Socialist Worker

Socialist Worker

Issue: 1792

Dated: 23 Mar 2002

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500,000 march against 'capital and war' in Barcelona

Barcelona, Saturday 16 March, 6pm. Half a million people pour onto the streets to protest "against a Europe of capital and war". This is even bigger than the anti-capitalist protest in Genoa last year. An endless stream of hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, students and trade unionists, pack into the Placa de Catalunya and the surrounding streets.

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Trade unionists join struggle

Over 100,000 trade unionists marched in Barcelona against the European Union (EU) summit two days before the anti-capitalist demo. The march was organised by the European Federation of Trade Unions. Hundreds of coaches, plus a train and a plane, came from other areas of Spain. And some 20,000 trade unionists came from France and Italy, with smaller delegations from other countries.

Tony Blair's shock alliance with Europe's right wing

Tony Blair has allied with the most right wing leaders in Europe to attack workers' rights. The European Union summit in Spain last week saw him set up an axis with the right wing prime ministers of Italy and Spain, Silvio Berlusconi and JosŽ Maria Aznar.

Media's criminal neglect of truth

THE MEDIA is whipping up hysteria over crime and ignoring three simple facts:

The biggest teachers' strike in Britain since the 1970s

A strike and demonstration by over 40,000 teachers in and around London on Thursday of last week was the biggest for 30 years. It marked a turning point. "I feel we are laying to rest the ghosts of 20 years of demoralisation," said one experienced teacher as she sped by with a group of recent university graduates.

Freedom of discussion

Judith Mora, a Spanish journalist working in London, has been going along to Marxist forums in Brick Lane, east London. She tells us why:

Glasgow ballot battle over council housing

Ballots are now under way in Birmingham and Glasgow. Britain's two biggest council landlords are asking their tenants to say yes to transfer to housing associations.

Women's TUC

The women's TUC conference in Eastbourne last week saw anger at New Labour. Alongside the leading figures who spoke out against the government many ordinary delegates also echoed the feelings of anger at New Labour. Nancy Coull from Unison said, "This is my message to the government.

Rail workers

Drivers on ScotRail struck on Tuesday of this week as part of an escalating campaign over pay. Management arrogance in refusing to come up with a serious offer for the drivers has hardened the mood of strikers. Mick Rix, general secretary of the Aslef union, which represents most ScotRail drivers, has authorised 11 more one-day strikes.

Medical secretaries

The boss was praying for rain. He claimed, "You won't last. Once it's cold and raining you'll be back at work." But defiant medical secretaries at Sunderland hospitals rubbished their boss's predictions.


SOME 1,100 TGWU union members at Manchester airport have voted to escalate their action against wage and holiday cuts. On Friday 22 March workers will walk out for 36 hours. This will be followed by a 96-hour strike over Easter weekend.

In the front line against Labour

Postal Workers could hold a national strike on Wednesday of next week. It would be about pay. Postal workers are fed up with poverty pay-a basic of just £250 a week. Many work six days a week and start at around 5.30am. The executive of the CWU postal workers' union believed it had secured agreement over pay with Royal Mail. CWU deputy general secretary John Keggie said the deal would mean £300 a week pensionable pay by October 2003.

Walkout over fat cat cash greed

More than 1,500 workers at the Airbus plant in Flintshire, North Wales, walked out of work unofficially on Thursday of last week. Hundreds of staff walked out at lunchtime. They were then followed by the entire afternoon shift and the majority of the evening shift. They were protesting against pay bonuses for managers while workers' pay is being cut.

Socialist Alliance

The Socialist Alliance is gearing up to challenge New Labour in hundreds of council seats in the local elections on 2 May. The deadline for nominations is approaching fast. This means that Socialist Alliances are selecting candidates over the next few days.

Amicus elections

"I THINK there is a mood of change in the country." So said Derek Simpson, who is challenging Blair's favourite union leader, Ken Jackson, for general secretary of Amicus. Derek came to the Socialist Alliance's trade union conference to speak to members of Amicus, a union made up of the old AEEU and MSF.

It's a towering victory

UNISON union members in Tower Hamlets, east London, are celebrating a victory after the council withdrew proposed new sickness, disciplinary and organisational changes. This follows a highly successful strike at the end of February, and plans for further strike action.


More than 100 Express and Star journalists packed into a workplace union chapel meeting last week. We voted to take industrial action in support of our pay claim-there were ten votes against. We have agreed six separate days of action, set to start this Friday, with three-hour stoppages on each, working up to a full day's strike. The stoppages will take place from 5pm to 8pm each evening, a time designed to hit production the most.


Zimbabwe: hypocrisy and tyranny

WITH BREATHTAKING gall, George W Bush last week declared that the election in Zimbabwe was a "flawed process". He added, "We do not recognise the outcome of this election." Only a man as stupid and arrogant as Bush could criticise the vote a year after he stole the US presidential election.


Arguing against faith schools: do you Adam and Eve it?

Tony Blair took time off from the Barcelona summit to attack TUC general secretary John Monks for criticising his alliance with Silvio Berlusconi. "A large part of Europe's centre left take a more modern view of this," he said. Blair had proved the modernity of his own outlook two days earlier. During question time in the House of Commons he defended the creationist gang who are imposing a medieval view of the world on their pupils at Emmanuel City Technology College in Gateshead.

We Were Soldiers and the battle for Hollywood

I had the misfortune of going to see Mel Gibson's latest movie, We Were Soldiers, last week. It depicts the first major battle in Vietnam between the US army and the Viet Minh in 1965. Lines in the film like "I'm glad I died for America" will have you reaching for the sick bag.


Socialist Alliance trade union conference caught the mood of revolt

The biggest conference of rank and file trade unionists for two decades took place in London last Saturday. Over 1,000 trade unionists from across Britain came to the event organised by the Socialist Alliance, which will be standing hundreds of candidates at the May local elections. The Scottish Socialist Party also supported it. The conference signalled a further step in the deepening rift between the government and trade unionists.

Tony Benn interview: 'Every train is a moving public meeting'

How significant do you think the Stop the War Coalition demo at the beginning of March was? THE DEMO last November was very big-about 100,000-and that was when the war in Afghanistan was just beginning. Then, inevitably, the war was presented as a military victory. Now people are just waking up to the fact that there is another, bigger war on the way. So to get 20,000 out in March was very, very good.

Why Palestinians fight for justice

The deaths of over 160 Palestinians and more than 30 Israelis in 12 days at the beginning of this month shocked people across the world. Socialist Worker looks at the roots of the conflict.

Sign up now to stop their war

"We protested against the war in Afghanistan, but we could not stop it happening. This time we have a chance to stop it, and to create a big crisis for Blair."


In the Blue House: a bright tale of dark days

If you are looking for an intelligent political novel you should definitely pick up a copy of In the Blue House by Meaghan Delahunt. It is a fictional account of the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky's last years in exile in Mexico.

Behind the Sun: revenge is very sweet

Walter Salles, who made the acclaimed Central Station, has created a very different but equally compelling new film, Behind the Sun. It is about two families divided by a blood feud in harsh, remote northern Brazil in the early 20th century.

Femi Kuti - Fight to Win

The latest album by Nigerian musician Femi Kuti and his band Positive Force has it all-politically and musically. The title track is a rallying cry all socialists will applaud. "Fight To Win" addresses the endless suffering of the African masses, and Femi sees the struggles of the people as a positive action.

What We Think

We have power to stop the warmongers

IT WON'T just be George Bush choking on his pretzels after the events of last week. Three months ago Bush, Blair and their media supporters were declaring victory after victory.

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Time for us to move on from New Labour As a Labour Party member and lifelong Labour supporter, I remember with all the romanticism of a true party faithful the glorious victory of 1 May 1997. It seems like a lifetime ago. Yet I remember the excitement and optimism. We were promised a new Britain and that "things can only get better". Where did it all go wrong?

Perks for top dogs

BBC DIRECTOR general Greg Dyke recently joined 14 other staff on a management course in the US costing at least £250,000. The group came out of the "Make it happen" campaign that Dyke, a Blair appointee, launched last month. It is supposed to make the BBC "the most innovative and risk-taking place there is". These risk takers stayed at the exclusive Mansion on Turtle Creek hotel in Dallas where suites cost £1,750 a night. The six-day junket is marketed under the title "Top Dog" by a London-based training firm What If. A similar trip arranged last year for BBC director of drama and entertainment Alan Yentob and BBC2 controller Jane Root cost £15,950 excluding flights.

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