Socialist Worker

Socialist Worker

Issue: 1938

Dated: 12 Feb 2005

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Who is really ripping us off?

THE BIGGEST corporate profits in history were announced this week. Oil giant Shell made £9.3 billion last year — Britain’s biggest ever profit. The money rolled in at more than £1 million an hour. US oil giant ExxonMobil, which owns Esso, also announced its profits — £13 billion. It is the highest profit figure ever recorded.

International Comment Features Reviews What We Think Other


Brewing up trouble across north west

Over 30 electricians, members of the EPIU union contracting branch, crowd around two banners outside the Arndale construction site in Manchester city centre on a busy Friday afternoon. They are furious — one of their members was sacked a week ago and hasn’t yet been reinstated.

Glasgow Airport firefighters strike enters second week

The indefinite all-out strike by Glasgow Airport firefighters, who are in the T&G union, entered its second week on Monday.

News and reports in brief

Hackney schools protest Students, parents and staff from Haggerston school in Hackney, east London, protested last week at threats to the school from the spread of city academies in the area.

National bargaining at stake in FE college battle

Lecturers in 82 further education colleges were balloting this week for a strike over pay. The dispute is over the failure by 70 percent of colleges to implement the nationally negotiated 2003/4 pay award.

Teachers' union backs anti-deportation fight

A bail hearing was due this week in the case of Leonard R. He is the trainee maths teacher from Oldham who faces being sent back to torture in Zimbabwe. The bail hearing will decide whether Leonard is released while a judicial review of his case proceeds. He is one of the victims of the government’s decision to restart forced removals to Zimbabwe.

Not so Liberal in Liverpool

FIVE UNISON union members in Liverpool council are still fighting to overturn suspensions handed out to them by council managers.

Why we believe a merger between Amicus and the T&G unions will not be so super for workers

Amicus THE NATIONAL executive of the Amicus union was told on Wednesday of last week about plans for a three-way merger with the T&G and GMB unions. Almost every executive member knew about the plans in advance—by reading about them in the newspapers.

Respect campaign launched in Newham

Respect kicked off its election campaign in Newham, east London, last weekend with street stalls and a walkabout by Lindsey German and Abdul Khaliq, prospective parliamentary candidates for the borough.Lindsey and Abdul pledged support for the campaign to save Queens Market, which Newham’s New Labour council wants to sell to private developers.

Stop the War

OVER 500 people crammed into the Central Methodist Hall in Manchester last week for a rally organised by the Stop the War Coalition and CND against the occupation of Iraq.

Health and Civil service workers build opposition to pension attacks

Health workers HEALTH WORKERS are stepping up their opposition to any worsening of their pension rights, in anticipation of such plans being announced when the consultation process for the NHS scheme ends in April.

Left election victory for firefighters

THE ELECTION of Matt Wrack as assistant general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is a stunning victory for the left in the union. He got 6,260 votes to 5,527 for John McGhee — who was supported by the union’s leadership — and 1,981 for a third candidate, Dean Mills.

‘Oil giant Shell has brought Nigeria nothing but suffering’

WHEN I hear of Shell’s profits I remember the suffering of the Nigerian people and of people throughout the world whose economies are enslaved to the oil companies. In Nigeria it is the Ogoni people, whose plight was championed by writer and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, who have been hit most. But there are many other similar communities in our country.

Gays should be proud of our history

Several years ago I joined a school as an openly gay teacher and things appeared to be going well. Unfortunately a young man in year 11 inflicted a physical homophobic attack upon me. The issue was dealt with by the school — the boy being suspended, parents seen and warnings given.

New Labour's bigoted immigration proposals

The general election expected later this year will be played out to the drum beat of bigotry. That was the message from home secretary Charles Clarke on Monday, as he danced to Michael Howard’s tune and unveiled New Labour’s five year plan to "curb" immigration.

Labour and Tories both play the race card

There was an item on the news at the weekend where a reporter went out on the streets and read out quotes from Labour on immigration. The reporter asked people, "Which political party said this?" Every single person thought it was the Tories. This is Labour’s strategy on every single issue — welfare, trade unions, war. They’re in the business of winning elections by out-Torying the Tories. But this whole argument on immigration is based on a lie. Every economic study shows that immigrants put far more into the economy in taxes and labour than they take in benefits.

A track record of racism

Labour governments have capitulated to immigrant-bashing before. On each occasion the result was spiralling racism. In the 1964 general election, the Tories ran a vicious and nakedly racist campaign in the Labour seat of Smethwick.

Living hell for asylum seekers

Australia’s right wing government has consistently used images of hordes of brown people flooding into the country to whip up fear and racism towards asylum seekers. This has created nothing short of a living hell for those who wish to seek refuge in Australia. Asylum seekers are imprisoned in detention centres built in desert areas or remote islands, miles away from the eyes of the public.

Egypt releases two socialists

Two Egyptian socialist activists arrested on 28 January at the Cairo International Book Fair have been released on bail, campaigners in Cairo told Socialist Worker.

Who says?

"This is how we deal with terrorists."Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi last summer when he shot dead six prisoners

Babar Ahmad writes from his prison cell

Babar Ahmad, a 30 year old computer technician from Tooting, South London, is currently in jail awaiting an extradition hearing. He was arrested last year on the request of US authorities, who accuse him of funding "terrorism" in Chechnya and Afghanistan, which he denies.

News in brief

Protest as Labour meets DEFEND COUNCIL housing campaigners will be lobbying Labour’s spring conference in Gateshead on Saturday. They will be seeking to step up the pressure on the government for direct investment in council housing — the "fourth option" — rather than stock transfer, private finance initiative deals or arms-length management organisations (ALMOs).

Time to be audacious in pensions fight

Socialists and trade unionists should not underestimate the seriousness of New Labour’s assault on our pension rights.

Civil service worker to stand for SSP against Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown wants to get rid of my job. I would dearly love to take his job away after what he’s done to me and my colleagues. That’s why I’m standing against him as a Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) candidate in the general election.

The numbers involved in TU pension action plans

Some 1.25 million union members could strike on 23 March. The civil service workers’ PCS union and Unison local government members are balloting for discontinuous action — which would allow a series of strikes — so they could join education unions for futher strikes in April without reballoting


A right royal coup in Nepal

The decision of the king of Nepal to dismiss his prime minister, declare a state of emergency and take over all executive powers at the beginning of February shocked many Nepalis and external commentators alike.

Strikes follow grenade attack on opposition

A three-day strike across Bangladesh came to an end on Monday of this week, as police and strikers fought pitched battles across the country. The strike was called by the main opposition party, the Awami League, after a grenade attack on a party rally in the Sylhet region. The attack on 27 January killed five people — including the former finance minister Shah AMS Kirbria.

Arrest reveals EU and US in alliance with Turkey

The arrest of one of the most prominent Kurdish officials by Germany, at the request of Turkey, signals a new era of co-operation between Turkey and the EU, within a framework set by the US.


WSF grows and so does debate

The World Social Forum (WSF) is growing. That was clear from its meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil, last month.


Getting the troops out is still the key demand after the Iraqi election

George Bush’s recent state of the union speech was frightening. In it he named Syria and Iran as countries where the US wants to see regime change — just as he did in his axis of evil speech. If they do attack Syria or Iran, this will have serious consequences throughout the region. People should not think that this is an idle threat.

Make Poverty History

The year 2005 is critical for anti-poverty activists in Britain. It is a unique opportunity to improve the lives of millions of poor people around the world. The G8 summit of the world’s most powerful leaders will be taking place in Scotland in July and Britain will hold the presidency of the European Union in the second half of the year.

Join together to build G8 protest

I WISH I’d been in Trafalgar Square on Thursday last week to hear Nelson Mandela tell tens of thousand of people that no one can rest while world poverty persists. In just a few weeks, the coalition Make Poverty History has captured the imagination of millions by launching its campaign to pressure the Group of Eight summit in July to take action to remedy the plight of the global poor.

An unequal world

$3,450bn The amount the poorest countries have handed to the wealthiest nations since 1982

Hugo Chavez and Venezuela’s ‘slow revolution’

What kind of policies has Hugo Chavez implemented in Venezuela since becoming president of the country?

Coming events

Saturday 12 FebruaryStop the War Coalition national conference, London. Go to <a href="" target = "_blank"></a>Kyoto climate march, 11.30am, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, near Holborn tube, central London. For details go to <a href=" " target = "_blank"> </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.

1798: When Irish ‘men of no property’ rebelled

In the first part a new series on National Liberation, Simon Basketter looks at Wolfe Tone and the United Irish rebellion

Labour targets disabled for cuts

TONY BLAIR’s government stepped up its war on the poor with plans to "reform" incapacity benefit last week. New Labour wants to slash the welfare budget by bullying sick and disabled claimants into low-paid McJobs or cutting their benefit payments. It is Labour’s second attack on incapacity benefit — the last shake up, in 1999, sparked a rebellion by 65 Labour MPs.

Housing benefit set to be replaced by flat rate

Government plans are also set to plunge thousands of people on housing benefit further into poverty. Ministers want to scrap housing benefit for tenants in private rented properties and replace it with a new flat rate local housing allowance, which will be paid direct to tenants rather than to their landlords.


An interview with David King: Why Trotsky’s picture lay hidden for 70 years

David King, art historian of the truth about the Russian revolution, sadly died last week. As part of his work, David salvaged photographs of Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky. His aim was to stop Trotsky being erased from the history of the revolution, as he explained to Socialist Worker in this interview in 2005.

Roots Manuva's intricate new album reaches to the movement

Awfully Deep Roots ManuvaBig Dada Recordings

Reviews in brief

The Maids Written by Jean GenetNaach Theatre Company14 and 15 February, MAC Theatre, Birmingham,phone 01214403838<a href="" target = "_blank"></a> IN THIS unusual and biting perspective on class relations, two maids of a wealthy woman live out a rich fantasy life.

What We Think

If we ‘move on’ from Iraq, so might Bush

THE INVASION of Afghanistan in 2001 was a special case and had to be supported, claimed "liberal" warmongers at the time.

Other Categories

Syrian refugees' classmates determined they should stay

Amnesty International has reported its grave concern that families returning to Syria are being imprisoned, and that children are being tortured in custody.

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