TONY BLAIR has cynically taken advantage of last week's tragic attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon to try to squash opposition to his privatisation drive.
AMAZINGLY, Tony Blair launched a vicious attack on refugees at the very start of the speech he refused to give to the TUC. In the week when we faced the prospect of a war that could create thousands more refugees, Blair attacked those trying to flee persecution and repression. At the same time his friend John Howard, the prime minister of Australia, was still refusing to let hundreds of refugees, who have suffered the most life threatening conditions at sea, land in Australia.
The full horror of the attacks in the US was breaking as Socialist Worker went to press. Very many innocent people had been killed or injured.
NEW LABOUR trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt went down like a lead balloon on the first day of the TUC conference in Brighton. Her whole speech was listened to in complete silence, even when she went out of her way to try to persuade delegates that she was "on their side". She got just a few seconds of polite applause at the end. There were sniggers from some delegates when she referred to "minor differences" with the trade unions.
TONY BLAIR claims the government will protect the jobs and conditions of workers in PFI privatisation schemes. He should tell that to the health workers at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. They are to be axed even before the flagship PFI hospital opens.
WOODFORD Green postal workers in east London came out from work last week to show their support for the demonstration in two week's time at Labour's conference.
"WE STRUCK without a ballot. And we won in five hours-not the five weeks it would have taken if we'd stuck with the anti-union laws." That is how one firefighter on Merseyside sums up the lessons of a magnificent walkout on Monday.
ENGINEERS AT Daimler Chrysler, the major Mercedes Benz garage in Edgware Road, west London, struck on two days last week against a new shift working system. After six months of negotiations the company has announced it will make the entire technician workforce redundant at the end of October in order to impose new contracts.
THOUSANDS OF lecturers in the NATFHE union could strike for two days in October in a dispute over pay. Around 42,000 lecturers are to be balloted on whether to accept a 3.7 percent offer from management.
SOME 30 people attended an excellent meeting of the Colombia Solidarity Campaign in London last Saturday. The focus of the campaign is opposition to the US-backed Plan Colombia, a military intervention in the South American country.
HUNDREDS OF Benefits Agency and Employment Service civil servants in the PCS union in south west London and Brent in west London are continuing their indefinite strike action. It is against management proposals to remove screens. The strikers all work in the government's new Pathfinder scheme.
ROSSINGTON miners, near Doncaster, are continuing their struggle over bonuses. The official strike is now starting its fifth week. The miners want the bonus to kick in when the pit has produced 17,500 tonnes a week. UK Coal has offered to pay it at 21,500 tonnes a week.
DEREK DOBBINS, Socialist Alliance candidate, gained 2.5 percent of the vote in a council by-election in Gloucester last week. The Scottish Socialist Party's Mary Ward won 5.3 percent of the vote in a council by-election in Dundee.
SOME 230 people demonstrated in Hereford on Saturday against the impact of a PFI scheme on the Hereford Hospitals Trust. Over half the protesters were health workers. "This is supposed to be Middle England," one told Socialist Worker. "But we are protesting because jobs and services are under threat due to privatisation.
STAFF AT the University of Birmingham surprised their bosses on Friday of last week by driving in convoy into Chancellor's Court, which is reserved for senior management. Once there they covered their cars with union banners and posters protesting against proposed car parking charges.
THE CRUNCH is coming over privatisation in the Post Office. This week the postal regulator, PostComm, was expected to announce that it was awarding licences to private company Hays DX for mail collection and delivery. Hays wants to operate in the business districts of London, Edinburgh and Manchester, cherry-picking mail that is easy to move.
GLASGOW Campaign to Defend Council Housing held a lobby of the Glasgow City Council meeting on Thursday of last week. Around 40 people attended the meeting.
BOTH the RMT and ASLEF rail unions are to ballot members on London Underground in a dispute over pay. London Underground Limited (LUL) has already rejected the report of an independent mediator. This recommended a miserly pay increase of 4 percent and talks on the other aspects of the unions' claim.
PLANS FOR major strikes against privatisation were given a boost on Monday, when over 500 UNISON members in Newcastle City Council voted for action. This will now trigger a one-day strike, probably on Friday 28 September, which could see up to 9,000 workers out across the city. The workers balloted are mainly staff in information technology and street lighting departments of the Labour-run council.
PRODUCTION workers at the Royal Shakespeare Company are to strike this weekend over redundancies. The dispute will threaten disruption to performances in Stratford-upon-Avon, says the BECTU union.