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BT throws down gauntlet to union


BT has issued a major challenge to its workers' CWU union, and the challenge looks set to spark a strike ballot. BT plans to transfer core workers to a private company.

London Unison, Teachers & Natfhe


Tens of thousands more workers in London are to be balloted on possible action over pay. Council workers, health workers, higher education admin workers and more could be united in a vote across the capital which could pave the way for action. We reported in Socialist Worker last week that delegates from Unison union branches across London had backed an indicative vote among council workers.

Welsh Socialist Alliance


The Welsh Socialist Alliance (WSA) continues an energetic campaign in Ogmore, where a by-election takes place on Thursday of next week.

Strike lands at Labour airport


Around 400 workers at Manchester Airport struck on Monday in the first of six one-hour stoppages. The strikes are against the imposition of new contracts which would mean wage cuts of up to 40 percent, attacks on holidays and sick pay, and a longer working week. The airport management are also threatening to axe jobs

How to boost the dispute


New Labour is determined to break the national dispute involving tens of thousands of job centre and benefits office workers. The government wants to seriously weaken the strikers' PCS union. An internal document for MPs and managers says that the dispute is a "matter of principle" and that the government will not negotiate.

In brief


Members of the Ambulance Service Union on Merseyside are celebrating the reinstatement of two suspended colleagues. Management took two paramedics off work a fortnight ago after both left a shift early due to illness. Workers voted to strike if the two were sacked, and both workers have now been cleared.

War Axis in White House


"Our war against terror is only beginning." That was US president George Bush's chilling message last week. Bush labelled Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an "axis of evil", and threatened them with "the justice of this nation". After the bombing of Afghanistan there is little doubt what US "justice" means.

We are right to take strike action


A crucial battle is now underway at South West Trains (SWT) and Arriva Northern. On the one side stand rail workers fighting for decent pay and dignity at work, and against the madness of privatisation.

Millionaire out to kick the low paid


BRIAN SOUTER-multimillionaire boss of South West Trains and union buster. He is the enemy of everyone who wants a decent public transport system. Souter owns Stagecoach, which runs South West Trains. He built his transport empire by exploiting the chaos of the Tories' rail and bus privatisation. He drove other rival bus firms off the road to gain a dominant position in the bus industry.

Rewarded for failing exams


Nothing succeeds like failure, especially if you are a boss at Edexcel. Edexcel is the exam board that set an unsolvable maths question, sent exam papers back late and lost some papers.

Anger at TUC smears


Revelations that an official in the Trades Union Congress has been trying to stop the election of left wing candidates in union elections are fuelling anger among trade unionists. Socialist Worker reported two weeks ago on smears against Bob Crow, the left wing candidate for general secretary of the RMT rail union. A meeting of the union's west of England and South Wales region took place in Bristol, also two weeks ago.

Rich are greediest


Shocking new figures highlight just who is greedy in Britain. The richest 10 percent of people in Britain spend seven times more than the poorest 10 percent, according to the government's Office for National Statistics.

A great response on the picket lines


Socialist Worker went down a storm with striking Arriva rail workers. At the mass picket in York 27 copies were sold, while 6 were sold to pickets in Cleethorpes, 7 to pickets at Leeds Central station, and 4 in Bradford. Last Friday, in the build-up to the civil service strike, 11 were sold at Albert Bridge House in Manchester, 8 at the Employment Service head office in Sheffield, 4 at Ravenshurst benefits office in Birmingham, and 3 at each of Finsbury Park job centre, Tottenham job centre and Tottenham Benefits Agency.

Waiting for a capital pay vote


Over 85,000 Unison union members working in local councils across London are moving towards action over pay. In a few weeks workers in all the 32 London councils will be taking part in an indicative ballot organised by the union. If that goes well a ballot on action will follow, and could coincide with May's council elections.

Caterpillar


Over 500 workers at the Caterpillar plant in Peterlee vote unanimously to ballot for an all-out indefinite strike against a pay freeze and attacks on working conditions. The vote, taken by a good old fashioned show of hands, came at a determined mass meeting held in the leisure centre of the County Durham town last Saturday. Workers are fighting a plan by the management of the US-owned multinational to impose a three-year pay freeze and rip up agreements with the union.

Health workers


Medical secretaries in hospitals across the north east of England are gearing up for a fight over pay. The move follows the victory won by medical secretaries in Glasgow last year, when all-out strike action won a regrading and so higher pay. "Medical secretaries are the hidden workers in the NHS," explained Clare Williams, chair of health in the Unison union's northern region. "They check records and send out appointments.

Mutinous spirit stalking yards


Around 1,000 workers at Portsmouth naval dockyard staged a protest against privatisation last week. The TGWU union members are civil servants working for the Ministry of Defence. The government wants to privatise their jobs. The workers marched and handed in a petition.

In brief


Workers at Manchester airport have voted by 726 to 153 to strike against job cuts. The vote by members of the TGWU union may not signal a quick move to action, as talks with both airport management and other unions at the airport are taking place.

ANL


The Anti Nazi League will be holding its conference in early March as the fight to stop Britain's Nazis moves into a crucial phase. The Nazis are convinced that they can win council seats in the local elections in May 2002. The BNP and NF Nazis are targeting areas across Britain including the north west, the Midlands, the north east and east London.

Standing firm against New Labour agenda


A national strike by tens of thousands of civil servants in the PCS union on Monday and Tuesday of this week defied New Labour and bullying management. It is the second two-day strike by workers in benefits agencies and job centres. The first one was in mid-December. They are challenging the government's plans to remove safety screens in the newly merged benefits agencies and job centres-Jobcentre Plus. Reports were coming in as Socialist Worker went to press that strikers were holding firm.

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