August 1998

That's Capitalism: Workers Solidarity #55 1998

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A man who saved two co-workers from an explosion and fire in Nike's Garuda factory in Indonesia and who suffered extensive burns in the process was fired for his efforts. Instead of a hero's welcome, Mr. Kusnadi received a reprimand when he returned to the plant after hospitalization. The supervisor told him "it's not our business if you try to help your friends".

Housing Crisis - renting in Ireland

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Housing is one of people's most basic needs. Yet it is a need that the 26 county state [1] has consistently failed to supply to a significant number of its people. It seems that the Irish housing crisis is permanent, becoming more severe from time to time, but never disappearing. Despite the Celtic Tiger economy and the building boom, waiting lists for social housing continue to lengthen. Over 37,000 people are currently waiting. Are we to believe that this lack of housing is inevitable, that it is impossible to build houses quickly enough to satisfy the demand?

No More Omagh bombings

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WHEN THE REAL IRA exploded its massive car bomb in the centre of Omagh as it was thronged with Saturday afternoon shoppers on August 15, they showed a callous disregard for the safety and lives of hundreds of people. The bomb and the horrific loss of life and injuries caused by it provoked widespread condemnation throughout the island.

Let Asylum-Seekers work - Don't let the racists divide us

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Since the April 25th day of action against racism and deportations, the Anti-Racism Campaign has been campaigning to win for asylum seekers the legal right to work. At present, refugees seeking asylum are prohibited from working or taking up full-time education.

Government workers to spy on asylum-seekers ?

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This July on a talk show on FM104 in Dublin, one refugee joked; "I had one yellow card, I have just been given another and we all know what this means in football" . Few of the hand picked audience of taxi drivers, private security guards and the likes were laughing, very few "got" the joke. The card referred to is the ID card now issued to all asylum-seekers. These are now automatically renewed through the post (you may remember last February refugees were made to queue in the rain outside the Department of Justice - presumably the government didn't want to repeat such a spectacle which could have damaged "our" summer tourist industry).

Mayday letter from the new unemployed network

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Dear friends,

A meeting took place in Portlaoise, on July 8th, attended by people concerned at recent statements by Ms Mary Harney, Tanaiste and Minister for Enterprise & Employment. It called for a campaign to defend welfare rights and oppose the low wage strategy of recent governments.

Unions Against Racism

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The fight against racism has many fronts. Trade Unionists form a very important section of the fighting force - especially those in the public sector who are in daily contact with refugees and asylum-seekers.

Activists in the Irish National Teachers Organisation have taken a number of important initiatives in recent months.

From behind bars in Clinton's America

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I've been a prisoner at the Huntsville Texas Walls Unit for nearly ten years and during that period probably close to one hundred men and one woman have been strapped down to the gurney in the death house, and had the life snuffed out of them by lethal injection. Undoubtedly, some of these people were on death row for perpetrating heinous acts and undoubtedly, some totally innocent people have been put to death.

Corruption ...it's business as usual

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Recent months have seen the banking and financial sectors in Ireland coming under scrutiny as never before. On the one hand there have been allegations of offshore accounts designed to dodge tax being set up for favoured customers and of money being illegally taken from people's accounts through various guises such as charging interest and bank charges not actually due.

Planes, trains and automobiles....

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"Are ya right there Michael, are ya right? Do ya think that we'll be home before the night? Well it all depends on whether, the old engine holds together. And it might now Michael sure it might."
(Percy French song)

Well, we all know the story by now. The Celtic Tiger leaping and bounding, an expanding economy and a rising tide that lifts all boats. Regular readers of Workers Solidarity might take all this with a grain of salt, and they would be right.

Murdoch Disunited (FU All Forever) FC

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A long time ago Karl Marx wrote that "religion is the opium of the people". Well a few decades after the above line first saw the light of day a group of Mancunian Railway workers set up a football club. That was over a hundred years ago and I would update what old Karl wrote and say that Sport is the new opium of the people.

Abortion Rights - We had the referendum, so where is the law?

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In November 1992, a full six years ago, there was a referendum on abortion. Then the population voted to allow abortion to take place in Ireland, when there was a threat to the life of the mother. The government said legislation would soon follow. Since then nothing.

'Propaganda By Deed'

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In 1871 Parisian workers took control of their city, creating the Paris Commune. It was eventually suppressed, leaving tens of thousands of communards dead. A violent campaign against the left ensued in Europe, driving the anarchists underground. The tactic of 'propaganda By deed' was born out of the frustration felt by revolutionaries because of this.

Now that's what we call a rip-off

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AFTER THE SCANDALS of Ray Burke, Greencore, the Telecom site, National Irish Bank, the Ben Dunne money, Michael Lowry, the Beef Tribunal, etc., it was inevitable that bosses north of the border would also be caught with their greasy fingers in the till. And there is nowhere better to catch them than at Belfast International Airport.

The airport was privatised by the British government back in 1994. The recent report, by an all-party committee of Westminster politicians, about how it was done makes for interesting reading.

Biography of French anarchist Louise Michel

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Louise Michel was born on 29th May 1830. She was raised by her mother and paternal grandparents. Her love and understanding of everything downtrodden, human and animal alike, developed from her empathy with her childhood world. Her compassion and sensitivity to suffering grew, as she grew. This, along with her instinct to rebel against social inequalities, led her along the revolutionary path.

The Zapatistas and direct democracy

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On January 1st 1994, a rebel army called the Emiliano Zapata Liberation Front (EZLN) rose against the Mexican government in Chiapas, Mexico. Workers Solidarity contributor Andrew Flood has been researching the life of ordinary people in the Zapatista area. Below he writes about some of his findings

Review: African Anarchism: History of a Movement

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Few people would associate anarchism with Africa. However, it is certainly beginning to take root in there. This book is written by two members of the Awareness League, a 1000-strong anarcho-syndicalist organisation in Nigeria. Starting with a good introduction to anarchism, the authors outline its relationship with Africa in an attempt to "enrich anarchism and anarchist principles with an African perspective and to carve a place for Africa within the framework of the worldwide anarchist movement".

International News: Workers Solidarity #55 1998

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Australian dockers' strike ends

BOTH THE DOCKERS' trade union and the bosses are claiming victory in the Australian waterfront strike we reported in our last issue. The owners of Patricks, the major dock firm, had sacked all 1,400 employees. Their aim was to smash the Maritime Union of Australia and reduce pay rates. The government backed Patricks to the hilt and Patricks spent $100 million on their union busting operation.

Sick Joke of the Year: Al Gore in Vietnam

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THE CURRENT favourite for the Workers Solidarity 1998 Sick Joke of the Year Award is that infamous newspaper of record, The New York Times - for a profile it ran of US Vice-President Al Gore. It prominently tipped Al Gore to run for US President in 2000. In doing so, the NYT notes that Al Gore has many "qualities" that recommend him for the job, including an avid interest in the environment, going back to when Gore was just a lad. (Ah it's lovely!)

What a wonderful world we live in!

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IF EVER YOU'VE felt doubts about why you are so against the capitalist system, just read the latest United Nations Human Development Report (or at least the media synopsis of it - see Irish Times 9/9/98). You may have known that there is inequality in the world, that the rich always seem to look after themselves and the poor just simply get poorer all the time. But are you aware of just how unequal the distribution of wealth actually is? Even for a battle-hardened campaigner against inequality and injustice like myself, the figures are quite horrifying.

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