Solidarity 044, 22 January 2004

West Midlands Land Rover dispute

Published on: Thu, 05/02/2004 - 16:21

Trade union Amicus has written to Land Rover, asking them to resume talks to resolve the pay dispute at the Solihull and Gaydon plants in the West Midlands.
TGWU and Amicus members at Land Rover are due to hold another 24-hour stoppage on Monday 9 February after holding a successful strike on Monday 26 January.

The workers are angry that the company's six-and-a-half percent pay offer will not give them parity with colleagues in Ford-owned Jaguar. They voted overwhelmingly to reject the company offer by 82% in a ballot in October.

There has already been the introduction of an overtime ban in

After the Hutton Report: free Katharine Gun!

Published on: Sat, 31/01/2004 - 18:02

Going to press on 21 January, we do not know what the Hutton Report will say about whether the Blair government culpably exposed government scientist David Kelly to the pressures which led him to suicide.
We know about Katharine Gun, though. And Baha Mousa, Kifa Taha, and Abd al-Jabbar Mossa.
Katharine Gun, a translator at the government spy centre GCHQ, leaked information to the press about moves by the USA to manipulate governments represented on the UN Security Council into voting for the Iraq war.

She was arrested within days, last March, and sacked straight away. She will come for trial

Obituary: Cecilia Prosper

Published on: Sun, 25/01/2004 - 21:53

Cecilia Prosper, former Islington UNISON steward, Socialist Alliance candidate in North-East London in the GLA 2000 elections, and a member of the Socialist Workers Party, has died of cancer at the age of 44. Cecilia was victimised from her job at Islington council after a strike in the late 1990s, but led the appeal which indicted the council. Our sympathy and condolences to her family and many friends. A memorial event will be announced shortly.

Details: Socialist Worker website

Obituary: Hugh McGrillen

Published on: Sun, 25/01/2004 - 21:51

Hugh McGrillen, a long-time MSF left activist and for many years London regional secretary of the MSF, has died of cancer. Hugh, a qualified chemist, worked as an advice worker at the London Hazards Centre. He was also a member of the Irish national chess team.
In 1999 the London Region of the MSF was excluded from voting in the Labour Party mayoral ballot on the utterly spurious grounds of late payment of affiliation. Hugh and his comrades fought the exclusion.

The right wing leadership of the MSF under Roger Lyons, decided to pursue a disciplinary investigation into the London Regional

Renationalise rail now!

Published on: Thu, 22/01/2004 - 17:13

By Gerry Bates

Railway privatisation has been a disaster, for passengers, for railworkers, for taxpayers. Public money spent on the railways now is three times what it was in the last year of the nationalised railways. Private Train Operating Companies are raking in profits.

Fare rises this year will be above inflation, as Train Operating Companies pass the costs of the improvements they must make on to passengers.
Delays are worse now than in 1997. One in five peak-time trains arrives late. Often the high fare passengers pay does not buy them a seat, just the chance to stand on a train that

Civil Contingencies Bill - War on civil liberties

Published on: Thu, 22/01/2004 - 17:13

By Joan Trevor

On 19 January the Civil Contingencies Bill (CCB) had its second reading in Parliament. If it becomes law it will give the Government vastly increased powers in the event of an emergency such as a terrorist attack or... another outbreak of foot and mouth disease!
In an event that "threatens serious damage to human welfare, the environment or the security of the UK or part of it", the Government will be able to override most existing legislation, thus allowing it to order evacuations, confiscate property, restrict access to certain parts of the country, impose curfews, ban public

Kick out Blair, not the railworkers!

Published on: Thu, 22/01/2004 - 17:13

By a Tubeworker

The Labour Party has written to the rail union RMT warning the union that unless the Executive revokes its decision to allow Scottish RMT branches to affiliate to the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), we will be outside the rules of the Labour Party. That essentially means our union's expulsion.

This clash arises from our Annual General Meeting (AGM) decision in 2003 to allow branches to affiliate to organisations outside the Labour Party. A Special General Meeting (SGM) has been called for 6 February to decide what we do about it.

The conference is likely to back the AGM

Referendum rubbish

Published on: Thu, 22/01/2004 - 17:11

George Galloway and his "Respect" coalition are saying that the June Euro and local government elections should be made a referendum on Tony Blair.

So after June we should add up the Tory, Lib Dem, Scottish National Party, and other non-Labour votes, and crack open the champagne if the total is large enough?

The left should oust Blair. Not by hoping that the Tories' votes plus our little extra come to enough to dishearten him, but by mobilising the unions to reject both Blair and Brown and re-establish accountable working-class political representation.

Press gang: Bad news day? Have a spliff

Published on: Thu, 22/01/2004 - 17:11

By Lucy Clement

This week in the world of the media:

In the grand Government tradition of avoiding awkward issues by having a "review", Bob Phillis, chief executive of the Guardian Media Group, has published his report into Government communications. Phillis was asked to investigate after the Jo Moore affair (she who thought September 11 was a good day to bury bad news). However, Jo Moore's shenanigans have faded into insignificance after the Kelly/Gilligan/Campbell debacle.
Still, for your edification here is a brief summary of Phillis's far-reaching conclusions. 1. there should be a bit less

ESF in London... as resources allow

Published on: Thu, 22/01/2004 - 17:11

By Tony Jeffries

There are plans to hold the 3rd European Social Forum (ESF) in London. But large obstacles still stand in the way.

About 200 people attended the European preparatory assembly for the London ESF, held on Saturday 13-Sunday 14 December, with a good attendance from all over Europe. About 100 people attended from Britain, but not the range of organisations that will need to be involved if the ESF is to be a success. Reports of the assembly are available here.
The bid to bring the ESF to London was made initially by the SWP with CND. Hostility and suspicion among activists of the

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