Workers in the biggest union at Vauxhall have voted for action to save the Luton car plant from closure. The vote, by workers at Luton and the Ellesmere Port plant on Merseyside, saw members of the TGWU union, the vast bulk of shopfloor workers, back strikes by a 58 percent majority.
Over 2,000 people packed into the continuing Globalise Resistance tour around the country last week. The previous weekend 1,800 people had attended the tour's Glasgow and London legs. "The tour stormed through Birmingham with a lively conference bringing together activists- black and white, old and young, red and green," says Chris Crean from West Midlands Friends of the Earth, one of the 250 people who attended the Birmingham conference.
Pickets were out in force last Friday in Ansty near Coventry as workers struck for a day at plans by the Rolls-Royce aerospace company to axe 1,300 jobs. "A one-day strike won't force the company to back down, but it's our first strike for 20 years," says one worker. "Most of us have never experienced a strike before, let alone a picket line. We are ready to step up the action."
RAGE led the local TV news in Birmingham last week! RAGE is the vibrant local campaign against the Labour council's criminal plan to privatise 30 elderly care homes across Britain's second biggest city. Over 50 people took over the pelican crossing outside the Normanhust home last week. The mood was fantastic. People were chanting "People not profit. Save our homes," and held banners saying, "Labour has betrayed the elderly."
Last week's strike on London Underground struck a powerful blow to New Labour's privatisation scheme. But there is now a danger that a version of John Prescott's plan to hand the tube to private contractors could still go ahead after union leaders called off strikes planned for this week and next.
A rash of disputes has broken out in councils across the north west of England. They are driven by workers' anger at New Labour councils' cuts and huge attacks on working conditions. Thousands of council workers are involved in the battles. It is the first time many of them have attended mass meetings or stood on picket lines. All are determined not to let New Labour get away with slashing services or driving workers into the ground. In KNOWSLEY council workers are fighting against the council's attempt to increase their working week from 35 hours to 37 hours. They held their second round of action last week.
Over 60 people packed into an angry meeting against the expansion of Britain's largest incinerator, in Edmonton, north London. The expansion is part of a national programme of 122 proposed new incineration sites.
Socialist Alliance members and No Sweat activists in east London protested outside Gap's flagship store in Canary Wharf last Saturday
There were nearly 100 people on the picket line outside Rolls-Royce's Ansty plant near Coventry last week. The size of the picket was totally illegal according to the anti trade union laws, but nobody cared.
Our strike has ended in victory after a week of unofficial action. It has been a revelation for all of us. It began over a small incident but quickly escalated to being about intimidation, harassment and victimisation. Royal Mail changed tactics for this strike. Once it started they were out to sack reps, to break the union in Oxford as an example to elsewhere. But we beat the bastards. We survived because of local and national solidarity.
Over 70 students at the University of East Anglia demonstrated against Nestlé last week at the official opening of the new PFI-funded campus sports park. We were demonstrating against the sale of Nestlé products in the sports centre and carried banners saying, "Nestlé-show some milk of human kindness" and "People not profit". One banner was done in the style of a Kit Kat wrapper and said, "Nestlé kills kids".
Around 250 taxi drivers at Gatwick airport have been sacked, but they are fighting back. They lost their jobs when they refused to work for Excellent Connection and Checker Cars, two super-firms that have been handed the franchise at the north and south terminals at Gatwick airport by BAA.
Some 60 workers and trade unionists attended Wigan's first Socialist Alliance rally last week. It was one of the best political meetings in the area for years. The branch secretary and both assistant secretaries of the local UNISON branch turned up, together with at least eight shop stewards from across many different unions. Community activists and a local Green were there, together with two tenants' reps.
On 5 March the world's biggest pharmaceutical firms are going to court to stop South Africans receiving cheaper AIDS drugs. If they succeed they will pass a death sentence on millions of the poorest people suffering from AIDS.
London's tube network ground to a halt on Monday. Train drivers in the ASLEF union threw up picket lines at depots across the capital, and other workers refused to cross them.
London Underground management was forced to admit that Monday's strike paralysed the tube.
Thousands of Hackney council workers in east London struck solidly for three days last week.
Around 900 postal workers were on unofficial illegal strike in Oxfordshire as Socialist Worker went to press.
"We urge our supporters to be on the streets of Birmingham on 3 March. There is strength in numbers and we are determined to get our message against privatisation across to the government."
"This is back to divide and rule." So said a Vauxhall car worker in Luton this week. The result of the strike ballot by Vauxhall workers for action to save the Luton plant was to be announced at the end of this week.