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Year 2001 No. 130, July 26, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

"Genoa Plan for Africa" – An Attempt to Head Off Opposition to Globalisation and Increase the Exploitation of the African Continent

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

"Genoa Plan for Africa" – An Attempt to Head Off Opposition to Globalisation and Increase the Exploitation of the African Continent

ABB to Cut 12,000 Jobs and Invensys 6,000

Country-wide Strike in India

Meeting of London Political Forum to Condemn State Violence and Terror

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"Genoa Plan for Africa" – An Attempt to Head Off Opposition to Globalisation and Increase the Exploitation of the African Continent

At the conclusion of the recent G8 Summit in Genoa, the leaders of the world’s eight major industrialised countries and the representatives of the EU announced their intention to "make globalisation work" even for the world’s poorest countries and people. Indeed increasing globalisation is now presented by the big powers not as one of the key causes of the growing disparity between rich and poor countries, but as "the most effective poverty reducing strategy" for the poorest countries and the raison d’être for the Genoa summit and future G8 meetings.

A major part of the alleged poverty reducing strategy of the big powers was the announcement at the G8 summit of the so-called Genoa Plan for Africa. Hailed by Tony Blair as "a kind of Marshall Plan for the future of Africa", it envisages representatives of the G8 countries and the EU liasing with "committed African leaders" on the development of an Action Plan for Africa, to be approved at the G8 summit to be held in Canada next year. The Genoa Plan is being presented as "a partnership between Africa and the developed world" and as building on the "African Initiative". This "African Initiative" is the recovery and development plan for Africa based on the proposals made by South Africa, Nigeria, Algeria and Senegal at the recently held final summit meeting of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

The final summit of the OAU paved the way for the creation of the new African Union specifically formed to combat the consequences of globalisation and to end Africa’s marginalisation in world affairs. The "African Initiative" highlights the fact that "the poverty and backwardness of Africa stand in stark contrast to the prosperity of the developed world" and calls for a new relationship between the countries of Africa and the big powers. Over half of Africa’s population, some 340 million people, live on less than $1 a day, and in the last five years even more African states have joined the list of the world’s least developed countries.

Through the African Union the peoples of Africa are attempting to combat the legacy of colonial and neo-colonial exploitation and domination by Britain and the big powers which are still the cause of the continent’s problems. But the Genoa Plan for Africa, which the British government is said to have played a leading role in formulating, represents a new means by which the big powers, allegedly in partnership with African governments, can continue and strengthen their stranglehold over Africa, more fully incorporating it into the global economy under the pretext of combating poverty and promoting sustainable development. For example, the Genoa Plan emphasises the role that the big powers can play in "conflict prevention, management and resolution", a justification for further interference and intervention and stresses the importance of promoting foreign investment in the social, health and education sectors in Africa.

Through such means the big powers are also attempting to head off the struggles that the African and other poorer countries are waging against globalisation and their own marginalisation in the World Trade Organisation, the UN and elsewhere. In the face of increasingly militant and widespread protests against the entire neo-liberal agenda, Britain and the other big powers are asserting that there is no alternative to globalisation and that not only is opposition futile but positively harmful to the interests of the world’s poorest countries. At the same time, they are seeking to divert attention from the devastating effects of globalisation in the developed countries, such as Britain, where New Labour’s "Third Way" programme of making the monopolies successful in the global market, inward investment, placing the public services in the hands of the monopolies and privatisation is also arousing growing opposition.

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ABB to Cut 12,000 Jobs and Invensys 6,000

Europe’s biggest electrical engineering group, ABB, has said that it will make 8% of its workforce redundant as a result of the global economic slowdown. It is to cut 12,000 jobs over the next 18 months.

Engineering and electronics firm Invensys has issued a profits warning and raised the number of jobs it is to axe this year to 6,000 from the 3,500 it had announced in May. The company warned on Tuesday that its first half-year operating profits would be about 20% below market expectations. The Chief Executive is to retire at the end of January 2002. The company blamed the sharp decline in global telecoms and spreading economic slowdown.

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Country-wide Strike in India

Over 8 million state government workers, including teachers, together with 1.5 million central government workers staged a strike throughout India on Wednesday, July 25.

The striking workers were demanding the end to: privatisation of government functions; corporatisation of government departments; contractualisation and casualisation of government jobs; downsizing of establishments, abolition of posts, and retrenchment; and, amendments to existing labour laws against the workers’ interests, and all other disastrous economic policies being adopted at the dictate of the IMF, World Bank and WTO.

On July 18, central and state government workers had also jointly organised an Anti-Privatisation Day at all levels of the country, holding massive rallies and demonstrations.

These programmes of action had been adopted in a joint convention of the workers’ leaders from all over India held in Delhi on May 27, 2001, under the auspices of the All-India State Government Employees Federation and Confederation of central Government Employees and Workers.

The strike affected almost all government offices in the east and south of India. A state government spokesman said that over two million government employees had stayed away from work in the western state of Maharashtra, one of India’s most industrialised regions. Schools, college, government departments and hospitals in Bombay were deserted. Meanwhile, government workers in Orissa desisted from striking because of the flooding that has hit the eastern state.

The privatisation programme of the Indian central government includes the sale of centrally-owned enterprises to the private sector. For instance, Air India, India’s national flag carrier, is being sold to a single bidder at a throwaway price. It has even appointed a non-Indian company to value the assets. Modern Foods and the aluminium enterprise BALCO have already been privatised, bought by HLL and Sterlite respectively, while the central government is also attempting to sell the telecoms giant VSNL.

This neo-liberal agenda pursued by the Indian government, like similar agendas world-wide, is being carried out not to benefit the working people but at the dictate of international finance capital, and is serving the interests of the big Indian capitalists.

The movement of the Indian workers against the neo-liberal agenda of the Indian central and state governments and against imperialist globalisation is growing, in step with the movement against the neo-liberal agenda throughout the globe, as is shown by yesterday’s strike. It is being waged with the perspective that the whole direction of the Indian economy must be changed so as to provide for the well-being and livelihoods of the people throughout India, rather than the enrichment of a handful of Indian big capitalists and foreign imperialist capital.

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Meeting of London Political Forum to Condemn State Violence and Terror

A special meeting of the London Political Forum is to be held on Wednesday, August 1, at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London, beginning at 7.30 pm.

The special meeting of the London Political Forum is being convened by London Region RCPB(ML) to condemn the state violence and terror against the protesters against imperialist globalisation, in Genoa, in Britain and world-wide. The LPF will invite all those concerned to end this violence, stop the criminalisation of political protest and discuss the way forward for the movement against imperialist globalisation to come to the meeting and give their views.

All comers are welcome to attend and contribute to the discussion.

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