Socialist Worker

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Pex


WORKERS AT sock makers Pex in Leicestershire have won some of their demands after a 12 day picket at the Earl Shilton plant. Pex bosses wanted to shut the plant down leaving many workers without pay owed to them. The workers' protest saw administrators appointed by the high court to take control. The workers hope this will mean getting some of the money due to them.

ITN


INDUSTRIAL action could be hitting ITN soon, after workers voted at a mass meeting last week to be balloted. Any action could disrupt news programmes on ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

Students


AROUND 300 students demonstrated at the University of Kent's Canterbury campus on Monday. College management want to cut the portering service, which would threaten safety on campus. Students had already protested on Friday of last week. On Monday students marched around campus rallying support and then rallied outside a management meeting discussing the cuts. "If they're not going to listen we're going to have to occupy," said one student.

Pensioners


PENSIONERS ARE planning to protest across Britain on Wednesday 24 November. A variety of events, ranging from displaying placards on buses, to sit downs in town centres, to blockading roads, are expected to take place.

NATFHE


UNIVERSITY lecturers who are members of NATFHE in the new universities met at a special pay conference last Saturday. They reluctantly voted to accept the vice-chancellors' 3.5 percent pay offer. There was criticism of union leaders for the lack of a proper fighting campaign. Not one day of action was called by NATFHE during the whole pay dispute. Delegates were vehemently opposed to the introduction of performance related pay and "job evaluation" schemes.

Journalists


JOURNALISTS IN the NUJ union at the Observer have voted for a strike over pay. The 34 to 15 strike vote is over Observer journalists being offered a lower pay rise than those at their sister paper the Guardian. Guardian staff have been offered 3.5 percent, while Observer staff are being offered just 2.4 percent.

Brown bows to bosses' blackmail


GORDON BROWN handed Britain's biggest companies a huge incentive to carry on wrecking the Earth this week. Everyone sensible knows that action is needed over global warming. But, after intense pressure from the bosses, Brown has driven policy in completely the opposite direction.

Proud to rule for rich


"PRO-enterprise, pro-competition" is how chancellor Gordon Brown summed up his policy on Tuesday. The pre-budget statement handed millions more to the rich, while ignoring the needs of the many. Brown told "entrepreneurs" that he was slashing the capital gains tax on buying and selling business assets and shares from 40 to 10 percent. Bosses at the British Venture Capital Association were delighted, and hailed "a massive step in the right direction".

Thousands more learn they will face jobs axe


BROWN'S SPEECH on Tuesday gave a glowing account of the British economy. That's not how it seems to thousands of workers across Britain who learned in the last week that they face the dole.

Dome company gets a bung


POOR SALES of tickets for the Millennium Dome have led the government to bung the private company running it £50 million in public subsidy to cover "cash flow difficulties". The New Millennium Experience Company, the Dome's organiser, has spent £4 million on an advertising campaign to try and boost ticket sales. Prices are set at £20 for an adult and £57 for a family. But after two months not a single date, including the prestigious 1 January, has been sold out.

GM crops retreat


THE GOVERNMENT announced last week that there is to be a three year pause in the commercial growing of genetically modified (GM) crops. This climbdown follows the public outcry at the health risks and environmental dangers GM crops pose. The three year pause is welcome, but not nearly long enough to determine the long term damage GM crops can cause.

Beef rules face cuts


NEW LABOUR risks a fresh epidemic of food poisoning and BSE if it goes ahead with plans to axe official inspections in abattoirs. The recommendations come from a body set up by Nick Brown's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. It suggests slaughterhouse bosses, not independent inspectors, should have greater responsibility in checking hygiene standards.

Arms to brutal regimes


THE government claims it won't sell arms to countries if there is a "clearly identifiable risk they might be used for internal repression". That sounds like a sick joke in the light of new figures on the 10,000 arms export licences approved in 1998.

Jails feed trenches


The Ministry of Defence is planning to target young offenders aged 16 to 18 as new recruits for the army. A pilot scheme will be set up in prisons in Wetherby in West Yorkshire and Dover, Kent. The scheme could go nationwide.

Legacy of the 1989 revolts


TEN YEARS ago this week many thousands of people reduced the Berlin Wall to rubble. They breached the divide which rulers East and West had maintained throughout the Cold War. They were reacting against the repressive regimes across Eastern Europe which they were told were socialist.

People and Planet conference: students show 'We do give a damn'


"THE WORLD is screwed and we've got to do something about it." That is what Sam from Derby University said last weekend. He summarised the feelings of about 1,000 students who gathered for People and Planet's "Shared Planet" conference at Warwick University.

MSF


THE HABINTEG Housing Association, whose main office is in central London, has agreed in principle to recognise the MSF union as a negotiating body. This follows a recruitment drive in which 27 staff - 50 percent of the workforce - have joined the MSF over the last six months.

Teachers


THE NATIONAL Union of Teachers is calling on teachers to organise a week of protests, beginning on 29 November, against the government's plan to impose a performance related pay system. Activities are to be aimed at winning arguments with other teaching unions, parents, governors and MPs, but they will not include the one day strike agreed at the last annual conference. The union's general secretary, Doug McAvoy, announced this action when he spoke to 130 union branch secretaries last week.

Sky Chefs


"LOOK AT us. I feel like I am homeless. We look so poor sitting here in all the cold weather." They are the bitter words of one of the Sky Chefs workers at Heathrow airport who have been on the picket line for nearly a year after being sacked for taking a legal one day strike.

Workplace sales boom


AT MORE and more workplaces Socialist Worker sellers are regularly selling on a Thursday or Friday morning. In Peckham in south London 14 papers were sold on 3 workplace sales, with 5 sold at both Jets stationers and Bournemouth Road council offices, plus 4 at Frensham Street DLO. Elsewhere in south London 7 papers were sold at both King's College Hospital and Southwark's education department building, plus 5 at Wandsworth housing department. Central London workplace sales included 5 at both Camden Town Hall and Mount Pleasant post office, plus 4 at BBC Bush House. Meanwhile in Leeds 9 papers were sold at both the Yorkshire Evening Post and Castle House Inland Revenue office, plus 8 at

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