ally and NATO member has collapsed. The three parties which formed the coalition government of the past three and a half years have been decimated.
I LISTENED a week ago to some radio programmes about people affected by the Falklands War in 1982. We heard from a woman whose husband was a computer technician in the navy. It was clear from the way she spoke that she admired and loved him.
TOP-UP tuition fees for universities have created a huge political row. New Labour ruled out top-up fees in its last election manifesto, but the government is now playing with even worse proposals. It is refusing to rule out privatising universities under the World Trade Organisation's drive to introduce the market into services.
"Unless there is urgent action then a black or Asian person is going to be murdered by racists in Eltham." That is the chilling warning from Dev Barrah, who works at the Greenwich Council for Racial Equality.
The anti-war message was carried to every corner of Britain by last Thursday's day of action called by the Stop the War Coalition. In towns big and small, from Cornwall to Scotland, people took to the streets to stage a wide and imaginative variety of protests against war. In at least 24 colleges students staged occupations in some of the biggest student protests seen for many years.
THIS YEAR is the 85th anniversary of one of the most important and uplifting events of the 20th century. But you wouldn't know that from any of the papers or TV. The revolution in Russia in 1917 is an event hated by people who defend the system we live in. That's because the mass of people took their lives into their own hands. Historians who are hostile claim it was a conspiracy by a small bunch of revolutionaries called the Bolsheviks.
"THERE'S NO way we should be suspending strikes with so little on the table. It is creating demoralisation among the activists." That's what Del Godfrey, chair of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in Essex, told Socialist Worker on Monday.
The new film Rabbit-Proof Fence is based on a true story. It tells the story of three Aboriginal girls in western Australia who run away from a state institution for "half-caste" children. This is what Australia was like in the 1930s.
A WEEK in Palestine is a new documentary about the daily degradation and misery inflicted on the Palestinian people. Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza describe their lives under Israeli occupation to a solidarity delegation of trade unionists and students from Britain.
POWER IN Numbers is the new album by Jurassic 5, one of the most interesting hip-hop acts in the US at the moment. The group's style is funkier than many of their contemporaries, with more than a nod to the origins of hip-hop in the late 1970s. But Jurassic 5 stand out for another reason.
FORMER MI5 officer David Shayler was jailed for six months on Tuesday for revealing state secrets. He should have been congratulated for shining a tiny bit of light on the stinking covert forces whose existence subverts any notion that we live in a real democracy.
<H4>What the butler saw but we can't</H4>
ANOTHER EXAMPLE emerged last week of how the US has been using threats and bribes to get United Nations backing for war on Iraq. George Bush recently met with Mexico's president, Vicente Fox, to try to firm up his support for an attack.