Solidarity 052, 27 May 2004

Gap between rich and poor grows under New Labour

Published on: Thu, 17/06/2004 - 18:55

By Colin Foster

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline recently agreed an £18 million pay package for its chief executive.

The workers have been offered a 2% rise - in real terms, a pay cut.

After seven years of New Labour government, inequality in Britain is still increasing. The gap between rich and poor is getting larger. The slice of total income taken by the top one per cent is already back to what it was in the 1930s, and continuing to increase rapidly.

Despite recent rises in public spending, the government still says it can't afford to run universities without top-up fees. It can't

Against the far right: for a united Europe

Published on: Thu, 17/06/2004 - 18:52

By Rhodri Evans

The threat from the far right in the 10 June Euro-elections may come as much from the UK Independence Party as from the British National Party.

The BNP hopes to win a Euro-seat in the north-west. But the UKIP has edged ahead of the Lib-Dems in one opinion poll. It is spending more on the Euro-elections than Labour and the Tories put together. It has the backing of multi-millionaire Paul Sykes, actress Joan Collins, freelance racist Robert Kilroy-Silk, and former Clinton campaign manager Dick Morris.

The BNP is worried about the UKIP "splitting the patriotic, anti-European Union

India: Right ousted, but will the workers gain?

Published on: Thu, 17/06/2004 - 18:47

By Harry Glass

What do the surprise results of the Indian elections mean for the Indian working class?

The first surprise was the defeat of the Hindu chauvinist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has ruled India for the past five years. Most commentators thought that a BJP victory was inevitable, yet the party lost 4% of its vote compared with 1999 and more than 40 of its 182 seats.

The BJP fought the election under the slogan "India is shining" and promised to continue its neo-liberal economic policies. But the BJP's campaign had little resonance with the two-thirds of the 670 million voters

For choice, against the market

Published on: Thu, 17/06/2004 - 18:41

By Martin Thomas

The left-wing monthly Red Pepper, and weekly Tribune, have joined forces to promote a "charter for the minority press".

What stung them to action was a decision by W H Smith, who control most of the wholesale trade in periodicals in Britain, to cut back still further on the number of magazines it will take. Royal Mail has also announced that from September 2004 it will scrap its Newspaper Registration Service, under which registered newspapers can go by first-class post for a second-class stamp.

It is possible to plead with W H Smith to supply a new magazine on trial to a

Struggle, not sops

Published on: Thu, 17/06/2004 - 18:36

The leaders of the 'Big Four' unions, Amicus, GMB, TGWU, and Unison - the trade-union 'mountains' - have recently made noises to suggest that they are about to go into labour. But so far they have not given birth even to the proverbial mouse.

They have had private meetings to draw up an 'alternative' trade-union version of the Labour manifesto for next year's General Election - that is, proposals they want to put into New Labour's manifesto. So far not much. And not enough.

By the time of the General Election, the Blair 'Labour' government will be eight years old. Through all that time it has

Workers Of The World roundup

Published on: Thu, 17/06/2004 - 18:31
  • Support Colombian oil workers' strike
  • Free Mario Bango!

Support Colombian oil workers' strike

The Colombian government is attempting to used military force to break the month-long strike at Ecopetrol, the national oil company.

According to the ICEM, the international federation of chemical, energy and mine workers, Colombian troops have now been placed in and around Ecopetrol's petroleum facilities. The Uribe government declared the 22 April strike illegal, citing petroleum refining as an "essential service" in Colombia.

To date, a hundred members of the oil workers' trade union, Unión

Olympics Committee ignores sweatshop labour

Published on: Thu, 17/06/2004 - 18:26

By Mick Duncan

The International Olympics Committee (IOC) is turning a blind eye to the super-exploitation of workers producing sportswear marketed around the Athens Olympic Games.

The IOC ducks responsibility by stating that control over standards in this area lies with the National Olympic Committees, while the National Committees refer back to the IOC. But the Olympics Charter states that "all rights to the Olympic Symbol, Flag, and Motto belong exclusively to the IOC', giving them authority over licensing of National Committees and companies producing Olympics branded goods.

Oxfam and the

Put the privatisation of Iraq on trial!

Published on: Thu, 17/06/2004 - 18:24

Come to Highbury Magistrates' Court on 9 July (Highbury Corner, London N7)! Activists Ewa Jasiewicz, recently returned from 8 months solidarity work in Iraq, and community film-maker Pennie Quinton have been charged with "Aggravated Trespass" whilst protesting inside and against the Iraq Procurement Conference in London on 27 April.

The two, who unravelled banners and addressed the delgates as collaborators and complicit in the daily massacres in Iraq, will be arguing that the meeting was actually an unlawful event as it was facilitating acts of pillage - illegal under the Hague Regulations

Iraqi Workers' Solidarity Group

Published on: Thu, 17/06/2004 - 18:21

Key dates for solidarity

The new Iraqi Workers' Solidarity Group made a number of plans at our meeting on 25 May:
We will be organising a fund-raising benefit comedy night for Iraq's new trade unions. We'll be selling a t-shirt with the same aim.

  • At the Glastonbury festival on the weekend of 26-27 June, we hope to secure agreement on further fund-raising.
  • Around 30 June, the date of the supposed "handover" in Iraq, we will - with others, we hope - organise a protest tour of the central London offices of the big corporations involved in the forced privatisation of Iraq's economy and the

Many questions unanswered in the handover

Published on: Thu, 17/06/2004 - 18:13

By Clive Bradley

George W Bush says the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq will go ahead at the end of June, and is seeking a United Nations resolution to that effect. UN representative al-Akhdar al-Brahimi is already choosing a caretaker government which will hold power until elections are held - by the end of January 2005 at the latest.

Many questions remain unanswered about this "transfer". Legally, sovereignty is already held by Iraq. Foreign troops will remain: currently their numbers are being increased (especially as junior partners in the coalition withdraw), and the US - in addition to

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