Dated: 13 Sep 2003
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EVERY DAY brings more horror for the Iraqi people. US soldiers killed 18 year old Farah Fadhil two weeks ago when they threw a grenade through her window. Her legs were shredded, her hands burnt and punctured by strips of metal. She had been walking to her window to try to plead with soldiers who were spraying bullets at her apartment.
AN IMPASSIONED debate on fighting racism and fascism at the TUC revealed a mounting determination among trade unionists to halt the rise of the Nazi British National Party (BNP). There was universal anger that New Labour's anti-union laws allowed BNP members to sue unions that expel them from membership. Vicky Knight from the Fire Brigades Union said, "The Labour Party pandering to the right wing undermines at every stage our campaign against racism. "Their approach to asylum seekers will fuel the fascists."
"WE WANT as many CWU members on the demonstration as possible. We don't need more British troops sent to Iraq. We need more Iraqis running their own country." Billy Hayes, general secretary of the postal workers' CWU union
THE RIFT between the unions and Tony Blair's government came into full view at the TUC conference this week. Union leaders and delegates representing over seven million workers tore into every core New Labour policy-from the occupation of Iraq to foundation hospitals, top-up student fees and the anti-union laws. Calls for action over the pensions crisis moved to centre stage.
MANUAL WORKERS in the GMB union working for Manchester city Council struck for a day on Monday against the imposition of the Single Status agreement. They voted three to one to strike in an official ballot. Many other council workers in other departments refused to cross their picket lines.
Hull HULL BUS drivers, employed by Stagecoach, are striking over pay. Some 300 drivers walked out last Saturday following a mass meeting. It had rejected a company proposal for a phased pay increase that would only bring an hourly rate of £6.84.
NURSERY NURSES in Scotland plan two days of strikes in all regions next week. Some areas will strike on Tuesday and Wednesday, others on Wednesday and Thursday. The action will include a major protest in Edinburgh on the Wednesday. But the first event is the major rally planned for this Saturday, 13 September, to give other workers and parents the opportunity to join nursery nurses and show their support.
THE FIRST ever Walthamstow festival took place this weekend in north east London. The themes of the festival were "Peace on our streets" and "Celebrate our cultural diversity". The main stage saw some fantastic acts from across the world. There was a respect stage with a massive Love Music Hate Racism banner across the top of it, an urban peace stage, a dance stage and a comedy gig with Mark Steel and Shazia Mirza.
SOME 800 workers at IT company Fujitsu Services in West Gorton, Manchester, plan to take industrial action after staff unanimously rejected management's latest offer. The vote came at a union general meeting held on Thursday of last week, which also agreed to increase the planned action, adding an extra half-day strike before the end of the month.
ALMOST 100 contract workers at the Swan Hunter shipyard on North Tyneside have been sacked after walking out over pay. The men, working for C & D Industrial Services, held an unofficial strike and a few days later were told they had lost their jobs.
A DEMONSTRATION was taking place this week in defence of Egyptian anti-war activists. It is scheduled for Friday 12 September from 5pm to 6.30pm outside the Egyptian embassy at 26 South Street, London W1 (nearest tube Green Park).
GET ON your bike to raise funds for the Socialist Worker Appeal on Sunday 26 October. There are two routes covering 30 miles or 60 miles, both setting out from Victoria Park in London.
NUJ UNION members on the Sheffield Star have named dates when they could call mandatory chapel (branch) meetings after voting for industrial action in a ballot over pay. The dates are on every day in the week beginning 22 September and the meetings can take place at any time between 7am and 3pm. In the ballot 80 percent voted for a strike.
THE recent announcement of the permanent closures of social security offices in the Birmingham area will create huge problems for the weakest in society. Local social security offices have served the community for many years and the hardship for the disabled and pensioners has not been included in the thinking behind the changes.
THE PARLIAMENTARY by-election in the Brent East constituency in west London takes place on Thursday of next week. Brian Butterworth, a Unison union branch secretary, is the Socialist Alliance candidate. He spoke to Socialist Worker about why he is standing, and why he thinks Brent needs a socialist alternative:
WORKERS AT Goodrich Engine Control Systems in Birmingham struck against redundancies on Friday last week and were set to strike again on Friday this week. Members of the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) have been in dispute with the company since the summer when the company announced 115 jobs would go "due to bad trading conditions in aerospace".
CND THE CAMPAIGN for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) held its conference in Birmingham last weekend. The 350 participants debated alliances with other movements and how best to oppose war. Kate Hudson was narrowly elected as CND national chairperson. Kate stands for a close working relationship with groups such as the Stop the War Coalition and the Muslim Association of Britain. People with similar views won 12 of the 15 national executive positions.
A WEEK of protest against a huge government-sponsored arms fair kicked off with a march through central London last Saturday. On Tuesday morning there was a lively protest outside the arms fair itself in east London's Docklands, and yet more protests were set for Wednesday. The British government is pouring hundreds of thousands of public money into the Defence Systems and Equipment International (DSEi) arms fair.
THOUSANDS OF people were descending on the resort of Cancun in Mexico this week to protest at the gathering of world trade ministers, rich business leaders and their hangers-on at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit. The WTO delegates, who include ministers from 150 countries, will be staying in the splendour of luxury hotels with their every need catered for.
The occupation of Iraq has turned into a disaster for George Bush as well as for the people of that country. And disaster for Bush can be catastrophic for Blair. Just four months ago Bush made a special, triumphant "mission accomplished" television address and Blair went to Basra to congratulate British troops. On Sunday Bush made another broadcast, this time to claim that Iraq was the "centre" of a global "fight against terrorism" in which the very future of "civilisation" was at stake.
I DON'T know about you, but I hate columnists who write about their holidays abroad. So I had better apologise in advance! This year I stayed in a tiny village just outside Marciac in the south west corner of France. Marciac, a village of 6,000 inhabitants, puts on the biggest jazz festival in Europe. Over two weeks some of the greatest names in jazz played there-Wayne Shorter, Oscar Peterson and Wynton Marsalis.
WE ARE launching an appeal to raise £150,000. In the first week we raised £12,692. We want to keep improving Socialist Worker and to get more of your stories and reports. Unlike other newspapers, we are not funded by rich backers or by advertising. The Mirror Group made £194.2 million from advertising in the last year, which made up 39 percent of its revenue.
SOCIALIST Worker journalists and circulation staff have been on the road. We have been out at meetings of readers across the country, discussing with you how we can improve your paper, and how together we can make sure all those who want Socialist Worker each week get it. People have talked of how they use Socialist Worker, and why it is different to other papers-especially because readers write for the paper themselves.
"EVEN MANY people in my office who are usually anti-union are now arguing for a strike," says a delivery worker from Crowborough in East Sussex, near Tunbridge Wells.
I remember 11 September 1973. It is deep in the mind of every Chilean. Around 7am we heard on the radio that there was a military uprising. There were only two radio stations functioning. We all tuned to the radio. Allende announced that in the city of Valparaiso the navy had risen up and taken control of the city. But there was no sign of an uprising in the military garrison in the capital, Santiago.
ALLENDE FACED the organised resistance of the Chilean ruling class. Allende's government did nationalise some industry in its first year. But his government was far from extreme. It nationalised 38 big enterprises and took over 1,400 farms. But this was not a major inroad into capitalist power.
THE US government was horrified at the prospect of Allende heading a left wing government in Chile. There were over 100 US multinationals who had investments worth over $1 billion in Chile. Chile received more US aid per head than any other country in the western hemisphere.
THE RESULT gave added urgency to debates at this week's TUC on building a mass campaign to beat back the Nazi BNP. The result in Grays is especially worrying, as the town is little different to dozens across the country.
OVER 2,000 people joined the biggest, and angriest, demonstration yet last Saturday against the Dungavel refugee detention centre in Lanarkshire (right). Scotland's "asylum prison" has been the subject of protests since it opened two years ago. Saturday's demo began with furious demonstrators banging on the huge metal barrier around the centre chanting, "Shut it down!"
THE BNP were beaten in a council by-election in Walker, Newcastle, last week. Kenny Bell, deputy regional convenor of Unison Northern Region, explained how unions are at the centre of a model campaign to beat the BNP.
"BBC PROGRAMMES are revoltingly coarse," said a Cambridge professor reviewing the BBC's modern retelling of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Chaucer's raunchy stories have been popular since he wrote them in the late 13th century. The new tales feature actors like Dennis Waterman, James Nesbitt and Julie Walters. Don't be put off by school memories of Chaucer. This is a cut above the usual fare.
The Key is a major new drama about three generations of working class women in Glasgow. Their story reveals an inspiring history of political activism and working class militancy rarely seen on TV. Donna Franceschild wrote The Key. She spoke to Socialist Worker about why political drama is back in fashion.
TONY BLAIR will go if the anger over his lies and the war on Iraq comes together with the deep bitterness about people's lives in Britain. And that no longer seems a remote possibility. Blair's popularity and satisfaction with the government are both plummeting. The ebbing of support recalls nothing so much as the death throes of Tory leaders Thatcher and Major.
'Anger translates into action' Arriving back in Manchester after the holidays, I was struck by the way the stop the war movement has developed. Anger at the Blair government's war lies is growing, and this has been translated into action.
HORNSEY coroner's court in London has come up with a worrying innovation. It is the first court in Britain to record a verdict of "suicide by cop". Michael Malsbury was killed by a police gunman after a siege at his home in November 2001. The inquest decided he had tried to get himself shot.