Heathrow Express to strike over pay
More than 70 workers on Heathrow Express were set to strike on Thursday this week.
The members of the RMT rail workers’ union voted by a margin of 12 to one for action, after rejecting a “rehashed” three year pay offer from management.
The workers are also due to strike next Monday. An earlier strike day had been cancelled in order for the workers to ballot over the new deal.
Beeston protests make a splash
Residents of the Beeston area of south Leeds have won a victory against the local council’s plans to close the local sports centre.
Campaigners discovered that the council, which had promised to refurbish the centre, in fact planned to close it for good.
After residents organised petitions, protests and a big public meeting, the council said it was recommending that the sports hall would be reopened.
Teachers against asbestos danger
Teaching unions in the north of England have warned that teachers are contracting fatal asbestos cancers.
Currently eight school staff in the North East are seeking compensation from education authorities after they got asbestos-related cancers.
Over 90 percent of schools in the region contain some form of asbestos. Some 147 people working in education died from mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer, between 1991 and 2000.
Price of a worker’s life is just £200
The Amicus union is calling for senior directors found liable for health and safety breaches to be jailed after a firm where a worker died was fined £200.
Dean Thomas was crushed to death at the former JR Crompton paper mill in Lydney, Gloucestershire, in 2003. Amicus national officer Tony Burke said, “We want to see individual directors held personally liable through prison sentences for failures that result in the death or maiming of their workers.”
JR Crompton has since been bought by a firm unconnected with the death. At a court hearing into the case, the judge told the former owners the fine would have been £250,000 had they still been in business.
T&G campaigns against blacklist
The T&G union has started a campaign to highlight the blacklisting by employers of electrical construction workers (see Socialist Worker, 8 April).
The union is pushing its 70 strong group of MPs to force a parliamentary debate on the issue.
According to the T&G’s John Rowse, “This is about bringing to the attention of MPs some of the employment practices that have been going on in our industry.”
Eastbourne health protest
Around 3,000 people joined a protest in Eastbourne, Sussex, last Saturday to protest against the threat of cuts to maternity and accident and emergency services at Eastbourne hospital. Protesters marched from the city centre to the hospital.
Leamington Spa against hospital cuts
Some 100 people protested in Leamington Spa last Saturday against the planned downgrading of emergency, paediatric and maternity services at Warwick Hospital, with a view to possible further downgrading in the future.
The hospital bosses want to force people from south Warwickshire to use the new PFI-funded Walsgrave hospital in Coventry – a journey of up to 25 miles each way. The Unison union organised the protest. Leamington Stop the War got an excellent response.
Postal workers in Exeter to support anyone sacked over recent strike
Exeter postal workers held union meetings on Sunday and Monday and there was a clear mood to support anyone who is sacked for their role in the recent strike at the mail centre.
Some 24 people are presently going through a management fact-finding process which could lead to serious charges.
The meeting supported the idea of a strike ballot if anyone is sacked or if management continue to breach local and national agreements or refuse to let the union act in the normal manner.
The national CWU union is supporting the campaign for justice.
The Case For Council Housing In 21st Century Britain pamphlet
The Defend Council Housing group have produced a new pamphlet, The Case For Council Housing In 21st Century Britain.
The 98 page pamphlet brings together 31 articles from leading tenant activists, MPs, trade unionists, councillors and academics.
Get your organisation to bulk order (£2.50 each) copies to distribute to tenants reps, councillors and trade unionists in your area. Go to www.defendcouncilhousing.org.uk
Tony Benn in Newham: ‘Let’s get to Manchester’
Over 300 people attended a public meeting organised by Newham Stop the War Coalition in east London on Tuesday of last week.
The speakers included Tony Benn and Lindsey German.
Tony Benn said, “If you’re talking about religious extremism, I’d put George Bush at the top of the list.”
All the speakers encouraged residents to attend the Stop the War demonstration this Saturday outside the Labour Party conference in Manchester.
Defending Robin Sivapalan
The campaign to defend Robin Sivapalan, a classroom assistant at Quinton Kynaston school in north London who was suspended for helping organise a protest against Tony Blair, is continuing.
School students and others protested against the war on Iraq and Lebanon, and against Quinton Kynaston becoming a trust school, during Blair’s visit to the school earlier this month.
The NUT and Unison unions supported the demonstration. The Unison union branch is representing Robin.
The school held Robin’s first investigation meeting last week. John McDonnell MP and a host of union activists have signed a statement in Robin’s defence. Respect MP George Galloway has sent a letter of support.
To sign the statement email firstname.lastname@example.org
Anti-war group routs the BNP
Stop the War Coalition supporters leafleting in Newton Heath, north Manchester, last Saturday came across the Nazi BNP setting up a stall.
Local people quickly told the BNP they were not wanted in their area and its Union Jack flag was the first thing to get binned.
Many people thanked Stop the War for coming out to let people know of the mass demonstration this Saturday and many said they also wanted to give Tony a warm Mancunian welcome.
The BNP will think again before trying to build in Manchester.
Police target Dundee group
Stop the War campaigners at last Saturday’s Dundee University freshers fair found themselves secretly targeted by terror police.
A man who approached campaigners at a Stop the War stall and asked about future activities turned out to be a Special Branch officer who has been working with Tayside’s Special Branch Community Contact Unit (SBCCU).
Alan Hinnrichs, the chair of the Dundee branch of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said the man did not identify himself as a police officer.
His identity only came to light because he was recognised by a member of the university Islamic Society who had invited the officer to a meeting of the society earlier in the year.