Socialist Worker

Socialist Worker


Issue: 1796

Dated: 20 Apr 2002



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Conspiracy to murder

Sharon ordered massacre Bush sent weapons Blair looked the other way


International Comment Features Reviews What We Think Other

News

NHS: why hasn't Brown made the rich pay?

CHANCELLOR Gordon Brown's budget promises are smoke and mirrors. He says he will save the NHS and continue the fight against poverty. But we've heard these promises before, and they don't add up. New Labour's says, for example, that it "lifted 1.2 million children out of poverty" from 1997 to 2001.

Palestine: the evidence nobody can ignore

They made Jenin a slaughterhouse "A TERRIBLE crime has been committed by Israel in Jenin refugee camp, and the world is turning a blind eye." That was how journalist Justin Huggler, writing in the Independent, described what happened in Jenin last week.

Bosses are on the retreat

NHS BOSSES in the north east of England have been forced to back down one by one in the face of strikes, and the threat of strikes, by low paid women workers. Medical secretaries have shown it is possible to take on trust managements and win. At Sunderland City Hospitals Trust, workers voted to end their indefinite strike on Wednesday of last week.

Teachers' unity

THERE IS a major debate inside the three main teachers' unions in England and Wales about merger. Leaders of the NUT, NASUWT and ATL unions are looking to merge. There is a parallel process of an increasing desire for unity among rank and file teachers.

Manchester airport

BOSSES AT Manchester airport reneged on a promise to meet with workers' representatives last week. TGWU union officials had suspended planned strike action by the 350 security workers after management insisted they would not negotiate unless strikes were called off.

United action and politics needed

OVER 1,000 people attended the Socialist Workers Party convention in London on Sunday. It took place the day after the magnificent demonstration in London in solidarity with the Palestinians. That march underlined the central message from the convention-that the political situation has been radically transformed. Speakers who became active socialists in the late 1960s, when the last worldwide upsurge against capitalism took place, described how a similar international revolt was unfolding today.

In brief

Sacking follows unofficial strike BOSSES AT the Airbus plant in Flintshire, North Wales, have sacked a worker who was at the forefront of leading an unofficial dispute at the plant last month. Up to 2,000 workers staged an unofficial strike on 14 March in protest at huge payouts to bosses while workers' pay was being cut.

International solidarity

SOCIALISTS IN Zimbabwe need your support as repression continues.

Faslane

BLUE AND white collar workers united in solidarity last week at two Clyde naval bases, Faslane and Coulport. Around 1,000 white collar staff struck officially on Friday of last week against plans to privatise naval support jobs.

'No one will defend the Labour Party'

A CONFERENCE of the RMT rail workers' union has voted unanimously to stop paying money to New Labour nationally. It was one of a string of resolutions attacking the government passed by delegates at the RMT's train crews section at a conference in Portsmouth last week.

Sellafield

MORE THAN 700 contract construction workers at the Sellafield nuclear power plant in Cumbria walked out unofficially last week. The workers are furious that they are being laid off and replaced by agency staff who will be paid 50 percent less.

Engineers

ENGINEERING AND electrical workers at two power stations in Kent are poised to push for strikes. Around 200 workers involved in maintenance at the Kings North and Dungeness B plants want their work to be upgraded.

Tram drivers

TRAM DRIVERS in Croydon, south London, suspended strikes planned for this week after they forced management to offer a much improved pay rise. The drivers, members of the TGWU union, struck recently. That has led their bosses, part of the giant First Group corporation, to make an offer which would raise minimum pay above £20,000.

Unison round-up

COUNCIL WORKERS in the Tory borough of Wandsworth struck for the day last week in support of a sacked colleague. They were demanding the reinstatement of Unison union branch secretary Sarbani Mazumdar.

Friends fall out

TONY BLAIR'S favourite right wing trade union leader, Sir Ken Jackson of Amicus, threatened to disaffiliate the union from the TUC last week. A leaked letter has revealed that this has caused a massive row between the AEEU and MSF sections of the merged Amicus union.

Protests for Palestine

SOME 350 people joined an angry protest march through Exeter on Saturday last week, demonstrating their solidarity with the Palestinians. It was a multiracial march, and was followed by campaigning against Israeli goods in the high street.

Postal workers

POSTAL workers should demand action after the latest privatisation move. Post Office bosses announced this week they are continuing with plans to outsource the Romec engineering arm in a £1 billion deal. Work will be transferred to a joint venture with construction giant Balfour Beatty. Romec employs 5,000 people.

UNITED ON MAY DAY

IF YOU want to protest against privatisation and war, be on the streets of London on Wednesday 1 May. May Day protests will unite trade unionists and anti-capitalists with the anti-war movement that has mobilised thousands on huge demos.

Start Kissinger's day with a wake-up call

HENRY KISSINGER is a notorious war criminal. But top British bosses are determined to welcome him to London despite a storm of protest. He has been invited to address the Institute of Directors convention next Wednesday.


International

Venezuela coup foiled by popular rising

THE POOR of Venezuela defeated an attempted coup against the country's president, Hugo Chavez, last weekend. The attempt to remove Chavez was the work of the head of the employers' organisation, with the connivance of army generals, the head of the Catholic church, and even a corrupt trade union leader.


Comment

Dear Billy Bragg

I RECENTLY attended a press conference at Birmingham Town Hall to announce the result of the council housing sell-off ballot. On my way in a press officer, power dressed in the way that only New Labour types seem to think looks good, asked me to sign the book of condolence for the Queen Mother.

Shakes in the Middle East

ONE MOMENT summed up for me the enormous tensions that George W Bush's administration is creating with its support for Ariel Sharon's reign of terror in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. US Secretary of State Colin Powell spent a week dawdling around the world before arriving in Israel on his supposed "peace mission".


Features

Burnley: tackling the Nazi conmen

BURNLEY IN Lancashire faces the highest number of Nazi British National Party candidates of any town in the local elections on 2 May. The BNP is putting forward 13 candidates in 15 wards across Burnley. The Nazis hope to con working people into voting for them by presenting themselves as ordinary local campaigners. They aren't.

General strike offers a new vision for a growing movement in Italy

Did the Genoa protests contribute to the three million strong demonstration called by the CGIL union federation in Rome on 23 March?

The rich are living it up under Blair

THE RICH are still sitting on their hoards of wealth after chancellor Gordon Brown's budget on Wednesday. Britain's richest 200 people were worth £69.3 billion in 1997. They are now worth £102.6 billion. Yet one in three children in Britain are still living below the poverty line after five years of New Labour government.

How council tenants beat New Labour in Birmingham

BIRMINGHAM tenants delivered a body blow last weekend to the government's plans to destroy council housing. The two to one vote against privatisation shows New Labour's bullying can be beaten. Tenants were promised investment in their homes if they voted for transfer to a private housing association.

What the 70s can teach us all today

Cliff was a founder member of the Socialist Workers' Party. In the Thick of Workers' Struggle is the second volume of his selected writings published since his death two years ago. Marxism's core principle — that working class emancipation can only be won by the action of the working class itself — was always central to Cliff's Marxism, but with a crucial emphasis.

Welcome for truth about Palestine

"ISRAEL IS The Terror State" filled the front page of last week's Socialist Worker. That message received a huge response from people outraged by Israeli leader Sharon's war on the Palestinians. On Saturday's 100,000-strong solidarity demo in London 4,000 copies of Socialist Worker were sold, with over 300 people joining the SWP.


Reviews

The Forsyte Saga — brutality behind perfect manners

IT SEEMS we can't get enough of costume dramas on TV. The new ITV adaptation of John Galsworthy's The Forsyte Saga is proving to be a big hit with critics and audiences alike. Some 40 percent of the audience for terrestrial TV tuned in to watch the first episode last Sunday.

Sounds which stick a finger up at Blair

THE STREETS' Original Pirate Material is the amazing debut album of Mike Skinner, a West Midlands UK garage MC. Original Pirate Material has been getting all the headlines in the music press. It is hailed as the bright new hope that will save the music industry.

The Firing — taking aim at the media

THE FIRING is Richard MacSween's first novel. It explores the emotions and to some extent the politics surrounding those mistakenly identified as sex offenders. A wave of hysteria about paedophilia swept Britain last year following the murder of eight year old Sarah Payne, ignited by the News of the World's "name and shame" campaign.


What We Think

Another link in the chain of resistance

LONDON AND Glasgow are not yet Rome and Barcelona. Nor is Britain yet seeing the kind of militant industrial struggle witnessed in the Italian general strike on Tuesday. Italian workers are fighting the government of Tony Blair's right wing friend Silvio Berlusconi, who is pushing through a major attack on workers' rights. But Britain is not immune from the mood of resistance.


Other Categories

Letters

Nazi threat to these kids THE BNP claim they are a legitimate political party opposed to violence and racism. Our experience in Oldham shows that this is a lie. They want to whip up hatred against local communities. Last Sunday it was revealed that the BNP's election leafleting organiser in Oldham was convicted of leading a horrific gang rape.

Israel — Goliath won't live in peace with David

WHAT IS the solution to the Palestinian crisis? The conflict is presented to us as one between two equal forces, with right and wrong on both sides, who must compromise with each other and establish two separate states. But there are not two equal sides battling it out in Palestine. Israel is one of the most heavily militarised states on earth. It is backed and armed by the US. It has received over $92 billion of US "aid" over the last three decades.

Secure for more profits

GROUP 4 is set to rake in greater profits from making the lives of refugees a misery. The firm, notorious for transporting (and losing) prisoners, has taken over Wackenhut Corporate Corrections.

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