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Socialist Worker

Issue: 1816

Dated: 07 Sep 2002

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We can stop war against Iraq

Rifts in the Bush camp... Splits in the cabinet... Rows between Europe's leaders... 71 percent oppose a US attack

International Comment Features Reviews What We Think Other


Firefighters now head up a wider battle

FIREFIGHTERS AND control room staff are heading for their first national strikes for 25 years. They are at the forefront of a mood for action over pay across the public sector. Over 10,000 firefighters blockaded the streets outside parliament on Monday as their employers refused to come up with a reasonable pay offer at last ditch talks.

Transport from all over Britain

CAMPAIGNERS in the Stop the War Coalition are uniting with local groups to get transport from across Britain to the 28 September demonstration. A 640-seat train is running through Glasgow and Edinburgh to the march. A further five coaches are booked from Edinburgh, and transport is organised from Greenock, Fife, Aberdeen and Dundee. In Runcorn, in the north west of England, and Bristol the postal workers' CWU union is running its own coaches to the demonstration. In Cardiff the CWU union has given £200 to help fund transport from the area. Around 100 coaches are booked from Birmingham. Around £10,000 has been raised to pay for billboard and newspaper adverts in the ru

'Being on strike has restored our morale'

FORTY JOURNALISTS at EMAP Healthcare/PSM in London last week launched the first strike in national magazines for over a decade. The successful one-day action over pay follows a series of strikes by journalists in local and regional newspapers.

Bosses threaten strike with anti-union laws

TORY-CONTROLLED Westminster council has thrown down a major challenge to the Unison public sector workers' union. It was trying to use anti-union laws, introduced by Margaret Thatcher's Tory governments but kept by New Labour, to stop our strike action against privatisation.

Anti-privatisation festival

"ANOTHER WORLD is possible" was the feeling in the air last Saturday as a festival against privatisation, racism and war gathered on the grassy slopes by the sea in Whitstable, Kent. Hundreds came to listen to music from local bands and performers.

Parents proud to fight

PARENTS AND children were subjected to disgusting intimidation last week as education managers forced through a nursery closure in Hackney, east London. Officials of the Learning Trust, which now runs education in the borough, believed that an occupation was planned at St John's nursery. On Thursday of last week they did everything possible to stop parents getting into the facility.

Striking mood of social workers

OVER 250 social workers in Leeds went on strike to demand higher wages on Wednesday of last week. The workers were demanding better pay rates and faster progression up the pay scale.

Burston school strike rally

THE ANNUAL Burston school strike rally was held in Diss in Norfolk last Sunday. It celebrates Britain's longest school strike, which took place in 1914. Between 400 and 500 people attended the event. It was a bigger and younger audience than in previous years.

Victory that can light fire against low pay

VICTORY. That's the verdict of low paid health workers in Scotland after they took nine days of unofficial strike action. "We are over the moon with the outcome. This is a victory for all low paid workers in the NHS," said hospital porter and Unison union shop steward Bobby Reed.

Crucial fight to stop privatisation

CAMPAIGNERS in east London have stepped up their fight to defend trade union rights and to stop a massive privatisation scheme. Over 40 people met on Thursday of last week to plan the campaign for the full reinstatement of Unison branch secretary Phil Billows (pictured right) at the Barts and Royal London NHS Trust.

Stop the war

SOME 150 people from across the area around Halifax turned out to a public meeting of Calderdale Against the War on Wednesday of last week. They heard Alice Mahon MP, John Rees of the Stop the War Coalition, and local Labour councillor Mohammed Najib declare their opposition to war on Iraq and their support for Palestine.

Council housing

PRESSURE FROM tenants, trade unionists, councillors and MPs is rattling the government in the fight for the future of council housing. Deputy prime minister John Prescott has announced a review on "the way forward for housing capital finance". Campaign organisation Defend Council Housing says:

Rail workers

DRIVERS ON First North Western (FNW) trains are due to strike for 48 hours next week after management broke off negotiations. FNW boss Vernon Barker had the cheek to tell negotiators from the Aslef train drivers' union that "the dispute would not be settled until Christmas" if union district secretary Colin Smith continued to take part in the talks. Aslef general secretary Mick Rix said:


THE RESULT of an appeal hearing into the sacking of Jim O'Donovan from his lecturing job at Glasgow's Central College of Commerce will be heard this week. The college has targeted Jim, who is the national president of the EIS-CLA lecturers' union, and other union activists.

Massey Ferguson

WORKERS AT the Massey Ferguson tractor plant in Coventry have voted by four to one in favour of strike action to stop the closure of the plant. Members of both trade unions at the plant, the TGWU and Amicus-AEEU, have voted by four to one in favour of action.

The bloody price of racist hatred

PEIMAN BAHMANI, a 29 year old Iranian refugee, was stabbed to death on Wednesday of last week. It happened on the street where he lived in Sunderland. Peiman Bahmani arrived in Britain around two years ago after fleeing from persecution in Iran. Under New Labour's refugee dispersal scheme he was forced to live in the run-down area of Hendon in Sunderland.

Bradford Asian jailed for 8 and a half years

AMJID RASHID, aged 22, has received an outrageously long sentence of eight and a half years after pleading not guilty to taking part in last year's confrontations with the police in Bradford. It is the longest sentence yet handed out by Bradford Crown Court to young Asian men who protected themselves from a threatened march by the National Front, and from the police.

Why did Kwame die?

A GHANAIAN man has died after being arrested by police and taken to Stoke Newington police station in Hackney, east London. Kwame Wirdue was a 23 year old student in Britain. Police picked him up at a Sainsbury's in Dalston on Friday of last week.



Unlikely critics isolate hawks

WHAT A difference a year makes. In the aftermath of 11 September last year, the world's ruling classes rallied in solidarity with the United States. "We are all Americans," declared the Parisian daily Le Monde. Contrast the situation today. As the leading figures in George W Bush's administration prepare to invade Iraq and remove Saddam Hussein, they find themselves largely isolated internationally.

True believers question faith

THE ISRAELI novelist David Grossman has described the "depth of internal poison that our huge use of violence causes us". That poison is now sapping the confidence of Jewish communities outside Israel, resulting in mainstream British Jewish leaders speaking out with unprecedented vigour.


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Manchester ANL carnival: black and white unite against the Nazis

The biggest anti-racist event in the north of England for two decades struck a major blow against the Nazi British National Party at the weekend. Some 30,000 people joined the day-long Anti Nazi League "Love Music-Hate Racism" carnival in Manchester on Sunday.

Hot air from world leaders

TONY BLAIR claimed to be leading the world on tackling poverty and environmental destruction at the Earth Summit this week. The truth is that the summit's outcome represents no progress at all. On key areas it will guarantee things get worse, not better. That is why 25,000 protesters, mainly the poor of South Africa, defied the police and government and staged an angry march on the summit last Saturday (see report below).

Report slams policy over 'feckless' poor

AN IMPORTANT new study has blown a hole through the central ideas behind New Labour's welfare "reform". The study is called Poverty and the Welfare State: Dispelling the Myths by social policy expert Paul Spicker. It is published by the "think-tank" Catalyst, whose members include Labour's former deputy leader Roy Hattersley.

Socialist causes a panic for Blair

PAUL FOOT, the Socialist Alliance candidate for the mayor of Hackney in east London, is frightening New Labour. The Independent newspaper reported last week, "Such was Millbank's consternation at the prospect of Paul Foot standing for election in east London that it turned to Mo Mowlam to become the Labour candidate. "But the former secretary of state for Northern Ireland had little hesitation in declining."

Hell on earth

NO ONE can forget the horror of the news pictures as the hijacked planes hit the twin towers a year ago, and the awful consequences for those trapped inside. But George Bush and the US government, backed enthusiastically by Tony Blair, cynically used that tragedy to unleash even greater horror. US president Bush claimed he would "rally the world against international terrorism".

Does movement need parties?

MANY PEOPLE are deeply hostile to mainstream political parties, and rightly so. They are utterly fed up with political leaders who lie and spin, who ignore their views and shamelessly promote the interests of big business. Others are suspicious of all political organisations. They fear that parties will seek to impose their own agenda on any campaign and use it for their own ends.

Sweet land of liberty?

"DEMOCRACIES, RATHER than dictatorships, are taking the lead in curbing civil liberties." That is the conclusion of a human rights report recently published by Amnesty International. It highlights the US and Britain's attacks on civil rights in the wake of 11 September.

Murder backed by US

THERE IS another 11 September, but there will be few tributes in the media to its victims. As the Chilean writer Ariel Dorfman says: "11 September has been a date of mourning, for me and millions of others, ever since that day in 1973 when Chile lost its democracy in a military coup, that day when death irrevocably entered our lives and changed us forever." On that day the Chilean military, led by General Pinochet, overthrew the elected president, Salvador Allende.


Colour, contrast and our world

"EARTH FROM the Air" is an amazing outdoor exhibition of giant photographs that contrast the beauty of the world we live in to the terrible suffering all around us.

There's nowt so tuneful as folk

THE BAND Blue Murder brings together seven of the most influential voices in English folk music. Martin Carthy and Norma Waterson are joined by their daughter Eliza, Norma's brother Mike, and the trio Coope, Boyes and Simpson. The end result is a celebration of the human spirit. None of the songs on this CD are overtly political. There's a fair slab of religion, gospel-style, thrown in.

Two worth viewing

TWO MEN, a nurse and a travel journalist, and their relationships with two women, a dancer and a bullfighter, who are both in a coma. Talk To Her, a new film by Spanish director Pedro Almodovar, uses that unlikely storyline to reveal a lot about sexuality in Spain today. The characters are sensitively drawn, especially male nurse Benigno and his obsessive and one-sided relationship with the dancer.

What We Think

Remember all of the victims

THE GOVERNMENT is pushing for a minute's silence to mark the anniversary of the 11 September attacks next Wednesday. People will want to mark the pain and anguish of a day which saw almost 3,000 people killed in New York. But Tony Blair has his own agenda. He wants to exploit the anniversary to boost support for Bush's plans to launch war on Iraq.

Other Categories

Left must shape 'no' campaign on Europe

IRELAND IS the only country in Europe that is to vote on the Nice treaty agreed by European Union leaders at their summit at the end of 2000. Though people here have already rejected the treaty in a vote once, the government is coming back with it again.

State school is taken for Ryde

A STATE primary school has done a deal with a commercial college that would see parents charged £600 for their children's tuition in school hours. Tutors from the privately-run Ryde College, near Watford in Hertfordshire, have agreed to prepare 20 nine and ten year olds at Lea Junior Primary School in Slough, Berkshire, for GCSEs in information technology - at a price.

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