Socialist Worker

Socialist Worker


Issue: 1937

Dated: 05 Feb 2005



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1.25 Million set to strike over pensions

WE CAN win this fight. If the unions are clear that this is a straight fight to defend pensions, there’s no way we can lose. Having over one million workers striking across the public sector on 23 March is a great start to this fight. New Labour is attacking us all — it’s only natural we fight as one. To win, we need us all out.


International Comment Features Reviews What We Think Other

News

Who says?

"This is how I like it, just like Disneyland. Orderly lines and people leave with a smile on their face."US Lt Col Patrick Malay on the return of residents to Fallujah, through US military checkpoints

Call to defend Walden Bello

The last few years have seen a very large number of diverse groups and organisations coming together in spite of their differences to confront neo-liberal globalisation. However, we are deeply concerned that there are still some groups in the world today that attempt to deal with political differences using physical attacks and death threats. A recent example of this is the situation which has emerged in the Philippines where a number of individual intellectuals, activists (Walden Bello and Lidy Nacpil) and organisations engaged in various forms of struggle against militarism and globalised capitalism have been listed by the international department of the Communist Party of the Philippin

Cheers for Galloway, but jeers for King

THREE HUNDRED people packed out a public meeting in east London last week and turned the heat on New Labour over threatened cuts to the fire service.

Our campaign for unity

RESPECT KICKED off a programme of activities in east London last weekend that will run all the way up to polling day. Over 100 supporters gathered to finish off a leaflet distribution in Tower Hamlets. Next weekend will see similar activity across parts of neighbouring Newham, where Respect is challenging for both seats.

The movement meets in Brazil

Up to 200,000 people marched through the main streets of Porto Alegre, Brazil, to begin the fifth World Social Forum (WSF) on Wednesday of last week.

The new mood: ‘Chavez good, Lula bad’

A meeting featuring the Brazilian president, Lula, brought out the tensions within the left and the trade union movement in Brazil over the record of his government. It took place in the Gigantinho indoor stadium, which can hold 17,000 people. There was a queue half a mile long in the scorching heat of those who wanted to go to it. But tight security by military police meant that many were turned away, and key positions inside were taken up by Workers’ Party activists in red T-shirts before others were allowed in.

Just imagine if every day was like this one

You got a glimpse of an alternative approach to education at Filton High School, an 11 to 18 mixed comprehensive on the outskirts of Bristol, last week. Every day a different year group from years 7 to 11 focused on the question: "Is another world possible?"

‘Don’t send us back to Mugabe’

ABOUT 400 Zimbabweans living in Britain gathered outside the home office in London last Saturday to protest against forced deportation back to president Mugabe’s vicious regime. New Labour’s policy of restarting deportations means political activists are sent back to the jails and torturer chambers of the Zimbabwean state.

In brief

Terrific result in NUT election LEFT CANDIDATE Christine Blower has won the election for deputy general secretary of the largest teachers union in England and Wales, the NUT.

Where now for the SSP?

Colin Fox I STAND for an independent socialist Scotland, a republic, run for public need, not private greed and independent from the multinationals which own so much of the economy and control so much of society.

Superbug thrives when the profit virus is on the loose

HOSPITAL CLEANERS tore into health minister Lord Warner, at a conference organised by their Unison union in London last week.

Indefinite strike to protect air passengers’ safety

Firefighters at Glasgow international airport — all members of the T&G union — began an indefinite, all out strike last Saturday over health and safety.

Miners

AROUND 60 workers staged a protest at Ellington Colliery in Northumberland on Monday demanding the right to work.

Union mergers

"This is a huge move that could lead to a union of two million members. It lays the basis for British unions to be grouped around two centres — public sector workers in Unison, private in T&G-Amicus. It’s being done at great pace. The rumour before the T&G executive meeting was that the timetable is: executive decision now, conference decision in the summer and a ballot in the autumn.

Election challenge to a leadership that failed

LEFT ACTIVISTS in the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) were hoping that Matt Wrack would be the latest candidate to win a major union election against the current leadership this week. The result of the election for assistant general secretary was due this Friday.

Unite against fascism

UNITE AGAINST Fascism (UAF) activists across Yorkshire are gearing up to see off the threat posed by the BNP at the forthcoming general election.

Vote for Jon Rogers and a union that defends us

Ballot papers for the Unison general secretary election went out to the union’s 1.3 million members last week.

The cruel reality of anti-refugee policy

ONE MAN hurled back to civil war and the destruction after the tsunami. Another returned to torture chambers.

Health workers expose scandal of ill treatment

HEALTH WORKERS are protesting at the degrading treatment — including shackling and handcuffing — meted out to asylum seekers at the Wishaw General and Hairmyres hospitals in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

The vast majority of Iraqis want the US to get out

IF IRAQ’S elections had taken place anywhere else, they would have been denounced by the "international community" as hopelessly flawed. If they had happened in Zimbabwe, they would have been cited by the White House as a reason for "regime change" and possible invasion.

All out on 23 March to save our pensions

IMAGINE MORE than one million workers on strike over pensions less than three months before a general election. Wednesday 23 March could be the biggest single strike day in Britain for over 20 years. The anger that people feel about having their old age stolen from them is growing stronger. Workers know that the longer you work, the earlier you die.

How I have organised in my hospital

HEALTH WORKERS in one Sheffield hospital have formed a pensions action group to plan and build a range of activities over the coming weeks and months.

Fighting for ourselves and for our children too

IT’S BRILLIANT that the unions are getting together to fight this attack. We need to have a big impact and this is the way to do it. We have to involve all kinds of people in this campaign. Young workers and those who haven’t started work yet need to realise the government is taking away their futures.

Education should not be left out

IT WOULD be a crying shame if the education unions were not involved in the joint strike action proposed for the end of March. The size and anger of a 250-strong teachers’ meeting on Wednesday of last week convinces me that there is the potential to build strikes in the NUT union. We can reach far into our unions with this campaign.

Building up a head of steam

ANTI-WAR ACTIVITY has stepped up around the country in the build up to the 19 March national demonstration demanding an end to the occupation of Iraq.

State repression in Egypt

EGYPTIAN SECURITY forces arrested three socialist activists on Friday of last week.


International

Will justice be done in the Genoa trials?

The Italian authorities are manoeuvring to stop the truth about their savage attacks on protesters at the Genoa G8 protests from coming out. They hope to use new laws, designed to protect president Berlusconi’s allies from being prosecuted, to prevent senior police officers from going to prison for attacking people demonstrating against the 2001 summit meeting.

Walden Bello faces assassination threat

Out of deference to the more than 160,000 victims of the tsunami tragedy that engulfed South Asia on 26 December 2004, we in Focus on the Global South (Focus) have refrained until now from pointing to an alarming development bearing on the security and well being of our executive director, Walden Bello.

A fresh electoral challenge to Germany’s New Labour

A recent meeting of activists met and decided to officially launch a new left wing political party called Arbeit & Soziale Gerechtigkeit—Die Wahlalternative (The Work & Social Justice Election Alternative).


Comment

You say serious, but I say minor

Last week saw yet more hysteria whipped up by the government against youth crime. The Daily Mirror and the Sun joined the furore with front pages against “Yob UK�. The new hysteria is based on the results of the home office�s Crime and Justice Survey, which declared that a quarter of 14 to 17 year old males are “serious� or “prolific� offenders. The home secretary, Charles Clarke, said it was an “appalling� statistic and that “we have to address this�.


Features

Is alcohol the demon drink?

THE FOLK singers Alex Glasgow and Henry Livings’ song, As Soon as this Pub Closes, the Revolution Starts, accurately summed up the attitude of one section of the left to drink. It was something to be enjoyed over bar-room chats about socialism, but often the enjoyment led to a serious incapacity to do anything practical as a result of the discussions.

Pressure of society drives many people to find release in drinking

"BINGE DRINKING" has become an issue in the last 20 years. There has been an explosion in the availability of alcohol. Previously, a lot of women wouldn’t have gone to pubs. Now drink is readily available at the local supermarket, massively promoted and cheaply priced.

Cairo calling

After more than seven decades in the Egyptian Communist movement, Youssef Darwish’s hopes for socialism are as strong as ever. As a lawyer he represented trade unions during the great workers’ struggles of the 1940s. As a political organiser he worked tirelessly to maintain the communist movement’s independence during the 1950s and 1960s.

Call for delegates to anti-war conference in Egypt

BETWEEN 24 and 27 March this year Cairo will host a meeting of activists from the Arab world and the international movements against war and globalisation.

‘2005 — a year for struggle’

THE CURRENT regime has been in power for 23 years and continues to rule through the emergency laws.

Esfir Shub: a new message from old film footage

Necessity is the mother of invention, goes the cliche. Necessity drove Esfir Shub to become a brilliant film editor in the years immediately after the 1917 Russian Revolution. In the early 1920s filmmaking resources were scarce, but film was a key modern art form and a crucial means of conveying information to people across the newly formed Soviet Republic.

Coming events

Saturday 12 FebruaryStop the War Coalition national conference, London. Go to <a href=" http://www.stopwar.org.uk" target = "_blank">www.stopwar.org.uk</a>Kyoto climate march, 11.30am, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, near Holborn tube, central London. For details go to <a href=" http://www.campaignagainstclimatechange.net " target = "_blank">www.campaignagainstclimatechange.net </a> House of Commons Council Housing group of MPs session to collect evidence to back the demand for direct investment in council housing, 2-4pm, Swallow Hotel, High Street West, Gateshead.


Reviews

Take a journey to the heart of Turkish culture

FEAR AND hatred of all things Islamic and Middle Eastern is nothing new. Within a relatively short period of time from the 7th century, Islam spread across the Middle East, North Africa and finally into Europe itself, through Spain. Christendom was threatened and outraged. The Eastern Roman Empire faced a new foe — a new "barbarian at the gates".

Capturing the essence of a human being

Schweppes Photographic Portrait Prize 2004National Portrait Gallery, St. Martin’s Place until 20February

In brief

The Return of Jack SplashPlantlifeGut Records PLANTLIFE ARE the missing link between hip-hop and funk, caught somewhere between Sly and the Family Stone, Prince and Outcast.


What We Think

New Labour has brought market chaos to the NHS

The government’s insistence that market reforms are the way forward for the NHS was exposed as the ideologically driven nonsense it is last week. Details emerged of how one of the flagship foundation hospitals sunk into financial crisis. Bradford Teaching Hospitals trust is over £11m in the red. Its chair has already been forced out.


Other Categories

Firm escapes after an asbestos death

I AM reeling from shock and anger, and I just had to tell as many people as possible about a great scandal and injustice. So I have written to you. My old workmate, James Maguire, had to watch his wife, Teresa, die from cancer.

Bookmarks

So Now Who Do We Vote For? (£7.99), the new book from John Harris, confronts the question being asked by millions all over the country who, until now, have been loyal Labour voters.

International Socialism Journal

Media coverage of the Iraqi election has thickened the fog of lies and misinformation about the Iraqi resistance.

Subscribe to Socialist Worker for £3 a month

"In 2005 it is crucial to have this important piece of armoury for the year we face — with the anti-war movement, G8 coming to Scotland and the looming general election. Since I work in four different workplaces I was struggling to make time to pick up the paper — that’s why I took out a subscription."Trish McCafferty Greenock, Glasgow

Socialist Review 293

Hell No, We Won’t Go Soldiers Carl Webb and George Solomouexplain why they won’t fight in Iraq

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