British Strikes and Columbia

Donal donaloc at peterquinn.com
Wed Feb 6 06:04:26 MST 2002


Perhaps I'm an optimist, but seeing RMT official Crow on the TV last night
giving a rousing speech to his striking comrades was a good sight. Even
better was a random character interviewed from the train station who said
expressed his solidarity and understanding 'as a worker'.

I didn't think much of Socialist Alliance (mainly because of the CWI
representation in it) - but it seems that some groups, e.g. CPGB, are quite
serious. I read somewhere that London trains has the best educated ticket
collectors in the world - they all joined after leaving University and
worked their way up the union structures.

It's not a huge step forward but the British unions seem to be getting a
little more militant generally. At present its only the fire-brigades (FBU)
and RMT workers. Rumours of takeovers of the TGWU can hardly be believed,
although I would love to see Bill Morris Gen. Sec.) and his henchmen get
what they deserve. Mick O'Reilly, probably the most outstanding (trade)
unionist in Ireland, is still fighting his suspension from the position of
regional (It's that damned Irish 'region' again, Bill!) secretary of the
ATGWU at the behest of it's London (TGWU)leadership. It's actually amazing
to think that the Blairite London-based Union leadership can pull the plug
on a Dublin-based 'regionally' elected official. His crime, it seems, is
that he opposes the consensus on Social Partnership in the twenty-six
counties, supported a strike (naughty!) and incorporated the Irish train
drivers (ILDA) into his union when Bertie Aherne and his friends in Iarnród
Éireann were just about to squeeze them. The British leadership thought that
'Unionist' Trade Unionists from Harland and Woolf would cut the throat of a
'Republican-Socialist' Trade Unionist at the first chance they got - they
tried some nice rumours about his political leanings and his 'poor'
relationships with PUP-style trade unionists. Fortunately, it seems that we
have stuck together on this one - Mick had built up good relations with the
Belfast and Northern sections - the pressure is now back on Morris and his
clique. It's also raised the question of whether we need an Irish union
rather than one controlled by London - you know my feelings on this, but the
Belfast pro-British element is now starting to see sense on this one too.

It just goes to show that the efforts of individuals to advance trade union
consciousness is worthwhile - but that's all it is. The sad point is that's
all we have got in developed countries. Some British Union (GMB?) issued a
chauvinist statement yesterday when virtually the entire production floor
was shed at Dyson (a British-based Vacuum Cleaner Manufacture) for
relocation in Malaysia (lower labour costs). Blair has presided over the
completion of Thatcher's project of destruction on Britain's manufacturing
base - joining the agricultural base in the graveyard of the past. It all
made me think, where is capitalism going to, it seems that the future for
the workforces in the West is bleak. Our standards of living are too high
for capital, they will have to be reduced to those of the poor in the third
world. In the end, only service jobs which can't be transfered to the
periphery will remain to provide employment for those not involved in
financial or project management. I can see rural populations dropping even
further as services in the countryside are gradually removed through the
pressures of population loss. The British news last night focussed on the
Blairite government's focus on the IT and high-skilled sectors - but these
will only transfer to the third world as soon as they get skilled up - as
Ireland is already discovering to its cost. Out of this disruption two
forces can arise, Chauvinism (tainted with Fascism) and Socialist
Revolution. How we in the various social movements at the moment play into
all this is anyone's guess in the end - but guys like Crow et al, are
leading the way. The other question is whether all this will happen quickly
enough to relieve those who have already taken the brave step and are
holding on for dear life - e.g. Cuba, Mohammed!

Anthony, I read the Telegraph or some other right wing press said that
(according to a Congressional Enquiry) the US observed small nuclear bomb
type explosions in the forest in the despeje. An implosion bomb is very
powerful. Basically, I think they are supposed to be composed of cylinders
of gas surrounded by explosives - the initial blast goes outwards and then
sucks inwards with a terrible force - really does some damage to
anything/anyone in any proximity at all. You can do variations with what's
in the cylinders and the exact nature of the packing around them. The
Russians used air-implosion bombs against Chechen civilians - with dreadful
consequences. I can't confirm it, the Torygraph could just be publishing
this stuff to frame/exaggerate the story, I just wondered if you heard
anything of it over there.

As for the US guarding such a length of pipeline - I just can't see them
doing that. If I was a planner such an action would require US troops to be
proactive. You don't try to defend a line in the sand that would cost them
immense casualties - you widen it out - this is clearly just an excuse for
full-scale US involvement against FARC-EP. I am quite surprised at the
blatant nature of their intervention - if there is something the peace
movement should be able to get onto it's this. For (I guess) understandable
reasons, many wouldn't protest about Bin Laden and the bombing of Afghan
women/children; if they won't come out now - then Bush and his cronies will
be virtually unassailable in the future. As for FARC, let's hope they're
building those bombs with gusto.

Is mise,

Domhnall.




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