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Year 2000 No. 180, October 25, 2000 Archive Search Home Page

Desperation of Peter Hain’s Anti-Iraq Propaganda

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Desperation of Peter Hain’s Anti-Iraq Propaganda

Scottish Council Workers Vote to Continue their Strike Struggle

New Workplace Surveillance Laws Come into Effect

Madeleine Albright Leaves DPRK

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Desperation of Peter Hain’s Anti-Iraq Propaganda

In the face of mounting public opinion and many protests by concerned people in Britain and throughout the world, the Foreign Office sees fit to intensify its anti-Iraq propaganda aimed at justifying the genocidal sanctions and the continued bombing of that country.

Peter Hain has distributed copies of details of what the Foreign Office terms "Saddam City", which is supposed to be a luxurious resort built for Saddam Hussein’s friends and relatives. The Foreign Office says it has obtained details of this complex from "intelligence". Journalists have pointed out that these reports had already been printed in newspapers last year.

The purpose of the Foreign Office’s rather desperate and pathetic efforts to discredit Saddam Hussein is to suggest that despite the incontrovertible evidence of millions of ordinary Iraqi people, especially children, who have died and are suffering as a result of the sanctions, it is really Saddam Hussein who should take the blame. It is not even necessary to refute the allegations of the Iraqi leader living in "luxury" to point out that the sanctions are vicious, immoral and punitive. There is also no shortage of evidence on the growing divide in Britain between the obscenely rich on the one pole and the growing impoverishment of the majority of the people on the other.

This propaganda war against the Iraqi government is coming at a time when the Arab peoples are building their solidarity in the wake of the suppression of the Palestinian struggle by the US-backed Israeli state. The British government is fearful of such solidarity, which threatens not only their position on sanctions against Iraq, but their strategic and economic interests – particularly, of course, those connected with oil production – in the Arab world. It also comes at a time when the whole Anglo-American doctrine of containment of so-called "rogue states" is becoming more and more tattered.

Meanwhile the British and US air raids go on – shrouded with a conspiracy of silence – on an almost daily basis over the "no-fly zones" in the north and south of Iraq, which have no international legitimacy whatsoever. According to Iraqi figures, 316 people have been killed and more than 900 injured in these raids since the end of operation "Desert Fox" in December 1998.

Britain is also shoring up its position in the Gulf region in this situation, with, for example, the arrival of a Royal Navy frigate to take part in what is termed the "illegal export of oil and other prohibited goods" from Iraq, as well as to bolster Britain’s naval presence in the region.

The conclusion that the British working class and people must draw is that they must step up their struggle to defeat the chauvinist and interventionist policies of the British government, as well as against all imperialist intervention. At the same time, they must merge this struggle into the work to build a world order where the people are sovereign and people of different social systems respect each other’s path of social development.

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Scottish Council Workers Vote to Continue their Strike Struggle

On Monday, Scottish council workers voted to continue their strikes.

The ballot of UNISON members showed 68% of the 34,600 taking part in the ballot had voted to reject the revised 6.1 per cent pay rise over two years and continue the struggle. The new offer meant just an increase of half a per cent on the previous one, with a further 3.1 per cent for next year. It is reported that the new selective action now planned would result in smaller core groups of workers going on permanent strike.

Joe Di Paola, UNISON’s Scottish local government organiser, was reported as saying: "Our members have no alternative now, but to reinstate the action by calling out on indefinite strike small groups of key members, moving the disruption into the heart of Scottish councils." Mr Di Paola was also reported as saying that the action would be supplemented by further one-day strikes involving all UNISON local government workers. He said: "UNISON members are angry and frustrated. The new offer shows no evidence of new money being used, does nothing for the lowest paid and goes no way to compensate for previous below-inflation pay awards."

Previous actions involving 70,000 council workers across Scotland in one day strikes took place on August 29 and September 20. A feature of the actions has been the unity of the workers in defence of their livelihoods, and a determination that their dignity would not be trampled on.

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New Workplace Surveillance Laws Come into Effect

Yesterday, October 24, the law came into force which will give employers the legal right to snoop on phone or e-mail communications at work.

The Lawful Business Practices Regulations has come under attack as infringing the right to privacy.

The code lays down rules for electronic monitoring and will have the status of law. It remains to be seen whether a challenge under the Human Rights Act would overturn the law. Under it, an employer will have the right to read an e-mail to find out if it is a business or private matter.

Sarah Veal of the TUC said: "It is wrong for an employer to be able to pry into what is essentially somebody’s private business, even where the company has a policy that people aren’t allowed to use the e-mails for external correspondence."

The CBI has welcomed the regulations, describing them as a "big step forward".

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Madeleine Albright Leaves DPRK

Madeleine Albright, US Secretary of State, together with her party, left the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea yesterday after a two-day visit.

The Korean Central News Agency reported that General Secretary Kim Jong Il again met and had a conversation with Madeleine Albright on October 25. Present on the occasion was Kang Sok Ju, first vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs. Also present were the suite members of the US Secretary of State.

KCNA reports that wide-ranging views on the issues of common concern were exchanged in the meeting and that Madeleine Albright expressed deep thanks for warm hospitality accorded to her by the DPRK side.

On paying a courtesy call to Kim Yong Nam, President of the presidium of the DPRK Supreme People's Assembly, the US Secretary of State expressed conviction that the improved US-DPRK relations would contribute to the peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and in East Asia. She noted that President Clinton is greatly interested in his Pyongyang visit.

At a press conference, the US Secretary of State said she came to the DPRK to convey to Chairman Kim Jong Il of the National Defence Commission the views of US President Bill Clinton on the improvement of DPRK-US relations and prepare for Clinton's visit. During her visit, she noted, she had hours-long constructive and in-depth conversation with chairman Kim Jong Il over various issues. She said that there was an earnest talk about "missile issue" and outstanding issues between the two sides.

She was very moved to see beautiful Pyongyang, she added. And she expressed thanks to Chairman Kim Jong Il for the special hospitality accorded to her during her visit to the DPRK, the first by a US Secretary.

News wires report that, in answering questions from journalists, Madeleine Albright said that she takes as serious what General Secretary Kim Jong Il said as to his desire to move forward to resolve various questions, in particular referring to a remark that North Korea would launch no more satellites.

The US Secretary of State said: "Chairman Kim was quite clear in explaining his understanding of US concerns." She said that they discussed security issues, terrorism, human rights and "the need for concrete steps toward tension reduction on the Korean peninsula." She added, "It is important that we work to overcome the enmities of the past and focus on a brighter future for our peoples."

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