Solidarity 152, 28 May 2009

New wave of solidarity strikes


Martin Thomas

New strikes over jobs and union agreements have broken out in engineering construction similar to those at the end of January and the start of February this year.

According to Contract Journal (19 May), the dispute started with 50 laggers walking out at the South Hook Liquified Natural Gas terminal in Milford Haven.

Utility Week reported (20 May) “around 200 workers... picketing the South Hook liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Milford Haven. They include some from the nearby Dragon LNG terminal.”

Walk-outs in solidarity were reported from:

North Korea tests bomb


Sacha Ismail

On 25 April, North Korea conducted its second nuclear test in three years. It followed this up by restarting its main nuclear reactor, threatening to attack South Korea if it joins US-led inspections of ships suspected of carrying nuclear weapons, and firing five short range missile tests to show its teeth.

The regime walked away from talks last month after the UN Security Council condemned its test-launch of a long-range ballistic missile. Now the Security Council is threatening to strengthen the economic sanctions already in place against North Korea.

Student action pushes back Uni bosses


Katherine McMahon

Anti-cuts campaigns seem to cut deep. At Edinburgh University, details of £400,000 of cuts within the Division of European Languages and Cultures were leaked by a courageous member of staff to the Students’ Association. The reasons given were the “current climate” and the lack of profit made by the department.

Union News in brief : Linamar, Tube, UCL, PCS

Roundup of Union news in brief: Linamar, Tube, UCL, PCS

TUBE: Drivers on the London Underground's Victoria line struck on 20 May to reverse the unjust sacking of driver Carl Campbell, a sacking which had just been upheld, and demand new safety equipment on the line.

CWU debates response to jobs threat and privatisation


Maria Exall

Maria Exall, a member of the Executive of the post and telecom union CWU, spoke to Solidarity about the union's conference coming up on 7-11 June.

In the telecom sector conference, the big issue is “Service Delivery Transformation” for BT Openreach engineers. BT is demanding:

• A new “foundation grade” which will put all new workers on £4000 lower wages.

• A change in attendance patterns so that workers lose premium pay for Saturdays.

March? Good. But it’s only a start


Daniel Randall

There were some definite positives to the 16 May “March for Jobs” organised by Unite in central Birmingham.

The turnout — up to 8,000 people, mostly rank-and-file workers — was bigger than many marchers were expecting. Unite seeming to have done a decent job of mobilising in workplaces. There were contingents from the Longbridge plant in Birmingham, as well as from steelworkers in Teesside, Visteon workers and Latin American cleaners from London. Other unions, most notably Unison, were also visibly present.

Jobs, deals and Europe


Bob Sutton

Bob Sutton spoke to two Midlands carworkers about the jobs fight, the construction workers’ action, and the environmental issues in their industry.

Larry Gathrie (worker at Landrover’s Whitley development site)

We’re all waiting to see whether we're going to get the guarantees from the government for the £140 million from the European Investment Bank. Otherwise it’s very much hand to mouth at the moment.

US bosses set trap for workers

The crisis in the US car industry is leading quickly to savage attacks on working class pay, conditions, jobs and pensions. When Chrysler went bankrupt recently its assests were sold to a new entity headed by Fiat. As part of the deal Chrysler workers were offered “control” over the company. But, as the following comments from US journal Labor Notes, show these auto workers are being taken for a ride.

Hands off the Iraqi teachers’ union


Ruth Cashman

By Ruth Cashman (Unison activist and participant in the March labour movement conference in Iraqi Kurdistan)

The Iraqi Teachers’ Union is facing a vicious attack from the Iraqi Government. The Iraqi government has demanded that the leadership of the union hand over the keys to its headquarters, along with membership and other records, to a state body.

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