Year 2000 No. 192, November 13, 2000
Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :
British Government Continues Anti-Iraq Propaganda
Britain and US Unilateral Suspension of Contracts
Iraqs Deputy Premier Calls on Arab League to Condemn British and US Sorties
Vladimir Putin Advocates Lifting Iraq Sanctions
Hain Back-Tracks on Criticism of French Iraq Policy
Iraq Says whether Bush or Gore Becomes US President Makes No Difference
British and US Jets Continue Bombing of Southern Iraq
British Flight to Baghdad to Protest against Sanctions
Nissan to Delay Decision on Sunderland Plant
Daewoo Declared Bankrupt
From Our Ireland
School Teachers Fight For Better Pay
Aer Lingus Workers to Vote on Pay Deal
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In the last few days, Peter Hain, the Minister of State at the Foreign Office, has continued to unleash a stream of anti-Iraq propaganda, including a keynote speech last Tuesday at the Royal Institute of International Affairs on the subject of Britains relations with the Gulf States.
Peter Hains latest speeches and press briefings come in the wake of his recent visit to the Gulf States. This visit was undertaken to bolster Britains influence throughout the region at a time when there is growing solidarity and unity amongst the Arab peoples in support of the struggle of the Palestinians against he US-backed Israeli state. It was also undertaken to combat the growing opposition to British and US military aggression against Iraq, which has included the recent condemnation of the continued bombing of that country by the Arab League.
It is clear that the British government is concerned that growing solidarity amongst the Arab peoples may develop to the extent that it harms Britains strategic and economic interests in the region. Oil production and supplies are a major part of this consideration but so are Britains exports to the Gulf States, worth over £3.75 billion last year. This makes these states the most important market outside of the OEDC for Britain. The government is making every effort to encourage what Peter Hain referred to as "our friends in the Gulf" to help safeguard Britains interests.
But the main thrust of Peter Hains speeches has been to continue the propaganda offensive against Iraq. According to this propaganda, the British governments military attacks on Iraq are undertaken not only to protect its allies in the region but also the people of Iraq. The minister even argues that the British government is concerned about the humanitarian situation in Iraq. But according to the Hitlerite logic of the government the blame for this lies not with Britain and the US, nor does it lie with UN imposed sanctions, but rather it lies with Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi government. Peter Hain even goes so far as to accuse the Iraqi government of not putting its peoples needs first, as if this were something the Labour government does as a matter of course.
If Iraq would only comply with the diktat of the US and Britain, thereby surrendering its sovereignty and allowing further intervention in its internal affairs by allowing in the discredited UNMOVIC arms inspection body, then according to Hain UN sanctions could be lifted "opening the door to the reintegration of Iraq into the international community".
But increasingly it is the British and US governments that are finding themselves isolated in the world, as even the Minister of State is forced to admit. Democratic and progressive opinion opposing the Anglo-US doctrine of "containment" of so-called "rogue states" is growing and demanding that the criminal bombing of Iraq be halted. While as the recent humanitarian flights to Baghdad have shown, even some of the big powers are reluctant to maintain UN sanctions.
The struggle to oppose Britains military aggression and intervention in Iraq and other countries must be stepped up as part of the struggle against all imperialist intervention and for a world order which recognises the right of all countries to the social system of their choice.
The Iraq Trade Ministry announced on November 7 that 1,862 contracts with the value of USD 3.2 billion that Iraq signed within the eight stages of the oil-for-food and medicine programme are still suspended because of the hegemony and pressure by British and US representatives at UN Committee 661.
A Trade Ministry source said that the actions of the British and US representatives at Committee 661 reflect the hostile attitude of the British and US governments against the Iraqi people. He added that their actions are aimed at further harming the Iraqi people through controlling the Security Council and pressuring it into preventing Iraq from utilising its money and oil revenues.
Tariq Aziz, Deputy Prime Minister and acting foreign minister of Iraq, has sent a letter to Arab League Secretary General Dr Ismat Abd-al-Majid, it was reported on November 7. The letter concerns the continued violation of Iraqs airspace and sovereignty by British and US aircraft from bases in Turkey. Tariq Aziz said that these jets had carried out 76 combat air sorties between October 16 and 23. He added that the logistical Turkish support to the British and the Americans has made Turkey a chief accomplice in the aggression against Iraq. Tariq Aziz said that, accordingly, Turkey will be held internationally responsible for these acts against the Iraqi people.
The Iraq Deputy Prime Minister asked the Arab League secretary general to condemn these hostile practices and intervene with the concerned governments to suspend these acts and never repeat them again. He added that these practices undermine the sovereignty of an independent state that is a UN and Arab League member. He said that Iraq is calling on the Arab League secretary general to assume his responsibilities in accordance with the Arab League Charter in his capacity as its secretary general.
On November 9, Russian president Vladimir Putin had the following to say about relations between Russia and Iraq:
Close co-operation and interaction diverse co-operation, I would say has developed between Russia and Iraq. Our position on a settlement of the Iraqi issue also remains unchanged. We only accept political and diplomatic ways of resolving existing disagreements. We consistently and purposefully advocate the earliest possible lifting of sanctions against Iraq and a return to normal life in that country. I would like to point out that the Russian Federations position on this is gathering steadily more supporters at the UN.
A day after denouncing French policy on Iraq as "contemptible", Peter Hain made a partial retraction. "These were unscripted remarks in answer to questions on flights and Iraqi sanctions," explained the Foreign Office minister. "We value our co-operation with the French government and are working with the French to achieve a common position on the flights issue."
Foreign Office officials said Peter Hains partial retraction was not an apology and reflected mounting irritation with what the British government views as an attempt by President Chirac to undermine the international sanctions.
Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told reporters last Wednesday that it made no difference whether Republican George W. Bush or Democrat Al Gore wins the US president election. He said that the American stance would not change. "America allies itself with the Zionist entity and it commits daily aggression against Iraq, imposes the embargo and kills the people of Iraq," he said.
He went on to say, "We never bet on the results of the American elections and since the beginning we believe that the American ruling system would not change by changing the president."
An Iraqi military spokesman said last Wednesday that British and US planes had struck targets in the south of the country on Tuesday night. The spokesman said that enemy formations flew over the provinces of Basra, Missan, Dhi qar, Muthanna, Qadissiya and Wassit, attacking civilian and service installations.
There have been 311 civilians killed and 927 wounded in the British and US jets since the 1991 Gulf War, according to official Iraq figures.
The first peaceful British flight to Iraq in a decade, protesting against the UN sanctions, flew to Baghdad on Friday. On board the plane were the Labour MP George Galloway and seven others, including the hereditary peer Lord Rea and the Catholic priest, Father Noel Barry.
The flight was paid for by private donations and was deliberately not a "humanitarian" one, which is to say that no drugs or other supplies were on board.
"We dont accept that there are any legal UN sanctions against passenger flights into Iraq as the British and American governments maintain, but I do accept that we have committed an offence in Britain by not informing the DTI of our flight plan or allowing inspectors to check out the plane," George Galloway said in a statement on landing in Iraq. "I hope that the government wont take action against us but if they do then well relish our days in court."
At the same time as the plane landed, a letter from George Galloway giving details of the flight was being handed in to the Foreign Office minister Peter Hain.
The letter says in part: "We have made this journey to demonstrate the widespread and growing opposition in the United Kingdom to the continuing embargo As you know, my view is that there is no requirement for any UN Sanctions Committee approval for this flight and there is no breach of any international legal requirement."
The MP is expected to say in Iraq for several days before travelling back to Britain, overland, for the premiere of the film "Big Baghdad" on November 16. The film will be shown at the School of Oriental and African Studies at 6.30 pm.
Nissan will not decide whether to make the new Micra at its Sunderland plant until a European Commission ruling. The Commission has to decide if the company can receive a £40 million handout package from the government, according to Louis Schweitzer, chairman of Nissans partner, Renault.
Producing the new Micra in a Renault factory would require major investments in adapting the plant, the chairman of Renault said, hence the need for a government handout. To underline the point, Louis Schweitzer added that withdrawing Micra production from Nissans Sunderland plant would cut the efficiency of that outfit, which he said is considered the highest-performing one in Europe.
Creditors of Daewoo declared south Koreas third biggest carmaker bankrupt last Wednesday after unions rejected a restructuring plan calling for layoffs. The plan called for laying off 18 per cent of Daewoos 18,000 workers. South Korean President Kim Dae Jung said in a statement to the National Assembly, "We must end market uncertainty by eliminating the debt-ridden companies that have been a huge burden on our economy." Daewoo Motor, along with construction group Hyundai Engineering, had been surviving through the fact that the government-controlled banks have rolled over debts or provided new money.
Thousands of workers in Daewoos 13 operations across the world from Vietnam to Poland now face an uncertain future. In south Korea itself, it is suggested that the company could provide an easy way for other car monopolies to gain access to south Koreas car market, as well as providing a stepping-stone into China, one of the fastest-growing car markets in Asia. General Motors appears to be the favoured buyer.
In Britain, the MSF union, representing around 800 workers at Daewoos technical centre in Worthing, is pressing for urgent talks with managers. Its aim is to push for the sale of the plant, so that, according to MSF general secretary Roger Lyons, it "can now be sold off as a separate entity to a European or British company".
From Our Ireland Correspondent:
Secondary school teachers who are members of the Association of School Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) will hold a one-day work stoppage next Tuesday, November 14. A few weeks ago 70 per cent of the 16,000 membership took part in a vote which overwhelmingly mandated a series of actions. The union is not part of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) so is not constrained by "Partnership for Prosperity and Fairness" (PPF), the agreement made between the ICTU, the Irish government and the employers organisations. The ASTI is pursuing a claim for a 30 per cent rise in pay.
The teachers action will continue throughout November, with six separate days of work to rule and another twenty-four hour strike. The work to rule will involve withdrawing voluntary lunchtime schoolyard supervision and teacher cover, but the teachers will be available for their normal duties covered under their contracts for the six days.
As a precaution, the Joint Management Board has instructed parents to keep children away from school on those days for safety and health reasons.
In a development over the weekend, the Department of Education has said it will not pay the teachers for all the days affected by the actions. The teachers union has responded angrily stating that they expected not to be paid for the days affected by strike but should be paid for the other days. The union is to seek an injunction at the High Court to stop the government from withdrawing their pay.
The Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI), the secondary school teachers union which is part of the ICTU, have announced they will conduct a ballot for action on a separate pay issue. The union is concerned that the government is not moving to introduce a clause to compensate workers for the effect current inflation is having in reducing the pay increases agreed as part of the PPF. When workers expressed their anger that the higher level of inflation experienced over the past few months meant that the wage "increases" contained in the "social partnership" agreement were effectively wage reductions, the government set up the Special Consultative Sub Group.
This body is to work on a "bench marking process" to compensate workers for the effects of inflation. The TUI are demanding that this "benchmarking" be brought forward or else they will have no option but to engage in industrial action.
SIPTU, the trade union representing Aer Lingus clerical workers, has deferred a one-day strike, which was to take place last Friday. This is to allow the workers to vote on a pay deal worked out during talks at the Irish Labour Court. The talks were organised after a one-day strike by the workers last month and the announcement that further actions would take place.
The deal if accepted would mean the starting scale would increase from the current annual wage of IR 9,897 to IR 12,500. Also instead of the 28 annual increments bringing the basic pay to IR 19,427 a new system of 18 annual increments will increase it to IR 21,500. There is also provision for "long service increments" ranging from an extra IR 500 for twenty-five years to IR 1,000 extra for thirty-five years.
Manufacturing and the Euro
Wednesday, November 15, at 7.30pm
St Laurence Pastoral Centre, 173 Church Road, Northfield, Birmingham B31 2LX
Doug Nicholls - General Secretary, Community and Youth Workers Union
and a representative from the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union
Admission Free - Everyone welcome!
Trade Unions Against the Single Currency (TASC) with the support of Rover workers.
Helle Hagenau, National Officer, TASC. Tel: 0121 683 0283 or 0749 178879.
TASC, 301 The Argent Centre, 60 Frederick Street, Birmingham B1 3HS
A Conference for Trade Unions:
Trade Unions and the Euro
Organised by the National Union of Journalists.
Thursday, December 7, at 6.30pm
Hamilton House, Mabledon Place,
John Edmonds - General Secretary of the GMBU
John Monks - TUC
Mike Rix - General Secretary of ASLEF
Doug Nicholls - General Secretary of Community and Youth Workers Union
Dave Toomer, Chair - President of NUJ
Jean Geldhart - UNISON
Peter Day - BBC Business Correspondent
To attend apply to: John Foster, General Secretary NUJ. Acorn House, 314/320 Grays Inn Road, WC1X 8DP.
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