Socialist Worker

Socialist Worker


Issue: 1808

Dated: 13 Jul 2002



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Join the revolt against low pay

UP TO 1.2 million workers plan to strike next Wednesday in what will be the biggest strike action since Tony Blair was first elected in 1997. The strike is by workers in almost 500 local councils across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The workers are fighting against low pay. It is a battle everyone should support.


International Comment Features Reviews What We Think Other

News

Privatised skies behind disaster

A CHAOTIC privatised air traffic control system caused last week's tragic midair collision in southern Germany, not pilot error. Swiss authorities attempted to blame the pilot of the Russian plane which crashed into a cargo plane, killing 71 people-52 of them children. Air traffic control in Switzerland was privatised this year and handed to the Skyguide company.

Outrage at this judge's sentences

SHOCK IS spreading through Bradford and beyond as more and more young Asian men are given long prison sentences after defending themselves against a racist onslaught last year. Some 300 people attended a meeting on Thursday of last week to set up a campaign to defend over 200 men charged with riot.

Rallying our union

HUNDREDS OF civil servants have packed PCS union democracy campaign meetings around the country. They are furious that discredited general secretary Barry Reamsbottom is trying to oust elected general secretary Mark Serwotka. Over 150 people met in Sheffield on Tuesday of last week, and 140 met in Manchester the next day.

Post

LEADERS OF the postal workers' CWU union have halted a national strike ballot. The vote was about the proposed joint venture between the Romec cleaning and engineering section and the private sector.

NHS

FRIDAY 5 July was the 54th anniversary of the NHS. To mark the anniversary Newcastle Unison petitioned against fat cat pay and creeping privatisation. They got a great response, with several hundred signatures collectedRAY SMITH

Refugees

THE DUMAN family's claim for asylum was refused on Thursday 4 July. They are to be deported to Germany on Wednesday morning, 10 July. The Dumans' solicitor is making further representations. The family had left Turkey because, as Kurds, they had suffered years of harassment.

Steel

STEEL WORKERS employed by AvestaPolarit face an attack on their pension fund. The move comes after giant steel company Corus sold its shares in AvestaPolarit to the Finnish firm Outokumpu. The pension scheme dates back to the days of the nationalised British Steel company. It is a final salary pension that is more secure than the stakeholder pensions that are gambled on the stockmarket.

Palestine

OVER 150 people packed the launch of the national petition for Palestine on Tuesday of last week, organised by the Campaign for Palestinian Rights. Jeremy Corbyn, the left wing Labour MP, chaired the event in the Houses of Parliament.

Schools

ADMINISTRATION staff at Oakwood School in South Wales are in dispute over attacks on their jobs. The school is £150,000 in the red. Management are making admin staff reapply for their own jobs, but with reduced rights and benefits.

In brief

Hackney bins the profiteers HACKNEY LABOUR council in east London has carried out a humiliating U-turn over privatisation. It has announced it is taking the bins and street cleaning service back into council control. Serviceteam, the private firm that ran the services for the last 18 months, made up to £9 million "excess profit" from the cash-strapped council. While the privateers cashed in, crucial services have been shut down because the council has "no money".

We're all united against the boss

MEDIA REPORTS from Northern Ireland over the last week have been about the sectarian Orange bigots marching at Drumcree and in Belfast. But a different kind of march took place there last Saturday which didn't receive any media coverage in Britain. It gave a glimpse of the alternative to sectarianism.

Independent: first strike in 13 years

JOURNALISTS AT the Independent and Independent on Sunday are close to winning a deal on pay that could result in immediate rises of up to 17 percent for the lowest paid. Journalists at the London-based papers recently held a "mandatory chapel meeting", a traditional form of strike action in the print and media industry where workers stop work to attend a union meeting.

Arriva

THE TRANSPORT firm Arriva is due to face action by two groups of angry workers this week. Arriva bus workers in Northumberland are set to hold a further one-day strike over pay on Friday of this week. Arriva Trains Northern conductors are then due to strike the next day, Saturday 13 July, in their ongoing dispute over pay. Their action will affect services across the north of England.

Aviance

AIRPORT WORKERS are balloting for strike action that could hit Manchester, Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted and Birmingham airports this summer. The 1,500 workers are employed by the airport services business Aviance which is owned by the transport group Go Ahead. The workers, members of the TGWU and GMB unions, process passengers and dispatch aircraft.

Colleges

THE NATIONAL president of the Scottish lecturers' union, the EIS-CLA, is the latest union activist to be targeted by management at further education colleges in Scotland. Jim O'Donovan has been suspended from his lecturing post at the Glasgow Central College of Commerce.

Firefighters

THE FIRE Brigades Union has called a march and rally in Glasgow in support of its pay campaign. General secretary Andy Gilchrist will address the rally.

Jaguar

OVER 50 workers in the body plant at Jaguar cars in Liverpool walked out unofficially on Friday last week after a workmate was suspended. Management claimed the worker had been absent three times from the production line over the last week. They suspended him for a day.

Galleries

THE THREAT of strike action by 120 members of the PCS union at the National Galleries of Scotland has forced management to make an improved pay offer. The workers had introduced an overtime ban that shut all four Edinburgh galleries on Sundays.

Document shows US plans attack on Iraq

GEORGE BUSH is still planning a massive military invasion of Iraq. A classified document, drawn up by top US military planners, has revealed that the US plans to send 250,000 US soldiers and marines to invade Iraq. When revulsion grew at the prospect of a war on Iraq, we were told that Tony Blair had restrained Bush and there would be no war.


International

A glimpse of a new spirit

IN RECENT months metal workers, postal workers, print workers, construction workers, bank workers, telecoms workers and others have been on strike. It is amazing that these strikes are happening just months before a general election, with an SPD (Labour-type) government in office and the Tories ahead in the polls.

'Israel's war is a war on civilians'

WE ARE going to help the US arm Israel. That was the message from the government this week. New Labour caused outrage by admitting it is bypassing its own arms embargo on Israel by selling military equipment via the US. Vital component parts for US F-16 fighter jets, which are used against the Palestinian people, are made in Britain.


Comment

Bush gets Whammed

DURING THE early 1980s I used to DJ at this jazz funk club in Watford called the New Penny. One night two scrawny young men approached me clasping a seven-inch record, which they claimed they had just finished recording. They begged me to play it. I agreed. They cleared the floor and treated the crowd to a mime and dance routine that had us all in stitches.


Features

Can the police be on our side?

ONE VIEW held by socialists often bewilders many people. That is the contention that the state machine in capitalist society serves the interests of the ruling class and cannot be used for a move to socialism. "But", some people insist, "you will always need the police. However much you dislike them, they do a necessary job. Without them there would be complete chaos."

Workers and young people can be united in resistance

TENS OF thousands of trade unionists and anti-capitalist activists will be meeting at the European Social Forum (ESF) in Florence, Italy, between 7 and 10 November.

Sectarianism: Belfast workers explain why the divisions remain and how they can be fought

Postal worker NIALL MORTON is a postal worker who works in the Mallusk post office in North Belfast. He led a walkout of postal workers in protest at the murder by Loyalists of a young Catholic worker, Danny McColgan, earlier this year.

From the horse's mouth

ONE SINNER come to repentance is worth 99 righteous men, says the Bible. One economist who used to be at the centre of running the supposedly "free" market system can provide criticisms of its functioning even more damning than those who have never trusted it.


Reviews

A settling of accounts

APOLOGISTS for Western capitalism have long sought to discredit the idea of socialism by pointing to the terror of Stalin's regime in Russia. It is now just over ten years since that system collapsed, but the message is the same-any attempt to build an alternative to capitalism is doomed to follow the path of the Soviet Union.

A thriller for the majority

THE NEW film Minority Report is a provocative thriller about the authorities overstepping their boundaries to prosecute people simply for thinking about a crime. It is based on a short story by science fiction writer Philip K Dick and directed by Steven Spielberg.

Poet's revolt

THE POET Shelley has inspired hundreds of books throughout the 180 or so years since he died. But Paul O'Brien's new book, Shelley and Revolutionary Ireland, finds a lot of new and very interesting things to say about Shelley and his fight against oppression. The book is about Shelley's two visits to Ireland in 1812.

Memoirs give a real flavour of Genoa days

THE HUGE protests against the G8 in Genoa last July were a major step forward for the anti-capitalist movement. Jonathan Neale's new book, You Are G8, We Are 6 Billion, captures the joy and the fear that the 300,000 people involved in the protests in Genoa felt.

Exhibition

THIS IS a moving photo of Carlo Giuliani, murdered by Italian police during last year's G8 Genoa protests. It was taken by socialist photographer Jess Hurd. It forms part of the new "Crisis" exhibition.


What We Think

A summer of opportunities

THE SUMMER months are shaping up to be very different from the political "silly season" that's usually inflicted on us. The strike of 1.2 million council workers against low pay called for next week is a major challenge to New Labour.


Other Categories

Letters

I didn't back Ken's plan I was a candidate in the election for the Greater London Assembly just over two years ago. Like many others, I voted for Ken Livingstone for mayor as a vote against New Labour's betrayals.

Blair's set to go nuclear

"BRITISH GOVERNMENT officials are laying secret plans to push a major programme of new nuclear power stations." These shocking revelations are in New Scientist magazine this week just as the cost of clearing up Britain's existing nuclear waste has soared to £48 billion.



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