Workers Solidarity 103

Date:

Issue 103 of Workers Solidarity -May-June 2008

Articles in this issue include:

  • No to Lisbon
  • Water tax is a double tax
  • Celebrating May Day
  • Nine Derry people face jail for decommissioning weapons
  • Thinking about anarchism: why managers mess up
  • American Soldiers Speak Out Against The War
  • Health March: Enough is Enough
  • Review: Flat Earth News
  • Housing Executive to cut 400 jobs
  • Belfast: Direction action gets the goods!

No to Lisbon
If you trust our bosses and politicians to have made an agreement that is in the best interests of ordinary European workers, even if they won’t let us read it, then say yes to Lisbon. If, like us, you know our bosses and politicians too well to buy that, then say no.

Water tax is a double tax
The Northern Assembly plans to charge for water from next April. We already pay for water, it’s part of the rates. We are being told to pay twice. Our rates bill won’t be reduced by the amount of the new tax, all we have been offered is that rates will stay at their current amount for three years. Oh, and District Councils can increase the rates anyway. The plan is to get us to pay more, making the water supply a very profitable affair. Then it will be sold off to private firms like Thames Water. There is little idea of public service, just screw ordinary families so that the owners of the water companies can make even bigger profits.

Celebrating May Day
The 1st of May as International Workers’ Day dates back to the struggle for the 8-hour working day in the USA. In 1886 the American Federation of Labour declared that after May 1st, “8 hours shall constitute a legal days labour”. Between that declaration and May 1st workers all around the United States went on strike to make their employers agree to a shorter work day.

Nine Derry people face jail for decommissioning weapons
Nine people from Derry are facing jail sentences for their part in ‘decommissioning’ weapons of war. The silence from official Ireland is striking. Not a murmer from Nobel Peace Prize winners John Hume and David Trimble, or from Cowan or Paisley, or Adams or Gormley, or Gilmore or Empey. Not even an empty platitude from Bono or Bob Geldof. Nobody was harmed but computers belonging to a multinational arms firm were tossed from windows and destroyed. It seems that the right of arms dealers to make big profits is a lot more important than the right to life of people in the Lebanon.

Thinking about anarchism: why managers mess up
Mis-management is crucially tied up with the way work is organised under capitalism. Under the present arrangement management often hold the control levers in a workplace – be that a building site, a factory, a hospital or office – because they control the allocation of resources and flow of information. Safely cutbacks and what we see as ‘mismanagement’ are a consequence of this particular arrangement.

American Soldiers Speak Out Against The War
While in Florida, Andrew Flood of the WSM attended a local 'Winter Soldier' hearing. These are public meetings where United States ex-soldiers of the Iraq testify against the war.

Health March: Enough is Enough
Appoximately 5,000 people turned out for the “March for a Decent Public Health Service” held on Saturday, 29th March in Dublin. Various Trade Unions, patients groups from around the country and political organisations were represented.

Review: Flat Earth News
This is an extraordinarily detailed exposition of how the modern media functions. The author, veteran Guardian journalist Nick Davies, along with a team of researchers from Cardiff University, spent several years monitoring the British media and tracing the sources of the stories that they carried. The results were pretty shocking, even for somebody who already has a very low opinion of the corporate and state media.

Housing Executive to cut 400 jobs
Members of the public service union, NIPSA, were protesting outside the Housing Executive on March 26th. The Union has accused management of sacking over 60 temporary staff in the past few weeks without any consultation, and without any arrangements being made to cover the work. Bosses had previously agreed to take no action until the union had seen new staffing plans, but then went ahead and broke the agreement.

Belfast: Direction action gets the goods!
Following three successful pickets of Delaney’s restaurant in Belfast sacked worker Dasa Kacova has won all her demands and been offered her job back.

WSM activity March-April 2008

That's Capitalism

In April Merck, the pharmaceutical multinational with a plant in Tipperary, was ordered to pay $2.3 billion in back taxes, interest and penalties in one of the largest settlements the U.S. Internal Revenue Service has ever imposed. Of the $2.3 billion Merck has to pay; only $100 million dollars is a fine. No Merck official has been charged with a crime.

U.S. companies increasingly move their profits to tax havens like Lichtenstein, Md the and the Cayman Islands. The result of this and other sorts of tax evasion is that nearly two-thirds of the companies operating in the USA reported owing no taxes from 1996 through 2000. Latest figures, due this year, are expected to show that big business has paid even less in recent years. Since the 1960s the percentage of federal tax that comes from corporations has declined from around 30% to around 8%.

As Bank of Ireland announced record profits of over €1.32bn, they said thanks to the staff who do the actual work by also announcing 2,160 job cuts.

Staff in the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office want to join AFSCME, one of the largest unions in the United States. Attorney General Lori Swanson responded by summoning the workers in small groups to a conference room. With two supervisors and two judges watching, the workers were asked to mark an anti-union ballot. Seemingly, you have the right to join a union but only if your boss agrees! April saw eight Irish politicians in South Africa to study poverty. They did this from their base in the five star Westin Arabella in Cape Town, where rooms cost €700 a night.

Staff in the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office want to join AFSCME, one of the largest unions in the United States. Attorney General Lori Swanson responded by summoning the workers in small groups to a conference room. With two supervisors and two judges watching, the workers were asked to mark an anti-union ballot. Seemingly, you have the right to join a union but only if your boss agrees! April saw eight Irish politicians in South Africa to study poverty. They did this from their base in the five star Westin Arabella in Cape Town, where rooms cost €700 a night.

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