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Archive for May 2006

4 May 2006

spotEnd of Berlusconi era - clean break needed with neo-liberal policies

Italy: SILVIO BERLUSCONI, the tycoon prime minister of Italy for five years, has finally resigned. The general election of 9-10 April gave the centre-left Unione alliance a paper thin majority in both houses of parliament (See article...

4 May 2006

spotGermany: WASG national congress - shift to the right

AMID THREATS by part of the national leadership to split away, last weekend's national congress of the WASG* (Election Alternative for Work and Social Justice) agreed to unify with the Linkspartei.PDS (L.PDS, Left Party/PDS - the former East German 'Communists') and to take measures against the Berlin WASG if it went, writes Robert Bechert, CWI, Berlin.

4 May 2006

spotUS students say 'education not war'

THOUSANDS OF students across the US 'Twin Cities' [Minneapolis and St Paul] walked out of class on 28 April to protest against the occupation of Iraq and military recruitment in schools, and demanding money for education and social needs, not war, writes By Socialist Alternative members.

4 May 2006

spotUSA - immigrant workers strike to demand equal rights

USA, MONDAY 1 May: Shops, farms, restaurants, meat processing companies and factories closed; parts of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and other cities are brought to a standstill; workers, school students, perhaps half-a-million in Chicago alone, join in demonstrations and protest rallies across the country.....

4 May 2006

spotNine days that shook Britain

Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party geneal secretary, signs copies of his book
TO COMMEMORATE the 80th anniversary of the 1926 General Strike in Britain and, more importantly, to draw out the lessons from this movement, Peter Taaffe (pictured left) - the Socialist Party's general secretary - has written a book outlining the nine days that shook British capitalism to its foundation...

4 May 2006

spotLSC staff say "enough is enough"

"WHEN WILL Mark Haysom stop running the LSC as a PLC - before or after his knighthood?" This was typical of the comments from the Sheffield picket line about the chief executive of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) last Friday, 28 April, writes Marion Lloyd, PCS national executive committee.

4 May 2006

spotDefending jobs and services

Solidarity on the PCS picket line: ON 2-3 May, Jobcentres, benefit offices, pension centres and the Child Support Agency (CSA) were hit by strike action as 80,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) held a two-day stoppage over worsening service levels and job cuts in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)...

4 May 2006

spotSocialist Party members’ election successes

Press release Socialist Party members – standing as Socialist Alternative candidates and on behalf of Save Huddersfield’s NHS campaign - scored outstanding successes in the local elections.

4 May 2006

spotLiberals withdraw Cardiff schools closure plans...

Lobby of Cardiff Liberal council by Schools campaign
OVER 1,000 parents and school students turned up to lobby Cardiff Liberal council last week as the council intended to close 22 schools and threaten 300 teaching jobs across the city. The school students travelled to the demo in specially hired open buses, accompanied by brass bands and the like.

4 May 2006

spotSwansea ballot shows depth of support for NHS

SWANSEA SOCIALIST Party members, campaigning against the loss of hospital beds, say the public are on our side after an informal ballot held in the city centre on 29 April...

4 May 2006

spotNHS workers demand action

THE CAMPAIGN to defend the NHS from government attacks is growing. It has recently been boosted by the decision at UNISON health conference to back industrial action and the magnificent demonstration through Stoke-on-Trent on 29...

11 May 2006

spotStudent union leaders hide truth about lecturers' action

LECTURERS IN the NATFHE and AUT unions are engaged in a marking boycott at universities across the country. They are struggling for the wage increase that university vice-chancellors said was the main reason for charging students, writes Iain Dalton, Huddersfield Socialist Students.

11 May 2006

spotPostal union rejects pay offer

THE COMMUNICATION Workers' Union (CWU) Postal national executive committee has just overwhelmingly rejected what was termed as Royal Mail's full and final offer and which Royal Mail called "excellent" and "inflation-busting", writes Gary Clark, vice-chair, CWU Scotland No 2 branch.

11 May 2006

spotMorales takes on 'Big Oil'

The part-nationalisation of Bolivia's gas and oil industry by president Evo Morales, similar to Hugo Chávez's decree in Venezuela earlier this year, is another blow to the 'neo-liberal' agenda of big business and imperialism in Latin America...

11 May 2006

spotGermany: 'Unity' at the expense of the working class

In recent months political and social activists in Germany have been gripped by the widely publicised open debate in the WASG (Election Alternative for Work and Social Justice, the anti-neo-liberal party that developed in 2004), writes Robert Bechert, cwi, Berlin, Germany.

11 May 2006

spotIraq - the nightmare continues

THE SHOOTING down for the first time of a British military helicopter over the southern Iraq city of Basra last week, in which five servicemen were killed, underlines the growing hostility to the occupying forces in the south of the country...

11 May 2006

spotVenezuela: Fight for socialism

"THE MOST dangerous man in the region" is US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's description of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's president who is visiting London this week, writes Karl Debbaut.

11 May 2006

spotFemale factory workers in Russia start hunger strike

Six female workers at the 'Kholodmash' factory in Yaroslavl city, Russia, including the leader of the plant's trade union, Olga Boiko, started an "indefinite hunger strike", on 16 May...

11 May 2006

spotDangers in Respect's development

RESPECT STOOD over 150 candidates and got 16 elected: 12 in Tower Hamlets, three in Newham and one in Birmingham. The victories of candidates standing against the Iraq war, privatisation and the other neo-liberal attacks of New...

11 May 2006

spotLocal elections: A death blow for Blair?

THE 2006 council elections in England have increased the pressure on Tony Blair and New Labour. The results show a continuing and increasing disaffection with the establishment parties. Socialist Party candidates scored some important...

11 May 2006

spotStop the threats to the NHS

Manchester: JOBS AND services across Greater Manchester NHS trusts are under serious threat. Pennine Acute Trust plans to slash 800 jobs to try to tackle a £21 million deficit. That trust runs four hospitals - North Manchester General, Royal...

11 May 2006

spotExcellent results for the Socialist Party

THE SOCIALIST Party secured some excellent results in the local elections around the country...

11 May 2006

spotStoke - BNP wins close-run election

The BNP unexpectedly won the Abbey Green Ward in Stoke-on-Trent after a very closely fought election. The betrayal of working-class people by New Labour and the lack of a mass alternative has created fertile ground for the growth...

11 May 2006

spot Increased votes for socialism in Lewisham

THE SOCIALIST PARTY councillors, Ian Page and Chris Flood, were both re-elected with increased votes in Lewisham’s Telegraph Hill ward...

11 May 2006

spotThird socialist councillor elected in Coventry

After a hard fought battle and nail-biting count, the Socialist Party regained a third councillor in St Michaels ward, Coventry. The Labour Party, which had narrowly won the seat two years ago by 16 votes, was defeated by Rob Windsor...

11 May 2006

spotHuddersfield: voters choose a socialist and a fighter!

"We’re voting for Jackie – she’s the only one we trust to fight for our services. All the others have promised us everything and delivered nothing"....

11 May 2006

spotVictory for NHS campaign

Dr Jackie Grunsell addresses a demonstration
Socialist Party member and GP, Jackie Grunsell (pictured left with megaphone) scored a spectacular victory in the local elections standing for the Save Huddersfield NHS campaign...

18 May 2006

spotA matter of life and death

LORD JOFFE's Physician Assisted Suicide bill was blocked in the House of Lords on 12 May but he has pledged to reintroduce it at a later date...

18 May 2006

spotMassive European Social Forum rally in Athens

Socialist policies needed to resist war, cuts and capitalism: ON 6 May, in Athens, up to 100,000 Greek workers and young people including around 9,000 political activisists from the rest of Europe marched against war and capitalist exploitation, writes Andros, Xekinima (CWI, Greece).

18 May 2006

spotGermany: WASG rebels suspended

IN AN unprecedented but not unexpected act, the national executive of Germany's new left party, WASG (Election alternative - work and social justice), suspended the regional executives in the federal states of Berlin and Mecklenburg Vorpommern, writes Tanja Niemeier, Committee for a Workers' International.

18 May 2006

spotAiling German capitalism slashes workers' wages and conditions

WHEN THE Socialist Party's general secretary Peter Taaffe visited Berlin last month to speak at the very successful Socialism Days meeting, he found a marked difference - evident in the conditions of the city's poor in particular - from the situation when he last visited a few years ago...

18 May 2006

spotFemale factory workers in Russia start hunger strike

Six female workers at the 'Kholodmash' factory in Yaroslavl city, Russia, including the leader of the plant's trade union, Olga Boiko, started an "indefinite hunger strike", on 16 May...

18 May 2006

spotLecturers continue the fight for decent pay

AUT conference: FROM 10-12 May, higher education union AUT held its last annual council (conference) before its merger with NATFHE to form the University and College Union, UCU, writes Thomas House.

18 May 2006

spotNorthumbria lecturers forced to strike

Northumbria University: "UNIVERSITY MANAGEMENT are acting like 19th century industrial capitalists using draconian strike breaking tactics" a geography lecturer at Northumbria University in Newcastle told the socialist...

18 May 2006

spotFighting strategy needed to save jobs

WORKERS AT Vauxhall's Ellesmere Port plant are facing massive job cuts. GM Europe want to cut 12,000 jobs as part of its 'restructuring' plans and Ellesmere Port could lose at least 1,000 jobs...

18 May 2006

spotPrivatisation fails workers and customers

COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY NTL have announced over 1,500 job losses. They recently merged with Telewest after both companies ended up in financial difficulties. This highlights the need for a democratically controlled public, writes Bernard Roome, CWU NEC, personal capacity.

18 May 2006

spotPostal workers prepare for action

AS THE CWU national conference begins, the Communication Workers' Union (CWU) national executive committee has called an industrial action ballot of its postal members against the 2.9% pay rise imposed by Royal Mail, writes Gary Clark, vice-chair, CWU Scotland No 2 Branch.

18 May 2006

spotRail unions battle over pensions

THE RAIL network across the whole of Britain looks to be heading for a long hot summer of discontent. The four rail unions, RMT, TSSA, ASLEF and the CSEU have joined forces in an attempt to safeguard their members' pensions, writes Gordon Martin, branch secretary Wishaw and Motherwell RMT, personal capacity.

18 May 2006

spotPensions 'crisis' - working class will pay the price

TONY BLAIR, we were told last week, wants to see major reform of Britain's decrepit pensions' system as his 'legacy'. Given the state of some of his previously desired 'legacies' - Iraq, the NHS, education, reform of public services...

18 May 2006

spotHow students and staff saved Chemistry at Sussex

A TWO-month campaign led by students and lecturers has checkmated the University of Sussex's senior management's plan to close down its Chemistry department, writes Richard Mullin Socialist Students, Sussex.

18 May 2006

spotSolidarity with Venezuelan workers

Caracas, Wednesday 16 May 2006: The Executive Committee of the trade union Suprofrad, which organises the pharmaceutical workers in Caracas, Venezuela denounces the company RACE C.A for its refusal to recognise our trade union...

18 May 2006

spotThe Venezuelan president's 'vision of socialism'

Chávez in London: VISITS BY presidents to other countries are usually met with protests or indifference, but the visit by Hugo Chávez to London on Sunday was met by hundreds of people ready to welcome him to the city and eager to listen to what he had to say, writes Denise Dudley.

18 May 2006

spotBuilding on our election successes

Socialist Party National Committee report: FRANCE, GERMANY, Italy... no not the World Cup finals but Europe in revolt against neo-liberal policies - this was the inspiring final discussion at the Socialist Party (SP) national committee meeting on 13-15 May, writes Alistair Tice, Sheffield.

18 May 2006

spotJoin the Campaign for a New Workers' Party

A party for the millions - not the  millionaires: AFTER THEIR disastrous showing on 4 May, New Labour now has fewer councillors than at any time since 1973. Tony Blair is clinging to power by a thread - as Labour MPs and councillors realise that their own careers are, writes Hannah Sell, Socialist Party executive committee and assistant secretary CNWP.

18 May 2006

spotEnvironment: not safe in their hands

Global warming threat: ACCORDING TO the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report global warming, caused by 'man-made pollution' ie capitalist production, is at a critically dangerous level...

18 May 2006

spotSave jobs and services

WHIPPS CROSS hospital Trust in east London recently declared a £24 million deficit. 400 jobs are already under threat as are some elderly care beds. The Trust are cutting overtime and agency staff but 50 compulsory redundancies are predicted.

18 May 2006

spotBlair's market madness wrecking the NHS

BECAUSE OF New Labour's attacks on the NHS, hospital Trusts are threatening to sack health workers, cut beds and close down wards. Around 13,000 jobs have already been placed at risk, including 1,000 at the NHS Direct helpline. Jon Dale, Bolsover Socialist Party writes.

25 May 2006

spotAppeal for solidarity with Venezuelan workers

"The Executive Committee of the trade union Suprofard, which organises the pharmaceutical workers in Caracas, Venezuela denounces the company RACE C.A for its refusal to recognise our trade union...

25 May 2006

spotBrazil: 'War' erupts in São Paulo

Eyewitness report from a city in shock: A WEEK-LONG wave of violence between police and a notorious criminal gang in São Paulo, Brazil, has left over 170 people dead. As TONY SAUNOIS reports from a shocked city this 'war' is rooted in the country's corrupt and brutal...

25 May 2006

spotNATFHE demand pay justice

NATFHE MEETS this weekend for its final conference. This follows the decision of members of both NATFHE and the AUT to merge into what will be the largest post-school education union in the world - UCU the University and College, writes Andrew Price (NATFHE NEC member Further Education Wales).

25 May 2006

spotPostal workers call for action

POSTAL WORKERS have delivered a thumping rejection to Royal Mail's plans to impose a 2.9% pay offer and to implement backdoor privatisation of the Post Office...

25 May 2006

spotBobby Sands Nothing but an Unfinished Song

Review: Twenty five years ago in May, Bobby Sands, MP, died on hunger strike in the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland. Over the next few months, nine other young republican prisoners followed him, demanding jail reforms...

25 May 2006

spotUnite against sectarianism in Northern ireland

A FIFTEEN year old Catholic school student, Michael McIlveen, was brutally assaulted in a sectarian attack in Ballymena, County Antrim on 7 May, writes Ciaran Mulholland, Belfast.

25 May 2006

spotThe political landscape in London after the local elections

London: FOLLOWING THE recent London local elections, PAULA MITCHELL examines the new political make-up of the capital and the prospects for working class political action over the burning issues of health, housing, transport and racism...

25 May 2006

spotStep up the Campaign for a New Workers' Party

THE STEERING committee elected at the Campaign for a New Workers' Party (CNWP) conference in March discussed the campaign's next steps forward at its first meeting on 21 May...

25 May 2006

spotSay no to nuclear power

TONY BLAIR pre-empted his own government's energy review, and announced to his big- business friends in the CBI that he intends to replace Britain's nuclear power stations with new ones...

25 May 2006

spotTeachers call for action

MOST TEACHERS want to fight this Education Bill but unfortunately some of our union leaders are against discussing industrial action to oppose it, writes Martin Powell-Davies, Lewisham National Union of Teachers (NUT).

25 May 2006

spotEducation bill - Labour depends on Tory support

THE GOVERNMENT'S controversial Education Bill, which aims to pull the comprehensive system to pieces, is getting its third and fourth readings in the Commons this week...

25 May 2006

spotSave our community hospitals

Wiltshire NHS: FOLLOWING ON from major cut-backs last year, Kennet/West Wiltshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) have announced the future closures of community hospitals in Trowbridge, Warminster, Devizes and probably Melksham and Marlborough, writes Roger Davey Senior UNISON steward, Swindon & Wiltshire Health Branch (personal capacity).

25 May 2006

spotStand up to NHS cuts!

15,000 NHS job cuts have been announced in England and Wales since February this year! Every week the jobs cull gets bigger - but these cuts are not going unanswered. Local campaigns are springing up in many areas to fight to save the NHS.

1 June 2006

spotTesco goes west - with non-union job ads

TESCO HAS given its chief executive, Sir Terry Leahy, a pay rise of almost 25%. He took away almost £4 million in salary, bonus and other benefits for the year to 25 February, against £3.2 million the year before. Leahy was also...

1 June 2006

spotDrivers strike over tax bills

South West Trains: TWO HUNDRED train drivers, members of ASLEF based at Waterloo station in London, were on strike on 30 May. This was the first of a series of one-day strikes over the removal of tax benefits in kind by their employer South West, writes Chris Newby.

1 June 2006

spotPCS conference: The record of a campaigning union

PCS conference: The record of a campaigning union: CIVIL SERVICE union PCS conference takes place from 5 June, with the Left Unity-led national executive (NEC) having increased its majority for the fourth year running, writes Mark Baker, PCS NEC, personal capacity.

1 June 2006

spotCrisis in the Scottish Socialist Party

THE SCOTTISH Socialist Party (SSP) has been rocked by the release of an open letter by Tommy Sheridan to SSP members which accuses "an unsavoury cabal of comrades at the core of the leadership who are more interested in pursuing personal vendettas, through vile lies and slander, than conducting the class struggle", writes Philip Stott, International Socialists, (CWI Scotland).

1 June 2006

spot'Correction' or crash?

World economy: IN THE second week of May there was a convulsion in the world financial system. Shortly after rising to near-peak levels, shares fell sharply on world stock exchanges, especially in so-called 'emerging markets' like India and Turkey. Lynn Walsh examines these events and exposes the instability of the global capitalist system.

1 June 2006


The socialist review: Neil Cafferky reviews Massaker, a documentary shown at the Palestine Film Festival involving interviews with five of the participants in the destruction of Sabra and Chatila refugee camps during the Lebanese civil war...

1 June 2006

spotBrazil: Hundreds killed by brutal military police

BRAZIL'S HATED Military Police (PM) had a brutal response to the violence unleashed by the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC) in São Paulo on 12 May (see last week's the socialist), writes Tony Saunois, CWI, Brazil.

1 June 2006

spotIraq - lame duck leaders have no solution

WHILE ACTING Prime Minister John Prescott was amusing himself on the croquet pitch, the real thing was in Washington D.C. for talks with his partner in crime - the senior partner, that is -George Bush, writes Keith Pattenden.

1 June 2006

spotA strategy to take on New Labour

An open letter to Respect councillors: TOWER HAMLETS Socialist Party sent the letter below to each of the 12 Respect councillors elected to the local council...

1 June 2006

spotCan the Tories win the next election?

FOLLOWING LABOUR'S disastrous local election results this is a question that many people are now asking. After years of un-electability, is it possible that under their new leader, David Cameron, they could return to haunt working-class...

1 June 2006

spotBlair goes nuclear

Environment: RECENTLY, PRIME minister Tony Blair told CBI dinner guests that he backed building a new generation of nuclear power stations, saying nuclear power was "back on the agenda with a vengeance"...

1 June 2006

spot"We're seeing the Americanisation of the NHS"

Whipps Cross hospital workers protest. Picture Paul Mattsson
OVER 30 people, many of them health workers, came to the first Waltham Forest Save our NHS campaign meeting. Len Hockey, UNISON joint branch secretary at Whipps Cross hospital, outlined the attacks that the hospital Trust,...

1 June 2006

spot'Stop the NHS cuts, end low pay'

Whipps Cross hospital workers protest. Picture Paul Mattsson
Healthworkers say...: "LOW PAY no way." "They say cutback, we say fightback." Hundreds of porters, cleaners and other hospital staff held a lively lunchtime protest outside Whipps Cross hospital in northeast London on 26 May.

The hospital Trust is considering axing 400 jobs and closing four wards and two theatres. £15 million could be cut from primary care.

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