Socialist Worker

Socialist Worker

Issue: 2182

Dated: 19 Dec 2009

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BA cabin crew take on union‑buster

The battle lines between union-busting British Airways (BA) boss Willie Walsh and 14,000 cabin crew workers have been drawn.

International Comment Features Reviews What We Think Other


Table showing regional rankings by PFI debt per taxpayer


Put Blair on trial for his war crimes

Tony Blair finally admitted last week what millions of people in the anti-war movement have known for years – that he was intent on going to war in Iraq whether the country posed a threat or not.

Vigils after 100th British death in Afghanistan

Stop the War groups last week held events to commemorate the 100th British soldier killed in Afghanistan this year. This grim milestone comes as US president Barack Obama and Gordon Brown send more troops to the country.

Drop the charges against soldier Joe Glenton

Joe Glenton, a British soldier who has refused to return to the war in Afghanistan, was released from military prison in Colchester last week.

Police report into death of Blair Peach may finally be released

The report into the death of Anti Nazi League and Socialist Workers Party member Blair Peach in 1979 got a step closer to seeing the light of day this week.

Racists beaten again in Harrow

The racist campaign against the Harrow mosque in north west London suffered another humiliating defeat last Sunday as hundreds of anti-fascists came out to defend the Muslim community.

Fujitsu strikers to hit Scrooge bosses with six days of national action

Workers at the IT services giant Fujitsu are set to take part in six days of nationwide strikes to defend jobs and pension provision.

Bus workers defy bribes and head to picket lines

Over 1,000 bus drivers in Leeds defied bribes of a "Christmas bonus" by striking over pay last Saturday.

‘Electrifying’ tour calls for Israel boycott

Leaders from South Africa’s freedom struggle joined a key Palestinian activist for an electrifying tour of meetings last week.

Ballot in support of sacked 2 Sisters workers

Around 380 workers at the 2 Sisters food processing plant in Smethwick, West Midlands, are balloting for strikes over the sacking of 59 employees at the factory.

UAF Wales has launch success

Over 30 representatives of trade unions, political parties and other campaigns met for the official launch of Unite Against Fascism (UAF) Wales last week.

Protest grows to stop playwright Lydia Besong’s deportation

The campaign to release human rights activist and playwright Lydia Besong, currently in Yarslwood detention centre where she faces deportation to Cameroon, received a boost last week when 100 supporters rallied in Manchester.

Barnsley bakers strike to save dough

Over 100 members of the BFAWU bakers’ union at La Baguette Doree bakery in Barnsley held a four day strike last week.

Unison activist John McDermott notified of union disciplinary hearing

Well-known Unison union activist John McDermott has been notified that a formal disciplinary hearing will be convened to hear allegations arising out of his attempt to take up the national executive seat he was elected to.

Gangster construction boss jailed

Bosses are stealing millions of pounds from construction workers’ national insurance contributions and taxes.

Defending Juan Carlos

Supporters of victimised cleaner and trade unionist Juan Carlos Piedra protested twice last week to demand he is reinstated to work at University College London (UCL).

Strike to save civil service jobs

More than a quarter of a million civil service workers could be striking in the new year against a major attack on their conditions.

Royal Mail profits up

Startling profit figures released by Royal Mail last week give the lie to bosses’ claims that the company must ram through cuts or die.

Teachers vote to boycott Sats

Teachers will hold a formal ballot on whether to boycott hated Sats tests after the NUT union last week announced that 75 percent of those voting in an indicative ballot want action.

Growing fight against cuts in further and higher education

London College of Communication Lecturers at the London College of Communication are set to ballot for industrial action against the threat of compulsory redundancies.

250 at defend Whittington hospital meeting

A quickly organised meeting to defend the Whittington hospital in north London last week saw more than 250 angry residents and health workers come together to demand that the hospital’s accident and emergency unit is safeguarded.

Habib Ullah vigil planned

The family and friends of Habib "Paps" Ullah, who died in police custody last year, are to hold a vigil on what would have been Habib’s 41st birthday.

Mikey Powell inquest hears ambulance request tape

Evidence is continuing to be heard at an inquest into the death of Mikey Powell. Mikey died six years ago in a prison cell at Thornhill Road police station after being arrested outside his family home in Lozells, Birmingham.

Chelmsford cab drivers protest against deregulation

About 50 taxi drivers in Chelmsford, Essex, demonstrated last Saturday against the council’s deregulation of licenses.

Rail round-up

Signal workers Signalling staff in the Wales and the Marches Operations area began a six-day strike on Monday of this week.

Ticket office closures will make London’s tube less safe

London’s Tory mayor Boris Johnson is preparing a £5 billion cuts programme on London Underground, which will mean the closure of 144 station ticket offices and threats to 1,200 jobs.

Right to Work campaign grows ahead of conference of resistance and solidarity

Occupying the CBI’s Scottish headquarters Student supporters of the Right to Work campaign occupied the Scottish headquarters of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in Glasgow, taking their anger at cuts in education and services to Britain’s most powerful pro-business group.

‘Flood’ of protest hits Copenhagen

More than 100,000 protesters gathered in the Danish capital of Copenhagen last Saturday to demand that world leaders take serious action on climate change.

Pictures of Copenhagen demonstrations against climate change

Labour’s cuts mean a war on public services

In its prebudget statement, the government last week claimed it planned to squeeze the rich in an effort to boost income, and spare "core" public services from any serious cuts.

MPs' expenses: Austerity measures? Do as I say, not as I do

Despite the apparent need for austerity, MPs still managed to claim £10.7 million towards their second homes last year—an average of more than £17,000 for every MP outside inner London.

What a bunch of bankers

Within days of the government’s announcement of a one-off tax on bankers’ bonuses, the slimy boys in the City of London were already finding ways to avoid paying.

PFI con-trick costs us all

The government’s commitment to privatisation is putting schools, hospitals and the care of the vulnerable and elderly at risk—and it is costing us on average £8,400 each.

New pensions attack coming

Alistair Darling last week told Britain’s 5.8 million public sector workers that pay rises would be capped at just 1 percent and that their pension benefits could not last much longer.

Cabin crew get on board for a fightback

"We’re not a militant bunch of people, but we’ve been forced to do something," says Julie, a long haul cabin crew worker at British Airways (BA). "If we don’t stand up now we don’t know what will happen next."

London bus workers take to the picket line

Around 20 striking bus workers at CT Plus in Hackney, east London, braved the freezing cold to join a picket line early this morning. Their numbers were boosted as more strikers joined throughout the day.

Video of Unite meeting where the BA vote for action was announced

The footage shows the several thousand strong Unite union meeting at Sandown Park where BA cabin crew workers heard the overwhelming result of their vote for strike action, Monday 14 December 2009

Climate protests defy the police in Copenhagen

The demonstration "Reclaim Power" in Copenhagen on Wednesday of this week attracted several thousand Danish and international protesters.

Judge grants BA injunction to stop cabin crew strike

British Airways (BA) has won a court injunction to stop some 14,000 cabin crew workers from taking strike action. They were set to begin a 12-day strike on Tuesday of next week.

Mark Serwotka re-elected as PCS general secretary

Mark Serwotka has been re-elected as the general secretary of the PCS civil service workers’ union for a third term. PCS members voted by 63.4 percent to 36.6 percent for Serwotka against his right wing challenger Rob Bryson.

'Truth and justice' at Mikey Powell inquest

The family of Mikey Powell, who died in police custody in 2003, say the verdict of the inquest into his death has given them "truth and justice".

Fujitsu workers fight for pensions, jobs and pay with first national IT strike

Workers at the Fujitsu services company held the first ever national strike in the IT industry when they took action in defence of their jobs, pay and pensions on Friday. Big and lively picket lines were seen at Fujitsu offices across the country—including Manchester, Warrington, Crewe and Belfast—as the 1,600 Unite union members struck.

Support Christmas strikes at London Underground

EDF Around 120 London Underground workers employed by EDF Energy Powerlink began a series of strikes today (23 December).

London protest recalls Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza

About 500 people attended an angry protest outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington, West London on Sunday 27 December, marking the first anniversary of the invasion of Gaza that resulted in around 1,500 deaths.

Palestinian aid convoy heading for Gaza after being blocked by Egypt

The Gaza-bound Viva Palestina convoy is now on route via Syria after the Egyptian government blocked it in Jordan.

Picture of Glasgow vigil for Palestine on 27 December

Longstanding revolutionary Frank Henderson has died

Supporters of Socialist Worker will be sad to hear the news that longstanding revolutionary socialist Frank Henderson died on New Year’s Eve.


Conflict in Yemen was caused by imperialism

A vicious little war has broken out in the Middle East, along Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen. It is rooted in a struggle for control over the strategically vital Arab country.

Pakistan: faultline of the war on terror

Faced with growing anger in Britain at the bloody war in Afghanistan, prime minister Gordon Brown last month chose to put the blame for its failures on Pakistan.

What is the root of the crisis in Pakistan?

Pakistan was formed in 1947 when the British Empire partitioned the Indian subcontinent as it withdrew. The new state was proclaimed as a "Muslim nation", but it was made up of six different linguistic groups, each with different traditions.

Map of Pakistan and Afghanistan

Irish workers’ anger at brutal cuts held back

The economic crisis in Ireland has resulted in a series of vicious attacks on workers.

Austrian students will fight on

Students have been occupying the University of Vienna in Austria for more than three months.

Greece’s crisis is a warning to the world

Greece is braced for major struggle. Its government, which is deeply mired in the economic crisis, is planning a major assault on public spending.


This crisis is not our fault

As the winter nights draw in, many people will be worrying about whether they can afford to pay their gas and electricity bills.

A Tobin Tax won’t solve the problem

Is the Tobin Tax on international financial transfers an idea whose time has come? It has been endorsed by the United Nations, Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Financial Services Authority chair Lord Turner, and now the European Union (EU).


Voices Against War: resisting conflict

Eyebrows might be raised at the news that the Imperial War Museum in London is endorsing a new history of anti-war movements in Britain from the last century.

Sex education: youth, respect and equality

There have been right wing attacks on plans to incorporate sexual violence education into sex and relationships education in schools. What do you think about this?

Why there’s no such thing as ‘clean coal’

Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel there is. Burning coal to generate energy is responsible for around 40 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions and is the single biggest contributor to man-made carbon emissions.


Grimaces of the Weary Village

This is a dark and disturbing exhibition about life in the villages of Lithuania.

Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression

Morris Dickstein’s book explores the contradictions of the culture that grew up during the Depression.

Where the Wild Things Are

Spike Jonze and writer Dave Eggers have adapted Maurice Sendak’s classic 1963 children’s picture book for the cinema.

Photo of Mike Rosen at Bookmarks bookshop

2009: a year of terrifying, satirical and fascinating art

Michael Rosen One of the most tense and moving films I’ve ever seen is The White Ribbon. This tells the story of life in a small German village just before the First World War.

Rage Against the Machine Interview (from 2000)

Over 12,500 young people saw US band Rage Against the Machine and Asian Dub Foundation (ADF) at the Wembley Arena in London last week. The concert was like an anti-capitalist carnival. Stalls defending political prisoners Mumia Abu-Jamal and Satpal Ram ringed the arena. During the concert thousands of fans chanted, "Freedom for Mumia." School student Robyn Mills and Martin Smith talked to Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello.

What We Think

Climate summit has no solutions

The outcome of the UN climate talks at Copenhagen will be rises in carbon dioxide emissions. The draft texts provide a variety of ways for countries and companies to keep polluting.

Bosses caused BA’s problems

BA boss Willie Walsh, backed by torrents of drivel in the right wing media, says a strike by cabin crew will wreck the company.

Union leaders must match militant mood

Walsh has deliberately provoked this dispute. The Unite union has spent months trying to negotiate with him. It even came up with a cost-cutting plan of its own to save BA £140 million.

Other Categories

Leon Kuhn: Peddling Tory dogma

Tim: Solidarity action


Workers must back the new climate movement I was at the massive climate change demo on Saturday 5 December with other members of my NUT union branch. As teachers we were delighted to see how many young people and students were on such a lively demonstration.

Quotes from the week's news

"‘It helps to talk in rooms that are quiet&#8230; sweeping views across London seem to generate optimism. We can continue for as long as it takes, sending out for pizzas."Acas "chief conciliator" Peter Harwood

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