The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 7th May, 1999

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 - Blair rattled.
Lead Story - Belgrade defiant!
Feature - Safety warnings ignored at dock where student died.
International - Defend Abdullah Ocalan!
British News - 53,000 factory jobs lost.


Blair rattled

BLAIR'S warmongering rant at the Romanian parliament last week was the bellicose outburst of a man who is rattled. The policy he so eagerly supports -- of trying to bomb the Yugoslav government out of existence -- did not succeed in the first days, it did not succeed after a few weeks and shows no sign of succeeding as the war goes into months.

 Instead of quick capitulation and an easy separation of Kosovo, the numbers of refugees have soared, the economic and material damage to other Balkan states has thrown up new problems and the crawling posture towards Clinton has brought nothing but the chance for all of us to fork out a fortune in war costs and postwar reconstruction bills.

 Blair seemed to be addressing his remarks to the people of Yugoslavia. He described their government as a "corrupt dictatorship" and said the need was for the country to return to "real democracy".

 However it might appear, the speech was really aimed at keeping public opinion on side at home. After all, Blair could hardly expect the people of Yugoslavia to take much notice of a leader whose warplanes are bombing them night and day, whose missiles are murdering civilians in their homes, at the workplace, on buses and trains and whose air attacks are devastating their country.

 Nor, after electing their government, would they appreciate being told they live in a dictatorship.

 In fact the people of Yugoslavia, whether they support Milosevich or not, have a common enemy in Nato since it is Nato that is blitzing their country and Nato that is supporting separatist elements who want to hive off part of their sovereign territory and hand it to another state -- Albania.

 Blair and the rest of his shoddy crew will also be unhappy at the rapidly growing peace protests and public demonstrations against the bombing.

 In addition, more and more disquiet is being expressed by former military officers and Second World War veterans who question Nato's ill-defined war aims, are concerned about the danger of the war spreading and who also hold the Yugoslav people in high regard, respecting them as valiant allies in the fight against fascism and Hitler's Nazi war machine.

 There are signs too that some members of the ruling class are unhappy. They do not think it necessary for the British government to bend its knee quite so low in its effort to curry favour with Clinton.

 Nor do they believe British capitalists will get many of the spoils when the war ends. This was a lesson learned from the Gulf War when most of the post-war reconstruction contracts for Kuwait went to US-based companies -- even capitalist self-interest is not convinced the government is acting wisely.

 The appetite for the war also seems to be lessening in America itself. The US public, still haunted by losses in their war against Vietnam, are reluctant to put their troops at risk when there is clearly no threat whatsoever to the territory of the United States.

 If the US leadership hoped the KLA would bear the brunt of the fighting they must now be disillusioned. They will remember that 30 years ago, America's initial faith in reactionary local troops in Vietnam proved disappointing.

 Should the US decide the price of victory is too high it will start to talk of compromise deals -- indeed the mutterings have already begun. It would mean Nato and the US government having to accept less than they initially claimed they could achieve. In that event Blair should watch out -- he may find himself cast as the chief hawk while Clinton washes his hands in the corner.

 From the point of view of the international working class and the progressive movements around the world, there is no time like the present to increase the pressure for peace and an end to the bombing.

 We urge everyone who can to join the demonstration in London this weekend and to build the protests throughout the country.

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Lead Story

Belgrade defiant!

by Andy Brooks

NATO TERROR bombingis being stepped up in the face of growing international demands for an end to the Balkan war. Death and destruction rains down on Yugoslavia for the seventh week as US warplanes, backed by the RAF, target power stations, radio and television centres, factories and bridges in renewed efforts to bring the Yugoslavs to their knees.

 Over a thousand Yugoslav civilians are dead. Many thousands more are injured. Russian mediation is still publicly sidelined while the leaders of British and American imperialism tour Europe to fan the flames of war. But back in Washington there are increasing doubts about the wisdom of prolonging the Nato campaign.

 Tony Blair's lightning tour of the refugee camps in Macedonia followed by a staged-managed address to the tame Romanian parliament was overshadowed by Bill Clinton's talks with Nato chiefs in Brussels and a flag-waving address to his troops at a US air-base in Germany. But behind the bluster America's ruling circles are openly talking about an "exit strategy" giving serious consideration to the Russian envoy's mediation efforts.

Nato losses

 Yugoslav military and civilian resistance shows no signs of wavering in a week in which Nato admitted the loss of two warplanes, an Apache helicopter with its crew while a French newspaper claimed that a SAS commando is "missing in action" in Kosovo. And in Kosovo the Yugoslav federal army has pushed the Nato auxiliaries of the "Kosovo Liberation Front" back to the frontier.

ground troops veto

 At least one American think tank is openly talking about "stale-mate", "grid-lock" and the need for "compromise". This was re-inforced by the US Senate on Tuesday when it denied Clinton the authority to deploy ground troops in Yugoslavia by 78 votes to 22.

 Opponents of the measure included Senate Majority leader (Republican) Trent Lott and Minority Leader Tom Daschle (Democrat) who argued that it was dangerous to approve the move as the President had not asked for it. Lott said: "This is the wrong language and it's at the wrong time."

 Republican Senator George Voinovich from Ohio said the bombing was a "major foreign policy blunder" and urged Nato to suspend the campaign.

Russian move

 Now the diplomatic focus is on Russian envoy Viktor Chernomyrdin who is trying to win Western support for a deal which he says Belgrade will accept.

 This would provide for the return of the Kosovan refugees under the supervision of a UN sponsored international force which would include Russian and European troops but not Americans, while recognising continued Yugoslav sovereignty over the Kosovo province.

 Significantly, the Kosovan Albanian civilian leader Ibrahim Rugova, who held talks with Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevich last month, flew to Rome on Wednesday with the approval of Belgrade for talks with the Italian government.

 Overshadowing all of this is the growing peace campaign in Britain, Europe and the United States. Demand an end to the war again and again until it is brought to an end. Stop Nato bombing of Yugoslavia!

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Safety warnings ignored at dock where student died

by Caroline Colebrook

THE HEALTH and Safely Executive had been warned about the widespread flouting of safety regulations al the dockyard in Shoreham, Sussex, where student Simon Jones died last year in an horrific industrial accident.

 Last week, former Euromin executives told the press they had approached the regional HSE in 1995 to warn about lack of trained staff and the flouting of safety precautions.

 Simon died within two hours of starting work at the dock after being pressured by his Job Centre to take a job from the local Personnel Selection Agency.

 The agency did not check if the job was suitable for someone with no training. And the Dutch owned company that ran the dock, Euromin, offered no training.

 Simon Jones was killed and his head partly severed while unloading cobblestones from a Polish ship. He was standing in the ship hooking bags of cobbles on to chains attached to the inside of a crane's grab.

 A member of the Polish crew, who spoke little English, was calling out guide instructions to the crane operator.

 The crane grab was lowered too far and accidentally closed over Simon Jones' head.

 Since then, local unions and progressives have mounted a campaign to bring the culprits to justice.

 But last month the Crown Prosecution Service decided for the second time not to prosecute Euromin or its general manager James Martell, for manslaughter.

 Simon Jones family and their supporters are now trying to win legal aid for a judicial review or to raise funds for a private prosecution.

 Keith Warburton, Euromin's former sales and marketing manager and Valerie Sytringer, Euromin's former shipping agent, had both approached the HSE and the Dutch patent company De Hoop because they were concerned about the lack of safety.

 The case has been used as the focus ofa campaign for improved safety at work. A recent report from the International Labour Organisation revealed that more than a million people are killed at work every year, including 12,000 children. A further 250 million suffer workplace injuries.

 The death toll from industrial injuries exceeds the combined total killed in road accidents, war violence and Aids.

 It costs four per cent of the world's gross domestic product in terms of absence from work, treatment, disability and benefits paid to survivors.

 Last Friday, 29 April, the MSF general union organised a protest march from its offices in Bermondsey to the HSE office in Southwark Bridge Road.

 On the same day members of the Construction Safety Campaign leafletted building sites as part of a day of action.

 They are calling for greater accountability in the courts for employers who disregard safety regulations.

 The TUC is also campaigning against rogue employment agencies which supply temporary workers to companies like Euromin while refusing all employer liabilities for the workers.

 The TUC has launched an awareness campaign to let these workers, now believed to be around 500,000, of their workplace rights, including the minimum wage, the working time directive, statutory sick pay and health and safety regulations.

 Both the Crown Prosecution Service and the HSE have contacted Simon Jone's family saying "there is no doubt Euromin employed an unsafe working environment".

 Yet there is to be no prosecution "for lack of evidence" of either Euromin or Personnel Selection.

 Labour MP George Galloway has taken up the case and said in the House of Commons last week: "If the CPS will not prosecute for corporate manslaughter in this case, it is difficult to believe they will do so in any case."

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Defend Abdullah Ocalan!

From the Kurdish Information Centre

THE trial of Abdullah Ocalan is due to start on 31 May. The abduction of Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) President Abdullah Ocalan on 15 February 1999 has brought the Kurdish question in general and the Kurdish people in particular to a new level of awareness.

The latest details regarding Mr Ocalan's health, released by his lawyers, have deeply worried first and foremost the Kurdish people as well as their supporters. As a result of the advanced psychological and medical torture that is being implemented, Mr Ocalan's health is suffering alarming deterioration.

 Along with these developments, the recent gains of the ultra-nationalist forces in the 18 April elections in Turkey have meant that PKK President Abdullah Ocalan's execution without a trial is being debated as a precondition for the formation of coalitions in parliament.

 The Turkish state has seen the Kosovo crisis as a fortuitous opening with which to prepare the foundation for its war of annihilation against the Kurdish people, beginning with the elimination of Mr Ocalan. Extermination policies directed against the Kurdish people always started with the assassination of their leaders.

 In this period, the revocation of the MED-TV Kurdish satellite television's broadcasting iicense by Britain demonstrates that the origin of the attacks against the Kurdish people are not limited to the Turkish state alone. MED-TV, broadcasting to Europe as well, served as the only medium through which the Kurds could communicate to the world.

 The European governments, due to narrow economic interests, have largely remained silent in the face of systematic genocidal policies of the Turkish state in Kurdistan. Consequently, the indifference of the Western governments had a role to play in creating the present conditions which have seen the rise of the ultra-nationalists who are making preparations to consolidate their power.

 Mr Ocalan is currently in a dire predicament. Any negative outcome for Mr Ocalan will also have a detrimental impact on the Kurdish question and its resolution, as Mr Ocalan represents the chief representative of the Kurdish side.

 This ensuing danger can be thwarted by the mobilisation of European international human rights organisations and institutions in favour of promoting a peaceful resolution to the Kurdish question.

Our appeals are:

  *for the European Council's Torture Prevention Committee to immediately dispatch an expert medical team to examine PKK President Abdullah Ocalan's health and document evidence of psychological and medical torture.

  *for an end to Mr Ocalan's solitary confinement.

  *for the United Nations Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe and the European Council to invoke the relevant mechanism for applying pressure to Turkey fora peaceful resolution of the Kurdish problem, and for these same organisations to make concrete initiatives along the lines recommended by Mr Ocalan for a peaceful solution to the Kurdish question.

 Please write/fax Foreign Secretary Robin Cook MP, asking to him to raise with the Turkish government the appeals made above, and insist on an adjournment of the Ocalan trial To allow the presence of international observers. Send to. Foreign Office, King Charles St, London SWI. Fax 0171 270 2144. Copies to: Kurdistan Information Centre, 10 Glasshouse Yard, Barbican, London EC1A 4JN. Fax 0171 250 1317.

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British News

53,000 factory jobs lost

FACTORY workers are being made redundant at the fastest rate for six years according to a survey published on Monday.

 Figures for the first four months of 1999 show that manufacturing industry is in a steep decline as selling prices fall faster than production costs.

 Factory bosses have sacked some 53,000 workers from January to April and plan to cut another 38,000 jobs in the next few months, according to the Confederation of British Industry.

 Spending and investment plans have been sharply curtailed to the lowest level on record.

 Cuts in interest rates last autumn -- implemented after desperate demands from industrialists -- helped to ease the situation for a few months.

 But the global decline in markets is re-asserting itself. Now the CBI is calling for further interest rate cuts to restore business confidence. These can only be a short term palliative.

 The fault lies in the unstable nature of the capitalism which cannot be wished away.

 The textile industry faces the loss of hundreds of jobs after SR Gent, which was bought two years ago by the Indonesian linked textile manufacturer Prospero Investments, decided to close three factories because of falling orders.

 Mitsubishi, the Japanese industrial group, is halting video recorder manufacturing at its plant in Livingstone, near Edinburgh, with the loss of 240 jobs.

 The company says that a European price war has made production uneconomic.

 The steel-making firm ASW Holdings, near Cardiff, is to make 220 people redundant as part of a nationwide rationalisation. It will also cut 160 jobs in Sheerness, Kent.

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