HACKNEY COUNCIL in east London has sacked one of the local union's leading activists.
Noah Tucker, the UNISON union's chief negotiator, was dismissed on Monday after four months suspension. This is a serious assault on union organisation in the borough and more widely.
Hackney Labour council has been a beacon of forcing through cuts and privatisation along the lines of New Labour's model for local authorities. It has taken on the workforce and forced through worse conditions after a long struggle.
Now a trade union activist who defended his members and stood up to the council is under threat. Every UNISON member must back Noah Tucker, and the union's leaders-nationally, regionally and locally-must make sure he is fully reinstated.
The council had previously backed off from disciplining two leading union activists.
Brian Debus, chair of the UNISON union branch, and steward Richard Brunner were suspended following a lobby in the borough.
But after the union said it would be holding a strike ballot the council said it would withdraw the charges against them. That strike ballot now must go ahead to win Noah's job back.
There will be wide support for a fight for Noah. Around 70 supporters lobbied the start of his disciplinary hearing last week.
A successful community committee meeting last week also brought together campaigners and activists from across Hackney to defend union members under threat.
The sacking comes as the government is deciding whether to take over direct running of some or all of Hackney's services. Labour councillors and chief executive "Mad Max" Caller are trying to look "tough" to satisfy new Labour local government secretary Stephen Byers.
The union has to hit back hard.
- Send messages of support to Hackney UNISON, 1-7 Westgate Street, London E8. Phone 020 8356 4071.
- Hackney Fightback, the local anti-cuts campaigning body, and Hackney UNISON are uniting to call a rally next month against privatisation, Tuesday 18 September, 7.30pm, Round Chapel, corner of Lower Clapton Road and Powerscroft Road, E5. Speakers include Tony Benn, Geoff Martin (London UNISON convenor), Lee Waker (political officer CWU East London Postal) and Noah Tucker.
WORKERS AND those they help united in protest
OVER 100 social workers in Newham, east London, held another one-day strike on Monday of this week as part of their UNISON union's campaign for equal treatment for all social workers in the Labour-run borough.
Strikers and supporters, including people who rely on the work done by social workers, also joined a protest rally outside Newham Town Hall on the day.
The action is a protest against the council's decision to award a �3,000 pay rise to managers and �1,000 to a handful of social workers, but nothing at all to a large majority of social work staff.
Workers are planning to back up their rolling programme of one-day strikes with a sustained work to rule in two weeks time.
A 200-STRONG meeting of UNISON members in Rochdale council's social services department last week voted overwhelmingly to ask their union to ballot them on action.
They are fighting over the closure and privatisation of old people's homes. The Labour council has been trying to push through a plan to shut several homes and end council-provided residential care.
The council also plans to privatise some home care workers who visit old people in their own homes, and cut the conditions of others. The council backed off in the face of opposition when it first mooted the plan but has now come back to try and push the attacks through.
TENANTS HAVE launched a campaign against Manchester council's plan to privatise the Langley estate.
The giant estate is in Rochdale but is run by Manchester council, Tenants have initiated several meetings in recent weeks, each of which has attracted dozens of people. A ballot on the council's plan is due in November.
SOME 50,000 people joined the Gay Pride march through Brighton last Saturday in a celebration of lesbian and gay rights.
Many more attended the free festival at the end of the march. Both events are attracting more people every year.
There is a strong commercial influence, with the festival being sponsored by companies like Haagen Dazs and Bacardi.
But there was also a strong political feeling to both the march and festival. As a student from Leicester at the event said, "It's brilliant so many people can come together to celebrate the diversity of our society. It really does stick two fingers up to bigots and Nazis who hate to see events like this."
Placards calling for the repeal of the anti-gay Section 28 law were snapped up by marchers.
Anti-racist stalls at the festival were very busy.
Over 500 people signed a condolence card organised by the Brighton and Hove Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers for the family of Firsat Yildiz, the Kurdish asylum seeker who was murdered in Glasgow.
The Anti Nazi League stall also saw many people interested in taking part in the national weekend of activities against the Nazis on 1 and 2 September.
- ANDY PLAYER
AROUND 250 people packed into a small video theatre in central London to watch the inspiring film This Is What Democracy Looks Like, about the Seattle protests against the World Trade Organisation in November 1999, on Tuesday of last week.
The audience was also treated to footage from two rough video shoots by British activists of the recent G8 protests in Genoa.
"Genoa shows how far we've come in a year and a half," said Rick Rowley, the producer of This Is What Democracy Looks Like, who was at the screening. "There was a militancy on the streets that I'd never imagined. Genoa was Seattle, but bigger and newer."
The five British protesters who had been viciously beaten and detained in Genoa also attended the filming. One of them, Norman Blair, spoke of their determination to continue to build the anti-capitalist movement.
He said they would also continue to campaign against the British government's lack of action and for those still in jail.
A lively and exciting debate about the role of the media and how to build the movement followed the films. There are plans for a nationwide tour of the films over the next few months.
- Phone Globalise Resistance on 020 8980 3005 or see www.resist. org.uk for more information.
Anti Nazi League
THE ALARMINGLY high levels of media coverage recently given to the Nazi British National Party prompted 150 people to go to a Media Workers Against the Nazis meeting in central London last Tuesday.
Many of those who were at the meeting worked in the media. The meeting launched the new Anti Nazi League pamphlet No Platform for Nazis, which presents the case for keeping the Nazis off public and media platforms.
After a lively debate a "No Platform for Nazis" pledge was launched, with the aim of getting both individual journalists and National Union of Journalists workplace branches to sign up to the campaign.
- Get more information and copies of the pledge and leaflet from the Anti Nazi League on 020 7924 0333 or go to www.anl.org.uk.
ASYLUM SEEKERS being held in Cardiff prison have started a hunger strike in protest at being detained.
Some 30 refugees stopped eating food on Wednesday of last week. The Refugee Council has called for an immediate end to the government's policy of detaining asylum seekers in prison.
Around 500 asylum seekers are being held in prisons across the country.
Margaret Lally of the Refugee Council says, "Asylum seekers are being forced into prison regimes when they have neither committed nor even been accused of a crime. Often they are locked up for 23 hours a day. Many of the processes, such as handcuffing in public, are both inhumane and degrading to people who have fled unjust imprisonment, torture and prosecution. We call upon the government to bring immediate end to the grossly unjust process of detaining asylum seekers in prisons."
PROTESTS TOOK place outside BBC offices across Scotland last Friday over its decision to sanitise reporting of Israel's murder campaign against Palestinians.
As journalist Robert Fisk wrote in the Independent, "In a major surrender to Israeli diplomatic pressure, BBC officials in London have banned their staff in Britain and the Middle East from referring to Israel's policy of murdering its guerrilla opponents as 'assassination'.
"BBC reporters have been told that in future they are to use Israel's own euphemism for the murders, calling them 'targeted killings'."
A Palestine solidarity tour is also due to take place across Scotland next month, with speakers Tim Llewellyn, Denis Goldberg and Palestinians.
Dennis Goldberg served 22 years in a South African prison for his role as a member of the armed wing of the liberation movement, the ANC. Tim Llewellyn was a BBC correspondent, and the first to enter and report from the Sabra and Shatilla Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon after the Israel-instigated massacres in 1982.
- Dates for the tour are: Dundee, Monday 10 September; Aberdeen, Tuesday 11 September; Glasgow, Wednesday 12 September; Edinburgh, Thursday 13 September (all meetings at 7.30pm).
Leicester school demo
A DETERMINED group of concerned parents, teachers and children from the Kids Before Quids campaign marched through Anstey Heights, in Leicester last Saturday.
They were protesting against Leicester City Council's refusal to address their demands for the safe teaching environment that pupils and teachers at Heatherbrook Primary School deserve.
As Socialist Worker reported last week, more than 90 children at Heatherbrook Primary School are being taught in three mobile classrooms that health and safety officers have deemed potentially dangerous.
Parents and children say the mobile classrooms suffer from damp, crumbling walls and hazardous wiring.
Aaron Furze, an eight year old pupil, told Socialist Worker, "The classrooms are disgusting. I wish they were better. I don't like them. They are mouldy, disgusting, dangerous and smelly."
Leicester City Council is only willing to repair the almost 20 year old mobile classrooms. Mobile classrooms are only ever intended to be used as a short term measure, and the campaign is demanding that the council replaces them with permanent classrooms.
The march was very loud and very well received by residents of the estate, who came out of their homes to clap and cheer the campaigners.
Alison Fisher, a parent, told Socialist Worker, "It is disgusting that children these days should be taught in these conditions. The campaign is all about making the council realise that we will not shut up and put up."
The march culminated in a rally held outside the local shopping centre. The rally ended with campaigners organising to leaflet parents, teachers and pupils on opening day of the new term, Thursday 30 August.
- Send messages of support to firstname.lastname@example.org or Kids Before Quids, Heatherbrook Primary School, Astill Lodge Road, Anstey Heights, Leicester.
Woodcraft Folk camp
UP TO 4,000 people joined the Woodcraft International Camp in Sherwood Forest over the last two weeks.
The Woodcraft Folk is a national education charity founded, partly as a progressive alternative to the Scouts, in 1925, and aims to "develop (members') self confidence and activity in society towards building a world built on equality, friendship, peace and cooperation."
The camp was a massive operation, involving the organisation of a vast range of activities and the provision of food.
The organising of the camp was done mostly by young people, and was an impressive achievement in itself.
There were opportunities to learn about people and their cultures from all over the world, and about campaigns for social justice and freedom.
Among the issues discussed were the struggle of the people of Western Sahara for independence, and the fight against environmental destruction in the Amazon.
As well as entertainment and games, there was an "Earth Summit" which saw heated debate on a wide range of issues including the role of multinational companies, the Kyoto global warming treaty and the US's Son of Star Wars plan.
- PETER ALLEN
WORKERS AT the Jeld Wen factory in Lowestoft voted this week to suspend their strike action over pay in order to hold talks with the management.
The 300 joinery workers have held eight one-day strikes to get a better deal. It is the first action in the factory for over a decade.
They have already rejected management's last offer of an inflation-based pay rise and a productivity deal.
THE ALDER family and their supporters are continuing to demand justice for Christopher Alder, who died in police custody in Hull. The five Humberside police officers accused of failing to give adequate care to Christopher Alder will face trial over the next few months. The Alder family and some 25 supporters held a protest outside the court in Hull at the first hearing two weeks ago.