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Vol. 72/No. 51      December 29, 2008

25, 50 and 75 years ago
December 30, 1983
The British labor movement suffered a big blow this month when the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Britain’s equivalent of the AFL-CIO, refused to back the country’s leading printers union, the 133,000 member National Graphical Association, in a key struggle against union-busting laws.

The NGA’s six-month struggle to defend unionized shops in the printing industry has led to a major challenge of antiunion laws enacted by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government. The laws are part of a serious attack that the employers have launched on all fronts against British workers.

At an important turning point in the fight, the TUC general council voted to abide by the antiunion laws rather than extend badly needed support to the NGA.  
December 29, 1958
IRINJALAKUDA, SOUTH INDIA—Kerala is the smallest state in India with 14,980 square miles and a population of now over 15 million. Eighty percent of the people of this tiny, but beautiful, part of the Indian sub-continent, depend upon agriculture for a living. Nevertheless, this is a deficit area in respect to food. The state has to purchase about two-thirds of its food needs from other states.

The percentage of literacy in Kerala is 84%, the highest of any state in India. But in the number of unemployed, too, Kerala leads with about four million. Because of that Kerala has been named the “Problem State” of India. The main problems have never been solved although more than half a dozen Congress Party ministries and one Praja Socialist party ministry have ruled the state since 1947 when India achieved independence.  
December 30, 1933
“Six months of this and I’ll be fit for the lunatic asylum”—this remark of a former taxicab driver sums up the attitude of the C.W.A. [Civil Works Administration] workers to the degrading nonsense which they must go though in order to qualify for the Roosevelt Dole in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.

It is not that we are forced to do hard work, for long hours at low wages. No, we spend 8 hours a day going though the motions of work. Shoveling dirt on a truck only to see it dumped back exactly where it was taken from.

When we gather in a group to talk, the foreman again speaks. “Say boys, don’t stand around talking, you’ll be getting me in wrong. Take it easy but act as though you were doing something.”

So, we start to “work”—push the shovel slowly into the pile of earth [and] carry a couple of handfuls of earth some 25 yards.  
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