Dated: 12 Jan 2002
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And they dare to blame the workers
WEALTHY PATIENTS are jumping the NHS waiting list because they can afford to pay. That is the reality of New Labour's market forces in the NHS, revealed in the Observer last Sunday. The rich were treated by NHS doctors, in the same wards and with the same equipment as NHS patients.
THE GOVERNMENT quietly pushed through changes to immigration rules last week. Now when an appeal against deportation has been dismissed only the home secretary will be told of the decision. Before last week the asylum seeker and his or her representatives or solicitors were also informed.
BOSSES AT top London store Selfridges were forced to run around taking goods off the shelf just before Christmas after a successful boycott campaign. The goods are marked "Made in Israel". But they are manufactured in Palestinian land illegally occupied by Israel. The sale of these products directly contravenes European Union customs regulations.
DEPUTY BRITISH High Commissioner to Jamaica Phil Sinkinson has made outrageous claims that one in ten people on flights from Jamaica are smuggling cocaine. He used this to justify his demand for a crackdown and harsher sentencing. British customs and excise officials rubbished Sinkinson's comments. They revealed that there were no figures on the number of "drugs mules" to support Sinkinson's claims.
THE government faced humiliation after anti-privatisation campaigners won two important victories. In the last few weeks tenants in Dudley and on Southwark's Aylesbury estate have decisively voted against plans to privatise their homes. These votes and recent government retreats show that New Labour's privatisation plans can be stopped.
ACTIVISTS IN the PCS civil servants' union who work in job centres and benefits offices are gearing up for their next major strike for safety at the end of this month. Around 40,000 civil servants struck in December against the removal of safety screens.
INTERFERENCE BY the Tory press in the election for general secretary of the RMT rail union began even before the ballot papers went out this week. There was a torrent of stories at the end of last week directed against left wing candidate Bob Crow, who is currently an assistant general secretary.
RIVER PILOTS on one of Britain's busiest waterways are continuing their all-out strike. The strike by the 130 pilots, all members of the TGWU union, centres around a dispute with the giant ABP firm which runs ports along the Humber.
TOP TRADE union officials have dealt a shattering blow to striking Scottish Power workers. They have conspired to wrap up strikes and allow management the chance to claw back important gains.
LEADERS OF the new AMICUS union have shown their intention just days into the union's launch with their disastrous sell-out of Scottish Power strikers. The joint general secretaries, Ken Jackson from the AEEU and Roger Lyons from the MSF, have long fought to create a right wing bloc of support for New Labour inside the trade union movement.
BANK WORKERS at the Royal Bank of Scotland went on strike for the day on 2 January after bosses refused to pay them more for working on a traditional Scottish holiday. A lively picket took place of the bank's Glasgow headquarters.
BY THE end of the decade there will be 10,000 asbestos-related deaths each year in this country. That is twice the number killed on the roads. These people are almost exclusively working class men and women who were exposed to lethal asbestos dust at work.
PEOPLE IN the poor African country of Somalia feared this week that they were to become the latest targets in the US "war on terror". The US, and key allies Britain and France, have increased surveillance flights to four or five a day over Somalia in the last week.
TONY BLAIR cast himself in the role of peacemaker as he embarked on a tour of India and Pakistan to defuse recent tensions over Kashmir. The two nuclear powers stand dangerously close to war. Thousands of Kashmiris have been forced to flee their homes.
Colombia SOME 800 workers in Colombia were this week entering the third week of an occupation against privatisation. The workers in the city of Cali are protesting at the threat to privatise the Emcali public utilities corporation.
ARGENTINA IS the sharp end of the global economic crisis. The social and political explosion there should not be dismissed as the kind of turbulence typical of obscure parts of the Third World.
"THE TROUBLE with you Socialist Worker types is that you haven't moved on. You talk about capitalism as if we're still in the 1830s - child labour, workers burning themselves out in terrible conditions, press-gangs rounding people up to be killed in foreign wars. And you talk of company directors as if they were old-style bosses getting rich from the toil and blood of the masses."
transport chaos bosses attack union action scares companies and labour
THE UPRISING in Argentina shows that revolution is still possible in the modern world. It has shown mass action from below can topple governments and inflict a defeat on big business policies.
THE PEOPLE who did not vote at the general election last year are not apathetic. They are angry about the present state of the parties and many of them are disillusioned about the entire political set up.
THE EARLY 1970s were years of working class militancy and resistance. The recently released cabinet papers from 1971 show how top government meetings were constantly concerned with what was happening on the industrial scene. They reveal that strikes played a key role in determining government policy. The Tory government and prime minister Ted Heath began with a clear strategy - to shift a greater economic burden onto the working class. They wanted to cut public spending.
THE SOCIALIST Alliance is to provide a focus for a debate which is raging inside the trade union movement. The issue is whether the unions' political fund should go solely to the Labour Party or whether, because of Labour's right wing policies, it should also be open for union members to give money to other parties.
"I HAVE sent you some of the photos I took at the European Union summit demonstrations in Brussels on 13 and 14 December. Please feel free to use them in your publications. Yours in solidarity, Tim Jones."
OVER A million people tried to log on to the new 1901 census internet site. The History of Britain series presented by Simon Schama was a huge success. It was followed by the popular Timewatch and Blood of the Vikings series which showed the massive audience interested in historical events. Faced with the growing popularity of history, BBC2 has come up with the four part series Civil War to be screened on Mondays at 8.30pm.
THE BELIEVER is a difficult film to watch. It is centred on Daniel Balint, a character at war with himself. He is a Jew, but also a violent Nazi in modern day New York. Balint despises all Jews, saying that "the modern world is a Jewish disease".
TONY BLAIR returned from his jet-setting this week to face a domestic political crisis. He and his government face a groundswell of opposition over a range of issues - the crumbling NHS, mounting job losses and, above all, the transport crisis. A top aide to transport secretary Stephen Byers infamously wrote on the day of the destruction of the World Trade Centre, "Today is a good day to bury bad news."
I'M SADDENED to announce the passing of a veteran of American radicalism. Martin Glaberman, Professor Emeritus of Social Science at Wayne State University in Detroit, was an auto worker, shop steward and union committee man for 20 years.
THIS IS a wake-up call to all trade unionists. Over the last year I have been working for First Great Western trains at Intercity House in Plymouth, but employed by the Manpower agency. First Great Western set up the operation in Plymouth by sacking staff in Bristol and Paddington and inviting Manpower to set up at Intercity House, where they opened an office and brought in a management team.
COULD a US pharmaceutical firm be behind the anthrax attacks in the US that killed five people? The FBI thinks so. Anthrax spores used in the attacks are genetically identical to a strain obtained by researchers over 20 years ago at the US army's Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases. The army sent that strain out to five laboratories.