Socialist Worker

Socialist Worker


Issue: 1835

Dated: 25 Jan 2003



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Whole World Says No War

More troops are pouring into the Gulf


International Comment Features Reviews What We Think Other

News

Stop these cruel tests

THE Hertfordshire branch of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has launched a nationwide campaign against the government's regime of compulsory testing for all seven, 11 and 14 year olds. These tests-SATs-have become a curse for pupils, parents and teachers alike. Too many primary schools have become production lines for test results which New Labour wants to use for the obscenity of school league tables.

Lecturers willing to fight for pay

THE NATFHE union's special further education (FE) sector conference has voted unanimously for escalating strike action if the employers fail to make an acceptable offer at their meeting with the FE unions next Wednesday. The strikes last May and November were crucial to getting the government to put extra money into colleges.

Health service

THE executive of the health sector of public sector union Unison delivered a surprising blow to the government's attempt to drive through a rotten three-year pay deal for NHS staff. The government wants all health workers to accept a three year 10 percent pay deal, worth just 3.2 percent a year.

Norwich buses

BUS STRIKES in Norwich have been suspended after management made workers a new offer last week. Some 350 drivers working for the First Group firm in the town recently went on strike for seven days in protest at being made to work longer driving hours. The strike was solid and workers held lively picket lines, stopping some agency workers from going into work.

Socialist Alliance

THERE WILL be local council elections in many parts of England outside London on Thursday 1 May. A number of Socialist Alliances, including Birmingham, Bristol and Colchester, have already selected some candidates. Many more Socialist Alliances will be selecting candidates over the next few weeks.

Globalise Resistance

GLOBALISE Resistance hosted an important meeting last Sunday. It was attended by activists and representatives from NGOs, trade unions, campaigns and local Globalise Resistance groups. The outcome was a calendar of actions around issues and events for the year ahead. DESPINA MAVROU

Train drivers

AROUND 2,500 train drivers working for the freight company English Welsh & Scottish Railway (EWS) are to strike over pay and hours. They include workers who have recently blocked ammunition trains in Scotland. The workers are members of Aslef and voted overwhelmingly for action in a ballot. Strikes have been set for four Saturdays-1,8,15,22 February.

Probation officers

PROBATION OFFICERS in England and Wales are set to take a one-day strike on Wednesday 29 January. This comes after an overwhelming vote for industrial action by members of the Napo union.

Anti-deportation

FRIENDS AND campaigners were angered by the news that SWP member Tham Sarki was detained on Friday 17 January and is facing deportation. Tham is an asylum seeker from Nepal and is currently studying at Lewisham College in south London.

Arms train drivers plan next move

RAIL WORKERS in Motherwell, near Glasgow, have underlined why they refused to move a train carrying ammunition for use against Iraq last week. Their action should be an inspiration to everyone who opposes war. At a meeting of their Aslef union branch Motherwell train drivers discussed the stance taken by drivers working for the EWS rail company. The meeting agreed a statement which began:

Why we welcome refugees

THE MOST right wing and privileged forces in society are trying to create hysteria over people fleeing persecution to come to this country. They are even trying to turn the death of a policeman in Manchester into a campaign against asylum seekers. The logic is barking. The fact that the three suspects arrested at the Manchester house had claimed asylum says nothing about the overwhelming majority of asylum seekers.

Fees plan will create an elite

NEW LABOUR'S plans to introduce top-up fees for university courses will exclude more working class people from higher education. All universities will be able to charge up to £3,000 for courses. Students will be expected to pay back their fees after they have left university. Even the poorest students will have to pay the fees.

Global protests against the war

"WORLD AGAINST the War". That was the front-page headline of the Independent on Sunday after protests against Bush's planned war on Iraq swept the world last weekend. As well as in the US (see page 5), there were protests in many other countries.

PFI schools slated by watchdog

THE FIRST schools built under the government's flagship Private Finance Initiative (PFI) were "significantly worse" than other new schools in England, says a public spending watchdog. PFI allows private companies to build schools and lease them back to local education authorities for a profit.


International


Comment

Blunkett trashes anti-racist fight

IT'S A fair bet that when Doreen and Neville Lawrence accepted their OBEs in the new year they had no idea the report they had fought so hard for would be tossed into the bin by the home secretary.

Terror laws hit innocent

THE WEEKEND'S newspapers had some of the most uplifting coverage for ages-and some of the most disgusting. On the one hand, there was extensive coverage of the mushrooming anti-war movement across the globe. On the other, there was a deluge of bile against asylum seekers, linking them with terrorism and whipping up a frenzy whereby every refugee could be a killer with a vat of ricin in their flat.


Features

Housing crisis drives children to suicide

ANYONE WHO listened to Radio 4's Today news programme on Monday morning would have been shocked by the story of a south London family facing eviction. The mother spoke of how one of her children, now eight years old, had repeatedly tried to commit suicide, once tying a flex round his neck, on another occasion throwing himself in front of a car.

How can we stop the war?

Chris Harman argues for mass protests and mass action

Media have ignored Algeria's suffering

THE MEDIA have whipped up hysteria against refugees from Algeria after last week's killing of a police officer in Manchester. They paint a picture that those coming here from the North African country are all potential killers, linked to a dangerous network of Islamist terrorists. This is racist nonsense. And the real reasons people are fleeing Algeria are rarely even discussed.

Family is changing but equality is long way off

HOW MANY dads get laughed at today if they take their child out to the shops, pushing a pram? I remember a TV documentary where one man described how he was ridiculed when he pushed his daughter in a pram to the shops. That was Britain in the 1950s. Today it is common to see men taking care of their children in public.

'Get the strike back onto the offensive'

"IT'S A fight on two sides now, and everybody knows it. It's not just over pay. I've just seen Prescott on the TV and he's out to break our union and slash the UK fire service." That's what Mark Barter from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in Bedfordshire told Socialist Worker as firefighters and control staff launched their third strike on Tuesday.

Back FBU members

BIRMINGHAM: Members of the FBU and other trade unionists lobbied the appeal by FBU activist Steve Godward in Birmingham last week against his sacking. The union sees what has happened to Steve, who also stood as a Socialist Alliance candidate at the general election, as a clear case of victimisation. The procedure at the appeal confirmed that. It found Steve guilty and jumped straight to upholding his sacking without even hearing the mitigation.

Movement reaches every part of Britain

OPPOSITION TO war is growing in every part of Britain. From local areas in big towns to small towns and even villages people are getting organised to build for a monster-sized demonstration in London on 15 February.


Reviews

Eminem raps to a different beat

IN THE film 8 Mile, Rabbit is a young white rapper attempting to deal with his anger and alienation through music. The part is played by the US rapper Eminem.

House divided against itself

THIS NEW edition of Our House in the Last World, the first novel by Cuban-American writer Oscar Hijuelos, tells the story of the Santinio family, who leave Cuba to emigrate to New York in the 1940s. The novel begins with the story of Mercedes and Alejo, young lovers who will become the mother and father of two children, Hector and Horacio.

Ghetto film hits all the key notes

THE PIANIST is based on the account by Wladyslaw Szpilman, an accomplished pianist, of his survival of the Warsaw Ghetto. When the Nazis invaded Warsaw in September 1939, 360,000 of the city's one million population were Jewish.


What We Think

We can't trust UN to stop war

THE BIGGEST day of anti-war protests the world has ever seen took place last Saturday. But instead of listening to the majority around the world who oppose war on Iraq, Tony Blair sent a quarter of the British army to the Gulf. Support for the war in Britain has fallen to a new low and outright opposition has risen to new heights, according to a poll in the Guardian that has tracked opinion since August.


Other Categories

Starvation is Labour policy

AS A result of recent changes in government policy, asylum seekers are being evicted from their homes, having all benefits removed and being denied the right to work. Most are Iraqi Kurds. We challenged my local MP and immigration minister Beverley Hughes to say what the government expects Kurdish refugees to do in such circumstances.



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