The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 11th June, 1999

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Editorial - It's not over.
Lead Story - Call off the warplanes.
Feature - BMA backs junior doctors action ballot.
International - Ango-American air strikes against Iraq.
British News - Steel merger adds to jobs crisis.


It's not over

WHATEVER happens at the "talks" currently taking place on the Yugoslav-Macedonian border this week, the crisis in the Balkans and beyond will continue.

 This is so because the war against Yugoslavia is not, as Nato claims, a "humanitarian effort" to help Kosovan Albanians, but an episode in imperialism's struggle to impose its "new world order" throughout the world. It is part of the continuing class struggle being fought out at international level.

 The imperialist camp has long made use of ethnic, religious or tribal minorities and groups to justify, and provide a cover for, its interventions and aggressions. It has done this both with and without the collaboration of key players and the groups concerned.

 We witnessed this in southern Africa with the under-the-table support given to Jonas Savimbi and his Unita forces -- a tactic that weakened Angola through prolonged civil war and helped to restrict the progressive government from carrying through all of its proposed social advances.

 It occurred for a time during the cold war years with secret western help being given to Khalistani separatists in India. India's "crime" at that time was its progressive role in the non-Aligned movement and its stance on peace.

 Imperialism's attack on Iraq included efforts to exploit and stir up trouble over trumped-up allegations of bad treatment of the Marsh Arabs living along the Iranian border and the Iraqi Kurds in the north, though neither of these ploys was entirely successful.

 And for years western propagandists have sought to lay the foundation for some future campaign against China by giving a lot of publicity to the Tibetan Dalai Lama and the western-based "Free Tibet" lobby.

 These are just some examples of a policy that has its roots in the old colonial ideas of divide and rule politics.

 The Ralkans was historically divided between the Ottoman and Hapsburg empires and is susceptible to the malign efforts of reactionary nationalists, even though it enjoyed a long period of peace and stability lasting from the end of the Second World War until the counter revolution in the former Soviet Union gave the green light to imperialism's new push forward.

 We are now seeing a refinement of imperialism's strategy -- that of forcing the creation of tiny ethnically-based statelets. Each of the new small countries will be too weak to resist the economic and political domination of the major capitalist powers while the former middle-ranking power they grew out of will cease to exist.

Throughout the 1990s this policy has proved successful -- Yugoslavia has been pared down by the creation of Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia. Now it seems that Kosovo could soon become a western protectorate.

 Almost certainly the imperialist powers have not yet finished their agenda -- Montenegro could well be in line for the full treatment in the near future as could other areas where there are sizeable populations of non-Serbs. Imperialism only needs to find a group of reactionary nationalists on the inside and report some alleged atrocities and Nato's "humanitarian" bandwagon can roll once more.

 What's more this programme could well be extended beyond Yugoslavia to other countries and even to other parts of the world.

 Suddenly the "rights" of ethnic minorities are elevated and the idea is generated that any group which feels it has a different culture from that of its government should be free to break away.

 Of course this only applies in places where the govemment is on imperialism's hit list -- there is no talk of encouraging freedom for the Turkish Kurds or of granting statehood to the Palestinians.

 Since the name of the game is to smash viable countries into small compliant pieces leaving the imperialist heartlands as relatively even more powerful, no such separatism will be tolerated in the US. Europe is already well on the way to becoming a single large state and the veneer of regionalism we are seeing with the devolution programmes for Scotland and Wales will still leave real power in the hands of the EU.

 The lessons of all this are to recognise, the pattern of events and be aware of the class realities behind the news and to continue our efforts in the fight for peace and in solidarity with all who come under the hammer of imperialism.

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Lead Story

Call off the warplanes

by Andy Brooks

NATO GENERALS and Yugoslavian commanders are locked in talks at an air-base in Macedonia while Nato warplanes continue to pound civilian targets right across Yugoslavia.

 Anglo-American imperialism moved within hours of a tentative peace deal, brokered by the European Union and Russia and accepted by Belgrade, to redraft the peace plan in the belief that the Yugoslavs would cave-in to more threats and bombs.

 They've been proved wrong again. Western demands for a Yugoslav pull-out from Kosovo before an end to the war have been rejected. The Yugoslavs are demanding more than a token presence in their province, once the "international peace-keeping force" is in place.

 Yugoslavia insists that any international force must be under UN mandate and control -- not that of their Western enemies. The gloating euphoria at Nato HQ in Brussels last weekend has and their double-dealing has exposed for all the world to see.

cease-fire now

 People's China and Russia insist that the bombing must end first, followed by an agreed resolution at the UN Security Council to end the Kosovo crisis.

 Russian President Boris Yeltsin stressed that a cease-fire must come first in a telephone conversation with Clinton on Wednesday. China has emphasised that the United Nations must play a decisive role on Kosovo.

 At UN Headquarters in New York, Chinese permanent representative Shen Guofang condemned Nato's wanton bombing of Yugoslavia. "China is a victim of Nato bombing," Shen said.

 "Morally and legally, we have all the reason to demand that Nato should unconditionally stop the military strikes on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia so as to create an environment and atmosphere necessary for the Security Council to discuss a proposed political settlement" Shen declared. "Only after the Security Council gets confirmation that Nato has stopped the bombing can the Council take action,".

 Nato's war goes against the will of the people. That was the message from Chinese President Jiang Zemin, speaking to Yeltsin on Tuesday. China and Russia have maintained close consultations and reached wide-ranging consensus on the Yugoslav issue. "As long as we are convinced that our proposals are correct, we should hold our stance to the end," Jiang declared.

terror fear

 In Kosovo there is a very real fear that a Yugoslav pull-out will be rapidly followed by Nato's auxiliaries, the "Kosovo Liberation Army" gangs who will step up their terror campaign against Kosovan Serbs, Gypsies and ethnic Albanians who don't support the shadowy "KLA" leadership whose military chief led the "ethnic cleansing" against hundreds of thousands of Croatia's Krajina Serbs.

 The deal brokered by Yeltsin's envoy ViktorChernomyrdin and Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, endorsed by the Group of Eight meeting in Bonn, recognises Yugoslav sovereignty over Kosovo -- itself a retreat from the Nato Rambouillet ultimatum which led to the war. It calls for a wide-measure of self-government for the Kosovans but there's now no talk of "independence".

 This was specifically ruled out by the Finnish leader who also ruled out the possibility of making Kosovo a Western "protectorate" -- an idea floated by some Nato politicians in the past weeks.

 It provides for a continued Yugoslav presence in the Serb areas of the province and along the international frontier with Albania and Macedonia together with the establishment of two zones within the province, with troops from Russia and other republics of the former Soviet Union in the northern Serb sector.

peace now

 The struggle continues to stop the war and prevent Blair and Clinton from starting another. The Yugoslav people have the right to solve their problems themselves without imperialist interference.

 Their right to independence and their right to chose their own social system is a real human right -- unlike the bogus claims of the "human rights" gang wheeled out by the imperialists to justify every crime the West commits. The struggle for peace goes on!

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BMA backs junior doctors action ballot

by Caroline Colebrook

THE ANNUAL conference of junior doctors last week voted to ballot for industrial action over excessively long hours and low pay for out-of-hours work, which can be a little as half the regular rate.

 The British Medical Association quickly gave its full backing to any industrial action that is agreed.

 At the conference, Dr Hannah Seymour, aged 27 and a senior house officer in Edinburgh, said that last Christmas she was the most senior doctor in the hospital but getting just £7 an hour on out-of-hours pay.

 A junior house officer working after 5pm, at weekends and on bank holidays gets £4.02 an hour, about half the normal rate. Dr Seymour has handed in her notice and is moving to New Zealand.

 The junior doctors are also very angry at the way the government has negotiated with Brussels over the European working time directive.

 The government has secured a 13-year phasing-in period before the full force of this directive, which restricts working hours to an average 48 a week, will apply to junior doctors.

 And for the next seven years, they will have a limit of 60 hours -- four more than previously agreed within the NHS.

 But junior doctors in Wales will have an upper limit of 56 hours a week, under the powers of the new Welsh Assembly once it is up and running.

 Welsh secretary for health and social services Jane Hutt has vowed to fight for proper out-of-hours pay for junior doctors in Wales.

 Two recent surveys have revealed mounting anger among junior doctors on a whole range of issues, not just hours and pay but food and accommodation.

 About 11,000 of the 30,000 junior doctors were questioned in the first survey. Around 80 per cent said they would be willing to take some sort of industrial action.

 In the second survey a smaller number of doctors were asked in greater detail about what sort of action they would support.

 Of these, 95 per cent said they would act, 21 per cent said they would strike, 44 per cent said they would consider providing only emergency cover and 55 per cent said they would stop doing extra duties such as clerical work and filing.

 Andrew Hobart, chairperson of the BMA junior doctors' committee said: "Junior doctors are furious. We are fed up and at the end of our tether.

 "This survey shows overwhelming support for some sort of industrialaction. We want this issue sorted out by the end of this century.

 "One possibility is to start with some of the milder forms of action and gradually wind it up until the government takes notice."

 The conference was chaired by Fiona Kew who said: "The government has not delivered on its promises. We were promised full implementation of the New Deal (introduced in 1996 to regulate the hours of junior doctors), improved conditions in accommodation and catering and we have got none of that.

 "This vote for industrial action goes against the grain of the caring profession but junior doctors have been pushed so far that one fifth of them are prepared to walk out.

 "I have been expected to carry out a caesarean section on a woman when I have had less than one hour's sleep in the previous 24 hours. It is not surprising that junior doctors have had enough."

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Ango-American air strikes against Iraq

from Xinhua

ONE IRAQI civilian was killed on Tuesday when British and American warplanes attacked villages in northern Iraq. Ten formations of Western warplanes, flying from bases in Turkey bombed Bartella, in Neineva province, and Iraqi air-defences returned fire.

 Since the United States and Britain launched four-nights of air-raids against Iraq last December, their warplanes have made 1,562 sorties over the so-called "northern no-fly zone" of Iraq.

 The US-led Western allies imposed two "no-fly" zones in Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War with a claimed aim of protecting the Kurds in the north and the Shia Muslims in the south from what they say is "Baghdad's suppression".

 Since December American and RAF warplanes have regularly bombed Iraqi civilian and military targets causing severe civillan casualties and much destruction of property.

 Iraq has declared that it does not recognise the "no-fly" zones imposed by Britain and the United States without authorisation from the United Nations, and Baghdad has vowed to continue confronting any Western planes violating its airspace.

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British News

Steel merger adds to jobs crisis

by Daphne Liddle

THOUSANDS of jobs at the Welsh steel plants in Llanwern and Port Talbot were put in jeopardy last week as British Steel put in a bid to merge with its rival, the Dutch Hoogovens steel company.

 And this came in a week when around 8,000 other job losses had been announced in other sectors.

 The merger could confront the new Welsh National Assembly with its worst nightmare.

 British Steel has declared that the £2.98 billion merger "is not about closing plants" in an attempt to allay fears.

 But it did warn that there would be job cuts where there was duplication between the two businesses.

 British Steel chief executive John Bryant said: "This merger is not about closing plants". But he added that no one could give guarantees for future employment in the steel industry.

 "We are only as good as our customers," he said. "This merger is about giving our customers, employees and shareholders better prospects."

 And indeed, steel production throughout the world is now in decline. German steel production fell by 10 percent in May for lack of buyers.

 Economists say the root of the problem is still the Asian currency crisis and the fall in demand from Russia and eastern Europe as their economies collapse.

 The steel producers in these countries, unable to sell in their domestic market, have raised their steel imports to the United States and into the European Union by 50 per cent.

 Steel prices have been falling fast and no steel producer in the capitalist world is safe from cuts.

 Llanwern, which employs 3,500, is the plant most at risk in Britain.

 Any job cuts made by British Steel will follow 1,600 announced last year and 1,400 the year before.

 Steel is not the only industry still reeling from the global economic crisis. This crisis has been chased from the headlines by the Balkan War and by government accusations that "gloom and doom mongers" make things worse.

 But economic crises are not made by pessimism or optimism. They are made by capitalist "over-production". The goods produced may be needed and wanted, but not enough consumers can afford to buy.

 The more companies that go bankrupt and throw their workers on to dole queues, the fewer people there are who can afford to buy anything and the crisis deepens. This is the madness of capitalism.

 Last week Kenwood kitchen appliance makers cut 260 jobs in an effort to cut costs.

The takeover of the American Bankers Trust by Germany's Deutsche Bank has cost 400 jobs in London.

 Pilkington, the glass manufacturer, has warned that it is entering a dramatic cost-cutting phase which will axe 2,500 jobs over the next two years.

 The week before, Sainsbury's announced 1,100 job cuts after disappointing annual profits.

 The merger between BTR and Siebe has already cost 6,000 jobs globally. Last week another 5,600 -- 600 ofwhich will be in Britain -- were announced.

 The Meteorological Office has announced it will close five of its 12 weather centres but has not indicated the number of jobs involved.

 The paper manufacturer Arjo Wiggins Appleton is cutting 280 staff.

 And last month the South Wales furniture manufacturer Christie-Tyler warned that 2,500 jobs are at risk following the takeover of its parent company, Hillsdown Holdings, by an American investment firm.

 The Future Skills Wales report, organised by the West Wales Training and Enterprise Council, warns that traditional heavy industries in Wales will continue to decline over the next decade and that vital skills will be lost.

 It predicts a big fall in the metals, minerals and chemicals sector.

 Let no one kid themselves there is no economic crisis going on.

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