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Year 2001 No. 63, April 11, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

Condemn the Provocations of US Imperialism Towards the People's Republic of China

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Condemn the Provocations of US Imperialism Towards the People's Republic of China

Workers and Politics:
Teachers are in Mood to Step up Struggle and Increase their Demands

Workers' Movement News In Brief
MSF Condemns Marconi over 1,500 Job Losses
NUT to Recommend Suspending Action

Survey Questions Benefits of PFI in NHS

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Condemn the Provocations of US Imperialism towards the People's Republic of China

The United States government is still arrogantly refusing to send an official apology to the government of the People’s Republic of China following the mid-air collision between a US military EP-3 surveillance plane and a Chinese jet fighter off the coast of Hainan Island in the South China Sea on April 1.

China’s government has demanded that the United States explain the circumstances of the plane collision and take full responsibility for the incident, which forced the Chinese jet fighter to crash, and the presumed death of its pilot, 33-year-old Wang Wei, who was forced to parachute into the sea. The government of the People’s Republic of China has also demanded that the US take effective measures to make sure that such incidents do not reoccur in the future.

The US surveillance plane not only violated the internationally recognised UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, by which a nation enjoys various privileges in its exclusive economic zones in the sea, it also violated international and China’s laws by flying over China’s territory and making an illegal landing. But rather than offer any explanation or an apology for what appears to be a blatantly provocative act, the US government have demanded the return of the plane and its crew of 24 and have made increasingly threatening statements towards China.

The actions of the US government have been widely condemned not just in China but throughout the world. In the US an online poll by the magazine Time said that nearly 80% of people surveyed felt that the United States should be held "mostly responsible" for the incident.

These provocative actions by the US government came just a week after reports in the US press indicated that US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had outlined changes in US military strategy, signalling that China was now seen as the main enemy and the Pacific Ocean the most likely theatre of major US military operations.

Article Index

———Workers and Politics ———

This is the column of WDIE on the conditions of the workers and on the agenda the workers themselves are setting to overcome their marginalisation and to take up politics. We encourage all our readers to contribute to the politicisation of the workers and write for this column

Teachers are in Mood to Step up Struggle and Increase their Demands

Teachers, dissatisfied with the conditions that have been foisted upon them, are stepping up their demands and are continuing to vote on further actions around the country.

Employers last week rejected a 35-hour working week for teachers. Under these circumstances the major claims for a substantial increase in pay and the 35-hour week are being pushed forward onto the agenda. Teachers want maximum class contact time of 22.5 hours, marking and preparation time for all teachers of no less than one-third of class contact time and a simpler salary structure that would allow most teachers to reach a salary of £35,000.

Recognition of the plight of teachers is reflected in the growing support of the mass of people throughout the country. After years of revised arrangements by successive governments, teachers are coming out of the margins and saying, "Enough is Enough!" All educationalists are appalled at the way the New Labour Government is responding to the just and appropriate response to teachers. They are showing their opposition to the threats of Blunkett and his ilk who are already trying to make teachers the scapegoat for their failures by saying that their actions are a threat to children's education.

Teachers' employers are only promising to look at reducing workloads by giving schools more back-up staff. The objective is to offset the movement of teachers by reductionist proposals centred around "paperwork". The National Employers’ Organisation (NEO) has made even this proposal dependent on the two largest teachers' unions calling off the "no-cover" action.

The response by the unions has been to step up their ballots around the country. Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) said it was "profoundly unhelpful" to rule out a change to contracted working hours before talks had even started.

The employers have tried to divide the teachers' unions by offering talks to one of them but the NASUWT said that it was unwilling to enter into talks without the NUT.

Four unions in England and Wales prepared to debate a joint motion condemning the government for failing to reduce workloads and limit teachers' hours. The motion is being debated by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) at their conference in Torquay. The motion will then be voted on by The National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Welsh teachers' union (UCAC). The NUT conference takes place from April 13-17 in Cardiff.

If the government fails to act, the resolution commits the unions to taking industrial action short of striking to limit working time to a maximum of 35 hours.

Schools are seeing a serious crisis developing in the education system. The recruitment of teachers is a reflection of it. The government, which made its main manifesto pledge "education, education, education" in the last election, is embarrassed by the development of the crisis in the run up to the election. Here again we have an exposure of manifestos at election time. Teachers and the rest of the voters have no part in drafting them. They are put forward only as an inducement for the electorate to put a cross by a party’s name.

The pledges made by the government last time were part of this con-trick. The last election pledges were about making funding dependent on increasing standards, meaning that exploitation of teachers must be a pre-condition. The needs of big business are translated into adding value to pupils' education so that they are useful in the world of work after school. Teaching is seen as the most necessary element as an important generator of labour power. Amounts of money have in fact been handed over in large quantities to technology companies and building contractors who have extorted massive amounts of cash out of education expenditure. Nothing has been done for the morale or welfare of teachers, who have received only added workload and stress.

Teachers cannot and will not accept themselves as expendable fodder, they are in fact turning the tables and expressing their views on a whole number of political issues such as what kind of education system is needed in a modern society. Teachers want progress and are asserting themselves in the process to help establish the necessary renewal of the political system for a modern society suitable for the 21st century.

Teacher in West Midlands

Article Index

Workers' Movement News In Brief

MSF Condemns Marconi over 1,500 Job Losses

MSF, the union for skilled and professional people and the lead union in Marconi, has reacted angrily to Tuesday’s announcement by Marconi of its intention to make 1,500 workers redundant in Britain.

The union particularly condemned the way that the cuts were announced, in that the union has been excluded from the opportunity to negotiate alternatives to what it regards as totally avoidable job cuts. Trade union officials were formally told of Marconi’s plans at a meeting with the telecoms group on Monday night.

"Marconi seems hell bent on rewarding their staff with the sack despite the profits they have made. Our members learnt of Marconi’s plans in the Sunday papers. This is no way to treat loyal staff, " MSF Chief Negotiator in telecommunications Glyn Thomas said. He continued, "Our members will be devastated by this announcement. We will now hold emergency meetings with our representatives with a view to reducing the impact of the redundancies and to avoid any compulsory job cuts."

NUT to Recommend Suspending Action

The leaders of the 19,000-strong National Union of Teachers, Britain’s biggest teachers’ union, agreed on Monday night to call for a suspension of the industrial action over staff shortages.

The NUT leaders said that they would recommend the suspension after being offered talks with the government on their workload and improvements in the recruitment and retention of teachers. The NASUWT had already signalled its willingness to suspend teachers’ action in refusing to cover for staff shortages and absent colleagues. Local education authority employers had offered talks on an overtime deal for teachers covering classes and an investigation into teachers’ workload. The NUT, however, is calling for clarification over whether the government will be involved in the talks.

The officers of the NUT are to make the recommendation to the executive on Thursday. All three TUC-affiliated teachers’ unions have plans to go ahead with a work-to-rule from September unless the government sets up an independent enquiry into teachers’ pay and conditions. The 150,000-strong Association of Teachers and Lecturers backed the demand at its annual conference in Torquay on Monday, which is the first time it has called for national action in more than 25 years.

A spokeswoman for the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, said, "We obviously welcome this positive development from the NUT."

Article Index

Survey Questions Benefits of PFI in NHS

The benefits of the Private Finance Initiative in the National Health Service could be achieved without the extra costs, claims a study by the Office of Health Economics, the pharmaceutical industry think-tank.

The study by Jon Sussex, a former Treasury economic adviser on health and former consultant for the NHS on PFI projects, says the balance of benefits and costs when comparing PFI hospitals with conventionally purchased ones "is a fine one".

The study draws the conclusion that although the PFI approach – where private capital designs, builds, operates and finances hospitals – might lead to more hospitals built on time and better maintenance, it would probably not mean better designs, lower construction costs and more efficient support services. Even after the transfer of construction, maintenance and other risks, it could mean higher borrowing costs than if the Treasury paid for the capital element.

The report concludes that the advantages are small, and would disappear if a change from 6 to 4 per cent were made to the discount rate the Treasury uses to asses value for money. It claims many gains could be achievable with cheaper Treasury finance if the contracts merely involved design, build and operate.

Jon Sussex said NHS hospitals were often poorly maintained and if PFI hospitals proved better maintained, then existing NHS hospitals should consider private maintenance contracts.

The lessons learnt from PFI could be applied to complete new hospitals using public finance. But for that to happen the Treasury bias in favour of PFI schemes must be dropped.

A study of PFIs commissioned by the Treasury, that looked at projects departments had selected rather than a random sample, estimated savings of 17 per cent. But savings appeared much smaller, averaging 1.6 per cent on the first 11 big projects, and these were calculated against a hypothetical "public sector comparator" - what it would cost if conventionally purchased.

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