Firefighters’ new battles over cuts
Merseyside firefighters are to hold a strike ballot over the fire authority’s plans to axe 120 frontline firefighters, 15 emergency fire control operator posts and four night time fire engines.
The cuts come on top of 68 posts axed by Merseyside fire authority last year and represent a loss of one in ten full time firefighter posts.
“Councillors and senior managers are determined to push through these cuts and fire crews are equally determined to stop them,” said Les Skarratts, secretary of Merseyside Fire Brigades Union.
Earlier this month firefighters on Teesside voted by three to one for strike action against a similar cuts package there.
Better offer after rail strike threat
The RMT rail workers’ union suspended planned strike action last week by 5,000 Network Rail operational staff after an improved pay and hours offer.
Workers will now vote on the deal. The RMT’s general grades committee is recommending acceptance.
David King, branch secretary of Stirling RMT and a Network Rail worker, told Socialist Worker in a personal capacity, “The 35-hour week will be introduced in August and there are no strings attached.
“Management has shifted because of our threats to strike.
“But we are still tied in to a 21 month pay deal.”
Aslef call off South West trains strike
The threat of legal action from South West Trains meant the Aslef train drivers’ union called off strikes planned for this week. Drivers at Waterloo station in London are in dispute over the right to take a free taxi home after a shift ending in the early morning or late at night.
Taking on the new Russian elite
Academics and activists met on Friday of last week to discuss the growing influence of Russian oil oligarchs on the world stage.
Boris Kagarlitsky, David Crouch and Peter Glatter presented papers and the round table discussion included journalist Simon Pirani, Alex Callinicos and Simeon Zhavaronkov, a Moscow based activist.
Links between Russian and British activists have been forged as a result. For copies of the papers discussed at the event, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Bus strike on the cards in Sheffield
First South Yorkshire bus drivers have voted four to one to strike over pay and pensions.
Although pay, especially raising the starter rate to £7 an hour, is part of the dispute, pensions have sparked the main anger. The company intends to effectively end the final salary scheme by insisting on capping pensionable pay.
The union is discussing when the first strike should take place, but talks are set for 14 August.
In 2004 drivers won their demands after three weeks of an indefinite strike.
ASU ambulance workers strike
Ambulance workers on Merseyside in the ASU union, a breakaway from Unison not recognised by the TUC, are to strike for two days.
The strike, set to start at 7pm on Friday of this week, is the latest stage in the workers’ fight over the implementation of the Agenda for Change deal. The ASU is demanding that ambulance technicians go onto band five of the new pay scale.
Ambulance workers in Unison have not joined the dispute and have told Socialist Worker that they are pursuing similar objectives through national negotiations.
Yunus Bakhsh confirmed for Unison health service group executive
Health worker and union activist Yunus Bakhsh will take up his seat on the Unison union health service group executive.
Yunus won 3,897 votes in the election (86 percent) compared to his rival’s 627 votes (14 percent). The turnout in the election for the health seat in the northern region was far higher than in most similar union elections.
The result was challenged and Yunus missed two vital meetings of the service group election while the challenge process took place.
Now branches in the region are demanding to know why the result was delayed.
South Yorkshire Newspapers NUJ strike
NUJ union members at South Yorkshire Newspapers struck from Monday of this week in their fight against low pay.?Workers are threatening to strike until 2 August.
The 22-strong NUJ workplace chapel, which won recognition last year, had already held three strike days.
E-mail messages of support to mother of chapel Emma Roots at email@example.com
Merseyside Campaign to Save Adult and Further Education
Safe, the Merseyside Campaign to Save Adult and Further Education from funding cutbacks, received a major boost from a packed meeting at Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall last Friday. Around 180 tutors, adult students and their supporters pledged to intensify their campaign.
Islington academy lobby
Protesters held a lobby outside Islington town hall, north London, on Thursday of last week as the council voted through a city academy. Campaigners intend to continue fighting.