The Guardian 3 August, 2005

Global briefs

INDIA: 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. 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: Workers at Telus, Canada’s second largest telecommunications firm, set up picket lines on July 21 as the company prepared to unilaterally impose new conditions of employment the next day. Telus said the workers were on strike; the union said it was locked out, since workers showing up on 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 centre Telus owns in the Philippines.

SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa’s airline SSA suspended all international and domestic flights on July 24 as a strike by cabin and ground crew staff entered a second day. The workers struck on 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: Catholic bishops from Europe and Canada visiting the country’s rural areas have called on industrialised countries to honour their commitments to development aid to Guatemala and other developing countries. The bishops, members of the International Consortium of Catholic Organisations for Development and Solidarity, blamed "neo-liberal policies" for the worsening of poverty. These policies, involving cuts and privatisation of social services, are often imposed by US-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 industrialised 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 US, Mexico and Canada.

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