Solidarity 078, 11 August 2005

South African strike wave

Published on: Tue, 16/08/2005 - 22:38

South Africa is undergoing a strike wave, the second in a matter of months, with miners, municipal workers and civil servants about to take strike action. This follows stoppages in recent weeks by urban workers, grocery clerks and airline workers.

Around 80,000 gold miners came out on Sunday 7 August, the first strike organised by the National Union of Mineworkers in gold mines in 18 years.

On Monday 8 August the South African Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) began another strike for higher wages. It wants 8%, while employers have imposed a 6% increase. Workers in in waste disposal, roads,

Palestinians under siege

Published on: Tue, 16/08/2005 - 22:38

David Broder interviewed John Strawson about the restrictions on movement and other daily struggles for the Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank. John Strawson is a lecturer at the University of East London and also teaches at Birzeit University in the West Bank.

What is Israel doing to change the status of its checkpoints in the Occupied Territories?

It’s moving to make them permanent, in my opinion. They say that they are making them permanent, but that is making life easier for Palestinians, moving between checkpoints. What they’re actually doing is alternating them. So whereas

Debate: Should socialists support gun control?

Published on: Tue, 16/08/2005 - 22:38

Amina Sadiq

The shooting of innocent Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes by the Metropolitan police on 22 July poses issues not just about the arming of the police, but about the broader question of who should have access to guns.

Whatever the qualifications introduced by the difficult issue of suicide bombers, I think socialists should continue to oppose the police in general being armed. We do not want a situation like that which exists in the US, where police officers routinely carry guns and wield armed force, often against working-class and in particular black working-class people, with

“The only thing I hate in this world is the police”

Published on: Tue, 16/08/2005 - 22:38

Ricardo, Montevideo, Uraguay

I am 16, but not for much longer. My birthday is soon, although I have never received a birthday present in my life. I’ve been living on the street for the last six years.

My parents are living but not together. My mother ran off with my father’s brother, though not before having nine children with my father. Now my father has a new woman who is pregnant with a new brother or sister for me.

It was my choice to live on the streets and not with my family. There were too many of us living in the small house in the cantigrill [slum]. I did not get on with my sister.

Argentinian workers strike for higher pay

Published on: Tue, 16/08/2005 - 22:29

Argentinian rail workers joined health workers, dockers and others in a 24-hour strike on Thursday 28 July, demanding higher pay.

Rail union reps said that after the failure of negotiations for over 100 days they decided to strike. They also warned that if there is no agreement in a week, they will escalate the action to 36 hours, with a 48 hour strike the following week.

The capital Buenos Aires came to a standstill, with buses also disrupted. Only the tube system carried on running.

Health workers were also out on a 72 hour strike. Pay in their sector has been frozen for almost fifteen

Miners demand pension rights

Published on: Tue, 16/08/2005 - 22:29

On 26 July eight thousand miners from Silesia (south-west Poland) demonstrated in front of the parliament building in the Warsaw.

Members of all 13 miners’ trade unions demanded pensions rights for miners after 25 years work, regardless of their age. The miners do not want to accept a normal pension age (65) because it would mean working until their death. (The life expectancy of a Polish miner is 64.)

In front of the parliament building a violent struggle took place. The police used the tear gas and the water cannons. The miners threw paving stones at the police. Seven miners were injured

New Venezuelan socialist party to be formed

Published on: Tue, 16/08/2005 - 22:29

Four hundred people met in the Caracas Venezuela on 9 July to found a new socialist party by January 2006, when the World Social Forum will meet in the city.

The name currently proposed for the party is the PTRS, the Workers Party for the Socialist Revolution.

The 9 July conference was called by a coalition of six organisations, among them the Opción de Izquierda Revolucionaria (OIR, Revolutionary Left Option) which includes some Trotskyists and Orlando Chirino, national coordinator of the trade union confederation, the UNT). Also present were the Opción Clasista de Trabajadores (which

Corporate manslaughter law lets companies off the hook

Published on: Tue, 16/08/2005 - 22:28

By Paul Hampton

Four people died and more than 100 were injured in the rail crash at Hatfield in 17 October 2000. This year Railtrack, the company responsible for the network and Balfour Beatty, responsible for track maintenance and their top executives - have been up in court for corporate manslaughter and other safety breaches. Last month they got off the manslaughter charges.

After a trial lasting more than six months, the court witnessed a disgusting farce - enough to make anyone vomit. First the judge threw out manslaughter charges against Balfour Beatty and five rail bosses. Then a week

Starving to save capitalism

Published on: Tue, 16/08/2005 - 22:28

By Ben Davies

Just one month after the leaders of the G8 countries, the world’s richest, gifted the world’s poorest nations a few more crumbs from their table, we see a gut-wrenching example of the true scale of world poverty and inequality — the famine in Niger.

This famine has left 874,000 people in imminent danger of starving to death and has particularly affected children. It has been exacerbated by the slowness of western governments to respond with aid.

Médecins Sans Frontières has rightly attacked the way in which many government figures both in Niger and internationally have sought

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