The New Worker
The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 7th November 2003
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by Elizabeth Farrell
SIXTEEN US soldiers were killed last week and 21
injured, when a Chinook transport helicopter was shot down – the third one
since the war was declared “over” on 1 May.
It was the worst day for the US military since March. Local residents were
celebrating. “Tonight we will have a double feast”, said one. “The first feast
will be when we break our fast for Ramadan. The second will be in praise of
those who struck down our American enemies.”
Armed attacks against US soldiers in Iraq are escalating and getting more
organised every day. Twenty-three were killed in the first four days of the
And the Bush administration last week acknowledged for the first time the
role of Saddam Hussein in the organised resistance. George W Bush said on
Tuesday that he was “sure he’s trying to stir up trouble”, vowing that US
troops will “get him”.
And on Monday Bush insisted that the United States would not run from its
“vital mission in Iraq”.
“The enemy in Iraq believes that America will run”, he said in a speech
to Alabama businessmen. “That’s why they’re willing to kill innocent civilians,
relief workers, coalition troops. America will never run.”
Bush went on to say that Baath Party members, Saddam supporters and others
were trying to create havoc and conditions that would force Anglo-American
imperialism to leave the country. “I can’t tell you what he’s doing”, Bush
said. “All I can tell you is that he’s not running Iraq. And all I can tell
you, as well, there’s a lot of – some people who are upset by the fact that
he’s no longer in power.”
But apart from the Shinook incident, eyewitnesses also report that a car
bomb exploded in the al-Saydiah district of the capital, hours after another
US soldiers was killed and a second wounded when there was an explosion next
to them. Also, a soldier was killed on Monday in the northern town of Tikrit,
in an attack with a home made bomb. Another was wounded.
On Monday three mortars landed in the centre of Baghdad, while on Tuesday
huge explosions rocked the capital, with smoke rising from the US compound,
a former presidential palace. Two mortars hit the supposedly heavily secured
“green zone” surrounding the compound, the Pentagon admitted, wounding four
people. An Iraqi guard at the complex commented: “There were a lot of soldiers
running around, there was a lot of panic.”
US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld brushed off the accounts of celebrating
Iraqis, saying: “We know that the overwhelming majority of the population
of Iraq is in favour of the coalition.” And US civil administrator in Iraq
Paul Bremer blamed foreign Islamic extremists for the increase in attacks.
He insisted that the anti-American attacks were concentrated in the so-called
“sunni-triangle” in the north of Iraq, in the past a stronghold of Saddam’s
supporters. “It’s getting worse in the sense that as today we’ve seen, there
the enemies of freedom are using more sophisticated techniques to attack our
forces,” he said. Bremer demanded that Syria and Iran must “do a much better
job of helping us seal that border and keeping terrorists out of Iraq.”
The attacks are clear evidence that the situation is worsening for Anglo-US
imperialism every day – and that they cannot cope with the increasing resistance.
The escalation of attacks is believed to be linked to the recent distribution
of Baath Party leaflets, declaring 1 November as a “resistance day” and revealing
more attacks over the next three days. The leaflets called in the Iraqi people,
mainly workers and students, to go on strikes and stay at home to avoid injuries.
The Post Office dispute
THE UNNOFFICIAL postal strike that was spreading outwards
from London last weekend seems settled for now, with Royal Mail staff back
at work clearing the backlog.
But the dispute is far from over. The Communication Workers’ Union
has persuaded them to go back, pending negotiations at the Advisory, Conciliation
and Arbitration Service (Acas). That agreement to go back was hard won, under
the worst conditions, with the Royal Mail threatening to sue the union if
the talks failed. The management has engineered this whole dispute in an effort
to break the union.
Powerful parts of the ruling class in Britain have long wanted the
Royal Mail privatised. Adam Crozier was brought in as chief executive to prepare
the way with massive cost cutting and job cutting.
He came from being head of the Football Association where he won himself
a reputation for making drastic changes in a badly managed way that caused
a lot of ill feeling and lost the FA the respect of many players and managers.
Since he arrived at the Royal Mail, thousands of jobs have already
gone; he wants to cut lots more. But most of all he wants to break the union
and drive down wages and conditions for postal workers even lower than they
His strategy has been to create division by pitting one office against
another with divisive performance bonuses and by continual arbitrary changes
in working arrangements and conditions. He saw his chance recently when the
CWU narrowly lost a ballot for a national strike for better pay. He saw this
as a weakness and seized on it.
At the same time, the London region workers took their perfectly legal
strike action last month in support of improved London weighting. But as soon
as they returned, Royal Mail managers, in a concerted campaign, began harassing
union activists, changing their shifts, terms and conditions overnight.
It was a deliberate provocation to engineer unofficial walkouts. The
CWU, while sympathising with those workers who did walk out, advised against
it. To do otherwise would be to walk into Crozier’s trap and allow him to
sue the union to bankruptcy.
Crozier was determined to catch the union out if he could. He wrote
to all managers instructing them to spy on workers, eavesdrop on conversations,
follow them into pubs, videotape them. He wanted to catch union officers backing
the unofficial strikes that were spreading from office to office throughout
southern England like wildfire.
His McCarthyite tactics have enraged not only postal workers but also
every trade unionist in Britain. He has threatened the workers that the very
existence of the Royal Mail is at stake, that letter post will be replaced
by e-mails or that it will be opened to private competition. This would allow
commercial firms to cherry pick the most lucrative business services leaving
the Royal Mail to provide only the most expensive rural and domestic services.
These services would deteriorate and become more expensive.
But last week’s walkouts showed above all just how much business in
London is more dependent than ever on the postal service, in spite of electronic
Crozier is not going to give up easily. He will continue his campaign
of provocation, division and humiliation against the union. There is more
bitterness and anger to come. But his secret police tactics would be useless
without the Thatcherite anti-union laws that make it illegal for union officers
to support unofficial walkouts – however bad the provocation. The whole trade
union movement needs to step up its campaign for the repeal of these iniquitous
Crozier’s union-busting tactics must be stopped.
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