Year 2000 No. 70, April 14, 2000

Heads of State and Prime Ministers of Group of 77 Meet in Havana

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Heads of State and Prime Ministers of Group of 77 Meet in Havana

Unforgettable Inaugural Ceremony at G77 South Summit

UNISON Health Care Service Group Conference:
The Focus Discussion on the PFI
John Denham Gives Key-note Address to Conference

Conference on Human Genetics

Dinner Held to Mark Anniversary of Birth of DPRK President

Message from Central Committee of RCPB(ML) to Kim Jong Il on Occasion of Sun’s Day

Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) Celebrates 30th Anniversary of its Founding

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Heads of State and Prime Ministers of Group of 77 Meet in Havana

The Group of 77 is beginning a new stage with the South Summit, whose highest-level sessions commenced on April 12 in Havana’s International Conference Centre, with the participation of more than 60 heads of state or government and prime ministers from a further 50 countries.

In total, representatives from more than 110 nations are participating. The meeting began with an opening address by Olusegun Obasanjo, president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and of the Group of 77; words of welcome from President Fidel Castro; a speech by South African President Thabo Mbeki, in his capacity as president of the Non-Aligned Movement; and another by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

In this first session, heads of state and government from various countries took the floor. In the evening, President Fidel Castro hosted a reception in honour of the attending delegations.

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Unforgettable Inaugural Ceremony at G77 South Summit

Workers’ Weekly Correspondent in Havana

The Inaugural Ceremony of the South Summit, which we were fortunate enough to witness, was an unforgettable experience. It took place on Wednesday morning in the Plenary Hall of the Havana International Conference Centre. Perhaps over 1000 delegates, observers and press were present from Africa, Asia and America.

The ceremony was opened by schoolchildren performing songs, including one in Zulu, to great applause from those assembled. Speeches were presented from the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, who is the Chairman of the Group of 77, Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Thabo Mbeki in his capacity as Chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement. All spoke of need for change in international economic and political institutions.

President Obasanjo’s speech, emphasising this orientation, was entitled "A Fairer Global Order". Thabo Mbeki highlighted the need to address the issue of the elaboration of a world agenda for human-centred development. Kofi Annan stated that he believed that "the peoples of the south should play a more active and influential part in world affairs". He gave special praise to Cuba, which, he said, consistently outranks much richer countries on the United Nations Human Development Index, which measures education and life expectancy as well as income per head.

The main welcoming speech was given by Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Council of State and Head of the Government of the Government of the Republic of Cuba.

It is difficult to do justice to Fidel Castro’s speech in a few words, so rich was it in significance. It clearly outlined all the main concerns of the world’s poorest countries and called on these countries to join forces for a new direction in international relations. The opening remarks give a flavour of both the style and the content.

"Never before did mankind have such formidable scientific and technological potential, such extraordinary capacity to produce riches and well-being but never before were disparity and inequality so profound in the world.

"Technological wonders that have been shrinking the planet in terms of communications and distances co-exist today with the increasingly wider gap separating wealth and poverty, development and underdevelopment.

"Globalisation is an objective reality underlining the fact that we are all passengers on the same vessel, that is, this planet where we all live. But passengers on this vessel are travelling in very difficult conditions.

"Trifling minorities are travelling in luxurious cabins furnished with Internet, cell phones and access to global communication networks. They enjoy a nutritional, abundant and balanced diet as well as clean water supplies. They have access to sophisticated medical care and to culture.

"Overwhelming and hurting majorities are travelling in conditions that resemble the terrible slave trade from Africa to America in our colonial past. That is, 85% of the passengers on this ship are crowded together in its dirty hold suffering hunger, diseases and helplessness.

"Obviously this vessel is carrying too much injustice to remain afloat and it pursues such an irrational and senseless route that it cannot call on a safe port. This vessel seems destined to clash with an iceberg. If that happened we would all sink with it.

"The Heads of State and Government meeting here, who represent the overwhelming and hurting majorities, have not only the right but the obligation to take the helm and correct that catastrophic route. It is our duty to take our rightful place at the helm and facilitate that all passengers can travel in conditions of solidarity, equity and justice."

President Castro concluded his speech by stating that another Nuremberg is needed to put on trial the economic order imposed on us, that every three years kills more men, women and children by hunger and preventable or curable diseases than the death toll in six years of the second world war. He declared: "In Cuba we usually say: ‘Homeland or Death!’ At this Summit of the Third World countries we would have to say: ‘We either unite and establish close co-operation or we die!’"

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The Focus Discussion on the PFI at UNISON Health Care Service Group Conference

Report by Workers’ Weekly Health Group

The Focus Discussion took place as part of the conference agenda on Wednesday afternoon to inform the main debate on the PFI which will take place today.

Three speakers representing the UNISON leadership introduced the discussion. The first spoke about the work of the national union and said that the areas she wanted to highlight were the public finances, exclusion of services, as well as the employment aspects. The union had been surprised when the government said that it could pay for all PFI schemes without transgressing any of the Chancellor’s rules. What the government is saying now is that PFI is better value for money because the private sector is a more efficient method of management than the public sector. So in some ways we are clear now about the agenda for the PFI. She continued that the government admits that the private sector has been lobbying very hard for this agenda of "better value for money". She said that she thought that exposing this argument has got to be the focus of our work. On the employment side, she said, the TUPE regulations had been strengthened so that TUPE applies in all staff transfers and also in subsequent transfers. On the national activity there were three areas she highlighted. There was branch support, there was research and there was how the union is trying to influence the debate on PFI. In this connection, she spoke about the material that the union wants to publish and the campaign the union is running.

The second speaker focused on the campaign of the health sector on the PFI with political lobbying and pressure, work through the regional office and direct meetings with the NHS Trusts. He said, among other things, that they were highlighting the cuts in the numbers of beds under the PFI. This was when the NHS beds enquiry had concluded that the NHS needed at least 4000 more beds, just to meet current demand. He said that the government had now agreed to look at "second wave" schemes and the number of beds actually provided. He concluded that progress had been made in excluding the transfer of support services to the PFI schemes.

The third speaker spoke about the experience of the UNISON Branch in Barnet in maintaining the union organisation and negotiating with the new companies in the PFI-run hospital at Barnet. In the discussion that followed, a delegate from Leeds teaching hospitals said that they were part of the "third wave" of PFI hospitals in a £197m scheme, with the loss of 250 beds. He said that this is a usual story and that what was happening, contrary to what had been said, is that no consideration was being given to not out-sourcing so called "soft services" unless negotiations on new ways of working are entered into. The manager had quoted Tony Blair quite a lot and said the hospital had got the new money, but they should look at multi-skilling and new ways of working across the board. These "new ways" included radiographers reading x-rays, nurses doing doctors’ jobs, health care assistants doing nurses' jobs, support staff doing health care assistants’ jobs and basically everyone running around beings Jacks and Jills of all trades and masters of none. He said that the problem we have got is this: do we enter into the negotiations on new ways of working when essentially what will happen is that we will introduce all these new working practices, and then a private firm will cherry pick us? He pointed out that his view was that they were going to carry on privatising services. He said that surely the union should learn from branches like UCHL that had fought the PFI.

Another delegate spoke about the "twin-track" strategy of the union in campaigning against PFI whilst at the same time negotiating to get the best deal for the members. She said that the worry was that it was leaning onto one track and not the other. She said that branches with PFI projects in their area are doing very hard work to get the best deal that they can on an individual basis. But, she said, we are never going to defeat the PFI if we do it on a case-by-case basis. Other delegates also echoed these same concerns.

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John Denham Gives Key-note Address to Conference

Commentary by Workers’ Weekly Health Group

John Denham, Health Minister, was invited to address the UNISON Health Service Group Conference yesterday in Harrogate.

He started off by saying that he understood how people wanted to change the NHS overnight after 18 years of Tory rule. Of this, he said, "We haven’t been able to do it overnight, but we have made a start." Well, he did understand, and the government had made a start, but delegates were quite bemused when he said they had abolished the internal market, had set up NHS Direct, had got the biggest ever hospital building programme under way, were employing more doctors and nurses, were training more and were reducing waiting lists. Then there was the astonishing comment to hundreds of delegates representing staff where wards cannot be properly staffed, where Trusts are millions of pounds in debt, to delegates from Private Finance projects where beds were reduced further and revenue used to finance big business: "The heart of the government was to rebuild the NHS." If that wasn’t enough for delegates to swallow, he then talked about the millions of pounds earmarked for the NHS. "But that is just the start. As a result of last month’s Budget, from 2003 to 2004 the NHS will be a full 35% bigger in real terms than it was last year!" Then it came. "But there is always a but…" Delivering the new NHS will mean change for everyone working in it. "We were elected to save the NHS, not to preserve it the way it was," he philosophised. "Fundamental principles alone are not enough," he went on. "Change isn’t always comfortable." He said that many of the new hospitals are being built under the PFI. "I know you oppose the PFI on principle, I understand that," he said. But, he told delegates, the NHS and the patients need those hospitals. "Now," he said, "we can assure you that the PFI only goes ahead when it is the best use of public money."

He then began another point that would be "difficult", referring to the "Agenda for Change", a new national pay structure and terms and conditions that are being debated at conference. He referred to "changes in how we work, bringing down traditional barriers between different groups of staff". Later on: "I don’t want anyone to have dead-end jobs in the new NHS…" This was news to those representing low-paid staff. He knew a porter "should be rewarded for new skills". This same porter will have just received the derisory pay offer from the government on which the ink is hardly dry. This is what the "Agenda for Change" talks are all about, he went on. "A new pay system for the NHS. New national contracts with the local flexibility. The new system doesn’t let the complex technicalities of Whitley stand in the way of organising services in the best way to meet the needs of patients." His words said more than any debate about what this multi-skilling agenda and flexibility the new system may give to robbing the local conditions from NHS staff. Delegates have heard this before. Whenever their conditions are under attack, the needs of the service to patients are always given as the excuse.

He concluded by inviting the unions and the staff to get involved with the new action plan for the NHS which will be discussed over the next two months and "shape Labour’s health policy for the future". We have won the "new investment", he said. The challenge today is to make sure that investment "delivers the new NHS" that you want to see.

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Conference on Human Genetics

On Sunday, April 2, GeneNo! organised a one-day Conference on Human Genetics in Newcastle. The conference, which was well attended, especially by young people, discussed a number of important topics. In the morning there was a talk on The introduction to the science of genetics, a talk on The ethical issues around human genetics and a talk on Pre-natal screening and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. In the afternoon the conference discussed The Human Genome Project, Disabled People and Human Genetics and How Can We Campaign Effectively on Human Genetics?

The scene was set for the discussion with a pamphlet circulated prior to the Conference. In one of the articles the writer opposes the notion that "human beings are isolated individuals made up of genes which can be controlled and even owned. This idea that parts of living or species of plants can be patented and privately owned is a product of modern scientific thought and its emergence within a capitalist economy." This theme was discussed in the conference with contributions from genetics students, people working in the field of health care, disabled people and other contributors. Looking at the ethics a speaker opposed the notion that a monopoly or an individual scientist could justify their actions by claiming that what they were doing was "pure science" regardless of the consequences in the real world to human beings and the environment. He also exposed the excuse that anything could be justified because it allegedly "helped people" and was not "ideologically driven". This led to some further discussion on the importance of raising the level of ideological discussion to oppose the anti-human ideology that was behind modern genetics and the biotech industry.

In this respect it was pointed out that the "International Centre for Life" in Newcastle, which had been created to represent the interests of these biotech global monopolies on Tyneside, was an ideological weapon against the people. With its high profile and genetic theme park it was aimed at disinformation and demobilisation of the people to the dangers that the monopolies are creating on genetics. One contributor pointed out that despite assurances to the contrary, the genetic engineering of plants to produce sterile seeds was being pursued fast-track to commercialisation with the potential for irreversible and disastrous consequences. The Conference raised the issue that in spite of similar assurances the development of a new eugenics in human genetics was the reality. The serious danger of the new biological weapons was discussed. There was sinister purpose in the state maintaining the human tissue banks at Porton Down, the government biological weapons establishment, and a real threat from genetic weapons.

Speaking about the struggle of the disabled people, a speaker pointed out that the oppression of disabled people had its origins in treating disability as an individual physical problem to be shut away in institutions rather than focusing on the development of society to remove all the obstacles in meeting the needs of disabled people. Today, the speaker pointed out, the new oppression of disabled people is that they are being treated as people with "faulty genes". Modern genetics and screening would allegedly eliminate disabling illnesses and create new "healthy human beings". This science was the new eugenics. The issue he raised was that people should fight for the creation of a society that is fit for all human beings and meets their needs and only in that context could people find solutions to improving the health of all.

The issue was presented by a speaker in the field of health care that the aim of the present pre-natal screening programme was not the creation of healthy children as mothers were encouraged to think. Clearly, the elimination of the most costly disabilities for the welfare state was a major consideration in the testing that was undertaken she said.

The Conference ended with a session in which everyone was asked to give their views on what they got from the Conference and what was the way forward. GeneNO! resolved to carry forward its work and keep everyone informed.

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Dinner Held to Mark Anniversary of Birth of DPRK President

Tomorrow, April 15, marks the 88th anniversary of the birth of the late Kim Il Sung, President of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The day is celebrated by the Korean people as the Sun’s Day.

A dinner was held in recent days at the DPRK Mission to the International Maritime Organisation in London as a token of friendship on this occasion, attended by representatives of the Korea Friendship and Solidarity Campaign (KFSC), the New Communist Party and the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist).

Mr Pak Jong Il, DPRK General Delegate, outlined the significance of this auspicious occasion for the Korean people and said it was a special joy for them to celebrate it together with their close British friends and comrades-in-arms. He proposed a toast to the eternal memory of President Kim Il Sung and to the long life and good health of Comrade Kim Jong Il.

Keith Bennett of the KFSC proposed a toast on behalf of the British guests, in which he stressed that supporting the struggle of the Korean people to reunify their country remains a crucial internationalist duty for the anti-imperialist forces throughout the world.

The evening was characterised by the warm sentiments of friendship and solidarity that mark the relations between the two peoples.

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Message from Central Committee of RCPB(ML) to Kim Jong Il on Occasion of Sun’s Day

Kim Jong Il

General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea

Chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission

Pyongyang

Dear Comrade Kim Jong Il

On the joyful occasion of Sun’s Day, Juche 89, on behalf of our Central Committee and entire Party I am pleased to send to you personally, to your Central Committee and Party, and to the heroic Korean people, our warmest congratulations and heartfelt good wishes.

In recent days, like communists and progressive people the world over, we have been very excited and happy to hear the news that President Kim Dae Jung will visit Pyongyang in June to have a historic meeting with you, and that inter-Korean summit talks will be held. This meeting is aimed at accelerating national reconciliation and unity, exchange and co-operation, peace and reunification as laid down in the July 4 North-South Statement. Whatever the difficulties still to be overcome, it seems to us that the meeting will mark a most important step in realising the sacred aspiration of the overwhelming majority of the Korean people for the peaceful and independent reunification of their beloved homeland. Its holding will be a tribute to the ceaseless efforts of Party and people, under your leadership, to realise this aspiration. You yourself have made vital contribution with your clarification in the "3-Point Charter" last year of the principles of independence, peaceful reunification and national unity, the proposal to create a "Democratic Confederal Republic of Koryo" and the 10-point programme for the great unity of the whole nation, founded on common interests, put forward by the late President Kim Il Sung.

The announcement of this coming historic meeting, it seems to us, is a most fitting way to mark Sun’s Day, to celebrate the life and work of the great leader Kim Il Sung. It shows without any doubt that the path he laid down of building socialism, defending sovereignty and striving for reunification of the homeland, according to the Juche idea, is the path being followed today.

Taking such an important step towards resolving a problem criminally and barbarically left unresolved for more than half a century, which is itself an affront to the conscience of humanity, is also in our opinion a massive contribution to the struggle of the peoples for national independence, peace and security and against the current attempts of the big imperialist powers to impose their dictate on the entire world and set aside all principles of sovereignty and international law. It is a most telling fact that the historic meeting will be held in the period of the 50th anniversary of the US aggression against the DPRK in which a previous British Labour government played a sordid and criminal role.

Once again, in joining you in celebrating Sun’s Day, we affirm our support for your Party and people and our solidarity with your heroic struggle. We stand as ever shoulder to shoulder with you in the cause of socialism, the only future for humankind.

With warmest regards,

Chris Coleman

National Spokesperson of Central Committee

RCPB(ML)

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Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) Celebrates 30th Anniversary of its Founding

CPC(ML) on March 31, 2000, celebrated 30 years since its founding in 1970.

On the occasion of its 30th anniversary, the Central Committee of the Party issued a communiqué with the title: "There Is Such a Party!". We reprint the communiqué herewith:

On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), we send our warmest revolutionary greetings to all the Party members across the country, to its supporters, friends and fellow-travellers.

We greet the Canadian working class and people with whom for thirty years and more we have shared weal and woe. We especially thank the hundreds and thousands of workers, women and youth who have stood with us in the class battles which have taken place throughout this period, supporting the projects and initiatives which the Party has put forward year in and year out so as to open society's path to progress. Without the concrete support of our class, our women and youth, we would not be here today. The fact that this support has come to us in the most needed manner at the most decisive and difficult moments of our history, has permitted us to carry out our responsibilities at each and every stage. It is the generosity and class partisanship embodied in these manifestations of support which permits us today to express the confidence that we will achieve our aim of turning the historic successes achieved to date into final victory.

On this occasion, on behalf of our entire Party, it is also our honour to express our warmest revolutionary greetings to all our fraternal comrades all over the world with whom we share the responsibilities which we have in common for the victory of our cause. Without their support and struggle over these thirty years, our work would have been impossible.

We also take this occasion to reiterate our support for the peoples everywhere who are waging a life and death struggle against imperialism and all reaction and for the right to their own development, independence, freedom, peace and justice. Our hearts go out to all those who are in the eye of the storm, be it in Asia, Africa, Latin America or the imperialist heartlands. To the peoples who are the targets of brutal imperialist blockades and aggression, our red salute! The heroic resistance struggles of the people of Cuba, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Vietnam and other countries inspires us to do our duty. The progress they are making to consolidate their achievements in spite of the difficulties they face shows us that the militant rejection of what is not acceptable is the starting point of progress. They remind us that because it must be done, it can be done!

On this occasion, our deepest respects go to the memory of our founder and leader, our comrade and friend, Comrade Hardial Bains. Comrade Bains provided us with the quality we represent today, the quality that the Party's word is its deed. Like our song says, Your life, Dear Comrade, finds expression in us. In the Struggle. In the Party. In the Seventh Congress. ... This is the Party of Hardial Bains. We dedicate our thirtieth anniversary year to you and pledge to step up our work to realise the aims we took up together thirty years ago.

To all the comrades who have passed away, our deepest respects.

On this occasion of our thirtieth anniversary, with utmost pride we can say, There Is Such a Party! In this world which worships the phrase, like all the real problems of life, quality itself is reduced to a phrase. But we set ourselves the task to create a new kind of communist in the course of carrying out the projects which are necessary to open society's path to progress. As a result, our work has given rise to the kind of momentum required to defeat the retrogressive liquidationist pressure the bourgeoisie, imperialism and all reaction are imposing on the society and on the peoples of the world today. This is a force which refuses to conciliate with what is Old and on this basis brings what is New into being.

Out of all the agenda we set for ourselves, the creation of such a human force which takes up for solution the problems facing the society is the crucial factor. This is a force which does not place its individual needs as society's agenda. It is a force made up of human beings who, in spite of themselves, rise above all that is profaned. Taking the most advanced things in human relationships, it is a force whose social project puts human beings and their well-being at the centre. Our Party's Word is its Deed. It is such a party the working class requires today.

During this overall period of degeneration in which terrible pressure is put on people to succumb to everything which is negative in the society, our Party calls on the working class, women and youth to stand firm. The working class must constitute itself as the nation and vest sovereignty in the people. It can do so if it takes up the alternative CPC(M-L) has put forward for political renewal and a modern constitution; its programme Stop Paying the Rich - Increase Funding for Social Programmes.

For our part, we confidently declare to our class, our women and youth: For more than three decades we have been in the forefront of leading those battles which are absolutely necessary so that the society can make progress. We put the aim of the society as the first aim of our lives and this is what gives rise to the quality required of a communist worthy of the name. So long as there are people such as you and there is a struggle against oppression, communists such as us will be there.

Today it is our honour to answer the question: What have we achieved? We declare that as a result of our work, human integrity is what we have achieved. It is the integrity of those who with utmost pride in their Party and in their class, implement their own decisions!

Hail the 30th Anniversary of the Founding of CPC(M-L)!
Long Live our Party! Long Live Our Class!
Workers of All Countries, Unite!

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