A leaked report from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) confirmed this week that the drive to privatise London's tube has compromised safety. It listed 69 "significant" issues which London Underground management have not resolved.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), the body responsible for last year's exams crisis in Scotland where 17,000 pupils got the wrong results, has admitted that it could make mistakes on an even greater scale this year.
Around 1,800 Passport Office workers in the PCS civil servants' union are to be balloted for strikes over pay. The workers rejected management's pay offer by nine to one in a ballot. "It shows the underlying bitterness of people for the low pay we face and the work we have to do," one Passport Office worker told Socialist Worker.
Around 1,000 people marched through Birmingham last Saturday to demand an end to privatisation of public services. There were 36 banners on the march including the local RAGE campaign against the closure of elderly people's homes, Defend Council Housing, the regional FBU and UCATT union banners, and several from local Socialist Alliance groups.
Teachers in London and Doncaster were to begin refusing to cover for a record number of vacancies this week, following overwhelming ballots for industrial action. The action, by members of the NUT and NASUWT unions, came just as a survey published in the Times Educational Supplement (TES) found that secondary schools in England and Wales are short of about 10,000 teachers. Teachers in more and more areas are voting for action. Ballots are under way in Leicester, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Portsmouth, Southampton, Manchester, Reading and Kent.
Two hundred of us protested outside the new Gap store in Sheffield last Saturday. A group of under 16 year olds went into Gap to demand jobs, as Gap employs children their age in other countries. We blockaded the road through the town centre before the police dragged us off the road.
Students took action on Thursday of last week as part of a week of action called by the National Union of Students against top-up fees and student hardship.
Thousands of council workers in Hackney, east London, were to strike this week against cuts, redundancies and worse conditions. The action was planned for Wednesday, the local budget day as well as Gordon Brown's.
Hundreds of sixth formers and other students greeted Tony Blair with a noisy protest against tuition fees outside the Welsh Labour Party conference in Swansea last week.
Trade Unionists at Basildon College in Essex have won a final victory over Basildon College Corporation, with the announcement of the resignation of the principal, Chris Chapman. He was responsible for creating a climate of bullying and intimidation. The resignation was the result of a determined struggle by students, trade unionists and local socialists.
Exeter, in the south west of England, is the kind of Middle England town so beloved of Tony Blair and New Labour. Labour won the seat from the Tories in 1997, with a swing of nearly 12 percent. Many cheered when Labour's Ben Bradshaw, who is openly gay, beat Tory bigot Adrian Rogers.
Carolyn Leckie is branch secretary for North Glasgow Hospitals UNISON union and the Scottish Socialist Party's health spokesperson. She is a single parent with two children and will be an SSP candidate in the general election:
Socialist Worker spoke to some of the people on last Saturday's demonstration against privatisation in Birmingham about why they're supporting the Socialist Alliance. STEVE GODWARD is the divisional secretary of the West Midlands Fire Brigades Union:
The Socialist Alliance launched its general election campaign this week. People across Britain now have the chance to say a resounding no to Tony Blair's pro-market, pro-privatisation policies, and to vote for a socialist alternative.
High profile figures like playwright Harold Pinter are backing the Socialist Alliance. He says, "There has to be positive and practical resistance to 'big business' government, and the Socialist Alliance has to be it. This country is doomed if we can't organise and support an energetic and determined alternative force, for which social justice is an aspiration which will not be surrendered." Film director Ken Loach is also offering his support.
Instant camera firm Polaroid plans to sack 235 workers at its Dumbartonshire factory in Scotland despite soaring profits. Polaroid's profits jumped from £5.2 million to £22 million last year. One worker facing the axe said, "They are throwing people on the scrapheap so the bosses can rake in cash." One of those who could be handing out redundancy notices is "human resources" director Alistair Liddell, who is married to New Labour Scottish secretary Helen Liddell.
Teachers in London and Doncaster voted by nine to one this week for action to end the scandal of teacher shortages. They will not cover for vacant posts and long term absences. There is a national shortage of supply teachers, who are meant to fill gaps caused by full time vacancies.
Multinational car firm Peugeot is telling workers at its plant near Coventry to work harder, and is refusing to give them a decent pay rise. Yet Peugeot has just announced a leap in profits, up 80 percent to a huge £818 million. Last week Peugeot workers showed what they thought of that by throwing out the company's pay offer by an 82 percent majority.
Two Socialist Workers Party national delegate meetings last weekend discussed the huge challenge posed by the election. Both were brimming with enthusiasm at the prospect of the biggest and broadest ever left wing challenge to Labour.
Over 220 people attended a meeting in Conway Hall in London on Tuesday of last week to kickstart Globalise Resistance's mobilisation for the G8 summit in Genoa, Italy. Everybody who was there is planning to travel to Genoa on 20-22 July to protest at the summit, where leaders from the world's eight richest countries will gather.