Weekly News Review Archive

Saturday, April 7th, 2001

Don't Buy Danone

Danone is closing two biscuit (cookie) factories in France with the loss of hundreds of jobs. French and EU laws requiring that workers be consulted about major decisions affecting their employment (pretty big effect in this case) were completely ignored, and the men and women whose livelihoods depended on the factories only found out that they were being thrown out of work when they read the papers. The French government has condemned the company's behaviour but has yet to say what will happen to those responsible. French law gives the courts power to decide whether proper consultations have taken place, whether the company's financial circumstances really justify closure, and whether certain specified minima have been respected in relation to social assistance and/or the offering of alternative jobs. Trade unions, left parties and a number of local authorities are calling for a boycott of Danone products which include biscuits (check the pack, as these go under different brand names in different countries), mineral waters (Evian, Badoit and Volvic are sold internationally) and fresh produce, principally a number of brands of yoghurt. Marks and Spencer are also guilty of ignoring already inadequate labour protection laws in closing all of their French stores and 20 more in other parts of Europe, and judicial proceedings have been launched against them by France's three main union federations. At this stage, however, no-one has issued a call for a boycott. watch this space!

Pakistani Socialist Leader Released

Spectre's good friend Farooq Tariq, General Secretary of the Labour Party Pakistan, has been released from jail. His arrest was one of at least a thousand, some estimates put it as high as 7,000, carried out on the morning of a planned rally by the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy, a broad-based coalition of parties from across the political spectrum which is demanding an end to effective military rule and the calling of free elections. After his release Tariq wrote to us to explain what was going on: click here to read the full text of Tariq's letter.

Quote of the Week

"The Bush administration has clearly taken a more confrontational attitude toward China from the start. Such a stance is bound to lead to these types of tense situations. What would the reaction be if the Chinese were routinely patrolling off of Long Island? I don't think it would be particularly well-received, especially if a situation like this occurred." Robert Weil, author and China expert.

Transfer Costs to Remain High

Transferring money from one euro-zone member state to another will remain exorbitantly costly after the introduction of the single currency. The European Commission has been complaining about this and yet has no plans to bring it to an end, despite the fact that it clearly eliminates one of the promised benefits of the European monetary project. According to the European Central Bank it still costs approximately 100 times as much to move money from one euro-zone country to another as it does to transfer money within any one of these countries.

Money Well Spent ?

It has been reported that the EU summit, which took place in Sweden recently, and which proved to be a huge disappointment for the leaders who took part (obviously this was good news for the rest of us) cost a staggering 70 million Krona or around 7.6 million Euros to stage. Value for money yet again.

A number of Genoese and Italian organisations are working together to co-ordinate the protests against the G8 Summit to be held in Genoa from the 20-22 July. An international appeal was launched after the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, which took place earlier this year, to mobilise s many as possible for this protest. In order to co-ordinate international efforts more effectively, these groups are organising an international meeting to be held in Genoa the 4-5 May. The official language of this meeting will be English. For those of you who wish to take part or simply find out more there is a website under construction or you can email them directly.

International Cuba Solidarity Congress

In Berlin on the 23-24 June a Cuba Solidarity Congress will take place. The Congress is to focus on Cuban-European perspectives and will be reviewing European cooperation and solidarity with Cuba, from the last Congress in 1992 to the present. Furthermore, new goals will be set and new initiatives will be introduced, whilst the Congress also intends to call on the EU and its member states to take an unequivocal position condemning the US blockade. It will in addition be an opportunity to highlight the significance of Cuba, particularly for countries in the South, explaining Cuba's alternative positions and suggestions concerning neo-liberal globalisation. As usual if anyone is interested they have put together a website or you can contact them by email.

Liberation Vol 44/ No.2

Since its formation in 1954 the Movement for Colonial Freedom - now Liberation - has campaigned in Britain and abroad for all those struggling to achieve freedom from oppression and exploitation. They produce a magazine which arrived on our news desk recently. In this latest edition there are a number of articles worth taking note of: in particular Kate Hudson, a Spectre contributor, writes on the effects of ten years of economic decline in Eastern Europe. She sheds light on the specific impact of the economic transition on women and shows that the post-communist period has brought a worsening record on gender equality. Other articles also focus on women and include a message from UN Secretary Geeral Kofi Annan for International Women's Day which took place on 8th March, and articles which report on women's resistance to oppression and violence in Colombia and the daily suffering of the Palestinian people where women are as usual the worst affected group. To get your hands on a copy or become a member you can contact them by email or surf your way to their website.

Independent Politics News Vol 5/ Issue 2

Independent Politics News is a publication of the Independent Progressive Politics Network in the US. This network is composed of organisations and individuals committed to the achievement of a national, non-sectarian, independent progressive political party, or an alliance of such parties, as an alternative to the corporate-controlled Democratic/Republican system. The latest edition of their magazine to arrive on the Spectre news desk carries articles on the National Pro-Democracy Campaign which is to take place over the weekend of June 28th-July 1st in Philadelphia. In addition, worthy of note is the campaigns and actions section which calls for action 20-22 April to stop the Free Trade Area of Americas (FTAA) and articles reporting on the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre and the growing mobilisation against Plan Colombia. If you want to obtain a copy or find out more they have a website and email address.

International Union Rights Vol 8/ Issue 1

Finally this week I'd like to give a mention to this Journal which is produced by the International Centre for Trade Union Rights (ICTUR). This latest copy to find its way to us focuses on women's rights at work. Articles cover why women need unions and why unions need women, gender implications of globalisation, reconciliation of family and working life, the abuse of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia and many others. Following these articles there are a number of reports on Trade Union rights in Romania, General Motors abuse of orkers rights in the UK, Coffee workers struggles in Guatemala and Freedom of Association in Indonesia, plus world wide news and coverage of ICTUR activities. Contact them by email or to find out more see their website. Well, sadly, that's all I've got time for this week so until next week - get busy.

Compiled by Ian Kitching