Solidarity 062, 18 November 2004

The most widespread racism is against gypsies

According to Understanding Prejudice, a major new study commissioned by the gay rights group Stonewall prejudice is rife in Britain. Two-thirds of white people in Britain admit to some prejudice, even if only casual or unintentional, against one or another or against several minority groups.

Industrial news in brief

Management has now been forced to recognise the GMB at Laing O’Rourke, where there is a dispute over new contracts. Previously, it had recognised only UCATT, which had agreed a new contract which slashed pay and conditions. Over 100 workers have now joined the GMB, which management initially barred from the big Channel Tunnel Rail Link site at King's Cross.

What Galloway admitted

The libel case against the Daily Telegraph brought by George Galloway MP has finally come to court. It will run in court for five days, from 16 November, and then there will probably be some delay until the judge’s verdict.

The Telegraph argues that it does not need to prove that what was written in official Iraqi documents which its correspondent David Blair claimed he found in Baghdad, but that it had a journalistic right and duty to publish the documents.

Nigerian general strike

Unions in Nigeria organised a general strike on 16 November after the government failed to cut petrol prices.

Workers were protesting at a 23% rise in petrol, diesel and kerosene prices in September. Unions said a government concession to cut kerosene prices was insufficient. A Nigerian court ruled against the strike but unions ignored the ruling.

A four-day nationwide strike in October shut down banks, businesses, shops and public services.

Korean civil servants' general strike

Korean civil servants’ in the Government Employees’ Union (KGEU) organised a general strike on 15 November as part of its fight against anti-union laws. The strike went ahead despite a police crackdown the week before.

The KGEU, which has 140,000 members out of 300,000 low-ranking civil service workers, is demanding the right to strike, which is prohibited for public servants in South Korea.

Chinese textile workers arrested

More than twenty worker activists at the former Tianwang Textile Factory in Xianyang city, Shaanxi Province, have been arrested by police after a seven week factory-wide strike by around 6,800 workers.

Neither the detainees’ names nor the charges on which they are being held are known. According to the China Labour Bulletin, Xianyang courts also issued a “wanted notice” for three other workers from the same factory.

US hotel workers demand boycott

Hotel workers have demanded a boycott of nine Los Angeles luxury hotels involved in a dispute with over wages, benefits and working conditions.

Nearly 3,000 hotel workers have been attempting to win a new union contract in the hotels who have now formed the Hotel Employers Council.

Tube strikes

Aslef, the train drivers’ union, has called 24-hour strikes by half the drivers on the Jubilee line on 4 and 24 December.

Working for 21 pence an hour (No, it’s not the Third World, it’s the UK)

“The Company doesn’t care if you are getting rubbish money. As long as you get the work done, you are out of sight, out of mind.”

The National Group on Homeworking (NGH) estimates that there are around one million industrial homeworkers in the UK. The products they pack, assemble or manufacture are diverse, ranging from clothing and footwear, electrical components through to car components and medical products.

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