The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 21st March, 1997

We've got some hot news from Albania this week, so check it out! Look out for our General Election coverage --coming soon! Don't forget to let us know if you wish to use any material.


Workers of all countries, unite!


Welcome To Our Weekly Digest Edition

Please feel free to use this material provided the New Worker is informed and credited.


Editorial - Clear intent.
Lead Story - Bloody Sunday murders - Soldiers' account fuels demand for new inquiry
Feature - Stagecoach let off the hook
International - Crisis in Albania - Statement from Communist Party of Albania. &. Albanian Communist speaks out.
British News - Birmingham workers fight privatisation.



Editorial


Clear intent.


MAJOR has named May Day for the general election, giving us the chance to celebrate this year's international labour day with a resounding defeat for the Tories. It is an appropriate moment to finally end 18 years of continuous Tory government.

And no one should be in any doubt that it is absolutely vital to inflict that resounding defeat and call a halt to the strategies and programme of the Conservative Party -- the favoured party of the ruling capitalist class.

We have all seen since 1979 what these strategies are and what they mean for working class people. They include blatant attacks on the trade unions with swathes of class based legislation designed to strip away the hard-won gains of generations of organised workers.

It has the clear intention of trying to shackle workers while leaving the bosses' hands free.

One of the results of this strategy has been to so contain workers' demands that Britain is now regarded as a model for other capitalist govemments in Europe and is attractive to foreign manufacturers looking for a country where labour is cheap.

If the Tories are not kicked out in May the attack on trade union rights will continue,with public sector workers being among the first to suffer as they face renewed onslaughts on the right to strike.

Tory strategies have also followed the neo-liberal economic policy of carrying out wholesale privatisations. This programme, which has already cost millions ofjobs, is not yet finished and if the Tories get another term in office there would be more jobs lost as they turn their attention to the Post Office, parts of the Inland Revenue and whatever else they can detach and flog off.

The privatisation programme has taken essential services out of democratic public ownership and control and set up unelected quango bodies as the new regulators. Alongside that, our local government has been undermined by compulsory competitive tendering and increasing financial control from central government.

The Tories claim to be the party of low tax. But they are in practice the party of low taxation if you only consider the interests of the very rich -- this sector has pocketed billions through the Tories' cuts in top tax levels.

For the lower income sector the Tories have been a party of higher taxation as any benefits from cuts inthe standard rate of tax have been more than wiped out by the 22 rises in VAT which is paid by everyone however poor.

The Tories are also determined to curb public spending. They even boast about this and try to raise a feeling of alarm that Labour would not be tough enough on this issue.

They have no reason to be proud of this "achievement" -it should be regarded as a disgrace.

They have sought to balance the books by cutting public services and facilities for working class people to spare the already richest minority from tax increases.

The squeeze has been applied to education, health care, council housing , pensions and benefits. Trident and the rest of Britain's death-dealing nuclear arsenals have been left alone -- these are the sacred cows of capitalist Britain.

There is only one way to defeat the Tories on May Day -- to vote in a Labour government. There is no other way to get the Tories out and to send a clear message of what we think of the last 18 years and to signal loudly our desire for change.

Ironically the Tories, who are doing badly in the opinion polls, could benefit from the life-rafts being cast into the water by some of their class opponents. These are unwittingly being thrown by some on the Left who claim they cannot bring themselves to work for a Labour victory, because the leadership of the Labour Party is in the hands of the right-wing.

Yes it is. But that situation will not be overcome by allowing the Tories to win another undeserved term of office -- and that is where these arguments lead since no other party of the left is in a position to form a government.

If the Tories did win, the Labour Party's right-wing would only conclude from such a result that their position needs to be shifted even further to the right.

A cross on a ballot paper is not an essay on socialism -it can either endorse the Tories or show dissatisfaction. The bigger labour's majority the louder that message discontent with Tory policies will be. And far from helping Labour's right-wing, it will strengthen the Left and lift morale for the struggles ahead.
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Lead Story


Bloody Sunday murders -


Soldiers' account fuels demand for new inquiry

A BRITISH paratrooper has described the British Army's actions in Derry 25 years ago as "shameful and disgraceful". The soldier, who had been in Derry on Bloody Sunday (30 January 1972), described the terrible events of that day in a Channel Four news programme last week.

His account of the day when British troops shot 27 unarmed civilians -- killing 14, broke with the official British government version. And he further claimed that a statement he had made to the official Widgery inquiry had been tampered with by his superiors.

The soldier said there was a "shambles" and that "at times, command and control were missing". "People fleeing were fired on", he said, and "one wounded man on the floor was then shot twice in the back". He also said that another man was "shot at close range directly in the face".

The shootings took place towards the end of a peaceful civil rights demonstration in the city of Derry. Allegations that the troops had responded to gunfire have always been strongly denied by local eyewitnesses and in fact no weapons were found on any of the victims.

According to last Wednesday's Irish Times, a senior BBC journalist, David Capper, has also reported that the "lengthy evidence he gave to the Widgery inquiry was inaccurately summarised in the published report". The published version suggests that a shot was fired at the British Army during the march. Whathe actually told the inquiry was that he had heard a single shot fired some two hours before the march or the killings.

All of this comes hot on the heels of another admission to Chanel Four by an Anglian Regiment soldier that British Army snipers had fired on demonstrators from positions along the City walls.

Separate forensic evidence backs this up by showing that some wounds showed the bullets had been fired from above ground level.

It is possible that shots from British Army snipers caused the paratroopers to think they were coming under fire. But whatever the soldiers believed the question still has to be answered --why were snipers on the walls and why did they open fire?

Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuiness has called for the establishment of a panel of international jurists to investigate Bloody Sunday.

He said: "Last night's interview, coupled with a previous interview with a Royal Anglian soldier indicating the presence of British snipers on Derry's walls, pointed conclusively to state sanctioned murder.

"As Britain is the state being accused, it cannot be allowed to conduct an investigation of itself.

"What is required is not another British investigation of its own war crimes in Ireland but an independent international panel of inquiry consisting of jurists and under the auspices of an international human rights organisation.

"Such a panel should have the power to subpoena all relevant documents in British government archives concerning Bloody Sunday".

John Bruton, the Irish Prime Minister, has also called for a fresh inquiry.

The leader of Ireland's Fianna Fail Party, Bertie Ahern, said the British authorities "need to acknowledge Bloody Sunday for what it was, an inexcusable act of state terrorism that was subsequently covered up and spawned many other evil acts".

A group of people from the Bloody Sunday Justice Campaign has gone to Washington to report on the latest developments to members of the United States Congress. Some members of the group met Senator Edward Kennedy last week.

So much doubt has now been cast on the Widgery report that a fresh inquiry should be held. It is also abundantly clear that this cannot be left to the British government. Sinn Fein's demand for an independent inquiry with intemationai participation should be supported and pressed for.
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Feature


Stagecoach let off the hook


by Caroline Colebrook

THE RAIL franchising director, John O'Brien, last week defended a decision not to impose fines on the company Stagecoach for its mismanagement of South West Trains, which has led to commuter chaos.

He denied that he was protecting the private company at passengers' expense as he, on behalf of the new rail regulator Opraf, did no more than warn the company that it must do better in future.

The company, as soon as it could after taking over the franchise to run South West Trains, made 70 drivers redundant to save money and maximise profits.

It subsequently found it did not have enough drivers to meet the minimum timetable laid down by the franchising director and cancelled 39 trains a day from London Waterloo to the south coast, west country and Surrey.

The company's name has become a bad joke among commuters, who complain that on Stagecoach services they are always being held up and robbed.

O'Brien could have imposed a l million fine on the company for breach of its' franchise throughout February and March. This is equal to just one week's government subsidy and is peanuts compared to the profits made by sacking so many staff.

And Keith Bill, the national secretary of the pressure group Save Our Railways, commented: "The public should be aware that a 1 million fine for Stagecoach will have as little effect as using a peashooter against an elephant."

But Stagecoach has simply been warned that if things do not improve to normal services throughout April, it will be fined then.

Currently Stagecoach faces only the minimal fines of between 100 and 600 for each cancelled service in February, totalling 750,000 and possibly a similar amount for February.

If it continues to mismanage it could lose the franchise altogether.

O'Brien last week denied criticisms that he was more interested in the success of franchising than in policing bad performance.

He said: "I do not see myself as an apologist for the franchise operators and my job is not to make privatisation work." And he claimed that he was pressing Stagecoach "robustly" and that the company had been sufficiently punished.

He denied that he had been under government pressure to be lenient. "I have not been under any pressure or coercion," he said. "This is Opraf's decision and there has been no arm twisting."

Nevertheless, Transport Secretary George Young obviously approves of O'Brien's approach which he described as "a very welcome step, which shows the government's determination to hold train operators to their contracts and take firm steps when they fail to come up to scratch."

The rail union RMT warned that South West Trains is not the only company in this sort of trouble.

South West Trains was one of the first privatisations. Other franchise holders have hundreds, if not thousands of redundancies in the pipeline which will affect their services in a similar way soon.

South West trains passengers suffered another blow last Thursday when a fire in a trackside electricity sub station cut off power to all lines from Waterloo station for four hours.

The final remains of British Rail -- BR International -- are to be sold off to the French state railway SNCF before the general election.
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International


Statement from Communist Party of Albania.& Albanian Communist speaks out.


From the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Albania - 17th March, 1997.

The present situation in Albania shows the total economical, political and social crisis caused by the anti-people and anti-national government of Berisha. This shows the development of the "democracy" in Europe and USA, the policy and interference in the future deeds in countries from Eastern Europe. This situation brought absolute poverty and destruction.

As it is known, this rage and explosion of the people came as indignation accumulated during the government of Berisha. This rage and peoples's explosion were caused by the robbery of the people's money which were in several big firms, "pyramid" organisations: this sum comes to 3 billion dollars.

After that, the ruling Mafia used a great amount of this money to strengthen the regime and the dictatorship, the activity of the Democratic party and to enrich the rulers. Some of the managers of such firms are already in prison, so they cannot tell the truth.

The uprising of the people started with peaceful strikes and demonstrations, strikes in which took part students in hunger strike from the towns of Vlora and Girokastra, who were supported by all students and many schools. All the attempts of the regime to suppress the movement led to its spreading all over the country.

The state of emergency established by the Parliament of the Democratic party inflamed the people in the towns of Vlora, Ljushna Fieri Saranda, Tepelena, Girokastra and he whole of South Albania the people armed themselves and chased away the representatives of the institutions situated in their territory.

The uprising of the people and the sound of arms forced the media and the diplomats of Europe and USA to start to talk about Albania and to think of some political solution of the problem This forced the president to listen to the opposition, which did not exist for him up to this moment. The opposition, which didn't have the trust of the people was striving to win from that movement of the people, but forgot what the opposition wanted and was looking for the people.

And the result came: a compromise between the opposition and the president-bandit along with a signed declaration which do not include the new requests of the rebels: the resignation of the president and the return of the money. The rebels answered that they will not surrender their weapons until their decisions and requests are accepted. The most important thing for them is to be accepted at the round table as a basic opposition force.

After the announcement of this declaration, the opposition and the international diplomats declared it for a great achievement but the people did not accept it and started to capture new towns; Permet, Berat, Skrepar, Kuchova, Ghpamsh...

The most important thing in the people's movement are the political demands.

The army and the police joined the people. The only armed forces which supported and still supports Berisha are the armed bands and the special services "SHIC" and two divisions of hired soldiers from Serbia and Kosovo.

The ex-military communists who governed the quarters and the council for salvation of the people also take part in these events.

The Communist party and the communists gave orientations about the main slogans and political demands.

As it is well known, the CP worked very hard to organize everything.

Of great importance are the revolutionary steps of the people.

The rebels show the power of the people and the rottenness of the fascist regime. The only support of this regime was the imperialist powers.

*******************

*NW* President Berisha has said he will not resign and has ordered tanks to the streets of Tirana, where fighting has broken out between the rebels and forces loyal to the Berisha regime.

The new coalition government led by Socialist Party leader Bashkim Fino, has appealed for an end to the revolt and this has been echoed by Fatos Nano, freed from jail by the rebels last week.

But rebel National Salvation Committee, led by retired army Colonel Xhevat Kociu, has said it will march on Tirana if Berisha refuses to go.

*********************

Albanian Communist speaks out

Published in La Nostra Lotta - Italy

Q: What are the causes that have provoked this great movement of struggle?

A: The collapse of the financial schemes is due to the enemy of the people,Sali Berisha, but this has only been the spark of the crisis. This past year the social climate has become explosive due to the collapse of almost all economic activity, the crisis of education, the failure to pay pensions, the mass unemployment, the lack of goods of prime necessity, the fall in living standards in general.

Q: What is the political content of of this popular movement?

A: We are undoubtedly dealing with a popular struggle against all the pro-U.S. policies of Sali Berisha. Certainly in this movement all the anti-Berisha forces are represented, however this is a struggle which on the economic and social level pursues popular objectives, it is a defense of the fundamental interests of the masses.

On the political level, freedom, national sovereignty, real democracy for the people.

Q: What is, in general, the situation of your party?

A: Last summer, the party held a Congress (as did its youth organization) in the conditions of absolute illegality imposed by Berisha who has used all possible means of violence. Two comrades of the Central Committee were arrested for the simple possession of political materials and sentenced to three and a half years of imprisonment .The Communist Party of Albania follows the line of Comrade Enver Hoxha, for socialism, liberty and independence.

Lately the party has been greatly strengthened and is present throughout the country, especially in the south and in the big cities in general, and it is increasing its membership among the youth.

Q: What is the ideological situation of the Albanian masses?

A: It has undergone a major change. We had an optimal situation,despite some negative phenomena, in 1985 at the time of the death of Comrade Enver Hoxha.

With the transformation of the PLA (Party of Labor of Albania) into the Socialist Party, reformism has been spread, which opened the way to the "democratic" reaction of Berisha.

There were great illusions about what capitalism would bring, but after the fraudulent election of Berisha in 1992 the masses very quickly changed their minds.

Q: What role is the Socialist Party of Albania playing?

A: This party has betrayed the ideals of Socialism and Communism and the interests of our homeland.

This party is linked to big European capital and has good relations with U.S. imperialism. It also has unofficial relations with the party of Berisha (who these days is using Serbian mercenaries) and is engaged with the counter-revolution. This is becoming ever more evident to the people.

Nonetheless the Albanians love liberty and our homeland, and the immortal examples of Skanderbeg and Enver Hoxha are in our hearts and memory.

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British News


Birmingham workers fight privatisation


LOCAL authority workers in Birmingham have told companies bidding for contracts to run the city's leisure services that there will be strikes and disruption if they win the contracts.

The local branch of the public sector union, Unison, has written to the companies warning: "If you win this contract, we will be as disruptive as possible.

"That will include organising action by our members in the package that you are bidding for ... in essence, life would be a lot easier for you if you just go away."

The contracts are being offered under the government's compulsory competitive tendering legislation to run Birmingham's six leisure centres, swimming pools and an indoor tennis centre.

The contract was won by the city council's staff on value-for-money grounds.

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