The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 23rd March 2001

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Editorial - Comdemn Bush.
Lead Story - Sharon feted while Palestine burns.
Feature - Concession offer to teachers.
International - Macedonia gives rebels ultimatum.
British News - Water firms blamed after EU pollution poll.


Comdemn Bush

PRESIDENT George W Bush has only occupied the White House for a few months, but in that time his administration has stepped up US imperialism's aggressive and threatening stance abroad while gearing up to tighten the squeeze on working class Americans at home.

 His outrageous vilification of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), coupled with the deployment of yet more US military hardware and fighter planes to south Korea is a direct attempt to destroy the Korean peace process, threaten the socialist DPRK and provide a cover for US war aims throughout the world.

 Bush dishonestly asserts that the US is taking a "hard line" stance because, "the DPRK's stand towards the implementation of the DPRK-US Agreed Framework is not transparent and the real intention of the DPRK is not clear".

 If ever there was a case of the truth being stood on its head this is it. It is the United States which has dragged its feet and created unnecessary obstacles to the implementation of the Agreed Framework. This includes US contrived delays to the construction of light water reactors -- a key part of the agreement -- delays wwhich are very harmful to the DPRK economy.

 It is the United States whose intentions are "not transparent" since it is reinforcing its armed forces in south Korea and has increased its war exercises on the Korean peninsular -- a calculated attempt to scupper the peace process and put the DPRK under pressure.

 The DPRK, on the other hand, has made great efforts to advance the cause of peace and reunification. The historic North-South Summit held in Pyongyang last June has given new impetus to the struggle for the peaceful reunification of Korea. This progressive achievement is now being threatened by the Bush government's hostile posture.

 The US is also defining the DPRK as a "dangerous state". This terminology really gives the game away since the US is desperate to find some suitable "enemies" that it can wave before it's own people and its allies as potentially dangerous to the United States and the West.

 It needs to do this in order to justify its son of star wars programme (the National Missile Defence system). And one of the main reasons for pressing ahead with NMD is to smash the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and free US imperialism from any restraint in advancing its nuclear domination of the world.

 In this respect successive US administrations have been reluctant to talk about the non-Nato countries which have known nuclear capabilities such as China and Russia -- the countries that, though they have threatened no-one, are most likely to be programmed into US missile targeting systems. No doubt the imperialist ruling class wants to conceal what a highly "dangerous state" the US is and how alarming its plans for global domination are.

 The US attack on the DPRK has ironically come at a time when relations between the DPRK and Britain and other European countries are warming and diplomatic links are being built. These developments are very welcome and strengthen the cause of peace. Any attempts by the US to set these advances back should be strongly resisted just as Bush's attempts to Prevent the peaceful reunification of Korea should be vigorously opposed.

 It is clear that the policy coming out of Washington is against the interests of the Korean people, north and south, it is a threat to peace in Asia and it could lead to an increasing nuclear danger for the whole world.

 Now is the time to stand up and condemn Bush, to oppose this threat to peace and to stand in solidarity with the DPRK.

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Lead Story

Sharon feted while Palestine burns

by Our Middle East Affairs Correspondent

ISRAELI PREMIER Ariel Sharon was welcomed with open arms in Washington this week while Palestinian protesters continued to battle against the might of the Israeli army in the occupied territories.

 New American President George Bush went out of his way to puff up his Israeli stooge and General Sharon used the trip to get the blessing of the White House for his crimes including the declaration, made while he was in Washington, sanctioning the building of a further 3,000 more homes for Zionist settlers on stolen Arab land in Jerusalem.

 While Sharon was being wined and dined in the White House by Bush Israeli terror continued unabated throughout Arab Palestine.

 On Monday Palestinian MP Hanan Ashrawi was injured when Israeli troops opened up with rubber bullets and stun grenades against a peaceful women's march in protest at the Israeli siege.

 The march, organised by the General Union of Palestinian Women, passed through an Israeli army check-point, as a symbolic gesture ofprotest against the Zionist blockade of Palestinian villages, towns and cities. But soon after the Israelis moved to violently disperse the protest.

 Hanan Ashrawi was injured in the leg and received first aid from a bodyguard. Three others including two reporters were also wounded in the attack.

 They got offlightly - a similar protest earlier in the month ended with the murder of Abdel Qader Hamdan, shot dead by Israeli troops when they fired into the crowd.

 Four Palestinian children were wounded on Monday when Israeli soldiers fired on them in the Gaza Strip. The children, aged 12-14 and including one girl, were returning from school. There were no clashes going on at the time of the shootings. Last Friday a 10 year-old Arab boy was found beaten to death near the Zionist settlement of Navi Yaccoub. He was last seen alive playing football at a playground near the settlers' camp. His family have no doubt he was stoned to death by the Zionist thugs.

 "I don't have the slightest doubt that they did it. Who else would commit such a gruesome crime?" said the boy's uncle, Amin Nasser.

 But not everything goes the way of the Zionists, as the Israeli army and the settler gunmen are finding out.

 On Monday two Israeli soldiers were injured when their vehicle came under fire from Palestinian guerrillas near a Zionist settlement in the Jordan Valley.

 Earlier in the day a Zionist settler was shot dead when his car was ambushed near Bethlehem. A Palestinian unit called "Guevara Gaza" said it was responsible for the attack. "Guevera Gaza" has been active in recent weeks in the fighting in the Gaza Strip. The unit is named after the original "Guevera Gaza", a Palestinian commando leader from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who was killed in action in 1971.

 Now Arab eyes are focusing on the Arab League summit which meets in the Jordanian capital of Amman at the end of the month. Palestine will top the agenda, closely followed by the growing demand for the end to sanctions against Iraq.

 The Palestinians, along with the progressive Arab states, will be moving for concrete united Arab action to help the Palestinian uprising. That's the demand on the Arab street and it's the only demand which can wipe the smile from both Sharon and Bush's faces.

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Concession offer to teachers

by Caroline Colebrook

AS TEACHERS in more and more regions vote to join the industrial action against staff shortages, the National Employers' Organisation for School Teachers (NEOST) last week held out a small olive branch which the two major teaching unions have agreed could he a basis for ncgotiation.

 Teachers in Manchester, Reading and Kent voted to join the action that is already supported in London, Doncaster, Leicester, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Portsmouth and Southampton.

 And the Holywells High School in Ipswich is already having to send pupils home on a rota basis because of lack of staff.

 The teachers' action is taking the form of refusing to cover for long-term absences and vacancies when ordered.

 Teachers have a basic 1,265 hours a year though there is no limit to the extra hours they can be asked to do. This reduces the time they have available for lesson preparation and marking.

 Furthermore teachers are angry that the shortages are hitting certain subjects more than others, especially languages and sciences.

 This means teachers are often required to cover in subjects that are not their speciality and this is unfair to the pupils.

 NEOST has suggested paying teachers extra for covering vacancies that last longer than three days -- up to £20 an hour. This would still be less than the £l60 to £170 a day paid to employment agencies for supply teachers.

 Talks on terms and conditions would examine the Scottish model where teachers are moving towards a maximum 35-hour week with no more than 22.5 in the classroom but balanced by a loss of holiday.

 Graham Lane, who chairs NEOST, said that maximum class sizes, limits on workload and minimum time outside the classroom could be included in the negotiations.

 "It is about time we got down to modernising teachers' conditions of service," he said. "This dispute isn't really about teacher vacancies, it is about workload. "We believe we could sit down with the unions and sort out an agreement after the election, if the unions agree to suspend the action."

 Both the National Union of Teachers and the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers responded positively to this.

 NUT general secretary Doug McAvoy said he welcomed this approach from NEOST while Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "This is a positive development and one which we are taking seriously.

 "It will be put to the national officers and, if they agree, we will talk to the NUT. The decision would have to be taken jointly but if both unions accepted the offer there is no reason why industrial action could not be suspended within days."

 Meanwhile the Government has been blowing hot and cold, making threats to cut the wages of those taking part in the industrial action on one hand while making some concessions on an independent assessment of teachers' workload on the other.

 Nigel de Gruchy reported that officials from the Department of Education and Employment has been phoning head teachers and local education authorities, telling them to cut the pay of those teachers who refuse to cover vacancies.

 He said: "I've never known such a brazen-faced and cowardly attempt to browbeat employers -- even the Tory Party never resorted to such tactics."

 Meanwhile another Government official was holding out a carrot, saying: "If no action was taking place, we would be prepared to respond positively to the School Teachers' Review Body's recommendation that there should be an independent evaluation of teachers' workload, in a way which properly recognised the primary role of head teachers and the governors managing schools."

 The conference called on the Government to deny Government contracts to firms which still do not pay men and women equally.

 The Conference also backed several motions calling for improvements in the rights of working parents, low-paid staff and part-timers.

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Macedonia gives rebels ultimatum

MACEDONIA has given rebel Albanian gangs 24 hours to withdraw from the hills around Tetovo before it launches a major offensive to try and break the siege of the city.

  The gunmen, believed to be a wing of the "Kosovo Liberation Army" have been trying to foment a rebellion amongst the sizable Albanian minority in the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia. They enjoy the support of the Albanian leadership, which runs Kosovo under Nato protection, and the covert support of reactionary politicians in Albania itself.

  Last week Macedonian army and police units attempted to drive the gunmen out of the environs of Tetovo while the government appealed for international support to end the crisis.

  In Moscow the Russian government laid the blame on the West for the new upsurge of violence in the Balkans.

 "Passive reaction by the West to the spread of the Kosovo conflict to the Albanian populated regions [of Macedonia]... only helps the separatists go unpunished and be more radical in their actions," Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said during a break from talks with the Macedonian leadership in their capital, Skopje.

 The Russian minister said air bombardment or a massive military presence was no answer to the problem. It was up to the Balkan states themselves to agree on the principle that borders could not be changes and that territorial integrity would be respected. They should also agree to outlaw the use of their soil for terrorist activity against their neighbours.

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British News

Water firms blamed after EU pollution poll

BRITISH towns and seaside resorts were slammed last week in a report by the European Commission for continuing to pump raw sewage into the seas around our coast.

 The report named and shamed 37 towns and cities in Europe which have no provision to treat waste water. Eleven of those are in Britain, making this country the worst polluter in Europe.

 Towns include popular resorts like Brighten, Hastings and Torbay. The other named towns are Dundee, Middlesbrough, Hull, Portsmouth, Port Talbot, Bebington and Sunderland.

 Britain also tops the list for towns that, although they do have waste water treatment plants are still failing to do a good enough job.

 Towns listed in this category include Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Basildon and Canvey Island.

 If the Government does not act quickly to remedy the situation, it will be taken to the European Court of Justice and fined.

 Local authorities and water companies responded by claiming that the data used in the report is out of date.

 Northumbria Water said: "In the time it has taken for Europe to write this report, we have spent £300 million and not only built two treatment plants. [for Sunderland and Middlesbrough] but also built four plants in Northumberland, two in Tyne and Wear, two in Durham and three in Cleveland."

 The European Commission officials admitted their report presented a snapshot of the situation at the end of 1998 but said that little had changed since. "If they have done a lot in the last two years," said one official, "they should have told us."

 Other water firms claim they are in the process of solving the problems.

 But in 1991 Britain was one of the signatories to the EU's urban waste water directive which said that by the end of 1998 all towns with more than 10,000 inhabitants must have a "stringent sewage collection system".

 The private water companies have failed to comply with that deadline but it is the British taxpayers who will have to foot the bill for any Euro fines -- apart from having to endure unhealthy water around our coasts.

 The Government cannot control the system unless it brings water back into public ownership. Now, in the run-up to the next election, is the time for all to raise this matter with our MPs and prospective candidates.

 * The water companies last week warned that global warming is likely to mean they will have to charge us more for our water supplies.

 Pamela Taylor, chief executive of Water UK, which represents the water companies, said the industry regulator Ofwat was wrong not to take this into account when imposing caps on charges.

 She said it could take up to 25 years to construct the extra reservoirs that will be needed to cope with long hot summers and with flooding and other extreme weather conditions in winter.

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