Dated: 18 May 2002
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SEVEN MORE victims of rail privatisation. They died last week at Potters Bar, just five miles from Hatfield where another crash killed four people 18 months ago. A rail worker warned his managers of loose bolts and unstable track at Potters Bar just three weeks ago.
THE MAIN party in Israel's ruling coalition has ruled out the creation of any state for the Palestinians, no matter how weak. The Likud party contains people even more ruthless and bloodthirsty than its leader, Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. So much for "Israel's men of peace".
PENSIONERS ARE angry about poverty and insecurity-and millions more people will face the same problems in the near future. Around 2,500 pensioners met in Blackpool this week for the annual parliament organised by the National Pensioners Convention. Delegates were furious with a government that has let the basic state pension decline relative to earnings.
THOUSANDS OF council workers marched through central London on Tuesday demanding decent pay. The march was part of a one-day strike by over 50,000 council workers across the capital. Picket lines had been organised in many areas.
RAIL PRIVATISATION has led to a catastrophic collapse in safety standards. Nowhere is this clearer than in the maintenance of the infrastructure-track, signalling, tunnels, bridges, and so on. There were wholesale sackings of experienced rail workers in the run-up to privatisation in 1996.
EUROPE MINISTER Peter Hain is the latest politician to claim that the way to fight the racists is to accept some of their central arguments. Hain built his reputation as an opponent of apartheid. But in interviews on TV and in the Guardian at the beginning of the week he pandered to racist ideas. He claimed, "It's really, really important that we have an honest debate about immigration and asylum." But he then went on to repeat one of the biggest lies of the lot-that some countries are a "soft touch".
JOURNALISTS AT the Independent and Independent on Sunday start voting this week in a ballot which could see the first strike action on a national newspaper for well over a decade. The journalists' NUJ union has only recently won back union recognition on the papers. It is encouraging members to vote for both a strike and action short of a strike.
THE multinational Ford has again been exposed for institutional racism after a second Asian worker won an industrial tribunal. Shinder Singh Nagra spoke out in support of fellow Ford worker Sukhjit Parma, whose experience of repeated racist harassment became front- page news in 1999. Sukhjit was subjected to a four-year campaign of abuse by his foreman and group leader in the Engine Plant at Ford Dagenham.
Alarm raised by BT workers SOME 200 BT workers were to begin voting in a ballot this week on possible industrial action. The workers are members of the Communication Workers Union. They are employed in BT's RedCare security division.
THE NATIONAL Union of Teachers has called a London-wide rally to pursue its claim for higher London allowance payments. The rally follows a successful one-day strike in March, and takes place as council workers in London take action over allowance payments.
MARGARET HODGE, minister for lifelong learning and higher education, succeeded in alienating every single delegate at the university lecturers' AUT union conference last week. She enraged people by insisting on calling students "customers".
TWO demonstrations to highlight opposition to New Labour's attacks on refugees are planned next month. The protests came out of the 350-strong conference in Manchester in March that gathered together campaigners for refugees from across Britain.
THE NATIONAL council of the Socialist Alliance, with delegates from groups across England, met last Saturday in London. The meeting took place a week after the local council elections, where the Socialist Alliance achieved some very good results. Liz Davies, national chair of the alliance, said, "The results show that we are here and here to stay, and serious about campaigning on a grassroots level. We still have a long way to go, but the results put the Socialist Alliance on the map as a player in British politics."
OVER 1,200 London bus workers marched through the capital last week protesting at pay and the impact of deregulation. The workers, members of the TGWU union, brought traffic to a halt as they marched towards parliament.
WORKERS in one of Britain's biggest unions, the TGWU, are set to vote for a deputy general secretary. The vote is between Peter Booth, a manufacturing industry official, and Tony Woodley, the union's main car industry negotiator.
NEWSPAPERS headlines last week trumpeted "an inflation-busting 6.5 percent pay rise" for over 300,000 health workers. The reality is very different. The pay deal covers NHS ancillary, administration and clerical and ambulance staff-some of the lowest paid workers in the health service. The deal was for a minimum increase of 3.6 percent or £400 a year, whichever was greater.
THE PCS civil servants' union conference began as Socialist Worker went to press. The union has been moving to the left since the election of socialist Mark Serwotka as general secretary in December 2000. This trend is now becoming even clearer.
IF YOU are against globalisation and war, and for freedom and justice, you should be planning to come to the European Social Forum (ESF). The forum will be held in Florence from 7 to 10 November. The ESF looks set to be one of the biggest and most exciting anti-capitalist events of the year. It is going to be a huge assembly for everyone who is against neo-liberalism and war.
BLACK, WHITE and Asian people took to the streets against the Nazis in Burnley town centre last Saturday. Up to 1,500 people joined the protest called by the Anti Nazi League. Burnley residents, young and old, joined with trade union members and anti-racists from across Britain.
"IT WASN'T a surprise to anyone, certainly not to the people of Jenin, that the United Nations fact-finding mission did not come to investigate. People had been told not to move anything until the team came, just in case valuable evidence disappeared into the trucks that carried away the rubble that was once their homes.
WHAT LIES behind the support for the far right?
THE GREATER the chaos in Afghanistan, the more assorted US and British generals seem compelled to proclaim a victory. "The war is all but won," announced Brigadier Roger Lane last week. He is the commander of British troops in Afghanistan, the biggest combat deployment since the 1991 Gulf War.
IN THE wake of the general strike in Italy on 16 April the Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (Communist Refoundation) organised a May Day rally which I was invited to address.
MILLIONS OF young people are living through the great exam nightmare this week. Around 1.2 million schoolchildren aged seven, 11 and 14 were sitting the SAT exams. Hundreds of thousands more students were sitting GCSE mock exams and GCSEs, and more still have taken AS and A-level exams.
THE spiralling cost of finding somewhere to live in London was a key issue behind Tuesday's strike by council workers in the capital. Local councils are effectively blocked from building new homes by New Labour's determination to continue Tory attacks on council housing. So many workers are desperately trying to buy houses.
THE LEVEL of crime is exaggerated by politicians and the media. But crime and fear of crime are real. Of course, the TV and papers generally ignore the crimes committed by big business. And we rarely hear about the daily routine of crime committed in the City by financiers and businessmen.
THE NEW Rulers of the World is the powerful new book from investigative journalist and documentary film-maker John Pilger. Pilger has always written and spoken out against war, oppression, poverty and racism. He has been one of the most prominent figures in the anti-war movement in Britain.
TWO interesting Latin American fact-based dramas are scheduled for radio this weekend. Tango Sensations is a play based on the kidnapping of Victoria Mendez during Argentina's "Dirty War" in 1976. Mendez was a career diplomat murdered by the regime she loyally served. Years later an Argentinian woman investigates Mendez's murder.
THE WARRIOR is a surprise hit movie. It is a low budget independent film directed by Hackney-born Asif Kapadia, and was filmed in India with an international crew and a few professional actors. It is set in the past somewhere in India.
BLAME THE victims-that's New Labour's response to the rise of the far right and Nazis across Europe. On issue after issue, New Labour ministers are adopting reactionary ideas and turning the screws on the poor and the vulnerable. Education secretary Estelle Morris was crowing with delight when lone parent Patricia Amos was jailed for 60 days.
I AM a sixth form school student, and I took the day off school to attend the May Day protests in London. It paid off, as thousands of anti-capitalists, trade unionists and anti-war campaigners packed into central London to voice their anger at New Labour's disgusting neo-liberal policies at home and abroad.
SOCIALIST Worker has argued in the first two parts of this series that we cannot expect the Labour Party or elections to bring about socialism. Tens of thousands of people in every workplace and those involved in the new movements agree. But many also believe we cannot look to ordinary people to bring about fundamental change.
CONFIDENTIAL MEMOS have revealed that the giant failed-energy firm Enron manipulated the energy crisis in California. California was plunged into darkness and suffered widespread power cuts two years ago. Power prices soared by up to ten times and millions were left without electricity.
Marxism 2002 will be one of the biggest left wing events in Europe this year. At Marxism we will be discussing all the issues thrown up by the political crises of recent months, in over 200 meetings and forums. From what fascism is to imperialism and war, from the relevance of Marxism today to revolution in Latin America, we will be looking at the big debates facing the left.