Socialist Worker


Issue No. 1981

Bus drivers in Aberdeen have voted overwhelmingly to accept First Bus’s offer of a 5 percent pay rise plus a review of the pension and sick pay schemes.

The dispute began after First initially refused to meet a 5 percent demand, prompting 96 percent of drivers to vote to strike.

More than 400 drivers in Aberdeen had taken strike action.

Meanwhile engineers at First Bus in Cheshire have voted to accept the latest pay offer.

Workers in the Amicus union had been taking strike action and operating an overtime ban since 22 November. Further strike dates had been planned for December.

The offer raises the hourly rate to £10.50 for skilled shift engineers from July 2006.

Huddersfield health cuts protest

ABOUT 1,000 people marched from the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) to a rally in the centre of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, last Saturday.

They were protesting against the transfer of acute services from HRI to Calderdale Royal Infirmary in Halifax.

In addition Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS trust is proposing to close St Luke’s hospital, which provides chronic mental health, physiotherapy, geriatric and other services.

A breast cancer unit, paid for entirely out of local subscriptions, is to be closed. This decision was made without any consultation with the Huddersfield charity that funds it.

The campaign has attracted support from Kirklees Unison, midwives and ambulance workers.

The next march will be on Saturday 14 January. 
Malcolm Povey

Equal pay fight at Kirklees council

LOW PAID women workers employed by Kirklees council, West Yorkshire, have rejected its final offer to settle an equal pay claim.

The claim is a result of  years of workers such as homecare and catering staff being paid up to £4 an hour less than their male counterparts working on the bins and as gardeners.

The workers in the male dominated jobs were themselves on less than a living wage.

The council’s offer equates to about 60p an hour backdated for six years. Over 800 Unison union members voted by a majority of two to one to reject the offer and demand that Unison takes the cases to employment tribunals, where some people could win up to £40,000.

The decision by Kirklees Unison members goes against a trend of unions accepting small compensation packages. These decisions tend to be arrived at when no effort is made to discuss the real choices.

Kirklees Unison held 16 meetings with its affected members to explain what was taking place and to ensure that informed decisions were made. 

The campaign has seen us recruit 255 union members. It places us in a stronger position to tackle the fight over pensions.

Roger Grigg assistant branch secretary Kirklees Unison (personal capacity)

Fighting for refugee rights

Some 150 students and teachers at Quintin Kynaston school in north London demonstrated last week against threats to deport one of their sixth form pupils, Behnam, to Iran.

Behnam, who is 18, came to Britain in 2003 with his family. In August Behnam and his mother were sentenced in absentia by an Iranian court for allegedly working with banned political organisations.

Despite presenting authenticated documents from the Iranian court proving their story, the family’s asylum plea was rejected by the home office.

Courage Idiagbonya, the Student Respect activist at Newcastle University threatened with deportation to Nigeria, has had his judicial review postponed.

He had been been denied legal representation on a technicality, but now has a lawyer. The review and rally in his support scheduled for London on Friday of this week has now been postponed.

Amanda and Thando, two Zimbabwean detainees at Yarl’s Wood threatened with deportation, have ended their hunger strike. Both women are weak, but as well as can be expected under the circumstances and are now being returned to solid food.

Discordant note at the opera

Members of broadcasting union Bectu at the English National Opera (ENO) in central London have voted unanimously to ballot for strike action this month.

Management have offered a pay increase of just 2.77 percent while workers want a 5 percent pay increase and raised pension contributions. They are also demanding reduced working hours.

Staff say they are still being asked to work long hours, but are not receiving their full holiday entitlement.

Willy Donaghy, Bectu national officer, told Socialist Worker, “We have a mandate from the members for a ballot that will close on 28 December.

“People are very unhappy. The company is in a mess. There are concerns over recruitment policies, safety issues and the company’s finances.

“The ballot will involve all non-performing staff—production, administration, box office and technical.”

Lobby against education plans

Teachers, support staff and parents lobbied Islington South MP Emily Thornberry’s surgery in north London last week to urge her to vote against the government’s education proposals.

Four constituents went in to see her only to be told that trust schools and city academies would be a good thing for Islington.

Thornberry had voted against the 90-day clause in the terror bill, so some of us had naively hoped for better from her.

Clearly, we’ll have to increase the pressure in the next few weeks.

Ken Muller

Send a card to save our schools

The Socialist Teachers Alliance has produced a “Bin the White Paper” postcard as part of the campaign against New Labour’s education proposals.

They cost £5 for 100 and are available from STA, 39 Ridgemount Avenue, Coulsdon CR5 3AR

Mosques against the terror bill

Every mosque in Manchester has signed a statement opposing the terror bill that is currently going through parliament.

There have been two meetings of Muslim representatives and others of over 100 and over 70 people.

The statement calls on the government to “reconsider its foreign policies rather than insist on further draconian legislation to combat terrorism”.

Mark Krantz

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Article information

Sat 17 Dec 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1981
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