18 MONTHS INTO their dispute, the strikers from Magnet Kitchens in Darlington have taken industrial action to new heights, by opening up a chicken farm near the ú1.5m Cambridgeshire mansion of Alan Bowkett, chief executive of Magnet's parent company Berisford. Aided by redundant Derbyshire miners, the Magnet strikers are now able to hold demonstrations near Bowkett's palatial home while evading threats of legal action for unlawful secondary picketing. The farm has been renamed 'Camp Bowkett', after the fat cat who last year received a ú124,000 pay rise. The Magnet dispute began in September 1996 when 350 workers seeking a 3% pay increase after 3 years of pay freezes, were sacked, many after 30 and 40 years' service. Management at Magnet refuse to negotiate a settlement.
The Magnet strikers are calling on activists to organise demonstrations and boycotts of over 130 companies owned by Berisford. As well as Magnet Kitchen showrooms in a large number of British cities, the company also owns Welbilt Holdings based in the USA and throughout Europe. Details of Welbilt in the US, can be found on the company web pages http://www.welbilt.com. For more information on the campaign, contact Ian Crammond, 109 Jedburgh Drive, Darlington, DL3
BRAZIL IS a country with a feudal division of wealth and land. Today less than 3% of the population owns almost two thirds of Brazilian farmland. 60% of that lies unused. Despite president Carduso's electoral promises little has changed since the 1980's. A corrupt web of the interlinked interests of big business, big landowners, the military and police combat attempts at social reform.
In 1985 a small group of desperate peasants squatted unused plantation land and fended of armed attacks by police and hired gunmen for two years. The government then granted the land for use as farm co-op. This year the co-op is expected to make $12 million for its 1,432 workers.
Since then a massive movement of landless peasants and workers has swelled into existence. In 1997 60,000 marched over 1000km for two months arriving in Brasilia (the capital) to demand land reform and mark the anniversary of the massacre of El Dorado dos Carajas where 19 people occupying a hacienda were killed by the military police. In the last ten years over 960 peasants and supporters have been killed in land disputes.
200,000 landless families have successfully taken back 7 million hectares of land. More than 50,000 families are currently camped around empty land. MST (Movement of Landless Workers) has inspired urban homeless to begin occupations of unused buildings. MST spokespeople speaking on their national pirate radio emphasis that "the poor can't hope for government action but have to organise themselves."
Faslane peace Camp are committed to resist the eviction from Argyll & Bute Council. Since 28th July '97 they have been classed as squatters. Send support/donations via 01436 820901. Also get their "nuke- just don't do it" T.Shirt for £6 !
SINCE THE end of the miners strike in 1985, 140 deep pits have closed and 90% of the workforce has been made redundant. Opencast coal production has tripled over this period, now accounting for a third of production, and coal imports have grown dramatically.
Secure, skilled jobs have been replaced with low pay, casual employment and the dole queue; sacrificing health and safety for cheap coal and quick profits.
In opencast mining, whole landscapes are dug out, sometimes to a depth of hundreds feet. Entire ecosystems are decimated, water polluted and local people subjected to unbearable levels of noise, traffic and air pollution. A study of children in West Glamorgan, Wales, has concluded that there is a link between opencast mining and childhood asthma.
Many of the opencast mining companies have been criticised over health and safety standards on their sites and are hostile to trade unions. The circumstances which lead to the death of one worker and 16 others being injured at the Scottish Dalquhandy pit in February 1998 are typical of other sites.
In opposition, New Labour pretended to be critical of open cast, but their review of open cast mining policy published in October 1997 was described by environmental organisations as " weak and insubstantial". No surprises there then! Publication of the report coincided with a day of action by Earth First! and No Opencast who organised the occupation of Doe Hill House opencast mine in Derbyshire, when the earth destroying equipment and machinery was wrecked. They later occupied the offices of mining company H J Banks who operate the site, when there were 47 arrests.
Contact No Opencast, 190 Shepherds Bush Rd., London W6 7NL 0181 767 3142
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