The Plough #52
18 August 2004
E-Mail Newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
2. UK Textiles Union Supports Call for Emergency Action
3. BA Have 'Cried Wolf' Too Often
4. The Bolivarian Programme
5. What's On
6. No Retreat
° First apologies for the delay in this edition of The Plough.
This was due to technical difficulties away beyond the editor's
control. Please let me know ASAP if you have difficulties reading
this edition of The Plough as I am now operating on a new system and
it may need fine tuning.
° The recent increase in racist attacks in Belfast, particularly
in loyalist areas, may have given some satisfaction to nationalists
who think such things don't happen in nationalist areas. Such a
belief is in itself racist. Racism does exist in nationalist areas.
We know of two recent vicious racist assaults by people from a
nationalist background. The IRSP encourages its members to stand up
to the racists and bully boys and if anyone knows who is responsible
for any racist attacks please don't hesitate to let us know.
° The Plough would like to congratulate our IRSP comrade from the
Short Strand for his famous victory in the Big Brother competition in
the Ardoyne festival. We understand his slogan was "forward to
UK TEXTILES UNION SUPPORTS CALL FOR EMERGENCY ACTION
11 Aug 2004
The T&G, representing thousands of UK textiles workers, has today
lent its support to a call from the International Textile, Garment
and Leather Workers' Federation that the international community
should hold an emergency forum unless the WTO takes urgent action to
prevent a disaster in some of the poorest textile-producing countries.
At the end of this year, trade restraints covering the global
textiles industry will come to an end, and already buyers are heading
to China as the cheapest source of production. Some estimate that
within five years China will 80% of all clothing and textile imports
into Europe and the United States.
Peter Booth, T&G National Organiser for manufacturing, said the union
supports the ITGLWF call from its General Secretary Neil Kearney:
"Factories in some of the poorest countries are closing or being
threatened with closure. Bangladesh looks set to lose one million of
its 1.8 million textile jobs, Indonesia could lose one million jobs
and Sri Lanka could lose 300,000 of its 350,000 textile jobs. This is
a global crisis and urgent international action must be taken.
"Whilst we have been long concerned with the position of the UK's
textile industry, the situation facing some of the poorest nations in
the world demands global attention and a global solution. The ITGLWF
is absolutely right to call on the WTO to avoid catastrophe, and if
the WTO fail to respond immediately, the T&G will support an
emergency forum under the auspices of the United Nations to bring
together the WTO, the ILO, OECD participation."
BA HAVE 'CRIED WOLF' TOO OFTEN
16 Aug 2004
With only days to go before the declaration of the strike vote for
over eight thousand British Airways ground services staff plus check-
in, sales and admin staff, the largest trade union involved, the T&G,
stepped up the pressure for a negotiated settlement. Brendan Gold,
the T&G national secretary for civil aviation revealed new figures,
mainly from BA's own accounts, which demonstrated that the demands
for wage restraint have already been delivered and that the cost of
settling the dispute will be only £10m a year. Government figures,
also based on BA accounts, also showed that the effects of the
workforce tightening its collective belt meant that the company had
profited from its employees at nearly twice the rate of inflation.
Writing in "BA News" the company say the unions' claim, which BA says
is the equivalent of 14.5%, will cost £72m over three years. Based
on this the T&G calculates the BA offer of 8.5% to be an extra cost
of £42 which means the difference is just £30m or £10m a
year. The union believes BA will have already lost this sum through
lost bookings because they have failed to settle the dispute.
The company has continued to grow in face of global competition, the
post 9/11impacts on travel, the war in Iraq and the Sars epidemic. A
review of BA's 2004 first quarter results showed:
° Operating margins at 7.8% are the highest since 1997
° Net debt down £334m to £3.8 billion which is the lowest
° Passenger capacity in available seat kilometres increased by
3.4% and revenue passenger kilometers were up 7.9%
° Cargo volumes in cargo tonne kilometres were up 15.1% and
overall load factors went up by 2.3 points to 69.2%
The other key findings from the T&G research showed:
° Average wages and salaries of BA staff have increased by 4.1%
between 2001 and 2004 whilst inflation (taken as the Retail Price
Index) has increased by 7.3% over the same period
° Profits have grown by over 50% between 2001 and 2004
° Employee costs at BA have fallen by 11.3% between 2001 and 2004
° The wealth created per employee (known as 'Value Added) has
risen by over £7,000 from £50,400 in 2001 to £57,600 in 2004
(Source: DTI Value Added Scoreboard 2004)
° Early figures for 2004-05 show total passenger numbers growing
at a faster rate than the previous two years.
"These figures show what our members know in plain terms that they
have delivered for BA," said Mr. Gold. "Profits are up, employee
costs are down and will continue to fall as our people accept and
adapt to new situations. Their contribution must be recognised."
"I think the board should think very carefully now because they have
cried wolf once too often," added Mr. Gold. "In the last few days of
the ballot, the board should put some new money on table. They can
afford it. Our members know it and now the travelling public know it."
THE BOLIVARIAN PROGRAMME
A few weeks ago in Caracas I had a lengthy discussion with Chavez
ranging from Iraq to the most detailed minutiae of Venezuelan history
and politics and the Bolivarian programme. It became clear to me that
what Chavez is attempting is nothing more or less than the creation
of a radical, social-democracy in Venezuela that seeks to empower the
lowest strata of society. In these times of deregulation,
privatisation and the Anglo-Saxon model of wealth subsuming politics,
Chavez' aims are regarded as revolutionary, even though the measures
proposed are no different to those of the post-war Attlee government
in Britain. Some of the oil-wealth is being spent to educate and heal
the poor ... When I asked Chavez to explain his own philosophy, he
replied: 'I don't believe in the dogmatic postulates of Marxist
revolution. I don't accept that we are living in a period of
proletarian revolutions. All that must be revised. Reality is telling
us that every day. Are we aiming in Venezuela today for the abolition
of private property or a classless society? I don't think so. But
if I'm told that because of that reality you can't do anything to
help the poor, the people who have made this country rich through
their labour and never forget that some of it was slave labour, then
I say 'We part company'. I will never accept that there can be no
redistribution of wealth in society. Our upper classes don't even
like paying taxes. That's one reason they hate me. We said 'You must
pay your taxes'. I believe it's better to die in battle, rather than
hold aloft a very revolutionary and very pure banner, and do
nothing ... That position often strikes me as very convenient, a good
excuse ... Try and make your revolution, go into combat, advance a
little, even if it's only a millimetre, in the right direction,
instead of dreaming about utopias.' And that's why he won.
By Tariq Ali
Wednesday 18th August
Belfast, North of Ireland
SOUTH BELFAST ANTI RACISM NETWORK
WEDNESDAY 18th AUGUST -- 7.30pm at ONE WORLD CENTRE IN LOWER CRESCENT
There will be a meeting of the South Belfast Anti-Racist Network in
the 1 World Centre, this Wednesday @ 7.30pm.
This will be an extremely important meeting for all of us living in
South Belfast who want to spread the impact of the ARN into local
areas. Given the number of racist attacks in our area and that the
Somasundran family live in the locality, the need for an active,
visible group is extremely necessary,
Sunday 22nd of August 2004 in Derry City
National Hunger Strike Commemoration March and Rally to City Cemetery
Gather in Rosemount at the Village Inn for 2.00pm
Friday 27th August
Belfast Calling Palestine: A Benefit Gig in Aid of Palestinian
In THE RED DEVIL BAR, FALLS ROAD, BELFAST
Organised by the Collective of Musicians of Belfast Organisation
16th DESMOND GREAVES SUMMER SCHOOL
Friday-Sunday, 27-29 August 2004.
Irish Labour History Museum, Beggars Bush, Haddington Rd., Dublin 4
Friday 27 August
7.30pm: "An Analysis of the proposed Constitution for Europe" by
Anthony Coughlan, Secretary, The National Platform EU Research and
Information Centre; Chair: Patricia McKenna, former Green Party MEP
Saturday 28 August
2.30 pm: "Irish Capitalism -- Loyal to Whom?" Mick O'Reilly, ATGWU
official, will examine developments in the South and Dr Alan Harper,
Department of Sociology, Queen's University Belfast, will examine
developments in the North of Ireland; Chair: Damien Kiberd,
broadcaster and former editor, Sunday Business Post
EVENING SOCIAL from 8 p.m. onward at the home of Helga and Cathal
MacLiam, 24 Belgrave Road, Rathmines, Dublin 6
Sunday 29 August 29
11.00 am: "Coalitions -- the Way Forward for Progressive Politics in
Ireland?" by Roger Cole, Chair of PANA and member of the
Administrative Council of the Labour Party; Chair: Seamus O'Tuathail
2.30 pm: Forum on "Power Politics and the EU"; "The EU as a Global
Power" by Dr Andy Storey, School of Development Studies UCD and
council member of Afri-Action from Ireland; "Democracy in the EU" by
Cllr. Deirdre De Burca, Irish Green Party; Chair: Aengus O'Snodaigh
TD, Sinn Fein spokesperson on Foreign Affairs.
The Secret war between Britain's Anti-Fascists and the Far-Right.
New book by Dave Hann and Steve Tilzey
For nearly 20 years a secret war has been waged between Britain's
anti-fascists and the extreme far-right. A war fought not with
placards and leaflets, but with boots, bottles and iron bars. For the
first time ever, two leading participants in that struggle tell the
extra-ordinary tale of the militant anti-fascist members of the
Squads and AFA's Stewards Group.
Published by Milo Books. 304pp. Price £7.99. Available on 1st
ISBN 1 903854 22 9
Available from Waterstones, Dillons, and many independent booksellers.
Can also be ordered on-line from http://www.turnaround-psl.com/ --
http://www.amazon.co.uk/ -- http://www.amazon.de/ --
http://www.amazon.co.jp/ or http://www.bookmarks.uk.com/ as well as
many other on-line booksellers.
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