Dated: 20 Jan 2001
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"We've got to fight this all the way, and not let General Motors grind us down. We're marching. We're striking." They were the words of a Vauxhall shop steward in Luton this week. The car plant is owned by giant multinational General Motors (GM), the world's biggest manufacturing corporation.
Vauxhall Iis owned by the multinational GM. GM is the world's biggest industrial corporation. It made £130,000 million profit last year.
High ranking officers have branded as "naive" a senior black officer's report into the police's treatment of Delroy Lindo. He is a friend of Winston Silcott, who is still wrongly imprisoned for murder. Tariq Ghaffur, the Met's deputy assistant commissioner, said in his report that Delroy suffered "systematic harassment" by the police and "negative stereotyping". Delroy has been stopped and searched 37 times by police since 1992. "Nothing has changed with the police," said Delroy. "The Met want to blame Ghaffur because some of the truth has come out in the report."
New Labour's David Blunkett last week insulted every unemployed person in the country. His claim that jobs "are there for the taking" is a slap in the face to Vauxhall workers in Luton or Ford Dagenham workers.
Workers in the French port of Calais have shown exactly how to take on a multinational. Hundreds of workers at the Lu biscuit factory walked out on strike last week after the giant food multinational Danone announced it wanted to shut the plant. The workers were still out on strike this week, and a strike across Danone in France was planned for Thursday. Danone is a multinational company that produces drinks, yoghurt and other dairy products, and biscuits.
Firefighters and control room staff on Merseyside have voted by two to one for strike action to defend the service from life-threatening cuts. Fire Brigades Union branches were discussing a revised offer from management this week.
Saturday 27 January will be the first official Holocaust Memorial Day to be held in Britain. That date is the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the most notorious Nazi death camp. Events are taking place in schools, colleges, workplaces and town centres across Britain.
Over 3,500 bus drivers on Travel West Midlands are due to be balloted over whether to accept the fifth pay offer management has put to them over the last months.
Lecturers at Coatbridge College, members of the EIS-CLA (College Lecturers Association), were to strike on Tuesday and Thursday this week over pay. The action follows two one-day strikes before Christmas. Lecturers at the college have not received a pay rise since 1998. Coatbridge is the only college in Scotland not to have settled its lecturers' pay claim for 1999-2000.
Workers at the Cowley BMW plant have defied both unions and management, and voted to reject the company's pay and conditions offer. Unions were recommending that workers at the plant accept the two-year deal that involves performance related pay and a cut in workers' break times of eight minutes a shift.
Around 30 campaigners representing different charities, church groups, political organisations and individuals met in Manchester on Monday of last week to discuss the future of their campaigns against Third World debt after the official end of Jubilee 2000.
Royal Mail workers were poised to begin a national ballot over pay as Socialist Worker went to press. Union negotiators met with management for last-ditch talks on Tuesday. Unless these produced real improvements in the existing offer union leaders had pledged to start a strike vote.
Around 2,700 members of the PCS civil servants' union who work in the Crown Prosecution Service were due to strike across England and Wales on Wednesday and Thursday over pay. Around 700 workers in the service have joined the union over the last few months.
"I've come to realise that those at the top in British society merely got rich and profited from my family, and other people who have not received justice." Those were the bitter words of Darshan Singh Chhokar, speaking at a 130-strong rally last Saturday for justice for his son who was killed in 1998. The family demanded at the Glasgow meeting that a public inquiry is held into the investigation of Surjit Singh Chhokar's death.
Governors at George Green secondary school in east London's Tower Hamlets voted on Monday to reject being part of the New Labour council's plan to introduce a borough-wide PFI privatisation scheme. The vote is a boost to the fight to sink the scheme. The council wants 47 schools in the borough to be part of the PFI scheme involving a deal with giant firm Babcock and Brown. A lobby against the sell-off was planned outside the borough-wide governors' meeting on Thursday.
Workers at plastics firm Wardle Storeys in Brantham, near Manningtree in Essex, were to strike on Wednesday this week over pay. It is the first in a series of three one-day strikes. Bosses have offered a pay rise of just 2.1 percent to the 300 workers at the site. Peter Stephen, the TGWU union's regional industrial organiser, says, "Our message to the company is that our members are solid. We don't accept pay cuts."
Hackney council workers in east London will end their next round of strikes with a rally whose line-up includes Tony Benn MP, Guardian journalist Gary Younge, Mark Serwotka, recently elected PCS general secretary and Jeremy Hardy. Strikes are planned for three days, 29-31 January, against the council's cuts and privatisation plans.
Railtrack bosses sent the government a blackmail note this week-"Give us £1 billion or the passengers get it." And New Labour is considering coughing up.
The death of Anna Climbie has shocked people across the country. Eight year old Anna died after horrendous abuse at the hands of her two "carers", Marie Kouao and Carl Manning, who were convicted last week for Anna's murder.
Multinational pharmaceutical companies are going to court to stop South Africans receiving cheaper AIDS treatment. It is the starkest form of profit being put before people's lives. Around 25 million people in sub-Saharan Africa have the HIV virus which leads to AIDS.
Socialist Worker sellers have been pulling out all the stops to build Saturday's demonstration against the closure of Vauxhall's Luton plant. They set up a stall at the university on Wednesday last week and collected scores of signatures on the petition to save the plant. 28 copies of Socialist Worker were sold and 1 student joined the Socialist Workers Party. 5 students came to a meeting the next night at which 2 joined the SWP. On Saturday 83 copies of Socialist Worker were sold in the town centre and another 5 people joined the SWP. Elsewhere in the build-up to the demo 9 copies of the paper were sold outside Vauxhall Ellesmere Port and 8 at the ex-Rover Longbridge plant.
"The strike at Dudley hospitals is one of the longest running disputes in the history of the NHS. It shows the determination of the workers involved, and the support they are winning is extremely exciting." That is how journalist and campaigner George Monbiot described the strike by 600 ancillary workers in Dudley in the West Midlands.
Scottish Teachers are being asked by their union leaders to vote for longer working hours and the right of management to control every minute of their lives. This is what the pay and conditions deal we are being balloted over really means.
At a public consultation meeting last week in Islington, north London, held to consider Arsenal football club's multi-million pound redevelopment plans, a middle-aged woman stared the Lib Dem deputy council leader in the eyes. She was following a series of speakers, all of whom were up in arms at the club's big business plans.
The liaison committee of the National Network of Socialist Alliances in England met this weekend to give a push to its election campaign. The Socialist Alliance is now hoping to stand over 60 candidates in England in the general election. It is producing a national banner for the demo to save Vauxhall in Luton this weekend.
The public rally against tube privatisation earlier this month had speakers from the ASLEF, RMT and TSSA rail unions. ASLEF, which represents train drivers, and the RMT, the general rail trade union, are balloting their members together and plan joint action at the beginning of next month.
George W Bush's inauguration this weekend may not go according to plan. "Bitter Protests May Mar Bush's Coronation", the Financial Times predicted last Saturday.
The widely touted 1980s revival should send shivers down everyone's spine. Jason Donovan and The A Team were bad enough first time round. So was the fear that a madman in the White House might trigger a nuclear war (out of forgetfulness or plain fanaticism).
"I was in the Gulf as a medic from October 1990, right through the bombing, and left in April 1991. I was in one of the major field hospitals dealing with casualties. We were told absolutely nothing about depleted uranium at all. We had daily briefings and it was never even mentioned once. The first I knew that it had been used at all was on the news a few years later. Yet soldiers have been knowingly exposed to it and nothing has been done. We got injections against what we were told was the threat of "biological weapons" such as bubonic plague and anthrax. Doctors since have warned that the effect of a cocktail of such injections could cause health problems.
US President George Bush ushered in the start of the Gulf War ten years ago. As the bombs pounded down on Iraq he made a speech about the dawn of a "New World Order". We have been living with that New World Order ever since. Bush's war lasted 42 days. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were dead by the end of it. Iraqi society was devastated. The war was backed up by British Tory prime minister John Major and Labour leader Neil Kinnock every inch of the way. We were told that it was necessary and just, because Saddam Hussein, the ruler of Iraq, was an evil tyrant. We were told he was a new Hitler who must be destroyed at all costs.
Kevin Danaher is the co-founder of the Global Exchange and an organiser of the anti-capitalist protests in Seattle. He will be speaking on the Globalise Resistance tour between 2 and 11 February. Here he writes about the challenges facing everyone opposed to the corporate agenda.
The multinationals Ford and General Motors (GM) have launched a massacre of jobs across the car industry. These giant firms are destroying the lives of thousands of car workers at Dagenham in east London and Vauxhall in Luton. How can we beat Ford and General Motors? In the United States in the 1930s thousands of car workers took on General Motors, the world's biggest corporation, and won. Their struggle forced GM to recognise the United Auto Workers union throughout its plants and transformed the trade union movement in the US. On 30 December 1936 some 3,000 workers occupied GM's Flint plant in Michigan. The workers went on strike, in the face of huge intimidation from management, to d
The film is showing this Sunday in London-with all proceeds going to the "Socialist Worker" Appeal-and anyone who can should try to get along. The film is about the Paris Commune in 1871, one of the greatest ever events in working class history. For 72 days Parisian workers took control of the city. What makes the film so exciting is that it is not only about events over 100 years ago. It is also about how we can change the world today.
Every day this year a new scandal explodes and fuels the bitterness people feel with New Labour. This week millions of people were sickened by the shocking picture of bodies dumped on the floor of a hospital chapel because cost cutting meant the mortuary was closed.
Socialist Worker and all its readers owe a tremendous debt to Ross Pritchard, who died of cancer last week at the age of 62. Ross joined the socialist movement in Glasgow at almost exactly the same time as I did. Ross had just come out of the armed forces (he was one of the last to be caught in the conscription net, as I was), and was trying to find a decent job in Glasgow. He came to the socialist movement as though he had been waiting for it all his life.
: A very fruitful Bristol protest I was one of the people who heard Tony Blair speak when he came to Bristol on Tuesday of last week. As I approached the council building where he was to be speaking I was delighted to see many different protest groups demonstrating. People were there protesting against the government's policy on Iraq, and children and parents shouted against the closure of their schools. The Bristol Socialist Alliance (BSA) were there too.
The internet is a curious and contradictory thing. A sign of the times in France is a useful website called lesgreves.com (strikes.com), which gives a detailed and long list of strikes taking place each day around the country. The main sponsor on last week's home page was Opel. Opel is the German subsidiary of the giant General Motors car firm. Hopefully the firm will feature in a different way in a round-up of strike reports later this month when workers across Europe join a day of action against GM.