Dated: 27 Jul 2002
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STOCKMARKETS were plunged into turmoil again this week. Disgraced corporation WorldCom became the biggest company failure in US history, filing for bankruptcy with debts of over $40 billion. Transport company Stagecoach has admitted accounting "irregularities" in its US operations. Wall Street, the US stockmarket, experienced its biggest collapse since the crash of 1987.
DAVID BLUNKETT'S white paper on criminal justice, introduced last week, is a full-scale onslaught on our civil liberties. The paper "was written from the point of view of a government that has decided that all those who enter a dock are bound to be guilty, and the law must be loaded to make sure they don't get away with it", said lawyer and novelist John Mortimer.
THE CROWN Prosecution Service (CPS) failed to use evidence against five police officers on trial for the killing of a black man, Christopher Alder. The five officers were charged with manslaughter and failure of duty in a public office after Christopher was unlawfully killed on 1 April 1998.
SCARE STORIES about security weakness in the event of terrorist attacks regularly hit the headlines. But Bush and Blair stood by in silence while Israel launched a ruthless terrorist attack on the Palestinians on Monday of this week.
Bosses let off the hook THE HOME Office is ignoring the victims of corporate crimes like major rail crashes and accidents at work. The government has caved in to pressure from the bosses' CBI organisation and shelved its plans to introduce an offence of corporate killing.
SIR KEN Jackson's humiliation at the hands of little known left winger Derek Simpson has sent shockwaves through the political establishment. Simpson beat Jackson, the present general secretary, in the Amicus-AEEU union election.
WEDNESDAY IS market day in the commuter town of St Albans. Last Wednesday things got off to a very different start. At 6.30am council workers were not setting up the market stalls-they were on strike.
LOCAL COUNCIL chiefs placed huge adverts in national newspapers last Wednesday rubbishing the council workers' strike set for that day. Before most people got the papers council workers had already answered their employers' propaganda.
IT WAS a festival of revolt against low pay. The strike was held in the build-up to the Commonwealth Games. There was enormous bitterness that the council "are spending more on the Commonwealth Games than they are on people", as Bernard, a TGWU union member, said.
Newham I'm a road sweeper employed by an agency, and working at Newham council in east London. There are 120 of us, most on £4.80 an hour. We were told we had to go into work at the central depot at 10am. We normally start work at 7.30am.
THE LEFT of the Labour Party had a spring in its step on Saturday. Around 300 Labour Party members and trade unionists came together for a conference called "After New Labour". It was organised by the left wing Socialist Campaign Group of MPs.
WESTMINSTER council workers began an all-out strike on Monday against a major privatisation plan by their Tory council. The strike in the London council began with 77 workers in the Parking and Highways Licensing Departments striking and staging lively pickets. At least three people joined the Unison union on the picket lines in order to take part in the strike.
TRADE UNIONISTS on Merseyside held a benefit night for the sacked Friction Dynamics workers last week. It raised over £5,000. The workers, members of the TGWU union, were sacked by the boss of their factory in Gwynedd, North Wales, over 15 months ago.
OVER 5,000 firefighters and control room staff marched in Glasgow on Monday as part of the Britain-wide campaign over pay. It was a brilliantly colourful and noisy protest with big delegations from London, Yorkshire, Cornwall, Ireland and many other places. Many of those present said that it was "not like a trade union demo-it was more like the sort of thing they do in Europe".
AROUND 200 workers at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary could be on strike next week. The planned action follows a 95 percent vote for action. The porters, domestics, security and catering workers are employed by Sodexho. This company made money from the asylum voucher system. It pays workers at the infirmary as little as £4.10 an hour.
UNIVERSITY STAFF are being consulted over a new pay offer. It is for a basic rise of 3.2 percent plus another 0.3 percent on average for transferring to a new pay scale. Lecturers and academic-related staff in the AUT and Natfhe unions will be consulted on the offer as will administrative staff in Unison.
JOURNALISTS at the Mirror-owned Newcastle Chronicle and Journal planned their first day's strike action for this Thursday in a dispute over pay. Another strike is scheduled for next Thursday. The strike is the latest in a wave of action on regional newspapers across Britain.
ANTI-DEPORTATION campaigners will be holding a vigil at the Home Office in London next Thursday to highlight the case of Aziz Ahmed and his family. Aziz, a political refugee from East Africa, has been held in detention for over a year, in four different centres.
Minister heckled at martyrs' rally "A SOCIALIST flame burned brightly in the heart of Dorset over the weekend." That's how the Dorset Daily Echo described a thousands-strong rally last Saturday in the village of Tolpuddle.
A HUGELY successful strike by London's tube workers last week has shown they have the power to stop New Labour's crazy PPP privatisation scheme. Members of the RMT union struck for 24 hours from 8pm on Wednesday. The same day hundreds of thousands of council workers walked out. The strike hit London Underground management hard.
PREPARATIONS ARE gathering pace for the European Social Forum (ESF) in Florence, Italy, from 7 to 10 November. The ESF is modelled on the World Social Forum that met in Porto Alegre, Brazil, this year and last. It will be a focus for those resisting capitalist globalisation everywhere in Europe.
THE PAY revolt on the railways is growing. Drivers on First North Western Trains are set to strike in their fight for decent pay. Aslef members on First North Western have voted to strike after rejecting a 3.5 percent offer. They plan three 48-hour strikes-on 28 and 29 July, 4 and 5 August, and 11 and 12 August.
AROUND 1,500 airport staff at London's key airports have voted nine to one in favour of strikes this summer. The staff work for Aviance, which deals with many airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, Monarch, Singapore Airlines and Easyjet. Some 80 percent of their work is at Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
OVER 350 tanker drivers who work for P&O Trans European are considering a new pay offer. It was put forward at the last moment to halt a planned three-day strike. The drivers deliver petrol and other fuels under contract for Shell. An extended stoppage would see petrol stations running out of supplies. Pickets were gathering at 13 depots across Britain as news came though that the strike had been called off.
POSTAL WORKERS are on course to begin a national strike ballot over a proposed joint venture with Balfour Beatty. The workers directly affected are in the Romec maintenance and cleaning section. But the plan has implications for all 180,000 postal staff. A strike ballot was supposed to begin at the start of this month, but was halted for further talks.
TEXTILE WORKERS in the Scottish Borders town of Innerleithen are fighting to beat a pay freeze. The workers have already staged a one-day strike, and plan further action. Workers' anger at being refused a pay rise was boosted when they discovered their boss at the Ballantyne Cashmere plant was grabbing an £87,000 bonus.
JOHN TYNDALL, the Nazi British National Party ex-FŸhrer, wants to come to Burnley to spread his lies. He has been invited by the local BNP, which conned its way into securing three seats on the local council in the May elections. The BNP Nazis in Burnley pretend that they aren't racist.
OVER 150,000 anti-capitalists rallied in Genoa in Italy last Saturday, marking a year since the protests against the G8 summit when Carlo Giuliani was killed by the police
Council workers in South Africa have won big concessions over pay after a national strike lasting almost three weeks. The Samwu municipal workers' union won a £14 a month increase in the minimum wage and a 9 percent increase for most of its members. The employers' body had earlier refused to budge from 8 percent.
AROUND 150,000 people marched through the Italian city of Genoa last weekend to mark the first anniversary of the anti-capitalist protests against world leaders at the G8 summit. In a moving show of defiance and solidarity, protesters commemorated the police killing of protester Carlo Giuliani last year. "Carlo is alive and fighting through us," was one of the march's slogans. Students occupied the Diaz school, where police viciously attacked sleeping protesters last year, for three days before the protest.
A GREAT crash shook the British labour movement last week-one that sounded almost like the fall of the Berlin Wall back in November 1989. Derek Simpson's election as general secretary of the engineering and electrical section of the giant Amicus union is more than the latest in a series of left wing union victories.
ON 16 November 1999 Jermaine Lee, a black Birmingham postal worker, took his own life. He was 26 years old. Last week the legal investigation into the case came to its conclusion. It revealed a terrifying level of racist harassment at the Aston sorting office where Jermaine worked. There is a powerful myth that racism is generated by the "uneducated" and "ignorant" people at the bottom of society. The people higher up are allegedly more "liberal".
IN AMERICA we say, "Don't let friends drive drunk." There is a drunk at the wheel of American foreign policy. Friends of America must stand up and stop the madness, and take away the key driving the American machine towards war.
THE FIRST bombing from the air took place in 1911. Almost inevitably, given the history of European imperialism, it was a bloody massacre to put down colonial revolt. The Italian lieutenant Giulio Cavotti dropped four bombs on Arabs near Tripoli in north Africa who had fought back against Italian troops.
AMEN, the new film from radical director Costas-Gavras, provoked a furious reaction in France even before it was screened.
ACTIVIST film-makers including Indymedia Argentina and the makers of This is What Democracy Looks Like and Genova Libera! have teamed up to make a new video, Argentina in Revolt. It uses footage of protests, and interviews of working and unemployed activists to show the turmoil that exploded in Argentina in December last year. Over a million people took to the streets when the economy collapsed under $150 billion of debt to the International Monetary Fund.
MS DYNAMITE released her debut album A Little Deeper six weeks ago. This came after the single "It Takes More", which featured some of the best lyrics I'd heard from a chart hit in a long time. The artist behind this is 20 year old Naomi Daley from north London. She recently said her music is "a way for my message to be heard for and by everybody". And what a message.
"A DEFINING moment in the history of the labour movement." That is how the bosses' Financial Times described the shock defeat of Tony Blair's closest trade union ally, Sir Ken Jackson of Amicus. Jackson was finally forced to concede victory to his left wing opponent Derek Simpson last week.
THE STRIKE meant more than a justified fight over low pay. In Northern Ireland, for example, Catholic and Protestant workers picketed together, united for a common cause. In Burnley, Oldham and other areas where Nazis and racists have been seeking to divide people, black, white and Asian workers struck together.
SAVAGE RACIST attacks on three black men within 48 hours could easily have been murders. That has been the toll recently in Eltham, south east London, where Stephen Lawrence was murdered nine years ago.
THE FRENCH Socialist Party is the equivalent of the Labour Party in Britain. One of its councillors has found a novel way of increasing his expenses. Claude Barral sits on the board of the Gard tourist department in the south of France. He is also a member of the Interdepartmental Coastal Anti-Mosquito Alliance (EID).