First Eastern buses
First Eastern bus drivers in Norfolk and Suffolk started a week-long strike on Thursday of last week over pay and pensions.
The drivers, members of the T&G union, are demanding a 3 percent pay rise and improved conditions.
Respect presence in south west
The first meeting of Respect in North Devon took place in Torrington last week.
Thirty people came to watch the DVD George Galloway Goes to Washington. They included Globalise Resistance activists, the Green Party parliamentary candidate at the general election and local Communist Party members.
A letter from HVF Winstone, distinguished author on Iraq and the Middle East, was read out. It said he was unable to attend on health grounds but sent his best wishes “for a secure and lasting Respect presence here in the south west”.
He continued, “We have to hand it to friends Bush and Blair — if they have achieved nothing else they have put Respect and its leader well and truly in the forefront of the public mind.”
In the discussion that followed it was agreed that a Respect presence was welcome and needed in North Devon.
There was a Respect stall in Barnstaple on the Saturday following the meeting. More activity is being planned.
Asbo concern in Manchester
Over 70 people attended the first meeting in Manchester of Asbo Concern, the campaign set up to challenge the use of the Anti-social behaviour orders.
Manchester has the dubious distinction of being the Asbo capital of Britain. Social service workers, community activists, solicitors and young people attended this meeting.
Solicitor Matt Foot and a variety of speakers from across the community expressed deep concern over the rise of Asbos in the Manchester area.
Speakers informed the meeting about cuts in funding for youth services.
It was agreed to form a branch of Asbo Concern and to challenge the council over the decline in services and the rise in the use of orders.
Blue Arrow is the target
Northampton Defend Council Housing took part in a picket of the local Blue Arrow employment agency, which is supplying scab labour in the Gate Gourmet dispute.
We also supported a benefit with a speaker from the dispute plus a set from comedian Attila the Stockbroker. Tenants know what a support the unions have been in our fight to keep our council homes.
National Union of Students
A special National Union of Students executive meeting on Monday voted to retreat from plans for a national demonstration over university top-up fees.
Executive member Suzie Wylie said, “I was among a tiny number of people who voted to press ahead with the demonstration.”
Labour Students and the organised independents who dominate the executive retreated from their original plan.
The PCS union has denounced last week’s announcement that 1,300 jobs will be axed at the Learning and Skills Council by June of next year.
This will mean a third of staff across the 47 Leaning and Skills Council offices in England will lose their jobs. It comes on top of 800 job losses 18 months ago.
This will devastate services in the post-16 sector.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said, “These cuts will bring devastation to the delivery of vocational courses, apprenticeships and adult learning, seriously undermining the government’s skills agenda.”
The PCS has pledged to defend its members’ jobs.
The ballot of thousands of PCS members in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in London over staffing levels was set to finish on Wednesday of this week.
If the ballot is successful a one day strike is set to take place on Friday of next week. More action could follow.
Workers are angry about the job cuts devastating public services.
Conference Against City Academies
Saturday 8 October, 10.30am, Birmingham Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham B1
Organised by Birmingham National Union of Teachers and Islington Campaign Against Academies
For further details: phone 0121 442 2031 e-mail [email protected]