Dated: 01 Jun 2002
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Myth 1: Britain is flooded with refugees
ABOUT HALF the 210 children at Christopher Hatton Primary School do not have English as their mother tongue.
BUS DRIVERS working for First Group in Bristol have won their dispute after management conceded to all their demands. The dispute had arisen after management introduced "mystery shoppers", plainclothes inspectors, onto the buses to entrap drivers. At a mass meeting drivers gave management 48 hours to withdraw the mystery shoppers or they would ballot for a strike.
WORKERS on Arriva Trains Northern were due to strike this week in their ongoing battle over pay. Conductors in the RMT union were to strike on Saturday. Retail staff in the RMT and supervisors in the TSSA union were to strike for 48 hours from Wednesday. Workers are furious that Arriva management is trying to blame them for disruption.
OPPOSITION IS growing among postal workers to the new pay deal. The ballot has started and many workers are outraged at being offered a low pay deal which still has productivity strings attached.
Alarming signals for bosses at BT WORKERS IN one section of BT have beaten off an attempt to hand them over to another firm. The dispute involved some 120 members of the CWU union in BT's RedCare section, which monitors BT alarms installed in business premises.
TRADE UNIONISTS, tenant activists and socialists are joining forces to campaign to defend council housing in Lewisham. The campaign is aimed at fighting off proposals to set up any "arms length" companies.
TGWU LEADER Bill Morris will be one of the speakers at a rally in support of the sacked Friction Dynamics strikers. Workers went on strike on 30 April last year and were dismissed eight weeks later.
"I'M INSULTED. We've got wishy-washy people telling us things we already know." That was the reaction of Jo Arrowsmith, a teacher at Fortismere School in north London, to a farcical rally on Wednesday of last week called by the teachers' NUT union.
THE STRIKING mood sweeping journalists in local newspapers throughout Britain was set to hit the small Lincolnshire town of Spalding on Saturday. Journalists at the Spalding Guardian were to start strikes over low pay, the same issue which has sparked a spate of action in titles elsewhere (see round-up below) Trainees on the Spalding paper with university degrees are on just £9,500 a year.
THE VOTE which could oust Blair's favourite union leader, Sir Ken Jackson, from the head of the AEEU section of the Amicus union will start on 24 June. Jackson faces a serious challenge from left candidate Derek Simpson who gained over 100 nominations. These include factories like Ford, Vauxhall, Nissan and Rover.
FIREFIGHTERS ARE set to hold a national demonstration in London on Tuesday 11 June as part of their fight over pay. Council workers will then strike across London over pay on the two days following the firefighters' march.
THOUSANDS OF civilians are fleeing their homes in Kashmir. The death toll is mounting as shelling by Indian and Pakistani troops escalates. India and Pakistan were teetering on the brink of all-out war at the beginning of this week. Both states have nuclear weapons. Even a war using conventional arms will inflict slaughter in Kashmir and along the India-Pakistan border.
FILTHY RICH parasites-that is who we are supposed to celebrate this weekend. Most people will enjoy a few days off work this weekend. Those at the top of society want us to spend it doffing our caps and showing our gratitude for 50 years of the queen's reign.
THE RIGHT in the PCS civil servants' union have launched one of the most disgusting assaults on union democracy for years. They have carried out a coup and sacked the elected general secretary of the union. In December 2000 socialist candidate Mark Serwotka received 40,740 votes to win the election for PCS general secretary. He beat Blairite candidate Hugh Lanning by 7,000 votes.
MASS protests greeted US president George W Bush as he began his tour of Europe last week. Over 100,000 people demonstrated in the German capital, Berlin, on Tuesday. The following day 50,000 marched.
THE CYNICAL territorial ambitions of the rulers of India and Pakistan lie behind the threat of war between them. Their conflicting claims over Kashmir and its 12 million people have sparked hostilities since the end of British rule in 1947.
DRINKERS WHO are looking forward to cheap beer in their locals during the World Cup will be left feeling bitter thanks to a government con-trick. In his budget speech Gordon Brown said that, to help small brewers, he would halve the duty or tax they pay on beer: "A cut equal to 14 pence off each pint to be implemented for village pubs and small breweries in time for the World Cup."
AMID NEW Labour's long and growing list of crimes and failures, the government's defenders constantly cite one factor in its favour-the allegedly strong state of the economy.
NEW LABOUR claims that being hard on refugees and immigrants "is not racist". The Sun newspaper repeated this argument when it praised the government's tough asylum policy last week. Many of those who disagree with the Sun nevertheless echo some of these arguments.
IN THE past people selling Socialist Worker would sometimes be told, "Get back to Russia." Today it would be more appropriate to turn this taunt on vendors of the Financial Times as Russia's suffering shows the horrors of market capitalism. But it is still important for revolutionaries to understand what happened in Russia. How could the revolutionary hope of 1917 to be turned into dictatorship by 1930?
SATURATION media coverage of the queen's Golden jubilee is under way. Amidst the pageantry the monarchy is presented as a part of the unbroken tradition unifying the nation.
DOES THE rise of the far right mean we all have to shut up and unite behind New Labour? Certainly that is what people like TUC leader John Monks are suggesting. There are cynical figures in New Labour and the unions who see the threat of the far right as a useful tool to shore up declining support for the government and to beat down those who want to break to the left.
There are a number of short stories and novels that shouldn't just be regarded as exceptional fantasy and science fiction, but should be considered amongst the best modern literature we have.
The second series of comedian Linda Smith's radio show A Brief History of Timewasting starts next week. It is a sitcom that takes a wry view of everyday life in London's East End.
STEPHEN BYERS' resignation has struck right at the heart of New Labour. He was one of Blair's closest ministers. As trade secretary and then transport secretary he was at the centre of this government's obsession with privatisation and policies for big business.
Stephen Jay Gould, the scientist who died last week, will be remembered for many things. He was one of the greatest ever popularisers of science, especially in his chosen field of natural history and evolution. Gould was also a lifelong fighter against racism and reactionary ideas of all kinds.
Repeating the old mistakes LAST WEEK'S report by MPs into drug abuse recommended the reclassification of ecstasy and cannabis. This is a step in the right direction, although the 500,000 people who use ecstasy would still be seen as criminals.
AFGHANISTAN IS facing a new invasion. While US and British troops search for Taliban fighters, an army of big businesses are scouring the country for lucrative reconstruction deals. Billions of pounds in transport, power, agriculture and construction projects are up for grabs.