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Year 2001 No. 89, May 25, 2001 Archive Search Home Page

Labour Party Seeks a Mandate for Further Attacks on the Public Services

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

Labour Party Seeks a Mandate for Further Attacks on the Public Services

Arthur Scargill launches SLP's campaign in the West Midlands

Success for the Postal Workers’ Strike

Parents and Teachers Protest over School Closures

May 25 – African Liberation Day

UN Seminar in Havana on Decolonisation

34 Years of Occupation - ENOUGH !!!

Letter from RCPB(ML) to 19th Congress of the General Association of the Korean Residents in Japan

The World in Brief

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Labour Party Seeks a Mandate for Further Attacks on the Public Services

A central aim of Tony Blair during the election campaign has been to try and convince the electorate that unlike the other big parties the Labour Party is the only party that stands for investment in public services and therefore should be voted in for a second term of office.

This was the focus of what was billed as the Prime Minister’s third keynote speech of the campaign, delivered on Monday, May 21, on the theme of public service investment and reform. The Labour government’s first term, according to Tony Blair, has merely been one of putting "the public finances on a sound footing" and establishing "the foundation of economic stability". According to Tony Blair, as New Labour has now demonstrated that it is the "party of economic competence" it can now at this election to promise "sustained investment and far-reaching reforms in our public services". Indeed Blair promises "the boldest programme for public services in more than half a century", and claims that all will be well because allegedly unlike the Conservative Party the Labour Party believes "there is such a thing as society".

With such words Tony Blair seeks to persuade people that public services will thrive under another Labour government. But facts are stubborn things and in the last four years it has become clear that whatever the Labour government says it believes it has ruthlessly attacked the very notion that society has any obligation to care for the people. It has implemented its "Third Way" programme, and demonstrated exactly how it views public services such as education and health. Rather than recognise that education and health care in a modern society should be provided free and at the highest possible level as a guaranteed basic right for all, the Labour government, while claiming that it is doing the opposite, has intensified the onslaught on public services and further opened them up for profit making in the interests of big business. Indeed in his speech the Prime Minister stressed that one of the main reasons for what he referred to as "public service investment and reform" was in order that the monopolies would be in a better position to compete in the global market.

By means of the election the Labour government is seeking a mandate for further attacks on public services, greater privatisation and the intensification of its neo-liberal agenda. Under the guise of providing "radical new options for tackling failure" in schools, for example, it is planning to make it easier for the management of "failing schools" to be taken over by private companies.

What is referred to as the "partnership between public, private and voluntary sectors" – a "third way" between the public and the private sectors – is to be further developed throughout the public services, opening them up to private finance on the one hand and increasingly calling on the people to "look after themselves".

At the same time Blair is calling for "more flexible working practices" throughout the public services. This is a euphemism for increased exploitation of workers in health, education and other professions, and promising to "deregulate" and "decentralise" such services with funding going to "stakeholders groups" and the like, as a further step towards privatisation.

Such reforms aim to dismantle the role of society in caring for the needs of people, to provide services for the benefit of big business both as a source of profit and a means of competing more effectively in the global market. What is on offer from the Labour Party at the election is a continuation and intensification of the "Third Way" programme pursued since the last election.

Article Index

Arthur Scargill launches SLP's campaign in the West Midlands

On Saturday, May 19, at the Farcroft Hotel in Handsworth, in front of a full house of 75 people from the immediate community and around Birmingham and the West Midlands, Arthur Scargill, General Secretary of the Socialist Labour Party, introduced the 39 page SLP manifesto for the General Election Campaign. He also launched the campaign for the West Midlands.

Arthur started by saying that the economic structure in the 1980s was that 80% of the economy was industrial and 20% service industries, which is now reversed, i.e. 19% of the economy is now manufacturing and 81% is service industries due to the policies of Margaret Thatcher. He went on to say that the NHS was in need of intensive care and that it needs investment of £15 billion to make the investment comparable with other developed countries. In the view of SLP, this could be easily achieved by reducing the arms bill by £16 billion, two thirds, which is used for aggression against Baghdad, Belgrade and others.

Arthur Scargill said that one of the greatest betrayals was the treatment of pensioners. In 1977, pensions were linked to earnings or the retail price index, whichever was the greater in return for higher contributions from the workers. Margaret Thatcher removed this and the "New Labour Party" has reneged on a promise to re-establish it. A couple would be £45 better off, not part of the 10 million people in Britain who live under the poverty line.

Arthur said that all education should be as good as the education which Tony Blair's and Harriet Harman's children receive in London.

On the point about homelessness he went on to say that £1 million per year for five years has to be spent on housing to make it decent.

He also said that asylum seekers should not be turned away. Britain should uphold the tradition of giving protection to people who need it, just like when the National Union of Mineworkers spirited away the Portillo family from Franco's Spain to Britain in the 1930s and when Michael Howard's family came from Lithuania at the turn of the century. The other parties are being racist on the question of asylum seekers.

Later Arthur Scargill said that "New Labour" is not a party of the working class or for socialism. It is a party just like the others, which supported a "free market" European Union and were supporters of globalisation. The speaker went on to say that he had gone to Nice and had supported the youth who had demonstrated at the Nice summit against globalisation, which was destroying the environment and exploiting the people, especially in the third world.

At the meeting other SLP candidates spoke. Sam Brackenbury is deeply involved in DAN, the Disabled People's Direct Action Network, and is prominent in campaigns for accessible transport for disabled people. He is known for opposing closures of hospitals and rehabilitation centres in Birmingham. Sam is standing as SLP candidate for Birmingham Edgbaston.

Judith Sambrook Marshall campaigns for the rights of asylum seekers and against all forms of racism and bigotry. Judith is standing as a candidate for Birmingham Erdington.

Dennis Cridge campaigns for protecting public housing stock, for a decent minimum wage and a just taxation system. He is standing for Birmingham, Hodge Hill.

Surinder Virdee is an active member of the Indian Workers Association and a staunch defender of workers' rights. Surinder is an active anti-racist campaigner involved with community theatre and is standing for Birmingham Ladywood.

Zane Carpenter is an environmental campaigner, trade union activist with a long involvement in the international peace movement. Zane is standing for Birmingham Northfield.

Avtar Singh Jouhl is a trade unionist, anti-racist and labour movement campaigner since 1958. He is standing in Birmigham Perry Barr.

Colin Wren is a musician and a trade union educator, active in NATFHE and is a founding member of the SLP. He is standing for Birmingham Yardley.

Tim Logan is a campaigner for restoring student grants and full access to higher education for al. He is standing in Coventry, North West.

Mick Atherton is a former railway worker and has been an activist in his union the RMT for 36 years. He is standing in Stourbridge.

Harbhajan Dardi is a writer and poet and has served the local community for years campaigning against racist immigration laws, and in particular against the degrading "virginity tests" on women. Harbhajan is standing in Warley.

Sheera Johal has been active in campaigns to free the Bradford 12 and Satpal Ram as well as the Lawrence campaign; from the Asian youth movement in the 1980s, he has supported local and national trade union disputes including the miners in 1984/85 and the Raindi textile workers' strike. Sheera is standing in West Bromwich East.

Baghwant Singh has been actively involved in the Free Satpal Ram Campaign as well as the fight to save Rover, is active throughout the Black Country in the fight against the Nazi organisations. Haghwant is standing in West Bromwich West.

Article Index

Success for the Postal Workers’ Strike

The postal strike has ended after the Royal Mail staff who started the dispute voted to go back to work. The strikers at the Watford branch of the Communications Workers Union accepted an offer from management for a review of new, exploitative working practices.

Strikers in Maidstone and Cardiff have also agreed to return to work, it has been reported.

The rest of the 15,000 workers from offices throughout Britain who walked out in sympathy with the Watford workers are now expected to call off their action and return to work.

All sorting staff across the five London centres and growing numbers of postmen had refused to work. Further walkouts took place at centres at Greenford, Harrow, Dartford, Carlisle, Milton Keynes and Tyneside. The action had also spread to Liverpool, Manchester, Preston, Chester, Stockport, Birkenhead, north Wales, Maidstone and Cardiff.

Mail centres across London, the North West and other parts of the country were at a standstill because of the strikes, holding up more than 10 million letters.

Mail workers at a rail depot in Willesden, north London, and one based at Heathrow Airport also took action, and post-boxes in several cities, including London and Liverpool, were sealed.

Sources at the CWU's London branch indicated they would only resume work if their demands for a shorter working week and enhanced packages were met.

Norman Candy, the CWU's London regional officer, had said: "I don't see London going back just because Watford are happy with the proposal. Any deal must include the London issues - the delivery issue and the suspended staff in south-east London."

CWU general secretary Derek Hodgson welcomed the decision to go back to work, saying: "The first brick in the wall is in place and we hope all services will resume by the weekend."

A CWU source said the union and Royal Mail had been "leaned on by Millbank" – a claim that Labour's HQ refused to comment on.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: "The union and Royal Mail agree it is in the best interests of customers and employees that there is a swift and complete return to work."

The dispute started last week when 800 Watford members of the CWU took action over changes to working practices. It spread to London's five mail centres, where staff refused to handle mail sorted by management. Strikers said they were protesting against Royal Mail's failure to negotiate sufficiently on the new arrangements.

The Socialist Alliance candidate for Streatham, Greg Tucker, stood on the picket line outside the Royal Mail sorting office in Nine Elms, south London, with the striking postal workers.

The proposals accepted by the Watford workers included the promise of further talks between the Royal Mail and the union at national level over the next seven days. The deal was explained to the workers at Watford, who voted in favour at a mass meeting.

Branch secretary for the local CWU, David Baulch, said on Thursday: "They voted in favour of a return to work by a vast majority of staff. A long debate was had, a lot of reassurances were given (by management). We plan to make a return to work for 10pm tonight."

David Baulch predicted it would take "a couple of weeks" for the backlog of mail to be dealt with but he was confident that general election post would not be affected. "Of course we will help clear that backlog. We certainly hope there will be no more strikes in Watford," he said. "No-one has ever wanted to lose money or disrupt any services but you can see how angry they have been and how difficult it has been."

National Communication Workers' Union officer Martin Collins urged 700 Liverpool postal workers to end their unofficial stoppage and return to work. But he admitted that the mood among striking postal workers was so strong that their unanimous vote to stay out was no surprise.

"There has been clear provocation and people feel they were being forced into a dispute. People want to be treated in a reasonable manner rather than be provoked into industrial action which they don't want." He added: "We have a problem with industrial relations. There is a bad feeling. I would like to say the strike was over tomorrow but that is not the case because of the reaction of management."

Royal Mail refused to react to union allegations that they were deliberately trying to provoke industrial disputes. A Royal Mail spokeswoman claimed that Liverpool and Stockport were the only mail centres in the country which had been refusing to handle post which is bound for Watford. She said: "What the workers were asked to do was part of the contingency planning to minimise disruption by the Watford strike and which was agreed by the CWU. Royal Mail and the CWU leadership have just appointed an independent team to review industrial relations and it would have been more sensible for people in Liverpool to make their case to the review team rather than carry on this strike."

Article Index

Parents and Teachers Protest over School Closures

Parents and teachers in Coventry are protesting over primary school closures. Thirteen schools are affected in the city, where closures and mergers are due to take place.

Coventry City Council is being lobbied, where New Labour "Third Way" plans are being implemented. Councillors were voting on whether to accept the unpopular proposals at a meeting on the evening of Thursday, May 24.

Divisional secretary for the National Union of Teachers in Coventry, Jane Nellist, pointed out that the plans threaten the quality of education.

Article Index

May 25 – African Liberation Day

May 25 marks African Liberation Day. This day has been marked since 1958, when it was declared "Africa Freedom Day" at the first Conference of Independent African States held in Accra, Ghana to mark the onward progress of the liberation movement. The Organisation of African Unity at its founding on May 25, 1963, declared that day would be celebrated annually as "African Liberation Day", carrying forward the aspirations of the peoples of Africa for freedom, sovereignty and a new society.

This year, May 25 also marks the eve of the entry into force of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, a framework for co-operation and integration of the African continent. The establishment of this African Union was proudly declared by African heads of state and government at their assembly in Sirte, Libya, in 1999.

The trend of the peoples of the developing world, including Africa, of strengthening their unity against the neo-colonialist and neo-liberal programme of globalisation in the conditions of the intensifying world capitalist crisis, is very significant. The big capitalist powers, especially US imperialism and the British government, are interfering and intervening on the African continent, always declaring their best intentions. But these are nothing but attempts to enslave Africa anew and commit new acts of genocide against the African peoples under the signboards of globalisation and humanitarianism. The peoples of Africa, in developing their unity, are bound to sum up and are summing up the cause of their civil strifes, the widespread poverty in a continent of human and material resources, the lack of medicinal drugs and so forth, and come to the conclusion that it is by strengthening their unity and guarding their sovereignty and independence that their problems will find a solution.

Indeed, African Liberation Day itself was born out of this consciousness that the liberation of the peoples of Africa is a matter of their own deeds, and part of the world-wide struggle against imperialism and of the united front of the working class and peoples to put an end to the exploitation of persons by persons.

The British government wishes to gloss over or glorify Britain’s colonial and imperialist past, its leading role in the inhuman slave trade which devastated whole peoples and cultures in acts of genocide. It is deathly afraid of being made to account for and make reparations for this infamous period of its history. It does so, not only for reasons of erasing history, but primarily of erasing the significance of its present day actions and philosophy, of its present version of implementing the "white man’s burden" in Africa.

In hailing African Liberation Day and the important advances the peoples of Africa have made, WDIE also calls on the British working class and democratic and progressive forces to take a stand in favour of their own rights and smash the chauvinist illusions promoted by the rich and powerful in society.

The British working class and people have common cause with the peoples of Africa and the developing world in their struggles for the peoples themselves to become the decision makers in society, to achieve their complete political, economic and social liberation, and to bring about a new world which recognises the rights of all peoples and nations, and is indeed fit for human beings to live in.

Article Index

UN Seminar in Havana on Decolonisation

The United Nations held a three-day decolonisation seminar in Havana, Cuba, beginning on May 23. The seminar was aimed at reviewing conditions in small island territories that are governed by other states.

"Decolonisation is clearly one of the great success stories of the last half-century, and we must see the process through to its end," Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a message to the Caribbean regional seminar.

Kofi Annan said the meeting, which was organised by a UN special committee on decolonisation, "provides us with a unique opportunity to recommit ourselves to the goal of assuring that all peoples can exercise their right of self-determination in accordance with the relevant General Assembly resolutions."

The General Assembly originally established the special committee to monitor the implementation of its 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples. The Secretary-General recalled that since the adoption of that milestone text, "more than 80 million people have attained independence," but, he added, "there are still 17 Non-Self-Governing Territories remaining, world-wide."

Participants assessed the situation in those Territories with a particular focus on their constitutional evolution towards self-determination. The seminar aimed to identify areas where the international community could increase its participation in assistance programmes and adopt a comprehensive approach to ensuring political and sustainable development in the Territories, according to the UN.

The seminar was held within the framework of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001-2010), and coincides with the Week of Solidarity with the Peoples of Non-Self-Governing Territories, which begins on 25 May.

The 17 remaining Non-Self-Governing Territories are: Western Sahara, American Samoa, East Timor, Guam, New Caledonia, Pitcairn, Tokelau, Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands/Malvinas, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St. Helena, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands.

Article Index

34 Years of Occupation - ENOUGH !!!

On June 8, in 75 cities and towns around the world, a call by peace activists for Israel to end the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank will be heard.

This day will be marked by more than 80 simultaneous protests by Women in Black and their supporters, at locations around the world.

There are currently Women in Black vigils scheduled in: London, Australia, Turkey, Spain, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Denmark, the north of Ireland, The Hague, Canada, Germany, Spain, the Maldive Islands, Mexico, Italy, Sweden, Austria, the United States and Israel.

The demonstration will begin with an all-night protest vigil on Thursday night,

June 7, 2001, and continue throughout the morning of Friday, June 8, 2001. The demonstration will close with a mass protest by Women in Black at 12:00 -14:00 p.m. at Hagar Square (Paris Square) in Jerusalem.

The Coalition of Women for a Just Peace (CWFJP) comprises Bat Shalom (an organisation of women working towards a just peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours), Women in Black, New Profile, TANDI, WILPF, Women and Mothers for Peace, Women Engendering Peace, "NOGA" (Venus – A Feminist Magazine). The CWFJP points out that the generals leading Israel have driven the Israeli people to wars of all kinds:

* Wars against other countries in the region, and wars against the Palestinian people.

* War against the children of the first Intifada, and the assassination of the leaders

of the second Intifada.

* "Surgical" air strikes and bombing of population centres.

* Roadblocks, closure, killing, house demolitions and uprooting of orchards and olive groves

They ask: "And this is how they want to achieve peace in the region?"

The Coalition of Women for a Just Peace proposes the only right approach toward resolving the conflict in the region: Solving problems with wisdom and understanding, not by force; a solution based on the principles of justice, equality and peace through dialogue, compromise and empathy for the needs of both peoples.

Thus, the CWFJP is demanding: Immediate Withdrawal from the Occupied Territories to the 1967 borders!

The Coalition of Women for a Just Peace demands from the Israeli government:

* An end to the occupation.

* Establishment of the state of Palestine side by side with the state of Israel based on the 1967 borders.

* Recognition of Jerusalem as the shared capital of two states.

* Israel must recognise its responsibility for the results of the 1948 war, and find a just solution to the Palestinian refugees.

* Opposition to the militarism that permeates Israeli society.

* Equality, inclusion and justice for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

* Equal rights for women and for all residents of Israel.

* The full involvement of women in negotiations for peace.

* Social and economic justice for Israel's citizens, and integration in the region.

The Coalition of Women for a Just Peace raises the slogans:

The Age of Generals Is Over !! - Enough of the Reign of Force !!!

It's Time for Women to Lead the Way !!

Article Index

Letter from RCPB(ML) to 19th Congress of the General Association of the Korean Residents in Japan

May 21, 2001


General Association of the Korean Residents in Japan

Dear friends,

Our Party, RCPB(ML), was very pleased to learn of the holding of the historic 19th Congress of the General Association of the Korean Residents in Japan (GAKRJ) on May 25-26, 2001.

On behalf of all the militants of RCPB(ML), our Central Committee extends to you its most heartfelt congratulations on the holding of the Congress. We are very sure that its proceedings will be crowned with success.

We know that the GAKRJ, which was founded at the direct initiative of Comrade Kim Il Sung in 1955, has made great successes in organisationally rallying all the Korean compatriots in Japan behind the banner of patriotism. It has unfailingly championed the democratic and national rights of the Korean compatriots against the Japanese authorities' reactionary policy of national discrimination and persecution.

In addition, the GAKRJ has made a significant and valued contribution to supporting the socialist construction of the fatherland and to the reunification of Korea, upholding the lofty conception put forward by the Workers' Party of Korea.

This work of the GAKRJ uplifts the democratic forces in Britain too in their sentiments of solidarity with the peoples of the world who are fighting for their national and social rights.

Our Party is very confident that the influence of your patriotic organisation of 700,000 Koreans in Japan will continue to grow and that your work will continue to prosper.

With warm fraternal greetings

International Department

Central Committee of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

Article Index

The World in Brief

23-27 May MALI/SOUTH AFRICA/ KENYA/UGANDA: US Secretary of State Colin Powell on a tour of four sub-Saharan African states. His tour starts in Mali and he then visits South Africa, Kenya and Uganda.

23-31 May INDIA/BANGLADESH/CHINA/MALAYSIA/INDONESIA: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez visits India, Bangladesh, China (24-27), Malaysia (28) and Indonesia (29-31)

25-27 May AUSTRIA: German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder pays working visit.

26 May HUNGARY: Conference held in Budapest on situation of Romanies in Hungary and Europe. It is said to pave the way for an association in support of the minorities in Europe.

26 May NIGERIA: Summit of African heads of state to mark the date in which the African Union is to come into effect following a vote by 36 nations in the 53-member Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in favour of the union.

26-27 May RUSSIA/JAPAN: Russian navy vessel Nevelsk takes part in multinational exercises and naval parade in Tokyo Bay.

26-29 May VENEZUELA: Cuban President Fidel Castro visits.

27-31 May LITHUANIA: NATO Parliamentary Council scheduled to meet in Vilnius to discuss issues connected with the enlargement of the alliance’s membership and Lithuania’s accession.

28-29 May SOUTH KOREA: First-ever ASEM (Asia Europe Meeting) roundtable discussion takes place, entitled "Globalisation and Regional Responses", to be attended by 70 "experts and scholars" from member countries.

29-30 May RUSSIA/HUNGARY: First official meeting of NATO and EU foreign ministers primarily to discuss developing the formal relationship between the two bodies. Russia’s Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov visits to attend ministerial session of the Russia-NATO permanent joint council, which is expected to focus on the ABM issue, Balkan crisis and Russia-NATO relations. Protests by anti-globalisation groups expected.

29-30 May RUSSIA: First stage of Investing in Asia international conference takes place in Moscow.

30-31 May INDONESIA: G15 summit of developing nations takes place in Jakarta.

30 May – 9 Jun RUSSIA: Japan sends 150-strong economic mission to Russia to expand bilateral regional economic exchanges.

31 May SOUTH AFRICA: French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin due to arrive for a two-day visit.

31 May BELARUS: First meeting of Eurasian Economic Community (Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Russia and Belarus) in Minsk. Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov attending.

1 June BELARUS: CIS summit takes place in Minsk. Leaders of 12 former Soviet republics attending, including Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

1-2 June RUSSIA: Congress of Slav peoples of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine takes place in Moscow.

3 June RUSSIA: Indian Defence Minister Jaswant Singh visits Moscow to discuss all aspects of military and technical co-operation. Scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov and to chair a regular session of the Russian-Indian intergovernmental commission.

3-7 June CUBA: Second culture and development conference takes place in the Havana Convention Centre to analyse basic problems facing humanity and the preservation of its cultures.

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