TONY BLAIR constantly talks about "modernising". But the reality for many workers is of employers threatening to turn the clock back to the days when workers had no sick leave, no maternity leave and few holidays. Workers in two London councils hit back against these Victorian-style employers this week.
POSTAL workers across Britain are angry at Royal Mail's plans to make them work harder and for less money this Christmas. Management has tried to push through Christmas arrangements that claw back on overtime, concentrate the mail on fewer deliveries and squeeze staffing numbers and conditions. The result is that a remarkable 130 areas across Britain have demanded strike ballots.
RIGHT ACROSS the world people protested against capitalism this week. Their target was the World Trade Organisation. Tens of thousands marching in Seattle were attacked by police. Across France tens of thousands joined marches like the one shown here in Paris. In London and other cities across Britain people staged protests. Similar protests took place from Brazil to Bangladesh, from Argentina to Australia.
THE US city of Seattle was deeply divided on Tuesday. Police with armed personnel carriers waded into peaceful protesters. It was the first use of teargas and rubber bullets in Seattle since the Vietnam War. Even Glenys Kinnock was shocked at the police violence. She talked of the "extraordinary over-reaction of the police".
JOHN PRESCOTT has junked any idea of cutting the number of cars on Britain's roads. In a complete U-turn, Prescott announced the speeding up of the government's programme of road building schemes. Any idea of creating an environmentally safe and cheap integrated transport system has gone out of the window.
AN EXCELLENT 50 copies of Socialist Worker were sold to pickets during last week's Wandsworth council strike, while 29 papers were sold to striking postal workers during their unofficial strike in Glasgow. Socialist Worker readers in the post produced two copies of a strike bulletin.
FORD WORKERS have voted to accept the company's revised pay and hours offer - but only just. Workers voted to accept the three year deal by 54.5 percent to 45.5 percent. The vote was 8,016 votes for the deal and 6,696 against.
"BRUCE BUCKLEY, hear us shout - electronic tagging, out, out, out!" That was the message from around 500 home helps and their supporters to the director of Derbyshire social services as they marched through Chesterfield last Saturday.
THE FIGHT for the leadership of Britain's biggest union will be between a candidate wanting to cosy up to the government and a socialist standing against the attacks from New Labour. The election is a result of current UNISON leader Rodney Bickerstaffe's decision to stand down.
DELEGATES FROM the PTC civil service union met in Scarborough last week against a backdrop of continuing low pay and government attacks. The delegates were split up into their "groups", such as Inland Revenue, Employment Service (ES), and so on.
OVER 40 people attended a public meeting in central London on Thursday of last week. They decided to campaign against the Labour Party and MSF union leadership's attacks on the MSF London region. The Labour Party has ruled that MSF members in London cannot vote in the party's mayoral candidate election because of a late payment in affiliation fees. When three London region MSF branch officers challenged the ruling they were suspended by their national leadership.
"I WAS staggered to learn of the expulsion of Roddy Slorach. Stop the witch hunt - justice must be done." So said UNISON national executive member, and candidate in the union's current general secretary election, Roger Bannister, over the expulsion of one of Glasgow's leading trade unionists from his union. Roger's message of support for Roddy will be read out by a delegation from his Knowsley UNISON branch who plan to join a lobby in Glasgow on Saturday. UNISON members and other trade unionists from across Britain are to protest outside UNISON's Scottish Regional Council.
TEACHERS IN England and Wales remain adamantly opposed to New Labour's plans for performance related pay, even as their union leaders move to sell them out. That is the conclusion from a special conference of the second largest teachers' union in England, the NASUWT, on Saturday, and from the build up to a week of action by the largest, the NUT.
STEEL WORKERS are demanding action to stop an £800 million "Maxwell style" pensions rip off. Thousands of steel workers are furious that British Steel bosses are taking £800 million from the £1,000 million pension fund surplus for themselves. Union leaders have accused British Steel of raiding the pension fund to finance the company's merger with Dutch firm Hoogovens.
"WICKED!" That was how one student summed up last week's national NUS demonstration against student poverty that saw up to 20,000 students march through central London. Despite this magnificent turnout none of the national press saw fit to report the protest.
THEY CAME in their hundreds, placards at the ready, with slogans such as, "Rent rise £2.70 a week - pensions increase 75p a week", and, "Thanks for the licence - pity we can't afford the TV." The pensioners came despite the cold weather, because they are angry with a Labour government which has reduced their quality of life.
OVER 1,000 people marched through Glasgow on Saturday on the Scottish TUC's march against racism. The demonstrators were headed by the Chhokar family campaign who are fighting for justice for their son Surjit who was stabbed to death. The rally was addressed by Scottish minister for communities Wendy Alexander and Sky Chefs workers from the London Heathrow dispute, amongst others.
UP TO 3,000 jobs are under threat at oil rig building yards in the Scottish Highlands. The yards, owned by Barmac, are at Nigg and Ardersier, both near Inverness, and are the largest private sector employer in the Highlands. Closure, which bosses say could happen next spring, could devastate the area.
ALL HELL broke loose in the computing section of British Airways at Heathrow Airport in west London last week. The company had announced it was to sell off three sections of the Information Management Department. Workers were gobsmacked. No one could believe it.
SOME 2,000 workers at Bernard Matthews turkey factories have voted for industrial action over pay in the run up to Christmas. The workers, members of the TGWU union, want a 4.6 percent rise and also have complaints about the way they are treated by managers. Union leaders are considering what form the action should take at the factories in Great Witchingham in Norfolk and Holton in Suffolk.