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Divided Britain


So why won't Labour take action? TONY BLAIR this week claimed it was wrong to talk of a north-south divide in Britain. There are "haves" and "have nots" in all parts of Britain, he said. That is true. Class, the reality New Labour denies, is the biggest divide in every area, not geography.

Poverty under Blair


THE REALITY of inequality in Blair's Britain was revealed in research last week from Bristol University, the biggest study of health inequalities since the 1980s. The stark truth is that in Britain today, the poorer you are, the earlier you die. The study found:

Banging the bigots' drum


A SCOTTISH bigot who leads a Catholic based anti-abortion group was exposed last week as formerly on the extreme right wing of the Protestant Orange Order. Jim Dawson is leader of the anti-abortion group Precious Life. The group models itself on violent US organisations that have firebombed abortion clinics, killing workers inside. Precious Life is threatening to picket the homes of clinic workers in Scotland. He used to play in a band that produced tributes to Michael Stone, the Loyalist terrorist who murdered three Catholics at a Republican funeral in 1988.

GM stitch-up


A US government department was exposed last week for trying to cover up scientists' concerns over genetically modified (GM) food. An environmental group, Alliance for Bio-Integrity, used a public hearing to accuse the Food and Drug Administration of suppressing warnings by its own scientists over the dangers of GM food.

Straw kicks the weakest


MISERY AND persecution. That is what home secretary Jack Straw has in store for asylum seekers this Christmas. This week Straw set in motion plans to forcibly "disperse" asylum seekers around the country. His scapegoating of asylum seekers is an attempt to divert people's attention from the real problems of poverty in Britain, which Tony Blair was forced to pay lip service to this week.

Go for extra sales


Workplace sales of Socialist Worker continue to grow apace, with 23 sold at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, 17 at Liverpool Royal Infirmary, 16 at the BT call centre in Sunderland, 11 at Glacier Metals, 10 at Wandsworth council housing office, 7 at St George's Hospital in south London, and 4 at Severn-Trent Water in Nottingham. Central London workplace sales last week included 6 sold at Mount Pleasant post office, 5 at both the British Library and Camden council's Crowndale Centre, plus 4 at St Mary's Hospital.

Rail


OVER 500 train drivers on North Western Trains, members of the ASLEF and RMT unions, have voted by 90 percent and 100 percent respectively to take strike action over this year's pay award, which is still outstanding from April. The company has offered 3.6 percent with strings. The national executive of ASLEF was to meet on Wednesday to decide what form of strike action to call. The RMT will then respond with the same action.

Blair reduced to smear campaign


TONY BLAIR is continuing his campaign against Ken Livingstone. Blair and former Labour leader Neil Kinnock launched a tirade against Livingstone at a meeting of over 600 Labour Party members in Brixton, south London, on Friday of last week. Blair declared, "We can't go back to gesture politics," and that Ken Livingstone as mayor would risk being "disastrous for the Labour Party and disastrous for London".

Socialism in Scotland


"IT IS fantastic to attend such an event. It shows that socialist ideas and action are more relevant than ever as we approach the next century." That is what an electrician from Glasgow said about last weekend's Socialism in Scotland conference in the city.

In brief


WORKERS AT British Airways at Heathrow Airport are still up in arms over management's plans to sell off three sections of the Information Management Department. Union shop stewards voted unanimously last week to call for a ballot for strike action. Stewards were planning this week to hold union meetings of the workforce to build the mood and a demonstration is also planned.

Inside at Christmas


ALL OF the cases below are miscarriages of justice. Socialist Worker urges all our readers to send cards and messages of support to them for Christmas. Why not take a card round your workmates to sign? Make sure you send it off in good time.

Post


THE REVIVAL of strikes in the Post Office continues. Management bullying and the arrangements for Xmas working are sparking fury.

Get Carter!


YORKSHIRE Traction bus workers were boosted on Friday of last week as they staged their second one day strike for a decent pay rise. Their boss, Frank Carter, did not dare to run scab buses, driven by managers from outside the area, as he had done on the previous strike day on Saturday 27 November. The 35 pickets at the Barnsley depot talked about how the managers had received so much abuse from passengers they refused to work again.

Car workers


Ford UNION OFFICIALS at Ford have been forced to hold another meeting over the pay deal because of the level of complaints about the recent ballot. Workers voted by a majority of just 1,320 to accept the deal. But all the Dagenham plant rejected the deal, and other plants are not happy with how the ballot was conducted. Over 3,000 workers did not vote.

Housing sell offs


ASHFIELD COUNCIL tenants were shocked last week when they heard that Nottinghamshire council may transfer housing stock to the private sector. The Labour council is to employ private consultants to carry out a study into the transfer of the 8,500 properties, at a huge cost.

Teachers


MEMBERS OF the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers' union in England and Wales, took part in a week of action against performance related pay last week. The government's plans to link pay to pupils' results are another way of pushing market forces into schools.

Pricecheck


LOW PAID workers at Pricecheck supermarkets may be on the verge of winning union recognition this week. Pricecheck's millionaire bosses were set to meet the workers' TGWU union to discuss recognition after Socialist Worker went to press.

BT


SOME 4,000 BT call centre workers at 37 workplaces were due to stage the second of a series of one day strikes on Friday of this week. The fight is over bullying managers, understaffing and work targets. There were picket lines on most of the affected offices on the last strike day. Talks between the workers' CWU union and BT were still taking place as Socialist Worker went to press.

Sky Chefs


TRADE UNIONISTS in west London are organising to raise solidarity with the Sky Chefs workers in the run up to Xmas. They are calling on everyone-trade unionists, campaign groups, etc-to collect money to take to the picket line on Sunday 19 December. The 270 workers were sacked by Lufthansa just over one year ago for taking part in a legal one day strike.

UNISON


Sheffield A SHEFFIELD council worker has won his industrial tribunal case over disciplinary measures taken against him for his trade union activities. Paul Page works for private company CSL in Sheffield council's financial services section. The workers had been privatised by the Labour council, which lost office to the Liberals in last May's elections.

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