Socialist Worker


Did Berlusconi let these refugees drown?

Italian Prim Minister Silvio Berlusconi stands accused of letting more than 50 refugees drown when their ship sank off the ItaIian coast last week. The right wing Berlusconi is Tony Blair's closest political ally in the European Union.

Privatisation's original sin

Revelations about Gateshead's Emmanuel College shows where school privatisation leads. The college has been teaching fundamentalist Christian creationism and undermining the scientific teaching of biology. It hosted a conference on creationism last week, and senior staff have given lectures urging teachers to promote creationism instead of evolution.

Woodhead in the money

Chris Woodhead, the former head of the Ofsted schools inspectorate, this week became the latest to try to profit from the government's drive to privatise our schools.

Prime profits for PFI firm

Will a multinational construction firm be given prime land and allowed to shut down a hospital to make way for building luxury flats and houses? New Labour health secretary Alan Milburn gave the go-ahead last month to the biggest Private Finance Initiative scheme in the NHS at east London's Royal London Hospital.

Safety goes up in smoke

Safety campaigners are calling for an investigation into Shoreham dock, run by the Euromin firm, following a major fire there last week. The dock was where casual worker Simon Jones was killed four years ago. Last year Euromin and its manager, Richard Martell, were fined £50,000 plus £20,000 costs for breaches of health and safety law after Simon's death.

Disabled people protest

Up to 100 disabled people from Hackney, east London, held a successful rally and advice meeting on the steps of Hackney Town Hall on Friday of last week. We were protesting about the implementation of new criteria for qualifying for a "freedom pass", which enables disabled people to travel on public transport in London.

Left challenge to New Labour

The Socialist Alliance's campaign is taking off across England in the run-up to the local elections in seven weeks on 2 May. The alliance is hoping to stand over 100 candidates in London and over 300 across England. The mood for a socialist alternative to New Labour was seen in Scotland last week. The Scottish Socialist Party, the Socialist Alliance's sister organisation, won 16 percent in a local by-election.

Bradford strike electrifies conference

THE ISSUE of pay electrified the first day of the annual conference of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) held in Eastbourne last week. Successful strike action by workers at the Bradford Telegraph and Argus group of papers has been a major boost to the fight against low pay. Conference delegates greeted Sarah Walsh, a leading member of the Bradford NUJ workplace union chapel, with massive applause.

Principled and angry action

LECTURERS AND technical support staff in the Natfhe union at Southampton City College struck for the whole of last week over pay and increasing workload. There was bitterness on the picket line towards the college principal, who derecognised the union at her previous college.


UNISON UNION members in Cardiff council are balloting for action in support of a union activist. Cardiff council sacked worker Charles Faber after he spoke to the BBC about the council's lack of resources in children's services.

Civil servants

STRIKERS FROM all over Britain lobbied the national executive meeting of the civil servants' PCS union last week. They were representing 750 people who work in the government's trial Pathfinder scheme which merges job centres and benefits offices. They have been on all-out strike since at least last October.

'We can fix low pay- yes, we can'

MEDICAL SECRETARIES in Sunderland were out in numbers on the picket line on Tuesday of this week. They have escalated their action to a four-day strike. The 136 women NHS workers are determined to up the pressure on their trust bosses to put them on a higher grade.

Post Office

LEADERS OF the CWU postal workers' union were set this week to recommend that workers accept a new pay offer in a postal ballot. The deal is a disgrace which will open the way to new assaults on jobs and conditions.

Stopping BNP breakthrough

THE NAZI British National Party (BNP) hopes to make a historic breakthrough in the local council elections in seven weeks time on 2 May. Anti-Nazi activists are mobilising to stop it. The annual conference of the Anti Nazi League (ANL) was held in Manchester last Saturday.


SIR KEN Jackson, Tony Blair's favourite union leader and arch right winger, is being forced to fight an election for general secretary for the first time in seven years. "It's like a thunderbolt for Ken Jackson to be challenged by anyone to the left of him," says Willie Black, a member of the AEEU section of Amicus.

Rover Longbridge

"IT'S FLEXIBLE working for the company, not for us. People are so fed up with it," said an MG Rover worker in Longbridge, Birmingham. Workers in the plant are voting this week in a ballot for action over pay and flexible working.

Otis and ICL

LIFT WORKERS employed by Otis, Britain's biggest lift manufacturer, began an national overtime ban last week over pay.


UNION LEADERS are to reballot hundreds of BT workers instead of calling the strikes the workers have voted for. Over 300 workers in the D&DS internal computer system support section of BT voted for action. They are opposing plans to hand them to contractor ComputaCenter. Transfer threatens workers' pay and conditions, and union organisation.

Payback time on track

Train drivers on ScotRail struck on Wednesday of last week and on Monday, bringing services across Scotland to a halt. At the same time non-drivers on Arriva, which runs trains across the north of England, were preparing for action over Easter. This is part of their fight over pay.

Postal workers must slay monster of privatisation

POSTAL WORKERS in the CWU union will take to the streets in London on Saturday to say no to privatisation. Postcomm, the postal regulator appointed by government, has proposed that private firms should be allowed to grab almost half the mail in Britain from April.

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