Socialist Worker


Arms sales to Africa

The newspapers have been full of Tony Blair's forthcoming visit to Africa. A new report from the Campaign Against the Arms Trade has found that the value of British arms sales to Africa is set to quadruple over the next year. African nations spent £52 million on arms deals with British firms in 1999.

1m elderly are at risk

Cuts to care homes and social services are leaving one million elderly people at risk. Help the Aged, one of 21 organisations contributing to a new report on the crisis, says that many elderly people "use social services as an emergency measure.

New Labour can't count

Transport secretary Stephen Byers has been caught out again for trying to pass off already allocated government spending as "new". Last week he claimed he had got an extra £2.2 billion for the railways. Within two days officials at the Treasury admitted the money had already been announced in April of last year.

Fury at 'wreckers' insult: 'I felt like crying after Blair spoke'

"Wreckers." That is how Tony Blair insulted public sector workers at a Labour conference in Cardiff last weekend. Nurses, rail workers, postal workers, teachers and cleaners are not "wreckers". They are the people who keep our services going.

Socialist Worker to appear in your newsagent next week

Socialist Worker will be available to a new-and its biggest ever-audience in newsagents across Britain from next week. Major newspaper distributors have recognised the growing mood for left wing ideas after two successful pilot projects, and will distribute Socialist Worker nationally.

Thousands face sack at British Airways

British Airways is threatening to axe another 16,000 jobs. BA cut 7,000 jobs last year, but chief executive Rod Eddington admitted that more jobs would have to be sacrificed this year. Alpha Airways, which supplies in-flight meals and duty free shops, is also planning to sack some 1,000 workers.

Debates aiming at real issues

Muhammad Abbas Shaffi went to a Marxist forum on Kashmir last Thursday in Bristol. He said, "It was the first time I'd been to any meeting like that, but I was really inspired. The speaker had an overwhelming knowledge, and being Kashmiri myself it was the first time I had ever discussed Kashmir from an independent perspective. What I also liked was that it was an open and honest debate by people who had nothing to gain by being there apart from the betterment of humanity. It was debate, not for the sake of it, but to try and overcome the problems in Kashmir and think how to resolve the issue."

News made by victory on pay

The first strike by journalists over pay in over a decade has won a victory at the Bradford Telegraph and Argus titles. After just one half-day stoppage by NUJ union members, management at the Newsquest-owned titles were forced to offer a deal worth 3 percent. The Bradford NUJ chapel (workplace union branch) was the first to win back recognition at Newsquest, which owns papers across the country and is owned by US multinational Gannett.

Devonport blockade

Over 400 people joined a march and sit-down protests as the HMS Vanguard nuclear submarine entered Plymouth's Devonport dockyard for the first time last Sunday. Seven people were arrested during a mass blockade of the nuclear submarine dockyard.

Glasgow & Tower Hamlets

The Scottish Executive announced last week that it is to give £300 million of public money to shore up the plan to privatise Glasgow's council homes. New Labour is prepared to throw still more public money in to push the privatisation through in a tenants' ballot due to get under way in March. Glasgow is just one of the major privatisation plans coming to a head.

BT throws down gauntlet to union

BT has issued a major challenge to its workers' CWU union, and the challenge looks set to spark a strike ballot. BT plans to transfer core workers to a private company.

London Unison, Teachers & Natfhe

Tens of thousands more workers in London are to be balloted on possible action over pay. Council workers, health workers, higher education admin workers and more could be united in a vote across the capital which could pave the way for action. We reported in Socialist Worker last week that delegates from Unison union branches across London had backed an indicative vote among council workers.

Welsh Socialist Alliance

The Welsh Socialist Alliance (WSA) continues an energetic campaign in Ogmore, where a by-election takes place on Thursday of next week.

Strike lands at Labour airport

Around 400 workers at Manchester Airport struck on Monday in the first of six one-hour stoppages. The strikes are against the imposition of new contracts which would mean wage cuts of up to 40 percent, attacks on holidays and sick pay, and a longer working week. The airport management are also threatening to axe jobs

How to boost the dispute

New Labour is determined to break the national dispute involving tens of thousands of job centre and benefits office workers. The government wants to seriously weaken the strikers' PCS union. An internal document for MPs and managers says that the dispute is a "matter of principle" and that the government will not negotiate.

In brief

Members of the Ambulance Service Union on Merseyside are celebrating the reinstatement of two suspended colleagues. Management took two paramedics off work a fortnight ago after both left a shift early due to illness. Workers voted to strike if the two were sacked, and both workers have now been cleared.

War Axis in White House

"Our war against terror is only beginning." That was US president George Bush's chilling message last week. Bush labelled Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an "axis of evil", and threatened them with "the justice of this nation". After the bombing of Afghanistan there is little doubt what US "justice" means.

We are right to take strike action

A crucial battle is now underway at South West Trains (SWT) and Arriva Northern. On the one side stand rail workers fighting for decent pay and dignity at work, and against the madness of privatisation.

Millionaire out to kick the low paid

BRIAN SOUTER-multimillionaire boss of South West Trains and union buster. He is the enemy of everyone who wants a decent public transport system. Souter owns Stagecoach, which runs South West Trains. He built his transport empire by exploiting the chaos of the Tories' rail and bus privatisation. He drove other rival bus firms off the road to gain a dominant position in the bus industry.

Rewarded for failing exams

Nothing succeeds like failure, especially if you are a boss at Edexcel. Edexcel is the exam board that set an unsolvable maths question, sent exam papers back late and lost some papers.

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