Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials, 3 July 2007

3 July 2007

 Brown wants the public to be safe? pull the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan!

After the three attempted car bombings in London and Glasgow, Brown has placed Britain on the "highest alert". His message is that the public must be kept safe. This is, we are told, his government's first priority.

But when asked on Sunday, whether this car bomb attempt had anything to do with the war in Iraq, Brown's answer was no. He sang precisely the same tune as Bush or Blair on the subject - even if his tone might have been "less hysterical", as commentators pointed out.

So it is clear that Brown's concern for public safety is, in fact, strictly limited. And it certainly does not extend to Baghdad, nor Basra, nor even Kabul, where the public is being blown up almost every day by car bombs. He clearly does not give a damn about that. Officially, "only" 1,277 members of the Iraqi public were killed in June! This is progress, apparently, because in May, there were almost 2,000 civilians killed - just people trying to go about their normal lives, but prevented from doing so by US/British soldiers and the terrorism they have spawned. Only liars and hypocrites can argue that such attacks are not directly related to the US/British occupation, there and here!

While car bombs are becoming more common in Kabul, most Afghani civilians are still killed directly by Western aerial bombardment. And as a British officer, recently returned from Helmand said, "every civilian dead means five new Taliban".

In Iraq things are way beyond that stage. Now much of the violence is the result of the rivalries between different warlords - to the point of near-civil war. But it is the occupation which opened up these rivalries and which constantly fuels them. All the more reason for it to end.

So, no, it is simply not good enough that Brown "prioritises public safety" by putting Britain on high alert. The only action which will improve public safety - not only here, but more importantly, in the Middle East - is troop withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. And not tomorrow, or next week. But right away.

 Postal strike: we need all our forces to turn the privatisation tide

The first national postal strike in 11 years took place last Friday. Royal Mail, the government's own "limited company" refuses to offer workers more than a 2.5% below-inflation pay rise this year. And it insists on so-called "modernisation" - which really means radical job cuts and cuts in conditions.

The strike - albeit for only 24 hours, so far - was definitely a success. The mail was halted. Pickets were joined by workers not even in the union, as well as workers from other workplaces who came to show solidarity.

Even the media reports were largely sympathetic, despite Royal Mail's bosses' attempts to portray the workers on strike as backward dinosaurs who do not want to "modernise" or "beat the competition"!

Of course, most postal workers know by now what these words mean. 40,000 jobs have already been cut over the past 5 years. The second daily delivery has been replaced by one longer and heavier delivery. Collection points and times have been cut. Full-time jobs have been replaced by part-time jobs. Crown post offices have been closed and 2,500 smaller and rural post offices are being axed, while privatisation proceeds.

But Adam Crozier, one of the highest paid civil servants in Britain, claims it is the inevitable fate of Royal Mail to lose out to private competition. In a way he is right. This is what government policy is deliberately designed for. Naturally, private operators offer businesses a cheaper service while paying their workers less! In fact the government itself gave new private postal operators a boost by awarding them its own contracts!

Of course this is a travesty, which will mean that ordinary people are deprived of a service, while workers are deprived of decent jobs. Just as it is a travesty to offer NHS workers 2.5%, to push the NHS towards privatisation and a travesty to cut 100,000 jobs in the civil service.

This week, Post Office Counters workers took a half day strike on their own, having joined the letters' workers' strike last Friday. Which illustrates one of the ways in which workers' ranks are unnecessarily divided, even when fighting for a common cause.

Since the same attacks are being carried out in all areas of public services, they warrant a united response. When sections fight alone, it is like fighting with one arm tied behind our backs, while hopping on one foot. We need all our arms, legs and brains, fighting together. It is the only way we will fight effectively and win decisively.