Socialist Worker

Reports round-up

Issue No. 2128

Appledore strike suspended

Strikes at the Appledore Shipyard in Devon have been suspended.

Some 180 workers at the shipyard owned by Babcock Marine have carried out four days of industrial action over a two-year pay deal. The workers were due to strike again on last Friday and Monday but suspended action for fresh talks.

Stuart Fegan of the GMB union said ,“We have suspended strike action for 10 working days to give us the opportunity to have fresh talks about issues that need to be resolved.”

The Appledore workers were striking because they are paid less than workers at the North Devon shipyard and others across the country.

Demand for a extra day off

Workers in the Unison union want Cannock Chase council to give them an extra day off. Councillors discussed and threw out the idea at a meeting last month.The union issued a vote of no confidence in the council.

The council has reduced the redundancy scheme at the authority and given workers a better car mileage rate but rejected extra leave for staff. The Ucatt construction union said it could join in any strike.

Lorry drivers vote for action

There was a substantial vote last week for industrial action by 200 lorry drivers at Carntyne Transport in Scotland.

The drivers are members of the Unite union and have rejected a pay rise of 3.5 percent. Negotiations are currently taking place at Acas.

Activists plan tests offensive

Campaigners against SATs tests in schools held a meeting in London last week. Speakers from the platform and the floor remained very optimistic about finally getting rid of all such tests after the scrapping of SATs for 14 year olds.

The government can find no research that supports the educational validity of these tests, which continue to damage children, teachers and schools.

The task for all activists now is, firstly, to build the broadest possible coalition against SATs, with parents being central to the campaign.

Secondly, it is up to teachers to show that we are can develop our own models of assessment that are sound, trustworthy and can be used to further the development of all children.

Jon Berry

Journalists fight scapegoating

Over 270 people attended the Media Workers Against the War held a conference last Saturday whih was titled “Under siege: Islam, war and the media”.

Jeremy Dear, general secretary of the National Union on Journalists (NUJ), introduced the conference with a talk about how the media had been used to prop up the lies we were told in preparation for war.

The conference was also addressed by Daily Mail columnist Peter Oborne, who has written a book on the increased isolation of the Muslim community by the government as part of the drive to war.

The workshops covered a wide range of topics from “Journalists and terror laws” to “Afghanistan—the good war?”, which was addressed by Moazzam Begg, former detainee at Guantanamo Bay. He spoke about the historical links between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The final session saw questions answered by Nick Davis, author of Flat Earth News and Eamonn McCann, a journalist and activist from Ireland.

Ideas to hold a meeting on the “third front” of the “war on terror” in Africa and to campaign with NUJ against job cuts in newsrooms and the media in general were met with enthusiasm.

Revitalising the left in the NUJ

Activists in the NUJ journalists’ union met in central London last Sunday at the NUJ Left forum. The meeting agreed to revitalise the left wing coalition in the union.

It was agreed that there needs to be a strong left at the grassroots level of the union to organise resistance, build the union, and support and pressure the left-led national executive.

It was recognised that the union faces major tasks in the recession, with major newspaper publishers and media corporations such as ITV planning big cuts, including redundancies. The NUJ is planning a major event in response to the job cuts.

The meeting agreed a manifesto and elected a four-strong committee to coordinate future events.

Ballot at Eurostar over new shifts

Some 100 Eurostar train managers in the RMT and TSSA rail unions are balloting over industrial action after the company imposed new rosters, breaching an agreement which requires new shift patterns to be negotiated and approved by reps.

The ballots close on Thursday of next week.

Bob Crow, the RMT general secretary, said, “The company’s own policy clearly states that local working arrangements are discussed at local level, but it has completely disregarded agreements, bypassed levels of negotiation and sought to impose unfair rosters.

“Our members are angry that the company is attempting to undermine their ability to balance their working and home lives.”

Paris demo on track to stop rail privatisation

Some 20,000 people representing trade unions from more than 12 European countries protested in Paris on Thursday of last week against European Union (EU) plans to force EU governments to sell off national railways.

RMT union members from Britain joined their European brothers and sisters on the march, which was called by the French rail union CGT and the European Transport Workers Federation.

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Tue 18 Nov 2008, 19:32 GMT
Issue No. 2128
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