Dated: 10 Apr 2004
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US TANKS and helicopter gunships have been blasting Iraq again this week. This is a year after we were told the US forces had "liberated" the very towns they are now pounding. The scenes from Iraq show how everything the anti-war movement said was absolutely correct.
UNION MEMBERS at Glasgow's Southern General Hospital have provided a superb example of the solidarity 4,600 nursery nurses need as they approach six weeks of all-out strike action. The Unison union branch at the hospital donated £3,000 to the strike fund and activists are taking collection sheets round the wards.
\"THEY HAVE crossed the line,\" declared Paul Bremer, the US ruler of Iraq, on Sunday. He was raging against demonstrators in the town of Najaf who clashed with Spanish-led occupation troops. The occupation troops shot down around 20 Iraqis. At least two occupying soldiers, one from El Salvador and one from the US, were killed.
THE FOUR men killed in Fallujah last week were not \"civilian contractors\" helping Iraqis. They were mercenaries, former members of the US Navy Seal special forces, acting as hired guns in Iraq. They deserve no sympathy from anyone.
BRITISH TV and newspapers focused last week on the killing of what they called \"civilian contractors\" in the central Iraqi town of Fallujah. They raged against what they called a \"barbarous\" killing of civilians trying to help Iraqis. In fact the four men killed in Fallujah were US mercenaries. Most of the media did not report the scale of brutality that US forces had recently meted out to Iraqi civilians in Fallujah.
JUST 60 days to go now until the 10 June European and London Assembly elections. Respect supporters are to up the tempo of their election campaign after the Easter holiday. Leaflets, posters, cavalcades, walkabouts, banner drops, press stunts, workplace and community meetings and much, much more are under way across England. In some areas things are even more urgent.
ROYAL MAIL plans to scrap a longstanding service, the Newspaper Registration Service. This allows registered newspapers to send papers on a first class service for second class rates.
THE TENTH of April 2003, exactly a year ago, saw the pulling down of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad. The media flashed the image across the world. It was meant to carry the simple message: The US had won and Iraq was on the road to peace and freedom.
CAMPAIGNERS HANDED out about 600,000 leaflets against the British National Party (BNP) during the Unite Against Fascism day of action last weekend. "It was a tremendous step in getting the message out that we are going to stop the BNP making headway in the elections on 10 June," says Weyman Bennett, joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism (UAF). Everywhere we heard reports of people joining Unite in significant numbers and many more delighted to see the campaign taking off. It is a springboard to mass leafleting on 1 May, when we are aiming to hand out not hundreds of thousands, but millions of leaflets. We are going to build on last weekend to get even more people involved."
A HUNDRED catering crew workers, based in the Manchester depot of Virgin Trains, are holding a series of strikes against the imposition of new rosters. They struck on Tuesday of last week, when many strikers joined the picket line, and were due out again this Thursday. "We are not prepared to put up with new shifts being imposed on us," says RMT union rep James Davis. The participation on the picket line shows the strength of feeling. That has grown as management have sent out insulting and intimidatory memos to staff. The catering grades conference of our union backed us last weekend and we feel we can win. This action we are taking isn't just for Manchester, but for all rail workers
PARENTS, CARERS and children from Craven Park primary school in Hackney held a brilliant protest last week against the closure of our school (see picture below). It was Hackney at its best-200 black, white and Asian people united. It was a mix of young and old in the battle for a decent education at a local school. The Learning Trust, the body which runs Hackney schools, says that closure is its "preferred option" for Craven Park.
THE "COUNCIL housing" group of MPs are organising an inquiry into the government's housing policy. They are inviting activists, council tenants and trade unionists, to come to parliament on Wednesday 12 May contribute evidence to support the "fourth option" of direct investment in council housing.
COUNCIL WORKERS in Newham, east London, have voted by 86 percent for strikes to defend their Unison union branch. The New Labour council wants to axe the union facility time for elected branch officers and evict the union branch from its office in a council building. Unison chair Michael Gavan told Socialist Worker,
AROUND 100 people attended a meeting in Birmingham organised by the Guantanamo Human Rights Commission on Wednesday of last week. Speakers included Azmat Begg, father of Moazzam Begg who is currently being detained at Camp Delta in Guantanamo Bay, Natalia Garcia, a human rights lawyer representing those being held in Woodhill and Belmarsh prisons under current anti-terrorism legislation, John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat leader of Birmingham City Council and Corin Redgrave of the Guantanamo Human Rights Commission.
POSTAL WORKERS in Oxford stopped work on Tuesday of last week and were still out as Socialist Worker went to press. They are taking action against a gang of bullies who are terrorising workers at the city's main mail depot. Around 450 workers are involved in the protest which has brought the mail centre to a halt.
THE TUC has called a national demonstration to demand that the government and employers "pay up for pensions". Pensioners are outraged at the low level at which the basic state pension has been set by the government-forcing many retired workers to live in poverty. And in recent years there have been a number of scandals where bosses have pillaged company pension funds, or when such funds have collapsed leaving workers with nothing.
A CONSULTATIVE ballot of Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members was believed to have delivered a vote backing the leadership's negotiating position as Socialist Worker went to press. But it also seemed that the turnout in the poll was very low-particularly by the standards of FBU ballots.
TRADE UNIONS organised a march and rally against job losses in Newcastle last weekend. Some 500 protesters marched through the city to oppose job cuts in manufacturing industry. TGWU union leader Tony Woodley spoke at the rally, telling protesters that his union would fight to save manufacturing jobs.
HACKNEY carriage drivers in Watford have been in dispute for months with Silverlink after the train-operating company evicted them from the taxi rank. Silverlink have now let their rank to the highest bidding minicab firm. Members of the public now have to pre-book their taxi.
OVER 100,000 civil servants are set to strike on Tuesday and Wednesday. The workers in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the prisons service and the Office for National Statistics are fighting for decent pay. This is a crucial battle for the future of public services and the PCS civil servants' union. The government is out to break the PCS.
WHAT DO you get for bravely standing up to a bullying gang which management has failed to take action against? If you are Oxford postal workers then your bosses threaten you with "punitive action".
GERMANY SAYS its biggest ever mobilisation for social justice and against cuts in social benefits took place on Saturday. More than 500,000 people, mostly workers, took to the streets-250,000 in the capital, Berlin, 120,000 in Cologne and 150,000 in Stuttgart. The German demonstrations were largely focused on the government of Gerhard Schršder, a coalition between the SPD (equivalent to the Labour Party in Britain) and the Greens.
MORDECHAI VANUNU was jailed for 18 years for exposing the truth about Israel's secret nuclear weapons programme. He is due to be released a week next Wednesday after serving the full sentence. In 1986 Vanunu revealed to the Sunday Times that Israel had produced some 200 nuclear warheads, making it the world's sixth largest nuclear power.
AILEEN WUORNOS was executed by lethal injection in October 2002. She was only the second woman to be executed in Florida since the American Civil War. Aileen had killed six men. She was hailed as the US's first women serial killer and there's nothing the media loves more than a mass murderer, and if she is a blonde prostitute with a lesbian lover then just watch the headlines flow. Police officers involved in her case were said to be negotiating book and movie deals about her case before she was even arrested.
THIS WEEK Socialist Worker sellers in Sheffield realised what it means to sell a paper that is at the heart of the movement. They sent this report about how sales and campaigning and solidarity fitted together last week:
IMMIGRANTS ARE under fire again. No one should fall for the lies the mainstream parties and the press peddle about immigrants and asylum seekers flooding the country. Beverley Hughes had to resign as a minister because New Labour whipped up a climate of hostility to satisfy the Tory press.
TWO MEN were forced to testify before a government committee last week after being accused of stashing away £100 million. It should be branded as one of the biggest scandals of New Labour's government. The two, John Towers and Peter Beale, are the bosses of Phoenix.
I WAS born in 1968 in Baghdad. I arrived with my family in Britain in 1970. My father is from the same town as Saddam Hussein and attended the same school. But he was a staunch opponent of the Ba'athist regime. Things became extremely oppressive for those who didn't stay in line. So my father came to Britain under the pretext of getting a university fellowship. In reality he was fleeing an unbearable situation.
GENOCIDE IS an overused word, but ten years ago it took place in the tiny African country of Rwanda. Throughout 100 days between 800,000 and one million people were murdered in a country of just six million. The media coverage remembering these events conveys the horror. But much of it also accepts two arguments. The first is that there was something inexplicable about what occurred-or that perhaps this is something uniquely "African".
THE MOST evil film ever made was probably Jud Suess, commissioned by Goebbels in 1940 to fan hatred of the Jews on the eve of the Final Solution. A thousand years of European anti-Semitism were condensed in the image of the cowering rapist Suess, with his dirty beard, hook nose, and whining voice. The audience was instigated to rejoice in the lynching of this subhuman monster at the film's end.
THE BIGGEST single group of people who suffered repression under Saddam Hussein's regime are in revolt against the US occupation. And George Bush's only answer to the Shia uprising is to act in the same brutal fashion as the government that was toppled a year ago.
The Russian Revolution of October 1917 was greeted across the world with enormous popular enthusiasm. In the midst of the bloody slaughter of the First World War the workers' and soldiers' councils had taken control of the country. The new soviet government took Russia out of the war, instituting far-reaching reforms. Factory committees took over enterprises. The peasants won the land. Legislation gave women the most advanced freedoms anywhere in the world.
WITH GREAT sadness we record the death of our comrade, Pete Lambdon. Pete joined the Socialist Workers Party in Southampton around 1980 while still a soldier, radicalised by his experiences in Northern Ireland. Soon afterwards he moved to Portsmouth, where he was a staunch member of the branch through the difficult 1980s.
THE SCOTTISH nursery nurse dispute has reminded activists like myself of the tremendous energy, endeavour, imagination, determination and inspiration of the Timex strike some 12 years ago. The Timex strikers were another group of mostly women workers who showed no regard for the accepted limitations of trade union struggle.
ONE OF the nastiest members of the Bush gang is starting to get his comeuppance. Richard Perle is one of the key "hawks" behind George Bush, and is known in the US as the "Prince of Darkness". Richard Perle has had to back down from his attempt to sue an investigative journalist for libel.