The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 7th September 2001

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Editorial - Bigotry steps in.
Lead Story - Deluge of job cuts as crisis deepens.
Feature - PFI poor value, economists warn Wales.
International - US condemned for quiting anti-racism conference.
British News - "Teaching becoming unsustainable" - NUT.
More news and Diary


Bigotry steps in

THE disgraceful scenes along North Belfast's Ardoyne Rd, where little girls going to their local Catholic school have been subjected to sectarian abuse and terrifying intimidation, shows the desperate need for the Irish peace process to regain its impetus and for the Good Friday Agreement to be put back on course.

 The fact is that the responsibility for these appalling events does not just lie with those yelling sectarian insults on the streets of Belfast.

 Loyalist politicians like Ian Paisley and the Democratic Unionist Party, who have all along opposed the Good Friday Agreement and supposed moderates like David Trimble and the Ulster Unionists, who have succumbed to pressure from the anti-Agreement lobby, are just as guilty.

 They are responsible because the deteriorating climate created by the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the stalling of the peace process has given fresh encouragement to the most bigoted loyalist elements and to loyalist armed gangs.

 Above all the responsibility must lie with the British ruling class which continues to use Unionists as front line troops in Britain's struggle to hold on to colonial power.

 It is ridiculous to think that a handful of north of Ireland MPs and party leaders are more powerful than the imperialist occupying force in the north of Ireland -- especially since Unionists are so named because they want to maintain the "union" with the British state.

 Yet the British government pretends to be powerless and has failed to vigorously defend the terms of the Good Friday Agreement (which, contrary to unionist claims, does not make the decommissioning of weapons a pre-requisite for the peace process to go forward). And it has failed to put its weight behind the modest proposals of the Patten Report into policing in the north of Ireland, giving hard-line unionists a signal that nothing is really going to change.

 Its failures are of course quite deliberate and reflect the reluctance of the British ruling class to bring the long policy of divide and rule, of inequality and injustice to an end.

 Despite the recent violence, the vast majority of people in the north of Ireland, both Catholic and Protestant, want to live in peaceful communities and to see an end to both sectarian and state violence. The peace process is the way forward for everyone. Without it the clock will go back and another generation will grow up in a world of fear and plastic bullets.

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Lead Story

Deluge of job cuts as crisis deepens

by Daphne Liddle

THE LAST TWO weeks have seen tens of thousands of jobs cut worldwide as the economic downturn stretches across the globe and inevitably many of those cuts will be in Britain.

 As ever, it is manufacturing, which depends on exports, which is hit first. The monthly survey by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply reports a plummeting level of industrial activity. Factories are cutting back on production as order books dry up.

 The domestic market in consumer goods has held up until now but with reports that personal debt in Britain has reached record levels and with swingeing job cuts on the way, consumer purse strings are begining to tighten.

 The fall in exports has led to a record trade deficit of £3.2 billion which well out-weighed a £900 million surplus for the service sector. And there is growing evidence that the service sector is also feeling the pinch.

 Capitalist pundits who have predicted that Britain is likely to escape a full recession through booming consumer spending and the service sector are becoming muted.

 Low interest rates have kept house prices rising and with it related consumer spending. But this is now tailing off and everyone is waiting for the housing market to crash as it must soon.

 Globally it is the new high tech industries that are being savaged. Japan's giant Fujitsu recently decided to axe 16,400 jobs worldwide, which will affect its British subsidiary ICL.

  ICL has already shifted its main activities from manufacturing to services. It has offices in London, Slough, Bracknell, Manchester and Edinburgh. Altogether around 900 jobs in Britain could go.

 Hitachi is cutting 14,700 jobs worldwide, 4.5 per cent of its total workforce, in an effort to cut losses and Toshiba is likely to cut a similar number.

  Another Japanese company NEC is cutting 4,000 jobs globally, 500 of which are in Scotland. Matsushita has registered its first loss and is likely to announce cutbacks soon.

  Baltimore Technologies, based in Dublin, announced another 200 redundancies in addition to the 250 announced in March after seeing its share price slide by more than 90 per cent.

 The American computer giant AOL is cutting 1,000 jobs from its internet division, about six per cent of its workforce in that sector.

  The French telecom firm Equant is to reduce its 13,000 workforce by 3,000 while Finland's Sonera is to cut 1,000.

 Viasystems at Tyneside is to cut around 850 jobs -- more than half its workforce, because of the fall in demand for electronic products.

 Last Monday two struggling US computer giants Hewlett and Compaq announced a $21 billion (£14.3 billion) merger which will inevitably lead to at least 15,000 job cuts -- about 10 per cent of the combined 149,000 workforce.

Then the ailing high-tech telecoms giant Marconi announced another 2,000 redundancies, 600 of which will be in Britain. One of those job cuts will be the company's chief executive Lord Simpson, though no doubt his redundancy settlement will be like a pools win compared to those of humbler workers.

 The company is now facing an overall loss of £5 billion, the largest in British history.

 Other sectors of the economy are also being hit.

  British Airways last Tuesday announced another 5,000 or more job cuts from its 58,000 workforce. It hopes to achieve is through voluntary redundancy and natural wastage.

  But with pension schemes now being undermined by falling share prices, not so many will be willing to take early retirement.

 The energy group Innogy is to cut four call centres and combine them into one to try to cut £35 million costs over the next 18 months. This will affect 1,100 jobs.

  The Bradford and Bingley bank, formerly a building society, plans to cut 500 jobs -- in addition to 300 already announced and at the same time give shareholders a one off dividend payment of £150.

  And Railtrack is planning to move headquarters from Euston in London to cut costs. This will also cost jobs though the numbers have not yet been disclosed.

  Ford, the world's second largest motor manufacturing company, is to cut 5,000 jobs worldwide after its shares fell nearly 10 per cent.

 All this is simply capitalism following its inevitable path. It will hit the world's workers hardest as they are sacked and impoverished to save the bosses' bacon.

  Companies in desperation will scout about for anything they can make a profit from which currently means plundering the public sector and as usual putting the squeeze on the Third World through interest on loans.

  It endangers world peace as capitalist rivalries intensify and it requires creeping fascism to enforce its increasingly unpopular policies.

  It is a system that must go. The only answer is socialism.

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PFI poor value, economists warn Wales

by Caroline Colebrook

TWO major health economists last week warned the Welsh Assembly not to follow England's lead and press ahead with the private sector involvement in health services because it would result in millions of pounds being wasted on red tape.

  David Cohen, professor of health economics at the University of Glamorgan and Siobhan McClelland, health economist at the University of Wales, both warned that adopting Private Finance Initiative schemes would be expensive and lead to fewer nurses and hospital beds.

  They quote a recent survey conducted by the Welsh Institute of Health and Social Care which concluded that there is little evidence that the costs of PFI schemes are lower than that of using public funding.

  And they called on the assembly to "vigorously test" all financial calculations concerning PFI for value for money.

  They wrote: "There can be no real justification at present to extend the role of the private sector and indeed questions should now be asked about the continuing role of PFI.

 "it is entirely within the powers of the Assembly to state that it does not wish to extend the role of the private sector into the management of clinical servIces.

  So far Wales has not adopted PFI to the same extent that England has and no major District hospitals are funded in this way.

  But the Baglan hospital development is proceeding and a number of smaller schemes have been completed.

  Under PFI schemes, hospitals are built or renovated using private money. The hospital is them owned by the private sector and rented to the NHS.

  Siobhan McClelland and David Cohen are warning that greater consideration must be given to the profit motives of the private companies involved and the effect this will have on health care services.

  They point out that all PFI hospitals so far have provided fewer beds than those they replaced and call on the Welsh Assembly not to "tie its colours to the Westminster mast".

  But the response they got from Kevin Sullivan, the public and policy affairs manager at the Welsh NHS Confederation, was disappointing.

 He said: "We recognise that he debate over the value for money of PFI schemes is important. It is possible we won't get all the answers until PFI contracts have run their courses.

 "The view expressed by the Assembly is that we cannot put much-needed investment on hold while we wait for definitive proof on the question of value for money.

  PFI contracts will take between 20 to 30 years to run their courses, by which time the taxpayers may have been robbed of millions and the NHS left in a state of total collapse.

  Meanwhile, public hostility to PFI projects is growing. A recent MORI poll conducted for The Times found that nearly half the electorate believe that health and education should be funded entirely by the public sector.

 Two thirds believe that these essential services should be provided completely or mostly by the public sector.

 But the Labour government seems determined to go ahead. The Department of Education is about to unveil a White Paper later this week which will, ostensibly, give greater powers to head teachers to turn "failing" schools into profit making companies.

  It will also remove legal obstacles from other schools and local education authorities from buying more services from private companies.

  In effect this is giving freedom to private companies to make profits from our education system. Profits can only be made by taking more money from taxpayers or from cutting costs. This means cutting staff and resources.

 It means changing the whole purpose of schools from educating children to making profits for private companies.

 TUC general secretary John Monks warned the Government this path would lead to "an extremely strong reaction" from workers.

 The MORI poll does indicate that the public is aware of the dangers of the private sector taking over the public sector.

  The Government is now in blatant defiance of what people want and is discarding all pretence of democracy. It is obeying the will of the giant capitalist corporations who are desperate to make more profits out of anything and everything.

  The unions are at last giving some lead in the baffle to defend the public sector. This stand must be consolidated and the masses of workers mobilised behind it, in the confidence that they can and will win.

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US condemned for quiting anti-racism conference

by Steve Lawton

THE UNITED STATES and Israel pulled out of the United Nations World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) in Durban, South Africa, last Monday, amid growing Arab anger and condemnation ofthe Zionist state's continuing brutal undeclared war against Palestinians.

 In the strongest language yet to emerge at a major international UN organised event in recent years, Israel was accused of being "an apartheid regime", of committing "ethnic cleansing" and "acts of genocide" against Palestinians.

 The anger was reflected in anti-Israeli and anti-US demonstrations which have persisted in Durban throughout the conference. Tens of thousands marched and demonstrated during the conference, with many delegates participating. Banners proclaimed African-Arab concerns: 'Stop killing our children', 'Landlessness = racism', 'Racism: Right of Return to Jews; No Right of Return to Palestinians.'

 This pressure had also built up through the Non-Governmental Organisations' Forum and youth summit stages of the conference which adopted strong anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian positions.

 And when it came to the vote of around 4,000 NGOs on a resolution condemning Israel, the majority supported, except the Jewish organisations which promptly walked out amid a wave of "freedom for Palestine" chants.

 At the start of conference on August 31 -- which ends today, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat attacked Israel as a racist colonial power displaying a "supremacist mentality, a mentality ofracial discrimination" He accused Israel again of using depleted uranium-tipped bullets against Palestinians.

 US Secretary of State Colin Powell said last Monday that the decision to withdraw was a reaction to declarations of "hateful language, some of which is a throwback to the days of'Zionism equals racism'", and to "the idea that we have made too much of the Holocaust or suggests that apartheid exists in Israel."

 But Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, while condemning the Holocaust and anti-semitism -- which Israel wants the final declaration of the conference to be limited to -- said: "It is absurd to talk about things which occurred more than 50 years ago while ignoring the barbaric Israeli treatment of the Palestinians." South African cabinet minister Kader Asmal said: "Nobody should be able to badger us into silence through threats of boycotts."

 UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was clear on one thing: "We cannot expect Palestinians to accept [the Holocaust] as a reason for the wrongs done to them through displacement, occupation, blockade, and now extra-judicial killings." Over 700, mostly Palestinian civilians and children, in all 551 and 157 Israelis, have died since last September.

 In an attempt to limit the impact of US withdrawal, following a failed eleventh hour compromise bid by the Norwegian party, the head of the US delegation Michael Southwick "clarified" matters in a phone call from Durban airport.

 He told conference secretary general and UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson that though they were leaving, the US Consul General Craig Kuehl would remain as a delegate, not as an observer. "His eyes and ears were there", she said, but he was not participating. He was there to effect a watering down of anti-Israeli sentiment in the final declaration. But Arab pressure is clearly gathering clout.

 The withdrawal was condemned by the National Lawyers Guild of the US last Tuesday which said US Administration's, over the past two years, had "failed to grapple" with the issues of racism and intolerance and had "impeded" the build up to the conference. The Guild, supporting Palestinian rights. called for an end to "apartheid in Palestine", arguing for human rights to be put before "property interests."

 African-led demands to redress past colonial wrongs was another bone of contention for Western capitalist powers. This issue is rapidly gathering pace, especially since a global alliance of African organisations and descendant groups was set up on the eve of conference.

 While, as we went to press. the US, Canada, New Zealand, Japan and Australia had circulated a document acknowledging the "grave historical injustices" and "human suffering" of slavery, the slave trade and apartheid; they did not accept the consequences of colonialism.

 African countries, led by Zimbabwe, are demanding reparations in the form of what they call "enhanced remedial deveiopment aid". linked to the New Africa Initiative which was recently launched at the African Union conference (formerly the Organisation of African Unity, OAU).

 The Zimbabwean position on land reform was something well understood by the new Dublin Palestinian Delegate-General Ah Halimeh, who spent 18 years in Harare. While he may question certain methods, he told the Irish Times (5 September), he fully supported their aims. "(President) Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe are entitled to control their land... Let me tell you that 4,500 commercial white farmers own 75 per cent of the viable land in Zimbabwe." It's a sympathy borne too of the Israeli theft of Palestinian land.

 Britain refuses to accept responsibility for the legacy of colonialism to avoid possible legal action demanding redress.

 British Prime Minister Tony Blair, defending, said: "It would not be sensible for governments to accept responsibility for the actions of governments so long ago. What is important is what we do in the present." Precisely the point of reparations.

 Leading US civil rights campaigner Jesse Jackson told the BBC that the failure of countries to apologise meant they ought to declare they must be proud of slavery and colonialism. If they were sincere, he said, "they would apologise and move towards some plan for restoration."

 Tanzanian Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete insisted reparations from developed countries was necessary since "slavery, colonialism and apartheid have resulted in gross and lasting economic, political, social and cultural damage to the African peoples."

 He said there was no need to look for the victims. "Our poverty is enough evidence... They captured our able bodied men and women who could have developed the African continent."

 The Secretary of the Peoples' General Committee for African Unity of Libya, Ali Abdussalam Treiki said "parties responsible must apologise to the people of Africa and they must undertake, formally and publicly, to satisfactorily compensate the peoples in Africa." He pointed out that the legacy of colonialism required that a fund be created to deal with consequent diseases and epidemics.

 People's China Vice-Foreign Minister Wang Guangya, according to Xinhua News Agency, said none of the "cradles of ancient human civilisation were spared by the wreckage and destruction" caused by colonialism and foreign invasion. He pointed out that the uphill task remains with new forms of racism emerging, and that neo-fascism and neo-Nazism are increasingly menacing.

 The US withdrawal from the conference -- which South African Vice-President Jacob Zuma called a veto against the world -- is not new. It acted against both previous UN world anti-racism conferences, held in 1978 and 1983, over the Middle East situation. The US warned of its intended pull-out last weekend when it said that anti-Israeli statements would be considered "discriminatory".

 But the slide out of the conference began months earlier leading, five days before conference opened, to Colin Powell announcing his intention not to attend. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the biggest US civil and human rights coalition, had earlier tried to persuade President George Bush to ensure a high-level delegation.

 The fact that it had to argue for the President to increase its funding of the conference from an earmarked $250,000 to the same as that contributed to the Womens' Conference in Beijing -- six million dollars -- was indicative of US distancing. As the UUS prepared its position, LCCR executive director Wade Henderson accused the US of a "shameful abdication of our international responsibilities."

 Accusations that there has been an exclusive focus on the Middle East and that Arabs had hi-jacked the conference were rebutted by the Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa. He referred to the fact that the decision was taken two years ago to highlight the Middle East issue alongside slavery, colonialism and reparations.

 Cuba's President Fidel Castro was in veteran full flow. He called the anti-globalisation protests the "rebellion of the masses", declared the capitalist order "unsustainable" and accused the developed world of getting rich "through conquest and colonisation and through slavery and by plundering the resources of Africa and Latin America."

  The US has now been put firmly in the public dock for its pro-Israeli actions and sabotage of the conference. It shows that behind racism and Zionism there s the imperialist agenda -- subecting nations and carving up resources -- that is at the heart of the US action.

  This can only strengthen the resolve of forces, both within the heartland and in the developing countries, to oppose that destructive course, even though the formal outcome of the conference's aims will have been damaged.

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British News

"Teaching becoming unsustainable" - NUT

DOUG McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, last week warned that the profession was becoming "unsustainable" and that far reaching changes are needed ifit is to attract a new "flexible generation" of graduates and reverse the current recruitment crisis in schools.

  He was commenting on a report from the think-tank Demos that was sponsored by the NUT and released last Friday.

 The report described a generation gap opening up in the profession which the Government must address if it is to solve the long-standing shortage of recruits.

 Teaching needs to recruit 12 per cent of the graduate population but it fails to meet the expectations of modern young graduates.

  "The report shows a teaching profession committed to high standards and care for their pupils but deeply demoralised," said Doug McAvoy.

  "Fundamental change is required which puts teachers at the centre of decision making about what is best for children and young people's learning.

  "The message to the Government from this report is that teachers must feel a sense of ownership and control of their professional development.

  "In addition they need greater support in schools to reduce workload and salary opportunities comparable to other graduate employment."

 Meanwhile figures released last week show that Government spending on education, as a proportion of national income, is at the lowest level for 40 years. A study by Howard Glennerster, professor of social administration at the London School of Economics, revealed that Government spending on education fell to just 4.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product in 1998 and 1999 -- the lowest since the early 60s.

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