Solidarity 058, 23 September 2004

Stop Telekom redundancies

The South African telecommunications firm Telkom plans to shed another 4,181 workers in three years, despite making record profits this year.

In 1999 Telkom employed more than 61,000 workers. This number has been almost halved to fewer than 32,000.

The three trade unions in Telko — the Communication Workers Union, Solidarity, and South African Communication Union — have made a pact to fight these redundancies, and are asking for international solidarity.

Send messages of support via Labour Start at www.labourstart.org/telkom

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South Africa's biggest ever strike

More than 700,000 public sector workers, including 320,000 teachers, struck on 16 September in probably the biggest strike in South Africa’s history.

Eight public sector unions representing teachers, nurses, police officers and prison wardens took part in the one-day strike. The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union said that around 200,000 strikers took part in the 24 marches held across the country.

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Pathology in the name of liberation

By Chris Reynolds

At least 338 people have died since gunmen claiming to champion Chechen national rights seized a school in North Ossetia (a territory neighbouring Chechnya) on 1 September and took pupils, teachers and some parents hostage.

Nearly 400 people are still missing according to teachers at the school. Many of the dead and missing are children.

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No Sweat Gathering 2004

No Sweat will meet over the weekend of 4–5 December.

The event will be held at the University of London Union on Malet Street, London.
The Saturday will focus on debates and discussions.

The Sunday will be an activist training day with practical sessions aimed at developing campaign skills.

A weekend ticket costs £10 (waged); £5 (students and other concessions).
One-day tickets are £7.50 and £3.50.

You can get a ticket now by posting a cheque payable to
“No Sweat” to PO Box 36707, London SW9 8YA

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Iranian and Iraqi left debate

The Worker-communist Party of Iran (WPI) — that section of it around Hamid Taghvaee and Azar Majedi — held a congress on 18–19 September in Germany to rally its forces against a recent split.

The other section, led by Koorosh Modaresi, held a meeting the same weekend in England.

About 300 attended the congress in Germany. 485 of the WPI’s members had registered for the conference, and another 203 sent messages of support.

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Going back to the roots

At a packed Labour Representation Committee fringe meeting, union leaders Jeremy Dear of the NUJ (pictured), Mark Serwotka of the PCS and Tony Woodley of the TGWU all spoke. The theme of the meeting was “rebuilding Labour”.

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No Sweat News In Brief

News in brief

Thousands of people will march for fair trade, an end to global poverty and for environmental action at Labour Party conference, Brighton, Sunday 26 September.

The day’s events start at 1pm with a rally on Madeira Drive, Brighton.

London No Sweat
Paul Hampton introduces video of working conditions in Disney Factories in Haiti.
Plus discussion about new homeworkers’ initiative. Speaker from Oxfam.

Thursday 7 October, 7pm, Truckles Cellar Bar, Bury Place, Bloomsbury
More info: Karen 07906 384592

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Nationalise the railways!

According to an ICM poll for the Guardian (22 September), 66 per cent of all voters and 72% of Labour voters support renationalisation of the railways.

Now the right-wing rail union TSSA has tabled an amendment at Labour Conference to insert rail renationalisation into a party policy document.

On this one, the big unions might fight Blair. The (predictable) massive public support may push the union leaders into a proper battle at Labour Party conference. Union members need to put pressure on their leaders to stand firm.

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Solidarity works: Wembley workers win back jobs

TWO HUNDRED and forty steel construction workers on the Wembley Stadium project who walked off the job after their new bosses — Hollandia-Fast Track — unilaterally imposed new attendance arrangements — have won their dispute.

Many of the workers — organised by the GMB and Amicus — were from the north east and needed time off at weekends to go home. That was allowed until the Dutch company Hollandia took over the contract at Wembley.

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Pottage off the menu?

Having sold the unions’ souls for a mess of pottage — or rather, a promise from the Blair leadership that the next Labour manifesto will include a promise of a mess of pottage — the big union leaders are now worried that they will not even get that.

Tony Blair has appointed Alan Milburn as his “general election coordinator” and chair of the “election campaign planning committee”. “Milburn’s manifesto” was summed up by the Financial Times on 10 September:

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TUC Congress: Big Four batten down hatches

By a delegate

OVERALL this year’s TUC congress (13-16 September, in Brighton) was reasonably militant – Blair was not given a warm reception, delegates voted in favour of repealing all anti-union laws. But is there really a willingness to fight?

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Putin uses Beslan to increase his power

By Dale Street

The series of “reforms” announced by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in the aftermath of the Beslan school massacre have nothing to do with fighting terrorism. They are another stage in the evolution of Putin’s authoritarian and semi-dictatorial regime.

The Washington Post summed up the ‘reforms’ as: “An unambiguous step towards tyranny in Russia. There is no complexity or fuzziness about the significance of Putin’s actions.

Putin is imposing dictatorship the old-fashioned way. …Russia needs to fight terrorism.

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March for Zanon

On 14 September a delegation of Zanon workers and participants in the Unemployed Workers’ Movement (MTD) travelled to Buenos Aires in Argentina to organise a national campaign to defend the factory.

Since March 2002 Zanon’s workers have run the factory under workers’ self-management without owners, bosses or foremen.

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A necessary retreat on the Tube

The pamphlet Tunnel Vision is well produced and thought-out. It will be a useful tool in future actions. This said, there is one part that needs to be looked at again: pages 43 and 44.

The pamphlet glosses over an issue central to why the improved offer was accepted. The main problem was that the track workers and maintenance workers were facing privatisation within weeks. There was nothing that could be done at that stage to stop this, except all-out revolution!

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Will the IRA dissolve?

By John O’Mahony

Tony Blair’s high-powered negotiations at Leeds Castle, Kent, on the future of Northern Ireland, have broken up in failure.
The Paisley Unionists and Sinn Fein (SF), the polar opposites in Northern Ireland politics, now have the support of most Protestants and most Catholics respectively, and agreement on a new Catholic-Protestant power-sharing Belfast government depends on them.

Yet the failure to reach agreement on that should not be allowed to obscure the most important event in Irish politics since the IRA declared a ceasefire in August 1994.

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Against Bush, but US workers need their own party

The voice of the militant class struggle left in America may seem too quiet and abstract to bother with. But the future of American working-class politics, and of the world, lies with them.

There is just over a month to go before the US Presidential election. As someone said recently: this is an election in which everyone in the world would like a vote, but only the American people actually have a vote.

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Cut the roots of fascism

Note: this article includes details of the forthcoming by-election in Dagenham where the BNP threaten to win another seat.

Far right wins in E. London and soars in Germany.
Cut the roots of fascism - fight for a workers' government!

On 16 September, the fascist British National Party won a council by-election in Barking, East London, with over 50% of the vote.

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