Solidarity 037, 25 September 2003

Organise the union rank and file. Ditch Blair!

Published on: Thu, 02/10/2003 - 10:48

Support Iraqi workers; end the occupation
Rebuild the health service; no two-tier NHS
Scrap anti-union laws
Free education

Things are changing for the better in the labour movement. The election of new trade union leaders is beginning to impact on the Blair Labour Party, to which most of those unions with new leaders are affiliated, though the left-led civil service union PCS is a notable exception.

New Labour's party conference, due to start on 29 September, is a very much reduced shadow of the old Labour conference.

For nearly a decade it has been no more than a showcase for the Labour

An Open Letter to Alan Thornett of the International Socialist Group

Published on: Thu, 02/10/2003 - 10:45

In an article in the last issue of Resistance, which has also been put out as a separate four-page pamphlet, you write: "the AWL position on working with Muslim people [emphasis added] is dreadful and their position on George Galloway is scandalous. But such positions can only be challenged and marginalised politically. Organisational means [meaning such things as the SWP attempt at the Socialist Alliance conference to deprive the AWL of representation on the Executive of the SA] are not only wrong - they are counter-productive."
I presume the last sentence was written tongue-in-cheek, because

Union leaders stir against Blair

Published on: Thu, 02/10/2003 - 10:09

If the trade union movement is serious about defending workers' rights in the period ahead, it will have to do two things.

1. There must be a national demonstration and day of action organised by the TUC to protest at the threat to rob workers of their pension rights. As Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, has said, the threat to force us to work for an extra five years in order to access our full pensions, makes a nonsense of Labour's supposed commitment to 'work-life' balance. The trade unions agreed in principle to organise a national demonstration

The delusion of 100 years?

Published on: Thu, 02/10/2003 - 10:09

Blair's "speech" to the trade union leadership during TUC conference - the written version of it circulated to the press - laid it hard on the line. That Blair's administration should act like a left-wing government is, he told them, simply ruled out. Return to a Labour Party seriously influenced by the unions was, he insisted, fantasy.
"The idea of a left wing Labour Government as the alternative to a moderate and progressive one is the abiding delusion of 100 years of our party. We aren't going to fall for it again".

By "moderate and progressive" he means the sort of profit-serving

"Roadmap" near collapse

Published on: Thu, 02/10/2003 - 10:05

By Martin Thomas

On 20 September, six thousand demonstrators from Israel's "Peace Now" movement rallied in Tel Aviv to demand Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories and condemn Israel's policy of assassinating Palestinian leaders.

It was the day after the USA had joined with Israel and two tiny US client states to register the only four votes in the United Nations General Assembly against a motion calling on Israel not to carry out its announced plans to deport or kill Palestinian Authority president Yassir Arafat. The USA had already vetoed a similar resolution in the UN Security

DSEI protests end in 144 arrests

Published on: Thu, 02/10/2003 - 10:03

Since the 1 September, 144 people have been arrested in protests against the Defence Systems and Equipment international arms fair (DSEi) that took place 9-12 September in East London.
Policing tactics have been condemned and Liberty have won the right to seek a High Court injunction over use of Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000; they have also offered to provide legal representation for anyone stopped or detained under this legislation. Bindmans solicitors are preparing challenges for people who have a serious list of complaints against police, including:

  • Wrongful/malicious charges
  • Assaul

Germany's Haider gets the boot

Published on: Thu, 02/10/2003 - 10:03

By Dirk Haarman

In August Ronald Schill, interior minister in Hamburg city-state, was sacked after he allegedly tried to blackmail Ole von Beust, the Christian Democratic mayor of the city whose party forms a coalition with Schill's own party. This was the political end of Germany's best-known rightwing populist politician, once dubbed Judge Merciless, and often compared with Joerg Haider of Austria.
Mr Schill shot to fame in Germany in 2001 when his tiny "law-and-order" party (the Schill Party) won just over 19 per cent of the vote in city-state elections, finishing 50 years of SPD rule.

Let Iraq's peoples rule themselves!

Published on: Thu, 02/10/2003 - 10:00

By Clive Bradley

At the end of May, less than a month after George W Bush had declared the war in Iraq officially over, US soldiers arrived in a poor, notoriously dangerous suburb of Baghdad offering to help the local people set up a council to run their affairs. On June 2, five local councillors were elected. One of them, Majid Muhammed Yousef, a Kurd, who topped the poll, told the International Occupation Watch Centre, that he had been reluctant to participate because he didn't trust the Americans: "It's like Palestine or Beirut," he said. "No one likes to see their country occupied."
But he

Sri Lanka: Free trade area workers organise

Published on: Thu, 02/10/2003 - 09:59

By the FTZ workers' union

At least two thousand "free trade zones" operate in more than seventy countries, employing between 70 and 100 million workers, 60-70% of whom are women, mostly under 30 years of age. The majority of companies in these zones are in the electronic, textile and leather industries.
The FTZWU (Free Trade Zone Workers' Union) is currently fighting a difficult battle for union rights at the Jaqalanka factory in Sri Lanka - a production site for several North American clothing firms. The factory is in the oldest and largest free trade zone in the country, home to 92 firms

TV: Sweatshops are good for you?

Published on: Thu, 02/10/2003 - 09:55

Tim Cooper

Channel 4's documentary Globalisation is Good (20 September) certainly lived up to its billing as "controversial" . In fact it could easily have been called "Sweatshops are Good".
For instance, the film showed a Nike factory in Vietnam where the boss and some carefully chosen workers said that they thought Nike was a brilliant employer (loans, sports facilities, clean factory, high wages, etc.).

The film cut to "anti-globalisation" protests in which No Sweat banners featured heavily, with a commentary which claimed that "this boycott movement" would stop production going to

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