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Bring Genoa spirit home

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Issue 1760


Bring Genoa spirit home

I WENT to Genoa as part of a delegation of four people from my local GMB branch. We wanted to send our message against privatisation, in defence of asylum seekers and against corporate greed. Despite attempts by the French state to stop our Globalise Resistance train, they couldn’t stop what was the best demo I have ever been on. On the Saturday after the police killing, far more people turned out than the 100,000 expected.

Hundreds of thousands of us marched, chanting in English, Italian, French and German. People protested against many issues-inequality, environmental destruction, police brutality. But the feeling that united us was that another world is possible.

Italian prime minister Berlusconi told local people not to hang out their underwear as it looked unsightly, and so for the first time washing became a form of protest. Elderly Genovese people waved flags from their balconies and some even lowered water down to demonstrators. There were thousands of Italian Communists, environmentalists, revolutionary socialists and tens of thousands of trade unionists united against the eight middle aged men inside.

At one point a rumour swept the demonstration that the conference was closed, and a carnival atmosphere erupted everywhere. Even when we found out the truth we knew we were at something special, and that those inside who had felt themselves immune were now being challenged.

  • JAMES WOODCOCK, Holborn GMB, Central London

Act and win locally

WITH THE brutal murder of Carlo Giuliani fresh in our minds it was with trepidation that I, and another student nurse, marched in solidarity through the streets of Genoa with 300,000 other anti-capitalists.

Within the Royal London Hospital we are training in the shadow of PFI-profit from illness. This will mean bed reductions, the loss of services and the sale of jobs to the private sector.

For us, one of the capturing moments came when a group of Greek medics displayed a banner stating, “Heath is a social right not a privilege”. This left us feeling less isolated in our campaign. It was the one moment when we realised that people from all around the world were unified by the same sense of disgust.

The message we are bringing back is this-yes, we have global enemies, but to defeat corporate globalisation we must act and win locally. All of us, from transport to health workers, face the consequences of profit before people. It is now time to say no more.

  • ADRIAN DUFFY, East London

Tell your friends

WE ARE both students in sixth form centres in London. We joined the protests in Genoa because we felt it was the only real way of getting our voices heard. We were both slightly apprehensive about the levels of violence and heavy policing.

But this was certainly not the overriding memory of the events. The feeling of solidarity, strength and possibility for change is something which made a big impression on us and left us feeling very positive about the anti-capitalist movement.

We now plan to go back to our respective colleges and let as many people know about the events in Genoa as possible.

  • BEN and JAMES, North London

Video exposes police

MILLIONS OF people watched with horror the video footage of a violent assault by West Yorkshire police on a young working class man, Chris Wilson of Wakefield. The attack included a kick in the groin, three punches in the face and a knee in the back.

Disgracefully, the police did not suspend the police officers involved. Unfortunately, the majority of the 2,000 plus on the recent anti-Nazi demonstration in Bradford are all too familiar with Chris’s experience. The police were part of the same West Yorkshire force. On the anti-Nazi demo the police spent all afternoon goading and winding up mainly younger Asians, while known Nazis were allowed to walk around the centre of Bradford.

The British police have learnt to become more “continental”-they wear the same protective clothing and carry the same offensive weapons as, for example, the Italian Carabinieri. The attack on Chris Wilson comes after the killing of a protester in Genoa, and killings by police on the streets of Liverpool and Brixton. It has exposed as a lie the idea that the police are there to protect ordinary people.

  • ATEEQ SIDDIQUE, Bradford

‘Swiss Cottage is not for sale’

WE HELD a fantastic protest recently. Over 500 people formed a circle of hands around the Swiss Cottage site which is threatened by Camden council’s redevelopment plans. In an outrageous multi-million pound deal, Camden want to sell the site to Barretts.

We stand to lose a popular square and market, a five a side football pitch, most of an adventure playground, a Latin American dance and cultural centre, and 20 mature trees. The existing sports centre would be demolished and rebuilt with smaller sports and swimming facilities.

In their place we would get a 16-storey tower block containing 120 500,000 luxury apartments! There would be more space for underground parking than for sports. The council is hiding behind a promise of 40 new social housing flats. But these three-bed flats have two of the bedrooms with no windows! No wonder people are angry. The mood on the protest was defiant and enthusiastic. Many stepped up from the crowd to speak. Maddy Cooper was cheered when she announced she had been the Socialist Alliance candidate for the constituency in the general election. A judicial review in November will hold up demolition until the end of the year.

People have already talked about lying down in front of bulldozers. Many see our fight as part of the worldwide struggle against the priorities of big business-“Our little bit of Seattle.”

  • SIMON JOYCE and LIZ WHEATLEY, Central London

Not all racists

I DON’T think many readers of Socialist Worker will have seen recent editions of the Daily Mail. A Stratford-based boys’ football team which Sol Campbell once played in has featured in a couple of articles. Former team-mate Paul Phillips featured prominently in a second article.

He was the local candidate for the Socialist Alliance in the May 2000 council elections and is quoted saying, “There was no hatred between any of us, nor any of the racism that people fear in east London.”

This is a welcome change to the usual perception of east Londoners as racist and intolerant lovers of all things English. Sol’s ex team-mates decided to donate the money the Daily Mail paid for the articles to the family of a deceased former player and the anti-fascist magazine, Searchlight.

It would be nice if the one former team-mate who is making very good money would make a similar gesture. Time to put your hand in your pocket, Sol.

  • COLIN YATES, East London

Tribune of injustice

I AM shocked at the government’s proposal to bring in charges on workers applying to employment tribunals. The government wants to cut tribunal cases by 130,000 year-purely to save money for big business. I was one of 12 workers unfairly dismissed from Islington council in 1998. Our salaries were immediately stopped without warning. I can’t see how workers would find 10p, let alone 100 to lodge an application to an employment tribunal.

We won our case, but we may not have been able to contest it at all. There has also been a suggestion to reduce the numbers on employment tribunal panels from three people to just one. Only one person or a magistrate will make the decision, reducing the possibility of an impartial judgement.

It is difficult enough already for workers to receive fairness and justice in the tribunal courts. Introducing fees will make it far harder.

  • CECILIA PROSPER, East London

Wrong on Hayes?

SO AFTER less than a week in office CWU general secretary Billy Hayes has sold out, according to Socialist Worker (14 July). This may not be a record for you, but it’s impressive anyway. The dispute in NDO collapsed because a legal ballot was allowed to lapse. This was not a smart move.

In such circumstances it is clearly right for the general secretary to pick up the mess, rather than blame national or local officials. After all, the first hit from the court would have been 250,000 of CWU members’ money. The second hit would not have been long in coming.

Perhaps the 24-hour strike should have gone ahead regardless of the consequences. In the situation where management and government are preparing to take on the CWU, such a stance offers a head start to management in the struggle. And does every branch have the option you are suggesting?

We are preparing for a national strike ballot. Charlie Kimber’s article in the same issue is worth debating, even though he offers no basis for uniting the membership. But attacking Billy Hayes is a cheap and divisive shot, indicating only the writer’s lack of tactics or principles.

  • STEPHEN BELL, Cardiff

Postal points

ON 4 July a young Catholic, Ciaran Cummings, was shot dead by Loyalists. But strangely there are no requests for the decommissioning of Loyalist arms. On 10 July Geraldine Ewing, a wheelchair-bound elderly widow, was put out of her house with her disabled brother and two sons.

They were bullied out of their home by Loyalists who also took 100 benefit money. It took six gallant men to carry out this eviction-six men against two physically disabled invalids and two minors. Geraldine died of a heart attack that morning as a result of the incident which left her homeless.

  • MAIRE CONALLACH, North London

CONGRATULATIONS on your excellent paper and in particular your coverage of the protests in Genoa.

As someone who was there, I have to say your reports gave by far the most accurate picture of what really went on. Coming into work on the London tube I was reading Socialist Worker. When I had finished I put it down on the seat next to me.

It was instantly picked up by the person sitting opposite me, who began reading with interest! Why don’t you distribute spare copies in public areas such as trains, buses and libraries?

  • DAN OZAROW, London

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