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Year 2001 No. 111, June 28, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

London Political Forum Discusses Issues Facing National Minority Communities

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

London Political Forum Discusses Issues Facing National Minority Communities

Newcastle: Plan to Cut Jobs and Involve Private Sector in Social and Health Services Leads to Opposition

UN Debate to Continue on Deadlock over Iraq Sanctions

Iraq Urges International Community to Oppose "Smart Sanctions"

RE-ENERGISE! Anti-Sanctions Conference

German Rail Workers Stage Strikes

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London Political Forum Discusses Issues Facing National Minority Communities

In the first of a new series of monthly meetings, the London Political Forum held on June 26 focused on the many issues facing the national minority communities. In particular, it discussed the struggle to defend the dignity of the communities and the demand that all people of national minority origin should participate in the affairs of the polity as equals who are second to none. The featured speaker was Salvinder Dhillon, Independent Community Candidate Empowering Change, along with youth who participated in the recent election campaign in Ealing Southall in which Salvinder received 1,214 votes.

Salvinder Dhillon opened his presentation by depicting the problems facing the people in Ealing Southall: for example, declining public facilities especially in hospital and other health provision; declining educational and recreational facilities for the youth, leading to some one-third involved in drugs; and a deteriorating environment. This, he said, was despite all the hard work of the national minority communities to overcome racism and discrimination. The situation could be linked directly with the "Third Way" policies of Tony Blair. He also spoke of the problem created by conciliation with the "Third Way" which is used to keep the community down and prevent it from standing up for its rights.

This situation, he said, called for a stand to be taken against all such ideological disarming of the people, and for affirming the rights of the community. This, he said, was the basis on which he had stood in the General Election. Having achieved the support and the vote his campaign had achieved, the task now was to continue and build on the successes of the campaign. Forms must be developed to fight both for immediate needs of the people as well as to politicise them.

There then followed a very lively and wide-ranging discussion on both the aims of the campaign and the methods employed, in which Salvinder and the youth involved gave many penetrating and often amusing examples of their experiences, of the initiative released and the support gained, especially among the youth. Throughout the discussion the need to establish an alternative to the party-dominated system of government was continually emphasised. Lessons were drawn from the various ways developed to meet people and organise discussions, as well as developing independent means of publication. Topics such as organisations being compromised by state funding, the culture of blaming the youth, of drugs, of questions of identity, of attempts to split the communities on religious and national lines were all raised.

It was strongly put during the discussion that the success of the campaign showed the value of having established firm guidelines at the outset and the value of the experience gained through the hard work and initiatives of the campaign itself. The campaign had helped put flesh on the bones of the general theory regarding ghettoisation of the national minority communities and the marginalisation of all other communities and the need to plant an alternative. It was emphasised that the fact that advances had been made where a firm tactical line had been set bodes well for the future. The work should continue. The alternative planted should be nurtured in order to take root over the next four or five years. It was stressed that there would be big struggles ahead and all the forces, especially the national minority communities, should be vigilant. The state would undoubtedly try various ways to further ghettoise and criminalise the communities, and prevent the alternative from flowering. But the Forum felt sure that the strength of the New, which is engendering optimism among the progressive forces and throughout the community, is bound to give rise to further successes.

The meeting ended on a high note and it was announced that the meetings of the London Political Forum would be held on a monthly basis, with invited speakers sharing their experience in their struggles against the anti-social offensive and on organising for the alternative and building the workers’ opposition.

The next meeting of the London Political Forum will be on Wednesday, July 25, at Marx House, Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0DU at 7.30 pm sharp, topic to be announced.

Article Index


Plan to Cut Jobs and Involve Private Sector in Social and Health Services Leads to Opposition

On Tuesday June 26, 150 home care workers occupied Council Offices in Newcastle protesting against plans to hand home care services to the private sector and with a loss of 300 jobs.

The action came after a mass meeting in the Civic Centre. Director of Social Services Directorate Tom Dervin said that the department's wage bill was £2 million over budget. He was looking for about 100 "voluntary retirements" across social services, but he could not rule out the possibility that increased agency work in home care would lead to further job losses. The care workers pointed out that their clients had informed them that from next month, people who were visited less that 10 times a week will be serviced by agencies and that they said that this would wipe out 300 jobs.

Earlier in the week, Robin Moss, Head of Health for UNISON Northern region warned that if the government pressed ahead with its plans to further involve private companies in health care then health workers in the region will respond with industrial action.

Article Index

UN Debate to Continue on Deadlock over Iraq Sanctions

Debate is set to continue on Thursday, June 28, in the open session of the UN Security Council on the future of the sanctions imposed on Iraq. The debate, in which non-members are allowed to speak, began on Tuesday. The Security Council is in an impasse over the sanctions, which have already been extended by a month in their current form because of the impasse. The Security Council has given itself until July 3 to reach an agreement.

Of the five permanent members of the Security Council, Russia and China are uncompromisingly opposed to the US-backed British resolution on introducing the so-called "smart sanctions", while France also does not support the resolution.

The "smart sanctions" are an attempt to evade the issue that the sanctions are a form of genocide against the Iraqi people. The British proposal is an attempt to paint the Anglo-American intransigence as being conducted out of humanitarian motives. In fact, the "smart sanctions", which are supposed to ease restrictions on civilian goods while actually tightening the military embargo, contain a long list of so-called "dual use" items that can allegedly be used for both military and civilian purposes. It is Britain and the US who have concocted this list. In addition, the British-American proposals still prevent Iraq from using revenues from its oil to rejuvenate its economy, as these revenues are not under the Iraq government’s control and Britain and the US also continue to block billions of pounds worth of contracts that Iraq has made. This is not to mention the continued unpublicised unauthorised bombing of Iraq by British and US warplane patrols.

Jordan, Syria and Turkey, which are Iraq’s neighbouring countries, have already pointed out that not only do the sanctions hurt the Iraqi people, but they are damaging their own economies. The Jordanian King, Abdallah II, when he visited London on Tuesday, told Tony Blair of Jordan’s unwavering stand that the siege on Iraq must be lifted and the suffering of the Iraq people ended. King Abdallah stressed the destructive impact of the embargo on the people of Iraq and the adverse economic repercussions on Jordan and all the countries of the region.

However, Britain and the US have dismissed a Russian draft resolution to suspend sanctions altogether as unacceptable. In a statement in the Security Council debate, the British Permanent Representative to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, paid lip service to the need to alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people and to ensure that their needs are met. But Britain continues to accuse Iraq, crediting it with a wish to divide the Security Council and escape its international "obligations". The principled stand of Iraq in opposition to the "smart sanctions" cannot be considered to be the cause of the Security Council impasse. If Britain were to agree to what enlightened world opinion is demanding and completely remove the sanctions, would this not be a step to resolving the impasse? The Security Council would then be united against the US position. It is a mockery of the facts to claim, as did Britain’s representative at the UN, that Britain put forward its proposals in "good faith … in response to calls made by many in the international community to alleviate the plight of the Iraqi people".

The stand of the British government is to be condemned. Britain and the US must immediately agree to end their veto on lifting the sanctions.

Article Index

Iraq Urges International Community to Oppose "Smart Sanctions"

Iraqi newspapers on Monday, on the eve of the UN Security Council debate, called on the international community to oppose the "smart sanctions".

"A rejection of the poisoned proposal, which has become plausible, will give the international community the prestige it has lost under the effects of US hegemony and arrogance, rehabilitating the Security Council," Al-Jumhuriya newspaper said. "To save face, Washington might commit a new stupidity against Iraq and provoke a crisis which, whatever form it'll take and whatever its results, will not be worse than the adoption of the evil US proposal."

Babel newspaper urged permanent council members China, France and Russia to "oppose the proposal to defend not the right of Iraq and its legitimate position but their own interests and those of the international community". An adoption of the so-called "smart sanctions" would be "a mark of infamy for the three countries," added the newspaper.

"Our people expect our brotherly and friendly countries to firmly and sincerely oppose the colonialist proposal," said Ath-Thawra, the organ of the Baath Party in Baghdad.

Article Index


Anti-Sanctions Conference

A Gathering in Solidarity with the People of Iraq with Denis Halliday, former UN Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Iraq & Kathy Kelly, Co-ordinator Voices US (Joint Nobel Peace Prize Nominees 2000)

Friday 29 June - Sunday 1 July 2001

Kingsley Hall, Powis Road, London E2

1. Fighting Propaganda

US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who called for the economic sanctions against Iraq to be "re-energised", has admitted that they are actually "collapsing". In a desperate bid to shore up the sanctions, which continue to kill hundreds of Iraqi children every week, Britain and the United States are launching a major propaganda offensive to divert attention from their own share of responsibility for the humanitarian crisis in Iraq.

In the aftermath of the British election, and following the announcement of the new British-US so-called "smart sanctions" policy, anti-sanctions activists will be gathering to share information and ideas, to make links, to plan for the next stage of the campaign.

And to "re-energise" the anti-sanctions movement.

2. Denis Halliday and Kathy Kelly

Keynote speakers will be Denis Halliday, who resigned in protest against the sanctions in 1998, and Kathy Kelly, who co-founded Voices in the Wilderness US in 1995.

Running from Friday evening till 3pm Sunday afternoon, the Anti- Sanctions Conference is sponsored by voices in the wilderness uk <http://www.viwuk.freeserve.co.uk> and the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq (CASI) - <http://www.casi.org.uk> and other anti-sanctions groups.

3. Schedule

FRIDAY 29 JUNE – 7.30pm Public Meeting – "Eyewitness Iraq"

A report from the eighth sanctions-breaking voices in the wilderness uk delegation to Iraq. Frances Brodrick, Dr Christopher Burns-Cox, and Bilal Patel speak less than a week after returning from Iraq. With slides.


10.00 Registration coffee/tea

11.00 Welcome, announcements

11.20 Keynote addresses - Denis Halliday, Kathy Kelly

12.40 Regional groupings

13.15 Lunch (affordable Middle Eastern lunches will be available)

14.15 Plenary - How "Smart Sanctions" Will Fail the People of Iraq Milan Rai and Gabriel Carlyle of voices in the wilderness uk

15.30 Workshop 1

a) The Economic Impact of Economic Sanctions - Kamil Mahdi (Main Hall)

b) Rebutting the Foreign Office - Gabriel Carlyle (Back Room)

c) The Human Impact of Sanctions - Felicity Arbuthnot and a delegate from the 8th voices in the wilderness uk delegation (Pool Room)

16.30 Break

16.45 Kurdistan - Denis Halliday

17.15 Plenary - Report back on workshops and Sanctions-breaking auction of Iraqi goods

17.45 End of day


9.30 Introduction to the day

9.50 The International Scene Speakers from Italy, Canada and US

10.30 Regional groupings

11.15 Break

11.30 Plenary: Strategies for the movement after "smart sanctions"

12.15 Lunch (affordable Middle Eastern lunches will be available)

(During which a video made by Hans von Sponeck for Swiss TV will be shown in the Pool Room)

13.30 Workshop 2

a) Non Violent Direct Action around the August anniversary - David Polden and Emily Apple of ARROW (Main Hall)

b) How to do anti-sanctions press work - Richard Byrne (Back Room)

c) Where next for the student anti-sanctions movement (Gandhi Foundation Office)

d) Women’s meeting - Nadje al Ali (Act Together), Joanne Baker (Pool Room)

e) Video Hans von Sponeck video (Art Room)

14.45 Final Plenary and Evaluation

15.30 END


Registration fee waged £10/unwaged £5

Enquiries to Glenn, Anti-Sanctions Conference, 29 John St, Enfield, Middx. EN1 1LG.


Or contact 0845 - 458 2564

Article Index

German Rail Workers Stage Strikes

Repair workers on Germany's national railway staged warning strikes on June 27 to protest against plans to close repair shops and cut nearly 6,000 jobs to make Deutsche Bahn more profitable, the workers' union said.

The stoppages at nine repair facilities that are to be closed or sold under plans announced on Tuesday by the management started on early Wednesday morning, said Hubert Kummer, spokesman for the Transnet union.

At Neustrelitz, north of Berlin, rail workers blockaded the town's station for about a half-hour, halting two trains.

Deutsche Bahn plans to close eight repair shops by the end of 2003, cutting nearly 6,000 jobs. It has said it will help affected workers find jobs in other fields.

The repair shops are only being used at less than two-thirds of their capacity, Deutsche Bahn said, and investments in new trains will reduce the need for maintenance.

Norbert Hansen of Transnet said that the union would use all democratic means to prevent the elimination of jobs. He blamed the cuts on the railway’s plans to get rid of loss-making regional train connections.

Transport Minister Kurt Bodewig also wrote to the railway management, reminding it of obligations to offer workers equivalent jobs.

The German railway employs nearly 23,000 maintenance workers at 122 locations across the country.

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