It is therefore a matter of real concern that with so many battles to fight the teachers are not united into a single trade union which could speak and act as one strong body. Only in Scotland are the majority of teachers organised into one union -- the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS).
In England and Wales teachers in primary and secondary schools are currently represented by the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers (NAS/UWT), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ALT), the Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) (a non-striking, sweetheart union), a union for teachers in Wales, and two separate unions for head teachers.
Whatever the historical background to the formation of these unions, there can be no doubt that such division in action and duplication of resources simply plays into the hands of the ruling capitalist class and undermines progress.
We know this is so because "alternative" unions have over the years been set up or encouraged by reactionary forces to deliberately weaken working class struggle. An example was the creation of the Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM) in the 1980s to divide miners during a time of intense struggle.
A fully-funded, free system of state education for all with democratic accountability requires the active support of the working class as a whole. At the same time, the creation of a single teachers' union would be a major gain in that struggle.
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by Steve Lawton
ISRAEL is conducting a criminal terrorist war in its bloody aggression against the largely defenceless Palestinian people, and it has rapidly extended its onslaught by bombing and shelling Lebanon. Two Syrian soldiers were killed and six others wounded in a hit on a Syrian radar station in the Bekaa Valley during its latest incursion.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces, as though in a two-pronged operation, mounted a major air, sea and land attack on Gaza, killed one Palestinian and wounded another 30, as we went to press.
PLO leader Yasser Arafat condemned it as an "unforgiveable crime" which caused widespread internationul outrage. Three Israeli missiles hit Arafat's personal guards' heudquarters.
US secretary of state Colin Powell was forced to call on the Israelis to withdraw calling it "excessive and disproportionate". That is, an unauthorised act not sanctioned by the US.
The US state department warned Israel of this "dangerous escalation" which Syrian president Assad wryly noted was only called "aggression" when referring to Arabs. Syrian officials warn they will not stand idly by.
Israel earlier launched air strikes into southern Lebanon as well as supposedly shelling Hezbollah (Party og God) resistance fighters in the Kfar Shouba area, hitting many villages, last weekend. They then hit the central mountains area where Syrian troops are stationed some 50km from Beiruit.
Hezbollah said they had hit an Israeli tank, killing one, inside the occupied Shebaa Farms -- disputed 200km-square area along the Syrian-Lebanese border that Israeli forces seized in the 1967 war. Syria and Lebanon want that territory returned. Back in February Israeli forces suffered one dead and three injured from a similar attack. Syria has maintained a force of around 35,000 since invited into Lebanon in 1976 as peacekeepers.
While certain US senators have used the opportunity to attack Syria's presence in Lebanon, Nabih Berri, president of the National Assembly (parliament), said their withdrawal would not be in the interests of the people and would have serious consequences if they did so. He said Israel was the enemy.
He then left for China to meet chairman of the National People's Congress, Li Peng, hoping to get assistance in clearing the 130,000 land mines laid by Israel in southern Lebanon.
The Arab-American Institute chief James Zogby, in a protest to US secretary of state Colin Powell, called on president George W Bush to cease supplying TOW missiles to Israel in view of their "misuse...in violation of the law and contrary to our national interest."
Palestinian leaders protest that the United States is allowing Israeli premier Ariel Sharon a free hand to conduct his war crimes with impunity against their people.
The US and the European Union have persistently failed to take action to give any securitv to the threatened Palestinian peoples whose resistance fighters now manage to make sporadic mortar attacks in self defence on Israeli targets.
The Israeli bombardment and invasion of Palestinian territory was originally sparked off by Ariel Sharon's provocative violation of the al-aqsa mosque in Arab east Jerualem last September. before he became premier.
It was calculated to spark angry Palestinian reaction. Since then, Israeli brutality against the renewed intifada (uprising) has caused the deaths of over 470 mostly Palestinian people, besides thousands wounded.
Last week Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered the Khan Yunis Palestinian refugee camp on the Gaza Strip, smashing up supposed Palestinian resistance fighters mortar bases, killing two Palestinians and wounding over 50. Homes and olive groves were demolished the largest operation Israel has undertaken since last September.
Sharon refuses all appeals and approaches for a resolution of the crisis. Instead, he has offred a demilitarised "Palestinian State" comprising 42 per cent of the territories of the West Bank and 70 per cent of the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian National Authority demands all of both and includes Arab east Jerusalem in Israel, complying with UN agreed resolutions.
The Palestinian Legislative Council, among many efforts to end the bloodshed, pressed the Israelis to halt the killing and renew the shattered peace process. It demanded that Israel lift its blockades in Gaza and the West Bank, cease assassinations of Palestinian activists, end the closure of Palestinian villages and cities, freeze settlement expansion in Israeli occupied Palestinian territories and reopen Gaza airport.
Last week Palestinian police managed to save one leading activist ofthe Yasser Arafat-led Fatah movement from an Israeli assassination attempt. They found a car bomb in Ramallah, West Bunk which they detonated before the target Tanzim commander Nasser Abu Hamaid got anywhere near.
Ahmed Yassin, Palestinian Islamic resistance leader of Hamas, was not so fortunate. He was assassinated by Israeli forces, Hamas said, when an explosion in Gaza also wounded three other Palestinians. Since September, at least 20 Palestinian leaders have been assassinated.
But the one international demand Palestinian leaders make which would help expose to the world the role of Israel -- and would clearly force the US to tighten the reigns on Sharon -- is for the deployment of a UN-sponsored protection force to defend the Palestinian communities.
Even undertaking the necessary face-to-face encounters required to find a solution is hazardous. Last week a convoy of Palestinian security officials returning from a meeting with the Israelis at the US Tel Aviv embassy, were fired at by Israeli soldiers at the Erez crossing point.
But since the attacks on Lebanon and the air, sea and land assault on Ciaza by the Israeli forces, Palestinian leaders have ceased security meetings declaring that Israel will use the channels of communication as a cover for their actions.
An Israeli soldier was wounded following a Palestinian attack on an Israeli army post on the Tunnel Road connecting one of the Jewish settlements to Jerusalem. This road was originally built by former premier Yitzhak Rabin to cut-off Arab villages and reinforce Jewish settlement, but has frequently been closed off by Israeli forces.
Last Friday about 30,000 Palestinians attended Friday prayers at the Al-aqsa mosque. while resistance activists stoned Israeli forces. On the same day a bomb blast in the village of El Khader, south of Bethlehem, wounded three soldiers.
On Saturday 20 Palestinians were wounded in Kalah. on the border with Egypt, after two Israeli tanks and bulldozers flattened a Palestinian police station, shops and houses. The next day an Egyptian woman was hit and wounded in the cross-fire. Just inside Egypt.
Last November two Egyptian farmers were wounded by Israeli gunfire inside Egypt. More Israeli troop, piled into the Erez checkpoint between Gaza and Israel. Two pipe bombs wounded an Israeli in a town near Tel Aviv.
By Tuesday a 15-year old was killed by Israeli forces at Karni crossing, east of Gaza City, with other children coming under fire.
Freih Abu Median, Palestinian minister for Justice, accused the Israelis of trying to divide and wreck the Al-aqsa mosque. He said on Egypt's Arab Voice radio that Jewish settlers were entering Al-haram al-Sharif, which houses the mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
Support for the Palestinian cause among Arab nations in particular has gained ground and international efforts are continuing.
Iran is to hold a two-day international conference in support of the intifada on 24-25 May in Tehran, at which 35 muslim countries and 50 NGOs are expected to participate. The Palestine Liberation Organisation has been invited and. according to IRNA news agency, a formal international union of NGOs is to be set up the day before proceedings begin.
Iran received 19 Palestinian wounded last weekend, via Jordan. In all, 86 wounded have been treated in Iran, while food, medicines and clothing have been offered as part of the assistance to Palestinians.
South African foreign minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, ending a four-day visit to Egypt, pledged that her country, currently in the presidency of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), will co-ordinate a ministerial meeting, also in May, to assess how to develop solidarity
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by Caroline Colebrook
A GATHERING economic storm in the United States is already affecting business and job prospects in Britain according to an analysis of Government figures.
A report from accountants Ernst and Young says growth in Britain will fall below the significant two per cent mark by autumn as the US crisis becomes international.
That coincided with a forecast from the Confederation of British Industry which said that the combined effects of foot and mouth disease and he US downturn could cut growth to two per cent or less this year.
The CBI expects unemployment to start rising later this year as the slow-down bites. The situation is worsened by the falling Euro which affects our exports.
On the same day, the Merseyside ship builder and repairer Cammell Laird was forced to call in the receivers and suspend share dealings after failing to stem the financial crisis threatening the business which has put Cammell Laird £150 million in debt.
This means the jobs of all the 3,500 workforce are threatened unless the receivers or the Government can find a buyer for the yard. There are reports that Swan Hunter of Tyneside may be interested in buying parts of Cammell Laird.
Norman Brownell, commercial director a Swan Hunter, said: "If we can see any part of the operation we can use successfully, we'll do it."
Some of the biggest job cuts are looming over the electronics industries. Last week the Dutch giants Philips announced 7,000 jobs to go globally from its total workforce of 200,000 while the American company Cisco said it would have to cut 8,500 of its total 40,000 jobs.
These cuts are likely to have some impact in Britain. Cisco employs about 2,000 people in Britain -- mainly in Uxbridge, London, Manchester and at Strathclyde in Scotland while Philips employs 6,300 at manufacturing sites in Durham, Washington, Stockport, Burnley, Southport and at Hamilton in Scotland.
Philips announced the cuts after the company suffered a 91 per cent drop in the first quarter of this year and expects to make a loss in the second quarter.
Chief financial officer Jan Hommen named a number of "areas of difficulty" -- the personal computer, telecommunications and American consumer market.
He said: "The severity and rapidity of decline in these sectors has been extraordinary."
Eastman Kodak, the photographic film manufacturer, has announced that at least 3,000 jobs will go because of falling profits.
As we go to press, the US Federal Reserve bank has cut interest rates by half a point in order to stave off recession. This is the fourth cut this year and brings the base rate down to 4.5 per cent.
Manufacturers will not be helped by rising petrol prices which is expected to rise by three pence a litre in Britain as Opec reduces oil production.
An explosion at a petrol refinery in Lincolnshire -- which by a miracle resulted in only two minor casualties -- also affected oil prices, raising them to their highest level for nine months.
The economic picture is looking increasingly bleak -- and increasingly familiar as world capitalism goes into yet another cyclical downturn.
The working classes around the world will again be made to pay, threats of war will increase and this will be repeated until we have socialism.
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CANAN KULAKSIZ, a 19-year-old, became the 12th person to die over the last few days in death fasts, reported Anatolia News Agency last Sunday.
She refused food for 137 days in an effort to support the death fasters who are protesting against the transfer of prisoners from large wards to the cramped conditions of one to three-inmate cells in F-type prisons.
Her uncle and brother were in prison. She died at the home of another death faster in Istanbul's Sariyer district.
So far 10 inmates and two relatives, including Kulaksiz, have died, and doctors have warned that dozens more are risking death. About 250 inmates and several of their relatives launched the death fasts some months ago.
Government officials said that they put the prisoners in small cells in order to prevent prison riots. But the prisoners charged that the new cells would leave them isolated and vulnerable to abuse and torture.
Prisoners resisted their transfer for four days in clashes that left 30 inmates and two soldiers dead last December.
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by Daphne Liddle
YORKSHIRE police are hunting a group of skinheads believed to have sparked a riot in a predominantly Asian part of Bradford.
Eight people were injured, four pubs badly damaged, cars burned and thousands or pounds worth of damage was done during six hours of violence after trouble was sparked in a pub in the Lidget Green area, where a Hindu wedding reception was taking place.
Confusing reports have appeared in different national news papers as to the initial cause of the fighting but all agree that white racists played a significant role in fanning the flames and exploiting the situation.
But the locally based Yorkshire Post puts the cause down to a small group of mature, white racists.
It says that witnesses describe a gang of white men in their 30s and 40s who were "burly looking" and "mainly skinheads" who were drinking in the Coach House pub in Legrams Lane when trouble began at 8pm on Easter Sunday.
The Yorkshire Post then says that the violence spilled out quickly and escalated as angry Asian youth retaliated and confronted these men in the street.
This led to another pub, the Second West, being virtually destroyed by fire.
There were three arrests, one a 42-year-old described as "dark
European", a 19-year-old Asian youth and a 34-year-old white
Several witnesses said that the men in the Coach House were from a far right group and that at least some were not from Bradford.
Bradford South Labour MP Gerry Sutcliffe visited the scene and reported that many constituents had raised concerns that a right-wing group was involved.
He said he was told the group ended up at the pub where a Hindu wedding reception was taking place.
"I am waiting to get a police report," he said. "We need to get to the bottom of what happened as quickly as we can."
Police say they are anxious to trace the gang of white men which "disappeared into the night" when police arrived.
Superintendent Mark Whyman said the violence did not appear pre-planned and discounted reports in some papers that fire bombs had been used.
"We work extremely closely with the local community," he said, "and we have had no indication in Lidget Green which would cause us concern over the last few days.
"There didn't seem to be any planning involved -- it just seemed to be a spontaneous incident.
"There are tensions in Bradford -- it is a multicultural society -- but our work hasn't given us indications of problems that we saw in Lidget Green last night."
Meanwhile, police in Leicester supported the local council in its call for a ban on a proposed march by the National Front there planned for 21 April.
Leiceslershire Chief Constable David Wyrko said: "We have to balance the right of people to demonstrate with the rights of the community to cany our their business without fear of crime and disorder."
The National Front did hold a march through Bermondsey, south London, last Saturday -- for the second Saturday in a row. It is a tactic the NF used unsuccessfully last year with weekly demonstrations in an around Dover against asylum seekers.
The racists claim they will hold a march there every Saturday for the foreseeable future. Fewer than 30 were on the march which was forced through at a very fast walking pace by police for the short distance between Bermondsey South railway station and Bermondsey Tube station.
Anti-fascists who turned out to protest once again far outnumbered the racists and the numbers of police involved outnumbered all.
Many local community groups and London mayor Ken Livingstone have called on the Home Secretary to ban these marches.
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