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[casi] Civil Disobedience, Firefighters strike, and post-war aid

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

'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

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
2009 Chapel Hill Rd.
Durham, North Carolina  27707

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