Make Poverty History
About 200 people attended the launch of the Make Poverty History coalition in Sheffield on Wednesday of last week. There were speakers from Oxfam, Christian Aid and the World Development Movement (WDM), who spoke about the three strands to the campaign — debt, trade and aid.
Richard from Christian Aid spoke about the government’s massive military budget and said that if there was money for this, there must be money for debt relief. A number of contributions from the floor asked whether we could trust Gordon Brown on his promises on debt relief.
The speaker from the WDM asked the audience how many people had been at the protest at the G8 in Birmingham in 1998. Some hands went up. When she asked how many people were intending to go to Edinburgh in July the majority of people raised their hands.
Steve Chapman, chair of Sheffield Make Poverty History, said coaches were already booked, and they would keep booking transport as it filled up. A train is booked from Leeds.
Bosses pressured in FE pay fight
Lecturers at 80 further education colleges were set to strike on Thursday of this week over the refusal of their bosses to implement a nationally agreed pay deal.
As Socialist Worker went to press there were signs that some college managements were caving in under the threat of the industrial action. But the defence of national bargaining remains at the centre of the dispute.
See next week’s Socialist Worker for a full report.
Breaking free from curriculum
Interest is rapidly growing in the Rethinking Education in the Era of Globalisation conference, which is set to take place in London on Saturday of next week.
Confirmed speakers now include writer and journalist Melissa Benn; Alison West, chief executive of the National Extension College; Maud Blair, professor at the Open University; as well as many others.
“We’re getting a tremendous response from across educational institutions,” says Sean Vernell, secretary of the Natfhe union at City and Islington College, which is sponsoring the conference.
“The idea of the conference is tapping a feeling that there has to be more to education than the narrow curriculum and market competition imposed by New Labour.
“My advice is to sign up for the conference fast as places will be limited on the day.”
Rethinking Education in the Era of Globalisation,
Saturday 5 March, 11am to 4pm,
City and Islington College,
£10 or £5 concs.
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Land grab means threat to schools
More school closures are on the agenda. This time it is Harefield infant and junior schools in Southampton. They face closure with the agreement of a local Liberal Democrat councillor and Labour MP John Denham.
The Harefield estate in Southampton is recognised as a deprived area, and yet the council wishes to cut educational places so the land currently occupied by the schools can be sold off for housing development.
Politicians and their parties have refused even to acknowledge our concerns about the closure plan.
Strike action has forced better offer
Civil service workers in the PCS union in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) voted last week to accept a pay deal and end our long running dispute.
Six days of strike action last year forced management to change its plans to make all pay performance related.
We have won one of the best pay deals in the civil service, with a 4.5 percent rise in the first year. But the deal doesn’t finally address the issues of low pay and progression in the DWP.
There is a belief amongst members that the fight is now around pensions and job cuts.
Phil Pardoe, DWP group executive committee PCS (personal capacity)
Set on course for stormy struggle
Rail and maritime union RMT is to ballot its 600 members at Caledonian MacBrayne.
The company has failed to provide assurances that there would be no compulsory redundancies and no worsening of pensions, pay and conditions for its workforce. The threat is linked to a privatisation plan.
“We met the company but they have failed to provide the assurance we were seeking,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said.
Battle takes off in Cambridge
Workers at Marshall Aerospace in Cambridge have voted by 96 percent in favour of taking strike action.
The ballot was the result of a longstanding dispute over pay. In July of last year a regrading scheme was put into place by the company. It was rejected because the extra payment on offer was not consolidated into the hourly rate or overtime, and was not to be paid on holiday and sick pay.
Royal Mail must get this sorted
Postal workers in Cornwall could be balloted for strikes, following Royal Mail proposals to move overnight post sorting from Cornwall to Plymouth.
Some 16 jobs at the Truro sorting office could be affected. Clive Welsford, CWU union representative for the South West and South Wales, said, “The office the post is being sorted at is the most effective and efficient in the country.
“To move it to another one means it must be going to an office where it’s going to worsen the quality of service.”
Next week read CWU general secretary Billy Hayes on the threat posed by the rush to “liberalise” the postal services market
Firefighters strike to defend safety
Firefighters at Glasgow airport were still on strike as Socialist Worker went to press. They are battling to defend safety standards. T&G union members entered the fourth week of indefinite all-out action on Monday. They are hoping for a successful outcome to talks with the management at the end of this week.