WORKERS AT the Caterpillar factory in Peterlee, County Durham, staged their third one-day strike on Tuesday. They are fighting a plan by the US multinational to freeze their pay, impose flexible shift patterns and undermine other longstanding agreements.
Some 150,000 postal workers started a national strike ballot this week over pay. They are fighting management's attempt to hold down pay and to squeeze even more work out of fewer people.
Tens of thousands of civil servants are set to strike next Monday and Tuesday. The workers are PCS union members in benefits offices and job centres. They are striking against New Labour's plans to remove safety screens in the amalgamated benefit agencies and job centres being set up.
Sit-in rattles Mersey bin bosses
BIN WORKERS in Liverpool staged a sit-in at their depot on Monday, furious at the way they were being treated by bosses. The 250 workers at the Fazakerley depot work for the private firm Onyx, which has the contract for the city's rubbish collection. Their bosses had made a cock-up and paid the workers double pay at Christmas. Workers had themselves pointed this mistake out to the company and understood that they would pay it back in instalments.
Alan Milburn's plan to ram through even more privatisation in the NHS sent shock waves through the Unison executive last week. A meeting of the union's health executive was so stunned that its business was suspended to allow people to take stock of Milburn's plan and discuss our response.
WHAT PRIVATE healthcare really means was underlined by a shocking case last week. The inquest into the death of Laura Touche uncovered a catalogue of practices at the exclusive Portland private hospital which the coroner said were "a cause for public concern".
NEW LABOUR has betrayed its promise to widen access to higher education. The proportion of students from working class backgrounds or with disabilities has slumped in the last seven years. The total number of such students is unchanged, says the National Audit Office, while the numbers of students overall has grown.
ONE OF the government's flagship privatisation schemes is on the verge of collapse just seven months on. The New Labour government sold 46 percent of the NATS air traffic control service to a private consortium including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Ministers said the sell-off would improve the service and save money.
HOW MUCH more can the Palestinian people suffer? Israel has launched its harshest incursion since the Intifida began 16 months ago. This comes after Israel used US-supplied F16 jets to destroy the Palestinian police headquarters in the town of Tulkarm on the West Bank last Friday. Israeli tanks and troops seized Tulkarm, imposing curfews, checkpoints and house to house searches, forcing people from their homes.
TONY BLAIR wants an elite of 3,000 top civil servants to double their pay to £180,000. But he is fighting hard to keep rail workers and postal workers on poverty pay. He has denounced the rail workers' strikes for decent pay. The Post Office, run by the government, has offered a rise of 2 percent, 70p a day, to 150,000 Royal Mail workers.
THE TREATMENT of Zimbabwean asylum seekers has underlined the inhuman way Britain treats refugees. For months, while top government figures denounced Zimbabwe's human rights record, Zimbabwean asylum seekers were sent back to torture and death. Now, after an intense campaign and under huge pressure, the government says it will temporarily halt deportations to Zimbabwe.
THE SCOTTISH Executive this week looked set to delay its introduction of free personal care for the elderly for three months. The executive was meant to introduce free personal care this April. Now its introduction could be delayed until the autumn.
DO YOU want your local hospital run by management consultants like PriceWaterhouseCoopers or KPMG? That is the logic of the plans announced by health secretary Alan Milburn this week.
OVER 140,000 people are convicted of drug offences in Britain every year. Most of them do not receive the kid glove treatment Prince Harry got. About three quarters of those convicted are charged with cannabis possession-the offence Prince Harry has admitted to.
"TUITION FEES are to stay." So reported the Mirror newspaper this week. The government said it would review tuition fees after it admitted it was one of its most unpopular polices. The results of the review are due at the end of this month.
DOMESTIC politics have returned powerfully to the United States, as further revelations have come out over the collapse of energy giant Enron. As Socialist Worker showed in its 8 December issue, the scandal will reverberate for a long time to come.
THE TUC has forecast that 150,000 manufacturing jobs will be slashed in 2002. This week Marconi, the giant telecoms group, was threatening to slash 4,000 jobs worldwide. That could mean over 1,000 workers in Britain are set to lose their jobs, on top of the 3,000-plus jobs Marconi has already slashed.
AROUND 70 people joined a Marxist forum on "Women's liberation in the 21st century" in Manchester at the weekend. Sheila Rowbotham, a leading socialist feminist writer, joined Lindsey German, author of Sex, Class and Socialism, to lead off the forum. After a question and answer session with the speakers the forum broke into discussion groups. Maryam Choudhary, a further education student in Manchester, brought her friend Kate from college: "If you ask people to come they will. I wasn't apprehensive about it at all. It was really good to hear everyone else's views, not just the views of our teachers."
AROUND 150,000 Royal Mail workers are voting on a national strike over pay. At present their basic pay is around £250 a week before tax. Royal Mail bosses want them to accept a pay deal worth just 2 percent. Hard-working people, many working outdoors in all weathers and early in the morning, have been offered just £5 a week.
"WE WILL never give up fighting to find out who killed my brother, Roger Sylvester. We have found out that the police, judiciary and Crown Prosecution Service all work together to protect a system of injustice" said Bernard Sylvester. He spoke out as over 100 people joined a candlelit vigil on Friday of last week called by the family of Roger Sylvester, a young black man who died in police custody three years ago.