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.
AROUND 150 people lobbied Hackney council in east London last Wednesday on a protest called by the Friends of Hackney Nurseries campaign group. The lively protest shook councillors, who are discussing possible cuts which will hit local parents and their children hard. The cuts plan was to be discussed at a council education committee meeting on Thursday, and at a full council meeting next Wednesday. More protests are planned.
AT THE best attended meeting ever, TSSA white collar rail maintenance workers at GTRM trains voted in favour of a call for a ballot to take industrial action. The dispute is about pay differentials with blue collar staff. Over the previous year wages grade staff have struck repeatedly to improve their conditions. Now many wages staff have higher basic rates of pay than their supervisors.
THE GOVERNMENT set out major attacks on people's liberties in last week's Queen's Speech. They include abolishing, for some people, the centuries-old right to a jury trial, and extending catch-all "anti-terrorist" laws.
Back Ken Livingstone
THOUSANDS OF students planned to hit the streets on Thursday for the National Union of Students (NUS) demonstration against tuition fees. Students at Sussex University had already scored a victory in their protest over fees on Wednesday of last week. Around 40 of them halted a society dinner hosted by Lord Attenborough by occupying the venue.
DEPUTY PRIME minister John Prescott unveiled plans in parliament last week to impose "congestion charges" on cars driving into Britain's cities. Under one plan up for consideration, for example, car drivers would be charged £5 a time to drive into London and then have to pay £2,000 a year to park in the city.
MANY OF Britain's major banks met in Harrogate on Tuesday to discuss plans to fleece people even more than they already do. Barclays was pushing for the banks in the Link network to charge people to withdraw cash from hole in the wall cash machines. People could have to pay a flat rate charge of between £1 and £2.50 simply for taking their own money out.
A NEW study has shown that global warming has had an even greater impact on the polar ice caps than was previously reckoned. A study of sonar data gathered by naval submarines showed that the Arctic ice cap has shrunk by almost 40 percent in the last few decades. Up to now satellite pictures have been used to measure the shrinkage. But the sonar soundings show that melting UNDER the ice caps is happening. The melting ice caps mean that sea levels will rise.
CHIEF EXECUTIVES of Britain's top companies have pay and bonus packages that on average are 94 times higher than their workforces', according to research by the Trades Union Congress. Another report found that some bosses think they are worth even more.
AN ASIAN teenager was badly injured when an axe was thrown through his car window in a racist attack in Oldham, Greater Manchester, last week. Eighteen year old Liaqet Ali suffered a broken jaw and lost several teeth after the car he was travelling in was cornered by a white gang in a Ford Escort.
PENSIONERS WERE due to hold protests across Britain on Wednesday this week. Last week pensioner activists held a mock Queen's Speech outside parliament to show their anger at government policies.
ON WEDNESDAY of last week 24 copies of Socialist Worker were sold on the picket line at Westbourne Park bus garage in west London. On Monday morning this week 9 papers were sold to striking BT call centre workers in Manchester, 8 in Cardiff, 6 in Glasgow and Sheffield, 5 in Liverpool and 3 in Brighton. 25 papers were sold at the PTA plant at Ford Dagenham with 9 more sold at the engine plant. And 62 were sold on workplace sales across Hackney in east London last week. They included 7 papers sold at Homerton Hospital, 4 at Upper Clapton post office, 3 at Shoreditch fire station, 3 at Paragon Road post office, 2 at Andrews Road council depot and 8 at Homerton School. Thanet's first industr