Workers'Weekly On-Line
Volume 41 Number 24, July 30, 2011 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Intervention in Libya Is
Aggression and a War Crime

Workers' Weekly Internet Edition: Article Index :

Intervention in Libya Is Aggression and a War Crime

Bombardier:
No to Monopoly Right! No to the Closure of the Derby Plant!

For Your Reference:
Sixteen-Clause Euro-crisis Agreement

Workers’ Opposition Defends the Right to Pensions

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Intervention in Libya Is Aggression and a War Crime

The British government and its NATO allies must get out of Libya.
Only the Libyan people can decide their future.

Protest against NATO airstrikes outside UN offices in Tripoli, July 2, 2011 Protest against NATO airstrikes outside UN offices in Tripoli, July 2, 2011
Protest against NATO airstrikes outside UN offices in Tripoli, July 2, 2011

Last week the government announced that as part of its attempts at regime change in Libya, it would no longer recognise that country’s government and had decided that the so-called National Transitional Council, which has been engaged in a NATO-supported rebellion during the last few months, was now the only legitimate government of Libya. The announcement, made by Foreign Secretary William Hague, speaks volumes for the government’s approach to another sovereign country, and shows its contempt for the Libyan people. As a consequence of this announcement, the remaining Libyan diplomats have been expelled and are expected to be replaced by representatives of the National Transitional Council.

At first it was claimed that the UN Security Council-backed military invasion of Libya, led by Britain, France and the US, was to protect civilians. But it has always been clear that the leaders of the warmongering NATO alliance taking advantage of what they refer to as the “Arab Spring” encouraged a rebellion in Libya and then rushed to support it, riding roughshod over international law and subverting the UN Charter in the process. Their aim was to establish a client state in a country, which is one of the most developed in Africa, maintains its own independent path and political system and has massive reserves of oil and gas.

NATO’s criminal bombardment of Libya has now been carried out for nearly five months, included thousands of military strikes, and resulted in great destruction and the deaths of men, women and children but it has not brought about the regime change desired by the British government and its allies. Largely this seems to be because the National Transitional Council has little support in Libya, while there have recently been massive demonstrations in support of the government in Tripoli and its figurehead Muammar Gaddafi and against NATO war crimes.

The government and its NATO allies still maintain that their intervention in Libya was based on their “duty to protect”, a notion that has no real basis in international law. But to this has been added the idea that intervention is also to support “a more open and democratic Libya”, a euphemism for a new Libya established on a basis that is to the liking of Britain, France, the US and others, but which takes no account of the sovereign rights of the Libyan people.

Britain and its allies have already shown their hand by illegally intervening on one side in what is effectively a civil war in a sovereign country. Since the internal opposition to the Libyan government is so weak it has also been necessary to establish an external body, the so-called Contact Group, which can make pronouncements on the future of Libya and bestow legitimacy on the National Transitional Council that it cannot find in Libya. At its last meeting, the Contact Group, dominated by Britain, France, the US and their allies, announced that the government of Libya “no longer has any legitimate authority in Libya”, and “until an interim authority is in place, participants agreed to deal with the National Transitional Council, or NTC, as the legitimate governing authority in Libya”. The Contact Group’s statement also added that it welcomed the fact that the NTC was leading what it referred to as “the transitional process” in Libya. It is in accordance with the aims of the Contact Group that the government made its recent announcement which also seeks to transfer the frozen financial assets of the Libyan people into the hands of the NTC and its backers.

The attempt to impose a government on a sovereign country exposes the lies of the NATO warmongers about their concern for the political aspirations of the Libyan people. It also illustrates the colonialist logic of the British government and its allies, who believe that they can dictate the fate of peoples and countries throughout the world and dispose of their wealth and resources as they see fit. It also graphically illustrates the fact that military intervention has not been able to bring about regime change.

The announcement by the government of Britain has already been condemned by the Libyan government, which has pledged to oppose it by legal and all other means. The colonialist intervention of Britain and its allies in Libya is opposed by the governments of the overwhelming majority of people in the world including the governments of Africa. Indeed the African Union, which has presented its own peace plan for Libya has effectively been ignored and sidelined by NATO.

The British government and its NATO allies must get out of Libya. Only the Libyan people can decide their future.


See Supplement: [Updates on War against Libya and Africa]

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Bombardier:

No to Monopoly Right! No to the Closure of the Derby Plant!

Bombardier Rally

Thousands of Bombardier workers, their families and supporters marched through Derby on Saturday, July 23. Some 1,400 jobs out of a workforce of 3,000 are under threat after a £1.4 - £3 bn Thameslink contract was awarded to the German monopoly Siemens. This is a government decision which will devastate Derby and the local economy, as well as be a severe blow to manufacturing nationally.

Bombardier March The march on July 23 showed the level of determination of the workforce and the huge support in the local community. The fact is that the issue is one which affects Derby as a whole and is seen as such. There is a consciousness that there must be an alternative, and that a decision which causes such damage locally and nationally is not acceptable, and will not be accepted. Monopoly right, and the upholding of this right by the government, must not be allowed to trample on the public good. The government must reverse its decision and take account of the interests and the rights of the working class and people.

The march started at Bass Recreation Ground and as it passed through the city centre workers left offices to join shoppers in applauding the demonstrators before a rally began on Cathedral Green. Speakers included Bombardier's UK chairman Colin Walton, Derby South MP Margaret Beckett and Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT union.

Diana Holland, assistant general secretary of Unite, said: "We have created a huge alliance here and we must keep the campaign going because it is not loo late to persuade the government to change its mind."

Chris Williamson, MP for Derby North, said: "It will be a huge kick in the teeth for the Derby public if the government doesn't back down on its decision to build these trains in Germany. When the prime minister came to Derby just a few months ago he talked about rebalancing the economy in favour of the manufacturing industry. This is his chance to do that."

Jane Moss, one of the company's contract workers, the group hardest hit by the proposed redundancies, said: "There is no morale any more, it is very quiet in the factory.

"David Cameron promised all these things when he was here but it is like he has no loyalty to the country."

Offers to bring forward contracts for London Underground and the Crossrail project have been welcomed by Bombardier management but they emphasised the Thameslink work was the most important.

A 50,000-signature petition demanding the contract should be reviewed was presented to the House of Commons last week. The government cannot be allowed to ignore the sentiment that this represents. Serious discussion is on-going among the workers and in the community on the way forward.

Bombardier March David Cameron in a meeting with Derbyshire MPs earlier last week had reiterated the government's position that it was legally bound by the terms of the tendering process and no U-turn was possible. The rationale for this is that EU competition law governs the tendering process, which, as Margaret Beckett herself pointed out in a mea culpa, was initiated in the time of the Labour government in 2008. This in itself exposes the nature of the Europe of the monopolies and the strict EU procurement procedures. But Cameron’s position is not legally tenable either. The original terms of the tender contain a disclaimer that the Secretary of State reserves the right to terminate the competition and to award the contract without prior notice.

Account must be taken of the wellbeing of working people, to the wider economic benefits to the community and to manufacturing industry in the country as a whole. The monopolies and the cut-throat nature of their competition cannot be allowed to ride roughshod over the rights of the workers and the public good. The government must be held to account on this issue. It is certain that the struggle of the Bombardier workers with the backing of the whole community will continue and intensify. WWIE calls on everyone to stand with the workers in their struggle, which is a crucial one for the future of the national economy which has been so devastated by the neo-liberal offensive over the past decades.

Bombardier Rally Bombardier Poster
Flyer produced for the rally on July 23rd.

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For Your Reference:

Sixteen-Clause Euro-crisis Agreement

Culling public services, national democracy and independence is the bottom line of the stitch-up at the Brussels euro-zone summit. The transfers of huge sums of monies involved are to prop up the banks once again – especially those of Germany and France – and will not get Greece, Ireland, Portugal or Italy out of the financial quagmire. The money transferred will come out of pockets and purses into bank vaults, even though it is apparently laundered via national government books.

Re-applying what are supposed to be the strict rules of the Stability Pact – a limit on the deficit of 3% of GDP – even if impractical is designed to provide a reason for further attacks on wages, the public sector and social protection across all EU Member States including Britain. Another aspect of the 16-clause euro-zone agreement is to push further towards an economic union in addition to a monetary union which would take away all controls from national governments, parliaments and electorates over their economies. This has in effect happened already to Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Whichever way the EU political elite try, whether to apply the Stability Pact rules and 16 clauses or not, the problems will persist and worsen. This will be especially so for the working and middle classes. It is clear that if further austerity policies are imposed there will be at some point a revolt. No doubt this is a factor behind the lower interest rates to be paid for by Greece on the second lump of money compared to the first lump.

It is just as well that Britain did not join the euro-zone where it has been proved once again that 17 national economies and currencies cannot be darned together. Note that Chancellor Osborne has called for more EU integration and applies to Britain. This must be exposed and opposed for all the implications now bare for all to see.

July 22, 2011
John Boyd – Secretary, Campaign against Euro-federalism

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Building the Opposition to the Anti-Social Offensive

Workers’ Opposition Defends the Right to Pensions

Pensions protestWith the generalised strikes and actions that were held on June 30, pensions have arisen as a key issue being taken up by the workers’ movement in its opposition to the anti-social offensive.

A solid front was presented by the three big parties of the establishment against the striking public sector workers, while the monopoly-controlled media went into a frenzy to spread disinformation and sow divisions between workers in the public and private sectors.

Far from being an issue affecting only the public sector, the recent attacks on pensions are part of a general trend that has been developing over many years. This is the neo-liberal trend of reversing the gains made in recognising and providing for the right to a livelihood in old age, of successive governments abrogating their social responsibility to uphold the rights of all.

Furthermore, this is the trend of increasingly making pensions an individual matter, as a kind of personal insurance policy or savings plan. In this way, pensions are being turned into yet another social programme that is being re-organised with the aim of paying the rich monopolies.

At this time that the workers are going into action to defend pensions, the attempt is being made to wreck any serious discussion on the pension system. The working class is blamed for the crisis, which includes disinformation that public sector pensions are “gold-plated” and the attempt to split the public from the private sector workers over this. It is argued that people are living longer, which is alleged to be unsustainable; this includes the attempt to split the younger from the older generation on this basis. The essence of this anti-worker propaganda is that labour is a cost in general, and retired workers in particular are a legacy cost to society.

In the modern socialised economy, the social product of human labour, which far from being a cost is the source of all added value, is there for claiming what is required to provide a dignified standard of living for all citizens from birth to death. There is no contradiction between the work of the younger generation and the claims of the active and retired workers. The previous work by the older generation forms part of the essential material for today’s production. Senior citizens, retired from active labour, continue to contribute immeasurably to society for the rest of their lives.

Rather than represent society in making this claim on the social product, the government is shunning its responsibility. It is said that workers must pay into personal plans. Those in the public sector are supposed to have had it good and now must pay like the rest. Personal plans or insurance are no solution. Instead, by attacking one section, all workers are made to shoulder the burden of the crisis. These pension funds are highly lucrative for the financial oligarchy, and as experience has shown are not in any way secure, but are open to collapse in value on the one hand and direct theft on the other.

A social need such as the right of retired workers to a dignified livelihood cannot be left to individuals, families or small businesses in a modern society. Pensions should be a universal social programme run by the state and funded by the socialised economy. Pensions are a right, based in the reality that all are born to society and remain members of society until they pass away. It is in the interests of individuals and the general interests of society as a whole that pensions are defended and developed further, so that the national state pension becomes the main source of income in retirement, capable of meeting the material and cultural needs of all citizens. This is the alternative to what should be an anathema to a modern society: the growing pressure to work until we drop.

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