"This is about our union leaders letting New Labour off the hook," was how a worker in East Ayrshire council reacted to the news that leaders of the UNISON union are calling off strikes by council workers across Scotland. Workers in other Scottish councils had the same reaction. "There's a feeling of shock, of betrayal," argued a worker in Inverclyde council. "The union leaders are trying to ditch the fight, to help out New Labour in the run-up to the general election."
Solidarity is flowing in from trade unionists around the country for the strike by health workers in Dudley in the West Midlands. Trade unionists have countered the mainstream media's news blackout on the strike by raising solidarity in their workplaces. The 600 ancillary workers were set to begin a further three-week strike on Wednesday in their battle against being transferred out of the NHS under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI).
Privatisation wrecks railways
TEN THOUSAND manufacturing jobs a month will go this year, says TUC union leader John Monks. If, as most economic commentators predict, the US boom ends, then thousands more will be destroyed. But there are important signs of resistance. Workers are angry at being playthings of the system's rollercoaster boom and bust. Even union leaders who instinctively back Tony Blair are appalled at the results of New Labour's jobs policy. But only pressure from workers will make them turn their words into deeds.
LONDON Underground workers were to begin ballots for strike action this week after management rejected union demands to preserve safety and staffing levels. The ASLEF and RMT unions are fighting the effects of New Labour's proposed PPP privatisation of the tube. The dispute hits at the heart of New Labour's privatisation mania. Strikes on the tube have the potential to kill the sell-off and add to the pressure on the government to renationalise the railway.
TENANTS AND trade unionists are preparing for a major lobby of parliament against council house privatisation on Wednesday 24 January. The lobby has been called to demand that New Labour drops its attempt to end council housing and force through the privatisation of all remaining 3.2 million council homes in Britain.
SIGNALS IN the area of the 1999 Paddington rail crash were "exceptionally difficult" for drivers to see and did not comply with industry standards. That was the conclusion of the official Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inquiry into the Paddington disaster, in which 31 people were killed when two trains smashed into each other.
HEALTH WORKERS in Dudley in the West Midlands struck for three weeks over Christmas and got a huge boost from the solidarity they received. Over 250 strikers and their families tasted the level of support at a party just before Christmas.
NATO MILITARY chiefs are under growing pressure to investigate a possible link between depleted uranium shells used by its forces in its bombing of Kosovo and a spate of deaths from cancer. Italy's military prosecutor is examining five deaths of military personnel who were in Kosovo.
RESEARCH BY the Health and Safety Executive, due to be published later this month, has uncovered intolerable working conditions and stress levels at call centres.
MICHAEL HESELTINE last week joined Tory leader William Hague's filthy campaign to play the race card in the run-up to the election. The man Tony Blair claims is a "one-nation Tory" launched a vicious attack on asylum seekers. "Let's not mince our language here," he said, claiming that most refugees were "bogus".
THOUSANDS OF council workers in Hackney, east London, struck for a day on 20 December in a big escalation of the battle against cuts pushed through by the ruling Tory-Labour coalition. The action before Christmas was extremely effective and needs to be built on now, because very serious challenges lie ahead. The unions organised emergency cover, but apart from that there was an almost total shutdown in both the manual and white collar services.
POSTAL workers will face serious challenges this year as reports in the press are saying that Post Office bosses and the government are preparing to attack them and their CWU union. Fortunately there are plenty of signs that postal workers are prepared to resist any attacks.
LABOUR WON the by-election in Falkirk West by the thinnest of majorities just before Christmas. Labour's majority of 13,800 in 1997 was slashed to just 705 over the Scottish National Party (SNP).
TRADE UNION officials rammed through an appalling deal at Luton airport just as workers were expecting to launch strike action over the Christmas holiday. Members of the TGWU union voted narrowly to accept the deal, by 217 to 179, the week before Christmas.
RICHARD Branson, Tony Blair's favourite boss, is trying to block the recognition of the AEEU union on his Virgin Atlantic airways. Around 1,400 of Virgin's cabin staff, just over half the workforce, have joined the union.
OVER 50 union activists attended a meeting in central London on the Tuesday before Christmas to celebrate the election of socialist Mark Serwotka as the general secretary of the 260,000-strong civil servants' union, the PCS. Mark argued that his election victory against a Blairite candidate showed the anger ordinary members feel over the betrayals of New Labour and the right wing leadership of the union.
BUS DRIVERS in the West Midlands last month voted to reject a five-year pay deal which could lead to a ballot over strike action in the new year. This was the fourth time Travel West Midlands bosses have put the offer to the drivers, who rejected it by 1,509 votes to 1,292. The drivers are angry that the deal still means new drivers will get less pay than longstanding workers.
LABOUR MEMBERS of the Scottish Parliament have given fresh life to the barbaric procedure of warrant sales. At these sales people in debt can have their possessions dragged onto the streets...
"WE DON'T want our lungs turned brown, shut the cancer factory down," chanted around 100 people as they marched through Edmonton in north London last Saturday...