Vauxhall's giant Luton car plant was silent last Thursday. The entire workforce had called in sick in protest at the plan by multinational owners General Motors to close the factory, sack thousands of workers and devastate the town.
Around 5,000 council workers in Hackney, east London, struck for three days this week in a defiant response to cuts pushed through by the ruling Labour-Tory coalition. Max Caller, the council's managing director, and Labour leader Jules Pipe say the council's workers are overpaid and have too many holidays. "Caller gets £150,000 a year. How dare he tell people who work their guts out for £13,000 a year that they are overpaid," striking UNISON member Jane Brockway told Socialist Worker on Monday.
Tube workers in London were set to strike on Monday after a magnificent vote for action to stop privatisation wrecking health and safety. Tube bosses were threatening to go to the courts to try and undermine the action as Socialist Worker went to press.
Over 1,200 London teachers packed into the most militant rally called by the National Union of Teachers for 14 years on Tuesday of this week. They were in an angry and confident mood. NUT general secretary Doug McAvoy announced a limited form of action-not covering for vacant posts-to win increased London pay and end the scandal of teacher shortages.
Workers at Rolls-Royce have voted by four to one for strikes to save jobs. The giant aero engineering group wants to cut 1,300 jobs and transfer work from Coventry to Canada. "We feel completely betrayed after years of working our guts out for the company," said a Rolls worker. "We are not going to let globalisation take our jobs." The first of a series of walkouts will hit Rolls in Coventry next week.
Two Labour MPs were shouted down by 350 Dudley health strikers on Monday. But striker and Socialist Alliance candidate Angela Thompson won a standing ovation.
We had a marvellous lobby of parliament in defence of council housing on Wednesday of last week. Some 22 city tenants federations, over 45 individual tenants associations, and 85 trade union branches and trades councils united with anti-privatisation campaigns.
Steel giant Corus was expected to announce 5,000 to 7,000 job cuts this week. The announcement will be made by Corus chairman Sir Brian Moffat (above). His pay packet last year was a basic salary of £477,223, "benefits" worth £43,009, extra pension contributions of £19,709, and the right to take a profit on 611,000 shares.
The mood in Luton last Saturday summed up how many workers in Britain feel today. Everyone in the town feels gutted by General Motors' decision to close the Vauxhall plant, but at the same time people want resistance. Over 10,000 car workers, local people and other trade unionists marched through Luton last Saturday.
Victims of asbestos poisoning are getting "sympathy but no money" according to leading asbestos campaigner in Scotland Tommy Gorman. Thousands of workers may never get payments they are entitled to after the insurance company, QBE International, handling their claims recently went bust. "It could be a major problem," says Tommy. "People were poisoned when they worked on the Upper Clyde shipyards in Scotland. And it's not just Scotland. In areas like Liverpool and Tyneside workers were affected too."
Survivors and relatives of the victims of the Hatfield crash are outraged by the government's decision not to hold a public inquiry. Carol Bell, vice-chair of the Safety on Trains Action Group, said she was "stunned".
'This dispute is part of our revenge'
An unofficial rank and file strike by about 3,000 postal workers in north west England broke the anti-union laws and forced Royal Mail management into a humiliating retreat this week.
Trade Unionists, community campaigners and socialists met in Bristol last week to select a Socialist Alliance candidate to fight in the general election. It was one of many selection meetings taking place to democratically select Socialist Alliance candidates. Socialist Alliance candidates are not careerists bankrolled by millionaires, but ordinary working class people chosen by working class people at open, democratic meetings.
Over 500 copies of Socialist Worker were sold on the "Save Vauxhall" demonstration in Luton on Saturday, while 20 people joined the Socialist Workers Party.14 papers were sold to striking Liverpool postal workers, while 5 papers were sold outside Vauxhall in Ellesmere Port. 6 papers were sold to striking lecturers at Coatbridge College and 13 were sold at a North Lanarkshire EIS union meeting.
Congratualations to the three lucky readers who have won prizes in the Red Raffle.
The Times Educational Supplement advertised over 4,000 vacancies for teachers' posts last week. It's not only in London that the teacher shortage crisis is biting hard. In Hertfordshire young teachers find the cost of living intolerably high. In areas like this over 65 percent of teachers are aged over 40.
Around 3,000 Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) workers in the PCS civil servants' union went on strike on Wednesday and Thursday of last week over pay. Picket lines sprang up across England and Wales after management tried to impose a deal workers had rejected by 82 percent in a ballot.
Royal Mail workers should vote no to the 3.2 percent pay deal recommended by the majority of the CWU union's postal executive. After months of negotiations Post Office bosses conceded a further 0.1 percent at the last moment. This was enough for the union's leaders to halt plans for a strike ballot.
Council Workers in Hackney, east London, will strike next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in a crucial dispute over the ruling group's plans for cuts and privatisation. The Labour-Tory coalition "structural adjustment plans" mean cutting £50 million over the next three years. Hundreds of jobs will go and services will be handed over to private firms.