The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 15th April 2005

Rover workers and families protest  - read   <

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by our Arab Affairs Correspondent

resistance forces have liberated al Qaim, a city in al Anbar province on the River Euphrates near the border with Syria. Partisans from other parts of the region are pouring into the city as four American columns advance and fierce fighting is continuing between partisans and American Marines on its outskirts.

The US high command has proclaimed martial law throughout al Anbar province, dividing it into military zones of Fallujah, Ramadi, Hit, Hadithah, Qaim and Rutbah. Any Iraqi coming within a 1,000 metres of US army bases or military columns will be shot.

general call

The chief Muslim authority of al Anbar has issued a general call to arms to able-bodied men and women to defend al Qaim and a new Iraqi resistance movement drawn from the Sufi Muslim community has been established to take the field and fight the Americans.

The Marines and their puppet auxiliaries were driven out of al Qaim last week and the resistance has thrown back several American attempts to retake it, driving them out of positions the US troops had briefly retaken. Large quantities of drugs known locally as “Arteen” and “Makdoon” were found in the abandoned American trenches.

 Al Qaim is now under American siege while US helicopter gunships and artillery target the drinking water storage tanks and food storage freezers. The electricity supply has been cut and no food is being allowed into the city.

 Eight resistance groups have responded by issuing an ultimatum to the Americans, giving them 12 hours to pull out all their troops surrounding al Qaim to allow the civilians supplies of food and water, warning that if their demand is not met US bases throughout occupied Iraq will be subjected to “simultaneous painful strikes”.

In Baghdad the resistance is resuming the offensive after a lull to cover the massive anti-American street protests organised by supporters of maverick Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr last weekend. Roadside bombs greeted the unannounced arrival of US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld in the Iraqi capital for one-day talks with the new puppet regime on Tuesday and attacks on American military convoys continued on Wednesday to “welcome” Rumsfeld’s deputy, Robert Zoelick, to Baghdad.

On the oil front resistance commandos killed the head of the puppet force set up to protect the northern oil fields from sabotage.


Nine puppet hirelings working for the American-created “Northern Oil Company”, including their commander, Colonel Natham Abdullah, were killed when a mine was detonated while they were attempting to disarm a decoy device near the oil town of Kirkuk.

The mouthpieces of Anglo-American imperialism are claiming that the US-led occupation army has got the partisans on the run. But reality proves otherwise. Bush’s “coalition of the willing” is crumbling by the day. This week Poland broke ranks, announcing that its 1,700-strong contingent will quit Iraq in the first weeks of 2006, which means that all the US army can rely on in the future is token forces from former Soviet republics in the thrall of imperialism, Japan, south Korea and the British expeditionary force in southern Iraq.

Though Tony Blair may hope that anti-war feeling will not fatally damage the Labour vote in next month’s general election, some of our troops are at least voting with their feet.

The number of deserters and those going absent without leave (AWOL) has more than doubled over the past year. According to the Ministry of Defence 530 soldiers deserted in 2004 compared to 205 in 2003, 150 in 2002 and just 100 in 2001. Over 3,000 troops went AWOL last year with only a third returning to base within 21 days.

biggest factor

The largest number came from the infantry, followed by the Royal Logistics Corps and the Royal Artillery. Gilbert Blades, a lawyer representing AWOL soldiers told the media that Iraq was “probably the biggest factor” though he added that he thought  a growing number of young soldiers were also not prepared to “suffer the indignities and discipline” of army life.


Nationalise Rover now!

IT’S NOT ALL OVER at MG Rover but it soon will be unless the Government takes decisive action to guarantee continued production at Longbridge. The unions are focusing the workers’ demands on trying to revive bail-out deal talks with the Chinese Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) while protesting at the pitiful levels of redundancy payments currently on the table.

Rover was losing between £20 to £25 million a month before it crashed last week. The Chinese rescue plan, which would have given SAIC 75 per cent of the holding in return for investments that would shift some production to People’s China and enable Rover to develop badly needed new models in Britain, now looks as dead as the dodo.

A massive injection of public money to underwrite the ailing motor works could make it more attractive to SAIC, the Chinese publicly-owned motor manufacturing giant, which pulled out of  the deal when it realised that it might have pick up the £400 million bill to cover MG Rover’s pension fund liabilities. But the chances of reviving the talks with SAIC are slim now that Rover’s gone into administration, a form of bankruptcy.

Though the unions are right to concentrate on immediate demands that might save the livelihoods of over 6,000 Midlands workers and a further 20,000 employed by Rover’s suppliers the only solution that can guarantee continued employment at the Longbridge plant is nationalisation. This is what the Labour Government did in 1975 when it effectively nationalised the old British Leyland Motor Corporation to stave off bankruptcy.

British Leyland was once a manufacturing giant owning nearly 40 manufacturing plants across the country. The process of asset-stripping and sell-out began when it was still under state-control and continued after BL was privatised by the Tories in 1988. But everyone who owned Leyland’s, down to the rump MG Rover company which is its direct successor, made fortunes except for the workers who built all the cars.

The vultures who bought the MG Rover Group for £10 five years ago, in another “rescue” operation, milked it for around £160 million to cover their own pay and pension contributions. While there’s pressure to get them to disgorge some of their loot to help the company’s creditors, this is little comfort to the workers who have been told that the most they can expect from redundancy is £280 for each year of service up to a maximum of 12 years.

The capitalists and their “New Labour” apologists claim that private enterprise is for the good of the country and the workers. MG Rover proves that all capitalism is good for is the capitalists themselves. They make their millions out of the labour of others and the workers just get their weekly wage to make a living and leave the factory no better off than when they first clocked in.

Britain’s manufacturing base can only survive through massive re-investment but the capitalist class as a whole see no purpose in diverting their fortunes into this arena when there are much richer pickings to be made through speculation and overseas investment.

Nationalising MG Rover would safeguard production and enable a new public company to resume joint-venture talks with Shanghai Automotive on a realistic basis. But nationalising the plant by itself would not solve the long-term problems of the British manufacturing. Only the nationalisation of the entire motor industry and the entire manufacturing base, including the high-tech aerospace industry can secure a future for the workers.

The restoration of the old public sector as it existed in 1979, including the entire telecom industry would provide millions for the modernisation of our factories, the restoration of the National Health Service and the provision of a decent standard of living for every worker in a country that we are constantly told is the fourth richest in the world.

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