Dated: 08 Jun 2002
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"On TV the old generals talk of first strike and second strike capability as though they're discussing a family board game. My friends and I discuss Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the dead bodies choking the river, the living stripped of their skin."
PRIVATE NURSING home owners had the nerve to complain last week that they are being driven out of business. The Registered Nursing Homes Association said that owners were forced to close homes because of government regulations and lack of funding. But many of them have hiked up fees for residents.
ONE IN five callers to the government's NHS Direct phone line have to wait longer than half an hour to speak to a qualified nurse. The government wants to massively expand NHS Direct, including taking non-emergency calls off underfunded ambulance services and all out of hours calls to GPs.
Cut-offs at centre SOME 18,000 jobs have been slashed in call centres across Britain over the last year, according to a new survey. The consultants Mitial say that 200 call centres have shut over the last year due to a programme of rationalisation and mergers. They say the number of jobs in call centres is set to halve over the next five years.
OVER 1.2 billion people in India and Pakistan are living under the shadow of all-out war between the two nuclear-armed states. An outbreak of full scale fighting would be catastrophic. Yet the threat remains, despite attempts at getting talks between the two regimes.
THE NUMBER of pupils expelled from school is rising for the first time in five years. Education secretary Estelle Morris says she is "relaxed" about it. The same Morris claims to be so concerned to keep children in school that she is pleased to see parents of truanting children sent to prison. The hypocrisy is staggering. Government policies are overwhelmingly responsible for both truancy and permanent exclusions (expulsions).
Roy Greenslade, the former editor of the Mirror newspaper, offered 'the sincerest of apologies' to National Union of Mineworkers leader Arthur Scargill for the lies the paper told during a six-month campaign in 1990. It falsely accused him of corruption during the Great Miners' Strike of 1984-85
THE RIGHT wing coup in the PCS civil servants' union has been greeted with a storm of protest from the union's members. Two weeks ago the right wing majority on the union's national executive launched the coup when they tried to remove socialist Mark Serwotka as PCS general secretary.
CALLOUS BOSSES at Manchester airport sacked at least 16 security workers over the holiday weekend. Manchester airport management tried to impose new contracts, slashing pay and conditions, on 570 security staff earlier this year. Security workers had official strikes against these cuts.
Sinking Trident submarine plans LAST WEEK the Ministry of Defence scrapped plans to build a weapons-loading jetty in the middle of the River Tamar, despite having spent £15 million preparing the river bed. This is because of the growing campaign against the Trident base being put in the middle of Plymouth.
THE ELECTION for the leadership of Britain's second biggest union will start in less than three weeks. There is a fierce battle for the leadership of the AEEU section of the million-strong Amicus union. It was created this year after the AEEU merged with the MSF union.
SOLIDARITY. The dictionary definition is, "Agreement in aims or interest. Total unity." If ever there was total unity it was on the picket line of the first day of strike action outside the offices of the Spalding Guardian and Lincolnshire Free Press last Saturday.
SACKED WORKERS at the Friction Dynamics firm in North Wales are calling on all trade unionists to support their demonstration planned for this Saturday, 8 June. The workers were sacked during an official strike over a year ago.
HEALTH WORKERS in Manchester plan a demonstration this Saturday, 8 June, in protest at cuts. A mass meeting of over 500 people pushed management into postponing their plan to axe 26 staff from mental health services.
UNIONS AT the BBC are currently voting on a two-year pay offer. BBC bosses are offering just 0.5 percent above the rate of inflation next year. And the deal depends on an agreement over the allowance paid in compensation for short term rota changes.
THE conference of the Natfhe lecturers' union took place over the bank holiday, just a few days after a two-day strike by over 30,000 further education college lecturers. The campaign over the insulting 1.5 percent pay offer to further education lecturers dominated the conference.
LOW PAID rail workers on Arriva Trains Northern have stuck two fingers up to management. Union reps told Socialist Worker that last week's 48-hour strike by 360 retail and station staff over pay was solid, and strengthened by new recruits to the union. "That's in the face of management intimidation and claims that we are not getting anywhere," said one worker.
IS THE mood changing? There is a growing feeling for action among public sector workers. This feeling is sharpest over pay and in London, thanks to the crazy costs of living in the capital. In every area the feeling is growing for united action linking different fights and issues.
OVER 100 elected reps from branches of the Unison union in the south west of England met in Gloucester last week at the union's regional council. They voted overwhelmingly to support the European Social Forum. Representatives at the the regional council also agreed to send a delegation to Florence in Italy from 7 to 10 November.
THE FROZEN bodies of 19 asylum seekers were found last week buried under snowdrifts in the remote mountains of south east Turkey. The unidentified refugees included nine children found next to their mothers. All died for the hope of a better life in another country. There will be more tragic deaths if New Labour's home secretary David Blunkett gets his way.
THE FALL of Stephen Byers was quite revealing about the nature of politics in Britain today. In the first place, the Labour MPs who rallied round Byers because he effectively nationalised Railtrack bear witness to the capacity for wishful thinking of government backbenchers.
MARTIN AMIS is a novelist. He's also someone who the broadsheets turn to for his views on the state of the world, the meaning of art, and the purpose of life. Last weekend the Guardian kicked off its new weekly books supplement with an article by Amis on the state of the world, the meaning of art, and the purpose of life.
THE RICH and powerful always want to put us off the idea of revolution. They have consciously promoted the argument that in Russia the revolution led to terror and dictatorship, that Lenin led to Stalin. This idea has been encouraged for decades and by a wide range of people. Writers who supported the old Stalinist rulers of Russia continually promoted the argument that Lenin led to Stalin.
MANY PEOPLE have heard about the great revolution in France in 1789. But they think nothing much happened in Britain at that time. This is not true. The events inspired political and economic revolution in Britain and led to the birth of a new class. Eighteenth century Britain was shaped by the revolution that took place in England much earlier, in the 1640s.
"OURS IS a world of pain. I don't know how my co-workers survive on their wages or what they make of our hellish conditions. I do know about their back pains, cramps and arthritic attacks."
"LIBRARIES GAVE us power." The first line in the Manic Street Preachers' song "A Design For Life" expresses how important libraries have been to working class people over the decades. But a new report by the Audit Commission has revealed the desperate state of Britain's library services.
ARE THE interests of ordinary people at the heart of big business and government schemes? Are advances in science always good? Those are the key questions at the heart of the new BBC conspiracy thriller Fields of Gold, co-written by Ronan Bennett and Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.
NUCLEAR NIGHTMARE hung over the world throughout the years of the Cold War. It now threatens to become a reality of almost unimaginable horror. Those who target the missiles and run the Indian and Pakistani governments are horrifying. But all the major Western powers share the responsibility.
THE 500,000-strong demonstration against a Europe of capital and war in Barcelona in March was a milestone in the anti-capitalist movement that has swept the world since Seattle in 1999. It showed that the movement had not declined after 11 September, but was stronger than ever.
AS THE World Cup unfolds in South Korea and Japan a very different drama is taking place near the main stadium in Seoul, the South Korean capital. The Korean government wants to deport thousands of "illegal" migrant workers to "clean up" the city while the world's media are there. It won't touch the businessmen and employers who control what the workers call "a latter day slave trade".