Solidarity 089, 9 March 2006

McCarthyism — and Stalinist gangsterism

By Sean Matgamna

In the 1940s, so recently-released government papers show, the BBC discriminated against “Communists”, among them Ewan MacColl, the Stalinist folk-singer, and his wife, who would later become well known as the theatrical director Joan Littlewood.

The recently-released and much-acclaimed film, Good Night And Good Luck, is about Edward R Murrow, a famous radio and TV journalists of the time, standing up to the arch commie-hunter, Senator Joe McCarthy. It is a very good film, which incorporates fascinating old footage of McCarthy in action.

“Left” anti-semitism is no myth


Sean Matgamna

The charge of “anti-semitism” is thrown at critics of Israel by the crassest of the uncritical, and sometimes paranoid, apologists for Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians?

This is true.


Around 25,000 workers at electronics company PT Maspion went on strike on at the end of February demanding that the company implement a new regional minimum wage.

The strike started after the workers came to the office in the morning to fill out their attendance list. Reports say they poured out of the office and thronged the roadsides, causing five kilometres of traffic congestion. Some marched to the provincial council building to press for the implementation of the decree.


Garment workers in Bangladesh took a day’s strike action on 2 March on safety grounds, protesting against the factory owners’ failure to provide safety to workers and demanding removal of Industries Minister Motiur Rahman Nizami. The Bangladesh Garment Workers Trade Union Centre (BGWTUC) organised the action.


The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) began a general strike on 28 February against the government moves to impose greater “flexibility” on Korean workers.

The KCTU claim 150,000 trade unionists at over 150 workplaces, including 75,000 workers of Hyundai Motors, Kia Motors and Korail, took part in the strike action. During the strike, the KCTU held massive protest rallies in 10 major cities.


More than 1,000 workers at the cloth-weaving section of the Heze Cotton Textile Factory staged a five-day strike against low pay in February. Most strikers were women and the workers’ actions has affected the production of the company's other factories.

At best workers in this factory earn 5,000 yuan per year, but each of the eight factory managers earned 500,000 yuan a year.

Iraq lurches towards civil war: Support the Iraqi labour movement!

By Martin Thomas

Since a Shia mosque in Samarra was bombed on 22 February, Iraq has taken a new lurch towards sectarian civil war. Over a thousand people have been killed, dozens of mosques bombed.

Three more mosques were attacked over the weekend 4-5 March. For the present, it looks as if the call for restraint by Shia-Islamist leaders such as Ayatollah Sistani has held back escalation into full-scale civil war.

“Fair trade” — with corporate funding?

Mike Wood reports on the People and Planet annual forum held over the weekend of 4-5 March at Leeds University.

People and Planet’s trade justice campaign is drawing to a close, and the forum, attended by around 70 student activists, was initially intended to take a discussion on the direction for a new campaign. Instead a representative of the central office merely announced that a new campaign was not economically viable.

This ruled out the possibility of a new anti-sweatshops campaign being launched.

Letter from the Tehran bus workers’ union - Release our leaders!

The following letter, addressing world labour organisations, was issued in Tehran on Monday 27 February by Tehran bus workers’ union:

The Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat e Vahed) is most grateful to all the world’s labour organisations for their unsparing support for our newly-formed organisation.

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