Dated: 26 Jan 2002
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TWO corporations, whose dodgy dealing led to the biggest bankruptcy in history, have deep links to New Labour. US energy giant Enron was the world's seventh biggest company until it collapsed a month ago with billions of dollars of debt. The scandal surrounding its collapse threatens to engulf US politicians close to Enron, including George W Bush.
Campaigning against New Labour's attacks on the NHS, Socialist Worker sellers received a great reception. On Saturday Manchester sold 187 copies of Socialist Worker, while in north London 80 were sold in Wood Green and 71 in Dalston.
THE FIGHT for the future of council housing is hotting up, and March looks like being a crunch month. Glasgow council is to begin balloting all its tenants on 4 March on a plan to hand their homes to housing associations.
National Union of Journalists members at Newsquest-owned titles in Bradford struck for half a day last week over low pay. NUJ president Rory McLeod joined the picket lines. There were also NUJ delegations from Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Coventry.
THERE WAS a real taste of anger at New Labour at a conference in Liverpool last weekend. Some 200 people attended Saturday's "Keep public services public" conference organised by the Liverpool joint trade union committee.
Ambulance workers in Liverpool are voting on whether to strike after two paramedics in the Ambulance Service Union were suspended for alleged gross misconduct.
A campaign has been set up at London Guildhall University after management pressurised the student union president and a vice-president into resigning. The university then replaced them with its own unelected appointees.
A CENTRAL London meeting organised by Globalise Resistance last week saw some 150 people attend a discussion on the crisis in Argentina.
Workers at the Shorts aircraft plant in Belfast are to ballot on strikes against compulsory redundancies. Shorts, owned by the Canadian Bombardier Aerospace group, wants to cut some 2,000 jobs out of the 7,500-strong workforce.
WORKERS AT the Caterpillar factory in Peterlee, County Durham, staged their third one-day strike on Tuesday. They are fighting a plan by the US multinational to freeze their pay, impose flexible shift patterns and undermine other longstanding agreements.
Some 150,000 postal workers started a national strike ballot this week over pay. They are fighting management's attempt to hold down pay and to squeeze even more work out of fewer people.
Tens of thousands of civil servants are set to strike next Monday and Tuesday. The workers are PCS union members in benefits offices and job centres. They are striking against New Labour's plans to remove safety screens in the amalgamated benefit agencies and job centres being set up.
Sit-in rattles Mersey bin bosses BIN WORKERS in Liverpool staged a sit-in at their depot on Monday, furious at the way they were being treated by bosses. The 250 workers at the Fazakerley depot work for the private firm Onyx, which has the contract for the city's rubbish collection. Their bosses had made a cock-up and paid the workers double pay at Christmas. Workers had themselves pointed this mistake out to the company and understood that they would pay it back in instalments.
Alan Milburn's plan to ram through even more privatisation in the NHS sent shock waves through the Unison executive last week. A meeting of the union's health executive was so stunned that its business was suspended to allow people to take stock of Milburn's plan and discuss our response.
WHAT PRIVATE healthcare really means was underlined by a shocking case last week. The inquest into the death of Laura Touche uncovered a catalogue of practices at the exclusive Portland private hospital which the coroner said were "a cause for public concern".
NEW LABOUR has betrayed its promise to widen access to higher education. The proportion of students from working class backgrounds or with disabilities has slumped in the last seven years. The total number of such students is unchanged, says the National Audit Office, while the numbers of students overall has grown.
ONE OF the government's flagship privatisation schemes is on the verge of collapse just seven months on. The New Labour government sold 46 percent of the NATS air traffic control service to a private consortium including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Ministers said the sell-off would improve the service and save money.
HOW MUCH more can the Palestinian people suffer? Israel has launched its harshest incursion since the Intifida began 16 months ago. This comes after Israel used US-supplied F16 jets to destroy the Palestinian police headquarters in the town of Tulkarm on the West Bank last Friday. Israeli tanks and troops seized Tulkarm, imposing curfews, checkpoints and house to house searches, forcing people from their homes.
SOME OF the gloss is coming off the glorious victory the United States and Britain are supposed to have won in Afghanistan. This is largely because of the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay. Liberals who supported the war are discovering that defending civilisation means humiliating captives, imprisoning them in cages and denying them a fair trial. But doubts are also growing about the war itself.
So who's got it in for the Black Police Association (BPA)? The BPA is a moderate body. It was formed in 1993 to give black police officers and civilian staff a voice against the rampant discrimination built into the profession.
LAST WEDNESDAY Tony Blair jetted in on a brief visit to England. While quite at home in the company of dictators, warlords and George W Bush, Blair soon felt in need of protection from his own backbenchers. One minute you can be a great international statesman, a war leader in almost freakish control of your party.
WORKERS ACROSS Britain are beginning to voice their anger and frustration with the New Labour government. They see continuing privatisation and the government pandering to its big business friends while workers have to battle over pay, conditions and job cuts. Trade unionists spoke to Socialist Worker over what they feel about New Labour. They raised questions about the unions funding the Labour Party.
Peter Hain, former anti-apartheid activist and now minister for Europe, attacked the anti-capitalist movement last weekend. He claimed that the 300,000 people who protested against the G8 richest countries in Genoa last July were the "violent elements of Europe's middle class".
WORKERS ACROSS Northern Ireland have given a marvellous glimpse of how to defeat bigotry and sectarianism. Protestants and Catholics struck together, marched together and stood united against sectarianism on Friday of last week.
A REVOLT over pay and the disastrous impact of privatisation is spreading across the rail industry. Everyone who wants to see a better transport system should get behind the rail workers and their unions as they stand up to the private rail companies. Over 600 guards and conductors on Arriva Northern were set to strike on Thursday and Friday of this week.
Bloody Sunday should fill the British ruling class with shame. Instead they send up flurries of outrage to distract attention from the truth. The two new TV dramas marking the thirtieth anniversary of the massacre have been denounced by a variety of politicians and commentators. Some of these people didn't feel the need to see the films before delivering their judgement.
What motivated you to make a film about Bloody Sunday? I WAS asked to do it about six years ago and I refused. I thought, "I'm an Englishman. I can't do that." I agonised over that. Four years ago I was invited across to the Bloody Sunday commemorative march.
MUCH OF the media thinks there is an easy answer to threatened strikes at the moment. It is to say that they could mean a return to the Winter of Discontent of 1978-9. The argument goes that of course everyone knows the Winter of Discontent was a disastrous period when trade unionists were too strong.
"TORTURED" was the outcry on the front page of the Mail on Sunday. Pictures released by Bush's government boast of the barbaric treatment meted out to prisoners taken from Afghanistan to the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The prisoners are caged, masked, bound hand and foot, and forced to kneel before US soldiers.
Message from the West Bank SOMETHING important happened last night. We were watching MBC, an Arab TV station seen by millions of people in the Middle East. News from London was shown, with people demonstrating at Selfridges, the big store in Oxford Street.
STEVE SMITH, the Nazi British National Party (BNP) organiser for Burnley, was sentenced to six months in prison last week. The BNP's general election candidate in Burnley was led away from court in handcuffs.