Thursday, April 28, 2011

From the newsletter of the International Federation of Chemical, Engineering, Mine and General Workers' Unions, 24 April 2011

Every April 28, the labour movement remembers the fallen. April 28 is known as International Commemoration Day for Dead and Injured Workers and is marked by trade unions and safety and health groups in over 140 countries.
Globally, 2.3 million workers die as a result of their work every year, according to the ILO. The ICEM considers this number, shocking as it is, to be understated by at least a factor of ten. Many millions more are injured or made ill due to occupational disease. Every one of these deaths, injuries, and illnesses is needless; in fact, senseless.
ICEM affiliated trade unions work in some of the most dangerous and toxic workplaces on the planet. High-profile tragedies such as explosions and fires at oil and gas facilities, out-of-control nuclear power plants, methane gas blasts and cave-ins at mines, and untold number of equipment failures in manufacturing that cause death, limb loss, other injuries are all part of a sad culture that the ICEM aims to reverse.
The continuing toll of deaths, injuries, and illnesses is quite simply unacceptable to the ICEM. That is why the ICEM is there to assist its affiliates on any occupational health and safety issue. It is the reason that the ICEM has led the way in bringing occupational health and safety into Global Framework Agreements. It is why the ICEM has an ongoing campaign for the ratification of ILO Convention 176, a long-standing project on HIV/AIDS, and it is also why the ICEM engages other international organizations for better standards and better cooperation in occupational health and safety.
What would make workplaces safer? While employers and governments spend enormous sums seeking magical solutions, the ICEM knows that the answer is really quite simple, although burdensome to some in implementing: workers have rights, employers have obligations.
Here then, is the answer.
• Unions make work safer, therefore the first and most important workplace health and safety programme stems from a strong union. To achieve this, we demand respect for the ILO Core Labour Conventions, especially those protecting freedom of association, the right to organize unions, and the right to collective bargaining.
• Workers’ rights: the fundamental rights of workers with respect to occupational health and safety include: the right to know about the hazards of work and to receive training in how to do the job safely; the right to refuse – and shut down, if necessary – unsafe work; the right to participate in the formulation and implementation of workplace health and safety policies, programmes, and procedures. This right is best achieved through a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) that plays a central and obligatory role in an employer's internal responsibility system.
• Employers’ obligations: Employers should concentrate their efforts on making work safer. This means process safety management, identification and use of best available technologies, industrial hygiene, ergonomics, occupational disease recognition and investigation, and a precautionary approach to chemical, biological, physical and other hazards.
• Employers’ prohibitions: Employers should not be allowed to use methods and practices whose principal purpose is to blame victims, or suppress the reporting of accidents and artificially improve statistics in order to gain improved workers' compensation experience ratings, premium reductions and rebates, and public relations points. This includes prohibiting behaviour-based safety programmes, workplace drug and alcohol testing (particularly post-incident), safety incentives that encourage under-reporting of accidents, and waging fights against recognition of workplaces diseases.
The theme, “Unions Make Work Safer” on April 28 and on every work day, is sometimes known as Workers’ Memorial Day. It is fitting because a major role that trade unions play in everyday work-life is to monitor – and improve – occupational safety and health. Trade union activists are encouraged to find an activity and to take meaningful action to better safe work practices through the strength of their union.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Confusion, a condition I share with others when trying to follow developments in the Middle East and North Africa. Who are the people opposing Gadhafi and Assad? Nobody an honest person could support, in my opinion. Who wants to side with Cameron, Sarkozy, Berlusconi and the oil-slickers. Who wants to side with the reactionary monarchists, the Sanusi order, and anti-democratic Islamists? Who wants to side with CIA plants, or Muslim Brothers waiting to exact revenge upon Syria's Alawites? The original, and genuine, calls for change at the top and political and economic reform have been steam-rollered by agents of the EU, Washington, Riyadh, and the oil-slickers.
However these movements began they no longer represent the oppressed people who first took to the streets. But the oppressed are still welcome to sacrifice their lives for the old order with a new face. Assad and Gadhafi may go, but their departure will guarantee nothing in the way of reform. The masters of the universe have other plans.
Sorry to be such a jeremiah. It comes of decades of disappointment and disillusion.

The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: Debate about Syria among Lebanese progressives: su...: "Comrade Laure sent me this (I cite with her permission):  'Reading Al Alakhbar and your blog on Syria, I came to the conclusion that the un..."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Lest we forget, Workers' Memorial Day, Thursday 28th April.

"Remember the dead, fight for the living."

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If anything's happening in Hull they're keeping it quiet,
Bradley Manning broke the law, declares Obama. So that's it then, no need for a trial. And no need for a confession, so they can stop the torture.
His release, one assumes, will be at the discretion of some future President. Or he could be left to die in prison.
(via uruknet, link below)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pointless? Worthless? Meaningless? I'll try to think up some more adjectives for this headline in today's Guardian -

Cost of pint to rise to £8 by 2060

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Yesterday, Good Friday, I took a walk into town. Almost every shop and store stood open, so different from the pre-Thatcher era. Still, Mammon wasn't crucified.
In a charity shop I lit on a second-hand copy of Eric Clapton's autobiography which I bought. I really dislike Clapton, but I was (am) a fan of Cream, and was interested in that period of the man's career.
I also wanted to know if he had abandoned the rabid racism of his days as a permanently pissed pillock. Well he did express misgivings about the Birmingham diatribe, but only because of all the trouble it caused him. It seems he was misunderstood. In fact he was saddened that those nice dark-skinned people had to exchange their tropical paradise for a life of exploitation in Britain. To quote: "I had been in Jamaica just before, and had seen countless commercials on TV advertising a 'new life' in Great Britain, and then at Heathrow had witnessed whole families of West Indians being harassed and humiliated by the immigration people, who had no intention of letting them in. It was appalling."
Aah, the bleeding heart. Funny, I remember it differently, and Clapton's wikipedia entry supports my memory -
On 5 August 1976 Clapton provoked an uproar and lingering controversy when he spoke out against increasing immigration during a concert in Birmingham. Visibly intoxicated, Clapton voiced his support of controversial political candidate Enoch Powell and announced on stage that Britain was in danger of becoming a "black colony". Clapton was quoted telling the audience: "I think Enoch's right ... we should send them all back. Throw the wogs out! Keep Britain white!" The latter phrase was at the time a British National Front slogan. Clapton continued:
"I used to be into dope, now I’m into racism. It’s much heavier, man. Fucking wogs, man. Fucking Saudis taking over London. Bastard wogs. Britain is becoming overcrowded and Enoch will stop it and send them all back. The black wogs and coons and Arabs and fucking Jamaicans and fucking (indecipherable) don’t belong here, we don’t want them here. This is England, this is a white country, we don’t want any black wogs and coons living here. We need to make clear to them they are not welcome. England is for white people, man. We are a white country. I don’t want fucking wogs living next to me with their standards. This is Great Britain, a white country, what is happening to us, for fuck's sake? We need to vote for Enoch Powell, he’s a great man, speaking truth. Vote for Enoch, he’s our man, he’s on our side, he’ll look after us. I want all of you here to vote for Enoch, support him, he’s on our side. Enoch for Prime Minister! Throw the wogs out! Keep Britain white!"

Lovely fellow! Other facts garnered from the same source: Clapton is worth £200 million and is a supporter of the Countryside Alliance.
Hail the brave fighters of the Syrian security forces, turning their firepower on their unarmed compatriots. Meanwhile in Israeli-occupied Syria no sound of gunfire disturbs the invaders and their camp followers.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Two bald men fighting over a comb, Jorge Luís Borgés' opinion of the Falklands "war". A handy metaphor, I think, for the current fakery over alternative voting. Apart from giving Clegg the opportunity to act as if he isn't Cameron's fag (by kind permission of Cameron)it's all sound and fury signifying sod-all. Nothing is to be gained by the ballot box fodder known as the electorate; no increase in their control over the democratic process. The big fish will swallow up the minnows and the the global capitalism party will form a government.
The majority of the electorate will continue to resist participation in the pantomime. The thimble riggers of parliamentary pseudo-democracy and their media cheerleaders will continue to ignore them, apart from expressions of bewilderment at voter apathy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nice touch -
"In the 18th minute of the 4-0 win over Kilmarnock, Celtic fans applauded and chanted the manager's name.
"When Lennon played for Celtic, he wore the number 18 shirt."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"BBC film on Gaza aid flotilla praised by trust despite breaching guidelines"

(Headline in today's Guardian)

An open letter to Jane Corbin

Saturday, April 16, 2011

It's alleged that Gadhafi's military are using cluster bombs against the civilian population. This is very bad, so I'm assuming these differ in some way from the cluster bombs deployed by UK And US forces in Iraq, by the US in Afghanistan, and by Israel in Lebanon.
Libya, it turns out, did not ratify the international agreement against the use of cluster bombs. You know, the agreement the US and Israel didn't ratify.
The Libyans don't make their own cluster bombs, so the question of their origin arises. I bet the newshounds are already investigating that one - second thoughts, I won't risk any money on it.

Cluster bombs, whatever is claimed, are used to cause casualties among civilian populations. I'm guessing that their use could constitute a war crime. I'm also guessing that, if Gadhafi ever faces an international court, the case against the use of cluster bombs is unlikely to feature.

So remember the rule, for Libya and Libya only; deleted uranium SÍ, cluster bombs NO!

Friday, April 15, 2011

A touch of the exotic, a poem in Portuguese. Though I don't know the language I think this poem is easily understood by anyone with some knowledge of a romance language or languages. Anyway we all can recognise words like 'propaganda' and 'petróleo'. OTAN = NATO, não = no or not, mentiras are lies.
The author is one Carlos Pronzato, an Argentinian. I think this was originally in Portuguese but it may have been translated.

Here is the last verse -

A batalha
Por trás de todas as mentiras
Que a propaganda
Consiga inventar
E a hegemonia
Da grande mídia
Repetir e repetir
até desinformar
É como sempre
Um ataque à dignidade
Uma guerra de rapina
Contra a humanidade.

Substantivu Commune: A BATALHA NÃO É PELA LIBIA: "A batalha não é pela Líbia Como diz a grande mídia A batalha não é pela Líbia É sim por aqueles que decidem O que temos que ver Comer Vestir..."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Listen carefully.

Andrew Lansley, the privateer, has reportedly apologised for something or other about his plans for dismantling our National Health Service. What he said was "I'm sorry that the Royal College of Nursing is made up of people too thick to recognise me for the philanthropist that I am." He did say it in politicianspeak, knowing that the media would deliberately misinterpret it.

William Hague, the mojo-deficient Foreign Secretary has spoken about the Cameron-Sarkozy mini-war saying, "People die in wars, 90 per cent of them civilians. Did you really think we were going to bomb a country in order to save lives?" He did say it in politicianspeak so it came out a little differently.
I don't think Hague's heart is in this war, but he's getting the flak.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I've just learned that people searching for a story on Prime Mininster Cameron using obscene language to a journalist are being directed, wrongly, to my blog.
I found the story with the phrase "Cameron swore". One report is here.

Cameron had a reputation for bullying journalists when he was a PR man for some television company.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Protest Planned for Starbucks CEO
Harvard students, union members, and Starbucks employees from around the country are planning to protest a lecture by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Harvard Business School on Friday.
Schultz will be speaking to several hundred Business School students on his experiences running a successful business while also be promoting his new book, “Onward.”
Liberté Locke, an organizer of the event, said Starbucks employees are angered by what they deem to be hypocrisy in Schultz’s book, in which he expresses his commitment to his “partners”—as the company calls its workers. Employees of the company, especially union members, feel that Starbucks is one of the least labor friendly companies in America, Locke said. Starbucks has been found guilty by the National Labor Relations Board of violating labor rights, including charges of union busting and wrongful termination.
“For Howie [Schultz] to sit around and claim how much he loves us, it’s just disgusting,” said Locke, a Starbucks barista and Starbucks Workers Union organizer from New York. “Starbucks is one of the biggest union busting corporations in the United States.”
Harvard union representatives said they planned to support Starbucks workers in the protest.
Geoffrey “Geoff” Carens, an assistant librarian and member of the Harvard Union of Technical and Clerical Workers, emphasized what he called the “phoniness” of Schultz’s message.
“Howard Schultz likes to present Starbucks as a socially responsible corporation,” Carens said. “In reality, conditions are really bad and getting worse.”
While Starbucks has garnered criticism for the way it has treated union leaders and organizers, it has presented itself as a progressive member of the Fortune 500, providing health care benefits and stock options to some employees.
Students who plan to attend the event said that they feel it is important to show solidarity with wronged workers in standing up for their rights.
“Everyone deserves a voice on the job,” said Student Labor Action Movement member William P. Whitham ’14. Organizers of the event said that they are eager to send a message both to Schultz and to the Business School students.
“We want him to know that no matter where he goes, he will be held accountable,” said Locke. As for the Business School students, Locke wanted them to know “that union busting is absolutely unacceptable and unethical.”
Locke emphasized that the point of the protest is not to scare students away, but rather to educate them. “We want to prevent [future] employers from becoming like Starbucks,” she said.

(Mercer R. Cook - The Harvard Crimson, March 31, 2011, via

Thursday, April 07, 2011

David (not Dave) Cameron has described our National Health Service as "precious". This probably translates as valuable, suggesting that he'll only sell it to the private sector for a high price. We'll see.

Elsewhere in the crazy world of coalition cock-ups the post-Liberals have allowed their leading liability, Clegg, to front a party political broadcast. Obviously they've given up altogether and are preparing a great vat of hemlock.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

73% of us approve of "peaceful civil disobedience (such as people staging sit-ins and occupying shops)" as a tactic in the struggle against the asset-stripping of the UK.

(I learned this reading Mick Hall's blog)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

"While Goldstone was clearly trying to appease Zionists who subjected him to an intense campaign of personal vilification and ostracism his article did not in fact repudiate one single concrete finding in the report that bears his name ("Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel and war crimes," 2 April 2011).
(Ali Abunimah, at Electronic Intifada)

What I'm wondering - are any of the other mission members going to endorse Goldstone's attempt to rewrite recent history? I haven't found a reference to any statement from them.
From today's Guardian -
"British PM tells Pakistan elite: 'Many of your richest people are getting away without paying much tax at all – and that's not fair'"

Kettle, pan, grimy arse.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Goldstone’s forced redaction does not clear Israeli war crimes
Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi

April 3, 2011

Judge Richard Goldstone’s op-ed in The Washington Post is a direct result of tremendous and fierce pressure practiced by the Israeli and the Zionist lobby against him, his family and his friends in a frenzied campaign to force him to retreat from his report, an objective yet strong international condemnation against war crimes committed by Israel during its aggression against the Gaza Strip two years ago.
Goldstone’s personal revision – done under duress – does not change anything related to the report. While carrying his name, it was not developed or written solely by him, but by a Commission he headed. The report remains a document adopted by the Human Rights Council and UN bodies.
Goldstone cannot undo or change a single fact of the report, which has become the most important document for the international condemnation of Israel and the war crimes committed in the Gaza Strip.
Israel is trying to exaggerate Goldstone’s statements, although it refused to allow him access to the West Bank and has refused to cooperate with the committee. What we are witnessing is the result of a campaign against Goldstone to force him to say things he is not convinced of. It is a model for the ferocity of the Zionist lobby when it decides to target a person or institution.
This campaign against Goldstone is aimed at clearing the face of Israel to justify a new aggression on Gaza. What is required from the Palestinian Liberation Organization is to take the Goldstone report and the decision of the Hague Tribunal on the apartheid wall and settlements, which has been neglected for a period of six years, to the General Assembly of the United Nations. There they should explicitly demand sanctions on Israel and state that any laxity in the use of these important documents would encourage Israel to launch a counter attack to cancel their influence.
While Benjamin Netanyahu said the Goldstone report should go to the dustbin of history, it is the system of apartheid that should be relegated to history’s dustbin. Israel’s apartheid and the policy of the coalition government of the settlers represented by Netanyahu. As the people of South Africa were liberated, the Palestinian people will be liberated and one day Israel will be condemned their war crimes in Gaza and be convicted of all their previous crimes.
STS Bulletin no. 36

"There will be no immunity ..." (William Hague)


There will be no prosecution.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Some news of Khalifa Hifter, whose name can be romanised in almost as many ways as Gadhafi's -
"Haftr, a general in Gadhafi's army during the 1980s, claims to be in charge. Haftr told ABC News that he doesn't officially report to Omar Hariri, the rebels' defense minister; or to Gen. Abdel Fattah Younes, who has the title of chief of staff. The general claims that one of his sons is in regular contact with James Clapper, U.S. director of National Intelligence, a claim that a spokesperson for Clapper said was inaccurate."

More here.
One Beppe Severgnini, writing in the Corriere Della Sera, claims that Fabio Capello has exaggerated the size of an English footballer's vocabulary. He has tried, not very successfully in my opinion, to pare the number of words down to twelve, viz. -

Booze, darts [really?], drubbing, fame, grands [sic], Hair dryer [pace Sir Alex], page three girl, respect, sponsor, wanker, xenophobia, zero.

The last necessary, according to Signor S., when discussing England's form in the World Cup tournament over the last 45 years. And he cheats a little by adding words like "sweetener and "bung" under the "grands" heading". His list of aberrations permitted to one showing "respect" suggests a liberal interpretation of the word.

(Via a comment by "Filippo" on Licia Corbolante's blog)