Solidarity 025, 6 March 2003

Italy: direct action against the war

Published on: Wed, 19/03/2003 - 10:10

Hundreds of protesters in Italy occupied railway lines last week to stop military equipment being transported to American forces in the Gulf.
A small group of campaigners broke into the military zone near Pisa Airport. The protests coincided with a march against the war in the city. Politicians from Rifondazione and the Green Party say American forces based at the nearby Camp Darby have depleted uranium weapons.

Protesters have also occupied military trains in Vicenza.

The Interior Ministry has threatened to use "repressive methods" to stop campaigners blocking trains, although as yet these

Ethical trade: Littlewoods drops out

Published on: Wed, 19/03/2003 - 10:08

By Mick Duncan

Littlewoods, a founder member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), was bought for £750m in November by the Barclay Brothers. Three months later, it has just announced its resignation from the ETI.
The ETI was set up by campaigning groups, retailers, suppliers and trade unions in 1998 following a series of campaigns in the UK for the improvement of working conditions in companies' overseas supply chains. The ETI suffers from a lack of rigour in enforcing standards and a cross-class orientation which seeks to separate "good" employers from "bad", lining the unions and radical

Campaign against corporate murder

Published on: Wed, 19/03/2003 - 10:06

The Hazards Campaign and the Centre for Corporate Accountability are calling on trade unionists to send a special email postcard to Tony Blair asking him why the Government has not introduced legislation creating the new offence of "corporate killing".
This is part of a campaign to bring home to the Government the strength of feeling about its failure to introduce legislation which would allow employers to be prosecuted for causing workers' deaths through their management failures.

The Government promised to reform the law five years ago. Since then over 2,000 people have been killed in work

Kenya: Workers fight for union rights

Published on: Wed, 19/03/2003 - 10:04

The Kenyan Tailors and Textile union is requesting solidarity action in support of 9,200 Kenyan garment workers, producing for a number of major international brands, who were fired after going on strike in January to demand better working conditions. The workers, employed at seven factories in Kenya's export processing zones, were producing for brands including Wal-Mart, Sears, and Target.
Kenya's Ministry of Labour issued an order on 11 February instructing the factories to reinstate the workers and recognise the union by 3 March.

More information from www.nosweat.org.uk where factory

Indonesia: New anti-union law passed

Published on: Wed, 19/03/2003 - 10:01

Indonesia's House of Representatives passed the Manpower Bill on 25 February. The new law is a serious attack on workers' right to strike. Other bills are in the pipeline.
The new legislation states that workers must tell employers of an intention to strike. If they don't notify the bosses, the strike can be classified as illegal and a company can lock out workers and refuse to pay wages.

The new law also demands all labour disputes be settled within 115 days.
The employers' organisation, Apindo, wants the bill to be "enacted immediately to give legal certainty to employers and investors".

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Italy: Union prepares for referendum fight

Published on: Wed, 19/03/2003 - 10:00

On 10 March Italy's biggest trade union, CGIL, will begin the next stage of its campaign for four referendums to put to the public an alternative to the policies of the Berlusconi government.
The union has succeeded in collecting the five million signatures needed under Italy's constitution to force the government to hold a referendum.

The first of the referendums will be on the government's attempt to scrap Article 18 of Italy's labour code. Article 18 offers workers protection against unfair dismissal. There will be a second referendum on other government measures to "reform" the labour

CWU ballots to stop bonus scheme

Published on: Wed, 19/03/2003 - 09:58

The CWU has informed BT that it will ballot the 16,000 engineers who work for Customer Service to halt the unagreed "Self Motivated Teams" productivity bonus scheme. BT have introduced a "voluntary" SMT scheme and are pressing members to opt in, despite union opposition. The CWU is demanding withdrawal of the unagreed scheme before any talks on ending the current standoff.
According to management figures nearly six thousand members have participated or are participating in the unagreed scheme. The job of the union is now to persuade members to take part in industrial action to stop SMT when

Revolt on dress code

Published on: Wed, 19/03/2003 - 09:56

By a civil servant

A Manchester civil servant hit the headlines recently when he took his employer - the Department for Work and Pensions - to an Employment Tribunal, under the Sex Discrimination Act, over whether or not men at his workplace should be forced to wear ties.
The media had some fun with the issue, interviewing city bankers in sharp suits. This, however, is a very serious trade union issue.

Matthew Thompson, who took the action, works in Jobcentre Plus - an agency created by a merger of social security offices and jobcentres. In June 2002 the management banned jeans and trainers

Unison activists expelled

Published on: Wed, 19/03/2003 - 09:55

By Kate Ahrens
(Leicestershire Health UNISON, personal capacity)

Candy Udwin and Dave Carr, Unison activists and SWP members, have been expelled from the union. The two were branch officers in the University of London Hospitals (UCLH) branch of the union and were finally expelled following a lengthy appeals process on charges relating to a leaflet that they produced during the dispute at the hospital over PFI.
Although the decision of the original hearing four years ago was to expel them, they had remained members of the union throughout the appeal process. During that time, Dave Prentis was

Arriva dispute ends

Published on: Wed, 19/03/2003 - 09:52

The RMT rail union has accepted a rotten offer of a 4% wage increase from Arriva Trains Northern for conductors and guards, and the 13 month dispute in the company is now over.
The workers had taken a series of one day actions. A ballot on Arriva's pay offer rejected it, 295 to 165, though the biggest depot, Leeds, voted to accept. Union reps say that the deal will still mean workers are some of the lowest paid in the industry.

Arriva Trains are now planning cuts in the service - specifically an express route from Glasgow to Leeds.

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