New Worker Online Archive
Week of 22nd November 1996


1. Lead - Kick the Tories out!
2. Editorial - Diving for cover. Aid not guns.
3. International - Filipinos protest APEC, globalisation and oil price rise.
4. British news - Universities one-day strike holds solid.
5. Feature- Scots to mark St Andrew's Day with anti-racist march

1. Lead story

Kick the Tories out! Government attacks the right to strike


TRADE and industry secretary Ian Lang denied last Tuesday that the government was trying
to outlaw the right to strike, But the draconian changes announced in last week's Green
Paper on industrial relations amount to a blatant attempt to smash strikes in the public sector
-- unless they are so ineffective that hardly anyone notices them.

 The proposals, which are unlikely to become law this side of the election, would allow
members of the public to seek legal damages from unions if the courts consider a strike has
"excessive or disproportionate effects".

 Mr Lang said, "As long as unions do not call strikes which cause unreasonable disruption to
the public, industrial protest will continue to be immune from the civil law". The decision as to
what is "unreasonable" would be taken by the courts.

 The government's Green Paper also demands that unions win a majority of everyone
entitled to vote before they can call a strike, instead of a majority of those who vote. In
addition unions would have to call fresh ballots every two to three months during long
disputes and the period of notice to employers of an impending strike would be extended
from seven to fourteen days.

 Barry Reamsbottom, general secretary of civil service union CPSA, told the New Worker
that these are "the most draconian proposals. They will drag us back to the days before the
Taff Vale decision at the turn of the century". The Taff Vale judgement allowed unions to be
sued for their actions.

 The Tories who have already imposed crippling legislation on the unions since 1979, want to
roll back all the advances organised workers have gained this century.

 That this is so can be seen by the obvious relevance of the words of Sidney and Beatrice
Webb in 1897: "Collective bargaining will become impossible if, whenever trade unionists are
warned not to accept employment from a particular firm for any reason whatsoever, the trade
union officials can be harassed by writs, cast in damages and driven into bankruptcy".

 On the same day as the Green Paper was published one public sector union, the lecturers'
union Natfhe was taking industrial action.

 A Natfhe spokesperson told the New Worker:"Our experience of organising for the Higher
Education strike shows there already are a number of barriers to trade union organisation.
The law sets us pitfalls at every point and we find that deeply regrettable. We are dismayed
at the attempt by the government to limit the unions' legitimate role".

 The striking lecturers were addressed al their rally in London's Westminster Central Hall by
fellow public sector union leader, general union (GMB) secretary John Edmonds.

 He said: "If the Tories really want to address the problems of industrial dispute and solve the
breakdowns in negotiations they should listen to employers and workers rather than construct
artificial ways of vying to hold back industrial action.
"This government should stop playing politics with people's jobs and start to address the real
industrial concerns of an insecure workforce trying to make ends meet".

 The Tories no doubt hope that as well as further shackling the unions their proposals will
gain them votes in the election. If this is the case they seem to have miscalculated. A
recentTUC poll showed that people are not fooled and 79 per cent said they thought the
Tories were electioneering.

 Rodney Bickerstaffe, general secretary of public service union Unison reacted sharply to the
Green Paper."The public will see through this pre-election sabre-rattling by the government",
he said. The strike-happy worker is a Tory myth.
 "People know that strikes are only called as a last resort, when workers are pushed to the
wall. They want to see effective and fair means of resolving disputes and securing justice for
people at work, not the opening of this legal minefield".

 He didn't think the Tories would gain votes by this measure saying:"The government has
misjudged the public mood. The people of this country know the balance is swinging too far
in the interests of the employer. The last thing the public want is a bad employers' charter --
which is what this Green Paper is".

 Even the bosses' organisation the Confederation of British Industry has its doubts and thinks
the proposals may not be workable.

 And the Institute of Directors was sceptical too. Ruth Lea, the IoD's head of policy said: "Our
worry is that bringing in more draconian legislation Is not the bestway to cut down
grievances"

 The idea of making unions have to gain a majority of all those entitled to vote prompted this
observation from Jimmy Knapp, rail union RMT's general secretary: "Governments,
particularly the present one, create far greater problems for the public than any trade union
has ever done.
 "If the government applied the same standards of participation to general elections as they
are proposing for industrial ballots, they would not have been elected.

 "This consultation paper is a spiteful, shoddy document from a shoddy, hypocritical
government who know they will be thrown out by the electorate at the general election".

 It is vital that this government is kicked out before this Green Paper becomes an Act of
Parliament. This is up to all of us to ensure. There is only one way to get rid of these union-
bashing Tories and that is to vote Labour and win a Labour govemment withas big a majority
as possible.

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

2. Editorial

Running for cover

VISITORS to the area or Brussels housing rne offices or the European Union's various
commissions will immediately be struck by their closeness to the offices of the big
transnational companies. Sometimes they are even in the same building.

 It's a reminder that the European Union was set up by the leading capitalists of Europe to
serve their own vested interests. Large companies who have manufacturing plants, markets
and investments in a number of countries have the most to gain from a single market with no
internal borders hampering trade and a common currency for members only.

 In all the member states the most powerful section of the ruling class wants to be part of
what will become a European state -- and it is developing into a state and not a federation.
Many other businesses are just afraid of being left outside.

 Right wing opposition comes from that section of the ruling class which either have major
investments in the United States, Asia or other non-European countries or who believe their
interests are better served by sustaining Britain as a major military power with a mythical
special relationship with the US.

 Left wing opposition comes from left Parties and organisations which recognise that the EU,
like all capitalist creations, aims to increase the rate of exploitation of the working class in
Europe and the developing world.

 The leaderships of the three major parliamentary parties will swim with the tide -- going
along with the most powerful section of the ruling class. They will eventually agree to Britain
joining the Single European Currency (SEA).

 But they also know there's a high price to be paid. And as always under capitalism the
wealthy want to push that price onto the shoulders of the rest of us.

 They don't want to meet the criteria fbr joining the single currency by paying higher taxes
themselves or accepting any reduction in private profits. But by robbing the social wage they
can make us pick up the tab. This means further attacks on universal health care, state
education, pensions, benefits, social housing and local services.

 Because they know this will hurt they are looking around for cover.

 The Tories are doing this by playing hard Co get. They are waiting for the right moment --
perhaps they think the nettle will be grasped by Labour instead.

 Labour has raised the idea of having a referendum on the Single Currency. If the "yes" vote
in a referendum wins they will then be able to say they are merely carrying out the wishes of
the people.

 A referendum is not the democratic exercise it's cracked up to be. It is a device, hardly ever
used, to shift responsibility away from politicians and to afterwards silence the opposition.

 The wealthy have the money to pay for sophisticated advertising campaigns and
propaganda. If they believed a referendum was likely to scupper their plans it wouldn't take
place at all.

 With none of the major parties fighting against the single currency the cards are already
stacked.

 A referendum is not what we want. But if that's what we get we shall maintain our stand
against Britain's entry into the single currency. We won't be alone in seeking to put the
Labour leadership under pressure on this issue, in addition to the progressive campaigning
organisations there are already around 70 Labour MPs and MEPs fighting the SEA.

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

 Aid not guns

THE human tragedy in central Africa has its roots in the decades of European colonial rule in
that continent.

 The colonialists not only carved whole regions into administrative areas of their own
choosing, creating artificial boundaries, but practised policies of divide and rule to strengthen
their grip on power.

 In Rwanda the former Belgian colonial rulers brutally plundered the country's natural wealth
and provoked and encouraged division between the Tutsi and Hutu people.

 The legacy of that colonisation is the fighting, poverty and suffering we see today.

 Humanitarian aid for the refugees and war victims of that region must be forthcoming. But
arms and armies of intervention are neither needed nor wanted.

 Many of the Rwandan refugees are now able to retum home. Their most urgent need is for
food, medicines, money and shelter. The Rwandan government has said it does not want an
international military task force. Its view should be respected.

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

3. International story

Filipinos protest APEC, globalisation and oil price rise

by Steve Lawton

MANILA's squatter shacks have been bulldozed, the streets have been white-washed and
painted, and the area newly floodlit -- ready to present a gleaming view for summiters at the
20-25 November session of the 18-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum
(APEC).

 But while the organisers were preparing to create a pristine pathway for delegates to the
forum, anti-APEC forces had also been galvanising for action involving demonstrations,
marches, caravan processions and strikes.

 Manila's authorities, according to the Anti-Demolition Coalition representing squatters, had
"cleansed" the city by making around 10,000 of the three million population homeless
virtually overnight. And Tramo Bridge, which is crowded with shacks has already been
screened off with high white-washed plywood fences. Schools are to be closed for three days
during the summit in Manila.

 Official assurancesf rom President Ramos last week that: "The policy which l have
announced is maximum tolerance to Filipinos and Filipino groups", were not borne out. A
march involving nuns, priests, students, workers and peasants against APEC organised by
the militant Bagong Aylansang Makabayan (Bayan) last Thursday led to at least 50
Protesters being injured.

 As the march proceeded to Subic Free Port (now an open base for industrial development),
they were stopped at Subic gate by police, fire engines and what they thought were
Olongapo residents.

 Dialogue between police and Bayan secretary-general Sonia Soto failed and soon clashes
occurred as 'residents" began attacking protesters. It now transpires, according to Bayan, that
the "residents" were bused-in provocateurs, plain clothes police and "aides" of the Subic Bay
Metropolitan Authority chief Richard Gordon.

 And despite threats, Marie Enriquez, general secretary of Karapatan, said the People's
Caravan to Subic planned for 24 and 25 November remains on track This includes two other
Left organisations and will involve thousands of cars. "We want the public to know that
violence and trouble wiIl not come from us", Marie said."All we want is to assemble
peacefully and air our grievances against Apec."

 Marie said the Subic demonstration remained disciplined, the marchers didn't retaliate
despite the attacks and injuries. The 24-25 November march, she said, "will only be armed
with our ideas."

 As we go to press, the 5,000 strong Panay Labor Alliance (Pala) -- without the obligatory
notice to the government's Department of Labor -- is to stage a rally on 21 November,
followed by protest actions on the 23rd and on the last day of the summit.

 Bayan said it intends to organise what it calls "reality tours" for solidarity groups from
abroad, to expose the grim existence of thousands behind all the glitter. And the League of
Filipino Students began organising campus actions. An umbrella group of workers, consumer
associations and others are also taking action.

 City transport union leaders have been meeting to discuss strike action on the scale of the
crippling 28 October strike which effectively shut down city business operations. The Noilo
City Drivers Association was set for protests on 24 and 25 November against the forthcoming
oil price rise.

 A statement released by the anti-imperialist World Peasant Summit said:"As imperialism
wantonly penetrates national boundaries to bleed profit from its people and land, the
exploited and oppressed are also brought together to face a common enemy and share
common aspirations and struggles."

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

4. British news

Universities' one-day strike solid

by Daphne Liddle

UNIVERSITIES throughout Britain ground to a resounding hall last Tuesday as eight unions
combined to bring out all workers, from Iecturers to porters, in a dispute over pay.

 Picket lines were out early throughout the country in spite of appalling weather as the
workers united to reject a pay offer of just 1.5 per cent for teaching staff and and 2.5 for
manual staff.

 Six universities have hinted they will negotiate or impose a slightly better deal but others are
saying they cannot even afford the national offer from the University and Colleges
Employers' Association.

 London Guildhall has said it must impose a pay freeze because of it's financial difficulties.

 Universities have been getting more money from the government, but nowhere near enough
to cope with the huge increase in the number of students there has been.

 Over the last ten years, university staff have created the equivalent of 50 new universities.

For this, they have been offered a rise which is in effect a pay cut when inflation is taken into
account. This comes after 15 years of pay cuts.

 Since 1982 the pay of university teaching staff has fallen by around 0.2 per cent

 Tom Hickey from Brighten University is a members of the lecturers' union Natfhe. While
preparing for the one-day strike he said: "We aim to close the universities down. We will
have a picket line at all the entrances.

 "This is not just about the pay offer but about government underfunding of higher education,
which affects us and the students."

 Certainly the strike seems to have had the full support of the students. At Brighton, the
National Union of Students (NUS) voted 94 per cent in favour of the action.

 Workers in the eight unions at that university voted for the strike as follows: AEEU
(engineering and electrical) 73 percent; AUCL (teaching staff) 52 per cent; AUT (also
teaching staff) 68 per cent; GMB (manual staff) 52 per cent; MSF (general non-teaching
staff) 70 per cent; Natfhe (teachers) 66 percent TGWU(general) 76 per cent and Unison
(general) 51 percent
Some of the unions are concidering further action. David Hitchen of the Association of
University Teachers at Sussex University said: "beyond the Day of Action, we may protest in
other ways such as refusing to mark exam papers."

 The unions are demanding a pay review body be set up through which to negotiate.
 AUT general secretary David Tricsman said: "Members are so angry they are fired up for a
fight Only a much improved offer and a pay review body will settle this now.

 Professor Warren Chemaik of the University of London is a member of the AUT. He said
last Tuesday: "When I began teaching at the University of London, the British University
system, like the National Health Service, was the best in the world.

 "In the 1980s and 90s the deterioration has been appalling, brought on by successive
savage cuts in staffing costs accompanied by massive, inadequately funded increases in
student numbers.

 "Today's one-day strike, supported by the National Union of Students, is a direct response to
the conditions we have been forced to endure: overcrowded classrooms and libraries in
crumbling buildings; constant threats of redundancy directed at a staff whose morale is
already low; the enforced closure of medical schools which have been at the forefront of
scientific research.. ." and he continued to list many more grievances.

 Wendy Williams is a caterer at the University of Glamorgan. Many of the women she works
with are on just 3.80 an hour.

 She reports that staff who leave are not being replaced because the numbers of students
eating in college is declining because they are too hard up to eat."Some students have only
one meal a day and they go for basics which are cheap."

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

5. Feature

Scots to mark St Andrew's Day with anti-racist march

THIS YEAR St Andrew's day will mark a very special occasion for the Scots-- the historic
return to their country of the Stone of Destiny.

 But progressive Scots are determined to send a firm rebuttal to those who are trying to use
Scotland's national day to promote racism and fascism -- in particular to the neo-Nazi British
National Party, which tried in 1989 to claim that day for their own.

 Since then, Glasgow has witnessed an annual anti-racistmarch on that day. This year the
marchers will carry a banner proclaiming: "An injury to one is an injury to all".

 They will be protesting at the existence of racist violence in Scotland and marching in
solidarity with black Scots.

 Across Scotland the number of officially recorded racist incidents now runs into thousands.
 Bill Spiers, deputy general secretary of the Scottish TUC, recently wrote in the Scottish
edition of the Big Issue: "The return of the Stone is to be welcomed. Its retention in London
was an ever-present symbol of our country's inferior status in a supposedly equal union.

 "Returning, however, it will inevitably become less a symbol of our identity, and more a
symbol of monarchy with all the anti-democratic baggage that accompanies feudal relies.

"The nature of its return tells us something of where Scotland stands today. The decisions
about when, how and where it should go have all been taken by authorities not accountable
to the people of Scotland.

 "We have no say on what should happen to this symbol of our nation.

 "The Glasgow march will be supported by organisations of the people, without the sanction
of those on high.

 "The driving forces -- the STUC, the National Union of Students in Scotland, the Scottish
Asian Action Committee, the churches, opposition political parties -- are the same
organsations who staged the massive "Scotland Demands Democracy" demonstration and
Edinburgh's l992 European Summit.

 "And that is no accident. The battle to make every Scot an equal Scot is part of the country's
battle for rear democracy."

 The St Andrew's day anti-racist march will leave Blythswood Square, Glasgow at 11 am on
Saturday 30 November.


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