Dated: 29 Jun 2002
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ANGRY FAMILIES demanded answers as they walked away from two court cases last week. They wanted to know if they would ever get any justice. A jury reached an "open" verdict in the inquest of Harry Stanley, who was shot by Metropolitan Police officers in September 1999.
Harry Stanley HARRY STANLEY was shot through the head by armed Metropolitan Police officers in September 1999, close to his home in Hackney, east London. The police claimed they thought he was armed. He was not. The only thing he was carrying was a coffee table leg in a plastic bag.
£500 bill after NHS treatment A DORSET woman's experience is a stark warning of the dangers of letting the private sector deal with NHS patients. The evidence comes from a shocking report from the official health ombudsman (watchdog) this week. The woman needed surgery on her back.
EDUCATION SECRETARY Estelle Morris declared a frontal assault on comprehensive education this week. Morris said that there were some comprehensives she "wouldn't touch with a bargepole", and slammed "off the shelf comprehensives".
THE NATIONAL conference of the giant public sector union Unison took place in Bournemouth last week, as 800,000 of the union's members in local councils in England and Wales balloted on strikes over pay. If that ballot, and similar ballots in the GMB and TGWU unions, are successful a massive one-day national strike of council workers could take place on Wednesday 17 July.
A POWERFUL Panorama TV documentary last week uncovered the shocking truth about the British establishment's bloody role in Northern Ireland. "A Licence to Kill" showed how the British army and security forces worked hand in glove with the most sectarian and violent Loyalist terrorists. It revealed that the top brass of the British army and Northern Ireland's sectarian police force, the RUC (now renamed the Police Service of Northern Ireland), colluded with Loyalist terror gangs to murder Catholics.
HUNDREDS OF civil servants met last week to defend democracy in their PCS union. Over 300 met in central London on Wednesday of last week, over 120 in Nottingham on Monday of this week and 50 in Bristol. They are protesting against the attempted coup by the discredited general secretary, Barry Reamsbottom, who wants to remove Mark Serwotka, the general secretary elect.
THREE THOUSAND people marched in Scotland's annual lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender demonstration-Pride Scotland-last Saturday in Glasgow. The joyous, celebratory march was made up of people of all ages from all over Scotland. Floats, banners and costumes made this one of the most colourful demonstrations Glasgow has seen for a while.
SUPPORTERS of Derek Simpson, the left challenger for the leadership of the AEEU section of the Amicus union, have campaigned vigorously this week. The ballot for the AEEU leadership started on Monday of this week, and closes on 12 July.
THE FIGHT against privatisation of London Underground reaches a crucial stage next week. Ballot papers are going out to build strike action among the RMT tube workers' union. London Underground is on the point of forcing workers, including maintenance staff from the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines, into the private sector. Blair and London Underground have two aims-massive profits on the one hand and to weaken workers and trade unionists.
WORKERS ON Arriva trains have announced ten more strike days in their ongoing fight for decent pay. RMT members are setting the agenda with selected strike action. The 690 conductors will strike on 28 June, 13 July, 25 August, 21 September, 19 October, 9 November, 14 December, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. Their next strike day is on Friday 28 June. Supporters are invited to their mass picket at Leeds station.
Bringing skies to a standstill AIR TRAFFIC control staff are calling for strike ballots. The government is terrified of strikes disrupting holiday-makers this summer. They are not officially involved in negotiations, but government officials have made it clear that strikes must be avoided at all costs. Air traffic controllers voted by over four to one to reject the latest pay offer.
CRUCIAL DEBATES are going on in the Communication Workers Union about how to respond to the huge attacks postal workers face. At the union's conference last week they discussed what to do about job losses, privatisation and attacks on the union.
A FIREFIGHTERS' rally ended in a militant display of direct action in London last Thursday. Some 1,000 members of the firefighters' FBU union turned out for the rally in support of the national pay claim.
Bury OVER 125 angry people last week packed a Bury council meeting that announced massive cuts in the borough's elderly care homes. The council plans to sell off the homes they close and sell the land. Only some of the money raised from the sales will be used to fund home care. The council cannot guarantee that any money will be made by the sale.
NOT THIS Time: The Story of the Simon Jones Memorial Campaign tells the story of Simon Jones, a student killed on his first day working as a casual labourer. The film will be shown at the Glastonbury festival. A further 20 showings are already organised.
A LIVELY lobby of Newcastle University council was held on Tuesday 18 June. Jobs are under attack at the university. Placards read "You sack-we'll strike!", "Revolt! Resist! No redundancies!" and "Grants not fees-no redundancies".
TONY BLAIR used the European Union summit in Seville last weekend to drive through more attacks on asylum seekers. Before the summit Blair announced that he wanted to "force the pace of change" on asylum to make life even harder for desperate refugees. "Tony Blair gets on better with the centre-right leaders than with his comrades on the left," said the Financial Times.
THE US president George Bush's plan for "reform" in the Middle East announced this week will not bring about peace. He gave his complete backing to Israel and its brutal repression of the Palestinians. Right wing prime minister Ariel Sharon sent his troops and tanks to "indefinitely" reoccupy the main Palestinian areas in the West Bank in the days before Bush made his speech.
THE CITY of Seville in southern Spain was shut down on the eve of the European leaders' summit there last week. A general strike of workers saw militant pickets defy the law and shut down major industrial and transport centres. Most shops, bars and restaurants were also closed down for the day.
PERU The government has been forced to halt its sell-off of the state electricity companies after last week's near-uprisings in the southern Peruvian cities of Arequipa and Tacna. This was the most violent confrontation in Arequipa since a rising against a military dictator in the 1950s.
THE TRADE Justice Movement brought thousands of people to Westminster to lobby their MPs on Wednesday of last week. They demanded a fair deal for the Third World. International development secretary Clare Short was quick to claim that the demonstrators were supporting the rich countries' campaign for free trade:
OUR RULERS must hardly be able to believe their luck. A wholly accidental sequence of events-the death of the Queen Mother, the Jubilee and the World Cup-has produced week on week of patriotic flag waving (reinforced by a decidedly unaccidental intensification of the campaign against asylum seekers).
ONE OF the most popular arguments against socialism is that people are just too selfish for it to work. It is claimed that socialists are unrealistic dreamers for imagining that things will change overnight and people work together for the common good without being made to.
ON 5 JULY 1948 queues formed outside doctors' surgeries and hospitals across Britain. It was the first day of the new National Health Service. Hundreds of thousands of working class people who had never been able to afford proper medical treatment finally had access to basic services.
ARE YOU sick of the media and New Labour politicians poisoning the issue of race with claims of "swamping" and "isolationist" Muslims? Then read "Racism: Myths and Realities" by Hassan Mahamdallie, in the latest International Socialism. Racism is a very real problem today. The recent election successes of far right parties across Europe have worried millions of people. In Britain we have seen the election of three Nazi BNP councillors in Burnley.
SWEDISH BAND The (International) Noise Conspiracy say that "the sounds from the streets of Seattle, Prague, Quebec, Gothenburg and Genoa" are their main musical influences. In June 2001, during the recording of their new album A New Morning, Changing Weather, the band went to Gothenburg in Sweden.
TONY BLAIR has more to worry him than the jibes of the right wing press. According to the Guardian, "Tony Blair is seeking to avert what threatens to be the biggest wave of industrial unrest in the public services since Labour came to power in 1997." Blair is used to entertaining big business fat cats and socialising with media celebrities.
THERE WAS a brilliant atmosphere on the mass lobby of parliament last week called by the Trade Justice Movement. The organisers estimate there were around 10,000 people there. They were protesting at the way multinationals and powerful governments enforce trade rules that benefit themselves and mean misery for the poor.
REMEMBER THE reports two weeks ago that "mystery workers" were spotted in the vicinity of the Potters Bar rail crash just before the accident happened? An appeal for witnesses to come forward to identify five unknown people has uncovered just one lead.