Protesters put GSL in the dock
Asylum rights campaigners in Manchester protested outside the immigration office in the city last week to highlight the mistreatment of refugees by private contractor GSL.
A BBC documentary, Asylum Undercover, recently exposed abuse of asylum seekers by some GSL staff.
Asylum seekers who report to the Dallas Court Enforcement Unit in Manchester can find themselves detained and handed over to centres such as Yarl’s Wood, run by GSL.
Solidarity at Ellesmere Port
Negotiations between the T&G union and bosses at Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port assembly plant were continuing as Socialist Worker went to press, with an announcement expected on Tuesday of this week.
Vauxhall workers voted to strike over pay and pensions earlier this month. Unofficial action temporarily shut the plant at the end of last year.
“The company has withdrawn its insistence on monthly pay — that was one of the issues,” a worker at the plant told Socialist Worker this week.
“But they have insisted on keeping the time limit for short term contracts to three months, not six months.
“We’ve had an agreement for cleaners and catering workers that they get paid 90 percent of the lowest grade. That’s now being withdrawn for new applicants. As trade unionists we’re against that.”
The only war worth fighting
About 200 people attended War on Want’s conference last Saturday. In the opening plenary Iraqi novelist Haifa Zangana spoke about the realities facing the Iraqi people under occupation and how Iraq was being sold off to US companies. “Without the armed resistance, Iraq would now be a private company,” she said. “I salute the resistance.”
This caused some controversy with many people in the room speaking out against any form of violence.
But television presenter Jonathan Dimbleby spoke against the idea that terrorism was the biggest threat in the world today. He said climate change and poverty were both much bigger problems and he called on people to get involved with the Make Poverty History campaign.
Inspiration at rally for Paul Foot
The “Our Left Foot” rally in Sheffield last Sunday brought together 200 people to celebrate the life and work of Paul Foot.
Among the speakers were Arthur Scargill, Matt Foot, Yunus Bakhsh and Bridget Bell from Women Against Pit Closures. They all gave inspirational speeches.
Bookmarks sold about £1,300 worth of books, with the biggest seller being Paul Foot’s brilliant new book on the vote.
Caledonian MacBrayne pensions strike
RMT union members at Caledonian MacBrayne will strike for 12 hours next Wednesday 23 March — pensions day — to defend jobs, pay and pensions.
Members voted two to one for strikes after the company failed to provide assurances that there would be no compulsory redundancies if their jobs were transferred to another employer. Advertisements seeking tenders for the Gourock to Dunoon route were placed last month.
Management under high pressure
Tyre production workers belonging to the T&G union held a demonstration outside the main entrance to Michelin’s plant in Stoke on Tuesday of this week as part of the campaign over pay and pensions. An overtime ban has already started.
Union marshalling its forces
Workers at Marshall Aerospace in Cambridge struck for 24 hours on Tuesday this week in our dispute over pay and regrading. We picketed the Newmarket Road and Barnwell Road entrances and asked for support from other trade union branches and activists. This is the first industrial action at the engineering company for over 30 years.
Mark Evans, Amicus union convenor
Respect — not averse to a verse
Poets from various communities came together in Birmingham on Saturday of last week to share their creative literary and vocal skills for peace, human rights and unity. The event was organised by Respect in conjunction with the Urdu Forum UK and was held at Al-Hijrah School in Small Heath. The crowd of over 250 people enjoyed the evening of poetry and community spirit, which was concluded with a traditional Asian feast.
Novelist Alan Gibbons led an event organised by Respect in Stretford, Manchester, last week.
“Over 150 people attended our Respect for children and books event. The children’s poetry was inspiring,” said Mark Krantz, prospective Respect candidate in the Stretford and Urmston constituency at the coming general election.
Tide turns against port bosses
Key freightliner port staff and drivers at Southampton and Felixstowe docks have voted overwhelmingly to strike in a dispute over pay and conditions.
The RMT union gave the company until Wednesday of this week to work towards a settlement, or face the prospect of strike action that could bring operations to a standstill.