We gather at a moment when genocide is being perpetrated on the Palestinian people by the Israeli government, backed by U.S. rulers. Mankind is witnessing the brutal massacre of innocent people and shameless violations of international laws and U.N. resolutions.

U.S. President Bush has declared war against all countries that refuse to submit to his economic, military and political dictates. He has openly declared that Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, DPR Korea and Cuba are his targets. He says Yasser Arafat is unacceptable and Palestinians must elect a new leader. He has assumed the absolute prerogative to ratify elections in any country.

U.S. authorities will decide the economic strategy of each country and its socio-political system and have assumed the right to do anything – to blockade, to bomb, to assassinate, to launch wars – to enforce that right.

The U.S. is keeping its eye on Bangladesh with its borders with China, Myanmar and India and is tightening its grip on our country as U.S. companies buy up natural gas, electricity, seaports and other resources.

The U.S. army is in Bangladesh for joint military exercises. A Human Assistance Needs Assessment pact has already been signed and the United States is pressing for a Status of Forces Agreement that will allow entry of U.S. military forces any time, for any reason, without any control from the Bangladesh side. And a confrontation between India and Pakistan is being provoked to justify U.S military presence in the region in a bigger way.

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In our country, like many others, globalization – or “Americanization,” as it might rightly be called – and the “free market” have caused closure of thousands of Bangladeshi enterprises, with unemployment now reaching thirty million, and causing pauperization of our workers and the flooding of our markets with foreign goods.

This free market allows the free flow of capital, machinery, profits, commodities and everything except manpower. But for workers, the western market is closed. On July 1 the biggest jute mill in our country was closed, making 26 thousand factory workers jobless and millions of jute growers, traders and their family members destitute. Privatization, liberalization and structural reforms dictated by World Bank are going against the interest of our national economy, our workers and our people at large.

In the transport sector, privatization of the railways, waterways and road transport is leading to unemployment, cost hikes, pollution, unhealthy competition and accidents.

Bangladesh needs to give first priority to water transport for less expense, less pollution, better river and water management, flood control and development of fishery. Railways should be developed and electrified. Road transport should be the last, but not the least. But the national transport policy, adopted at the behest of the World Bank, is giving priority in the opposite direction. Their aim is to ensure more profits for foreign tycoons, rather than fulfilling the needs of our national economy and people.

In the road transport sector, public and mass transportation is being neglected while personal vehicles are being encouraged. In the recent budget the government has reduced the price of new cars in half, while busses and trucks must pay additional taxes.

Anti-people policies go hand in hand with repression against the people. Monopoly demands a tax-free and trade union-free country. The government is attacking trade union rights and many union offices have been occupied by mafia and armed groups. Many union activists have been sacked and physically assaulted.

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The global aggression of capital has to be opposed by the global struggle of workers and broad social forces. Never before was the slogan “Workers of all countries unite” so important and practical. It is in this context that unity and united action needs to be raised to a qualitatively new level.

But at the same time, I think we should also learn to find the best ways. We can learn from others, even our enemies. Look at the multinationals. They plan globally. They take capital from one country, raw materials or technology from another and cheap labor from yet another and make their product cost-effective.

We can also do that. Shifting headquarters to where it is less costly, even organizing meetings and conferences at places suitable in this regard. Technology has brought us closer. Internet and the website, phone and fax, can ensure instantaneous speed. We must be able to use modern methods.

We have already witnessed dozens of global struggles against capitalist globalization in this new paradigm. Strengthening of the TUI will further develop such struggles. We must stop the U.S. terrorists and the bulldogs they have let loose. We must save the humanity.

Manzurul Ahsankhan is a leader of the Workers Federation of Bangladesh. The above is extracted from his remarks at the General Council meeting of the Trade Union International of Transport Workers.

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