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Two stories re: strikes and civil disobedience and one story regarding the poor state of post-war aid - all from the British Independent on 13 March http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=386544 'Alternative Parliament' calls for outbreak of civil disobedience By Paul Waugh Deputy Political Editor 13 March 2003 A mass campaign of civil disobedience, workplace walk-outs and rallies should be held on the day that war is declared on Iraq, peace campaigners at an "alternative Parliament" in Westminster declared yesterday. Hundreds of protesters from across the country, including clergymen, students and trade union leaders, convened for the People's Assembly at Westminster Central Hall opposite the House of Commons. The event, organised by the Stop the War Coalition, saw campaigners call for as many people as possible to stop whatever they are doing when the military attack begins and join protests in the centre of every town and city. In London, a demonstration will assemble in Parliament Square on the day that war breaks out. Post deliveries and train services could be hit because two of the unions expected to take part in wildcat strikes are the Communications Workers Union and Rail, Maritime and Transport Union. School pupils and college students also plan to walk out of lessons. Andrew Murray, chairman of the Stop the War Coalition said: "A lot of people believe this is wrong and we discussed walkouts from workplaces." Tony Benn, the former Labour MP, spoke at the meeting attended by 700 elected delegates from unions, the National Theatre, schools and colleges. Bob Crow, RMT union leader, said: "If Tony Blair is going to take illegal action then we should also take illegal action in the form of civil disobedience such as sit-ins. I think today's meeting has a lot of power." One young Iraqi woman from Birmingham denounced the proposed war as "cold blooded mass murder". Katy Bannon, 21, a second year student at Wimbledon School of Art, said: "If war does go ahead, students throughout the country have arranged a mass walkout." ----------- http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/this_britain/story.jsp?story=386536 Firefighters' union calls 24-hour strike By Barrie Clement Labour Editor 13 March 2003 Firefighters' leaders set course for a long and damaging conflict with the Government by naming the date for another strike while Britain is preparing for war in Iraq. After rejecting an attempt to "clarify" a pay offer of 16 per cent over three years, leaders of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) called a 24-hour stoppage for next Thursday and indicated they would urge a national conference next week to set other days of action. The union is understood to have drawn up a contingency plan for months of walkouts varying from two hours to eight days. Asked whether the union should be planning industrial action amid preparations for war, Andy Gilchrist, general secretary, said his principal concern was to ensure "decent" terms and conditions for his members. Senior military officers have warned that soldiers who will be needed to crew Green Goddess fire engines on strike days would be required for combat duties. As firefighters from across Britain lobbied Parliament over their pay claims, representatives of Britain's fire authorities presented a four-page document to the union at a London hotel yesterday aimed at averting fresh industrial action. After more than two hours of talks with employers, union officials presented the proposal to the FBU executive, which took less than 15 minutes to reject it. The union is concerned that the offer would give local managers unfettered power to vary firefighters' shift systems and working locations. Mr Gilchrist said the elucidation offered by management made little difference to the offer, which was "entirely unacceptable". He added that the package was worse than the 16 per cent over two years offered by management last November, but vetoed by the Government. He said: "It was our wish to negotiate and even compromise at this late stage, but fire service employers failed to meet our concerns." The offer would mean "a complete free-for-all" on working conditions and lead to wholesale job cuts. John Ransford, a director of the Local Government Association who attended yesterday's talks, said the discussion had been "frank and constructive", but insisted that the new document had not compromised over the central proposal, which was to give local management flexibility to introduce new working practices. ------------ West has poor plans for post-war aid, say MPs By Ben Russell Political Correspondent 13 March 2003 The West has failed to make adequate plans to deal with a humanitarian crisis in Iraq in the wake of a war, MPs said yesterday. The Commons International Development Committee warned: "The indication is that the scale of humanitarian need will drastically outweigh the funds available." Clare Short, the Secretary of State for International Development, will today more than double the aid budget set aside for Iraq. Ministers will set aside an extra £6.5m for "contingencies": £3m will go to aid agencies, while £3.5m will be allocated to the United Nations. A report by the committee warned that the scale of the humanitarian disaster following a war "may well exceed the capacity of the international system". It also demanded that ministers publish their humanitarian action plans. Meanwhile, graphic evidence of Saddam Hussein's reign of terror was revealed yesterday as human rights activists published accounts of rape and torture in Iraq. Indict, which campaigns for President Saddam to be tried for crimes against humanity, released victims' descriptions of their treatment by security forces. Jim Mahon, a senior researcher for Indict, said Iraqis testified that President Saddam's sons supervised torture and killings. He quoted one survivor describing how Qusay, the leader's youngest son, watched as 30 men were fed into a shredding machine. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes. - Ella Baker ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---- Rañia Masri, Ph.D. Director, Southern Peace Research and Education Center Institute for Southern Studies http://www.southernstudies.org 2009 Chapel Hill Rd. Durham, North Carolina 27707 _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk