The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 19th August 2005

Gate Gourmet strikers

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by our Arab Affairs correspondent

While Bush
shuns peace protesters outside his Texan holiday ranch and Blair basks in the Caribbean sun, their minions are desperately trying to get their squabbling puppets in Baghdad to agree to a draft constitution this week.

The first deadline was passed on Monday as the stooge politicians, all representatives of sectarian and communal factions, have failed to agree to a share out of whatever power the occupying force decides to give them.

But arguments over a new “federal” Iraq inside the US “Green Zone” military compound in Baghdad are largely meaningless. The puppet regime has no authority or credibility inside or outside the country and the writ of the Anglo-American army of occupation barely goes beyond its garrisons and bunkers.

The Americans have failed to blunt the current resistance offensive, whose lethal raids and bombings have sent US casualty rates soaring in August.  Attacks on American convoys have doubled over the past year and now run at about 30 per week.

In the western Iraqi province of Al Anbar the US Marines want their forces doubled to contain the resistance that a Marine spokesman admitted now controlled “whole cities”.

Anti-American feeling is reaching boiling point in the Anbar provincial capital of Ramadi following the massacre of civilians last Friday by US forces.  An American tank opened fire on worshippers leaving a mosque, raking the crowd with machine-gun fire for three minutes and cutting down over 40 civilians.


Dr Umar al Ani, the head of Ramadi hospital said 19 of those hit were killed instantly. Seven of the dead were children. The rest were taken to hospital in a serious condition. Three later died of their injuries.

The huge crowd that attended the victims’ funerals on Saturday included members of the resistance and later one of them said the partisans would give the American double what the Americans had given to them on Friday.

Now they’ve started to take children hostage. In the oil-town of Beiji five Iraqi children under the age of ten were arrested and held at the US army camp outside the town this week. And that’s where they’ll stay unless the townspeople turn in other Beiji youngsters who appeared on satellite TV playing with the helmets and weapons of dead US soldiers killed in a resistance attack last week.

Back in the capital, Baghdad, some 30 Iraqi civilians were killed when a popular labourers’ hotel was attacked by US helicopter gunships. A number of guests, mainly Iraqis coming to Baghdad looking for work, were having their breakfast outside the building. It is believed that Americans mistook them for resistance fighters.

Paper constitutions and bogus elections have failed to give the imperialists the legitimacy they need to perpetuate the occupation so once again Bush and his generals are turning to brute force and even wilder gambles to try and retain their place in the Arabian sun. Though attempts to build a new international “coalition” against Iran over the nuclear issue have, unsurprisingly, had no takers, the dirty work of the CIA goes on.

Iran has formally accused Britain and the United States of inciting unrest amongst its Arab and Kurdish minorities following riots in western and north western Iran last week.

“According to some information, the Americans intervened in north western Iran,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Reza Asefi told the media in Tehran. “This is not acceptable at all” he said, adding that because the United States is stuck in Iraq it is trying to divert attention from its plight by sowing unrest across the border.

“Some of the provocateurs were trained in a part of Iraq which is under the control of Britain,” Asefi declared. “We have made objections and warned Britain about the repercussions of such behaviour. We hope it won’t be repeated in the future”.

turn to dust

That remains to be seen. The American troops are gripped with panic and fear. Their generals don’t know what to do to quell the revolt that is turning into a national revolution as Bush and Blair’s dreams of world domination turn to dust.

Wiser counsel in Washington and London may argue for an exit strategy via the United Nations but until the war party in America and Britain is defeated the danger of war spreading throughout the Middle East remains. 


Irreconcilable differences

  BRITISH AIRWAYS services from Heathrow Airport last weekend were brought to a standstill by an unofficial walkout by baggage handlers in solidarity with the sacked catering workers at Gateway Gourmet, the American-owned company that supplies in-flight meals to BA.

The reaction was spontaneous at the appalling and provocative way the Gateway Gourmet workers had been treated. The company had long been in financial trouble and had been locked in negotiations with the Transport and General Workers’ Union over redundancies.

 In the middle of these negotiations the company introduced 130 new temporary seasonal workers – on lower wages and reduced conditions. No wonder the Gateway Gourmet workers were shocked. If the company needed extra workers, why was it trying to make redundant the workers it already had?

 It was all part of a carefully worked out plan to sack the entire current workforce and take on instead a new workforce at much reduced wages and conditions. The workers, as expected, stopped working. While in the company car park they were told by megaphone that they had 20 minutes to return to their posts or be sacked. The message was garbled and many did not hear or realise what was happening.

 The company then sacked its entire staff, including those on holiday or off sick, on the grounds that they were taking part in an “illegal strike”. The sacking notices had been prepared beforehand, as had the new lower-paid workforce.

 Then the Daily Mirror published a leaked company memo, revealing that a year ago Gateway Gourmet had planned exactly such a manoeuvre to provoke its workers into a strike in order to sack the lot and replace them with a cheaper workforce. The chances of such a strike spreading within the airport had been recognised but discounted.

 As news of the company’s cynical tactics spread, solidarity has poured in for the workers from all around the globe. The irony is that in Britain, the TGWU is barred by law from supporting the strike by the Gateway Gourmet workers and the spontaneous solidarity action by the baggage handlers. All the union can do is to act as a go-between, trying to negotiate a settlement and it must dissociate itself from the strike – or face bankruptcy.

 This case like no other illustrates how Britain’s anti-trade union laws allow outrageous employers to walk all over the workforce. The company claims it wants to get rid of “outdated 1970s working practices” – meaning workers having any rights at all. They seek to replace 1970s working practices with the “master and servant” laws of the 18th century.

 TGWU general secretary Tony Woodley calls for the repeal of the anti-union laws that breach the conventions of the International Labour Organisation – to which Britain is a signatory. Our working class has fewer freedoms and trade union rights than those in Europe or the United States and bosses take advantage.

 Woodley goes on to say that this case highlights the dangers of the contracting out culture where large “respected” companies like BA sub-contract work they used to do themselves to cowboy companies like Gateway Gourmet who will cut wages and conditions to a bare minimum using the most outrageous manoeuvres but allowing BA to pretend the dispute is outside of its control.

 But Woodley also says that repealing the anti-union laws will improve workplace relations and this will benefit everyone involved.

 He’s wrong. Like many other social democrats he rejects the concept that there is an irreconcilable difference between what is good for the bosses and what is good for the workers. He tries to appeal to the better nature of the capitalists, asking them to recognise that solidarity and collective bargaining is a natural impulse for workers. The employers know it only too well, which is why they ban it if they can.

This is a class war. The contradiction between the interests of the bosses and the interests of the workers is the fundamental driving force that will eventually lead to the overthrow of capitalism.

The bosses know it and our trade union leaders should know it too. It is a no-holds-barred war. Asking nicely is not good enough. The organised working class must be organised strongly enough to be in a position to demand or it will always be weak and outmanoeuvred by greedy bosses.

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