THE CAMPAIGN is under way inside the London MSF union to fight the victimisation of three branch officers. The three were suspended by the MSF's national executive for protesting after the Labour Party took away the union's right to vote in the party's elections for London mayor. Activists argue that the decision was a political one after the London executive had voted to back Ken Livingstone. An action committee has now produced a broadsheet.
CIVIL SERVANTS at the Manchester based Equal Opportunities Commission have accepted a pay offer for 1999 which will mean pay rises of up to 22 percent for the lowest paid. EOC rates began to lag behind those of other civil servants after national bargaining was ended. But an overwhelming vote to strike last year forced a much improved offer. The 4.1 percent offer will mean members near the bottom of each grade receiving the highest raise, without any reference to pay being performance related.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
"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.
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.
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.
THE REVIVAL of strikes in the Post Office continues. Management bullying and the arrangements for Xmas working are sparking fury.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.