The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 4th July, 1997

The British government has been behaving in true imperialist fashion in the colony on it's doorstep; the north of Ireland. Let us know what you think about it.

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Editorial - Prolonging the agony.
Lead Story - Peace process in tatters.
Feature - Young unemployed could face total benefit cut.
International - Polish Communists say No to NATO.
British News - Cabin crew strikers defy BA threats.



Editorial


Prolonging the agony.


THE Blair government says it is still committed to the peace process in Ireland. But it has failed to live up to its words and has shown that it means to carry on the bi-partisan policy of supporting the status quo -- that is keeping Britain in Ireland and imperialist rule intact.

The cost of Labour's failure will be borne by the people of the occupied six counties of northern Ireland -- both Catholic and Protestant and the agony of Ireland will go on.

The decision to allow the Orange order in Drumcree to march along the Garvaghy Road -- a Catholic community -was utterly wrong and criminally irresponsible. It sent a signal to loyalists and nationalists alike that the new British govemment is committed to the occupation and division of Ireland and is just as capable as the Tories of playing the Orange card.

For Northern Ireland minister Mo Mowlem to pretend to wash her hands of the Drumcree decision and try to hide behind the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) fooled no one.

It was no great surprise that the RUC chief came down in favour of allowing the Orange march to proceed. The RUC is a predominantly Protestant force and, quite apart from its own members' prejudices, it inevitably comes under pressure from loyalist extremists.

The RUC chiefs claim, that intelligence sources warned of serious loyalist violence if the march was not allowed through the Garvaghy Road, is not convincing.

If his intelligence sources had such good knowledge of plans to commit murder or other acts of violence then it was surely the RUC's responsibility to apprehend the conspirators -- not appease them by inflicting a provocative and sectarian march on the Catholic community of Drumcree.

But for all that,the responsibility for what is happening now in northern Ireland lies with the British government -the RUC does not set the political agenda, it is only an instrument of the British state.

With more Orange marches in the pipeline the British government has to be put under pressure to act decisively against further provocations. That means banning Orange marches from entering Catholic communities in accordance with the wishes of the local people.

According to imperialist propaganda in the media, the angry response of the Catholic community in Drumcree and throughout the six counties was just a product of Republican agitation. After all, they argue, Republicans have marching bands too and in any case the Orange marchers were peaceful.

Such special pleading completely ignores the long-standing inequalities in northern Ireland and the decades of discrimination against Catholics -- injustices which led to the civil tights marches of nearly 30 years ago.

Since then the hated sectarian police force known as the B specials has been disbanded, but discrimination against Catholics continues in the held of employment and other areas of life.

The Orange Lodges are not simply religious clubs. They are exclusive organisations which are, according to Collins English Dictionary: "founded as a secret order in Ireland to uphold-the Protestant religion, the Protestant dynasty, and Protestant supremacy against Irish nationalists and Roman Catholics. . ."

It is hardly surprising therefore that Orange marches through Catholic areas are seen as triumphalist, arrogant struttings. They inevitably provoke justifiable and very real fear and anger.

But behind it all lies the hand of British imperialism which has employed in Ireland as elsewhere in the world, its favourite ploy of divide and rule. This colonial tactic uses any convenient difference that comes to hand -- depending on the country this may be religious, racial or cultural.

These differences are then elevated and turned sour by favouring one community against another. Economic inequalities are not accidental. The favoured community, imperialism hopes, will support the colonial oppressor and thus help to keep the colony under control.

The problem of Ireland is not caused by Protestants or Catholics -- it is rooted in British imperialism. Britain out of Ireland now!


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Lead Story


Peace process in tatters


Blair sends more troops to northern Ireland.

ALMOST too crass to be believed, Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour government lit the Drumcree fuse last weekend, by giving the RUC free-rein to back the Orange order parade through the Catholic community of Garvaghy Road and to unleash 1500 police and troops.

The decision and consequences were blindingly predictable and on Wednesday Tony Blair announced that 400 British soldiers are being despatched to northern Ireland to combat "terrorism" in the event of disturbances on Saturday. An estimated 100,000 or more Orange marchers are due to take to the streets, with Derry and Belfast expected to be the most serious flashpoints.

The respective Catholic community residents' groups of Garvaghy Road and the Lower Ormeau Road, south Belfast, ended a meeting -- shortly before we went to press -- with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern and foreign minister Ray Burke in the aftermath of the Drumcree nightmare.

The groups gave graphic accounts of the horrific RUC attacks and, according to the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community statement, they impressed upon the two top Irish officials, "in the strongest possible terms that they believed that a conspiracy existed at the highest level in the NIO (Northern Ireland Office)."

And not withstanding reports of a leaked document which purports to show that northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlem had two weeks earlier agreed to the parade going down Garvaghy Road which with the Prime Minister's support she denies -the Drurncree events come disturbingly soon after Tony Blah's announced new peace plans dealing with decommissioning.

Deputy leader of the SDLP and MP for Newry and Armagh Seamus Mallon, said on Monday: "I am appalled by the fundamental damage which was caused by the decision made by the Secretary of State Mo Mowlem and the Chief Constable in relation to the march at Drumcree. There is no question or doubt that they wrote the script for what has happened since."

Sinn Fein MP Martin McGuiness said last weekend: "I am disgusted and the nationalist community is seething with anger at the imposition of virtual martial law and the brutal fashion in which it was enforced by the RUC and British Army against the innocent people of the Garvaghy Road."

Breandan Mac Cionnaith, spokeperson for the Garvaghy Road Residents' Coalition, said last Monday that northern Ireland secretary Dr Mo Mowlem's telephone call to him last Saturday offered no decision or grounds for further discussion.

She was "browned off" with the matter, but his community was too because there had been no contact since the previous Wednesday. Negotiations weren't as the press suggested, taking place to resolve the imminent Orange parade, he said. She has evidently admitted a failure to discuss with the Lower Ormeau community the Orange march due through south Belfast on Saturday.

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuiness was scathing: "Mo Mowlem has learned her predecessor's lesson of bad faith negotiations well and quickly. She promised publicly that she would deliver her decision personally to the Garvaghy residents. This she failed to do. Instead she followed the pattern of previous years and capitulated to threats from David Trimble and the Orange Order."

And the RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan, who justified his actions on the grounds of "protecting" the Catholic community, was severely criticised by Breandan Mac Cionnaith. He said: "Protect us from what? Was the beating of men, women and kids protection? Is he going to say that imposing martial law on my people and turning this area into an open-air concentration camp was providing us with protection?"

The consequent and inevitable anger of Catholic residents to the Orange order march, coupled with the eruption of resistance to RUC brutality there and in other areas since the initial march, has been so sharp and intense that it seems as if "war" on the streets has returned from the 1970s. Of the many injuries, one boy remains critical from an RUC plastic bullet which hit his head.

Prime Minister Tony Blair's statement on progressing the Irish peace process, in which Sinn Fein were seeking "clarification" over the terms of ending their exclusion from so-called all-party talks, has heightened fears that the British government has no ultimate intention of achieving a genuine peace in Ireland. No "clarification" is needed here, indeed, this may well be it whatever Tony Blair weakly says about doing his "best". Forebodings couldn't be more serious.

And as we approach the anniversary of the 1690 Battle of the Boyne on 12 July with some of the over 2,000 parades expected between now and September, the atmosphere has been sever soured against talk of peace and reconciliation as northern Ireland braces for a possible escalation of conflict.

And by 23 July we will learn the outcome of the vote by parties in the current peace process at Stormont Castle on the Anglo-Irish decommissioning proposals -- if it gets that far.

On Tuesday night the United States' House of Representatives passed a resolution, inspired by Congressman Joe Kennedy, to end marches designed to provoke conflict and heighten tension among Protestants and Catholics.

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Feature


Young unemployed could face total benefit cut


by Caroline Colebrook

THE LABOUR government intends to force the young unemployed into low-paid, government subsidised jobs or into training schemes by threatening to take away all entitlement to benefits.

The measures were announced last week by Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett.

In his budget speech, Chancellor Gordon Brown had said that jobless youngsters would face losing some benefit if they turned down all the jobs and training options offered to them.

But then Mr Blunkett made it clear they would lose all their benefits.

The options will be targeted at 18 to 25-year-olds and aim to take a quarter of a million of them off the dole.

To do this the government will use 3.5 million of tax-payers money to bribe various bosses to take on the youngsters as low paid workers.

The scheme is being called a "New Deal", echoing Franklin D Roosevelt's Keynsian economic policies of the 1930s aimed to bring America out of the great depression.

But there is little Keynsian about Labour's new policies. The government will not be spending the money directly nor will taxpayers get any direct benefit in terms of government works and building programmes.

Instead the money will go to private enterprise and will have the end result of lowering wage bills and raising profits.

Similar schemes were tried out under the Tories when all benefit entitlements were withdrawn from young people aged 16-18.

In theory everyone of these youngsters would have the option either of a job or a place on a youth training scheme.

In reality not nearly enough such places were ever available and many youngsters, who did not have families to support them, ended up on the streets in cardboard boxes. Some are still them and the new Labour government has yet to do anytbmg to undo this injustice.

But of course the measure did serveto make the unemployment statistics seem lower than they are and Labour does not now want to admit to the full total of unemployment anymore than the Tories did.

Labour is taking a big gamble that its new cosy relationship with big business and promised bribes will produce enough jobs and to take up all the unemployed young people and that the training scheme places will lead to real jobs.

In fact this sort of scheme is more than likely to cause more unemployment as bosses take advantage of the subsidies to replace existing workers with low wage youngsters -- or to take on young people they would have hired anyway.

Employment Minister Andrew Smith has said there will be penaltes for employers who do this but independent analysts reckon it will inevitably happen.

And of course forcing youngsters to accept low, subsidised wages will undermine wage levels for everyone.

The timetable for the introduction of the New Deal remains uncertain and Labour has already said it will stick to Tory targets for cutting benefits for the next year.

The four options open to young people, in theory, will be:

1) a private sector job with a wage, for which the employer gets a 60-a-week subsidy and a training organisation gets 750 for one-day-a-week training;

2) work with a voluntary orgatlisation or with an environmental task force, paid benefits plus a 400 grant;

3) full-time education;

4) full-time training.

Gordon Brown has declared there will be "no fifth option" to remain on benefits and do nothing.

But it is uncertain if all young people will be offered all four options. They will be allowed to turn down some jobs if there is "good reason" but it seems this will be up for interpretation by Employment Service staff.

And tnose staff remain under the same pressure to reduce the total amount of benefits paid out as they were under the Tories.

Under the rules of the Tory Job Seekers' Allowance, more than 12,000 claimants have lost all benefits in the fitst three months of this year because they were unable to comply with all the complex regulations of the JSA.

Under the "New Deal" young people who refuse the options offered to them may have their benefit cut completely for two weeks in the first instance, then for four weeks and then indefinitely.

those deemed "vulnerable" -for example if they have dependent children or are pregnant -will have their benefit cut by only 40 percent. But even that will not be enough to live on and will punish not just the claimant but their dependants.

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International


Polish Communists say No to NATO


by our Polish Correspondent

POLISH COMMUNISTS recently organised an anti-Nato demonstration in the city which once stood for Polish-German friendship. The Union of Polish Communists "Proletariat" held their protest in Zgorzelec -the city in which the peace pact between the Polish People's Republic and the German Democratic Republic was signed on 6 July 1950.

Workers, intellectuals and veterans of the Second World War held red flags and posters opposing Nato and upholding the post war German-Polish frontier, the Oder-Neisse line. Viktor Tyulkin, the leader of the Russian Communist Workers' Party also sent a solidarity message to the rally.

The demonstration showed that, contrary to government propaganda, not everyone is in favour of joining Nato. Some 70 per cent of the Polish people support the social-democratic government's application for Nato membership. This isn't surprising.

The mass media say nothing about the adverse affects of joining the Western alliance -- the cost of adapting the Polish armed forces and the defence industry to the demands of Nato. But the entire cost will be borne by the Polish people.

Nothing is said about the miners, teachers and doctors who are striking because they are on breadline wages! Nothing is said about the hungry children in the orphanages!

So the communists are struggling to break this "wall of silence" by organising protests and distributing anti-Nato leaflets.

The government is trying to stop us. A new "democratic" constitution has been adopted in parliament aimed at making the communist movement illegal.

Has anyone ever said that capitalism goes along with democracy? We do not want this kind of "democracy"' We say -- No!
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British News


Cabin crew strikers defy BA threats


by Daphne Liddle

THE three day strike by British Airways' cabin crews got off to a flying start last Wednesday. The successful action had the opposite effect on BA who found much of its fleet of planes firmly stuck on the ground.

BA's earlier threat to lock-out striking workers only served to strengthen their resolve.

A Transport and General Workers' Union spokesperson said the first day of action had been 30 per cent better than the union thought it would be.

On the first day two out of every three flights were cancelled, dealing BA's business a serious blow at this normally busy and lucrative time of year.

BA management tried to playdown the strike's success by alleging that a number of staff had reported sick and had done so in order to avoid supporting the strike.

But most of the cabin crew staff who reported sick the day before the strike began did so to avoid instant dismissal.

Indeed one document issued by BA earlier in the dispute said that anyone going on strike while abroad would be dismissed and repatriated.

The dispute is over BA's plans for restructuring pay and conditions. The company wants to cut costs -- eventually making savings of up to l billion by the year 2000.

It has angered its workforce and the unions by adopting a cavalier and confrontationaI approach. BA is also in dispute with ground staff belonging to the TGWU and GMB general workers' union.

TGWU general secretary Bill Morris said: "I appealed to British Airways again this morning (Wednesday) to start negotiations with a view to resolving both the disputes.

"However, BA have made it clear they are only prepared to talk about the ground staff issue".

The TUC said it would urge all trade unionists and the public in general to use other airlines while the situation remains as it is. Trade unionists are angry at BA's intimidating tactics and its continuing refusal to negotiate.

There is concern too about the future because of BA's plans to form an alliance with American Airlines. Clearly a company that threatens it workforce with dismissals, lock-outs and other penalties for going on strike and which has talked of long-term planning for future strike-breaking could try to use such an alliance for implementing these plans.

But there is growing support for the cabin crews at home and abroad.

Last Friday, 4 July, David Cockcroft, general secretary of the International Transport Workers Federation, the global union body which organises civil aviation workers in almost every major airline and airport in the world, expressed his disappointment that British Airways is set on a dispute which appears only to be aimed at breaking a trade union.

He said: "This dispute is about basic rights. It is about a company saying to its workers 'we are going to increase your work hours and lower your pay, and take it or leave it'. When employees have objected the company has responded with threats and intimidation of a kind that has never been experienced before in the airline.

"Let us have no doubts, British Airways is now engaged in the most highly organised and well funded union busting operation ever seen in the airline industry anywhere in the world."

Last November civil aviation unions from around the world agreed to designate the BA dispute asan International Strategic Priority. This is the first time a dispute has been designated in this way and reflects the importance that all unions attach to the dispute.

A number of unions are certainly preparing a range of actions against BA strike-breaking.

But unions are also aware of the need to give assistance to stranded BA passengers. According to Cockcroft: "Union passenger assistance teams are being organised in major world airports.

"Cabin crew unions will be making contact with passengers at BA check in desks and assisting them with advice and assistance in making alternative travel arrangements. They will, of course, also explain to them the causes of this dispute".

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