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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Being Skint

Duncan Morrison reviews “Skint”, BBC1, Mondays, 10.35pm

The documentary series Skint has reminded me how valuable good documentaries can be. Using a not quite fly on the wall style, the makers ask questions to their subjects as they go through their lives. They follow a number of people and families in the Birmingham area as they struggle to make ends meet. These are Britain’s poor.

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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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In defence of Behzti

The Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s shameful decision to cancel the play, Behzti (Dishonour), was justified in the following way by Executive Director Stuart Rogers: “[Sikh] community leaders have been unable to guarantee to us that there will be no repeat of the illegal and violent activites we saw on Saturday… we cannot guarantee the safety of our audiences… [W]e have decided to end the current run of the play on security grounds.”

A defence of the play Behzti.

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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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Fighting Back for Manufacturing

Rally and March
11am Saturday 22nd May 2004
Broad Street, Birmingham
Speakers:
Tony Woodley, T&G General Secretary
Derek Simpson, Amicus General Secretary
Debbie Coulter, GMB Deputy General Secretary
Richard Burden MP

Rally to be Chaired by Gerard Coyne, Regional Secretary TGWU

Called By: The TGWU, Amicus and the GMB

Trade unions will be taking the fight back for manufacturing into the heartland of British industry this month, with a march through Birmingham city centre culminating in a rally at Centenary Square on Saturday 22nd May. Tony Woodley, Transport and General Workers' Union General Secretary, has been confirmed as a key speaker, and he has pledged T&G resources to any members wanting to fight back against manufacturing job losses in their workplace.

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