Post Office bosses are threatening to privatise 3,500 jobs unless unofficial strikes stop. This blackmailing ultimatum comes in a letter from Post Office managing director David Morphey. He says that unless the strikes stop the Cash Handling and Distribution function, with its 3,500 workers, could be handed over to Securicor.
Protesters disrupted a lecture by George Robertson, the general secretary of NATO, at Dundee University last Saturday. They were protesting against his warmongering in the Balkans two years ago and the bombing of Baghdad the night before. They succeeded in stopping his talk, and the protest was covered in the Scottish Post.
Over 100 people demonstrated at the "Save our Schools" event in Bristol last Saturday. The protest was a spontaneous response to the council's sham referendum over the council tax. The result means the Labour council will make millions of pounds of cuts to the education budget. The message from teachers, parents and the community was, "No way will we accept this ludicrous situation that could see 180 teachers sacked." Over 650 signatures were collected, and many pledged to come to an open planning meeting on 1 March.
Up to 16,000 engineers working for ADT, Britain's largest fire and security company, have this week voted to suspend their strike action. The workers have been taking a series of four-day strikes over a pay claim. The strikes have disrupted ADT's out of hours service, and managers have been forced to staff local offices.
Workers in the GMB union at Glasgow airport are to be balloted over strike action in protest over the sacking of a union representative. GMB Scottish secretary Robert Parker said, "GMB Scotland believes that British Airways (BA) set up our member. "BA needs to be aware that we will take whatever action to reinstate the sacked union rep."
Peugeot management have struck again, this time on our pay claim. They stated in a recent communication that the percentages they offer are the biggest in the industry. But Peugeot employees are some of the lowest paid in the industry. We find this an insult.
George W Bush
These two men bombed Iraqi children just to keep control of oil
A Two-day carnival-like event took place in Montpellier, southern France, last week. It was a 15,000-strong protest against globalisation that saw people pack into meetings on everything from how to fight the multinationals to the threat to privatise public services under the planned GATS trade agreement. There was also an inspiring march, with students, peasants and trade unionists chanting what has become the slogan of the movement: "The world is not for sale!"
University research is being hijacked by big business. University departments are increasingly taking funding from the companies whose products they are supposed to be "investigating". Scientists at Imperial College, Berkshire, did a ten-year study of GM crops, and concluded that GM crops were no more likely to be bad for the environment than conventional ones.
Tony Blair used his speech to Labour's spring conference last weekend to warn against cynicism. New Labour is scared that its "core supporters" won't vote. Blair has no one to blame but himself for betraying people's hopes. Gordon Brown launched New Labour's election campaign with a speech condemning child poverty as a "scar on the soul of Britain". But a new report released this week shows that:
How could anyone be cynical about New Labour? The party came to power promising to end the stink of sleaze and corruption that enveloped the Tories. Now we see:
Tony Blair held a pre-election lunch for 23 of the top "captains of industry" last week. Its theme was "competitiveness". It aimed to reassure business that they need not be worried if the government uses any "radical" rhetoric in order to motivate its core supporters to get out and vote. Among the guests were:
The ISTC steel union last week dismissed as a "cruel fantasy" the scheme by telecom firm EXI to find jobs for 4,000 redundant steel workers. The company's offer was backed by leaders of the AEEU union. EXI presently employs just 1,700 in 30 countries worldwide. ISTC leader Michael Leahy said the idea that it could generate thousands of jobs in Britain was "far fetched to say the least".
BG Group, the integrated gas business, more than doubled its profits last year. Its profits rose by 153 percent to £425 million-and came after the record profits announced by BP, Shell and Exxon. Yet despite this record haul, the cost of gas is going up by 4 percent in a few weeks time.
Workers at Vauxhall motors were to strike on Thursday of this week. They planned to hit back at General Motors, one of the world's biggest corporations. GM wants to close down its Vauxhall motors plant in Luton and sack 2,000 workers.
Workers at the Rolls Royce aerospace plant in Ansty, near Coventry, are to strike for the day next Monday. Skilled engineers at the plant have already taken one day's solid strike action against the company's plan to sack over 1,000 workers and to move work to Bristol and Canada. "The company has not shifted at all," says an MSF rep at the plant. "Everyone is solidly behind more strike action."
The Government was in a deepening hole over its plans for privatising London's tube network at the beginning of this week-and more strikes could be on the way. Talks between deputy prime min ister John Prescott and London mayor Ken Livingstone's transport supremo Bob Kiley restarted on Monday. They had collapsed last week after Prescott went back on an earlier pledge to overhaul his PPP privatisation scheme.
New Labour faces still more problems with its plan to privatise the national air traffic control service before the general election. Independent safety advisers have handed their report on the three different private bidders over to the government. There are serious worries about two of them. Lockheed-Martin has had huge problems trying to install computer software at the new air traffic centre at Swanwick in Hampshire.
"Railtrack is facing bankruptcy. It cannot survive as it is without the injection of further government money." That is the verdict of officials in the Strategic Rail Authority, the government's rail watchdog.
A meeting called by the Fire Brigades Union in north London to oppose privatisation and support tube workers showed the potential for solidarity with the fight to stop the tube sell-off. Some 120 people came to the meeting in Islington on Thursday of last week. There were groups of firefighters, post office workers, tube drivers and station staff, teachers, council workers and others.