Monthly shorts

Submitted by cathy n on 20 March, 2007 - 3:20

More than 1,000 trade unionists and other activists have been arrested in a clampdown in Bolivia. The government declared a “state of siege” on 19 April — after a six weeks’ teachers’ strike, backed up by a three weeks’ general strike — and then police and troops raided a conference called by the COB, Bolivia’s TUC.

The gap between the richest ten per cent and the poorest in Russia has increased from 5.4-to-1 to 14-to-1 over just the last three years. Thirty to forty per cent of the population are below the poverty line on official figures, though some ease their plight through the black economy.

60% of Russia’s economy is now privatised, and about $4 billion of foreign direct investment has come in since 1990. That is still a small amount compared to Hungary, and even smaller compared to China, which took in $34 billion in 1994 alone.

In Paris, campaigners have occupied a conspicuous office building to highlight homelessness. London could do with the same sort of action. According to private developers interested in the idea, much of the empty office space in the City is “ideal for conversion”, and could provide homes for many thousands.

Latest on the Great Economic Recovery: unemployment among 18 to 24 year olds increased from 9.7% in spring 1990 to 18.1% in autumn 1994.

Do you wonder why teachers’ leader Doug McAvoy is so alienated from his union members? He is the highest-paid general secretary of a TUC union, at £85,000 a year. The lowest-paid of the leaders of the big unions is Garfield Davies of the shop workers, on £34,000. Gavin Laird of the AEEU gets £49,000, John Edmonds of the GMB £52,000, and Bill Morris of the TGWU £58,000.

12,300 council seats across England and Wales will come up for election on 4 May. If the trend set by Scotland’s local elections on 6 April continues, the Tories will be slaughtered.

But one group of people is not responding to the growing anger against Tory cuts — the Labour Party leadership. Education spokesperson David Blunkett has ruled out any big increase in cash for education, in a speech on 9 April, and the Labour leadership has let it be known that it is considering new legal restrictions to stop Labour councils spending too much under a Labour government.

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