Solidarity 089, 9 March 2006

McCarthyism — and Stalinist gangsterism

Published on: Fri, 16/11/2007 - 23:42

By Sean Matgamna

In the 1940s, so recently-released government papers show, the BBC discriminated against “Communists”, among them Ewan MacColl, the Stalinist folk-singer, and his wife, who would later become well known as the theatrical director Joan Littlewood.

The recently-released and much-acclaimed film, Good Night And Good Luck, is about Edward R Murrow, a famous radio and TV journalists of the time, standing up to the arch commie-hunter, Senator Joe McCarthy. It is a very good film, which incorporates fascinating old footage of McCarthy in action.

“Witch-hunting”... It was the crude

“Left” anti-semitism is no myth

Published on: Sat, 11/03/2006 - 14:50

Sean Matgamna

The charge of “anti-semitism” is thrown at critics of Israel by the crassest of the uncritical, and sometimes paranoid, apologists for Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians?

This is true.

And therefore? Therefore, there is no anti-semitism; where just and valid criticisms are made of Israel, there can be no anti-semitism, even if the conclusion from the criticism is that the Israeli Jewish nation should be destroyed; and therefore, there is no anti-semitism in the stark root-and-branch antagonism to Israel which dominates the hard left, and is now spreading rapidly through the rest of the


Published on: Sat, 11/03/2006 - 14:48

Around 25,000 workers at electronics company PT Maspion went on strike on at the end of February demanding that the company implement a new regional minimum wage.

The strike started after the workers came to the office in the morning to fill out their attendance list. Reports say they poured out of the office and thronged the roadsides, causing five kilometres of traffic congestion. Some marched to the provincial council building to press for the implementation of the decree.


Published on: Sat, 11/03/2006 - 14:47

Garment workers in Bangladesh took a day’s strike action on 2 March on safety grounds, protesting against the factory owners’ failure to provide safety to workers and demanding removal of Industries Minister Motiur Rahman Nizami. The Bangladesh Garment Workers Trade Union Centre (BGWTUC) organised the action.

A fire in KTS garments in Chittagong and the collapse of Phoenix garment’s building in Dhaka left at least 73 workers dead. The BGWTUC organised a rally at Muktangan to protest against the “killings” in KTS garments in Chittagong and Phoenix garments in the capital and other garment


Published on: Sat, 11/03/2006 - 14:45

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) began a general strike on 28 February against the government moves to impose greater “flexibility” on Korean workers.

The KCTU claim 150,000 trade unionists at over 150 workplaces, including 75,000 workers of Hyundai Motors, Kia Motors and Korail, took part in the strike action. During the strike, the KCTU held massive protest rallies in 10 major cities.

The KCTU said that the legislation would do little to improve the working conditions of temporary workers, while allowing employers to hire more irregular workers and simply lay them off before


Published on: Sat, 11/03/2006 - 14:43

More than 1,000 workers at the cloth-weaving section of the Heze Cotton Textile Factory staged a five-day strike against low pay in February. Most strikers were women and the workers’ actions has affected the production of the company's other factories.

At best workers in this factory earn 5,000 yuan per year, but each of the eight factory managers earned 500,000 yuan a year.

The official trade union in the factory and the city-level trade union did not intervene to help the workers. The factory leaders issued a form for workers to fill out, asking them to sign it and agree to go back to work

Defend Marywan Halabjaye!

Published on: Sat, 11/03/2006 - 14:40

By Mark Thomas (first printed in the New Statesman, Monday 27 February 2006)

Being a card-carrying confused liberal, i.e., someone who is resolute in their lack of certainty, I was dismayed - as I'm sure you can imagine - when I sliced open an aubergine to find the seeds forming a picture of the Prophet Muhammad holding an AK-47. What was I to do? Should I send the aubergine to Denmark for publication and risk another half-dozen embassy fires, or send it to Koranic scholars for interpretation? The scholars might decide that it is not an AK-47 after all, but a shepherd’s staff, which would calm

Iraq lurches towards civil war: Support the Iraqi labour movement!

Published on: Sat, 11/03/2006 - 14:37

By Martin Thomas

Since a Shia mosque in Samarra was bombed on 22 February, Iraq has taken a new lurch towards sectarian civil war. Over a thousand people have been killed, dozens of mosques bombed.

Three more mosques were attacked over the weekend 4-5 March. For the present, it looks as if the call for restraint by Shia-Islamist leaders such as Ayatollah Sistani has held back escalation into full-scale civil war.

Sectarian polarisation has been pushed to a higher stage. The Shia-Islamist leaders are in, or close to, government, and would rather try to stabilise their government than pitch

“Fair trade” — with corporate funding?

Published on: Sat, 11/03/2006 - 14:35

Mike Wood reports on the People and Planet annual forum held over the weekend of 4-5 March at Leeds University.

People and Planet’s trade justice campaign is drawing to a close, and the forum, attended by around 70 student activists, was initially intended to take a discussion on the direction for a new campaign. Instead a representative of the central office merely announced that a new campaign was not economically viable.

This ruled out the possibility of a new anti-sweatshops campaign being launched.

Instead, the Trade Justice campaign discussion focussed on ways to expand this existing

Letter from the Tehran bus workers’ union - Release our leaders!

Published on: Sat, 11/03/2006 - 14:32

The following letter, addressing world labour organisations, was issued in Tehran on Monday 27 February by Tehran bus workers’ union:

The Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat e Vahed) is most grateful to all the world’s labour organisations for their unsparing support for our newly-formed organisation.

The efforts and protests of Tehran Vahed Bus Company drivers and workers for their lawful, welfare [trade-union] demands, which have continued without let-up to this day, have included repeated visits to the Labour Ministry and [Tehran] Municipality, many rounds of

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