Solidarity 156, 30 July 2009

Fight the BNP with working-class politics

Author

Dan Katz

The fascist British National Party continues to grow, expand its influence and extend its ambitions. In June BNP leader Nick Griffin was elected to the European parliament.

Griffin is a racist and anti-semite. He believes “non-Whites have no place here at all and [we] will not rest until every last one has left our land”, and has described the Holocaust as “the hoax of the 20th century”.

Fellow BNPer Andrew Brons was also elected polling 120,139 votes in Yorkshire and Humberside. Across the country the BNP took 6.2%, as Labour’s vote slumped.

Manufacturing: Teesside march to save Corus steel

Author

Alan Theasby reports from Teesside

On Saturday 18 July around 3,000 people marched through Redcar under the banner “Save our Steel”.

Earlier this year the steel maker Corus announced plans to shut its Teesside plant with the loss of 2,000 jobs and hundreds more in companies who supply or rely on Corus.

The unions Community and Unite called the protest and the formal call “Save our Steel” was somewhat limited, with no clear proposals from unions or campaign of how to achieve this or strategies for the fight, other than a broad coalition of unions, local politicians, media and businesses.

CWU: Royal Mail dispute

Postal workers in the Communication Workers Union (CWU) are taking selective action in a dispute with Royal Mail over the company’s “modernisation” plans.

The company says it has to respond to reduced demand for letter post. The union says Royal Mail are introducing the plans without consulting the workforce, reneging on a modernisation agreement made previously between the union and the company. The company wants to forge ahead with job cuts and reducing services.

The Tube: waiting game

The RMT on London Underground is playing a waiting game at the moment.

Following the disruptive strike action in June, drawn-out negotiations have produced an extra 0.5% on pay, minor commitments to end abuses to the sickness procedure but, crucially, no guarantees on job security. Reps met to decide to give London Underground a deadline of 29 July to talk to the union again and come up with more. Reps will meet again on 30 July to decide whether to go ahead and name more strike dates.

Pensions battle

Author

Vicki Morris

When sacked Visteon workers accepted the deal offered to them in May — a lot more redundancy pay — they continued campaigning.

Their union Unite promised to campaign on the workers’ reduced pensions, an issue left out of the deal. It is not clear that the union has done enough on that front, but the Visteon ex-workers themselves, now organised as Visteon pensioners, have picketed Ford car showrooms and the Dunton research facility, and lobbied meetings of the pension trustees.

First Group: put drivers first!

Author

Rosie Huzzard

On Friday 10 July drivers for First South Yorkshire (part of the multinational First Group) struck for the first time on a ballot over pay.

Nationally First Group has offered all workers a 0% pay increase, yet the union has demanded a 10% increase to £10 an hour (outside of London). Although the ballot had a low turnout, 77% were in favour of strike action, and the strike appeared solid with very few buses leaving, and no drivers crossing the picket. Workers’ Liberty activists visited the picket line in Sheffield to show our solidarity and find out more.

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