Solidarity 039, 23 October 2003

GEC elections: vote Agenda for Change!

Published on: Sun, 11/01/2004 - 17:44

By a TGWU member

At present, the GEC is narrowly controlled by a bureaucratic clique grouped around John Aitkin. This group claims to be on the left, but its record is one of inertia and nepotism. If they retain their hold, Woodley will be isolated and unable to enact the many positive proposals he championed during his successful campaign for the General Secretary's position.

The genuine Broad Left within the TGWU is therefore calling on branches to nominate those candidates who support the Woodley 'Agenda for Change'.

  • Region 1: (Inner: 2 seats) John Murphy and Leonie Snell; (Outer: 1 seat)

Betsygate blues

Published on: Thu, 23/10/2003 - 17:23

By Lucy Clement

Betsygate is one of the sillier political scandals of late. There's no real question of corruption - just a question of whether Mrs Duncan Smith was paid taxpayers' money to do a "real" job as a secretary, or whether she was helping out in the way any MP's partner would reasonably do for free. It's only blown up because so many people in the Conservative Party have an axe to grind against their leader.
When Iain Duncan Smith stood for the leadership, there was one big thing going for him with the party grass roots. He was - in the words of his predecessor as MP for Chingford

Shirin Ebad, Nobel Prize winner: Neither heroine nor villain

Published on: Thu, 23/10/2003 - 17:23

By Yassamine Mather, Workers' Left Unity-Iran

Thousands of people greeted Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi at Tehran's Mehrabad airport. Ebadi is a lawyer and human rights activist. Many who came to meet Ebadi were women activists from NGOs. Others were from independent human rights groups. Comments by Iran's president Khatami, belittling the Nobel peace prize as a political gesture by the Norwegian committee, made sure that this welcoming turned into a major anti government protest. The majority of the participants were from the middle and upper classes.
At the protest were heard

BNP: down but not out

Published on: Thu, 23/10/2003 - 17:22

By Mark Catterall

By May this year the BNP had eight councillors in Burnley, and for a short period were the official opposition on the borough council. In recent months however they have faced setbacks. In June in the Hapton ward by-election, a ward in which they had taken one of the three seats from Labour in the May local elections, they were narrowly beaten by the Liberal-Democrats. Soon after, Simon Bennett deputy organiser of the Burnley BNP resigned.
Later in the summer one of their councillors, 21 year old Luke Smith, was exposed as a convicted "football hooligan", banned from Burnley

Privatisation = profit before safety

Published on: Thu, 23/10/2003 - 17:20

Last weekend saw two shocking derailments on London Underground. On Friday evening, a Piccadilly line train derailed just outside Baron's Court station; on Sunday morning, several people were injured - at least one seriously - when a Northern line train came off the rails in a tunnel at Camden Town. Both seem to be the fault of poor track condition; both can almost certainly be blamed on the privatisation of the Tube's infrastructure.

The day after the second derailment, representatives of one of the tube workers unions, the RMT, held a big and angry meeting. The union has committed itself to

Unionist crisis shakes Blair's plans

Published on: Thu, 23/10/2003 - 17:20

Amidst much whipped-up anticipation Tony Blair flew into Belfast on Tuesday 21 October, as did Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, to be in time to cop the glory for a new, "historic" agreement between Northern Ireland Unionism and Irish nationalism.

The day had been "choreographed" so that step by step it led up to a triumphant announcement of a major "success" by Tony Blair. Catholic-Protestant power-sharing government, suspended a year ago, would be restored after a late November Northern Irish general election.
Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein made a speech. General de Chastelain reported on a new

Mexican garment workers fight ¡La Lucha Sigue!

Published on: Thu, 23/10/2003 - 17:15

By the Puebla Workers' Support Centre (CAT)

In clear breach of both Mexican and international law, the Puebla Labour Board has refused to recognise the Tarrant garment workers' independent trade union (SUITTAR). Over the next few weeks they will rule on the reinstatement of 22 illegally sacked workers at the plant.
In defiance of the denial of its petition for legal recognition SUITTAR activists gathered on 10 October before the office of Puebla Governor, Melqu"ades Morales Flores, to angrily protest the decision and insist that their illegally fired co-workers be reinstalled as soon as

Chinese workers' leaders transferred to special prison

Published on: Thu, 23/10/2003 - 17:14

By Harry Glass

The imprisoned leaders of last years' mass workers' demonstrations in the city of Liaoyang have been transferred to a prison notorious for its brutality. Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang have been moved to Lingyuan Prison, a huge penal colony located close to the border with Inner Mongolia.
Many political dissidents arrested after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 were held at Lingyuan Prison, and numerous reports from prisoners indicate that it is one of the most brutal prisons in the whole of China.

Political prisoners are regularly beaten, shocked with high-voltage electric

Massacre in El Alto

Published on: Thu, 23/10/2003 - 17:11

By Benjamin Dangl and Kathryn Ledebur [abridged]

Over the weekend of 11-12 October, in the city of El Alto, a confrontation between security forces and protesters resulted in 30 dead over one hundred wounded, the great majority from bullet wounds. Protesters in El Alto had been maintaining road blockades for weeks, cutting off the main route to La Paz. As a result, La Paz experienced a severe shortage of gasoline, food and other supplies.
The worst of the confrontations took place on 12 October, when heavily armed military and police escorting gasoline tankers tried to pass through the

Solidarity with Oscar Olivera

Published on: Thu, 23/10/2003 - 17:10

Oscar Olivera, one of the leaders of the gas struggle in Cochabamba is being victimised by his bosses. He has been denied his wages at the Manaco Footwear Company (owned by the multinational BATA) without just cause or explanation. Oscar and his family have also been deprived of their medical insurance.
Oscar is the locally elected Executive Secretary of the Federation of Factory Workers of Cochabamba, on full time facility time. Up until the recent struggle, he has been paid by the company, in accordance with an agreement with the union. He has no other source of income. Oscar was one of the

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