Socialist Worker

Reports round-up

Issue No. 2099

Manchester Uni students occupy

Over 200 students at Manchester university faced down lines of police to march around campus before occupying a building notoriously inaccessible to students on Tuesday of last week.

The 'Reclaim the Uni' protest brought together many of those angry with the increasing marketisation of our university.

A mass meeting of students produced a set of demands that included an end to staff cutbacks, a cap on minimum contact time and that the university support students and staff in our fight for free education.

We can build a radical movement on campuses across the country for a different vision of education – free from fees and free from the market.

Sundara Jerome


Lecturers speak out on Palestine

Members of the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees have been speaking at meetings across the country as part of a tour organised by lecturers in the UCU union.

The meetings highlighted the problems that students and academics face as a result of Israel's occupation. Many students do not have a real choice about what they study because they cannot easily travel to every campus and others have their education disrupted.

The speakers pointed out that the solidarity shown by the UCU has had an impact in Israel and has given confidence to Palestinians organising against the occupation.


Activist fights election exclusion

Tony Staunton, who was recently expelled from the Unison union, took part in a hearing before the Certification Officer last week against his former union.

Tony claimed that the union had breached section 47(1) of the 1992 Trade Union and Labour Relations Act by unreasonably excluding him from standing in a union election.

He argued that there was a political motive behind the decision to prevent him standing in a key election for the union's national executive.

But Kevan Nelson, the union's head of democratic services, strongly denied the claim and said that Unison was not the sort of union where entrenched groupings of left and right organised in such a manner. The result of the hearing is expected in around three weeks.


Boost for trades council campaign

Delegates to the South West Region TUC conference last weekend backed the readmission of trades councils into the TUC and for them to be able to elect delegations to the annual congress.

With only one large public sector union voting against, this vote should increase the chances of the RMT union's proposed rule change to this year's TUC – which would re-enfranchise trades councils – being carried.

Dave Chapple


Join lobby for abortion rights

Defenders of a woman's right to choose were horrified to learn that anti-abortion MPs are trying to halve the legal time limit for abortion in Britain.

The MPs, led by Labour's Jim Dobbin, are tabling an amendment to cut the time limit from 24 weeks to 12 weeks and force thousands of women to continue with unwanted pregnancies. Abortion Rights campaigners are opposed to any attack on the time limit.

A national lobby of parliament on 7 May will be critical in showing the strength of the pro-choice majority and a public meeting held in the evening will be an opportunity to discuss the next steps for the campaign.

For more details on the lobby and meeting go to » www.abortionrights.org.uk


Metroline workers under attack

Discussions are underway among union members at Metroline buses in north and north west London on the best way to oppose a series of attacks from company bosses.

One of the most serious attacks is a plan to cut more than 20 engineering jobs. A number of outstanding issues such as drivers' pay and canteen facilities are also causing widespread concern among workers.

Metroline has no excuses for 'cost cutting'. It is a highly profitable company that boasts it is one of London's biggest bus operators – running 13.5 percent of London's buses.


Karen Reissmann parliament lobby

Supporters of Karen Reissmann, the Manchester nurse and trade union activist sacked for speaking out against cuts and privatisation, are planning a major lobby of parliament on Wednesday 7 May.

The lobby is backed by Karen's Unison union nationally. It will see hundreds of trade unionists asking their MPs to support Early Day Motion 443, tabled by John Leech MP.

Send messages of support to Manchester community and mental health Unison branch, 70 Manchester Road, M21 9UN


Campaign starts over NHS pay

Trade unionists in the NHS are furious with the government's three-year below-inflation pay offer. Many of the smaller unions in health have already either rejected the offer, or are recommending that their members do so in consultative ballots.

Around 500,000 members of the Unison u nion will receive ballot forms later this month asking them if they wish to accept or reject the offer.

Unison's leaders are making no recommendation in the ballot – despite having enthusiastically greeted the offer as it was announced last month – and local branches are free to take their own positions and use branch funds to campaign.

'It is vital that Unison members in the NHS seize this opportunity to campaign for a rejection of the pay offer,' says Janet Maiden, chair of UCH Unison.


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Tue 29 Apr 2008, 18:01 BST
Issue No. 2099
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