Brief news: Romania, Poland, England

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'Assistance' for Romanian workers

LONDON — The British Conservative government is funding the visit to Romania of union officials from the right-wing Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union.

AEEU official Nigel Harris explained that the main objective of the trip would be to advise the Romanians on how to negotiate and bargain, rather than how to strike. He went on to assure anyone in any doubt about the nature of their mission that the British and US embassies had given their full blessing.

The new independent Romanian unions, already over a million strong, will also be coached in how to operate in a free-market economy under a multiparty system.

This initiative is being funded out of the Foreign Office's "know-how fund", set up in 1989 to provide technical support to East European countries to adapt to market economies.

The general secretary of the AEEU, Gavin Laird, moonlights as a member of the fund.

New PM for Poland

Hanna Suchocka heads a seven-party coalition government, Poland's fourth in the past seven months. She was elected by Poland's parliament, the Sejm, on July 10.

A hard-line political conservative, Suchocka has pledged to continue austerity measures already in place. Her cabinet hands over control of the portfolios of Health and Education to the main pro-Church party, the National Christian Union. Suchocka will lend her support to a proposed strict anti-abortion bill.

A constitutional lawyer and member of the radically pro-market Democratic Union, Suchocka was a member of Solidarity in the early '80s.

As the Sejm reshuffles the old pack, Poland's economy continues to crumble and grave environmental problems worsen.

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LONDON — "Don't blame us, we don't know" was seemingly the message

from the British Treasury.

A government-commissioned investigation into the failures of economic forecasting states that the government's economists don't understand how the capitalist economy works, and the same goes for most other economists.

Economists and politicians failed to predict the deep-going recession. Further, they have been claiming for the past year that a recovery was

Yet the most recent economic indicators suggest just the opposite. The number of people claiming unemployment benefits has risen for the 26th consecutive month to 2,750,000 — on its way to an expected 3 million by the new year. Manufacturing remains in a slump, and non-oil gross national product continues to fall.

This has led the editorial writers at the Financial Times to conclude: "Forecasts of the economy do, in fact, deserve to be treated as skeptically as those of British weather".

... Frank Noakes

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