India: CPs respond to U.S.-India pact

Last week President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh agreed that a ban on civilian nuclear technology sales to India could be lifted in return for international inspections of its civilian nuclear program and a ban on testing nuclear weapons or transferring weapons technology to others. The U.S. Congress and acknowledged nuclear nations Britain, Russia, China and France must okay the deal.

While welcoming the test ban and inspections, the Communist Party of India said these should be worked out with the International Atomic Energy Agency, “not through a bilateral agreement with the U.S. which itself has been guilty of nuclear proliferation in the past to South Africa and Israel … Nor has there been any reference whatsoever to nuclear disarmament to which India has long been committed in contrast to the U.S. administration which has completely abandoned policies of nuclear disarmament or restraint.”

Noting that it had always opposed the former right-wing government’s nuclear weapons program and does not agree with those who say India needs nuclear arms to be a “great power,” the Communist Party of India (Marxist) warned that the new pact “marks an end” to India’s historic policy for nuclear disarmament.

India has not signed the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It conducted weapons tests in 1974 and 1998.

Canada: Telus workers locked out

Workers at Telus, Canada’s second largest telecommunications firm, set up picket lines July 21 as the company prepared to unilaterally impose new conditions of employment the next day, the Canadian Broadcasting Company reported. Telus said the workers were on strike; the union said it was locked out, since workers showing up July 22 would essentially be agreeing to Telus’ conditions.

Telus and the Telecommunications Workers Union have been bargaining for a new contract for nearly five years.

Job security is the top issue, with the company determined to contract out “non-core” jobs and the union concerned over such provisions and over the potential transfer of work to a call center Telus owns in the Philippines.

S. Africa: Airlines workers strike

South Africa’s airline SSA suspended all international and domestic flights July 24 as a strike by cabin and ground crew staff entered a second day, Reuters said. The workers struck July 21 after unions and management failed to agree on wages. The union is demanding 8 percent and the company proposes 5 percent.

The two unions representing the workers point out that SSA can afford an 8 percent wage hike after it turned a $145 million profit in its just-completed fiscal year, reversing a previous loss.

Guatemala: Bishops urge development aid

Catholic bishops from Europe and Canada visiting rural areas here last week called on industrialized countries to honor their commitments to development aid to Guatemala and other developing countries, Prensa Latina reported. The bishops, members of the International Consortium of Catholic Organizations for Development and Solidarity, blamed “neoliberal policies” for the worsening of poverty.

These policies, involving cuts and privatization of social services, are often imposed by U.S.-controlled international lending institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Bishop Francois Lapierre of Canada’s San Jacinto diocese said that while the industrialized countries had pledged to devote 0.7 percent of their gross domestic product to development aid for the poorest nations, most of the pledges are not being carried out.

Lapierre pointed out that many Guatemalans leave the country because of hunger, and called migration “a survival strategy for farmers and indigenous people.” The bishops said part of their mission was to investigate ill treatment many Guatemalans suffer in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.

World Notes are compiled by Marilyn Bechtel (