Solidarity 029, 1 May 2003

Attack on unions and public services: Blair brings the war home

Fight back against

  • Foundation hospitals
  • PFI
  • Education cuts

Fresh from his military victory, Tony Blair is out to target what Tory prime minister Margaret Thatcher, in so many ways his role model, called 'the enemy within' - militant trade unionism.

"We will not give in, in any shape or form, to resurgent industrial militancy", said Blair at a press conference on 28 April.

Gays persecuted in Egypt

On 15 March, 21 defendants in the latest round of the Queen Boat trials in Egypt were sentenced to three years' imprisonment for "debauchery". The affair began when 55 men were arrested on the Queen Boat, a gay disco, in May 2001.
Homosexuality is not illegal in Egypt but gay men are prosecuted on a variety of pretexts. Recently, Wassim Tawfiq Abayd was sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment after he used the website to fix a meeting with a man, possibly a police informant.

Strikes in Israel, poverty and despair on the West Bank

By Dan Katz

Israeli finance minister Meir Sheetrit has announced that a long-awaited government austerity plan will be voted on in the Knesset (parliament) on Wednesday 30 April. The plan will mean an 8% public sector pay cut and thousands of jobs losses.
The Histadrut union federation will hold a general strike on Wednesday 30 April if the plan goes ahead. The strike will involve civil servants, local authority workers, workers in state-run firms and some private-sector factories.

Prisons, race hate and representation

  • More stopping, searching, jailing
  • Representation
  • Prison
  • Race hate
  • Stop and search

More stopping, searching, jailing

Home Office minister Lord Falconer: "The tragedy of the Lawrence story is not only the horror of Stephen Lawrence's brutal and senseless murder but also the failure of the criminal justice system-the police, the CPS, the courts-to deliver justice to Stephen and his family."

So how much has changed in the 10 years since Stephen's murder? Especially under New Labour's modernisers?

The Galloway affair

There is a strong case for dismissing the charges made by the Tory Daily Telegraph and others against George Galloway, of having been a bought and paid-for agent of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq - namely, the character and bias of those baying for the blood of an MP who has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the recent US-British war with Iraq.

The Telegraph has published documents which appear to show that Galloway had been taking at least £375,000 a year from Saddam Hussein's quasi-fascist Ba'ath regime in Iraq.

Edinburgh Independent Radical Book Fair

29 May-1 June in the Assembly Rooms,
George Street, Edinburgh

Talks: George Monbiot on "A Manifesto for a New World Order"; Paul Kingsnorth and Mark Curtis on Global Capitalism; Milan Rai and Geoff Simons on Iraq after the war; and Joe Baxter of No Sweat and Gregor Gall on Workers' Struggles and Trade Unions.

Chinese safety campaign

The China Labour Bulletin is campaigning for improved health and safety laws to protect thousands of Chinese workers injured and killed every year.

Last year there were an estimated 110,000 deaths from industrial accidents in China and nearly 14,000 accidents in the manufacturing and mining industries alone. Over half the people in the world with pneumoconiosis (a lung disease associated with dust and silica dust) live in China. In an official survey, over 15% of all workers interviewed were believed to be suffering from some form of occupational disease.

China: Workers' leaders still held in jail

Xiao Yunliang and Yao Fuxin, workers' leaders from Liaoyang in north east China were tried on 15 January 2003 on charges including subversion and the organising of illegal demonstrations. No verdict has yet been announced and the workers' leaders have remained in post-trial detention for over three months. This contravenes even Chinese law - a system not known for its liberality - on the time limit for announcement of verdict in a criminal trial.

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