Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials, 13 November 2007

13 November 2007

 The politicians are setting the scene for more "legalised" murder and internment

There seems to be a consensus between the Labour and Tory parties that no heads should roll over the killing of Jean Charles De Menezes in July 2005. As if it was right for any public organisation, whatever the circumstances, to shoot people. But we are told that the fight against terrorism justifies anything and everything these days.

For instance, now Brown would like the police to keep "terror suspects" in detention without charge for up to 56 days. The existing 28-day limit on holding people is already so much longer than any other "comparable democracy" that it actually bears no comparison! For instance, even in the USA, police cannot hold suspects for more than 48 hours without charging them; in Spain it is 5 days, and in Turkey it is 7 and a half...

After justifying the shooting to death of an unidentified "terror suspect", ministers now seem to have no qualms whatsoever about justifying a sentence of up to 8 weeks of solitary confinement, without access to normal legal protection, for anyone who is alleged (by anyone else) to be a "terrorist" or have links with "terrorism".

So to all intents and purposes, the word "terrorism" has become a pretext to give the police every kind of power and a pretext to deprive their "targets" (it could be any of us) of all rights.

The case of Jean Charles De Menezes is particularly significant, because it shows how far the top spheres of the state will to go, to protect their actions from the control of the population.

The fact is, that the Met Commissioner, Ian Blair, lied to all and sundry after the shooting, claiming that De Menezes was a terrorist. The fact is, that he conspired with the Labour government to stop a public enquiry. And the fact is, that the justice system endorsed this conspiracy, by refusing to blame anyone for the murder of Jean Charles, which is why his family ended up having to go through a ridiculous health and safety trial against the police.

Of course, none of this should come as too much of a surprise: the role of the police has never been to protect the lives of ordinary working people, like Jean Charles De Menezes. Its role is to protect the social interests of the capitalist class against the rest of us. This is why the politicians are so frantically trying to shield Ian Blair and the police force from scrutiny and control, and worse, to extend their blank cheque of shoot-to-kill and imprisonment without charge.

 No to the Remploy cuts and closures!

Despite the laws which exist against discrimination against the disabled, there are not that many places where disabled workers can find work easily. That is why the government-owned "Remploy", which has 83 factories around the country, especially geared to employ 6,000 disabled workers, is an utter necessity and in fact could do with expanding!

But instead, the managers of these factories are being pressurised to make cost-savings. Government ministers say that the £2,000 per year subsidy per worker is "unsustainable"!

Yes, the very same ministers who say that the number of unemployed on disability benefit is "unsustainable"!

This is one of the most crass and disgusting examples of political hypocrisy they have displayed for a long time! They say they want the disabled in work - but at the same time they are cutting the (very few) jobs where they could work! Of course they would much prefer these workers to be available for exploitation by private sector bosses, who will then get the government subsidy instead. And here we mean the "subsidy" which allows such bosses to get away with paying ridiculously low wages - also known as "tax credits" and "in-work benefits"...

Who would have believed that it would come to the point where Labour ministers would be arguing for cutting one of the very few remaining examples of a publicly-minded, publicly funded, useful, government employment and production scheme? But indeed, 1,600 jobs are to be cut and 17 plants closed!

For some time, the Remploy workers, supported by the GMB union, have been fighting against these plans. There should be no room at all for compromise and certainly not on the spurious grounds of "profitability"! Not only is there every reason for these jobs and factories to be retained, but there is even more reason for Remploy to be expanded. These factories make useful goods - like school furniture and protective workware - and why not even more? The Remploy workers should be confident of getting all the support we can muster!