Dated: 14 Feb 2004
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LABOUR LEADERS have expelled a trade union because it refuses to back Blair's Thatcherite policies. RMT union conference delegates bravely stood up for their members and against New Labour's diktat last Friday.
'IN 17 minutes time we will be expelled from the Labour Party. If P&O Ferries, Jarvis or any other employer demanded that we reply to their letter by noon I would treat them with the same contempt. Yesterday Ian McCartney from the Labour Party said that he was worried about "Bob Crow and his controlling group" in the union.
BLAIR'S WAR lies have sickened millions. Now we have the chance to take to the streets and show our anger. The Stop the War Coalition is calling on its supporters to mobilise for a national demonstration in London on 20 March, the first anniversary of the war on Iraq.
LABOUR'S DECISION to expel the RMT union has sent tremors through the wider trade union movement. Intense debate has taken place in many unions over the last few years about whether the unions should continue only to fund Labour. That discussion is now even more pressing.
THOUSANDS OF nursery nurses across Scotland struck on Wednesday of last week and Tuesday of this in their long-running campaign to get recognition for the job they do. "We don't want to have to be on strike," said Margaret Ritchie on the picket line outside Royal Mile primary school in Edinburgh.
BBC WORKERS across Britain staged lunchtime protests on Thursday of last week, following their spontaneous walkouts a week earlier over the Hutton whitewash. The mood of anger against the government, and the BBC governors who had issued a grovelling apology to Blair, was clear. So too was a determination to resist government attempts to exercise even more control of the BBC.
STUDENTS FROM the University of Wales, Swansea, are refusing to allow their institution to be turned into a Thatcherite business. The university has been shaken by massive protests at the announced closure of Sociology, Anthropology, Philosophy, Chemistry and the Centre for Development Studies.
AFTER THE controversy over the Hutton report, Labour-run Haringey Council in north London is seeking a confrontation with journalists in its own press office. The journalists, NUJ members, have faced a union-busting consultant who wants to delete not only any reference to "journalism" in their job descriptions, but their jobs themselves.
THE ALL-OUT strike by 199 workers at LTI (London Taxis International) in Coventry began its third week on Tuesday-and the mood "is as hard, no, harder than ever", one striker told Socialist Worker. The workers, members of the TGWU and Amicus unions, make taxis. They began the strike after months of tortuous negotiations over pay.
SUPPORTERS OF York City Football Club are celebrating the victory of a two-year campaign to save their club and its ground. The Supporters' Trust won control of the club last year, and now a deal has been announced by which the club will remain at its Bootham Crescent home for "the foreseeable future".
A MEETING of more than 100 people called by Crawley Pensioners Action Group kicked off Crawley Against the Council Tax. Christine Melson, of the Isitfair organisation, which led the recent national demo in London over the council tax, spoke. She told us about activists in some areas who have refused to pay last year's bills and face court proceedings as a result.
TWO IMPORTANT meetings took place in the Amicus union last week. Both the new national executive and the joint broad left met for the first time last week. Instead of this being a drive towards a member-led union, as many people want, it saw moves by Derek Simpson to grab more control over the union. This is very unfortunate given Simpson's past record.
Hackney HACKNEY REFUSE workers have suspended their strikes against the imposition of new contracts. The Labour council tore into the workers and their unions after they took action against pay cuts of up to £3,000.
OVER 150 protesters filled the steps of Ealing Town Hall in west London on Tuesday last week to protest at the council's plans for £17 million of cuts. West Acton preschool playgroup, Hanwell nursery, the Caribbean Elderly and Ealing Alzheimer groups, Ealing pensioners, Unison, the NUT, NASUWT and Ealing Trades Council all brought banners and chanted "No more cuts".
WORKERS AT three top museums have voted to take industrial action in a dispute over pay. The National Museum of Film, Photography and Television in Bradford, the National Railway Museum in York and London's Science Museum are affected. Curators and conservators are angry that a new pay grading system has been delayed.
OVER 90,000 civil servants in the PCS union are set to strike on Monday and Tuesday. The strike will hit job centres, benefit offices, pension centres and the Child Support Agency, all part of the government's Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
TONY BLAIR'S die-hard supporters have given up trying to trumpet the Hutton whitewash's discredited conclusions. They think they can convince us that we have all become thoroughly bored with the stream of revelations about the lies that took us to war. We're meant to be obsessed with the minutiae of I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!
In 1919, dockers in the city of Seattle refused to load arms for use against the recent Russian Revolution. They were followed by dockers in San Francisco, London, Hull and elsewhere.
What a fortnight...the top-up fees vote...the Hutton whitewash...Blair lurching from one crisis to the next...
LATER THIS month Socialist Worker is producing a special 12-page newspaper in addition to its usual weekly issue. It will mark 20 years since the Great Miners' Strike of 1984-5. It will be full of analysis, interviews and pictures of the year when the state took on the miners. It will be printed on special high quality paper and be distributed along with Socialist Worker on 25 February.
"FORD MAKES £92 million profit, and we're called greedy car workers!" Those angry words came from David Wood, one of 8,000 car workers on strike on Monday in Solihull and in Gaydon, Warwickshire. They work for Land Rover, which is owned by Ford. The multinational wants to ram through a two-year pay deal giving them less wages than workers at Ford's Jaguar plants, and worse working conditions.
OUR ALL-OUT indefinite strike to defend union rights at Leicester College is going from strength to strength. We started our strike on 2 February, and a mass meeting last week voted to stay out as long as it takes to win. Management have been trying for the last year to make us accept worse conditions. Then at Christmas they simply posted out new non-negotiated contracts, cutting holidays, pushing through Saturday working and worsening other conditions. This is union-busting as well as attacking conditions. Our strike is solid, with around two thirds of strikers attending picket lines. Management's claim that 85 percent of lessons are "running normally" does not impress students called
David "Rocky" Bennett was a talented drummer who loved football. He had two children. Those who knew him called him a "lovely man". But Rocky was just 38 when he died on 30 October 1998. He died in a psychiatric clinic in Norwich after four nurses held him face down for nearly half an hour.
BLAIR IS increasingly like someone trying to extricate themselves from a net. The more he struggles, the more he is enmeshed. He has not been able to end the shockwaves from the war on Iraq.
"OUR HISTORIC aim will be for ours to be the first generation to end child poverty forever, and it will take a generation. It is a 20-year mission, but I believe it can be done" (Tony Blair, March 1999).
Respect-The Unity Coalition supporters speak about the urgent steps needed for an effective challenge to New Labour in the June elections
THE NEW film Girl With A Pearl Earring about the Dutch artist Vermeer has provoked interest in the life and society of the great Dutch painters. JOHN MOLYNEUX looks at the reasons why Dutch society produced a flowering of great art in the 17th century.
SOME 200 years of struggle by working people in Britain is the theme for a new website which the Trades Union Congress has helped put together. "The Union Makes Us Strong-TUC History Online" covers the years 1815 to 2000. Its motivation is the fact that "trade unions have played and continue to play a decisive role in shaping economic and social developments in Britain. Yet much of their history is at present unknown and inaccessible to the public."
THE QUICKSANDS of Morecambe Bay became a grave for 19 Chinese workers last week. Their job was to pick cockles for low wages, working all hours in dangerous conditions, with no rights. Some of the last tabloid articles they would have seen were about how people from abroad "are heading to Britain to leech on us" and branded them all "benefit tourists".
1,400 school students left without hot food I recently started work in one of 27 schools in the London borough of Tower Hamlets which is part of a £127 million Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme. It was claimed that this would provide much-needed new buildings and urgent repairs throughout the borough. But it has proved to be a complete disaster.
NEW LABOUR are sending huge numbers of NHS patients to private hospitals-which charge 40 to 50 percent more for operations. In 2001 the NHS paid an average of £922 to a private hospital for a cataract operation. It cost just £632 to perform an identical operation in an NHS hospital.