Miltary families in Birmingham
Some 120 people came to hear Susan Smith, Rose Gentle, Linda Holmes, Billy Hayes and Salma Yaqoob on Thursday of last week in Birmingham. Linda Holmes’ son is in the Guards. He is due to go to Iraq in May with a further posting to Afghanistan. Linda said she had voted Labour all her life – but never again. She is coming on the demonstration on Saturday. Susan Smith said her son Phillip told her, “I don’t think we’re helping, mum.” Four days later he was dead.
Escalation in Virgin dispute
Guards in the RMT railworkers’ union working for Virgin Cross Country were set to step up their dispute this week over the erosion of their Sunday pay rates.
Over 300 guards have struck for 11 successive Sundays. The workers were set to strike on Friday of this week as the dispute escalates.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said, “This dispute could and should have been settled long ago, but for reasons best know to themselves the Virgin board blocked the deal we had already negotiated.
“We have since offered them unconditional talks at conciliation service Acas. Yet it seems they would rather have confrontation—even though a deal would cost them only £6 per Sunday shift.
“They have left us with no option but to escalate.”
Cruel blow at Gate Gourmet
Police have attempted to break the spirit of the sacked Gate Gourmet workers by ordering them to dismantle their picket shelter and move from the hill where they have been protesting for seven months.
The sacked workers have organised a protest for Saturday 25 March to raise solidarity for their continuing struggle.
The demonstration assembles at 1pm, Sidmouth Avenue, Isleworth, west London.
Success after Remploy defiance
Disabled workers at Remploy across Britain have called off a series of demonstrations about a wage freeze after forcing a U-turn from the government. It is now expected that staff will get their annual wage increase.
Established in 1945, Remploy employs more than 6,300 people nationwide.
Phil Davies, national secretary of the GMB union, emphasised that the problem was with the government, which had scotched talks between the union and bosses.
He said, “Remploy’s factories are being run down by the government, which means there’s less and less opportunity for disabled people to find jobs. Staff are not replaced when they leave.”
Agency threat swept away in Queen Street market
Newham Council in east London has withdrawn the threat to bring in agency labour to work as street cleaners at Queen Street Market.
John Gregory, the T&G union branch secretary in Newham, told Socialist Worker that following the threat of a strike ballot, the council had conceded to workers’ demands.
John said, “Overtime will now be given to our members, rather than bringing in agency workers. We hope to spread this success across the council.”
The dispute came as the future of the popular local market remains in doubt. Many feared that the attack on workers was part of an attempt to make the market more attractive to potential purchasers.
Keep our NHS public
- Around 600 people protested in Cockermouth, Cumbria, last Friday against cost cutting proposals across nine hospitals in the county.
- About 50 people attended a Keep Our NHS Public meeting in Tower Hamlets, east London, on Wednesday of last week addressed by the local Respect MP George Galloway, and Labour MP Frank Dobson.
- SOS NHS conference organised by Keep Our NHS Public, 25 March, London. Go to www.nhscampaign.org
- People marched through Southampton last Saturday in support of the campaign to “Keep our NHS Public”
Unite against Fascism
Anti-fascists are alarmed that the mayoress of Keighley, West Yorkshire, has joined the British National Party.
She had previously been an independent councillor. The news underlines the urgent need for a united anti-fascist campaign in Keighley to prevent the Nazis making further gains.
Love music Hate Racism
Love Music Hate Racism are launching a series of carnivals around the country.
There will be events in Trafalgar Square in London on Saturday 29 April, Leeds University on Sunday 23 April and in Manchester on Monday 1 May. Go to www.lovemusichateracism.com