Dated: 10 Aug 2002
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Inspections offer rejected TWICE
BURNLEY'S Labour council has moved to stop the Anti Nazi League holding its "Love Music-Hate Racism" carnival in the town. The ANL is vigorously fighting this disgraceful decision. But there is absolutely no doubt that the carnival will be going ahead, and in the north west of England.
THE BNP wants to hold its Hitler-worshipping event-the Red, White and Blue rally-in Sawley in Lancashire. Villagers in Diggle scuppered the BNP's attempts to organise the hate event there, forcing the BNP to look for another venue. The Red, White and Blue rally is promoted as a "family event".
THE AUTHORITIES allowed the BNP's former Führer, John Tyndall, to hold a meeting in Burnley last week. What a contrast to the way the carnival has been treated! Tyndall (pictured left) is the man who said, "Hitler's Mein Kampf was a revelation. These were the words of a seer and prophet."
PUBLIC SECTOR workers on poverty pay are told that a 3 percent increase is enough. But fat cat pay is going through the roof. The number of executives grabbing over £500,000 a year is now at a record high of 487.
NEXT week Trevor Ngwane and 86 others go on trial in Johannesburg, South Africa, for protesting against electricity and water cut-offs and evictions. They face jail.
ABOUT 60 campaigners lobbied councillors in Caerphilly in Wales last week against a proposed waste recycling plant being built on their doorstep. Over 2,500 local residents have signed a petition against the plant planned for the Risca quarry.
THE SOCIALIST Alliance in Hackney, east London, has unanimously selected Paul Foot to stand for mayor of Hackney in the election to be held on Thursday 17 October.
AIR TRAFFIC controllers warn that financial crises and staff shortages are creating a "very real risk" to safety. David Luxton, national secretary of the controllers' Prospect union, wrote to transport secretary Alistair Darling outlining their fears last week. He called for "immediate government intervention". It was the New Labour government which privatised National Air Traffic Services (NATS), in breach of a pledge made before the 1997 election.
SUPPORTERS OF three campaigns against deportation protested outside the Home Office on Thursday of last week. The campaigns called a joint protest to draw attention to threats to deport three families.
THERE WAS jubilation outside the High Court in London last week at news of the legal victory of civil servants' union leader Mark Serwotka. He had finally won his battle to take up the position of general secretary of the PCS union. A high court judge confirmed that his election in November 2000 was valid, and that the coup attempt by right wing former general secretary Barry Reamsbottom was illegal.
"DEMOCRACY has been enshrined in our union-the members' choice is in place. My view is that the court that matters is the members, and that court ruled in our favour.
BARRY Reamsbottom's attempted coup was about more than who controls one union. Reamsbottom is one of the vice-presidents of the Trade Union Committee for European and Transatlantic Understanding (TUCETU). The TUCETU is an undemocratic right wing faction.
ANOTHER OPINION poll in Britain last week showed the shock and anger many people feel at George Bush's rush to start a war on Iraq. Some 91 percent of Daily Mirror readers said in a phone poll that they were against the war. The paper has run several articles critical of an attack on Iraq and the war on Afghanistan. "Mr Blair will next month face one of the biggest anti-war protests in Britain for years," said the Mirror last week. Protesters will mass in London on 28 September. A string of Stop the War Coalition events will be held over the next few weeks."
THE US and Britain are trying to present themselves as the champions of freedom and democracy as they threaten war on Iraq. But both countries are locking people up indefinitely without charge and denying them any right to protest.
THE US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld is a key figure leading the charge for war against Iraq. He says Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is a monster who has to be stopped by US military might.
THE KEY myths about refugees in Britain have been trashed in a recent report that was commissioned by the Home Office. Vaughan Robinson and Jeremy Segrott from the University of Wales produced the report that investigates why asylum seekers end up in Britain. The report takes on the arguments poured out by press and politicians that refugees flock to Britain because it is a "soft touch".
SOME 5,000 people joined a protest against sectarianism outside Belfast City Hall in Northern Ireland on Friday of last week. The rally was in response to the sectarian murder of a young Catholic man, Gerard Lawlor, by Loyalist paramilitaries. The Loyalist death squad, the Ulster Freedom Fighters, appeared on TV wearing balaclavas and combat gear and wielding guns, claiming responsibility for the murder.
THE TRIALS have started of people who were arrested during the Govanhill pool protests in Glasgow last year. In an effort to stop the immensely popular pool from being closed by the city council, local people and their supporters occupied the facility. On 7 August last year sheriff officers backed by police began removing people from the building. People rushed on to the streets to protest and were eventually met by charges from mounted police.
MORE THAN 100 journalists on the Newcastle Chronicle and Journal struck on Thursday of last week as part of their continuing fight for a fair wage. This is their second one-day strike. More action is planned-journalists will walk out again for two days on Friday and Saturday this week. Those two days will badly hit a planned relaunch of the group's Sunday Sun on August 11.
Tories' council opposes culture AROUND 300 people demonstrated in North Finchley, London, on Saturday against the threat from Barnet's Tory council to halt construction of the Community Arts Centre.
RAIL WORKERS on First North Western trains (FNW) have won a victory. They called off a series of strikes planned for this week after the 1,000 workers won a pay rise of 3.5 percent. RMT members also won a 35-hour week by September 2003 as part of a three-year deal. These issues have been the subject of negotiations since 1999. The threat of strikes made the difference.
ABOUT 300 workers employed by the private contractor Sodexho at Glasgow Royal Infirmary struck for three days this week over pay. This follows a two-day strike last week. Strikers picketed the hospital enthusiastically and showed they are solidly behind the strike. One of the pickets told Socialist Worker, "We're sick of low pay and being pushed around by this management. Those on strike are porters, domestics, and catering and security staff. We are an important part of the NHS and we deserve to get a decent rate of pay."
"WE'RE FIGHTING to save our jobs, save our pensions and to not be privatised." That is how Nicky, a striker and Unison union member at Tory-controlled Westminster council, central London, summed up the battle to stop the wholesale privatisation of services. Nicky, along with 76 other members of the parking department at the council, has been out on strike for three weeks.
THE GMB union is recommending that members at key airports accept an improved pay offer. Airport baggage handlers and check-in staff employed by Aviance have already rejected two pay offers.
THE FIRE Brigades Union has called three further major demonstrations and rallies as its 55,000 members move to ballot for strike action over pay. There will be demonstrations in Swansea on Saturday 17 August, in Belfast on 24 August, and a rally in London on 2 September. A final meeting with the employers, who spurned calls for an increase in firefighters' pay to £30,000 a year, will take place at the beginning of September.
PROTESTERS will gather outside the South African embassy on Thursday next week in solidarity with 87 anti-privatisation activists from the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee. The 87, including renowned militant Trevor Ngwane, will be hauled before a court in Johannesburg on that day.
PRESSURE FROM below has pushed the leaders of the Communication Workers Union to call a strike ballot over the privatisation of Romec, the Post Office's cleaning and buildings maintenance section. In just over two weeks time, on 27 August, all 180,000 postal workers will begin a strike vote.
UNION LEADERS called off the strikes of over one million public sector workers on Monday of this week after they struck a deal with council bosses. The leaders of Unison, the TGWU and the GMB called off all strike action for six weeks after bosses were forced to slightly improve their previous offer of a 3 percent pay rise. This is despite the fact that they had previously refused to offer anything to council workers and said anything more than 3 percent was "pie in the sky". But the offer falls far short of what council workers deserve and what could have been won.
WORKERS ACROSS Uruguay halted the Latin American country in a general strike on Thursday of last week in protest at the economic meltdown. There is a run on the country's currency, and the much vaunted financial sector is crippled.
THE FAR right in Turkey held a demonstration last weekend against the government's proposals to lift the death penalty and ease restrictions on Kurdish speakers. It is a sign of the deepening crisis inside the country. The prime minister, Bulent Ecevit, is putting the changes forward as part of Turkey's bid to join the European Union (EU).
REPORTS OF war crimes began circulating within days of Israeli tanks rolling into the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin in April this year. There were dozens of eyewitness accounts of people buried alive as their homes were bulldozed, and of women and children shot dead in the streets. The friends and families of the victims had to wait for four months until the UN produced a report on events in Jenin. The report has serious weaknesses.
UP UNTIL now the events of 11 September 2001 have produced little in the world of popular music other than jingoistic flag-waving by certain second and third rate US musicians.
THE BATTLE of Lewisham, which took place 25 years ago this month, was a decisive turning point in the fight against the Nazis in Britain. On 13 August 1977 over 10,000 people-black and white, old and young, women and men-joined together to physically confront the Nazis and stop them from marching. The battle showed how the Nazis could be driven off the streets and it marked the beginning of a mass campaign to smash the Nazis.
THE REACTION of the press and mainstream politicians to the magnificent anti-Nazi demonstration, however, was a disgrace. They did not condemn the Nazis or heavy policing, but blamed all the violence on the anti-fascists. Labour Party leaders made disgusting statements.
EVERY DAY 25,000 people die directly from starvation. Many thousands more die from diseases because their bodies are weakened by malnutrition. The multinationals and bankers wreck the economies of countries in Africa and Asia where those people starve. But there are firms which are also directly responsible for who lives and who dies, who eats and who wastes away.
JUST HOW far will Tony Blair go in his pursuit of media tycoon Rupert Murdoch? Blair is set to rip up the findings of a parliamentary committee that discussed his government's draft Communications Bill. The committee advised New Labour to scrap its plans to loosen controls on British TV that would allow Rupert Murdoch's Fox TV to gobble up Channel 5.
THE NEWS of famine across much of southern Africa has underlined the suffering of that continent-a suffering which is the result of slavery, colonialism and capitalism. But there is another side of African experience-the fightback against capitalism and imperialism.
A NEW radio play this week marks the thirtieth anniversary of the trial of the Angry Brigade. The Angry Brigade were a group of young British men and women who launched a campaign of bombing against the government in the late 1960s and early 1970s. They were inspired by the huge waves of international protests against war in Vietnam, repression in Ireland and attacks on workers' rights in Britain.
WHY IS George Bush so hell bent on a war on Iraq? The US devastated Iraq in a war 11 years ago. US-backed economic sanctions have already killed 500,000 Iraqi children, according to Unicef. A US war on Iraq risks destabilising the Middle East and sparking wider wars. It looks mad, but behind Bush's crazy logic stands his desire to have a war to assert US dominance around the globe.
THE RIGHT wing axis of Blair, Berlusconi and Aznar has united to drive privatisation policies through Europe. Now Blair hopes to turn their axis into one that backs the US war. Even Germany's leader Gerhard Schršder has come out against the war on Iraq. These two issues, war and privatisation, are at the centre of the European Social Forum which is being held in Florence, Italy, in November.
COMRADES WHO knew Les will be sad to learn that he died on 30 July. Above all, Les believed in being an activist. He had been a car worker at the Longbridge plant in Birmingham in the 1970s and early 1980s, and after he retired he became one of the mainstays of his local Socialist Workers Party branch in the city.
THE INHUMANITY of New Labour's treatment of asylum seekers seems to have no limits. The principle of the United Nations and European Union conventions on the rights of the child and the rights of families is that, in any case affecting children, it is the interests of the child that must be the guide.
LOOKING FOR a cheap last-minute holiday? Your MP probably isn't. MPs are too busy signing up for "fact-finding" freebies. One group of MPs are off on a £100,000 trip to Florida, to investigate the effects of all those lovely sun-rays on pensioners' skin.