Socialist Worker

Socialist Worker

Issue: 2083

Dated: 12 Jan 2008

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Gordon Brown's new year message: 'Work more for less pay'

Gordon Brown had a stark new year’s message for working people in Britain – it’s going to be a "difficult and dangerous" year, and the Labour government expect you to pay for it by working harder and earning less.

International Comment Features Reviews What We Think Other


Reports round-up

Vote over action at rail company The strike ballot of 600 train guards and drivers in the RMT rail workers’ union at First Great Western is set to end on Thursday of this week.

Manchester protest over construction fatalities

Up to 100 members of the Unite union, representing construction workers from across the north west of England, demonstrated through the streets of Manchester at the start of this year.

Birmingham workers gear up to defend their pay over single status

Thousands of council workers in Birmingham are balloting for strike action against the imposition of a single status pay deal.

UCU union national executive

UCU lecturers’ union members are due to start voting for the national executive in the first week of February. Candidates’ election leaflets are now available and campaign meetings of UCU Left supporters are being organised up and down the country.

Lecturers to ballot on national negotiating arrangements

Members of the UCU lecturers’ union in higher education are to be balloted from 21 January on new national negotiating arrangements.

Teachers' fight over low pay building up

Teachers in England and Wales are still waiting for the government to announce their pay deal for 2008‑11. The School Teachers Review Body (STRB) on pay gave its recommendations on teachers’ pay to the government in October, but it has yet to respond.

Planned strike at Pirelli factory in Carlisle called off

Thirty five agency workers at Carlisle’s Pirelli factory were set go on an indefinite strike on Wednesday of this week over a 1 percent pay offer.

BAA reopens pensions scheme to new entrants after strike threat

Unions representing workers at seven British Airports Authority (BAA) airports including Gatwick and Heathrow have called off strike action due to take place later in January, after the company caved in and conceded to their demands.

Defend Yunus Bakhsh

Supporters of Yunus Bakhsh, the leading health trade unionist who has suffered a long-running victimisation by his employers for union activity, are planning a major fundraising operation on his behalf.

GMB award CitySprint couriers “Scrooge of the Year”

The GMB union presented a "Scrooge of the Year" award to the courier company CitySprint last month.

Royal Mail’s pension consultation about to close

Royal Mail’s consultation on its proposals to change the company’s pensions scheme is drawing to a close.

Civil service round-up

PCS ballot for strike over redundancies Over 70,000 members of the PCS civil service workers’ union in Revenue and Customs are balloting for a one day strike on 31 January over management’s failure to give a guarantee over redundancies.

Bus workers' strike causes bosses to wilt

Over 375 drivers at Wilts and Dorset bus company struck for 24 hours on Thursday of last week and another 24 hours on Tuesday of this week.

The necessity of sustainable housing

Gordon Brown has said that he wants all new houses to be carbon neutral by 2016. His government has also made much of its plans to create "eco-towns" of newly built sustainable homes.

Blockading Fife council to defend disability services

Around 60 people, including several wheelchair users, blockaded the offices of Fife council on Monday in a protest against new charges for homecare and transport services provided to disabled people.

George Bush flies into trouble in the Middle East

The US president George Bush is on a tour of his allies in the Middle East at a time when US policy in the region is lurching from disaster to disaster.

Somalia invasion one year on

Over 2000 people across Britain joined a global day of action on on 28 December to mark the first anniversary of the US-backed Ethiopian invasion of Somalia.

Join lobby for council housing

Tenants, trade unionists, councillors and campaigners are set to lobby MPs over the Housing and Regeneration Bill on Tuesday 22 January.

More ‘reforms’ for the NHS

Gordon Brown has decided that the NHS’s 60th birthday should be celebrated with an expansion of the very policies that have undermined it.

Step up fight over Karen Reissmann sacking

Outrage at the sacking of psychiatric nurse Karen Reissmann for speaking out against cuts and privatisation of mental health services continues to be a cause of acute embarrassment for health bosses in Manchester.

Burslem post dispute set to spread as management ups the ante

Royal Mail is spending thousands of pounds a week in an effort to break a postal workers’ strike at the Burslem delivery office in Stoke. Now the CWU postal workers’ union is threatening to spread the strike across the Midlands region.

Peter Hain forgets to put donations in the Picture

The work and pensions secretary Peter Hain started the week calling for ordinary people to "take responsibility" for pensions.

Jack Straw's threat against prison officers' right to strike

New Labour has responded to action against its public sector pay curbs by threatening to ban a key group of workers from striking.

Join the Respect campaign in key Preston council by-election

‘I am a landscape gardener and a foster carer. I was elected as a parish councillor last summer. I am also an elected school parent governor. I joined Respect after getting involved in Stop the War campaigns.

Groundswell of opposition beats Lancashire health privatisation

Campaigners in Preston are celebrating a decisive victory against the privatisation of health services.

Birmingham protest against A&E closure

Birmingham Respect supporters joined a 40-strong protest on New Year’s Day against plans to scale down the accident and emergency service at City hospital. There has been major opposition to the plans from local people


Miners’ in Poland win strike over pay

Polish miners have won a major victory after only one day of strike action.

Pakistan in crisis after Benazir Bhutto’s death

What effect will Benazir Bhutto’s death have on president Pervez Musharraf’s chances of remaining in power?



SWP conference plans for a year of challenges and opportunities

The annual conference of the Socialist Workers Party took place last weekend. Hundreds of delegates assessed the previous year’s work and planned for the future. In the following articles we summarise some of the key discussions

The scope of the economic crisis

‘Normally the days between Christmas and the new year are a period when absolutely nothing happens. But the end of last year saw a series of events which indicate the scale of the political and economic instability that currently grips global capitalism.

Strong branches are key to building an effective SWP

SWP national secretary Martin Smith opened the session by explaining the need for strong local branches of the party.

‘Complete disgust’ with Labour provides a space for radicals

The Labour government’s ongoing crisis and the urgent necessity of a left wing alternative shaped the debates at the conference.

Push for joint action

SWP industrial organiser Charlie Kimber opened the session saying, "Current anger over the pay freeze can be a lightning rod for a raft of issues. It also encourages workers in different unions to push for joint action.

Other sessions

Stop the War Chris Nineham introduced a session on the party’s work in the Stop the War Coalition. Chris said, "The anti-war movement has been incredibly resilient through over six years of organising. Despite the successes of the movement the ‘war on terror’ is far from over.

US politics: are the Democrats any different?

The battle to see who will be the next president of the US began last week with the Democrat and Republican parties holding caucuses in the state of Iowa to begin choosing their candidate. The 2008 election is going to be the most expensive election campaign in history.

Behind the turmoil in Kenya

Rioting began in Kenya after sitting president Mwai Kibaki was declared winner in presidential elections on 27 December. Opposition leader Raila Odinga challenged the result, accusing the ruling party of ballot rigging.

Kenya's rulers are allies of the West

The US sees Kenya as a strategic ally in the "war on terror" particularly as it borders countries including Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. The government has allowed military bases for both the US and Britain, as well as anchorage in Mombasa for naval vessels.

The brutal legacy of Britain’s colonial rule in Kenya

Ken Olende looks how British intervention has shaped Kenya's problems

Hegemony: the struggle for ideological dominance

Capitalism is a system that brings misery to millions of people throughout the world.


Nick Broomfield's The Battle for Haditha - special showing

Respect is hosting this special showing in London of director Nick Broomfield’s as yet unreleased film detailing events on 19 November 2005 that led to the massacre of 24 Iraqis by US troops in the city of Haditha.

Love Music Hate Racism carnival coming in April

This year sees the 30th anniversary of the legendary Anti Nazi League/Rock Against Racism carnival at Victoria Park that drew some 80,000 to performances from The Clash, The Tom Robinson Band, Steel Pulse and X‑Ray Spex.

2008 preview: cinema, paintings and plays for socialists to see

The new year will see a host of films, exhibitions and theatre work of interest to socialists.

Rainer Werner Fassbinder and the art of political melodrama

Rainer Werner Fassbinder – widely considered the greatest German director to emerge since the Second World War – is the subject of a huge DVD reissue programme at the moment.

What We Think

Labour and the Tories share welfare agenda

The Tories have announced draconian new plans to disqualify people from claiming benefits and force existing claimants into unpaid work – and the first to be targeted will be those claiming incapacity benefit.

Other Categories

Tim: secretly funding


A fantastic boost for anti-racists in Hull Just before the Christmas holidays there was a brilliant Love Music Hate Racism (LMHR) event in Hull.

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