Socialist Worker

Sacked because of concerns for safety

Issue No. 1893

BUILDING BOSSES reacted with great sympathy when a group of scaffolders declined to work during the recent snow-they sacked them all. The 37 scaffolders, employed by NSS Industrial, were working on the Buxton Cement Works site. The workers, members of the Amicus union, downed tools when snow settled and they felt the site was not safe. One of the workers said, 'Some of us have worked for two years on that job, doing up to seven days a week to keep the project on course for its completion date.

'It's hardly right to start sacking people for not working in what were unsafe conditions.'' NSS managing director Adrian Butt told Construction News, 'We were driven to take this action by the sheer stupidity of certain individuals. We are trying to run a business and are not prepared to accept this type of action. There are plenty of other scaffolders looking to work. It's about time more companies in this country took a stand against this irresponsible behaviour.'

Butt was convinced of the need to sack the men 'when I learned the union would not support their action'. But NSS found that replacement scaffolders would not cross the picket line set up by the sacked men.

Butt's tone changed. He said, 'We couldn't afford for the picket to go on as it was stopping other people coming on to the job. We had a word with the union and agreed compensation.' Workers won redundancy payments of up to £6,000 each.


In this week - 10 years ago - 1994

OVER 50,000 people protested against racism through east London in a vibrant TUC-organised march. This was part of the campaign against Nazi BNP councillor Derek Beackon in Tower Hamlets. Racist attacks jumped up 300 percent in the area after he was elected. A large, broad-based campaign ensured that Beackon was kicked out of the council after seven months in the next council elections.


Army's true colours shown

A BLACK sergeant in the British army has won damages from the Ministry of Defence after giving evidence of a shocking culture of racism among officers. Staff Sergeant David Howard of the Adjutant General Corps discovered a mock-up job description in a senior officer's drawer.

It described him as a 'fat hairy bear' and nicknamed him Bubba, after a childlike character in the film Forrest Gump. It also contained derogatory remarks about his wife, who is white.


Claims man has history

THE RIGHT wing press was full of stories last week about the claim that there was a secret policy to hide the true immigration figures. The man who made the claim had earlier called for Islamic fundamentalists 'to be silenced by nuclear weapons'.

In e-mails to a BBC programme Steve Moxon said the Muslim faith was 'inextricably tied up' with terrorism and demanded the imprisonment of imams who preach 'clear evil'.


Rich get into a jam

NEW LABOUR is always going on about 'anti-social behaviour' and 'neighbours from hell' but there's one row that it will ignore. Two millionaire neighbours are embroiled in a war over a £500 bramble patch. Both men own homes worth over £2 million each. They live in Cowden, near Tunbridge Wells in Kent.

The bramble patch includes a man-made cave. In 1999 one of them, David Bell, phoned Neville Darby to ask if there were bats in the cave. Bell erected a fence around the bramble patch. Darby tore it down and erected his own fence. Both are now going to court.


Paying £1 million for nothing

BOURNEMOUTH University chiefs have threatened a student newspaper with legal action. This is because it exposed a financial scandal which could lead to huge cuts. The university has spent £1 million on a new teaching and accommodation block which can never be built.

The Ocean Gate scheme would have cost £20 million. From the very start the borough council had warned the developer involved that planning restrictions applied because of an agreed road-widening scheme.

By the time the university realised that it would have to scrap the project last year it had already spent £943,000 on architects, surveys and legal fees. Reporters on the Bournemouth Student Press easily uncovered the facts by a quick visit to the council's planning department. But as they prepared to publish the story they found themselves threatened with legal action by the university.

To their credit the paper published anyway. The university is in deficit for the first time in its history. The vice-chancellor has announced a recruitment freeze and told staff, 'There are things we may have planned to do or buy that now we will be unable to do.'


A mega-slow bus

THE 'NO-FRILLS' cheap Megabus service began last week-and immediately caused chaos for passengers. Instead of a journey of two hours and 20 minutes from London to Brighton, customers endured a nightmare lasting almost seven hours-finally reaching home by train.

The service, owned by Stagecoach, uses a fleet of ten year old coaches shipped in from Hong Kong. The Brighton bus broke down on the M23 and after an hour's wait in freezing conditions with no heating or toilets the passengers had to be rescued by a coach from the rival company National Express.

They ended up in McDonald's near Gatwick airport. Here they waited for two hours with no assistance from Megabus. Then they had to make their way home by rail, reaching Brighton at 1.30am.


Figure it out - £7 billion

The cost of two new army garrison complexes. The Salisbury Plain PFI deal is a £5 billion contract awarded to a consortium led by Mowlem and KBR.


Who says?

'It's one of the skirmishes won by terrorists.'
CondoleezZa Rice one of Bush's key advisers giving her view on the Madrid bombing that killed 200 people

'America's unrivalled military superiority means that potential enemies (whether nations or terrorist groups) that choose to attack us will be more likely to resort to terror instead of conventional military assault.'
US presidential decision directive 62 issued in 1998 predicts the pattern of what was to become the 'war on terror'

'Most of these weapons are of Eastern European origin and some parts are from the former Eastern Bloc. The US obtained them through confiscations during sales of banned arms in the past two decades.'
Source from the Iraqi Governing Council telling the Iranian Mehr News Agency about the US allegedly smuggling weapons of mass destruction into Iraq

'There is a legitimate need for medical research and cadavers are one of the models that help medical researchers find out valuable information.'
Chuck Dasey a spokesman for the army's Medical Research and Material Command in Fort Detrick, Maryland after seven corpses donated to the US's Tulane University ended up being sold to the army and blown up in landmine tests


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Article information

Inside the System
Sat 20 Mar 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1893
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