Year 2000 No.74, April 20, 2000

TUC Establishes "Partnership Institute"

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TUC Establishes "Partnership Institute"

Rolls Royce Workers Rally against Proposed Job Cuts

DPRK Sends Greetings to Zimbabwean President

Arbitrary Oppression Continues In Turkey

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TUC Establishes "Partnership Institute"

TUC General Secretary John Monks announced on April 13 the setting up of a Partnership Institute, which will "provide consultancy, training and research to companies and unions that want to establish or deepen partnership arrangements". The Institute, according to the TUC, aims also to support a network of organisations learning from each other about successful partnerships, and provide research and policy development that promotes partnership at work.

The announcement was made with the launch of a TUC research paper – A Boost to Business – which found that companies who recognise their unions and collaborate with them are more successful in the marketplace. The report draws on research published in the government-sponsored Workplace Employee Relations Survey and British based and international research material which reveals an apparent link between employer union recognition, partnership and a successful business.

John Monks then embarked on a nation-wide tour, visiting employers who, according to the TUC, adopt a positive approach to industrial relations. As part of this TUC offensive to push the programme of partnership, John Monks also addressed the Institute of Directors Convention to tell them the news that "partnership is the key".

It is interesting, to say the least, that this TUC offensive is being undertaken at a time when the movement of the workers is growing against the most spectacular failure of the programme of "social partnership", that at Rover. It was little more than a year ago when the workers employed at Rover were being told that partnership was a win-win situation for both worker and capitalist, and that the agreement which involved workers becoming even more flexible to suit the company was a historic landmark for the programme of partnership which would end all fear of the future for the workers. Now many tens of thousands of jobs are on the line, and workers are on the move.

John Monks in addressing the Institute of Directors felt the need to refer to "our historic mission" as regards the organised workers. This is not as the class which will rally the masses of the people round it and lead the way out of the crisis, nor as the class which will constitute itself as the nation and take hold of what belongs to it, the wealth it creates, so as to build a modern socialist society. The "historic mission" that John Monks was referring to is "to ensure that the workers’ role in wealth creation receives the recognition it deserves and that labour is not just another factor of production". It could be argued that this formulation is also justified, but in the mouth of John Monks it means implementing a "partnership agenda" where the unions are not "part of the problem" for the employers but "part of the solution" so that partnership "is no burden on business but the secret to success".

Neither the TUC report nor John Monks mentioned that the partnership approach between unions and employers is designed to cover over an economic reality – that the workers and the capitalists have incompatible interests. The latter seeks the making of maximum capitalist profit through increased exploitation of the workers and the destruction of the national economy; the former to resist that exploitation, fight for their rights and their dignity, and implement a programme which will take society out of the crisis.

There is no reason why the workers should feel compelled to accept the partnership agenda or feel guilty in rejecting it. It is an agenda which creates the utmost illusions about the capitalist system and tries to engage the workers in the programme of the rich of globalisation. It is an agenda which hopes to buy off the workers to identify with the aims of monopolies, but which is increasingly leading to disaster for both the workers and the economy. It is an agenda which holds increasingly empty promises for the workers provided they do not organise themselves to bring about a new and modern society.

The workers should break out of the pressure placed on them to subordinate their own interests to ensure the capitalists and financial oligarchy achieve their ambition of national and international dominance – at the expense of both the workers themselves and the national economy. They must reject the TUC’s "partnership agenda" and that John Monks can speak to the employers supposedly in their name that the workers will support them if only they adopt this agenda.

Indeed, almost the last word can go to John Monks when he told the Institute of Directors, "we know that we cannot maximise both wages and profits", and also that "it does not mean our interests are synonymous". This is so. But Monks' trick is to pose the situation as if partnership in these circumstances was between equals, and say, "But so long as we recognise each other’s interests and seek to reconcile them with our own, we have a foundation on which we can build." He adds, "we can each acknowledge the need for a fair balance between the two (wages and profits). And we can seek to reach a compromise that all can accept as fair." Monks was right first time, the interests are not synonymous, they cannot be reconciled, workers cannot accept that a compromise can be reached which is fair.

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Rolls Royce Workers Rally against Proposed Job Cuts

As Rolls Royce projected big job cuts at their aerospace plants in Derby and Nottingham, workers rallied at Osmaston Park, Derby, on Tuesday in opposition to the risk to their livelihoods. Reacting to the threatened loss of their own jobs and the possibility of 1,000 more from Coventry, Sunderland and Bristol plants, union convenor Steve Joy of MSF said the workers should not "stand back and watch the company sack their loyal and dedicated staff to increase the share price".

Rolls Royce claim they need to streamline their business to remain competitive in the global marketplace. The Chief Executive recently promised shareholders large dividends due to the success of the company. In spite of this the Company say compulsory redundancy could be a method of saving money at the Derby plant because too few workers had opted to leave voluntarily.

Union representatives also pointed out that Rolls Royce seemed to be putting the interests of shareholders above those of the workers, at a time when the company had record orders and each of its plants was working to capacity.

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DPRK Sends Greetings to Zimbabwean President

The Korean Central News Agency reports that Kim Yong Nam, President of the presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, sent a message of greetings to Robert Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, on April 13 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the republic.

The message said that the Republic of Zimbabwe achieved great successes in its work for the development and prosperity of the country and made positive efforts for regional peace and stability for 20 years after its foundation.

It wished the President and people of Zimbabwe greater success in their work to defend the sovereignty of the country and national interests against the interference of foreign forces and expressed the belief that the friendly and cooperative relations between the two countries would further strengthen and develop.

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WDIE has recently received the April 2000 Bulletin of the Campaign for Human Rights in Turkey. The campaign was launched by the Liverpool Dockers' Shop Stewards' Delegation to Turkey, July 1996. The text of the Bulletin follows:


Newroz: In March the Kurdish spring festival Newroz was banned in Istanbul and Malatya on the grounds that the non-Turkish letter " w " was used in the publicity materials; but for the first time in years the festival was allowed in Diyarbakir. Token concessions are being made by the regime to impress the EU, while the reality of exile and oppression continues for the vast majority of ordinary Kurds and others. Martial law remains in force in the Kurdish regions and arbitrary arrests continue; recently of HADEP (Kurdish Party) leaders and of three elected mayors (all subsequently released).

Akin Birdal imprisoned again (March 29): Former Human Rights Association President Akin Birdal has been re-imprisoned, an application to postpone his prison sentence due to deteriorating health having been refused. Birdal was first imprisoned in June 1999 under a one-year sentence for having referred to Kurdistan on World Peace Day three years earlier.

Harassment of human rights lawyers: The Lawyers Rights Centre (CHD) reports (April 6) that 80 lawyers have complained to them about harassment from the authorities. while carrying out their duties in defence of their clients. They have been charged with arbitrary offences such as "insulting the judges" and "resisting the security forces". Lawyers have also been attacked by security forces (35 lawyers), arbitrarily summoned to court (7) and attacked by relatives of the other party in the case (4).

Students attacked by fascists and police: 81 students suffered arrest and/or injury at the hands of members of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP) and the police when fascists met at Ankara University in commemoration of Alparslan Turkes (former MHP leader). One student, Selma Simsek, remains in intensive care, while another, Gorkem Papuccuoglu, has received serious eye damage. (April 6, 2000)

Attack on children in prison: Ten children aged 11-15 in prison in Adana were attacked in their cell after requesting a TV. The 24 children in the prison are there only because their mothers are serving sentences. They have no access to education.


Privatisation: Aiming to meet the "adjustment criteria" for the EU and the demands of the IMF and the World Bank, privatisation continues apace in Turkey. The oil company POAS was privatised in March, with eight public companies to follow in April. Privatisation will include the railways, public banks, the energy and telecom sectors, petro-chemicals and major food industries. Government subsidies for agriculture will be cut. The insurance and health departments in the Institution for Social Security will also be privatised. Twenty-two thousand workers are expected to lose their jobs in the first stages of privatisation. Denied the right to work, most will not have access to benefits. On March 2, 4,000 POAS workers in Izmir protested, as did thousands of rail workers from March 22-29. Workers' demands are against privatisation, MAI, privileged retirement plans for MPs, and for jobs, welfare rights and better working conditions.

Attacks on labour rights: The government is planning to revise over 200 articles of labour legislation. The aim is to weaken organised labour in preparation for privatisation by introducing individual contracts and undermining collective bargaining and the right to strike.

Trade unionist supporters attacked: On March 8, hundreds gathered at a cemetery in Istanbul in remembrance of Suleyman Yeter, the trade unionist tortured to death in custody last year. Hundreds including women and children were injured in a police attack and almost 200 hundred were detained.

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