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Year 2001 No. 157, September 19, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

Demonstrators at Downing Street Oppose Military Retaliation

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Demonstrators at Downing Street Oppose Military Retaliation

Dangerous Propaganda against "Terrorists" in Britain

Letters to the Editor:
Defending the Rights of All
State Sponsored Gangsterism and Hooliganism in World Affairs

Arab NGOs’ Statement on Terrorist Attack

North Glasgow Medical Secretaries Take Action

London Underground Bidder Considers NHS PPP Deal

British Warplanes Bomb Iraq

International News:
Indian Trade Unions Protest against Judgment on Contract Workers

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Demonstrators at Downing Street Oppose Military Retaliation

More than 300 people, too many for the small fenced off area, crowded onto the pavement opposite Downing Street yesterday evening to hold a vigil opposing the use of force and military retaliation. Banners read: "No War", "An eye for an eye and the whole world is blind", "No More Victims" and "We Are All Afghans". Leaflets were handed out by some protesters.

This followed another smaller vigil of up to 25 people who had stood in Parliament Square throughout the day.

People began arriving opposite Downing Street at about 5.30pm. Soon around 30 police arrived and ordered people to move into the pen area under threat of arrest for obstruction – a line they continued to enforce until it became apparent that there were just too many people to fit inside.

Many of those involved in the protest said they were against military strikes on countries such as Afghanistan. At one point the crowd chanted "Don’t meet evil with evil" and "No more victims".

The mood of the crowd was contemplative. A speech from Bruce Kent stressed that we are all people of the same planet and that in war it is civilians who suffer most, often well beyond the official end of any war. He said that we must not enter into another spiral of violence and that what the people of the world need is more hospitals, more schools, more clean water provision. He also made the point that it is an absolute tragedy that the world does not have an international criminal court, but that this is because America have opposed such a structure of justice.

Part way through the police asked if the current speaker could announce that there would soon be a controlled explosion on a vehicle in the Mall, so not to panic on hearing it.

There were other speakers from peace groups and individual contributions.

Jim Horton from Tottenham, north London, said: "I am against military action because I don’t believe it is the right solution to the terrible events of last week. The problems result from poverty caused by the practices of multinationals backed up by Western governments. I don’t think war is inevitable. There is a lot of unease about what is going on particularly as we are going to war against an unseen enemy."

cPoet and author John Rety, who spoke at the demonstration, said later: "I do not believe the military solution is acceptable to the majority of people living in this world. It has to be through co-operation, diplomacy and understanding."

There was much discussion between people and many candles were lit. While the majority of people began to leave at around 7.15pm others stayed with different groups arriving.

Another ARROW-coordinated vigil opposite Downing Street is planned for next Tuesday at 6pm.

CND and other peace groups are also holding a vigil this Saturday, September 22, at 2pm outside Downing Street under the title "Stand shoulder to shoulder for peace & justice. No more violence". They are asking people to wear black and to not bring any banners or shout slogans

Hundreds of anti-war protesters have registered their opposition to potential US-led military attacks.

Statement of RCPB(ML) - Oppose the Stepping Up of State Terrorism and War Preparations against the People – Defend the Rights of All – Persist in Developing the Workers’ and People’s Movements towards their Goals!

Article Index

Dangerous Propaganda against "Terrorists" in Britain

It is being reported that Britain is becoming a focal point for investigations into Osama bin Laden’s alleged global network of terrorist activities. Investigations are said to involve Indian intelligence officials tracking British youths allegedly being trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan to carry out terrorist attacks in Kashmir.

According to these reports, investigations had been stepped up in recent months following allegations that Bin Laden’s group Al-Qaeda has been recruiting youths actively in London. What is giving rise to even more concern is that Al-Qaeda was among the groups proscribed by the government under the provisions of the Terrorism Act earlier this year. That ban followed information that London was being used by the group as a centre for raising and managing funds for global terrorist operations.

Such reports are very dangerous in the climate of rooting out of the "new evil" of terrorism that has been fostered by the British government. Instead of looking into the origins and development of terrorism as it exists globally, "Islamic fundamentalist fanatics" are promoted without reason or evidence. This is then used to develop suspicion and targeting of various nationalities, and conspiracy theories are being floated to justify this situation. Meanwhile, the government gives itself a moral air by claiming that it is very tolerant towards Muslims and acting as though the problem was amongst the people.

For example, the Daily Telegraph reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been tracking the London office of a group called the Advice and Reformation Committee with which n associate of Bin Laden, Khalid al Fawwaz, was connected. Al Fawwaz was arrested in Britain over the embassy bombings in Africa, and is due to be extradited to the USA for trial. The report claims that Al Qaeda continues to operate in Britain through an underground network. Al Fawwaz has appealed to the House of Lords against his extradition. His appeal is due to be heard next month.

According to reports from south Asia, the court in New York was given evidence that dozens of telephone calls were made to Bin Laden operatives from addresses in London. A terrorist handbook, Military Studies in the Holy War Against Tyrants, is being alleged to have been found in a house in Manchester.

These reports are used to insinuate that the case against Osama bin Laden is being substantiated and prepare the grounds for the use of force against Afghanistan. At the same time, the character of the Terrorism Act in violating the right to conscience and criminalising political protest and organisations have taken a stand against Anglo-American imperialism is being covered over and given legitimacy.

WDIE condemns this propaganda designed to whip up hysteria and suspicion and views it as a further attack on the rights of all.

Article Index

Letters to the Editor

Defending the Rights of All

The lead given by RCPB(ML) in its September 14 Statement on the terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington DC have given a very positive and coherent response to the demoralisation felt by many people about the tragic events. The call that the rights of all be defended takes on even more significance at this time. When the New Labour government of Tony Blair is cynically manipulating people’s emotions, inciting war hysteria and calls to join the fight against terrorism, sections of the people are being vilified and targeted. This process, especially targeting those who practise Islam, has been an insidious practice over many years. Sometimes it is more overt and this is one of those periods.

Under the guise of tolerance, anti-racism and understanding the monopoly controlled media and myriad commentators, by sleight of hand, are provoking animosity and hatred. There is an ominous differentiation between "innocent" and "guilty" Muslims. This is being backed up rhetoric against "fanaticism" and "fundamentalism" which are being made synonymous with Islam. Already in the United States, in Britain, and even in Australia there have been reports of verbal and physical anti-Muslim attacks. It is the state itself and the monopoly-controlled media that is responsible – not the people themselves. The ideas being sown are that those who follow Islam are suspect and are a threat not only to "our way of life" but "civilisation" as well. That is unless they accept the dictate that the only way to oppose the dreadful events in the Unites States is to line up behind the Anglo-American imperialists in order to unleash even more state-organised terrorism against the peoples of the world. This cannot be right and must be firmly and resolutely opposed.

It is vital that the people of Britain in opposing the war aims of Tony Blair continue the opposition to all forms of racism, discrimination, hostility and the collective targeting and unjust and unwarranted indictment of the citizens and people of Britain who follow Islam.

That the rights of all should be defended must remain at the core of the work to build the Workers’ Opposition to the anti-social offensive. In persisting with their struggles, all must resist the actions to divert attention from New Labours legitimacy crisis.

So the necessity of the Defence of the Rights of All against this backdrop is clear. The people who follow Islam have been demonised in subtle and often overt ways over many years; chauvinism, racism and xenophobia have been a feature of the of the British bourgeoisie and the imperialists. It expresses itself in marginalisation, ghettoisation and discrimination, it is seen in the racist state attacks against national minorities and is about to be escalated in further attacks against the countries of the Middle East and South Asia. It must not pass. An injury to one is an injury to all!

Editor of Progress, Journal of the African and Caribbean Progressive Study Group

Article Index

State Sponsored Gangsterism and Hooliganism in World Affairs

Apparently contrasting viewpoints are emerging from the commentary on the New York and Washington events; they each focus on the inevitability of "a response", and that it must be military.

Some say that to strike out rashly would be counter productive; the other calls for a long term prolonged campaign against terrorism using diplomatic and economic as well as military means against the "terrorists and those who harbour them". In each of these viewpoints the very gangsterism and hooliganism of the imperialists is forgotten. Neither viewpoint renounces the gangsterism and hooliganism in world affairs used by the Anglo-American imperialists. That these are methods they have perfected is omitted.

The United States set the precedent that conflicts can only be resolved through force, as in the Gulf War. The settling of conflict in the sense of the imperialists is that their economic and political interests are defended. Its striking feature is that the people are left out of the equation – are prevented from participating in the decision-making level of politics. The Zionist state of Israeli has pursued the policy also – assassination, collective punishment, revenge and retribution being the principal methods. It could be said that the gangsterism and hooliganism of the imperialists has also been adopted, more bluntly, by the forces with whom they have differences.

With George Bush and Tony Blair declaring war on the world it is vital that the people themselves come to the forefront and stay the hand of the financial oligarchy and their political representatives, at the national and the international level as well. Unless gangsterism and hooliganism in world affairs is renounced, unless the people take centre stage, unless the alternative for which the people struggle is achieved, the method of solving disputes will remain in the hands of the most reactionary forces who are rushing headlong to more disasters and more wars.

Reader in North London

Article Index

Arab NGOs’ Statement on Terrorist Attack

Published: 15/09/01

Arab human rights organisations have always based their advocacy for individual and collective human rights on one standard; they have always denounced all barbaric attacks on Palestinian and Iraqi as well as other civilians. Likewise, Arab human rights organisations denounce the barbaric onslaught on American civilians.

We do hope that the American authorities would comply with the principles of the international law in hunting down and punishing the perpetrators. We also hope that the American authorities would not to carry out any collective punishments, which would increase the number of innocent victims.

Henceforth, the undersigned organisations express their concern about the growing incitement campaign, which is a form of racial discrimination, against Arabs and Muslims in America and Europe – irrespective of who would be held accountable at the end of investigations.


* Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
* Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Gaza
* LAW – The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment
* Ittijah – Union of Arab Community Based Associations (consisting of 56 NGOs)
* Al-Mizan Human Rights Centre, Gaza
* Palestinian NGO Network (consisting of 68 NGOs)
* Moroccan Organisation for Human Rights
* The Truth & Equity Forum in Morocco
* The Sudanese Human Rights Group
* The New Jordan Centre for Studies
* The Bahraini Association for Human Rights
* The Palestinian Association for Human Rights in Lebanon
* Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, Egypt
* The Arab Centre for Judiciary Independence and Advocacy, Egypt
* The Human Rights Centre for Prisoners' Aid, Egypt
* The Egyptian Centre for Women Rights
* The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights
* The New Centre for Women Studies, Egypt
* The Committees for Defence of Human Rights, Syria
* Human Rights Centre for Information and Rehabilitation, Yemen

Article Index

North Glasgow Medical Secretaries Take Action

Medical Secretaries across the North of Glasgow continue to pursue an escalating programme of industrial action. From last Friday all work associated with non urgent elective admissions became part of official action. From Tuesday this week 60 members of the Trust’s Surgical Division will only work a two-day week. A full week of action by all medical secretaries will take place from October 2. The Trust remains intransigent despite mounting effects of the strike. Emergency cover will continue to be provided.

Carolyn Leckie, UNISON Branch Secretary, said: "The Trust have a duty and the power to resolve this dispute. Medical Secretaries have no option but to escalate the action in the face of an employer who treats them with contempt."

Attempts have been made by the Trust to recruit large numbers of agency staff to no avail. This demonstrates the chronic recruitment problem, which has arisen out of the issues at the heart of this dispute.

The all-female strikers, many of whom are single parents, are in high spirits and determined to see their fight through. There is overwhelming public support- after the last Demonstration, strikers received free lunches in Glasgow pubs.

The North Glasgow UNISON Branch has been pursuing a regrading claim for all medical secretaries for 15 months. Highly skilled and experienced secretaries earn only between £700 and £800 per month because they are paid on the wrong grade. Lothian Acute Branch has also requested a ballot for industrial action.

Anne Marie Hollywood, a medical secretary for more than 30 years, said: " I can’t quite believe the situation we find ourselves in. This is hardly an extravagant claim and only the minimum of what we deserve. If people like us are not rewarded for the work we do in the NHS, then I seriously worry about its future. Low pay, overwork and privatisation are killing the NHS."

Article Index

London Underground Bidder Considers NHS PPP Deal

Support services specialist company Amey is one of the biggest names in Public-Private Partnership work. The company is part of the consortium seeking to take over London Underground and already a big name in education, local authority and defence work. It said on September 12 that it could soon enter the health market where the opportunities now on offer were "particularly encouraging", and is thought to be looking for a US partner to launch its health bid.

Announcing its half-year results, Amey said it had a forward order book worth £3.52bn, with 38 of the 144 projects it is currently developing arising from PPP and PFI.

In a report to the financial markets, it said it was "receiving encouragement to enter new markets such as health, retail and aviation, in which it does not currently have a presence".

It went on: "Health appears particularly encouraging and we are exploring several avenues which would enable us to participate in the provision of high-grade services to both public and private sector providers."

Article Index

British Warplanes Bomb Iraq

British Tornado warplanes have continued to bomb Iraq a southern Iraqi anti-aircraft missile site.

It was reported that planes yesterday bombed a southern Iraq anti-aircraft missile site. Despite the fact that the British planes are in Iraqi airspace and this is a very sensitive time, Major Brett Morris, spokesman for the Saudi-based Joint Task Force South West Asia, said the attack was in retaliation for "hostile activities" from Iraq against planes patrolling the no-fly zone. The attack took place near Basra.

"The strikes were in response to Iraq's hostile activities in the past, part of which we also experienced today," said Morris without elaborating on what Iraqi actions prompted today's strikes.

No damage assessment was immediately available. Iraqi authorities have not yet commented on the attack.

No-fly zones in southern and northern Iraq were established with no legal or international authority by Anglo-American imperialism after the 1991 Gulf War. Despite the tragedy in America, the British government is carrying on its war against Iraq as though it is business as usual.

Article Index

International News

Indian Trade Unions Protest against Judgment on Contract Workers

The Indian workers have been fighting against the neo-liberal agenda of privatisation and intensification of exploitation. The grip of the monopolies is tightening over India, as the central government privatises state assets and invites in foreign capital in conditions of a growing recession in India and globally. In these circumstances, the trade unions, AITUC, CITU, HMS, INTUC, TUCC, UTUC, UTUC (LS), and AICCTU jointly issued the following statement on September 15:

The Supreme Court judgment of 30 August 2001, in the civil appeal filed by the Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL) and others, overruling the judgment of the same Court in Air India’s case, is a regressive and retrograde step. It has, by one stroke, nullified whatever the contract workers have gained through their struggle for decades and their battle for justice in different courts of law.

During the last 25 years, the Supreme Court had to intervene in many cases and delivered several landmark judgments in favour of the workers, after seeing the ruthless exploitation and denial of social justice of these workers. The judgment in the Air India case in 1996 has sought to set right many ambiguities and infirmities in the law and enforce the social obligations of the employers towards contract workers.

In an earlier case the Supreme Court had noted "the naked truth, though draped in different perfect paper arrangement, that the real employer is the management, not the immediate contract" and "myriad devices, half-hidden in fold after fold of legal form may be resorted to when labour legislation casts welfare obligation on real employer, based on articles 38, 39,42,43A of the Constitution".

The Supreme Court in the Air India case had relied on this observation regarding relations between Principal Employer and the Contract Labour and ruled that: "Once the contractor intermediary goes the term ‘Principal’ also goes with it… and the employer necessarily becomes a direct employer of these erstwhile contract workers".

After the Air India judgment the government of India should have changed the Act, but they did not come to the help of these hapless contract workers, instead, some public sector units went in appeal and now Supreme Court has reversed the Air India case judgment, making absorption of these workers almost impossible.

The entire trade union movement expresses serious concern over this judgment which has not taken into account the social and human factors involved and which will perpetuate the ruthless exploitation by way of abysmally poor wage, no social security, no job security of millions of contract workers. We demand of the Government of India to take immediate steps for bringing in appropriate enactment to annual the verdict of the latest judgment of the Supreme Court and amend Section 10 of CLRA Act making it mandatory for the employers to absorb as regular employees the contract workers in perennial jobs. We call upon all unions to protest the judgment of the Supreme Court and send telegrams to the Union Minister of Labour demanding enactment of legislation annulling the effect of the judgment.

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