Solidarity 046, 19 February 2004

Iraqi workers force US climbdown: Oil strike threat wins double wages

Published on: Wed, 25/02/2004 - 02:05

By Ewa Jasiewicz, Occupation Watch, Occupied Basra

"It's the oil sector first, other sectors will follow. Soon it will change, our influence will be felt."
Hassan Jum'a, Southern Oil Company Union

Southern Oil Company (SOC) workers have won a three month struggle, underpinned by the threat of an armed strike, for higher wages. All oil sector workers in Iraq will now be receiving the SOC's negotiated wagetable. The unity, solidarity and support of oil sector workers in the central and northern fields in Kirkuk, Baaji and Baghdad's Daurra was key in achieving this victory.
Plus the fact that the

Stop this closure!

Published on: Wed, 25/02/2004 - 02:02

By Uduak Udofa, Westminster Kingsway Student Union Executive

The Battersea site of Westminster Kingsway College in south London has just been threatened with closure. The college wants to sell the Battersea Park Road building and is also considering totally withdrawing from the area as a provider.
Money from the sale of the building, which has housed educational facilities for over 100 years and is part of the college where TV chef Jamie Oliver learned his trade, would be used to help resolve financial problems elsewhere in the organisation.

Closure could result in many teaching and admin job

Spoofs, blogs and Google-bombs: the cyber-wars hot up

Published on: Wed, 25/02/2004 - 01:59

Press gang, by Lucy Clement

Getting cyber-spoofed is a hazard for any online entity. That's why all the big companies buy up every domain name that looks like their own (ba.com, ba.co.uk, britishairways.com, etc). But, damn it, there's always one you miss.
When New Labour launched its "Big Conversation" (this week's attraction: online chat with arts minister Estelle Morris) at www.bigconversation.org.uk, someone failed to notice that www.thebigconversation.org not only already existed, but had been going for eighteen months.

The original site - a non-party political discussion forum covering

Union action after Morecambe Bay

Published on: Wed, 25/02/2004 - 01:59

The following article by TGWU General Secretary, Tony Woodley first appeared in the Guardian on 7 February.

Morecambe Bay's famously ferocious tide may be a force of nature, but the death of eighteen Chinese workers picking cockles is due to human acts.
The cockle pickers involved form part of the growing army of workers employed in a twilight world propping up profit levels in many parts of the British economy. The right-wing response can be predicted. They will ask why these workers were in the country, not why they were working - almost certainly for very little - in such dangerous

Another attack on Labour's democracy

Published on: Wed, 25/02/2004 - 01:59

The Labour Party leadership is pushing again toward the abolition of General Committees (GCs), the bodies of delegates from ward branches and trade unions that run local Constituency Labour Parties.
A new "consultative document" ("21st century party - the next steps", available from the Labour Party website) talks up constituencies which have abolished monthly GC meetings, and suggests instead quarterly GCs supplemented by some all-members' meetings. In practice this would mean Constituency Labour Parties being run by their Executive Committees.

What gives the New Labour leadership an

Time to get factional!

Published on: Wed, 25/02/2004 - 01:59

"One man is king", remarked Karl Marx in an aside in Capital, "only because other men stand in the relation of subjects to him. They imagine that they are subjects because he is king".

That about sums up the Labour Party for most of the time since Tony Blair became leader of the party almost 10 years ago, on 21 July 1994. Labour activists - and, decisively, trade unionists - have been "subjects" of the "king" who looked as if he could beat, and then did beat, the Tories. He has been "king" because they have been willing to be "subjects".
That is beginning to change. Trade unionists and Labour

Disaffiliation is not the answer

Published on: Wed, 25/02/2004 - 01:58

By Colin Foster

The Labour Party has expelled the railworkers' union RMT. The Communication Workers' Union has condemned the expulsion and called on the Labour Party to discuss with the RMT. But many socialists have rejoiced, saying that the RMT's expulsion should and will be followed by many other unions deciding of their own accord to break links with Labour.
In fact that is unlikely.

The Fire Brigades Union conference in March will have motions before it for disaffiliation. It is the exception.

Past CWU conferences have seen lively arguments about the political fund. However, last year's

Reclaim our party

Published on: Wed, 25/02/2004 - 01:58

By a RMT delegate

The RMT Special General Meeting held in Glasgow on the 6 February upheld the decision of its 2003 AGM to affiliate to organisations outside the Labour Party. The union has now been expelled from the Party. The outcome should be no surprise to the wider labour movement. The RMT has a proud tradition of standing by its principles and facing up to bullies.
The threats and ultimatums from the Labour Party Executive, (where representatives of our sister unions sit and shake in fear at the thought of rocking the boat), only served to strengthen the resolve of the delegation. We

FBU: leaving Labour will not stop the bureaucrats

Published on: Wed, 25/02/2004 - 01:58

By Nick Holden

The agenda for the annual conference of the Fire Brigades' Union (at Bridlington, May 11-14) has just been published and there are several motions advocating disaffiliation from the Labour Party or the opening up of the political fund to allow branches to support non-Labour candidates.

The FBU conference three years ago voted for a position similar to that recently taken by the RMT (which resulted in the Labour Party National Executive expelling them) but following a year of lobbying by the union leadership the decision was reversed in 2002. Last year the conference was

What will the Guardian readers with placards do now?

Published on: Wed, 25/02/2004 - 01:54

The Guardian turns on Galloway

By Rhodri Evans

The journalist George Monbiot, initiator with the Muslim activist Salma Yaqoob of talks that led to the recently-launched "Respect" coalition, has resigned from it.

In a letter to "Respect" organisers on 13 February, he wrote that the failure of the coalition to cut an electoral deal with the Greens "puts me in an impossible position. I cannot continue to belong to a party which stands against the Greens in the European elections..."

Monbiot had already made it public that he was unhappy. A supplement of the Oxford Times had reported:

"George

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