HEALTH WORKERS in UNISON, the biggest union in the NHS, have been dismayed by the decision of union leaders to call off a ballot for industrial action. The union called the ballot in protest at the lousy 3 percent pay deal offered to cleaners, porters, and admin and clerical, and ambulance workers. Yet within days union leaders called off the vote - even though not a penny extra pay had been offered to some of the most poorly paid workers in the NHS.
THOUSANDS of BT call centre workers are set to strike on Monday. If the action goes ahead it will be the first national action in BT for 13 years. It comes after BT announced record profits last week, up by 9 percent in the last three months to a staggering £137 a second.
THE NEW readiness of management to attack workers in the Post Office and the new mood of resistance continue. Among the unofficial walkouts last week were:
ENVIRONMENTAL protesters have scored a success against a huge multinational company. The ex-mining village of Killamarsh, on the edge of Sheffield, has been plagued by chemical leaks from a SARP chemical plant since last May. A 150 foot high incinerator chimney has been belching out gas over nearby houses, schools and a nature reserve. Residents set up an opposition group, RASP (Residents Against SARP Pollution), which has campaigned 24 hours a day. They have picketed the plant and demonstrated in Paris, Brussels, and in Derbyshire County Council meetings.
SECRETARIAL and clerical workers at Manchester University were due to be out on strike on Tuesday in a dispute over pay. Staff have demanded an improvement on the 3.5 percent which was foisted on them in their September pay packets. The university has one of the highest proportions of low paid clerical staff in the country.
BOB CROW narrowly won re-election as RMT assistant general secretary last week. The RMT is Britain's biggest rail union. Crow polled 7,137 votes, against 6,795 for Watford based signal technician Mick Cash. Cash is a Labour councillor and was backed by the right wing in the union.
THE NATIONAL executive of the MSF union suspended three leading lay officers of the London Regional Council of the union last Saturday. MSF members in London have been excluded from voting for the Labour candidate for mayor of London. Instead of denouncing the Labour Party leadership for ignoring democracy, the union leadership is trying to place the blame on the left wing London MSF leadership.
RESISTANCE TO the ravages of the global market hit Warwick University on Tuesday of last week. The university had invited Nestlé executives to a graduate recruitment fair. Socialist Worker Student Society, People and Planet and others united to demonstrate against the multinational. Nestlé has been exposed by The Mark Thomas Product for its mislabelling of baby milk to African mothers. The United Nations believes this has resulted in over a million unnecessary deaths.
FOLLOWING A successful campaign against the Education Action Zone in Hackney, east London, eleven schools have pulled out of the scheme. After an indicative vote among the remaining schools in the EAZ, the National Union of Teachers is now looking to ballot two schools - Kingsland and William Patten - for industrial action.
BOSSES AT Ford motors have been forced to improve their pay and conditions offer to 28,000 workers across Britain. Union leaders hailed the agreement as "inflation busting" and are reccommending that workers accept the package. But Ford workers should reject the new offer.
"WE SUPPORT the sick and lonely. Sefton think of money only!" chanted over 100 home carers as they paraded through the main shopping streets of Southport, Merseyside, last Saturday. The march was in protest at Sefton council's decision to privatise the home care service and close four residential homes. This will put 408 jobs at risk.
MEETINGS ARE beginning to take place around the country to organise support for Roger Bannister's campaign in the election for general secretary of the UNISON public sector workers' union. Bannister is mounting a socialist challenge to Dave Prentis, the candidate backed by the union's existing leaders.
A GROUP of building workers have been picketing the Laing site off Trafalgar Square in central London. The workers, five bricklayers, had raised questions about conditions on the site. Soon afterwards their employer, Avondale, told the bricklayers there was no further work for them.
AN ANTI-racist demonstration has been called in Plymouth in support of black rugby player Carl Egonu. Carl faces jail for defending himself against violence during a rugby game.
GAS WORKERS at key North Sea underwater storage facilities are planning industrial action over pay. Technicians in the MSF union working at BG offshore storage facilities voted by 96 percent to take action.
AROUND 30 people met last week in Cambridge to organise a campaign against the opening of an internment camp for asylum seekers in nearby Oakington.
UP TO 100 members of the PCS civil service union attended a lunchtime rally over pay on Friday of last week. They gathered outside deputy prime minister John Prescott's office at the Department of the Environment, Transport and Regions (DETR). PCS members in the DETR have had a pay deal imposed on them after rejecting it in a ballot. The dispute is not just about the small amount of money on offer, but also over Performance Related Pay, which has been shown to discriminate against black staff and people with disabilities.
THE TROUBLES at British Airways have drawn attention away from the problems faced by BAA - the airport operator. A profits fall has led to cost cutting. The company says it may be looking for compulsory redundancies. There is no need for this immensely profitable company to make people redundant. BAA is still looking at projected profits of £306 million. The unions need to be challenging the company.
A WORKER at a non-union west London call centre has been suspended following a 45 minute stoppage by some 70 workers. Clarence Jackman works at the British Market Research Bureau (BMRB) in Ealing, west London. Last Friday dozens of workers stopped work in protest at bad working conditions. The next day Clarence, an MSF member, was summoned to a meeting by management but was refused union representation by the firm, which does not recognise the union. He has now been suspended and is looking to the union to take up his case.
A MASS picket caused a three mile traffic tailback outside a Scottish Highlands oil rig fabrication yard last week. Some 150 workers employed by subcontractor Palmers downed tools and blockaded the entrance of the Barmac yard at Nigg in Easter Ross. The walkout was sparked by the death in a road accident of a 63 year old scaffolder, James Maclennan, while travelling from work late at night. Workers want shift times changed so that they do not have to set off for long journeys home in the dark.