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Year 2001 No. 100, June 12, 2001 ARCHIVE

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Building the Workers’ Opposition Is a Crucial Task

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Building the Workers’ Opposition Is a Crucial Task

Chubb Workers’ Court Battle Delayed

Education Company Saviour Proves to Be Executioner

Parents Fight to Save School

EU to Press Ahead with Enlargement Despite Irish Referendum

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Building the Workers’ Opposition Is a Crucial Task

Tony Blair and New Labour are losing no time in making their preparations to step up the anti-social programme with its neo-liberal agenda. This anti-social programme with its agenda of comprehensively paying the rich and broadly attacking society is what Tony Blair is determined to deliver to the bourgeoisie.

The way the new government ministers have set out their stalls is evidence enough of this intention. However, at this time when unions have been warning that the "broad tent" of the labour movement with the Labour Party cannot be taken for granted and is under threat, TUC General Secretary John Monks and other union leaders are urging workers and their unions to enter into partnership with the government. John Monks is calling on trade unions to adopt the attitude not of what the unions want but of what they can do and how they can help the government.

What the government is actually promising to deliver is radical solutions to social programmes, by which is meant the right-wing neo-liberal agenda. John Monks and other union leaders are urging social partnership and refraining from confrontation in regard to this programme of New Labour.

In other words, the conditions are being created, the preparations made, to pre-empt and undermine the demands for society to honour its obligations towards its members and prevent the workers coming to the fore of this movement.

The response of the working class must be to redouble its work to build the workers’ opposition and prevent Tony Blair’s "Third Way" programme from being carried through.

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Chubb Workers’ Court Battle Delayed

The tribunal hearing, set for June 12, has been delayed. It was adjourned until a new date can be set. This move deliberately is an attempt to offset the struggle of the workers for jobs.

A total of 170 workers lost their jobs when the safe-making firm in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton, closed on Friday.

On Friday, after the closure, a farewell party at Heath Town Working Men's club turned into a militant meeting, where the talk of fighting back returned to the workers' agenda.

"We have had 108 years of safe-making in Wolverhampton and we made the last British-made safe from Chubb this week," said Don Sambrook, of the National Union of Lock and Metal Workers. "All the rest are being imported from Indonesia and re-batched from the UK."

Don Sambrook has worked at Chubb for 25 years but is now out of work with no immediate prospects because his skills are non-transferable. He said, "We never had a meeting to save the jobs. It is appalling."

Chubb workers have now been accused of inferior work in the latest attack on their right to a livelihood. The reality is that imports have had to be rectified by experienced Chubb workers even up to the point of Wednesfield expertise being sent abroad to train workers to do their work.

Workers are angry about the redundancies, which are being handled without even consultation with the workers.

The workers at Chubb have had a difficult battle to make their voices heard on their struggle. Like all workers, they are having to consider how to advance their struggle and strengthen their consciousness and organisation around a programme which represents their interests.

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Education Company Saviour Proves to Be Executioner

The private company brought in to turn around education in Islington, north London, has announced cuts of £1.5 million.

Cambridge Education Associates won the contract to run Islington’s schools last year. Ofsted three months ago praised it for turning the tide in Islington away from inefficiency towards confidence.

However, CEA has now said that rising costs over and above the £10.5 million contract means that it will have to make cuts over the next two years. At least 12 staff are likely to lose their jobs.

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said that it was "hardly a ringing endorsement of privatisation" if CEA were forced to cut services "in order to make a decent profit." He added, "Schools should certainly be worried about the level of services they are going to get."

Article Index



Parents Fight to Save School

Parents are fighting to save Angel Primary School in Islington. An independent panel has refused to endorse closure plans drawn up by Cambridge Education Associates, the private company running Islington’s schools. The decision on whether to close the school will now be made by an adjudicator appointed by Department for Education and Employment, who is expected to give a ruling in the autumn.

CEA’s proposal had gone before the independent school organisation committee of Islington, which rejected it. The body is composed of councillors, church representatives and school governors. The head teacher of Angel Primary School, Virginia Fraher, said of the committee’s deliberations: "It was a very different story that emerged. The council and CEA were really taken to task over why they should close a successful school."

CEA condemned the committee’s decision. Its head of professional services said that the decision only meant that the period of uncertainty for the school had been extended.

Article Index



EU to Press Ahead with Enlargement Despite Irish Referendum

On the eve of the Gothenburg Summit, the European Union has declared that it intends to continue the process of enlargement despite the rejection of the Treaty of Nice by the people of Ireland in a referendum held last Thursday.

In a joint statement Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson and European Commission President Romano Prodi announced that "the member states and the commission will pursue the enlargement negotiations with undiminished vigour and determination, in line with our firm commitment given to the applicant countries".

The Treaty of Nice, signed by the British government and all EU members last December, sets out the plans for EU enlargement that will eventually see the entry of 12 new member states, most of them countries in eastern and south-eastern Europe.

Ireland was the only country in the EU that was constitutionally bound to call a referendum on the Treaty. However, even the Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen has declared that the referendum result would "not act as a brake on negotiations for enlargement" and did not alter the Irish government’s support for it. He announced that the Irish government would do all it could to change public opinion before a new referendum was held.

The result of the referendum was a significant defeat for the main political parties in Ireland. Among those in the "no" campaign were Sinn Fein and the Green Party. Those opposed to the Treaty of Nice pointed out that, amongst other things, ratification would force Ireland to participate in the EU's 60,000-member Rapid Reaction Force, thus ending the country's traditional neutrality.

A spokesperson for the National Platform, which had campaigned against ratification, said that Romano Prodi belonged to the "wrong century". He added that the EC President was behaving like a medieval monarch, and asked, "What part of ‘No’ does Mr Prodi not understand?" Sinn Fein MP Caoimhghin O’Caolain insisted that the will of the people must be respected.

The declaration of the EU leaders that the Treaty of Nice will be implemented despite not being unanimously ratified, as was specified, indicates that the will of the people is the last thing they respect, when it runs counter to their plans. They are determined to press ahead with building up the EU as an economic, political and military superpower at the beginning of the 21st century. The declaration emphasises that the democratic forces in each country must step up their struggle to oppose this dangerous scheme on behalf of the big European monopolies, and affirm that sovereignty must lie with the people.

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