Dated: 03 Feb 2001
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Vauxhall's giant Luton car plant was silent last Thursday. The entire workforce had called in sick in protest at the plan by multinational owners General Motors to close the factory, sack thousands of workers and devastate the town.
Around 5,000 council workers in Hackney, east London, struck for three days this week in a defiant response to cuts pushed through by the ruling Labour-Tory coalition. Max Caller, the council's managing director, and Labour leader Jules Pipe say the council's workers are overpaid and have too many holidays. "Caller gets £150,000 a year. How dare he tell people who work their guts out for £13,000 a year that they are overpaid," striking UNISON member Jane Brockway told Socialist Worker on Monday.
Tube workers in London were set to strike on Monday after a magnificent vote for action to stop privatisation wrecking health and safety. Tube bosses were threatening to go to the courts to try and undermine the action as Socialist Worker went to press.
Over 1,200 London teachers packed into the most militant rally called by the National Union of Teachers for 14 years on Tuesday of this week. They were in an angry and confident mood. NUT general secretary Doug McAvoy announced a limited form of action-not covering for vacant posts-to win increased London pay and end the scandal of teacher shortages.
Workers at Rolls-Royce have voted by four to one for strikes to save jobs. The giant aero engineering group wants to cut 1,300 jobs and transfer work from Coventry to Canada. "We feel completely betrayed after years of working our guts out for the company," said a Rolls worker. "We are not going to let globalisation take our jobs." The first of a series of walkouts will hit Rolls in Coventry next week.
Two Labour MPs were shouted down by 350 Dudley health strikers on Monday. But striker and Socialist Alliance candidate Angela Thompson won a standing ovation.
We had a marvellous lobby of parliament in defence of council housing on Wednesday of last week. Some 22 city tenants federations, over 45 individual tenants associations, and 85 trade union branches and trades councils united with anti-privatisation campaigns.
Steel giant Corus was expected to announce 5,000 to 7,000 job cuts this week. The announcement will be made by Corus chairman Sir Brian Moffat (above). His pay packet last year was a basic salary of £477,223, "benefits" worth £43,009, extra pension contributions of £19,709, and the right to take a profit on 611,000 shares.
New Labour was falling apart last weekend. The leaders of the project that was supposed to have transformed politics for all time were tearing each other apart. New Labour's sleaze is a result of the way it has sold itself to business, put company chiefs at the centre of decision making, and allowed firms to rake in profits from the NHS.