Year 2000 No. 141-2, August 31-September 1, 2000
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
Support the Scottish Council Workers Strike and the Unity of the Scottish Workers!
Around Scotland: Some of the Actions of the Council Workers
News In Brief: Lightning Strike at Lloyds TSB
Imperialist Clinton Denies "Yankee Imperialism"
Clinton Go Home!
Venezuelan President Gives Warning of Amazonian Vietnam
International Day of Mobilisation against Clintons Visit to Colombia
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At least 70,000 council workers in Scotland took part in a one-day walkout on Tuesday. The industrial action was in rejection of a derisory 2.5% pay offer.
A feature of the strike was that although workers in two unions, GMB and TGWU, had voted against taking action over the pay offer, when the workers in the third, UNISON, decided to hold Scotland-wide action, thousands of workers refused to cross the picket lines.
The strike seriously affected Scotlands 32 local authorities. The local authority workers are being offered a pay settlement that is below what their colleagues in England and Wales receive.
This show of action and solidarity in defence of their livelihoods is the minimum that the dignity of the workers can allow.
Dumfries and Galloway:
The municipal chambers in Dumfries were shut to the public, while several schools were closed. There were no refuse collections from Kirkcudbright to Stranraer, or in Nithsdale, while council buildings across the region, including planning and trading standards offices, were closed. Members of the TGWU and EIS (Educational Institute of Scotland) refused to cross the UNISON picket lines.
A corporate services committee meeting at the chambers was cancelled after councillors said they were not willing to pass striking staff.
Many home care and other emergency services were exempt from the action, but several schools, including all primaries and secondaries in Newton Stewart and Dalbeattie and Castle Douglas High, were closed. In Dumfries, Maxwelltown High was shut to all pupils from 4th year upwards, while special needs pupils from several schools were advised to stay at home.
Across the region, eight schools were closed along with the main Dumfries council offices in Buccleuch Street. Planning offices were closed and social services were able to provide only emergency cover.
Council offices were closed. In South Lanarkshire, pupils had been told to stay at home as janitors, cleaners, school dinner personnel and administration staff joined the strike action.
Workers gathered in front of Motherwell Civic Centre to hear a rallying call from Rozanne Foyer of the Scottish Trades Union Congress and Graham Skinner of the Derbyshire Branch of UNISON. There were invitations sent out to MSPs, but it is reported that they were conspicuous by their absence.
Across East Kilbride, chaos ensued from the strike, and hundreds of council employees picketed outside the Civic Centre bringing operations to a halt. More than 4,000 South Lanarkshire council workers, including staff at Atholl House, the Civic Centre and in locations throughout East Kilbride, staged a mass walkout axing key services for at least 24 hours. Village theatre manager Maggie Campbell led the protest as crowds began swelling the picket lines as early as 7.00 am. East Kilbride schools were in the frontline of casualties as primaries and secondaries closed for the day. Pupils at Ballerup, Claremont, Hunter and Strathaven Academy were told not to turn up to school as office staff, janitors and dinner ladies walk out. And 28 primary schools in the East Kilbride area were hit by strikes with classes cancelled. All council-run nurseries were shut for the day, with 77 affected across SLC. However, a skeleton staff co-ordinated emergencies. More than 1,000 pensioners were without home-helps in the council zone, although workers ensured that the ALERT link-up service which aids pensioners in their own homes in an emergency was co-ordinated. In the housing department, officials, co-ordinators and even managers walked out. Council cemetery staff, including grave diggers, were still on call to co-ordinate burials in East Kilbride but most parks and recreation staff came out in support. Strikers attended a rally at South Lanarkshire Council buildings in Almada Street at 10.15 am.
Over 100 bank workers at the cheque clearing department of Lloyds TSB struck work at the end of last week. The walkout was provoked by the bank who have decided to close down their Birmingham office due to what they claim is a lower demand for cheque clearing.
Lloyds TSB are making new arrangements to share clearing with Barclays and Unysys who are creating a new company in Northampton. Workers were told that they could keep their jobs if they travelled the 40 miles to Northampton.
In all, the combined job losses due to the arrangements the bank wants to introduce are expected to be around 600 nation-wide. The workers were determined that their interests should not be negated. What the outcome will be remains to be seen. Talks between the management and unions has concentrated on enhanced redundancy payments, while the workers have said that the bank "did not handle the situation properly". Many of the staff are concerned over their discounted mortgages held with their employers.
US imperialist President Bill Clinton paid a 10 ½ hour visit to Colombia on Wednesday. The visit was marked by protests around the country.
Such has been the opposition to the US imperialist package of "aid" of $1.3 billion aimed at crushing the liberation struggle of the Colombian people for their sovereignty, that Clinton was forced to issue words of denial that this would not spell a new phase of "Yankee imperialism".
The US imperialist propaganda is that the FARC peoples army fosters and protects drug traffickers. However, this is disinformation designed to cover over that US imperialism has geopolitical aims in South America, and is seeking to put a stop to the peace process and the struggle for emancipation for which the people of Colombia and their Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) have been fighting. US imperialism, through its "aid" package is also seeking to bolster the state-backed fascist paramilitaries.
In Bogota, as many as 5,000 people or more shouted "Yankee go home!" and "Imperialism out of Colombia!" as they demonstrated outside the heavily fortified US Embassy building. Demonstrations in other parts of the country, as well as students at Bogota National University, were attacked by baton-wielding security forces.
All four countries bordering Colombia Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Venezuela have opposed the "Plan Colombia", and President Clinton made a "personal plea" to them to support the plan, while admitting that the war would spill over Colombias borders if the plan was successful. The recent $1.3 billion package is only a part of the whole $7.5 billion programme which "Plan Colombia" represents, a plan developed by US imperialism in collaboration with the Colombian president. Only Israel and Egypt have more money poured into them by the United States. Roughly 80% of the $1.3 billion is in the form of 60 military helicopters and 3,000 men, claimed to be for hunting down the "drug traffickers", though widely recognised to be utilised against the peoples army.
The geopolitical plan of US imperialism is reported to entail the singling out of four countries as demanding special attention Colombia, Indonesia, Nigeria and the Ukraine. While the US striving for a unipolar world could be said to begin first with the striving to dominate Europe, it is significant that in targeting the four countries cited, the geopolitical regions of South America, the Far East, Africa and Asia are involved. A recent opinion poll showed that only 1 in 10 Colombians believed that Colombian President Andres Pastrana was in control of the country.
US imperialism must get out of Colombia immediately. Its plan for a unipolar world is a major factor for war and conflict. The British government must immediately dissociate itself from and condemn the United States in pursuing its strategy for world hegemony.
Call of the Secretariat of the Central General Staff of FARC-EP (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia Armed Forces of the People) on the occasion of the visit of the US President to Colombia, 23 August, 2000
The widely promoted visit of the US president to Colombia will bring nothing positive for our country. This is why the FARC-EP, notwithstanding the stance of the Nariño Palace, and in the name of millions of compatriots, declares Clinton's presence on Colombian territory persona non grata.
Clinton is not coming for peace. He is coming neither to support the efforts for a political solution to the conflict, nor to suspend the ruthless policies of the International Monetary Fund. Clinton is coming to Cartagena to put the Plan Colombia into effect, which, more than a counter-insurgency plan, is a plan against Colombia for imperialist geopolitics.
Plan Colombia, contrived in English, is a serious threat to our peace process, and represents a real danger of generalising the war and increasing Yankee military intervention, which may lead to its Vietnamisation. This calls for immediate solidarity among our neighbouring countries, and more war materials and technological equipment sold by the US military industrial complex, which in turn will stoke up a criminal arms race among poor countries, a greater budget for a sepoy army violating human rights and executing State paramilitarism, more North American advisors like those who trained the paramilitaries in Barrancon Guaviare who caused the Mapiripan massacre, greater repression of poor peasants, and more fumigation with chemical and biological substances causing rampant devastation to the Amazon, the ecological patrimony of humanity.
With Plan Colombia, North American imperialism seeks to consolidate, through military intervention, neo-liberal economic policies, and seeks to open a loophole in our sovereignty to give way to impositions of the International Monetary Fund without their being resisted. This will mean more privatisation, progressively higher unemployment, miserable wages, and all the discounts and guarantees for exploiting our natural resources and increasing foreign investment. This is why the Plan also backs the unjust and violent Colombian State and its administration. Washington knows it can count on a servile capitulating oligarchy which, to preserve its privileges and power, is capable not only of offering more "sweat and tears" to the population, but of handing over the entire country and our sovereignty to the insatiable voracity of imperialism. Nevertheless, Washington must also know that there is a Colombian people poised to risk its all for the mother country.
Since Plan Colombia is also a US attempt to dissuade the insurgency, we can reaffirm that the FARC, backed by the people, is ready for the ultimatum. Our unbreakable will to fight is indissolubly linked to social justice, true democracy, complete sovereignty, and the new State of the people and for the people.
We call on Colombians that we should express in various ways, with a true sense of patriotism and dignity, and inspired by sentiments for anti-imperialism and Latin American unity instilled in us by our liberator Simón Bolivar, our rejection of the imperialist visitor and his Plan Colombia as well as the oligarchy which sells out the country.
WITH BOLIVAR, FOR PEACE AND NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY
THE SECRETARIAT OF THE CENTRAL COMMAND
FARC, ARMY OF THE PEOPLE
The Mountains of Colombia, August 23, 2000
Venezuelan President Hugh Chávez stated on August 30 that he fears that "Plan Colombia" could degenerate into an Amazonian Vietnam if efforts within that operation against drug trafficking and the guerrilla groups were orientated towards military rather than social solutions.
Speaking on the day that US President Bill Clinton visited Colombia, Chávez said, "It would be highly dangerous if the operation leads to a military escalation. That could bring us to a Vietnamisation of the entire Amazonian region."
Venezuela shares a 1,390-mile border with Colombia, more extensive than the 960-mile frontier between Colombia and Brazil. The Venezuelan President was speaking at a press conference in Brasilia, on the occasion of a 12-country summit conference of South American nations, including Suriname and Guyana, the first of its kind. According to press reports, Brazil has placed on alert its 22,000 soldiers stationed in various garrisons throughout the Amazonian region.
Statement promoted by the Anti-Imperialist Camp (Italy)
On August 30, Bill Clinton, as one of the last acts during his presidential mandate, will go to Colombia in order to give his personal support for the so called "Plan Colombia" and in this way to confirm the politics of intervention of the USA in the region. Thats why a lot of trade unions, human right associations and popular organisations are calling for an international day of protest against the undesired visit of the US-president in Colombia.
The "Plan Colombia" means a large amount of money (1,300 millions of USD) for the disposal of the Colombian government, officially dedicated to fight drug traffic and to eliminate the cultivation of coca by implementing alternative economic and social development programs.
In reality this plan is a programme characterised exclusively by an orientation of military interventionism that implies: new US-military advisers that will strengthen the contingent that has already stayed in this country for years; military technology of the last generation for the Colombian army as well as the creation of new battalions for special operations; massive fumigation of the coca plantations without any programme for alternative cultivations and as a consequence more misery and hunger for thousands of peasants, besides the fact that this kind of politics has shown its failure for years; political protection for the paramilitary groups, the real big drug cartels; and last but not least protection for the destructive activities of the multinational enterprises like OXY or British Petroleum.
The realisation of the "Plan Colombia" would also lead to the forced expulsion of at least 200,000 persons that would enlarge the contingent of almost 1,800,000 persons who have been expelled from their lands and communities by the violence of the paramilitary groups and the Colombian army that act in accordance and in complete impunity, terrorising the civil population that is suspected of supporting the guerrilla movement.
The tragic and immediate consequences of the "Plan Colombia" have already become clear. On August 16, the Colombian army deliberately killed six children during their school journey to the mountains. On August 5, in another place, five peasants were sadistically and brutally killed by a paramilitary group very near to a military installation of the army.
The "Plan Colombia" is also a threat for the peace process between the FARC (Revolutionary Army of Colombia) and the ELN (National Liberation Army) and the government, not only because the Colombian government has constantly shown a lack of will to solve the causes that have led to the armed conflict, but also because the finances of the Plan will strengthen the position of those who always boycotted a peaceful solution, the Colombian oligarchy and army.
The armed conflict thus may become a real war of annihilation against the Colombian people in their legitimate fight for justice; and not even a direct US-military intervention can any more be excluded either with their own US-troops, or with a multinational intervention force that involves parts of the armies of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and other Latin American countries.
The "Plan Colombia" has foreseen a co-financing by the European Union in the area of projects that officially could be presented as "humanitarian" ones. But owing to its marked militarist character, the EU has rejected until now this support and it is up to the single governments to decide about a possible support. Spain and Britain have already agreed to do so. Italy up to now has maintained a negative position, but also this government should not be trusted, as the Yugoslav war has shown that it is ready to intervene in case of a "humanitarian cause".
Thats why in the USA, Europe and a lot of Latin American countries there will be demonstrations and protests on August 30 against the provocation of the visit of Clinton in Colombia and against the "Plan Colombia".
We therefore call all the social, popular, democratic, human rights and anti-imperialist organisations to join this international day of protest and organise demonstrations to the US-embassies rejecting the US-politics of intervention against the Colombian people.
Not one dollar, not one Euro for the "Plan Colombia"!
Freedom, Justice and Social Equality for Colombia!
Support the resistance of the Colombian people until their victory!
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