Socialist Worker

Socialist Worker


Issue: 1793

Dated: 27 Mar 2002



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£500 million for rail fat cats, 40,000 postal jobs cut

It was New Labour's day of shame this week. The government gave in to pressure and handed £500 million to some of the greediest and richest people in Britain. Businessmen, bankers and speculators were horrified when their Railtrack shares nosedived last year. They believed their bets in the stock market casino should be a one-way ticket to wealth. These people were gleeful when the Tories flogged Railtrack off for a quarter of its value.


International Comment Features Reviews What We Think Other

News

The real plan for the Post Office: slash, burn and privatise

Post Office bosses, backed by New Labour, have launched a ferocious attack on Post Office jobs. The 15,000 job cuts announced on Monday are the first round of a plan that will eventually slash 40,000 jobs. That's a fifth of the workforce. This is "just the start, not the end", said Post Office chairman Allan Leighton. Parcelforce will be hit hardest first of all. Some 6,700 jobs are to go on top of "natural wastage".

Rich man with palace hates council housing

'I don't know what social housing means. What does affordable mean?'Prince Philip

Top criminologist exposes the media's lies on crime

The Tories think they can rebuild their fortunes by playing on people's fear of crime. Those fears have been fanned by the wave of crime stories in the tabloid papers. Papers like the Mail, the Sun and even the self proclaimed "socialist" Mirror have pumped out lurid tales of a country gripped by an epidemic of violent crime.

Signing up to stop the war

Socialist Worker sellers hit the streets last week with the Stop the War Coalition's statement, "Don't Attack Iraq". They met with a brilliant response right across the country, with thousands signing, and hundreds of people taking away copies from street stalls to use at work and college.

Bring movement to streets on May Day

This year's May Day looks set to offer anti-war and anti-privatisation activists across Britain a chance to take to the streets. The Greater London Trades Union Congress organises a march in London every year. Now trade unions have joined forces with Globalise Resistance to unite the labour movement and anti-capitalist activists.

Two different signals ahead

Rail Workers are taking strides forward in the battle for decent pay. But some companies are trying to tough out union action. Rail workers on Arriva were set to strike at the end of this week, and to be joined by strikers on the Tyne and Wear Metro next week.

Meeting calls for national march

A 350-STRONG conference in support of refugees took place in Manchester last Saturday. Suresh Grover from the National Civil Rights Movement summed up the mood at the opening session. He said:

Sertuc

Some 180 trade unionists attended a conference on Saturday called by the South East Region of the TUC (Sertuc) in London in defence of public services. There was not only unanimous condemnation of privatisation but also a strong feeling that unions should be coordinating action to stop it.

ANL

Over 260 people attended an Anti Nazi League (ANL) meeting in Leeds University on Wednesday of last week. Many people were eager to campaign against the Nazis, particularly against the BNP election candidate who is a student at the university.

Still no justice from Stevens

Friends and family of Harry Stanley confronted the Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir John Stevens at a meeting in Hackney, east London, on Thursday of last week.

Airport

Security staff in the TGWU union at Manchester airport continued their industrial action with a 36-hour strike beginning at 4am on Friday of last week. Strikers lobbied five of the ten councils that sit on the control board of the airport on Friday morning. They gave out thousands of leaflets, and were encouraged by the overwhelmingly positive response from the public. Later that day stewards addressed a support meeting of trade unionists and campaigners from across the city.

'We have now gone all out'

All out and determined to win. That was the message from medical secretaries on the picket line in Sunderland in the north east of England on Monday of this week.

NUJ

Journalists at the Express and Star newspapers accepted an increased pay offer last week as management caved in just before a series of stoppages were due to begin. The new offer is £1,100 a year extra for every worker. This went up from £900 in the space of a week because of the threat of action. People recognised how far we have come since Richard Desmond bought the papers a year ago.

Urgent-strikes needed

Why have Post Office managers felt confident enough to move towards 40,000 job losses and the destruction of Parcelforce? One big reason has to be the behaviour of the CWU leaders last week. They met to discuss the possibility of holding a one-day strike over pay on Wednesday this week.

Throw out this new offer

The management of the government's new Jobcentre Plus scheme have made a new offer to civil servants in the PCS union working in job centres and benefits offices. Ballot papers were sent out this week. Union leaders are recommending that members accept the offer, but it falls far short of what members need. The dispute was centred on New Labour's plans to scrap safety screens in the newly amalgamated offices.

Resistance grows to war on Iraq

Tony Blair is pushing for a new war on Iraq. His government does not care about what the public or other countries think. Defence secretary Geoff Hoon said about Iraq earlier this week, "We would be perfectly entitled to use force" without a United Nations mandate. But there is deep resistance to these plans even among Labour MPs.

Resistance grows to war on Iraq

Tony Blair is pushing for a new war on Iraq. His government does not care about what the public or other countries think. Defence secretary Geoff Hoon said about Iraq earlier this week, "We would be perfectly entitled to use force" without a United Nations mandate. But there is deep resistance to these plans even among Labour MPs.


International

Zimbabwe: support for opposition gets results

The Zimbabwean regime is trying to crack down even harder on workers' opposition. Socialists and trade unionists must redouble their efforts to give solidarity to workers fighting back.


Comment

Is it cos I is raking it in?

Sacha Baron Cohen has always walked a razor's edge between satire and reaction. In his new film he has come down on the side of reaction. My first warning of this came from one of the black students I teach at college. He announced that Ali G was a fool, but then added quietly that when he saw the film in the West End he felt people were laughing at him.

Bush's few dollars more

Leaders of the world's richest countries staged a piece of grand political theatre in the Mexican city of Monterrey last week. They won press headlines hailing a new commitment to tackling the global gulf between rich and poor.


Features

Tide of revolt sweeps Rome

THREE MILLION Italian trade unionists, students, immigrant workers, unemployed people and pensioners defied Tony Blair's key European ally last Saturday. Six huge feeder protests marched to the centre of Rome to demonstrate against Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's plans to "reform" laws protecting workers. Some 9,200 coaches, 61 special trains, five aeroplanes and four boats brought people to Rome from across Italy.

Blair's gang wants this regime for all workers

Tony Blair has formed an unholy alliance with the two most right wing leaders in Europe to drive through an assault on workers' rights across Europe. Blair's friends-Spain's leader Jose Maria Aznar and Italy's Silvio Berlusconi – want to push through privatisation, deregulation, more flexibility and attacks on trade unions.

No statistics can convey the terror

The kids in Jenin camp look like kids in any deprived area in the world. They have that knowing look in their eyes, a look that says, "I know something you don't know"-a look of pride, anger and defiance. The eyes of battle hardened veterans that belie their age.

The Falklands War: what a bloody mad adventure

Twenty years ago this week the Falklands War began. During 74 days of conflict 255 British servicemen and around 800 Argentinians were killed. Most of the Argentinian dead were young conscripts. Thousands were injured. Those who were there write of "the ballooned faces of badly burned men" and of the "screams in the night in the dormitories acting as refuges for the wounded". The suffering has continued since.


Reviews

Mark Thomas interviewed on his new series

COMEDIAN and activist MARK THOMAS's new TV series started on Channel 4 this week. Socialist Worker spoke to him.

Ten Reasons to Abolish the IMF and World Bank

Anti-Capitalist activist Kevin Danaher is as powerful and persuasive a writer as he is a speaker. His new pamphlet, Ten Reasons to Abolish the IMF and World Bank, shows why only the end of these institutions can begin to challenge the injustice and inequality of global capitalism.

The Coup – Party Music

How many rappers from the US would describe themselves as socialists and advocate "millions of people moving, organising and making something happen-a revolution"? Boots Riley of the anti-capitalist band The Coup has done just that. The Coup came to notoriety after the 11 September attacks in the US last year. The original cover of their latest album, Party Music, was a picture of Boots holding a detonator in front of the exploding Twin Towers.


What We Think

Three key steps after Blair's black Monday

"A growing revolt among MPs and activists", with "anger reaching unprecedented levels". That's how key Labour daily the Mirror describes the political storm that has broken over the New Labour government. The Mirror sums up why there is such feeling against Blair. People are "furious at the U-turn over bailing out Railtrack shareholders and the failure to prevent mass job losses in the postal service.


Other Categories

Liberals show their true face

THREE YEARS ago the Lib Dems won control of Sheffield council following a backlash against New Labour's plans to privatise housing benefit. The Lib Dems went ahead with privatising housing benefit and are now keen to privatise council housing. They are also attacking education, with plans to close or merge a number of special and inner city schools.

An alliance with the countryside?

THE peasantry is a major social class in large parts of the world. Peasants are not simply farmers. Farming in Britain and other advanced capitalist countries is a capitalist enterprise. Most of agriculture is dominated by large landowners who run major businesses, employing workers just as the owners of factories and multinationals do.

Lies to help prepare for war

The US defence department announced last week that a satellite positioning device had been found in an Afghan cave. They said the equipment was lost in Somalia in 1993. The discovery, they proclaimed, was concrete evidence at last that Bin Laden's Al Qaida network was behind the deaths of 18 US soldiers in the disastrous raid on Mogadishu.



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