Year 2000 No. 151, September 14, 2000
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
Government Treats People with Contempt! Who Should Decide?
Health Workers Convey Their Solidarity in the Fight against High Fuel Prices
Letter of Support from UNISON, Gateshead Health Branch
News In Brief
Armed Forces Deployed
Tony Blair on National Crisis
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The government is treating the protests over the high cost of fuel with contempt.
Its response to the grievances of all those affected by this high cost, the vast majority of people in society, is to bring in emergency measures and mobilise the armed forces. It is blaming those taking action for putting lives at risk and jeopardising the economy. But people are aware that the actions against the fuel costs are expressions of the legitimate concern, not to be dealt with by vindictive and groundless accusations from above.
Neither should the blame for the present situation be shifted to the OPEC countries, or the economic system, with the aim of eliminating the protests and getting the government off the hook.
The actions have struck a chord with the sentiment of the majority of people, because they are striking at the marginalisation of the people from decision making. Here are people taking action not only in defence of their own interests, but declaring that this is in the general interests of society also.
If the government disagrees, how is the matter to be decided? Why is it that the government stands opposed to the popular will? How should the political system and processes be organised so that the government embodies the popular will and the people gain control over their own lives?
These are some very fundamental question that the actions are raising.
Last night a delegation on behalf of nurses and other health workers received a very warm welcome when they delivered a letter to pickets at the Jarrow BP Oil terminal in the North East.
The Unison branch was responding to the government propaganda that allegedly it is the action of lorry driver, farmers in blockading the oil depots that is putting patients at risk. The letter points out that health workers understand that it is not the action of the pickets that is affecting them but the stand of the New Labour government. It cites the district nurses in particular who have been severely affected by the high fuel costs when they have only one very small rise in their car mileage allowances in 13 years. Lorry drivers, farmers, fishermen and their families, as well as local people gathered around a spokesperson who stood on a lorry and read out the statement. The letter from the health workers finished with the words, "We should stand together to fight for a society that recognises the needs of all." This received a huge cheer from those gathered on the picket line.
After the meeting people commented that this contribution from the health workers was very timely and would lift moral in the face of the government propaganda of Tony Blair that it was the protesters that were putting people at risk.
On behalf of the branch committee of Unison, Gateshead Health branch, I wish to convey our support to the lorry drivers, farmers, taxi drivers, fishermen and all others fighting against the government continuing to maintain high fuel prices.
We bring you the solidarity of the vast majority of health workers at the Gateshead Health Trust. Our members who are district nurses are amongst many who have been severely affected by the high fuel costs, having received only one very small rise in their fuel allowance in 13 years! They and the other health workers understand that it is not your action that is affecting them but the stand of the New Labour government.
This is the content of a motion passed today, at a branch committee meeting.
We should stand together to fight for a society that recognises the needs of all.
Maddy Nettleship (Secretary)
It is reported that the armed forces are deploying oil tankers across the country as the fuel crisis deepens.
The Ministry of Defence has said that about 80 tanker lorries from the Army, Navy and RAF are being deployed to strategic points across the country. The tankers are being accompanied by mobile fuel dispensers, enabling them to operate in effect as mobile petrol stations.
An MoD spokeswoman said: "They are being deployed, not employed. They have not yet been authorised to supply fuel, but they are being made available for if the need arises. The MoD does have a fuel stock. It is making drivers, vehicles and fuel stock available if it is asked to."
Tony Blair has accused the protesters of putting "lives at risk". He said real damage is being done and is urging the picketers to stop their blockade.
About 500 tankers have moved out of oil refiners and depots around the country under police escort. However, although Tony Blair said he hoped the situation would be "on the way back to normal", he admitted that there is a "considerable" way to go.
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