WE WERE told that "it could never happen here" after the recent nuclear disaster in Japan. Yet it nearly DID happen here, according to a series of revelations in the Observer newspaper.
NEW LABOUR was humiliated by a court ruling in Scotland last week. Three protesters who had caused thousands of pounds worth of damage at the Faslane Trident nuclear submarine base on the Clyde were cleared of any offence. Sheriff Margaret Gimble ordered a jury at her Greenock court to acquit the three after ruling that nuclear weapons were illegal under international law.
An excellent 450 students registered for last weekend's Students Fighting For Socialism, with 43 people joining the SWP. Two things were clear from the weekend. Firstly there is a real possibility of a major fight in the colleges over the question of fees. Across the country we should be building the national demonstration called by NUS on 25 November, building support for non-payment of fees and arguing for occupations. But on a wider level there is a widespread rage against capitalism. If Socialist Worker Student Societies are at the centre of the agitation over fees and address the wider anti-capitalist mood, we can build in any and every college.
HUNDREDS OF Parcelforce workers struck unofficially for two days at the Canning Town site in east London last week. They won brilliant solidarity from other depots. But national union officials condemned their action. Then they narrowly persuaded a mass meeting to agree a return to work with very little gained from management. A CWU union member at Canning Town Parcelforce told Socialist Worker, "We have been shunted back to work when with a bit more support from the top we could have won."
OVER 1,200 students at Cambridge University demonstrated last Saturday against rises in room rents. The demonstration was part of a campaign which has included rent strikes at some of the colleges this term. Around 240 students at King's College have pledged not to pay their rent, which is set to rise by around 40 percent over the next five years.
"I'LL GO anywhere in the world to get this out in the open." Those are the words of Jim Stanley - brother of Harry Stanley, who was killed by police in east London.
ABOUT 40,000 electricians in the construction industry have just finished balloting over their two year pay offer. The result was due after Socialist Worker went to press.
AIR TRAFFIC control staff in Manchester took their concerns over the threatened privatisation of the service to the public on Saturday of last week. Half a dozen members of the IPMS union, which organises air traffic controllers, leafleted shoppers in the Arndale centre and got a tremendous response.
THE SACKED Lufthansa Sky Chefs workers at Heathrow airport in west London are planning a number of events to mark the anniversary of their dispute. The workers have been fighting for their jobs for one year, after being ruthlessly sacked for taking part in a legal one day strike.
A RECENT board of governors meeting at Wirral Metropolitan College backed the principal's decision to issue dismissal notices to all lecturers who are still refusing to sign a new, worse contract. About 70 lecturers, members of the NATFHE union, are affected. They have fought the attack, which means increased hours, holidays slashed and redundancy terms cut from 12 months to four months.
THE ANTI-debt Jubilee 2000 coalition has called a protest outside the Treasury in London for Thursday 11 November. The call has received an enthusiastic response from groups of students and more are set to discuss it in the days to come.
THREE LABOUR controlled councils in the West Midlands have announced plans to privatise their entire housing stocks - 150,000 homes. These sell offs can be stopped. Tenants and trade unionists need to get behind the local campaign which already has the backing of Dudley council's UCATT convenor. The year long campaign in Sandwell in the West Midlands won and defeated the privatisation of 8,000 homes.
AROUND 500 angry building workers working for Norwich Labour council's direct labour organisation (DLO) protested outside the town hall last week against threatened job cuts. The council wants to privatise the DLO, which affects around 900 workers. The demonstration started after it was announced that the council was discussing a deal with the firm Morrison which could include 100 job cuts.
THE BIGGEST region of Britain's biggest union, UNISON, has thrown its weight behind the socialist challenger to the union's current leadership. One of the delegates at the UNISON Greater London Regional Council spoke about why they decided overwhelmingly to back Roger Bannister's challenge to take over from general secretary Rodney Bickerstaffe after he steps down. She said, "The meeting showed a real mood against the union's leaders. "A statement opposing the union leaders' attacks on the recent lobby of the Labour Party was overwhelmingly passed. When Bannister spoke, he was applauded. Around 25 people got together at the end to organise around his campaign."
THERE WAS uproar at the annual conference of the National Organisation of Probation Officers (NAPO) last week when Home Office minister Paul Boateng spoke to delegates. He started off by trying to assure those attending the conference that they could trust the government's changes in tackling crime. He said, "I am a socialist minister in a socialist and democratic government. We are not going to tinker about. We have a radical agenda."
THE VERDICT in the long running union disciplinary case against Glasgow UNISON activist Roddy Slorach has been adjourned until 16 November. Roddy's reconvened hearing last week saw him rebut the union leaders' allegations against him. Scottish UNISON secretary Matt Smith, who carried out the initial investigation into Roddy, was not even present.
LONDON Underground workers on the Northern Line were celebrating a victory against management's attendance at work procedures this week. Members of the RMT union at Morden had balloted for strike action after driver Dave Emms was sacked for being ill. Management reinstated him the day before the result, which would have shown a big yes vote.
A LABOUR council's privatisation plans have been thrown into turmoil following the revelation of a document leaked to local socialists. Neath and Port Talbot council had been planning to privatise the schools meals service. The move could affect children and hundreds of workers' jobs.
AROUND 120 council workers joined a noisy lobby of Gloucester Labour council's meeting called to discuss the introduction of car parking charges. The council was discussing a motion put forward by the Liberal group calling for the £250 charge to be withdrawn. But the Labour councillors look set to continue with their policy.
TEACHERS' leaders have thrown away a fantastic opportunity to halt New Labour's assault on comprehensive education in its tracks. Leaders of the largest teachers' union, the EIS, agreed a pay deal with employers which falls far short of what teachers and pupils deserve.