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Year 2001 No. 149, August 30, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

British Government Must Stop Interfering in Zimbabwe’s Affairs

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British Government Must Stop Interfering in Zimbabwe’s Affairs

Opposition to Tony Blair’s Privatisation Programme to be Reflected at TUC

Tube Workers Again Promise to Strike

Glasgow Medical Secretaries to Demonstrate on Saturday

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British Government Must Stop Interfering in Zimbabwe’s Affairs

Speaking on Channel 4 News on Tuesday evening, the Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, reiterated the government’s intention to continue to meddle in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe, under the pretext that the government of that country "has systematically set about undermining any conception of democratic human rights".

Under the terms of the 1980 Lancaster House agreement the British government has an obligation to financially assist land redistribution in Zimbabwe, formerly the British colony of Rhodesia. But successive British governments have refused to meet this obligation in full and instead have used it as the means to continue to meddle in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs. According to Jack Straw, Britain is ready to assist Zimbabwe’s land reform, and to recognise its "historic responsibilities" to that country, but only in "appropriate circumstances", that is if the government of Zimbabwe carries out policies dictated to it by Britain and the other big powers such as the US.

Last year the British government demanded that Zimbabwe cease its land reform and re-distribution programme and that it held "free and fair elections". Now the Foreign Secretary is arguing that the British government cannot assist land reform unless there are economic and political changes in Zimbabwe that are to its liking. It is demanding that Zimbabwe hold "free and fair" presidential elections next year and that it carries out the economic reforms demanded by the IMF.

Fully aware that it is acting in the manner of the 19th century imperialists, the British government is attempting to make it appear that its meddling is part of an international initiative to solve Zimbabwe’s problems. To that end it has encouraged two of its main allies in Africa, Nigeria and South Africa, to put pressure on the government of Zimbabwe. Both countries have been instrumental in convening a meeting in Nigeria on September 6 at which representatives of some Commonwealth governments, including Britain, will meet to discuss the situation in Zimbabwe. This meeting takes place before the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Australia in October, at which Britain’s relations with Zimbabwe is also likely to be on the agenda. Britain has also taken the lead in demanding further EU sanctions against Zimbabwe.

The governments of Britain the US and the other big powers are continuing to act in the manner of the 19th century colonialists, issuing threats in order impose their "civilised" values on Zimbabwe and make its government "respect the rule of law". All such threats, intimidation and interference in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe must end and the British government should meet it obligations to the people of Zimbabwe in full.

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Opposition to Tony Blair’s Privatisation Programme to be Reflected at TUC

John Monks, general secretary of the TUC, has said the TUC Congress from September 10-13 would "probably be the most political congress we’ve had for many a long day".

John Monks told BBC News 24’s One to One programme broadcast last weekend he could foresee "a very difficult period of relationships" between the union movement and the government. "The government won a fantastic majority for the second time, nobody’s ever done that in the history of modern British politics, and yet the atmosphere I’d say was flat," he said. "The particular area that’s most concerning the TUC is what are the boundaries that are between the public and the private sector in the delivery of public services. There is a strong reaction on the public-private issue around the trade union movement... and there’s more aggression in the relationship than there’s been, well since Neil Kinnock started to change Labour round with a lot of union support."

Tony Blair is reportedly ready to "apologise" to trade union leaders over the way he handled proposals to involve private firms in public services. The Prime Minister will use a speech to delegates in Brighton to try to defuse the row and will concede that the proposals could have been handled better, according to a report in last Sunday’s Observer. John Monks warned him that he will face "anger and anxiety" at the TUC Congress because trade union leaders feel they were not consulted properly over the plans. The TUC general secretary said that the conference would bring to an end "the shortest honeymoon on record".

The Labour Party would not comment on the reports but said "positive and constructive" meetings between Downing Street and the trade unions were taking place on a regular basis.

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Tube Workers Again Promise to Strike

The threat of a strike by London Underground workers is a stage closer in the long-running confrontation with management over pay. Rail unions have warned that unless LU makes a final offer, the two sides will be in dispute.

Bob Crow, assistant general secretary of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, warned that Tube staff will be balloted for strikes unless there was a breakthrough yesterday. He said unions had done all they could to reach a deal through negotiations, which started in April. "It is scandalous that LU has allowed the situation to escalate to this extent," Bob Crow said. LU had offered a rise of 3.2%, but an independent report recommended that the deal should be worth around 4%.

A spokeswoman said LU is seeking talks with the unions before making a final offer.

The Tube workers are fighting on the fronts of pay and conditions, of job security and for the safety of the Underground.

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Glasgow Medical Secretaries to Demonstrate on Saturday

300 Medical secretaries across the North of Glasgow, including at four major hospitals, took three days of strike action earlier this month in pursuit of their regrading claim.

On the first day there was a very successful demonstration and rally, where support was received from all quarters.

The North Glasgow UNISON Branch says that the all-female strikers grew more determined and confident through the strike. Already, two psychological battles were won and the strikers won a commitment from the Trust not to hire agency staff and to withdraw their threat to deduct five days’ pay for three days’ strike and two days’ annual leave.

The Trust have failed to resolve the dispute and the secretaries have rejected any notion that the recent National Framework proposal comes anywhere close to meeting their demands. which are:

The UNISON Dudley Group of Hospitals sent a message of support to the striking medical secretaries. At Dudley, 600 health workers struck for nine and a half months against the privatisation of jobs as part of a PFI project. The message of support from the UNISON Branch Secretaries Mark New and Angela Thompson to Carolyn Leckie, the North Glasgow Branch Secretary, said that whilst they did not win to stay in the NHS, New Labour has been forced to concede that there will no longer be any staff privatisations as part of NHS PFI projects. The fight is now on to get their jobs back into the NHS. They write that meetings of medical secretaries, ward clerks and X ray clerical staff who are all pursuing regrading claims have also asked them to write with solidarity greetings.

Mark New and Angela Thompson say: "A victory for you will be a victory for us. It will show that the tide has turned against low pay and privatisation and that NHS workers are fighting successfully to defend ourselves and the services we provide."


DEMONSTRATION SAT 1ST SEPT, 11.30am, Blythswood Square, Glasgow

Followed by a Rally at City Halls, Candleriggs, GLASGOW

At 1.30 pm

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