Solidarity 071, 14 April 2005

Refugees and gypsies scapegoated in a race-hate election

Published on: Wed, 20/04/2005 - 04:19

By Rosalind Robson

For some months now the Tories and Labour have been trying to win votes by competing to see who can be the most “hardline” against asylum seekeers. More recently the Tories have added gypsies and travellers to their list of “undesirables”.

Michael Howard has probably beaten Tony Blair with his nasty populist election campaign. Now he is “out on the stump” spewing out his message — “It’s not racist to want to control immigration”; and “Let’s clamp down on illegal traveller sites.”

The Tories maybe be in the lead in the race-hate auction but Labour isn’t far behind. One of

Ugly contest in East London

Published on: Wed, 20/04/2005 - 03:54

By John Bloxam

The Respect coalition’s electoral prospects on 5 May are increasingly focussed on George Galloway, who is standing in Bethnal Green and Bow, east London. The electoral “breakthrough” that the Galloway-SWP alliance have been predicting for their “radical fourth party” has now narrowed to getting Galloway, a sitting MP with a high public profile, elected in a seat with a 50% Muslim vote. “Imagine the impact if Respect wins a seat…” (Socialist Worker, 9 April, emphasis added). Respect’s footsoldiers, the SWP have made this seat their priority.

Galloway/Respect have targeted the

The Death of Pope John Paul II: "Humankind Bogged Down in Its Own Excrement": (2005)

Published on: Wed, 20/04/2005 - 03:19

Sean Matgamna

The sea of faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl’d;
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating to the breath
Of the night-wind down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.
...For the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Workers occupy a dozen farms

Published on: Wed, 20/04/2005 - 02:20

Members of Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement (MST) have occupied 12 farms in the state of Pernambuco, to try to pressure the government to speed up land reform. More than 5,000 families from the MST have moved on to the farms.

The MST say the Lula government had failed to live up to its election promises to have settled 400,000 families by 2007. The government has settled less than a quarter of that number. The land reform budget has been in order to repay debts.

Nearly half of all farmland in Brazil is owned by just 1% of the population. The MST occupies only unused land.

Ballot-rigging in Birmingham

Published on: Wed, 20/04/2005 - 02:20

By Dave Jessop

Six Birmingham Labour councillors have been found guilty of corruption and a systematic attempt to rig the 2004 city council elections.

The Election Commissioner, Richard Mawrey QC, said he was in no doubt that there had been a city-wide campaign by the Birmingham Labour Party to use thousands of bogus postal votes to counter the adverse impact of the Iraq war on Muslim communities in inner city wards.

Mawrey found that Labour candidates and supporters had stolen, forged and fiddled postal votes on “an industrial scale” and were helped by the almost total absence of security

Union activist jailed following convention

Published on: Wed, 20/04/2005 - 02:20

Dharmananda Panta, chair of a branch of the GEFONT trade union in Nepal, has been imprisoned for 90 days for trade union activity.

The authorities allege that his views had “hurt friendly relationships between neighbouring countries and disturbed peace in society”.

Panta has been active in the Independent Transport Workers Association of Nepal (ITWAN-GEFONT) for over fifteen years. He led a demonstration prior to a recent union convention and together with other trade unionists had chanted slogans in favour of peace, democracy and the trade union rights. Following the convention a police van

Army assassinates agricultural workers

Published on: Wed, 20/04/2005 - 02:20

The Colombian army has assassinated three members of the agricultural workers trade union FENSUAGRO, from the town of San Juan de Sumapaz on the outskirts of the Colombian capital Bogotá.

On 18 March the men were travelling to another town to inspect some cattle, when they went missing. Some days later the Colombia media reported that the army had killed three guerrillas in the area and, on 27 March the families of the three men identified their bodies.

The army’s claim the men were guerrillas is the same claim they made last year when they assassinated three senior trade union leaders in

160,000 strike over new laws

Published on: Wed, 20/04/2005 - 02:20

Around 160,000 members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions took industrial and protest action on 1 April. Some 120,000 workers at 231 workplaces struck for four hours.

The protest was over two new laws which the KCTU argue will clear the way for accelerated casualisation of Korea’s workforce. Some 60% of all Korean workers are now employed on “temporary” or “irregular” contracts.

KCTU unions are using their bargaining strength at plant level to gain regular status for casual employees. Last year, unions at the Coca-Cola Korea Bottling Company were successful in contract negotiations

Iraq: tide turning? And which way?

Published on: Wed, 20/04/2005 - 02:19

By Colin Foster

According to the Independent, probably the major newspaper most sharply critical of the US/UK military in Iraq, “the tide is turning”.

Patrick Cockburn writes: “American forces are on the retreat throughout Iraq.

“Slowly, the great American adventure in the country, which started with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, is coming to an end.” (Independent, 12 April)

Jonathan Steele, in the Guardian, takes the opposite view:

“The casualties go on rising… opposition is still growing… The US is failing. Most of western Iraq is out of US control. The city of Mosul could

Defend your pension!

Published on: Wed, 20/04/2005 - 02:19

London Underground Pension Fund is considering putting up the minimum age for early retirement from 50 to 55, and they are considering other changes, such as abolishing Additional Voluntary Contributions.

This follows hot on the heels of Metronet and TubeLines stopping new recruits joining the LRT Pension Fund and making them join a new, inferior scheme instead — and TfL trying to prevent some of its staff joining the Fund until they have worked for the company for a year.

This affects not just those new recruits, but everyone in the LT Fund, which will now have less money coming in.


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