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Anti-war train drivers refuse to move arms freight

Train drivers yesterday refused to move a freight train carrying ammunition believed to be destined for British forces being deployed in the Gulf. Railway managers cancelled the Ministry of Defence service after the crewmen, described as "conscientious objectors" by a supporter, said they opposed Tony Blair's threat to attack Iraq.

The anti-war revolt is the first such industrial action by workers for decades.
Anti-war train drivers refuse to move arms freight
 http://www.guardian.co.uk/military/story/0,11816,870974,00.html

Kevin Maguire
Thursday January 9, 2003
The Guardian

Train drivers yesterday refused to move a freight train carrying ammunition believed to be destined for British forces being deployed in the Gulf.
Railway managers cancelled the Ministry of Defence service after the crewmen, described as "conscientious objectors" by a supporter, said they opposed Tony Blair's threat to attack Iraq.

The anti-war revolt is the first such industrial action by workers for decades.

The two Motherwell-based drivers declined to operate the train between the Glasgow area and the Glen Douglas base on Scotland's west coast, Europe's largest Nato weapons store.

English Welsh and Scottish Railway (EWS), which transports munitions for the MoD as well as commercial goods, yesterday attempted to persuade the drivers to move the disputed load by tomorrow.

Leaders of the Aslef rail union were pressed at a meeting with EWS executives to ask the drivers to relent. But the officials of a union opposed to any attack on Iraq are unlikely to comply.

The two drivers are understood to be the only pair at the Motherwell freight depot trained on the route of the West Highland Line.

An EWS spokesman declined to confirm the train had been halted, although he insisted no drivers had refused to take out the trains.

"We don't discuss commercial issues," he said.

"The point about the two drivers is untrue and we don't discuss issues about meetings we have."

Yet his claim was flatly contradicted by a well-placed rail industry source who supplied the Guardian with the train's reference number.

The MoD later said it had been informed by EWS that mechanical problems, caused by the cold winter weather, had resulted in the train's cancellation.

One solution under discussion yesterday between the MoD and EWS was to transport the shipment by road to avoid what rail managers hoped would be an isolated confrontation.

Dockers went on strike rather than load British-made arms on to ships destined for Chile after the assassination of leftwing leader Salvador Allende in 1973.

In 1920 stevedores on London's East India Docks refused to move guns on to the Jolly George, a ship chartered to take weapons to anti-Bolsheviks after the Russian revolution.

Trade unions supporting workers who refuse to handle weapons could risk legal action and possible fines for contempt of court.

Lindsey German, convener of the Stop the War Coalition, said: "We fully support the action that has been taken to impede an unjust and aggressive war. We hope that other people around the country will be able to do likewise."

The anti-war group is organising a second national demonstration in central London on Saturday February 15. Organisers claimed more than 400,000 people attended a protest in September.

homepage: homepage: http://www.guardian.co.uk/military/story/0,11816,870974,00.html
address: address: Guardian UK

Excellent! 09.Jan.2003 21:23

refuser

we must all find our way to refust to participate, however small an act it may seem.

cheers! 10.Jan.2003 00:00

empowered human

hell yah! this is exactly the kind of direct action that is blossoming worldwide. the tsunami is growing kids, hear the rumbling offshore. each of us in turn will find the strength to draw a line in the sand, speak truth to power and act with courage.

why doesn't this happen in this country? 10.Jan.2003 00:35

fed up

because, for the most part, "americans" are a bunch of ignorant selfish overfed underexercised slobbish jerks who wouldn't move their asses from their easy chairs to do something for someone else unless a fire got set under their ass.

witness the ILWU dockworkers who insisted -- insisted, mind you -- on loading military ships during the PMA lock-out late last summer. that's exactly the opposite behavior of the british train drivers in the story above.

people often look back at nazi germany and wonder, "how could that have happened? why didn't anybody stop it?" we have our answer. look around you at "americans". they are the "just following orders" germans of today.

it's indeed true that it's direct action that gets the goods. but don't expect that from the liberal peace activists at PPRC here, who are training 100 "peace keepers" for the january 18 peace march. is the purpose of those peace keepers to stop the cops from being oppressive jerks or defend protesters from angry drivers? maybe secondarily they'll do the latter, but the primary purpose is to keep the participants in line, so no one does anything unexpected that might "alienate" anyone or mess up the pretty picture they're trying to make for the corporate media. i've had it up to here with the peace activists and their obsession with corporate media and their attempts to please an imaginary majority. a bunch of classist (and often racist) shit their crap is.

i vote for the radical feeder march not joining the main march on january 18 at all.

sorry to get off subject there. the british train operators are the f'n coolest for doing what they did. i just wish we had some of that shit here in the working/professional class. but we really don't.

long live the liberals, and long live war.

This USED to happen in US - before TV 10.Jan.2003 02:00

GRINGO STARS gringo_stars@attbi.com

After reading Howard Zinn's A PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES, I realize that there has been far more resistance to the ruling elite than either the public education system or the corporate media ever hipped me to, and knowing that gives me hope. The refusal to ship arms or soldiers on trains to break strikes happened more than a few times in US history.

Tell-a-vision's popularity/cult is a major factor in dumbing Americans down so far. No one cares, or is aware. People think things are pointless or hopeless, or the issues are too complex. Or they're too lazy to sift through multiple versions of conflicting propagandas.

The professional leeches (they call themselves "politicians") will shy away from any action they think is unpopular. The railway workers are popularising dissent. It IS possible to do the right thing, no matter where you work within the war machine.

Any country's media is silent concerning its own governments mistakes. In the UK there is a recent poll where 70% of Brits see Dubya as more dangerous than Saddam. DAYAM! I wish the US population could see so clearly what our own govt is up to.

The original post is heartening. Things can change. We must overcome the corporate media's stranglehold on how US folks see reality.

good point GRINGO 10.Jan.2003 02:07

GRINGO = good point

good point

Hmmmm 10.Jan.2003 04:00

Bush Admirer

>>> Train drivers yesterday refused to move a freight train carrying ammunition believed to be destined for British forces being deployed in the Gulf. Railway managers cancelled the Ministry of Defence service after the crewmen, described as "conscientious objectors" by a supporter, said they opposed Tony Blair's threat to attack Iraq.

I can't see why anyone would applaud this sort of employee insolence. They're simply not doing the job that they were hired to do. In fact, they're disrupting their employer's business operations and creating losses.

They should be immediately terminated without severance pay. Any future requests for job references from prospective employers should be advised that they were "Fired for insubordination and irresponsible behavior."

a terrible look into... 10.Jan.2003 08:46

this thing here

... B.A.'s world...

>They're simply not doing the job that they were hired to do. In fact, they're disrupting their employer's business operations and creating losses.<

it seems in your world B.A., all that matters is that moany gets made, that capital gets produced, that workers shut up and do their jobs, because in your world they are not humans but merely workers.

there are no higher ideals in your world B.A. there are no convictions that a man or woman must stand for other than "make money".

so fine. you go living in your world B.A. i hope you make billions of dollars. i hope you grow fat, and wallow for decades in your money. but you're not gonna make the rest of us sell our souls, and lose our convictions. even if you refuse to see them, there are more important things on this earth than your world B.A.

BA went red! 10.Jan.2003 09:47

any

Funny how BA's description of how things should be sounds so..... so... USSR! Since when did he go 'red' on us! Anyway, the original post is great.

Dumb Fucks Abound 10.Jan.2003 10:26

Local Fiver

1. While it was disappointing that the ILWU continued to load military materiel this summer, I don't think you understand the kind of pressure that they were under from the goverment and from the bosses. It's an easy thing to say, "Yeah, let's not load this stuff" when you aren't under the pressure, economic, political, and if the PMA had gotten an injunction, legal, to do these things. The ILWU did not want to be portrayed as unpatriotic while the Bush administration and PMA were blasting them for being so.

The ILWU has a long history of using their power to control the conduit to goods for awesome means. In the 1980's, the refused to load weapons ships destined for El Salvador, Honduras and other countries where the weapons were being used to kill unionists and the people of those countries. They refused to load cargo destined for apartheid South Africa. They refused to load cargo destined for UK ports during a longshore strike there. They shut down the west coast on November 30, 1999, and threatened to do so later that week unless the City of Seattle started letting people out of jail.

I too wish they had refused to load war materiel destined for Iraq - alas the political climate in the nation, and the political pressure on the ILWU, could not make this a reality. The ILWU has a long history of social activism - they couldn't come through this once - we can criticize, but let's not condemn them and forget their long history of progressive and radical unionism.

Further, Portland's own ILWU Local 5 (Powell's workers) have issued a resolution condemning the war in Iraq as criminal.

2. Bush Admirer, I know it is a waste of time to respond to your b.s., but if it hadn't been for union insubordinance, you'd still be working 7 days a week, 10 hours a day for miniscule pay. It's been the insubordinance of the working class that has made it so that people in this nation can benefit from their own labor - certainly not the generosity of our capitalist masters.

Further, I do not know the specifics of the contract under which the workers of the ASLEF operates, but many unions reserve the right to strike when they want to, for whatever reasons they want to; and to refuse to load and haul cargo if they deem it to be a "safety hazard." Now, most military equipment is quite dangerous as it is designed to explode and kill folks. So they have grounds to refused to transport it for those reasons alone. Further, they most likely retain the right to strike whenever and for whatever reasons they want - thus your faux-legal reading of it is total and utter fascistic bullshit.

If you are so into no unfettered capitalism combined with a dictatorial state, why don't you move to China? Now that they've jettisoned all the communism, and are just the world's largest state-capital regime, you might find yourself at home there. Unruly workers are shot, and as Mussolini put it, the trains run on time.

Insubordination? 10.Jan.2003 14:26

Sean Henderson lohan1@msn.com

BA - what businesses do you run/own? Please provide some contact information.

dont forget 10.Jan.2003 17:13

....

don't forget that the ILWU let a couple of fascists from the volksfront into their little rally/festival last summer while refusing, for quite some time, to let some youth ful supporters in (who had faced police harrassment while riding their bikes to the event) because they looked a little bit different than everyone else....

hooray for the courageous fucking unionS!

Evidence, Spook? 10.Jan.2003 17:39

Anti-Fa

"don't forget that the ILWU let a couple of fascists from the volksfront into their little rally/festival last summer while refusing, for quite some time, to let some youth ful supporters in"

Turning away the people who came to stand in solidarity was a debacle, no doubt about that. However, it was based on paranoia and fear of PMA infiltration. From what I hear, efforts are currently under way to ensure that something such as that not happen again through building proper avenues of solidarity.

As for the Volksfront accusation, how about some proof you fucking COINTELPRO spook?

Let's sort this out 10.Jan.2003 20:53

Bush Admirer

>>> This thing here said: it seems in your world B.A., all that matters is that moany gets made, that capital gets produced, that workers shut up and do their jobs, because in your world they are not humans but merely workers.

It's not about money, it's about insubordination. These train drivers were being paid to drive the train. They were not hired to make political commentary or to sit down on the job. They cashed their checks, but they didn't do the job they were hired to do. They clearly deserve to be terminated.

>>> Local Fiver seems to be a supporter of organized labor. That's a tough act - I admire your willingness to attempt the impossible (justify labor unions).

You're presumptions are incorrect. Unions had nothing whatsoever to do with how many hours per week that I've worked.

Unions are a one-trick pony. Their function, their only function, is to drive manufacturing overseas.

a question 12.Jan.2003 19:33

joe

bush admirer.
you say that the only function of unions is to drive labor overseas.
i'm wondering if you mean that that's the result of unions,
or their intent. that's just a point of curiosity, wondering how crazy you really are.
either way, if what you say is true, as an entrepeneur, you ought to support them. overseas labor is cheap. you can make a higher profit.