Socialist Worker

Socialist Worker


Issue: 1804

Dated: 15 Jun 2002



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Scapegoat Britain

APARTHEID FOR children-that is what David Blunkett pushed through the school system this week. The government wants refugee children educated separately from the rest. They will be treated as second class and labelled as "problems", and then blamed for the crisis in schools.


International Comment Features Reviews What We Think Other

News

BNP sparks race attacks

RACISTS HAVE been going on the rampage in a series of shocking attacks in Burnley and Oldham in north west England. These attacks are the direct result of the Nazi British National Party encouraging racist hatred in the area.

In brief

A price on your life THE government's National Institute for Clinical Excellence is denying life saving treatment to cancer patients, say top consultants. The government advisory body limited doctors' ability to prescribe some colon cancer drugs two months ago because they were not "cost effective".

Nurse in Britain faces deportation

A NURSE recruited to help NHS staff shortages is the latest victim of the government's crackdown on immigration. Edina Mukwaira spent three years at Middlesex University studying to become a nurse. She was due to start a job at the beginning of this week at the Royal Free Hospital in north London.

Jarvis gives crash course in training

THE COMPANY Jarvis, which was responsible for track maintenance in the area of the Potters Bar rail crash, had a sharp increase in profits just before the crash. The firm raked in £45.8 million for the last financial year.

Blow to sell off

THE GOVERNMENT is in a panic over its plans to flog off council housing. New Labour made a public commitment to get all homes up to "decent homes" standard by 2010. It wanted to push the responsibility for improving homes onto the private sector by privatising council homes.

'We're standing up for refugees'

"SOME people coming to Britain are denounced as economic migrants, yet economic migrants from all over the world are encouraged to be doctors and nurses to fill the gaps." So says former Labour MP TONY BENN.

Down to earth with a bump

WHILE THE British media was obsessed with the jubilee and the World Cup, global stockmarkets started sliding again last week. They did so after two major companies suddenly ran into trouble. The treasurer of El Paso, an American gas firm, recently committed suicide. The circumstances were remarkably similar to those of the suicide of the finance director of Enron last year.

"We should be making a noise for our issues"

A KEY New Labour policy was roundly attacked at the conference of the MSF section of the Amicus union that began in Blackpool last weekend. Amicus is Britain's second biggest union. It was created this year after the merger of the MSF and AEEU unions.

Still standing solid

THE FRICTION Dynamics workers and their supporters marched through the North Wales town of Caernarfon last Saturday. The 87 workers, members of the TGWU union, were sacked over a year ago during an official strike. Friction Dynamics' owner, boss Craig Smith, used New Labour's anti-union laws to sack the workers.

Campaign for change

DEREK SIMPSON, the left challenger to Sir Ken Jackson in the election for AEEU union leader, spoke to over 70 delegates at a fringe meeting before the start of MSF conference. "Whoever wins the election will be the general secretary of the whole Amicus union," he said.

Rage against uncivil coup

THE BATTLE for democracy in the PCS civil servants' union is continuing. The right wing dominated national executive launched a coup three weeks ago to remove the elected general secretary, socialist Mark Serwotka. They wanted to replace him with discredited general secretary Barry Reamsbottom.

Socialist Alliance

LANGWORTHY Socialist Alliance and local residents took direct action to the doorstep of Salford's New Labour council on Thursday of last week. With a tipper truck covered in Socialist Alliance posters and John Lennon's "Power to the People" blasting through a PA, local activists dumped over half a ton of rubbish on the steps of the town hall in front of workers, shoppers and a BBC TV crew.

Stop the War Coalition

EVERYONE WHO wants to organise against the war drive is invited to attend a Stop the War Coalition activists conference. Speakers include writer and broadcaster Tariq Ali and Jeremy Corbyn MP. There will be workshops on Iraq, Palestine, South Asia, Afghanistan, producing publicity and using the media, building local groups, fundraising and much more.

Leisure workers

IN A disgraceful attempt at union busting, Glasgow's Labour council has hired scab labour to break an official strike. Last weekend council officials hired the private firm Scotia Security. Along with senior managers, they were used to break the strike by 140 low paid Unison staff who work for the city's leisure and recreation service. The strikers asked council workers in other unions to respect their picket lines on Saturday and Sunday.

In brief

Good lessons in taking action SOUTH BANK University lecturers in London were set to strike as Socialist Worker went to press. They will be out for three days this week, from 11 to 13 June. Lecturers will also be withholding marks as part of their action against 128 proposed redundancies.

London Underground

NINE THOUSAND London Underground workers are to vote on industrial action. The RMT union ordered a strike ballot over safety and privatisation as the Labour government's moves to sell off London Underground suddenly moved forward last week. Despite earlier talk of the process being tangled up in legal manoeuvres till next year, maintenance workers now face privatisation at the end of this month. RMT members are to be balloted from 14 June. Voting will end on 24 June.

Arriva

BULLY BOSSES at Arriva Trains Northern have been rocked by the thirteenth strike this year. Arriva's lowest paid workers walked out again last Friday for 24 hours. Some workers are paid just £9,500.

Postal bosses deliver 17,000 more job cuts

POST OFFICE bosses plan to announce another 17,000 job cuts this week. This is on top of huge job cuts earlier in the year. The cull is based on huge changes to deliveries. These include the "Starburst" plan, which involves groups of three to five workers sent into towns with a van full of mail and then "blitzing" areas. Other changes mean extending rounds from two and a half hours to four hours without a break.

BNP threat

THE NEED to build a united mass campaign to counter the rise of the far right was the central theme of the Scottish Anti Nazi League (ANL) conference held on Saturday. A total of 130 anti-racists took part.

Refugees

KURDISH ASYLUM seekers are on hunger strike outside the Plymouth headquarters of the National Immigration Office. The protest started on Thursday 6 June following repeated attempts to obtain a hearing and acknowledgement of asylum rights.

Searchlight

TRADE UNIONISTS from across the country met in London last Saturday to discuss the threat posed by the Nazi BNP. Speakers stressed the crucial role trade unions play in combating the far right. However, delegates expressed their anger at how New Labour has fanned the flames of fascism through its racist policies towards asylum seekers.

Health workers

SOME 200 service users and staff marched in Manchester on Saturday in protest at over £2 million of cuts in Manchester's mental health budget.

Journalists

BEING TOLD they had to work Sundays was the last straw for journalists at OK! magazine. Last week they decided to form a union chapel. Over half the workforce at OK! joined the National Union of Journalists (NUJ).

Against racist attacks

SATURDAY SAW dozens of people meet to collect signatures for an open letter against racist attacks on Llanelli mosque (full story on page 2). Mohammed Ashraf collapsed and died within minutes of the attack. The petitioners included Quakers, the Welsh Socialist Alliance and the Anti Nazi League, among others.

Anti-deportation

THE DUMAN family are continuing their campaign against deportation with a national petition. Mr and Mrs Duman and their children-Mazlum, Nazim, Ali and Inan-are a Kurdish family who came to Britain in 1999.

Mood for pay fight

UP TO 15,000 firefighters marched through London on Tuesday. On Wednesday and Thursday 50,000 council workers across the capital were to strike. And on Monday almost one million council workers across Britain started voting on strikes. All these fights focus on one issue-the miserable level of pay many public sector workers get.


International

200,000 give taste of what is to come

UP TO 200,000 people demonstrated in the Spanish city of Seville last Sunday against government attacks on unemployment benefits and workers' rights. The protest was the biggest seen since 1979 in the Andalucia region in the south of Spain.

German strikers' warning

MAJOR STRIKES over pay could hit Germany after postal and telecoms workers staged "warning" stoppages on Monday. Unions are demanding a 6.5 percent rise for 250,000 workers. Inflation is just over 1 percent.

French election verdict: none of the main parties have cause to celebrate

FRANCE'S TORIES look set to win a large majority in parliament after the second round of voting in the country's elections takes place this Sunday. In the first round of voting last Sunday the Tories led by the UPM coalition of France's president Jacques Chirac had around 44 percent of votes. Chirac managed to unite almost all of France's traditionally fractious Tory parties behind him.


Comment

They stifled the scream

IF YOU were told that either Primal Scream or Mary J Blige would bring out a record condemning the US's bombing of Afghanistan, who would you put your money on? Before you decide, let's look at the odds.


Features

Are revolutions always violent?

FOR MOST people the idea of revolution is closely associated with violence. This message is hammered home in school textbooks, and historical novels and documentaries. There you will find gruesome descriptions of the "reign of terror" of 1793 during the French Revolution.

Rebellion in the heart of empire

MAINSTREAM historians argue that the British working class has always accepted capitalism, and prefers family life to fighting back. This is one of the themes running through Simon Schama's History of Britain, currently being shown on TV. The Great Unrest gives the lie to these claims.

They really would press the button - unless we stop them first

THE THREAT of war between India and Pakistan has brought the horror of nuclear destruction back to the world. Leaders from both countries have spoken openly about the obscenity of "first strikes" or "second strikes", and their willingness to use nuclear warheads. A nuclear exchange between the two countries, with a combined population of 1.2 billion people, could kill ten million people in minutes. They are not the only states willing to use nuclear weapons.


Reviews

Healing relations in stormy Deep South

THE MEDIA claimed racism was over in Hollywood when Halle Berry won the Oscar for best actress for her role in Monster's Ball. But, just as in the film, the story isn't that simple. Monster's Ball is set in America's Deep South. It is presented as a film about racism. It sets out to portray racism, violence and also how the spiral of violence can be broken.

Behind the conflict

INDIA AND Pakistan teeter on the brink of all-out nuclear warfare. New Nukes by Praful Bidwai and Achin Vanaik charts the way Western governments poured arms and nuclear technology into the region. The book also explains how the governments of India and Pakistan squandered resources on warfare to the detriment of the mass of people. Kashmir is the flashpoint for this crisis.

It's no nonsense

WHEN I saw The No-Nonsense Guide to Class, Caste and Hierarchies I was excited about reading a book on class in the 21st century. However, this book disappoints.


What We Think

Is Europe turning towards the right?

IS THE tide of history flowing to the right? The claim is put forward by politicians like Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, and echoed by a growing number of commentators. Four years ago Labour-type parties were in government in 13 of the 15 European Union (EU) countries.


Other Categories

Terror under Israeli troops

HERE IN Palestine the only things that are moving freely are tanks. Even ambulances can be held up at Israeli army checkpoints for hours while the patients they carry suffer in the sun. I am writing this in Nablus, a city which has been under curfew for four days now.

Sweet dreams only for some

WHAT'S THE secret to a peaceful night's sleep? The answer, apparently, is be a socialist. A new study by the medical journal Dreaming has found that people with right wing views and who vote for right wing politicians have more nightmares than those on the left.



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