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Nice chance to take on the privateers

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Issue 1725

What we think

Nice chance to take on the privateers

WHAT KIND of Europe do we want to live in? The press present arguments about the European Union (EU) as a row between chauvinistic Tories and Europe-loving New Labour. But tens of thousands of trade unionists will demonstrate outside the EU summit in Nice, southern France, next week.

They will demand what neither New Labour nor the Tories dare, or care, to demand-a social Europe where ordinary people have rights, not a Europe where the rule of profit is all. They will demonstrate against the tyranny of unemployment, long working hours and the lack of union rights.

The EU leaders meeting in Nice next week have their quibbles with each other. But they are united by a central aim. They want to extend the neo-liberal, free market agenda of the IMF, World Bank and WTO across the countries of Europe. They want to dismantle all barriers to the free market that exist within the EU’s borders so they can ram through the privatisation of health, education and other services.

The EU leaders want to level down workers’ rights across Europe, not level them up. And their model is the US, where workers do even longer hours and have even fewer holidays than workers in Europe. That is why the new leader of the German business federation this week demanded more deregulation of the German labour market and much greater flexibility in working hours-repeating demands made by New Labour’s Gordon Brown to the EU last year.

Tony Blair this week promised a new blitz against the “burdens on business”. A new deregulation bill to make life even easier for employers is expected to be announced in the Queen’s Speech next Wednesday. In Greece last week there was an example of the bosses’ and politicians’ vision of the EU.

The European Court of Human Rights told the Greek government it was wrong to confiscate the palaces and estates of the former Greek monarch and said he should get compensation. Yet the Greek monarchy was formally abolished after a 1973 referendum, and the ex-monarch has not lived in Greece since 1967! The thousands who will demonstrate in Nice, mobilised by European unions including the British TUC, want a better future for the majority of people in Europe, not just for a rich elite.

Their protest is the next step on from Seattle, Millau, Melbourne, Prague and Seoul. Every worker in Britain should back it.

No justice, no peace

Campaigns fight on

BLACK AND white people came together to mourn last weekend and demand justice for three black men killed in separate tragic circumstances. They were Christopher Alder, Tariq Javed and Roger Sylvester.

Hundreds attended the funeral of Christopher Alder in Hull last Saturday who was unlawfully killed while in police custody in Hull in April 1998. Shoppers stopped in respect as Christopher’s funeral procession passed with campaign and trade union banners.

Last Sunday the funeral was held for taxi driver Tariq Javed, who died after his killers used his taxi to run him over twice. No venue in Bury, Lancashire, was big enough to hold the 2,000 mourners who attended as black and white drivers across east Lancashire united in grief.

Also on Sunday angry demonstrators gathered outside Tottenham police station in North London. They were protesting at the Crown Prosecution Service’s decision not to prosecute any of the eight police officers who were involved in the death of Roger Sylvester.

Britain’s Sick Export

BSE IS now spreading right across Europe. It is emerging in France, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal and Ireland. There are now only four countries in the European Union which have no recorded cases.

The Tories had the nerve this week to call for a ban on beef from France. Yet during the years of Tory government they drove through the policies of privatisation and deregulation that gave us BSE in the first place. The disease was then spread because the British meat industry, with government backing, deliberately exported BSE-infected material after it was banned in Britain.

Some 81 people have already died horrific deaths from CJD, the human variant of BSE, in Britain. Now one person is dead in Ireland and another two are dead in France. Privatisation and free market policies kill. The Tories may be criticising the government for its plans to sell off air traffic control, but New Labour is continuing old Tory policies over privatisation.

Issues like BSE and defending air traffic control are more reasons to support the protests against the EU leaders’ free market agenda in Nice.

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