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Year 2000 No. 179, October 24, 2000 Archive Search Home Page

Why Should the Workers Not Stand at the Head of the Struggle against High Fuel Prices, As with All the Movements of the People?

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Why Should the Workers Not Stand at the Head of the Struggle against High Fuel Prices, As with All the Movements of the People?

Kim Jong Il Meets with Madeleine Albright

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Why Should the Workers Not Stand at the Head of the Struggle against High Fuel Prices, As with All the Movements of the People?

It may well be true, as has been suggested from a variety of quarters, that if it had been the organised workers who had been the ones picketing the oil refineries, then the police would have been far more ready to break up the pickets and arrest the picketers.

But it has been unwise, to say the least, for trade union leaders and others in the workers’ movement to suggest that the state should be more prepared to take this action against those participating in the blockades, and to suggest a campaign to safeguard the safety of the tanker drivers against "abuse and threats".

Last Friday, Britain’s most senior Chief Constable, Tony Burden of South Wales who is the new president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said that police "are determined that blockades and intimidation will be dealt with very firmly". The line of the police and the Home Office is that no arrests were made during the protests last month because many of the cases of intimidation were not known. Mr Burden said: "We now have in place joint working arrangements with government, the oil companies and the trade unions to ensure we will have the necessary information quickly and are able to act straight away."

So the net result is that the repressive forces of the state are to be strengthened and more legitimate expressions of grievances turned into law and order matters and those demonstrating made the target of criminal proceedings. When the workers have picketed, such as during the miners’ strike, when was the shrill chorus accusing them of threats, intimidation and worse ever absent? Now certain trade union leaders, noticing an inequality of treatment, have been instrumental in calling for equality of repression of the protesting forces. Meanwhile the anti-trade union laws which forbid secondary picketing remain in place. Who is to say that a state more ready to take action against picket lines at fuel refineries will not also be more ready to take action against any political action from workers, youth or other sections of the people. The facts are, this is the direction in which society is moving and which should be firmly fought, with the workers standing at the head of this struggle.

Instead of making common cause with the protesters, various trade union leaders have contrasted these actions with "legitimate trade union disputes of the 1980s". It is ironic that the very stand they are taking against those involved in the blockades is reminiscent, to put it no more forcibly, of the stand the bourgeoisie was taking against those very same "legitimate trade union disputes of the 1980s".

The conclusion is there to be drawn that what is really decisive factor for them is that at present there is a Labour government which they are determined to keep in power, whatever this government’s programme, just as big labour is being approached once again to have the government’s ear. This cannot be the way forward in deciding on what is a just and what is an unjust struggle.

The issue comes that if different sectional interests are at play or the government stands against the people’s will, how are these matters to be resolved? It would seem that these trade union leaders would like the forces of the state to be used where it goes against the policy of the Labour government, whereas when it comes to making British companies successful in the global marketplace, it is advocated that the workers and their bosses are in a "win-win" situation that is beneficial for them both. So the point is, if the government stands against the popular will, then the people with the working class at the head must fight for democratic renewal of the whole political process, and differences among various sections of the people must be sorted out on a political basis, and not by invoking the forces of law and order, as if all the people involved were merely common criminals.

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Kim Jong Il Meets with Madeleine Albright

On Monday, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright opened a historic visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Madeleine Albright’s party includes North Korea policy co-ordinator Wendy Sherman and negotiator Charles Kartman.

The Korean Central News Agency reported that General Secretary Kim Jong Il received the US Secretary of State on Monday, conveying the views of US President Clinton on the improvement of the DPRK-US relations directly to him, and preparing for Bill Clinton's visit. Present on the occasion was Kang Sok Ju, first vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs.

On the occasion, reports KCNA, Madeleine Albright presented with respect a personal letter to leader Kim Jong Il from US President Clinton. Kim Jong Il expressed thanks for this and had a sincere conversation with Madeleine Albright. General Secretary Kim Jong Il arranged a dinner in honour of US Secretary of State in the evening and the dinner proceeded in a cordial atmosphere.

It is reported on the news wires that Madeleine Albright and Kim Jong Il talked initially for two hours, took a 10-minute break, then met for another one-hour session. Washington described the talks as "substantial". A second meeting between General Secretary Kim Jong Il and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is expected today.

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