South Yorks gets music and unity
Unity was the message as Rotherham rocked to its first ever Love Music Hate Racism event on Saturday of last week. Asian music award winners Metz and Trix — who filled in for bhangra band RDB at the last minute — went down a storm.
Singer Karen Mulcahey, accompanied by Luke Pepper, teenage newcomers Second Ashes, plus Barnsley rapper Dread Tobinga all helped to make it a hugely enjoyable day. More than 100 people attended. There will be another gig in the summer.
Unite Against Fascism has called two days of action against the BNP, on Saturday 16 and 30 April. Phone 020 7833 4916 or go to www.uaf.org.uk for details
Some of the cruellest cuts
More than 5,000 workers at Remploy factories, which mainly employ disabled people, are set to ballot for industrial action over pay and threatened job losses.
The workers, members of the T&G, GMB and other unions have rejected a pay offer of 3.4 percent because the company’s directors have failed to give assurances that the number of disabled people employed in skilled factory jobs will not be cut. The company has already reduced the workforce to fewer than 5,200 although the number of highly paid non-disabled senior managers is growing.
Packed mass meetings at Imerys have voted to hold a strike ballot over the threat to workers’ pensions. Over 300 workers at the former China Clay company attended meetings organised by the T&G union just before Easter in St Austell and Lee Moor in Devon. They called unanimously for a strike vote and ballot papers have now gone out.
“There were strong feelings expressed at the meetings,” said Jennie Formby, T&G national secretary. “If Imerys thought they could just make changes to the pension funds with no response from their workforce, they have another think coming.”
The French-owned Imerys, dubbed “misery” by the workers, has closed the final salary pension scheme to new members and plans to downgrade benefits.
HSBC bank staff want a share
Some 25,000 staff in the Amicus union at HSBC bank are voting on strikes over pay. Union officials say the first one-day strike could be held just before the second May bank holiday. Amicus also plans to demonstrate at the bank’s annual meeting on 27 May. Management’s plan to change bonus payments means some workers will not get any pay rise. HSBC recently announced record profits of £9.6 billion.
Postal workers in Plymouth staged a three hour unofficial strike recently in a dispute over hours. Around 90 workers walked out of the North Central Delivery Office.
Jeff Thomas, the CWU union branch secretary for Plymouth and East Cornwall, said, “This was a spontaneous walkout. Royal Mail decided to lower costs by cutting the number of hours worked. This was being processed through the industrial relations framework, but management then announced they were simply doing it anyway. That is why people stopped work. Now management have agreed that the new hours will not be imposed and there will be negotiations on the issue.”
Not crossing on the Mersey
The RMT union has demanded an end to victimisation after Merseyrail issued formal warnings to around 40 drivers who refused to cross RMT picket lines in a dispute over the implementation of a 35-hour week. Union members voted by 20 to one to take action after rejecting unacceptable strings attached to proposals for shorter hours.