Solidarity 068, 3 March 2005

How to build a trade union

Published on: Fri, 04/03/2005 - 02:36

Bob Carnegie

Bob Carnegie is an organiser for the Queensland Builders’ Labourers’ Federation (BLF). He was previously an organiser for the Maritime Union of Australia, and has been a rank-and-file trade unionist in a number of industries, including construction and seafaring.

The Queensland BLF today shows a pattern of industrial militancy and organisation substantially different from that to be found in unions in the countries of old trade union organisation like the UK.

Job grievances, even when they immediately concern only one or a few workers, are routinely dealt with by strike action. The typical

Stop Clarke’s attack on civil rights!

Published on: Fri, 04/03/2005 - 02:36

By Mike Rowley

The saga of the Government’s new Prevention of Terrorism Bill continues. The Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, has suffered a setback with the outburst of opposition to the Bill from MPs of all parties, especially Labour.

In an attempt to save the essential proposals, including “house arrest” without trial for people suspected of involvement in terrorism, Clarke has offered five “concessions” to his critics. The most important of these is the transfer of the power to make such “control orders” from the Home Secretary himself to the judiciary.

However, Clarke’s opponents are not

Where abuse is the norm

Published on: Fri, 04/03/2005 - 02:36

The way western governments internationally — the US and the UK in particular — flout the rule of law was well demonstrated in Channel 4’s series of programmes about the torture of terror suspects.

Torture and human rights abuses do not just extend to terror suspects. The fourth programme in the series, screened after Solidarity goes to press, shows that abuses like those documented in Abu Ghraib are commonplace in the USA’s overcrowded and understaffed prisons.

Prisoners are shackled and hooded “for their own protection”; pepper spray is used as an alternative to physical force, but in

Alan Clinton and the Trotskyist Movement

Published on: Fri, 04/03/2005 - 02:36

Sean Matgamna

Alan Clinton, who in 1974 co-edited, with Richard Chappell, a collection of Trotsky’s writings on Britain in three volumes, has died of cancer at the age of 61. He lived a political life that encapsulated the history of the British left over 40 years. He is entitled to the respect of an honest, critical account of his political life.

Beginning as a youthful Trotskyist, he wound up as the Blairite leader of Islington council in 1994–7. The last time I saw him, more than a decade ago, on Upper Street, Islington, he responded to an aggressive question about his subsidence into Labourism with the

European constitution: The French left says “non”

Published on: Fri, 04/03/2005 - 02:36

Vicki Morris surveys the campaigns of the French far-left against the proposed EU constitution.

The French left and far-left are far ahead of us in discussing the proposed European constitution. They expect a referendum this year — which the advocates of “Oui” (yes), including president Jacques Chirac, the Socialist Party (although with a strong minority opposed) and the Greens, expect to win.

The vast majority of the far-left is campaigning for a “Non” (no).

“No to the constitution, another Europe is possible”

The biggest no campaign is a joint campaign by the French Communist Party (PCF)

Debate: Go nuclear? We may do

Published on: Fri, 04/03/2005 - 02:35

Martin Thomas says there are ways to make nuclear power pollute less (Solidarity 3-67). Maybe so. I dare say this might be taken into consideration when the US government starts building new nuclear power stations, as it look sets to do. (And they may be followed in that enterprise by the UK government.) On the other hand it might not.

Martin is making a case for considering nuclear power as one option (among many), and only to be considered if all the safety considerations are taken into account. Okay, but he seems to have not addressed the big problem with nuclear power production.


Debate: More to do on asylum

Published on: Fri, 04/03/2005 - 02:35

The last issue of Solidarity suggested two ways to “turn the tide” of racism against asylum seekers: supporting Socialist Green Unity Coalition candidates standing in the General Election and “fighting in the unions for them to break the hypnosis of the ‘Warwick agreement”’ – or, in plain English, to break with the policies of Blair’s government.

Both of these actions — desirable, though they are — are distant from the immediate concerns of fighting back on asylum. SGUC candidates will only be standing in around 30 seats and raising support for asylum rights as part of general socialist

March against deportations and racism on 2 April

Published on: Fri, 04/03/2005 - 02:35

From Manchester Committee to defend asylum seekers

There will be a national demonstration and rally in support of people seeking asylum and against racism on Saturday 2 April at 12.30pm at Whitworth Park, Manchester.

The demonstration and rally is part of the European “day of action” agreed upon at the London European Social Forum 2004, “against racism, for freedom of movement and for the right to stay as an alternative to a Europe based on exclusion and exploitation”. Demonstrations, rallies and events will take place across Europe on that day.

But the issue is local as well as European —

Debate: Respect the Mensheviks

Published on: Fri, 04/03/2005 - 02:35

Sacha Ismail’s response to my article on Menshevism confirms my belief that even in the very best Trotskyist organizations, members remain ill-informed about the very foundations of their politics.

That’s a harsh thing to say, but there are several passages of Sacha’s polemic that reveal a rather slight grasp of historical facts. For example, Sacha claims that the Bolsheviks were right to base their hopes on a world revolution breaking out which would rescue them from their isolation. “There were revolutions across Europe in 1917–23,” he tells us, “but they failed precisely because the

Support Iraqi women’s movement

Published on: Fri, 04/03/2005 - 02:35

No Sweat and the National Union of Students’ Women’s Campaign have organised a speaker tour around International Women’s Day to promote solidarity with the Iraqi women’s movement. The main speaker will be Houzan Mahmoud, UK rep of the Organisation for Women’s Freedom in Iraq.

  • Monday 7 March, 7pm, Latimer Room, Clare College, Cambridge. Details: Jo, 01223 356454.
  • Tuesday 8 March, 1pm, Sussex University. Details: Clare, 07779 251478.
  • Tuesday 8 March, evening, Khalil Lecture Theatre, School of Oriental and African Studies, London. “Women workers of the world, unite!” Includes

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