Birmingham

Forced into sexual slavery

During the first few days of last month, reports about the police raids of Birmingham massage parlour flooded newspapers all over the world. Police were lauded for “smashing” a trafficking ring and freeing 19 women from forced prostitution. What happened next is indicative of the British justice system’s confused policy on immigration and trafficking. Sofie Buckland reports.

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The bitter fruits of communalism

There was nothing progressive about the riot that broke out in the Lozells area of Handsworth, Birmingham over the weekend of 21-23 October. The disturbances were fuelled by poverty, racism, mass hysteria, criminal drug gangs, religion and communalism.

The disturbances were sparked by a rumour that had spread throughout the Afro-Caribbean community over a period of months: that a 14-year old black girl had been gang-raped by an Asian shopkeeper and his friends.

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Ballot-rigging in Birmingham

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.

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Privatised pay deal

Privatised ex-NHS staff at Birmingham’s Heartlands hospital have accepted a deal which will see them reach parity with NHS pay and conditions by 2007. The deal was offered to them by Initial Hospital Services and Birmingham Heartlands management after the workers planned strikes in protest against the “two-tier workforce”.

NHS-employed staff were going to be up to £1 an hour better off than privatised staff doing the same work.

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Learning from solidarity: the miners' strike 1984-5

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Jim Denham

"Support groups are beginning to assume the status of one of the positive lessons of the 1984-85 strike in much the same way that mass picketing was seen as the lesson of the 1972 strike".

Recalling the miners' strike support work done in Birmingham.

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Birmingham Bagmakers: Striking for some dignity

Workers at Euro Packaging in Birmingham, which makes paper bags, have been on strike against redundancies and for a 37.5 hour week. The workers are members of the Graphical, Paper and Media Union. The employers are notorious for bad pay and conditions (some workers, say the union, work up to 80 hours a week and most are on minimum wage or just above). The GPMU was recently organised and won recognition. The employers have responded by "selecting" key organisers for redundancy.

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Fascist Le Pen to visit Birmingham: support the demo, not a ban!

By Joan Trevor

Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of the French fascist party the Front National, is due to be guest of honour at a dinner hosted by Nick Griffin, leader of the fascist British National Party (BNP) in Birmingham on Sunday 25 April.

If the visit goes ahead, there will be a demonstration against the visit in Victoria Square at 3pm on Sunday afternoon.

Respect in Birmingham have called on the Chief Constable of the West Midlands to ban Le Pen's visit. Salma Yaqoob said:

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West Midlands Land Rover dispute

Trade union Amicus has written to Land Rover, asking them to resume talks to resolve the pay dispute at the Solihull and Gaydon plants in the West Midlands.

TGWU and Amicus members at Land Rover are due to hold another 24-hour stoppage on Monday 9 February after holding a successful strike on Monday 26 January.

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Withdraw this slander!

By Martin Thomas

At a West Midlands Socialist Alliance meeting on Wednesday 14 January 2004, Stuart Richardson of Resistance accused Jim Denham of Solidarity and Workers' Liberty of supporting the US and UK troops in Iraq.

He repeated the accusation despite Denham immediately heckling him to say it was not true.

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SWP wreck unity in Socialist Alliance, where now for left?

In June the Socialist Workers Party packed a meeting of Birmingham Socialist Alliance with newly signed-up SWP members to remove the entire executive of the local Alliance - including the chair, victimised FBU militant Steve Godward - and replace them with SWP members and fellow travellers. In Birmingham the SWP want to see a "Peace and Justice" candidate - mounted jointly with the leaders of local mosques - that is an alliance with a religious hierarchy. Comrades in Birmingham rightly fear that such an alliance would be a betrayal of independent working-class politics and full civil equality for lesbian and gay people and for women. Those comrades had to go.

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