Saturday's protest to stop the war was big, loud, young and militant. A brilliant 20,000 marched through London streets. Banners and placards called for peace, and branded George Bush a war criminal.
Towering success for union
Thousands of council workers in Tower Hamlets, east London, struck on Thursday of last week against attacks on their employment conditions. Housing offices, parking, administration, libraries, and rent, benefits and repair services were all shut.
The national strike involving tens of thousands of members of the PCS civil servants' union in job centres and benefits offices is hanging in the balance. The group executive committee, which runs the dispute, is calling for a one-day strike on Tuesday 2 April-the day the government's flagship Jobcentre Plus scheme is officially launched.
Warwick University students organised a lively protest last week against the university's Centre for Education and Industry. This promotes education-industry links, and produces teaching packs for primary, secondary and further education.
Hundreds of BT workers have voted to strike against a plan to transfer them out of the company to a contractor and to attack their conditions, pay and pension rights. Workers in the D&DS section voted by 81 percent on an 80 percent turnout for strikes in a ballot.
Discord with Tony Blair in Liverpool
About 900 people heard Tony Benn speak at Liverpool's Philharmonic Theatre last week. Many in the audience voiced their discontent with New Labour, and attacked Tony Blair's love for fat cats and George W Bush. Socialist Alliance and anti-war leaflets were well received.
Over 2,000 rail workers brought services across the north of England and Scotland to a halt last week as they struck over pay. "This is a demonstration of the power of rail workers to hit back, not least over privatisation," one picket in the RMT union in Newcastle told Socialist Worker.
"Socialism is alive and kicking in every corner of Scotland." That was how Tommy Sheridan, national convenor of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), opened the party's fourth annual conference in Dundee on Saturday of last week. "Labour has been transformed from the party of the millions to the party of the millionaires and the multi-millionaires," Sheridan said. The SSP, by contrast, had "a vision of an independent Scottish socialist republic where pensioners are more important than profits, kids are more important than cash, and people are more important than big business". The SSP, he said, was "internationalist to the core".
Votes for strike action over pay will set the mood for this year's annual delegate conference of the NUJ journalists' union in Eastbourne. Four local newspaper workplace union branches have now voted for strike ballots. This is after one half-day strike brought victory for journalists at the Bradford Telegraph and Argus group.
Postal Workers will hold a national demonstration in a week's time. Thousands will march through London protesting at plans to hand over the mail to private firms. This is a great chance to take the anger against privatisation and the rundown of public services onto the streets.
"We're not militant, but now it's come to the crunch. We've finally had enough, and we're fighting." That's how medical secretary Susan Mann summed up the mood on an angry and lively picket line outside Sunderland Royal Hospital on Tuesday of this week. She was one of 90 low paid women health workers on the picket line at the start of their three-day strike. All of them had the same message. They are fed up of being treated like low paid dogsbodies. Medical secretaries across the north east of England have been fighting to win a higher grade and better pay.
STOP THEIR WAR
"ACTION AGAINST Iraq will be top of the agenda." That's how Tony Blair's official spokesman sums up the meeting planned between Blair and George W Bush in six weeks time. Bush has made it clear he is eager to blast Iraq, and Blair is cheering on the plan.
In South east London last weekend Moonbow Jake's cafe bar was packed with people discussing and debating Muhammad Ali and the spirit of the 60s. Jason Halal, an American student at Goldsmiths' College, has written an article for the student magazine on the forum:
The national dispute by tens of thousands of benefits office and job centre workers in the PCS civil servants' union has taken another major blow. The group executive committee, which runs the dispute and is dominated by the Left Unity group, decided on Monday of this week to recommend no action until a one-day strike for Tuesday 2 April. This is the day that New Labour's flagship Jobcentre Plus welfare scheme is officially launched.
Some 377 CWU union members who work in the D&DS section of BT are being balloted to take strike action against plans to transfer them to a contractor, ComputaCentre. At a meeting of around 40 union members in London last week there was a heated exchange between the audience and a national executive member.
National Union of Journalists (NUJ) members are celebrating winning union recognition at Emap Healthcare and Public Sector Management magazines after a campaign lasting nearly four years. The victory is significant-Emap, a major media group, derecognised trade unions a decade ago.
Some 800 TGWU union members from Manchester airport and their supporters marched through the centre of Manchester last Saturday during a 36-hour strike. This followed a series of lively one-hour stoppages in February. Their managers are demanding that the workers accept new contracts which cut their pay by 40 percent. They will lose their jobs if they do not.
A Stop the War Coalition teach-in took place in Nottingham last Saturday. Around 60 people engaged in a series of dynamic discussions. The final rally included Lindsey German, the editor of Socialist Review, Neil Kingsnorth of Yorkshire CND, and Alan Simpson, the local Labour MP.
Over 150 trade union activists marched through driving snow and winds to lobby the Scottish Labour Party conference in Perth last Saturday. Some coaches were prevented from attending due to the snowfalls. John McAllion, the Labour MSP, spoke at a rally against privatisation after the lobby.