Masthead for WDIE

Year 2001 No. 68, April 19, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

World-wide Opposition to Force Pharmaceutical Monopolies to Back Down

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

World-wide Opposition to Force Pharmaceutical Monopolies to Back Down

Workers Memorial Day to be Marked

Aircraft Commissioned to Deport 30,000 Immigrants

News In Brief
CBI Warns of Economic Slowdown
Manufacturing a Cause for Labour Concern
Threat to Thousands of Workers’ Jobs
Gap Grows between Rich and Poor
Consignia Seeks Increased Postal Charges
Sinn Fein Warn that Good Friday Deal under Threat

EU Militarisation
Blair Accused of Being Misleading over EU Army
NATO-led Military Exercise in Albania

Cuban People Mark 40th Anniversary of US Bay of Pigs Defeat

Daily On Line Newspaper of the
Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

170, Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2LA. Phone 020 7627 0599
Web Site: http://www.rcpbml.org.uk
e-mail: office@rcpbml.org.uk
Subscription Rates (Cheques made payable to Workers' Publication Centre):
Workers' Weekly Printed Edition:
70p per issue, £2.70 for 4 issues, £17 for 26 issues, £32 for 52 issues (including postage)

Workers' Daily Internet Edition sent by e-mail daily (Text e-mail):
1 issue free, 6 months £5, Yearly £10


World-wide Opposition to Force Pharmaceutical Monopolies to Back Down

The legal action brought by 39 major pharmaceutical transnationals against the South African government may be called off in the face of massive opposition in South Africa and international condemnation.

The pharmaceutical monopolies began their legal action in 1998 to prevent the implementation of the South African Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Act of 1997. This Act would allow the South African government to manufacture or import non-trademark, or generic AIDS medication at a fraction of the cost of the prices charged by the transnationals for such medication. South Africa currently has over 4 million of its population infected with HIV/AIDS, 8% of the total number in the world, with some 2,000 people daily contracting the disease.

The judge in the current court case in South Africa, which began last month but was then adjourned for six weeks, again adjourned proceedings which are due to start once more today, Thursday, on the basis that talks between the South African government and the pharmaceutical companies might be close to producing an agreement. But there is widespread speculation that the legal action will be dropped in the face of world-wide opposition.

Recently the French government called on French pharmaceutical companies to pull out of the case, while Brazil and India have offered to establish a parallel pharmaceutical industry in South Africa that would allow the free distribution of AIDS medication. Already many of the pharmaceutical monopolies have offered to lower the prices charged for AIDS medication but campaigners have argued that generic medication is still much cheaper, and have viewed the success of the struggle in South Africa as setting an important international precedent for other developing countries.

Article Index



Workers Memorial Day to be Marked

Workers Memorial Day is to be marked on Saturday, April 28. Many towns and cities throughout the world, including Britain, will mark the day with events, marches and wreath-laying ceremonies to commemorate workers who have been killed or injured at work as a result of the exploitative system of wage slavery.

Workers’ Memorial Day was started in Canada in 1985 and was formally adopted by the TUC in 1999 and by the Health & Safety Executive in 2000. It has been a global day of action since 1996 when it was taken up by the International Confederation of Trade Unions.

The slogan of Workers’ Memorial Day is Remember the Dead – Fight for the Living! It draws attention to the 335,000 workers world-wide who die every year as a result of incidents or unsafe conditions while at work. It is a day of action, when the pledge is made to eliminate the conditions which give rise to deaths, injuries and diseases at work.

This year, the TUC is to focus on the scandal of asbestos-related deaths and disease. Every year asbestos kills over 4,000 people in Britain and it is estimated that by 2020 that number will exceed 10,000. All across the world, the call is being made for a global ban on asbestos. In South Africa, Cape plc wants to deny the right of up to 3,000 asbestos victims to make compensation claims after working in mines owned by the British company. The victims are fighting that their claims be dealt with in courts in Britain rather than South Africa, in order to receive financial legal assistance. A protest and rally is being held outside Cape’s factory on Clydeside on April 28 to show solidarity and demand justice and compensation, organised by the West of Scotland Hazards Group.

Also being commemorated on April 28 are the victims of rail tragedies, and attention is being drawn for measures to ensure rail safety. The South East Regional Council of the RMT union is organising a march and rally to remember the 35 people killed in the Clapham rail disaster of 13 years ago. The Regional Council points out that the full installation of the Automatic Train Protection system is no nearer than it was in 1989. A march will take place from Clapham Junction to a rally at Clapham Crash Memorial Site, Spencer Park, Clapham.

On April 28 also, as the case for corporate manslaughter against the employers of Simon Jones proceeds, an event will be held at Toxteth in Liverpool to celebrate his life. Simon Jones was killed on his first day of work as a dockworker.

WDIE joins with all participants in these and countless other events in commemorating those workers who have died and in demanding the transformation of the system where workers are considered incidental to the making of maximum capitalist profit.

Article Index



Aircraft Commissioned to Deport 30,000 Immigrants

Government ministers are currently evaluating plans to cut costs and ensure availability of aircraft to meet deportation targets. Shortage of seats on scheduled flights is reported to have resulted in officials leasing entire planes to return people to their countries of origin.

Whilst the Home Office plans to launch an "airline" service to improve these deportation processes, the Immigration and Nationality Directorate has been set a target of expelling 30,000 people within one-year.

Whilst the New Labour government presents itself as anti-racist, and caricatures political enemies in the Conservative Party, its own ugly operations and actions against asylum seekers reveal the need to target the entire state as the guilty party. Vulnerable sections are made scapegoats and the target of attack.

WDIE condemns the inhuman treatment of asylum seekers as racist and directed against the rights of all.

Article Index



News In Brief

CBI Warns of Economic Slowdown

Forecasting an economic slowdown caused by the foot and mouth outbreak and the expected recession in the United States economy, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) have warned that unemployment in Britain could rise by 50,000 between now and next year. The organisation has accordingly reduced economic growth predictions from 2.5 per cent to 2 per cent.

 

Manufacturing a Cause for Labour Concern

In the light of consistent criticism from Labour MPs and trade unions that the government has no coherent industrial strategy, it has been reported that a manufacturing "czar" may be appointed. That the logic of blind devotion to neo-liberal globalisation and the agenda of the monopolies is destroying the national economy and devastating the lives and livelihoods of millions could be the first matter for consideration by such a "czar".

 

Threat to Thousands of Workers’ Jobs

The announcement of plans for job cuts by three of the world’s biggest companies brings with it the prospect of an uncertain future for thousands of workers in Britain. Network equipment firm Cisco Systems, Dutch electronics group Philips and photography monopoly Eastman Kodak are all suffering economic difficulties and have indicated that they will make thousands of workers redundant world-wide. Cisco Systems, for example, is to axe 8,500 jobs from its global workforce of 40,000. The group plans to save £697 million a year through the cuts. It employs around 2,000 workers in Britain at offices in Uxbridge, Manchester and Strathclyde. Philips warned earlier this week that it could make up to 7,000 workers redundant, about 3 per cent of its workforce.

These announcements on Wednesday come shortly after telecom equipment makers Motorola, Siemens and Marconi have all announced plans to make worker redundant. Ericsson, the Swedish telecoms equipment maker, is expected to announce at least 6,000 new redundancies this week. This means that Ericsson staff numbers could fall by around 15,000 overall this year to 90,000 – 15 per cent of its workforce – after taking account of previously announced job cuts and outsourcing arrangements. It has already announced 3,300 job losses from manufacturing plants in Sweden and Britain.

 

Gap Grows between Rich and Poor

New figures are showing that income inequality is continuing to grow to its widest level for 11 years. The figures also show that Britain’s poorest households have to pay 41% of their income to the government as tax. This is an increase of 4% on the last year of the Conservative government.

 

Consignia Seeks Increased Postal Charges

Consignia, the monopoly formerly known as the Post Office, is facing accusations of exploiting the domination over the market it enjoys before competitors enter the market in 2002. Two weeks after the postal services regulator imposed a two year price freeze on both first and second class stamps it is reported that Consignia is seeking to seeking to raise the prices on both of these stamp denominations.

 

Sinn Fein Warn that Good Friday Deal under Threat

Sinn Fein chairman Mitchel McLaughlin has called for a speeding-up of demilitarisation and criminal justice reform "to ensure that the clock cannot be turned back" to blatant British military presence and the injustice and discrimination which flows from it. The Sinn Fein chairman also spoke of the need to renegotiate the Good Friday agreement to prolong the Irish peace process.

Article Index



EU Militarisation

Blair Accused of Being Misleading over EU Army

General Gustav Hagglund, the newly appointed head of the European Union rapid reaction force, has declared that the force would "co-operate" with but not be part of NATO. This has prompted the Conservative Party shadow defence secretary Iain Duncan Smith to accuse Tony Blair of being misleading about the relationship of the rapid reaction force to NATO. The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has also cautioned that the plans are confused and suffering from "a lack of democratic accountability".

The issue here is how far the EU rapid reaction force is to be considered as representing a European Union army, a military wing of the EU with its distinct "strategic defence identity", or whether it should come under the control of the US-led aggressive NATO military alliance. As such it reflects the contention of the big European powers and US imperialism. Tony Blair has put his weight behind developing the force, but insisting that it is not in contradiction to NATO and will do the dirty work of the US in Europe. In distinction, France especially has been urging that the rapid reaction force is a European army and will serve the interests of the big powers of the EU. Tony Blair is wanting to have it both ways, hence the comments of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, while the Conservative Party leaders are pouncing on what they perceive as General Hagglund’s letting the cat out of the bag in his assertion that the EU force will not be part of NATO.

The stand of the working class must be that Britain should withdraw from both NATO and the European Union, and that these aggressive blocs should be dismantled as threats to the sovereignty of nations and the peaceful resolution of problems of international relations.

 

NATO-led Military Exercise in Albania

A NATO-led international military exercise codenamed "Cornerstone 2001" began on April 17 in the Albanian town of Lac.

The exercise, which will run right through to the end of July, is being conducted jointly by forces of the US European Command, South-Eastern Europe Brigade (SEEBRIG) and the Albanian Ministry of Defence.

Some 400 troops from Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Turkey and the US, along with 120 Albanian soldiers, are participating. The exercise is said to include infrastructure reconstruction projects and "humanitarian aid" simulations.

Albanian President Rexhep Meidani, who attended the opening ceremony, asserted that the exercise was the most important event for the Albanian army this year. He said that in his view it would help to bring the armed forces of Albania closer to NATO standards.

Article Index



Cuban People Mark 40th Anniversary of US Bay of Pigs Defeat

On April 19, 1961, US invasion forces backed by the CIA and the White House were handed defeat by the Cuban people in the Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs), Playa Giron, widely known as the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. Today, more than 10,000 soldiers, militiamen and relatives of those who died defending Cuba will attend a mass rally jointly called by the Association of Cuban Revolutionary Combatants and Territorial Troop Militia to celebrate the date, the first US imperialist defeat in the Americas.

The rally comes two days after the 40th anniversary of the proclamation of the socialist character of the Cuban revolution. Leaders of popular organisations and Cuban President Fidel Castro addressed a gathering of more than 100,000 on the occasion. Castro recalled that 40 years ago, to defend socialism and homeland, hundreds of thousands of militia members fought and defeated a powerful invasion force at the Bay of Pigs. Today, he said, the Cuban people are still armed and ready to defend their socialist revolution until the last drop of their blood.

Forty Years Ago

Radio Havana Viewpoint - April 16, 2001

April 16 is the 40th anniversary of one of the most important events in the history of Cuba – the declaration by Fidel Castro of the socialist nature of the island's Revolution.

In the days preceding the US-sponsored Bag of Pigs invasion in 1961, bombing runs were made on airports in Santiago de Cuba, San Antonio de los Baños and Havana. In a gathering outside Havana's cemetery after the funeral of those killed in the raids, the Cuban leader spoke to a crowd who were armed in preparation for what everyone knew was coming: an invasion.

"This Revolution is not defended with mercenaries," he said, in reference to the pilots hired with Washington's money who had conducted the bombings. "This Revolution is defended by men and women of the people."

"Who has the weapons?" asked Fidel Castro to the crowd at the now-famous intersection of 23rd and 12th streets. "Are they in the hands of the exploiters?" The famous photographs of the people raising their guns and shouting "NO!" quickly answered that question. "Are the working people a majority? Is it democratic to have a revolution in which the working people have the weapons? Fellow workers and farmers, this is the socialist and democratic Revolution of the working people, with the working people and for the working people!"

The rest, as they say, is history. The invasion failed on a massive scale with the entire mercenary force captured or killed.

The lesson was not lost on Cuba. Forty years later, following scores of bombings of cane fields and towns, following the bombing of a Cuban airliner with the loss of life of all on board, following the hundreds of assassination attempts on the leaders of the nation and the military, economic and biological warfare carried out against its population by Washington and its fanatics in Miami, this island still stands as an example to the oppressed of this world.

Despite enormous odds, despite the continued overt aggression of its powerful neighbour and the enormous social problems that have resulted, the sovereignty and independence of Cuba remain intact. The Revolution unashamedly continues to be a socialist one providing health care, education and housing as rights and not privileges. Food staples continue to be subsidised by the state and the "homeland" that the bitter and very dangerous megalomaniacs in Miami decry as "lost" is now a truly genuine homeland. On the day that this radio station was founded, May 1st 1961, Fidel Castro said that the type of homeland that such people spoke of was one of the parasite who lived off the labour of the majority. Of the few who exploited the many. He said that the new homeland was one where Cubans had won the right to control their destiny and the right to construct their own future that would of necessity be better than that of the past.

Whatever political beliefs others may have against the Cuban Revolution, the right of a people to determine their own destiny and the fact that this right continues to be exerted by a small island in the face of the most powerful nation on earth should command respect – and given the fearsome odds that this country has confronted in maintaining its hard-won social programme – admiration. Citing the dreadful treatment of African Americans that was going on in the US in those days, Fidel Castro ended his May Day speech 40 years ago with a cry that rings through to today: "If Mr Kennedy does not like socialism, well, we do not like imperialism!"

Article Index


RCPB(ML) Home Page

Workers' Daily Internet Edition Index Page