ALL THE garages of London United Buses in south west London were picketed on Monday and Tuesday of last week. The strike followed on from a one-day strike of the previous Friday in support of two union convenors sacked by management for the "crime" of sending a private e-mail.
Engineers at the Fulwell, Shepherd's Bush, Stamford Brook and the massive garage at Hounslow all came out solidly demanding the reinstatement of the two. The sacking came after a private e-mail and a doctored version of a Sun front page, both poking fun at certain members of management and the company's practices, were pinned up.
The dismissals come at the top of a rising campaign from both engineers and drivers over issues of health and safety. Drivers at the garages will soon be balloting for action of their own over the same health and safety concerns.
Anti-union laws meant the drivers did not join last week's action. But they showed their support for the engineers with collections and made good use of the rules under which any driver is obliged to refuse to take a vehicle out if they have any doubts as to its roadworthy condition.
The engineers' action has pushed management to agree to go to the ACAS arbitration service for talks, due this week, over the sacking of the two convenors.
- Andy Russell
DOCK WORKERS employed as boat handlers at the Port of Liverpool have voted by 98 percent to take strike action from Friday in a dispute over pay and working practices. The workers are members of the TGWU union and are employed by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, which was at the heart of the 28-month strike by hundreds of Liverpool dockers which ended in defeat in 1998.
Drake Port Services, a stevedore company working on the docks, is putting pressure on other workers, also in the TGWU, to retrain to cover the work of the 60 boat handlers who are now set to strike.
They are being threatened with the sack if they refuse to cross picket lines. TGWU regional industrial organiser Colin Carr said, "Bringing Drake's into the frame will just inflame the situation. Our advice to members is, 'Don't cross picket lines.' However, we don't want to get to that stage and are urging Mersey Docks to start negotiating again."
OVER 20 parents met last Friday to launch a campaign to stop the closure of two nurseries in Liverpool. Parents are outraged over plans to close the nurseries by the beginning of May. The council claims that vital repairs are needed yet no guarantees have been given about reopening the nursery or reinstatement of staff.