POSTAL WORKERS in London last week voted by 99.5 percent for action over pay. The result, 19,803 votes to 91 in an unofficial ballot, could lead to action that will shut down postal services across the capital. The remarkable sign of unity and anger came just as Tony Blair was blustering that he would allow no return of 'trade union militancy'. It isn't just postal workers who are defying Blair.
- Around 2,000 Unison union members at some universities in London were due to strike on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Just like the postal workers, they are fighting for an increase in London weighting to £4,000 a year. Metropolitan Police officers get over £6,000 London weighting a year.
- 50,000 local council workers in London are continuing their battle for higher London weighting of £4,000. The campaign includes white collar and manual workers and support staff in schools who have already staged a series of successful one-day strikes. Some 1,500 workers were due to take selective strike action in schools and some councils from Wednesday.
- Over 60,000 London teachers are continuing their campaign for better pay. After two successful strikes last year, they are campaigning for more action in the autumn.
- Results were expected this week in the first of a series of strike ballots among low paid hospital workers in east London. They are fighting private contractors and demanding decent pay and improved conditions.
- The mood over pay is strongest in London because it is expensive to live in the capital. But poverty pay can be found in every corner of Britain. Over 4,000 disabled workers employed by Remploy have rejected a pay offer by over 80 percent. Their bosses wasted £10 million 'restructuring' their own pay. Now these workers are demanding dignity and decent pay.
A growing divide
NEW ANALYSIS this week underlined how the gap has grown between the pay workers get and the salaries grabbed by chief executives. Top management pay took an extra 28 percent last year and 136 directors collected £1 million -and that was in a bad year.
Last week the banking firm HSBC agreed to pay its newest director £37 million over the next three years. Three bosses at the Hermes group, which runs the BT pension fund, shared £5.1 million between them.
More ands more directors, including those at companies like Corus and Trinity Mirror, are now enjoying 'guaranteed bonuses'. This means they get a vast payout however they perform but they have to pay less tax. Meanwhile workers are told that any rises will have to be funded by cutting costs.
'Here is my case'
By Derek Brooks, postal worker in south London
'POSTAL WORKERS get London weighting of just £3,250 for inner London and £2,016 for outer London. I can't even think about living near the area where I work. Most of the houses I deliver to cost from about £200,000 each. So I travel 28 miles in every morning and 28 miles back afterwards.
It's expensive and really tiring, especially as I start at 5am. I get about £360 a week including London weighting and bonuses - that's for 45 hours a week.
London is so expensive. Postal pay is rubbish in every part of the country but it's time that the unions did something together about how bad things have got in London. I'm really glad that in London we're going to have a fight over this.'
Gulf war syndrome
Tribunal backs victim
THE MINISTRY of Defence (MOD) is still refusing to accept that Gulf War Syndrome is killing and disabling soldiers who fought in the 1991 Gulf War. This is despite a war pensions tribunal this week making the first official recognition of Gulf War Syndrome.
It has ruled that former soldier Alex Izzet's brittle bone disease was linked to his service in the war. Over 550 British soldiers have died of Gulf War Syndrome. The MOD, which talk of 'our boys' during the fighting, has ignored this suffering and continues to fight against former soldiers who demand compensation. It has said it does not agree with the latest verdict but will not challenge it.