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Council housing


The Scottish Executive last week proposed that the ballot for the privatisation of 80,000 council homes in Glasgow will start on 4 March. The date was leaked on the New Labour executive's website, and seems to have caught the New Labour Glasgow council unawares.

Challenge in heartlands


The Welsh Socialist Alliance (WSA) is campaigning hard in the Ogmore by-election in South Wales. The contest follows the death of Labour MP Sir Ray Powell. Voting takes place on 14 February. WSA candidate Jeff Hurford is well known locally for his involvement in campaigns such as those against the poll tax, racism and the bombing of Afghanistan.

Paper strikes a workplace chord


Campaigning against New Labour's attacks on the NHS, Socialist Worker sellers received a great reception. On Saturday Manchester sold 187 copies of Socialist Worker, while in north London 80 were sold in Wood Green and 71 in Dalston.

Stakes rising in the sell-off fight


THE FIGHT for the future of council housing is hotting up, and March looks like being a crunch month. Glasgow council is to begin balloting all its tenants on 4 March on a plan to hand their homes to housing associations.

Newsquest


National Union of Journalists members at Newsquest-owned titles in Bradford struck for half a day last week over low pay. NUJ president Rory McLeod joined the picket lines. There were also NUJ delegations from Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Coventry.

GMB leader: 'Gravy train runs on time'


THERE WAS a real taste of anger at New Labour at a conference in Liverpool last weekend. Some 200 people attended Saturday's "Keep public services public" conference organised by the Liverpool joint trade union committee.

Ambulances


Ambulance workers in Liverpool are voting on whether to strike after two paramedics in the Ambulance Service Union were suspended for alleged gross misconduct.

Guildhall University


A campaign has been set up at London Guildhall University after management pressurised the student union president and a vice-president into resigning. The university then replaced them with its own unelected appointees.

Meetings


A CENTRAL London meeting organised by Globalise Resistance last week saw some 150 people attend a discussion on the crisis in Argentina.

Shorts Engineering


Workers at the Shorts aircraft plant in Belfast are to ballot on strikes against compulsory redundancies. Shorts, owned by the Canadian Bombardier Aerospace group, wants to cut some 2,000 jobs out of the 7,500-strong workforce.

Cat walks in Durham


WORKERS AT the Caterpillar factory in Peterlee, County Durham, staged their third one-day strike on Tuesday. They are fighting a plan by the US multinational to freeze their pay, impose flexible shift patterns and undermine other longstanding agreements.

Vote on pay fight starts


Some 150,000 postal workers started a national strike ballot this week over pay. They are fighting management's attempt to hold down pay and to squeeze even more work out of fewer people.

Wider focus key to making strike bite


Tens of thousands of civil servants are set to strike next Monday and Tuesday. The workers are PCS union members in benefits offices and job centres. They are striking against New Labour's plans to remove safety screens in the amalgamated benefit agencies and job centres being set up.

Councils


Sit-in rattles Mersey bin bosses BIN WORKERS in Liverpool staged a sit-in at their depot on Monday, furious at the way they were being treated by bosses. The 250 workers at the Fazakerley depot work for the private firm Onyx, which has the contract for the city's rubbish collection. Their bosses had made a cock-up and paid the workers double pay at Christmas. Workers had themselves pointed this mistake out to the company and understood that they would pay it back in instalments.

Fury reaches right to the top of the union


Alan Milburn's plan to ram through even more privatisation in the NHS sent shock waves through the Unison executive last week. A meeting of the union's health executive was so stunned that its business was suspended to allow people to take stock of Milburn's plan and discuss our response.

Private plan a health hazard


WHAT PRIVATE healthcare really means was underlined by a shocking case last week. The inquest into the death of Laura Touche uncovered a catalogue of practices at the exclusive Portland private hospital which the coroner said were "a cause for public concern".

Blair's Britain


NEW LABOUR has betrayed its promise to widen access to higher education. The proportion of students from working class backgrounds or with disabilities has slumped in the last seven years. The total number of such students is unchanged, says the National Audit Office, while the numbers of students overall has grown.

Air sell-off faces cash crisis


ONE OF the government's flagship privatisation schemes is on the verge of collapse just seven months on. The New Labour government sold 46 percent of the NATS air traffic control service to a private consortium including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Ministers said the sell-off would improve the service and save money.

Israel given licence to kill


HOW MUCH more can the Palestinian people suffer? Israel has launched its harshest incursion since the Intifida began 16 months ago. This comes after Israel used US-supplied F16 jets to destroy the Palestinian police headquarters in the town of Tulkarm on the West Bank last Friday. Israeli tanks and troops seized Tulkarm, imposing curfews, checkpoints and house to house searches, forcing people from their homes.

Blair gives top civil servants £100,000 pay rise


TONY BLAIR wants an elite of 3,000 top civil servants to double their pay to £180,000. But he is fighting hard to keep rail workers and postal workers on poverty pay. He has denounced the rail workers' strikes for decent pay. The Post Office, run by the government, has offered a rise of 2 percent, 70p a day, to 150,000 Royal Mail workers.

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