Socialist Worker

Reports round-up

Issue No. 2029

Solidarity with Palestine

A successful Palestine solidarity festival organised by the Camden Palestine Campaign was held last Sunday in Somers Town, London.

The event was both a celebration of Palestine’s culture of resistance and a means of building solidarity, and attracted some 80 people.

The audience heard Palestinian poetry read by writer and broadcaster Michael Rosen and Egyptian-born novelist and commentator Ahdaf Soueif.

Palestinian music was played and sung by acclaimed Palestinian Oud player Nizar Al-Issa.

The final speech was given by Dr Azzam Tamimi, Palestinian writer and speaker and a potent voice in the service of Palestinian freedom.

The festival raised the profile of the local campaign, giving it a strong incentive to intensify its solidarity work for the cause of Palestine.

Sabby Sagall

Logistical nightmare

NHS Logistics workers are experiencing the impact of health privatisation. Earlier this year, Unison union members at Logistics depots, which supply the NHS, were on strike.

However, the government managed to force through the privatisation of the agency, handing it over to courier firm DHL. Workers were amazed last week to discover they had not been paid.

DHL was supposed to pay staff on Friday of last week. The company said it would not pay them until Monday of this week.

Jean Allen, Unison branch secretary at the Runcorn depot told Socialist Worker that attendance on an annual Christmas staff shopping trip to Newcastle had been hit.

Paul Harper, Unison branch secretary for the Maidstone branch, said, “I came to work and found out DHL have not paid us. Is this the way they’re going to treat us?”

Paul added that the situation was even worse for workers because they had lost money during strikes to defend the service. Strike pay, promised by the union three weeks ago had still not been delivered.

“Many of our members in Maidstone are facing financial difficulties, and I have been banging at the door of the Unison headquarters demanding that they release the strike pay,” said Paul.

An emergency motion, passed at the Unison south east region council, saw the immediate transfer of £7,000 from the regional account to the branch’s strike fund. This was backed up by emergency donations of £1,000 from Oxfordshire health an £500 from Bournewood health branches.

Stop Unison victimisations

THREE leading Unison union members are facing disciplinary action from the union. Tony Staunton, City of Plymouth local government Unison branch secretary, faces an investigation over the alleged political use of a computer bought for him by his branch.

In a separate investigation Tony, and two other leading activists—Mandy Berger in London and John McDermott in West Yorkshire—face disciplinary action following a walkout in protest at Tony Blair’s TUC speech in September.

The investigations come at a time when Unison faces a number of huge challenges —over the implementation of the single status agreement, the attempt to impose a public sector pay freeze and over the privatisation of public services.

It is outrageous that energy should be wasted on this case when Unison faces battles over pay, pensions and the implementation of the single status agreement.

Send messages of support to Tony, Mandy and John

A factsheet is now available. To request copies, e-mail

Housing ballot win in Highlands

Highland Council tenants have voted against transferring ownership of 14,500 homes from the local authority to a private housing association.

Almost 60 percent voted against plans to transfer to Highland Housing Association.

Tenants’ organisation convenor John Carracher said, “It’s great to see the tide turning in tenants’ favour.

“More and more people are refusing to be tricked by spin and blackmail. The government must now reverse its disastrous policy of holding councils to ransom.”

He called for council housing debt to be written off.

For more information go to the Defend Council Housing website.

Workers wear red at Fujitsu

Following a successful one-day strike on 20 November, Amicus members at Fujitsu Manchester were taking action short of strike and had planned a two-day strike for this week.

Members have decided to ask their Amicus union to postpone the action to allow talks with the Acas arbitration service to take place instead.

As Socialist Worker went to press no potential deal was on the table, and the union was continuing campaigning.

Manchester staff were planning a “wear something red” day on Wednesday this week, as a visible sign that they wanted fair treatment on union recognition, redundancy and redeployment, as well as better pay.

For updates on the dispute, see Send messages of support to Donations payable to Manchester IT Workers Group to John Wood, 301 Bolton Road, BURY, BL8 2NZ.

Ian Allinson

Connecting with a mood at AOL

Members of the NUJ journalists’ union at AOL (UK) have decided unanimously to ballot for industrial action over compulsory redundancies and lack of consultation in the run-up to the sale of the internet service provider to Carphone Warehouse.

New talks follow a strike at BBC

The Bectu media workers’ union called off a two day strike in BBC news last week after an offer of peace talks from management. This followed a one day strike by over 90 workers the previous week.

The dispute is over punitive rota changes.

Sweep out low pay at Eurostar

Cleaners working on the Eurostar contract have voted by a massive majority to strike in support of their campaign to end low pay. The workers, who are members of the RMT, are paid as little as £5.36 per hour.

The cleaning contractor OCS has offered a pay rise of only 19p per hour.

The mainly black workforce supported the strike by a margin of nine to one.

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Article information

Sat 2 Dec 2006, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2029
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