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(en) SchNEWS 430, Friday 7th November, 2003

From Jo Makepeace <webmaster@schnews.org.uk>
Date Fri, 7 Nov 2003 11:46:51 +0100 (CET)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
News about and of interest to anarchists
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POSTIE MORTEM: "There's no room for strong unions nowadays. They want to break up
the postal service. They want to fragment the business. They want to de-unionise,
they want an end to collective bargaining. They want a low wage, low skill,
temporary contract, part time, downtrodden and malleable work force. This is what
they want for the workers." - Anonymous postal worker.
Wildcat strikes by thousands of post office workers across the
country ended in victory this week - a victory that everyone who
has to go out and earn a living should be celebrating.

The problem, we are told, is that posties are 'dinosaurs' and that
their union is part of the awkward squad and needs a good
injection of 'modernisation' and 'flexible working'. As one postie
explained "We have got a reputation for standing up for ourselves
and they don't like that." Post Office Chief Executive Adam
Crozier certainly looks after himself. As the highest paid public
servant in Britain, raking in £500,000 a year, Crozier is paid to
complain that failure to 'modernise' could destroy the Royal Mail.
Meanwhile, posties who get up at silly o'clock get basic pay of
just £260 a week.

Before the recent national ballot over pay, Royal Mail's chairman
Allan Leighton carried on the scare tactics, writing a stream of
letters to workers using the stick of thirty thousand redundancies
to keep them in line, and warning that striking would "begin the
process of commercial suicide". It paid off, and when the ballot
was narrowly lost management went on the offensive across the
country telling the union "your world is about to be turned upside
down." Up and down the country postal workers gave examples of
bullying and provocation by management busy trying to impose
change and suspending local agreements on wages and conditions.
This was a step too far and the wildcat strikes and solidarity
action began.

As the strikes spread, leaked memos from the Royal Mail told
managers to spy on strikers and staff who threatened to join the
wildcat walkouts. One communiqué for a group of strikers said:
"Look at the evidence gathering procedures document. It didn't
come out of nowhere. The 'industrial relations team', to which the
information is being sent, didn't set up its computerised
facilities for collecting all of this information on the spur of
the moment." With just 50 major companies and government agencies
accounting for 40 percent of Royal Mail revenue these firms are
terrified when the post stops. What it all adds up to, as one
postie put it, is "a management-orchestrated campaign to break the

Royal Mail has been selling off its profitable bits for the last
20 years and for the past couple of years has been busy closing
down post offices. They spent half a million pounds re-branding
itself as Consignia before deciding that, duh, the Royal Mail was
not such a bad name after all. Meanwhile the European Union bowed
to the interests of the major communication corporations and
issued a new directive that opens up the post office to even
greater privatisation by 2006. Post Office bosses believe that to
compete against these private firms they must savage jobs and

But while the Royal Mail bosses tell their workers losses of £611
million inevitably mean job cuts and a change in working
conditions the profit-obsessed Financial Times pointed out last
week that "Royal Mail expects to make an operating profit of £100
million this year and £320 million next".


The wildcat strikes have given Royal Mail management a bloody nose
and shown them and the posties' national union leadership that
staff are willing and able to enforce local and national
agreements at shop floor level. The rank and file rose up against
the threat of job losses, speed-ups and stagnant, crap pay. Bosses
were trying to force new delivery, overtime and holiday 'deals'
down the throats of workers at three post offices and then impose
them nationally. This would've weakened workers and the union. The
strike crushed this. The strike also stopped the Royal Mail
bosses' policy of targeting 'trouble-makers' who were vocal about
their rights in the workplace. Importantly, the wildcat strike saw
the rank and file posties stamp their willingness to strike
against casualisation while the centralised Communication Workers'
Union fumbled, hindered by detached 'representatives' and
repressive anti-union laws. The posties lit a wildfire of
solidarity actions around the country while the CWU faffed about,
unable to condone the strike because of their fears of fines and
compensation claims. Now these representatives are entering into
negotiations with Royal Mail and the posties at the bottom aren't
ready to betrayed.

As the Movement for a Socialist Future put it "Postal workers are
going through an experience which fire-fighters endured earlier
this year. Do the interests of the community come before balance
sheets and privatisation? The Fire Brigades Union leaders
concocted a half-baked deal which opened the door to cuts. Now
they are being provoked back into action by employers who are
holding back on an agreed pay rise. The break-up of the National
Health Service through the imposition of 'foundation' hospitals
will soon confront Unison and other unions. What are they going to
do about it, other than make angry speeches?"

So stop moaning if you had letters stuck in the post People
fighting for decent working conditions is good for everyone who
goes to work. As one angry postie put it "Is it so that a
'nationalised' industry and its workforce are smashed bit by tiny
bit? And as an added bonus we get transferred to these new
companies who will ignore and demolish all of the hard fought for
rights and wages and conditions. And will you benefit? Will you
fuck! Just like the British public benefited from the railways
being handed over to a multitude of robbing, profiteers? British
Rail wasn't perfect but look at the mess that replaced it! And
amazingly, even though a bunch of rich bastards got richer by
being given what was rightfully all of ours, we still pay them
hundreds of millions of tax-payers pounds a year just to keep a
third world service going. And that is why postal workers are on
strike, because believe it or not, we know this is the best postal
company in the world and we don't want to have a bunch of villains
and profit grabbing scumrats come and steal what is all of ours.
It's our Post Office, let's keep it that way!"

* Firefighters across the country are taking unofficial industrial
action in a row over the pay deal that was intended to end the
recent 10-month fire service dispute. One Union leader said "Our
members are incandescent with rage as the employers are treating
us with contempt. The pay agreement came after a long and bitter
dispute which took a lot of time to resolve. Now the employers
appear to be reneging on it."


Crap Arrest Of The Week

For sending an email...
On Monday New Zealand peace activist Bruce Hubbard was remanded on
bail on a charge of 'misusing a telephone'. The 38-year-old is
accused of sending an offensive email to the US Embassy which said
that the US has dropped napalmed civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq
and have invaded 72 other nations since WWII to install US-backed
military dictatorships. Now he isn't allowed to go within 250
metres of the US Consulate General's office and could get up to
three months in jail or a $2000 fine... his next court appearance
is 10th December.


SchNEWS 9th Birthday Party

At The Freebutt - downstairs punk inc. Fish Brothers and Anal
Beard, upstairs cinema and DJs.

Sunday 16th, 7.30-10.30pm


Cheney Link Fence

A coprophiliac is someone who is turned on by shit. Dick Cheney is
someone who gets turned on by oil. Much the same thing really.
Cheney's wet dreams are manifesting themselves globally, most
notably in Iraq, but two massive pipelines are coiling their way
over natural landscape elsewhere.

The World Bank and European Development Bank have both approved a
£300m contribution each for the $4bn central Asian Baku-Ceyhan
pipeline, stretching from the Caspian through Azerbaijan, Georgia
and Turkey to the Med. This means easy access for Western oil
tankers without having to deal with the Middle East, which is a
trifle unstable at the moment. The project's consortium, BTC is
BP-led but needless to say incorporates Halliburton subsidiaries,
a corporation which pays Cheney $500,000 a year.

The UK's development minister, Hilary Benn, has already approved
the UK's payment " obviously not put off by the World Bank's own
report admitting that the pipeline will cause a "significant"
amount of environmental damage, thousands will be displaced, and
it will be militarized and exempt from local domestic laws. BTC
even boast that it had 'created laws' in Azerbaijan, and bullied
the Georgian government into accepting the Environmental Impact

Meanwhile, in Peru, the $1-2bn trans-Andean gas pipeline - what
Amazon Watch calls "currently the most damaging project in the
Amazon Basin"- is causing unrest which mirrors that caused by a
similar gas export plan in neighbouring Bolivia in October. The
Peruvian president, Alejandro Toledo, citing "narco-terrorism",
declared an emergency zone around the Camisea Gas Project and
suspended constitutional guarantees following clashes between
10,000 local campesinos and police. This area is one of the
world's most biodiverse and untouched hotspots - but forget that:
first the pipeline goes in, which brings in roads, which invites
illegal logging, and every over conceivable knock-on effect to
contaminate the area including the indigenous people being
decimated by diseases caught from loggers.

Earler this year the US Export-Import Bank rather unsportingly
turned down a $213 million loan guarantee for the Camisea project,
citing "concerns about environmental impacts and the rights of
indigenous peoples in the zone". But don't worry, shareholders,
it's still gonna go ahead. It looks like the Inter-American
Development Bank are going to step in with $135 million meaning
Kellogg Brown & Root (part of Cheney's Halliburton family) can get
on with the job of building it. .

See: www.amazonwatch.org

* For an inside look at how foreign capital creates refugees get
yer hands on Listen to the Refugee's Story: How UK Foreign
Investment Creates Refugees and Asylum Seekers produced by the
Ilisu Dam Refugee Project. Includes stories, poems and drawings
from refugees and asylum seekers about why they've been forced to
flee their countries.


Ore or Nothing

The Jabiluka uranium mine in the world heritage listed Kakadu
National Park in Northern Territory, Australia has been stopped!
This is a huge victory for the indigenous Mirrar people, and the
thousands of people worldwide who supported them in one of the
longest running environmental and indigenous land rights battles
in Australia's history.

The culprits behind the mine, Rio Tinto, announced in August this
year that they would be putting the thousands of tons of uranium
ore they dug up in 1999 back where it belongs - in the ground -
and letting the site be rehabilitated and reincorporated back into
Kakadu park. But why are they walking away from one of the world's
richest uranium ore deposits? They've been trying to flog it off
for years, such is the adverse public opinion, direct action and
legal opposition to the mine led by the Mirrar people, and not
forgetting currently depressed prices for uranium worldwide.

Kakadu was the scene of an eight month blockade in 1998 which saw
600 arrested and thousands come to the remote spot - which some
claim ushered in the beginning of a new generation of direct
action in the country.

A national day of celebration was held on 31st October.


SchNEWS In Brief

* Last week 114 "independent" scientists wrote a letter to Tony
Blair about the "misleading" reports in the press about the
potentially damaging effects of genetically modified crops. It
just so happens that most of these scientists come from research
institutions which receive massive funding from GM companies or
work for consultants for the GM companies, so no conflict of
interest then. www.gmwatch.org

* Big Noise Demo against Britain's number one GM company - Bayer -
next Thursday (13), 10am onwards outside their Newbury office,
details and transport 07092-036576 www.stopbayergm.org

* ETC Group have just released a report on the large scale release
of untested nanotechnology into the environment, focusing
particularly on huge quantities of particles dumped to allegedly
stop soil erosion in the US. Like GM, this is happening with no
real testing or regulation. www.etcgroup.org

* In a response to the US administration's Orwellian 'Total
Information Awareness' scheme, boffins at MIT have turned the
tables with their 'Government Information Awareness' site. This
cavernous resource automatically monitors thousands of politicians
and business activities and the links between them, and lets
people add their own information. See

* The 'Health and Safety' Executive announced this week that the
average fine for a conviction on a health and safety offence has
dropped by 21 percent over the last year. So bosses are still
getting away with killing their workers and receiving a measly
punishment: www.lhc.org.uk or www.simonjones.org.uk

* As SchNEWS was going to press, women made homeless and destitute
under the government's disgusting asylum laws were holding an
action outside Parliament as part of the national "Sleep Out in
Solidarity" called by the Liverpool Committee Against Destitution
to protest against Section 55 and other anti-asylum seeker
measures: womenstrike8m@server101.com

* The SchNEWS Birthday Lecture with Arab-American peace activist
Ramzi Kysia. Ramzi has spent the last two years in Iraq and was
involved in setting up the Iraq Indymedia site and an independent
newspaper. Sallis Benney Theatre, Brighton University, Grand
Parade, Nov 17th 6:30pm. Also at Sussex University, 3pm the same
day and will be touring around the country - list of dates see

* Question of priorities: The headlines blazed the past week about
the fires in California. So far 20 people have died and 3,400
homes destroyed, with the new Governator agreeing to demands from
health conscious residents, that fire crews would use filtered and
mineral water to put out the fires (ok, maybe we made that last
bit up.) Meanwhile, at a five day conference in Nairobi, which
attracted slightly less publicity, delegates heard that 523
million Africans will be without access to clean drinking water by

* A New American Empire - a meeting to look at the consequences of
current US foreign policy. With speaker Steve Burman. Nov 12th
8pm, St Joseph's Church Hall, Brighton.



Last week High Court judges threw out Liberty's case against the
Met Police for their use of the section 44 Stop and Search
provision (Terrorism Act 2000) against protestors at the DSEi Arms
Fair in London last month. The lawyers representing two of 50
demonstrators who were searched, claimed that citizens have a
legitimate right to peacefully protest and that being stopped and
searched while doing so is a violation of human rights.

When Blunkett introduced this draconian piece of legislation, he
promised parliament that use of section 44 would be strictly
limited to cases where there was good reason to suspect
terrorism - you know, like when people are concealing guns, tanks,
hawk jets etc. about their persons - or inside buildings like the
ExCel Centre in the Docklands. Liberty will appeal the decision.

Continuing its fine record of human rights violations dressed up
as "anti-terror", the government is also in trouble with Amnesty
this week because of those pesky foreigners it banged up in
Belmarsh prison nearly two years ago without charge or trial. On
October 29th a Special Immigration Appeal Commission (SIAC) found
that the Home Secretary could continue to keep the 8 men
imprisoned indefinitely as he had "reasonable grounds" to believe
they are terrorists. In what it calls a "perversion of justice",
Amnesty says the burden of proof is "shockingly low" and that much
of the "evidence" against the men was extracted under torture in
the US and is therefore inadmissable under International Law.
Problem is that the government's decided to keep all this
"evidence" secret - even from the accused themselves, who
therefore are unable to challenge it or defend themselves.

Did someone say "the presumption of innocence is fundamental to
fair criminal trials"? Not in Britain, mate.


Inside SchNEWS
There is a picket of the Greek Tourist Board this Saturday (8) in
protest of the continued imprisonment of the Salonika 7, who were
all arrested for protesting at the EU summit in late June under a
blanket charge. They are currently all on hunger strike - 5 of
them have not eaten for a month and have been refusing hospital
treatment. 11am-1pm Conduit Street, London. Bring banners,
placards, whistles, pots and pans. See www.freesimonchapman.org

There's also a benefit gig on the same day in Cardiff at Clwb Ifor
Bach, 8pm.


...and finally...

Wax Off!
Fed up with Tony Blair for always waxing lyrical about war, a
group calling themselves the Opposition Society decided to put
their words into action and on Tuesday called for women to wax for
peace on National Get Rid of That Bush Day. Posters around
Brighton called for other women to join them in protest and to
"Wax 'em off, put 'em in an envelope and send 'em to Tony Blair
with a message stating 'I got rid of my Bush now you get rid of

George Bush is coming to the UK from 19th to 21st November ... to
find out more about direct actions and protests against the coming
of the evil one check out our party and protest guide on
www.schnews.org.uk To plan women's actions against bush send an
email to God_shave_the_queen-s-subscribe@yahoogroups.com


SchNEWS warns all readers ready to stamp on the letter of the law,
not to worry if SchNEWS is a bit late this week - it's in the
post! Honest!



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