WORKERS' WEEKLY Vol. 29, No. 6, February 20, 1999

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Newspaper of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)

170, Wandsworth Road, London, SW8 2LA. Phone 0171 627 0599

Article Index

Workers Need to Prepare for the Coming Revolutionary Storms

Preparing fo the 3rd Congress: Participating in Setting the Agenda in Order to Implement It

No to the Invasion of Yugoslavia!

Britain Must End its Colonial Occupation of Gibraltar

Rover Crisis: There Is No Such Thing as the “Third Way”

Racism of the State Must Be Ended and Rights of Minorities Upheld

Key Theoretical and Political Issues: The Working Class Must Constitute Itself as the Nation and Vest Sovereignty in the People

Increase in “Mega Mergers” against the Interests of the People


In Opposition to the Anti-Social Offensive in Waltham Forest

Firefighters Oppose Further Cuts in London Fire Service

Southwark Council Workers Threaten Strike

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Workers' Weekly Is Improving

Successful UEL Student Occupation

North of Ireland: March 10 Draws Closer

News In Brief

BP Amoco to Sack Further 3,000

Kirklees Plans PFI for School Services

"Recession is Already Upon Us

Culture: After the Second Massacre in My Town

News update from Turkey: Attacks on Yeni Evrensel

Message from CC of RCPB(ML) to Kin Jong Il

No Pressure upon DPRK Will Work

Workers Need to Prepare for the Coming Revolutionary Storms

WHAT ARE the objective and subjective conditions in society pointing towards? This is a major point of contention between the various social forces. Yet there is a reality there to be discovered.

Is the crisis of this present social system to continue or is there a way out? Our Party has declared that there is a way out of the crisis. The objective and subjective conditions point the way forward to a new society. It cannot be otherwise when objectively society has been socialised to the maximum, when one is not born simply to a family which fends for its every need, but is born to society, which is duty bound to meet the claims of its members. Yet the economic system is anachronistic, the political system is outdated, the culture which is promoted is so rotten and debased. Yet the old forces scream that the foundations of society cannot be touched, that this system is at base immutable, only some reforms are necessary.

So these old forces, the reactionary bourgeoisie, the rich, and their political representatives are intent on blocking the forward motion of society, and not solving any of the problems the working people are faced with. They are saying that conditions are pointing towards globalisation where the medieval principles of “Might Makes Right” and devil take the hindmost operate.

This is evident from what is happening in society with mega-mergers, the prospect of a world depression, workers being thrown out of jobs on a massive scale and all and sundry being urged in these circumstances to fend for themselves, while the whole society is supposed to pay tribute to the rich. It is also evident from what politicians like Tony Blair are saying. In the face of the evidence of this struggle between the old and the new, between the demand for a new society and the insistence of the rich that the old should be preserved, that there is no next stage of development, Tony Blair declares that there is a “Third Way”. This “Third Way”, however, consists of intensifying the anti-social offensive against the people, of declaring that single mothers should have their children removed, that they should be institutionalised, that those that constitute a “danger” to society should be detained without trial, that there should be a “new contract for welfare” to replace the “something for nothing society”, the “walk-on by society”, that children under ten should be condemned for their anti-social behaviour and curfews imposed on them, that young teenagers should be branded as criminals. At the same time as ignoring the responsibility of society towards its members and targeting the vulnerable, Tony Blair declares to the world that Britain’s “responsibilities do not stop at the English Channel”. We see in the press that it has become an acceptable social comment to liken development under New Labour to the developments which took place in the 1930s under Hitler’s Germany. Well, maybe it is not so far fetched. The fascist slogans of those times were centred around making their countries “great again”.

In this situation, the workers are not aloof from these developments, and are not able to remain aloof. Not only this, it is the working class which has the solutions to these problems. The only guarantee for the future is social revolution. The workers need to prepare to turn things around so as to be in a position to take control of their lives, so that the people are in the position of decision-makers. It is the elaboration and the implementation of a fighting pro-social programme which is the stand the workers must take right now as the necessary step in preparing for the coming revolutionary storms. This fight for the victory of this programme is the immediate task in preparing for the triumph of socialism in the strategic sense. In a world going through its present historic shift, workers taking up the work for the victory of this programme will find their bearings in the revolutionary storms ahead and take the road to a new socialist society.  

Article Index


Participating in Setting the Agenda in Order to Implement It

THE characteristic of the Congress is that it is the highest body, the highest decision-making organ, of the Party. It is where the whole membership sums up the Party’s work since the previous Congress, ratifies and takes up as its own, takes responsibility for, affirms, sets out, the general line of the Party, and deliberates on and lays down the programme, the all-round political, organisational, ideological, theoretical tasks, for the Party and the working class for the coming period.

It is not left to chance who attends the Congress. On the contrary, an intensive plan of working out and applying for credentials has been put into operation. This is part of the planned and conscious work of making the necessary preparations to ensure that the Congress is a profound success. Thus, although it is the Central Committee which is leading and directing this work of preparation, it is the basic organisations, the mainstay and lifeblood of the Party, which are shouldering the responsibility of implementing this plan. This they are doing with honour.

This work, as part of the preparatory work, is ensuring that everyone who attends the Congress does so fully conscious of their status in participating in its proceedings, whether as a voting delegate, a non-voting delegate or as an observer. It is an indispensable part of the responsibilities of the delegates, and a principle, that they themselves are the ones that set the agenda. Only if they consciously participate in setting the agenda will they fully participate in implementing the agenda. It is indispensable therefore, given the momentous and historic nature of the Congress, that a plan is also in operation to ensure that all delegates fully participate in setting the agenda, and that no one who does not participate in some way in setting the agenda is a delegate. This agenda is set in the context of the character and aims of the Third Congress.

The study of the preparatory materials for the Congress, most importantly the documents of the November 1998 National Consultative Conference of RCPB(ML), released for inner-Party discussion, is integral to setting the agenda of the Congress. Working to set the agenda is one of the focuses, the primary focus, of the study of this preparatory material. This study goes hand in hand with the constant work and the organising work of the Party, particularly the work set in the initiatives proposed by the 1998 National Consultative Conferences as preparatory to the Congress. Taken together, this work enables the delegates to fully participate in setting the agenda of the Congress in order to fully participate in implementing this agenda in the proceedings and deliberations of the Congress itself.

The Third Congress is taking place from Friday, March 19, 1999, to Sunday, March 21, 1999, inclusive. To apply for credentials to attend the Congress, please get in touch with the Party contact in your area, or write to the Central Committee of RCPB(ML) at 170 Wandsworth Road, London SW8 2LA, telephone 0171-627 0599, fax 0171-498 5407 or e-mail 

Article Index

No to the Invasion of Yugoslavia!

THE BIG POWERS are continuing with their plans to invade the Federal Republic Yugoslavia, while what they describe as “peace talks” between representatives of the Serbian and Yugoslav governments and the people of Kosova continue for a second week in Rambouillet, France. Britain and the other big powers are declaring that if an agreement is reached at the talks then 30,000 NATO troops will invade the territory of Yugoslavia, allegedly to “under-pin” the agreement. While if the negotiators fail to reach an agreement by noon today, Saturday, February 20, the deadline set by the so-called Contact Group, then NATO will resort to bombing raids on Yugoslavia in order to force an agreement.

"Peace talks"

At the present time neither side is willing to agree to the plans of the big powers. The representatives of the Kosovars are reluctant to agree to the disarming of the Kosova Liberation Army, and their demand for a referendum on the future of Kosova has been rejected. The Yugoslav government is refusing to accept the invasion and occupation of its territory by the big powers and it is this that is being presented as sufficient justification for air strikes to take place. Thus the bullying and threats continue and the people of Kosova and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are told that they have no choice, that they must obey the diktat of the big powers. At the same time it is clear that there is increasing contention and disagreement amongst the big powers themselves with Russia in particular refusing to agree either to the partition of Yugoslavia or the use of air strikes.

When a “senior US official” said about Madeleine Albright’s talks with the two delegations: “Through the entire day she tried to get people over their 19th century views that somehow autonomy and sovereignty are totally in conflict,” what does this mean? It is an indication that the she is juggling with these concepts in order to justify big power, especially US, interference and intervention. The reality is that Yugoslavia is refusing to grant Kosova even autonomy within a sovereign Yugoslavia. At the same time, the people of Kosova are justly demanding that they be allowed to exercise their sovereignty, as is the right of any people. By “19th century views”, Albright is indicating that to US imperialism, in an era of “globalisation”, neither autonomy nor sovereignty count for anything and, agreement or no agreement, the Balkans will be further flooded with interventionist troops.

It is clear that for the big powers “might makes right” and that their actions and the “peace talks” are not designed to bring peace to the region nor to recognise the rights of the Kosovars and other peoples in the Balkans. On the contrary their aim is to perpetuate instability in the region and provide the pretext for further intervention in the future.

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, recently stated that “our responsibilities do not end at the English Channel”. He alleged that Britain’s intervention in the Balkans was based on “humanitarian considerations” and made much of the fact that the NATO invasion force in Yugoslavia will be British-led, as if this was something to be regarded with pride. But any belief in Britain’s so-called “ethical foreign policy” must be totally rejected. The contention and interference of Britain and the big powers in the Balkans and throughout the world threatens to lead to even greater disasters in the future. The threats, bullying and warmongering of Britain and the other big powers must be condemned. What must be supported are the rights of the peoples of the Balkans and especially the rights of the people of Kosova to self-determination, the right to exercise their sovereignty and to determine their own futures free from outside interference. 

Article Index

Britain Must End its Colonial Occupation of Gibraltar

GibraltarA new dispute has developed between the British and Spanish governments over the status of Gibraltar. The British government refers to Gibraltar as a “British Overseas Territory”, but it is in fact one of Britain’s remaining colonial possessions, seized from Spain by military conquest at the beginning of the eighteenth century. The most recent dispute centred on the rights of Spanish fishermen to enter what the Foreign Office refers to as “British Gibraltar waters”. On January 27, a Spanish fishing vessel was arrested, despite an agreement between Britain and Spain last year, provoking demonstrations from Spanish fishermen and protests from the Spanish government. The Spanish government has now threatened not to recognise Gibraltar driving licences and has mentioned the possibility of banning flights from Gibraltar from using Spanish airspace.

But the root cause of this dispute is the refusal of the British government to recognise Spain’s sovereignty over Gibraltar. This it claims is impossible, since most of Gibraltar’s population are British citizens and the government is therefore powerless to act against their wishes. The same logic is used to claim that the Malvinas, which lie off the coast of Argentina, are also “British Overseas Territory”, and is referred to by the Foreign Office as a “modern, post-colonial principle”.

But the only principle involved here is that based on reactionary imperialist or colonialist logic belonging more to the 19th than the eve of the 21st century. The British government’s main interest in Gibraltar is a military and strategic one. The Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, has referred to it as a “valuable military asset for Britain”. It provides an important naval base and the only entrance to the Mediterranean from the Atlantic, and is located at the intersection of two continents.

Britain has no right to continue to occupy Gibraltar or its other colonial territories. As we prepare to enter the 21st century, the working class and all democratic people must demand that Britain sever all its colonial and neo-colonial ties.  

Article Index

Rover Crisis:

There Is No Such Thing as the “Third Way”

ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT political questions facing Rover workers at Longbridge is how they have been urged by union leaders and others to follow the “Third Way” of Tony Blair which calls on workers to stake their future in the “social partnership” between government, employers and unions to make their company BMW/Rover “successful in the global market”. But the hard reality of what is happening to the workers at Rover’s Longbridge plant is revealing that such a path as the “Third Way” and “social partnership” is a dangerous illusion that is pushed by the government. Put another way, the “Third Way” is in reality part of the ideological offensive in the present conditions of crisis and globalisation to justify the unjustifiable to the workers.

This reality shows that there is no such thing as Tony Blair’s “Third Way” and “social partnership” either with BMW, or with a government that represents the interests of these monopolies, or with the financial oligarchy who own them and that the union leaders cannot deliver what they claim. For this reason, when this “social partnership” deal became exposed, with BMW clearly ignoring even this deal and any concern over the fate of the British car industry in favour of maximising its profits, the government was forced to step in and express its “concern” and try and desperately salvage its “Third Way” ideology at Longbridge. It has been trying to do this by claiming that the balance of such a deal can be brought back in favour of the workers and this is what is behind the lightning visit by Stephen Byers, the Trade and Industry Minister, to Longbridge itself and Tony Blair’s unprecedented U-turn on the question of providing government aid to any proposed investment by BMW in Longbridge which clearly breaks the government’s previously held Thatcherite stand not to intervene in “bailing out” manufacturing industry.

For such a large and key section of the workers to draw the necessary conclusions as to the whole plan of New Labour to divert the working class with its “Third Way” and “social partnership” would be a significant step for the whole working class movement and a major blow for New Labour’s plan to divert the working class along this path. It would open new possibilities for the workers to confront the reality they are faced with and put forward their own solutions to the crisis in the car industry, the economy and society.

The issue that confronts the Rover workers is that there is an alternative way and that this is the way of the working class leading society out of the crisis. It is the way of the workers demanding that society stop paying tribute to the financial oligarchy and that society and production are geared to meet the needs of the people. The workers elaborating their own programme and their own ideology is key to defeating this ideological offensive of New Labour backed up by the trade union leaders and others that there is a “Third Way”, which is such a roadblock to the workers in fighting to defend their interests and the interests of society.  

Article Index

Racism of the State Must Be Ended and Rights of Minorities Upheld

Banner: Remember Stephen LawrenceTHE REPORT on the police investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence in April 1993 is due to be published next week.

The report is expected to criticise the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Condon. He has already gone on record as admitting to racism in the police force and police negligence in the investigations. The report is also expected to make strong recommendations for reform of the police complaints system. Two weeks ago, the head of Scotland Yard’s new race and violence task force ordered detectives to see if new charges could be found against the five people who have been accused of Stephen Lawrence’s murder. “Conspiracy to murder” is one such possible charge.

Recent weeks have also seen protests about deaths in police custody. One such was the death of Roger Sylvester who was overpowered by eight policemen. While police chiefs such as Sir Paul Condon have “admitted” “institutionalised racism” in the police force, deaths of what are termed “blacks” in police custody are promoted as flashpoints. The Stephen Lawrence case puts the spotlight on “racist whites” as well as this “institutionalised racism”. In other words, what is being promoted is conflict between national minority communities and the police. In the case of Roger Sylvester, the slogan is being promoted of: “Police are the murderers!” It is said to be being put forward by “black activists”. Tottenham is once again being promoted as a “flashpoint”.

While those in power advance the “virtues” of “equity” and “tolerance”, racist divisions and conflict are being pushed to the extreme. Working people are kept divided and the rights of minorities are not recognised. At the same time, everything is done to make out that the problem is not the state, that racism is something inherent in the person or even, as “institutionalised racism”, in the police, to be combated by any number of varieties of “racism awareness training”.

One thing is clear. The fact that for six years no one has been brought to justice for the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence proves that it is the British state and its government which must be held responsible for the killing of Stephen Lawrence and all racist violence against the people. If Sir Paul Condon and others are to be taken at their word that there is “institutionalised racism” in the police, how is it that they as the responsible individuals are not tried and convicted of a criminal offence? How is it that racist attacks and “institutionalised racism” still exist? Such facts show beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is the state and its government who are to be blamed.

The British state arose on the basis of a racist and religious division of the polity. The refusal of the government today to build a modern society which recognises the rights of all citizens and residents irrespective of their origin, race or language shows they have taken over the racist ideology of such a state. The government, in all its talk of “reform” has not even considered repealing the British Nationality Act which encourages divisions amongst the people on a racist basis and encourages the most backward elements to commit crimes against the people.

The struggle against racist attacks is first and foremost a struggle against the British state. It is a struggle against the opposition of the state and its government to opening a path to a new society, a society in which the rights of all are guaranteed and are recognised as inviolable, in which the people of different national backgrounds are provided with assistance so that their languages and cultures can flourish. The character of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and the rising incidence of racial violence demand that all people condemn and fight as one against state-organised racist attacks.  

Article Index


The Working Class Must Constitute Itself as the Nation and Vest Sovereignty in the People

THESE DAYS, when globalisation, neo-liberalism, and competing in the global market are being pushed by bourgeois political circles, the impression is created that the nation state is a thing of the past. Actually, it is not so much consigned to history as the maximum confusion and diversion is created over the question. At the same time as Tony Blair has been exhorting the workers to engage in social partnership to “Make Britain Great Again”, the emphasis has been put on making business successful by competing in the global economy. The people have been invited to become “stakeholders” in globalisation. In other words, the national context is left out of account, and even more the question of “which nation?” is not even raised, or raised half-heartedly. The bottom line is that more ways are being found of putting the assets of the British state, both material and human, at the complete disposal of the financial oligarchy. This is accompanied by an ideological offensive to make the workers forget that their struggles are carried out in a national context, as well as in an international context.

How does the communist and workers’ movement view this issue? It is instructive to recall what J.V. Stalin said at the 19th Congress of the CPSU(B) in October 1952. Stalin pointed out that the bourgeoisie had openly trampled the banner of democratic freedoms, of sovereignty and independence, into the mud. Addressing the communist and democratic parties, he declared: “I think it is you that must raise this banner, …and carry it forward if you want to rally around yourselves the majority of the population, …if you want to be the patriots of your country, if you want to become the leading force of the nation. There is nobody else who can raise it.” This, in essence, still conforms to how the issue presents itself today. The struggle for rights and freedoms must be taken up and led by the working class itself. Furthermore, in laying claim to taking control of and directing the assets of the state, the working class engages in a project of nation-building, while the financial oligarchy has no interest in such a project, is opposed to it, and counts independence and sovereignty as nothing.

Within the geographical territory of Britain, the English bourgeoisie has ensured that the state has been organised not along national lines but on the basis of the suppression and exploitation of the peoples of England, Wales and Scotland, as well as the occupation of Ireland. This British state has also plundered and conquered large parts of the peoples of the world. “British” and “Britain” became the chauvinist figment behind which English capital carried out its rule. Confusion has been spread about national identity, and the bourgeoisie has mixed up the concept of nationality with that of citizenship with measures such as the British Nationality Act of 1981. The bourgeoisie goes out of its way to imbue the workers with this chauvinism. It is promoted that things are basically fine in England compared with abuses of human rights elsewhere in the world, that one should be proud to be “British”. In these circumstances, how is it possible for people to sort out the relation between the English as a nation and the British state?

Within this situation the working class raises the banner of fighting for national rights. It raises as a starting point the necessity for modern sovereign states for the people of each nation. In such states it is the people in whom sovereignty will be vested, who themselves decide and participate in governance, who hold power. The question arises as to what this means for the English working class. The issue is that in order to break with the chauvinism promoted by the English bourgeoisie, to exorcise the legacy of hundreds of years of colonialism and racism, the English working class has to affirm its own rights. It has to call for modern sovereign states of England, Scotland, Wales, as well as Ireland. With modern sovereign states, the working class can begin to make its own history.

The working class must constitute itself as the nation, it must attain political supremacy, it must rise to become the leading class in the nation. The bourgeoisie has proved that today it is not concerned with the national economy; it is concerned with making and amassing the maximum capitalist profit. In this, the financial oligarchy utilises the state so that the whole society is forced to pay the rich. The working class constituting itself as the nation means that all these assets – national and international trade, the human and material resources – are put under their control. Its character is such that, unlike the bourgeoisie, it will not use these resources only for its own benefit, and exploit the people. On the contrary, in putting its stamp on the nation, the working class affirms the individual and collective rights and claims of all. It takes steps, practical mechanisms and arrangements, so that the people themselves are empowered, have control over their lives and the direction of the economy, and ensures that a modern constitution is in force that vests sovereignty in the people. Such a modern constitution also spells out the national rights of the peoples.

The working class upholds the right of sovereignty and self-determination of the Scots, Welsh, English, Irish and all peoples. It therefore stands for modern sovereign states of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The issue arises, what arrangements do these sovereign states make with others. The working class advocates a free and equal union between them, but only if the peoples of these states so decide. A union cannot be imposed.

In summary, the struggles of the working class and people are waged in a national context, as well as an international context, and the working class must consciously take up this national project. It must break with a vengeance from the chauvinism of the English bourgeoisie that represents British as a nation and confuses the question of nationality and citizenship, and affirm its own rights as a collective and harmonise these with the general interests of society. In short, the working class must constitute itself as the nation and vest sovereignty in the people.  

Article Index

Increase in “Mega Mergers” against the Interests of the People

Recent reports on the number of mergers taking place and in particular on the size of the companies involved in what are being described as “mega mergers” highlight the increasing monopolisation that is going on in all areas of the economy. Reports show that there were mergers world-wide totalling $2.3 trillion in 1998, compared with $1.5 trillion in 1997 and $1 trillion in 1996. According to these reports, mergers had also grown sharply in size, with the top ten last year worth $550 billion compared to $200 billion the year before. So, for example, where seven major monopolies previously existed in the oil industry, with the merger of Esso and Mobil and BP and Amoco it is likely that in the future these seven will be reduced to three or four.

In the same way, with recent “mega mergers” in the car industry there are now just four major monopolies operating world wide, General Motors, Daimler Chrysler, Toyota and Volkswagen. A similar situation can be seen right across other major sectors of the economy such as telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, defence, and so on. The creation of such large monopolies dominating different sectors is also increasing the dependency of relatively large and smaller companies for survival as these “mega” companies monopolise investment. So, for example, in the UK stock market, once these latest “mega” mergers go through, the top 15 monopolies will account for 45% of the value of the entire UK share market of 837 companies in all.

In Britain, through such “mega mergers” of BP – Amoco (oil) $61bn, BAe-Marconi (defence) $28bn, Vodafone AirTouch (telecommunications) $61bn, and the proposed Zeneca-Astra (pharmaceuticals) $43bn, the financial oligarchy without any increase in private assets are able to dominate even larger areas of production on a global scale regardless of the consequences for the national economies and the livelihoods of the people in the countries in which they operate. It further enables these and other monopolies to control the labour market, to control and fix prices, to monopolise financing and markets as well as to use the state apparatuses to implement the anti-social offensive and the pay the rich system at the expense of the welfare of the people and their social programmes.

Tony Blair would like to paint a picture of Britain PLC opening up the country to “mega mergers”, and inward and outward investment as “creating opportunity” for all and “Making Britain Great Again”. The reality is very different. These monopolies are storing up huge disasters for the people in their drive for monopolisation and global hegemony.  

Article Index


In Opposition to the Anti-Social Offensive in Waltham Forest

WAS THE SLANDEROUS ARTICLE in the Daily Mail accusing health staff at Whipps Cross Hospital of neglecting elderly patients part of the anti-social offensive aimed at justifying further privatisation and the road of PFI and PPP, of turning the health service into a source of profit for the rich? What can be said is that it was a vicious attack on the professionalism of the health workers, when it is clear that it is the underfunding of the health service by successive governments leading to chronic staff shortages, which puts an unbearable strain on the remaining workers and which creates condition where it is impossible to always maintain the level of care that health workers would want. What is clear is that it is the workers who are being made to pay for the anti-social offensive in the health service.

In fact it has been the health workers and professionals in Waltham Forest together with the local population who have already mounted vigorous campaigns to oppose the anti-social offensive launched by this and the previous government. They are doing every thing to defend the health service and make sure that it meets the needs of the local population. Last year as result of the struggles of the health workers and local people some of the planned cuts were reduced and plans for some closures were dropped altogether, even though the problem of chronic underfunding still remains.

Funding of the health service in Waltham Forest does not take account of the social needs of the area. By a perverse logic the government reasons that in areas of poverty and social deprivation, such as Waltham Forest, the wages of nurses and other health workers should be lower and therefore allocates even less financial resources to such areas, even though their needs in terms of ill health are greater than more affluent areas. The issue for the health workers and professionals and for local people is how can their struggles be waged so that they cannot only stop the attacks on Whipps Cross, its staff and the people they serve, but also reverse the whole attack that has been launched on the NHS. It is clear that they cannot appeal to the government. New Labour has openly declared itself in favour of a partnership between government and private finance. In other words they are committed to carrying out the demands and needs of the big financiers of turning the NHS into a source of profit making for the monopolies, while ignoring the wishes and needs of the people for health care provision for all, at the highest level that current skill and knowledge can provide.

The question that presents itself to the health workers and professionals and working people is the need to put forward and fight for their own pro-social programme, based on the principle that everybody in society has rights to health care and other social provisions at the highest level without discrimination, and that society should be organised so as to meet this claim. If society was so organised and if mechanisms were in place to empower the people to make the decisions on running the economy, the health service and all aspects of society, then would they not make sure that the health service was adequately funded? In such a society where human needs were at the centre of all considerations how would it be possible for the press to slander and malign the health workers or other working people.

In order to guarantee the future of the NHS, the health workers and professionals and all those concerned with the attacks on the health service in Waltham Forest must take a stand against the anti-social offensive. In Waltham Forest the anti-social offensive is not only on the health front. Currently council tenants are campaigning against massive 7% rent rises, which threaten to impoverish many people. Educational visitors working with pre-school children now face the possible elimination of their service by Waltham Forest Education Department. Their campaign supported by many including health workers has temporarily prevented the implementation of this proposed cut.

The unity of all those who are fighting against the anti-social offensive locally and throughout the country would create a powerful force. The perspective that should be taken up is one of establishing an independent programme, one that can open up the prospect of a new society where it is the health needs and other vital interests of the people that are paramount not those of the rich.

East London Branch, RCPB(ML) 

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Firefighters Oppose Further Cuts in London Fire Service

ON FEBRUARY 18, 800 representatives of London firefighters and the Fire Brigades Union held a lobby against further cuts in London’s fire service. Firefighters came from all over London, and as far afield as Scotland, to lobby the London Fire and Civil Defence Authority (LFCDA), responsible for running the London Fire Brigade, who are organising a “Fire Cover Review Consultation”. The Authority decided to seek Home Office approval for cuts and the loss of 116 jobs. On the same day, the Manchester fire authority also announced cuts and job losses.

The firefighters point out that because of consistent government underfunding the LFCDA review by the Chief Fire Officer proposes cutting five fire engines at Hillingdon, Finchley, Addington, Heston and Hornchurch. These come on top of the cuts that have already been made in recent years. In the last eight years, the LFDCA have closed three fire stations, cut 19 fire engines and 551 jobs, and from 1980 there have been over 1,300 job losses putting at risk the lives of firefighters and people throughout London.

Firefighters throughout the country have stepped up their resistance to the anti-social offensive in the fire service. Last year there were strikes and other industrial action in many parts of the country including Essex, Merseyside and Derbyshire. A few days ago, on February 15, a petition containing 40,000 signatures was handed in to Downing Street to oppose the present plans to cut the five fire engines.

This year firefighters in Waltham Forest, East London, have organised their own actions calling on local people for support and urging them to oppose the cuts. The Waltham Forest firefighters explained that in the last 10 years their station has also been hit by the cuts. In that time they have lost three fire engines and some 32 jobs, a cut of nearly 50% in staffing levels.

The strategy of the LFCDA, through the “Consultation”, is to ask the people of London to decide whether there should be further cuts in the fire service or even larger council tax bills. They claim, “It’s your fire brigade – tell us what you think.” But if the people of London were truly empowered is it not the case that they would refuse both of these options? The lives of the firefighters and the people of London cannot be thought of in terms of “efficiency savings”. On the contrary what is required is a modern fire service which truly meets the needs of the people and where safety and fire prevention are the central considerations.

East London Branch, RCPB(ML)  

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Southwark Council Workers Threaten Strike

WE HAVE received information that 80% of balloted workers at Southwark Council, South London, have backed strike action on Thursday, February 25, following the imposition of what the workers describe as “master-servant conditions”.

These actions are designed to last for one day followed up by other actions. This dispute centres around a new pay scheme called the Hayes scheme which is due to be imposed in April despite the continued opposition of the staff with their union’s support. Thousands of staff members are threatening not to sign the new contracts. The Hayes scheme will dramatically affect the pay of around 3,000 staff, a quarter of the entire work force.

The issue being raised by the workers is the lack of consultation, the effect on the workers and the consequential effects on public services if the council plans go ahead unchecked. Whilst most of the staff support this action, in some quarters there is a feeling of helplessness about the whole thing, almost a sense that it is inevitable that the plans will go through. What needs to be understood is that these actions fit into a general pattern, which can be witnessed throughout the whole country in both the public and private sector. This consists of an unrelenting offensive against the working class and people to get then to carry the burden of paying the rich. Whilst more responsibilities are forced on the individual worker, his or her remuneration is reduced which equates to a double pay cut. Too often these cuts are seen as isolated attacks by one particular employer, when evidently this is a national and international programme.

The opposition to it has to develop beyond “Stop the Cuts” slogans towards a programme for turning the situation around. What this struggle illustrates is the particular form the anti-social offensive is taking in this South London borough but in general it is similar to other strike actions up and down the country.

South London Branch, RCPB(ML)  

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Workers’ Weekly Is Improving

I would like to say that I think that Workers’ Weekly is improving as a paper and I find especially useful the Party reports and the extracts from Cuban and DPRK sources.

However, I and others I have discussed it with believe it still comes across as a bit dry, with it mostly being composed of news reports. Obviously, I understand that there is limited space available in the paper, but I think it (and its readers – especially new, less politically experienced readers) would benefit from regular theoretical/historical/educational pieces. Science and cultural issues could/should also be featured wherever possible.

A communist party’s paper should educate its leaders to as high a level as possible, don’t you think?


Thank you for your appreciative comments on the content of the newspaper. It is heartening that the efforts which have gone into Improving the Content of Workers’ Weekly are such that an improvement is being recognised by the readers. An essential part of the work to improve the content, as you will appreciate, is that the paper finds a response and feedback from its readers, and not least for this reason we are very pleased that you have written with your views. Your remarks on discussing it with others also show that you are playing a part in Extending the Readership! It is an essential part of the role of the newspaper that it reports to the working class and its readers on the activity and thinking of the Party, and we are very happy that you find these items especially useful, together with the extracts from the Cuban and DPRK sources. These areas of coverage will continue also in the future. As the Third Congress of RCPB(ML) approaches and takes place, the Party reportage is also likely to be stepped up to elucidate and elaborate the significance of the Congress.

We hope that when you receive the Verbatim Report of the Proceedings of the National Consultative Conference, July 18-19, 1998, of RCPB(ML) that you have ordered, it will also be helpful in giving further insight into the character and role of the Party’s newspaper.

The weapons of Workers’ Weekly in its coverage include news analysis, as well as political and economic exposures. The bulk of the articles in the paper would come into those categories, in the context of the paper being an instrument in the hands of the working class and other sections of the people to provide themselves with consciousness and organisation in the struggle to open a way of the crisis and bring about a new, socialist society. The form, the presentation, of the paper is very important in assisting the appreciation and giving full weight to the content in this respect, and certainly the style of writing is not irrelevant, and attention is being paid to improving the content is this way also.

On the question of theoretical, historical and educational pieces, as well as featuring science and cultural issues, the newspaper certainly does not have a policy of excluding such items. But, as you intimate, reasons of space, as well as where the main energies are focused, do come into play. We hope that such coverage will develop in the future, bearing in mind the importance of the issues of culture in social and ideological forms, as well as other forms.

Thank you again for your comments, which are very helpful. Please feel free to keep expressing your views or asking any questions you may have.


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Successful UEL Student Occupation

STUDENTS occupying buildings at the University of East London (UEL) achieved success in persuading management to meet their demands.

Protesting over education cuts, 258 UEL students had occupied the art and design building of Greengate House from February 11 to 16. Lectures had continued at Greengate House because, as a spokesperson for the students pointed out, the action was about education and not disruption. During the occupation the students held regular meetings and put up banners.

A demonstration of hundreds of students marched on February 16 from Greengate House to Stratford, East London. The students vacated the building after receiving the news from pro-vice-chancellor Jill Tucker that “the issues are being addressed earlier than had been envisaged. This means that orders have been brought forward and things have been marked urgent.” She was reported to have said that in staging their occupation, the students “had mistakenly thought the university did not have sufficient resources to meet their course needs”. A student spokesperson pointed out, “We have been promised £11,000 alone for photography and people’s contracts are being renewed.” The students also secured an agreement to employ an additional member of staff.  

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North of Ireland:

March 10 Draws Closer

THE British government set March 10 for the “devolution” of power to the executive of the Northern Irish Assembly. The deadline had looked in jeopardy as David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionists, insisted that Sinn Fein could not sit in the new administration until the IRA had begun to decommission its weapons.

It was reported that tempers had flared in the Assembly on February 15 as it attempted to hammer out a deal on forming the new executive. The debate came the day after an article in a Sunday newspaper in which the Irish Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, was reported as saying that Sinn Fein could not take their seats on the Assembly Executive without a hand-over of IRA weapons, and he was accused from some quarters of putting the peace process in jeopardy. However, he later appeared to recant, saying that there were no pre-conditions to the Good Friday Agreement.

Despite these arguments and disagreements, “devolution” was agreed by the members of the Stormont Assembly after they endorsed the proposal by 77 votes to 29. This now clears the way for Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam to instigate Assembly proceedings for the formation of the new executive on March 10.

It is reported that David Trimble and other members of the Ulster Unionist Party met representatives of Sinn Fein, including Gerry Adams, subsequently to start the process of hammering out a compromise on the workings of the executive. Both British and Irish governments have signalled that talks on decommissioning look set to intensify in the next fortnight in advance of the March 10 deadline for the executive arrangements in the Assembly.  

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BP Amoco to Sack Further 3,000

BP Amoco is laying off a further 3,000 staff in a move which is reported at being aimed at protecting its earnings. A drop in oil prices cut its fourth-quarter profits by 59 per cent to $524 million (£320 million). The company was formed by the takeover in January by BP of the US monopoly Amoco.

Kirklees Plans PFI for School Services

The West Yorkshire borough Kirklees has drawn up plans to put school services, such as cleaning, catering and caretaking, out to the private sector under PFI (Private Finance Initiative). Twenty schools would be involved. The contract would be for 25 years from April next year and would affect around 200 workers. The unions in which the workers are organised, UNISON, GMB, TGWU and AEEU, have pledged to fight the plans. UNISON has a national policy of opposition to PFI.

“Recession is Already Upon Us”

The “think-tank” the Oxford Economic Forecasting/London Business School reported on February 15 that the economy is likely to be already in recession. It said the economy is likely to contract in both the first and second quarters of this year. It said this was because of “a fall in demand” both in the domestic and international markets. It said growth for 1999 would be about 0.4 per cent, compared with 2.5 per cent in 1998.


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After the Second Massacre in My Town

We are printing below a poem written by a political refugee from Colombia. Her introduction for Workers’ Weekly reads:

The motivation for writing the poem was that for the second time, citizens of my home town of Vegachi were massacred by fascist paramilitaries. Fifteen people were killed on the spot and many disappeared on this second foray of the paramilitary forces who are encouraged by the state and the army to terrorise the people, for Vegachi is only one of many towns that include Jolombo and Segovia where massacres have taken place. These towns and other areas are penetrated by the paramilitaries almost at will for perpetration of crimes against humanity, as an example of what will happen to those who dare to criticise the regime, let alone try to take any kind of action.

The deterioration of an already oppressive political situation and the increase in human rights violations make me wonder if peace in Colombia will ever be a reality, yet only with peace can the country be rebuilt and develop for the benefit of all the people.

For several decades every effort to initiate a peace process to end what is in effect a civil war has met with failure, and this is the sad theme of the poem, of peace seeming to be in sight then disappearing again.

After the Second Massacre in My Town

In the Distance

I see from a distance
A light, a hope.
The light is flashing,
The hope has gone.

Souls are exhausted,
Resisting and waiting
For so long.
Solitude and isolation,
Fighting all alone.

Our hearts are open,
And also our hands,
Resisting and waiting
To restore peace on our land.

How many times
Have we shouted in vain
To get our voices heard?
Twice, and once again?

Our people have been tortured, massacred.
Battlefields are Colombia’s landscape.
Death, destruction,
Little chance to escape.

I see in the distance
A light, a hope.
The light is flashing,
The hope has gone.

Our voices are broken,
So our hearts.
Two oceans of tears,
Vast fields covered in blood.

I see in the distance,
And far away,
Peace approaching
And disappearing again

. London 1998


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News update from Turkey:

Attacks on Yeni Evrensel

From January 4, the distribution of Yeni Evrensel (New Evrensel), a daily revolutionary workers’ paper, has been banned in the Southeast of Turkey, Kurdish regions, including the areas declared under a state of emergency. No legal reason has been given by officials. The distribution company YAYSAT also stated that although there has been no legal decision against the paper, their lorries have been locked and the drivers beaten and forced to sign statements promising they will not distribute Yeni Evrensel.

The original Evrensel had been published since June 7, 1995, but had to terminate its publication life in November 1996 due to the charges made by the judiciary organs. After the publication of the daily paper Emek for 673 days and after its closure once again by the state, Yeni Evrensel, which stands for the defence of the rights and interests of the working class and the Kurdish people, began to come out on September 25, 1998.

The daily workers’ papers which have been published continuously in Turkey since 1995 have faced countless attacks, bans and arbitrary confiscations by the judiciary organs and security forces. Since the 1980 military coup, 40 Turkish journalists have been killed. These include the Evrensel journalist Metin Göktepe who was murdered by policemen on January 8, 1996, while in custody. The five policemen who had been sentenced for his murder were then released at a hearing on December 11, 1998. The latest hearing took place on Jnuary 29, when 2000 people gathered including an international delegation. Each hearing has been attended as if it were a public demonstration.  

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Message from the CC of RCPB(ML) to Kim Jong Il

February 16, 1999 (Juche 88)
Kim Jong Il
General Secretary
Workers’ Party of Korea

Dear Comrade Kim Jong Il,

On the happy occasion of your 57th birthday, we send to you our warmest best wishes and congratulations.

These last months have seen the Korean people faced with yet more difficult circumstances, with military provocations from the US imperialists and their south Korean puppets bordering on the threat of a military strike, with all manner of other pressures, as well as the continuing problems created by terrible natural disasters. Under your wise leadership the Party and the people of the DPRK have confronted these problems, as all the problems in the past, with unshakeable determination to stick to the path of defending independence, building socialism and striving for the reunification of the homeland as laid down by the great leader, the late President Kim Il Sung. This provides a great inspiration and lesson to all those struggling for their rights and freedoms against the attempts by imperialism and reaction to turn back the clock and force the entire world’s peoples to bow to their will. We note and express our support for at this time in particular the initiative taken by the DPRK in calling on the government, political parties and organisations and individuals in the south and elsewhere to enter into a dialogue concerning reunification and the easing of tension on the Korean peninsula according to the already agreed principles.

On this occasion, as before, we stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the cause of revolution and socialism, wishing you the best of health and success in your important work.

Chris Coleman
on behalf of the Central Committee Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist) 

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No Pressure upon DPRK Will Work

Pyongyang, February 13 (KCNA) — No pressure upon the DPRK will work, declare Pyongyang-based newspapers today in commentaries on the scheme of the United States to enact a “law on sanctions” against “possible missile refiring” by the DPRK. A signed commentary of Rodong Sinmun says: Development, production and deployment of missiles belong to the sovereignty of the DPRK. Accordingly, no one can poke his nose into its missile launch. We are constantly exposed to US military threats and a large number of missiles deployed in and around South Korea are always leveled at us. Under this condition, we cannot but take a self-defensive measure. Nevertheless, the United States is using our “missile launch” as an excuse to tighten its sanctions.

It is ridiculous for the US to argue that only the DPRK must be sanctioned for its missile launch as not a few countries have fired missiles. The US schemes to kill the DPRK-US agreed framework and stifle the DPRK under the pretext of “its missile threats”. No matter what others may say, we will exercise our legitimate sovereignty. We are fully ready to rise to the occasion. If the United States breaks the DPRK-US agreed framework, we will take our own way. If it makes a military challenge, we will meet it with a determined counteraction. A signed commentary of Minju Joson warns that it is a miscalculation if the United States thinks it can get something from its tightened “pressure” upon the DPRK. 

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