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Help us mark the 40th anniversary of the Grunwick strike - 18-05-2016
Help us mark the 40th anniversary of the Grunwick strike
August 2016 is the 40th anniversary of the start of the 2 year strike at Grunwick film processing in North West London. This strike, mainly of Asian women, received unprecedented levels of support from the wider movement, in contrast to the attitude of the movement to previous strikes by black and immigrant workers. This solidarity was faced with considerable police violence against pickets, with the highest number of arrests (over 500) in the course of an industrial dispute since the General Strike of 1926. The law was used both to undermine the fight for union recognition and against postal workers who refused to handle crucial Grunwick mail.The plans for the Grunwick anniversary commemorations are taking shape quickly, there's a lot happening...

We're excited to announce that we now have permission to to install a mural on a prominent wall very close to the former factory site in Willesden. This will be a permanent public reminder of the unity and solidarity that Grunwick represented and ensure that the history is remembered.
As well as the mural there is plenty more to get involved in.

This autumn there will be a major public exhibition on Grunwick at the Brent Museum, situated in Willesden Library, in partnership with Brent Council's Archive and Heritage Service. Do you have photographs or memories of the strike? If you were present would you be willing to be interviewed? If so, please get in touch.

But commemorating Grunwick is not just about remembering the past, it's also about organising for the future. Later this year we will be holding a conference (working title: The Grunwick Strike: Legacy and Lessons) which will look at current issues relating to migrant workers and the bringing together of various struggles. If you would like to get involved with the conference planning, please contact us

You can get involved in the design of the mural by coming along to one of several workshops during April – no special design or artistic ability required, just a bit of enthusiasm!

And there's more... We've heard about a number of other plans to remember Grunwick, and we'll be sharing details soon. If you are thinking of organising your own event to mark the Grunwick anniversary..

Finally, we can't do any of our activities without financial resources. The model motion we have drawn up which can be used by labour movement bodies to support our activities is attached. For individual donations we have a crowdfunding campaign Please give generously.

Don't forget to check us out on Facebook and Twitter – share, retweet and spread the word!

In solidarity

The Grunwick 40 Steering Group

PS. Please forward this email to anyone you think might be interested and encourage them to sign up to our mailing list here.

Grunwick 40 is an initiative of Brent Trades Council and the Willesden Green Town Team.

Pete Firmin, chair, Brent Trades Council, for the Grunwick 40 Steering Group

Pete Firmin [email protected]

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Charlotte Monro who was sacked from Whipps Cross Hospital in 2013 is to be reinstated after a two-year battle. Unison rep Charlotte Monro was dismissed from her role at the hospital in 2013 after 26 years, after Barts Health Trust said she failed to disclose criminal convictions relating to historic political activism. This had been dredged up after Charlotte raised concerns about care at the hospital and the effect of cuts. The trust is now in special measures after widespread failings in care standards and a culture of bullying at Whipps were identified by Care Quality Commission inspectors. There was a massive campaign to fight this attack on a union rep for speaking out. A tribunal hearing was looking at the case but Barts Health has now backed down ahead of a ruling. Charlotte will now return to her role as a moving and handling co-ordinator. She said: "I am really happy to be returning to work with my team and the rest of the staff at Whipps Cross Hospital, and Barts Health NHS Trust, and I look forward to being able to contribute to the work I understand is now under way, in response to the CQC report, to bring about improvement in our hospital. It's vital that Whipps Cross becomes again a hospital of choice for health staff to work in. Health staff must be able to speak out for their patients and services without fear."They must be free to organise themselves in trade unions and stand as representatives knowing that their rights as a union rep will be respected, and that the role of an independent union campaigning for the interests of the staff, their patients and services is also respected. These were issues at the heart of my case. Its resolution will I hope contribute to building a climate of openness and confidence so needed in our health service.” Sis. Monro thanked UNISON and her legal team for their support, stating she had been “moved and inspired” by colleagues, health campaigners and fellow trade unionists.
In a statement, Barts Health Trust said: “Charlotte will be returning in the very near future, working three days a week as a moving and handling co-ordinator, following a period of re-training.The Trust and Charlotte have also reached confidential terms of agreement in respect of her Employment Tribunal claim.” Barts has also agreed to remove all disciplinary notes from Ms Monro’s records.

report from Cities of London & Westminster monthly meeting
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The next round of strike action at the National Gallery has been announced by PCS for April 24-28 and urge even greater support for this massive battle
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Solidarity with teachers on strike today
We are backing teaching union members striking today to defend teachers and education against government attacks.

The two teaching unions, the NUT and NASUWT, who together represent nine out of 10 teachers, are taking joint action against the government’s attacks on their pensions, pay and working conditions. This second day of regional strike action this term sees teachers in the north east, south east and south west of England, Cumbria and London, staying away from school.

The government has failed to enter into meaningful talks with the teachers on issues such as:

Excessive workload and bureaucracy;
Cuts and other changes to pay;
Adverse changes to their pensions;
Job cuts

Deep concerns

Teachers are deeply concerned about the impact these imposed changes are having on the morale of the teaching profession, the recruitment and retention of teachers and on the provision of quality education for pupils. A strike on 1 October in eastern England, the English Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber resulted in more 2,500 schools being closed or partially closed.

In a message of solidarity to the striking teachers our general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Across the public sector, ministers are using the pay and pensions of dedicated workers as a punchbag.“While there are tax cuts for the super-rich and big business, our members' incomes and future living standards are being slashed.”

Marches and rallies in support of the strikes will be held in Bristol, Durham, London, Brighton, Eastbourne, Gravesend, Portsmouth, Hastings, Southampton and Worthing over lunchtimes.

from www,
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RMT general secretary Bob Crow said."24 hours on from the derailment at Camden Road we are demanding some clear and consistent information from the transport authorities into a potentially life threatening incident that will leave services closed into next week.

"This chaotic management of a deadly serious situation exposes the nonsense of having a whole raft of different organisations on the tracks from LOROL, Freightliner, Network Rail, Transport for London and the Mayor's office. It is no surprise that with so many jockeys riding the same horse that they can't get their story straight.

"Initially TFL tried to pass this off as merely an overhead line problem until RMT challenged them and there are huge inconsistencies between what TFL and Network Rail appear to be saying to the press. That confusion needs to be cleared up immediately.

"The fact that this wasn't one of the nuclear trains that use that line at that time of night is a relief to everyone but that appears to have been pure luck. The pictures that RMT has seen show that this freight train could have ended up toppling from the elevated section and into Camden Gardens. You cannot underestimate the seriousness of this incident.

"RMT recognises the need for a detailed investigation and the union will play a part in that but the authorities need to do a job of work to end the speculation that is rife at the moment and to clear up the confusion that they have created. The shambolic handling of this derailment by a myriad of different bodies reinforces the need for public ownership of rail under one accountable, public organisation. "

Rail union RMT on derailment last night that has closed rail services between Gloucester and Wales.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“Last night another freight train derailed in Gloucester leaving services into Wales disrupted for at least four days. The incident happened on the same day that a freight train derailed in North London causing total chaos.

“This pair of major derailments within 24 hours is deeply worrying and suggests that the policy of cutting maintenance jobs and casualising key works out to private agencies and contractors is coming back to haunt transport services with a vengeance.

“It appears that no one was injured in either incident and that is nothing short of a miracle. RMT will play a full role in the investigations into both derailments but we will also be stepping up our campaign to halt the jobs and maintenance cuts on Britain’s railways that create the perfect conditions for exactly these kinds of accidents.”

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MIAMI 5 EVENT OCTOBER 21 - 14-10-2013
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Pay fight continues in Marks and Spencer’s supply chain as company logs half year profits of £297 million - 06-11-2012
RMT MEMBERS at DHL’s Neasden depot, supply chain partners of Marks and Spencer’s, will strike again for 24 hours this Friday and Monday in an on-going dispute over pay and conditions.

Following a unanimous vote for action, and a rock solid strike on the 22nd October, RMT’s executive has instructed members as follows, not to book on:

· For any shifts that commence between 00:01 hours and 23:59 hours on Friday 09th November 2012.

· Or for any shifts that commence between 00:01 hours and 23:59 hours on Monday 12th November 2012.

DHL are the supply chain partners of Marks and Spencer’s and the company have a veto over the pay and conditions of the DHL workforce. Attempts by DHL to make an improved offer to the Neasden depot staff were sabotaged by a direct intervention by Marks and Spencer’s who demanded that the offer be withdrawn.

The core of the dispute hinges on the fact that the Neasden workforce are on the same terms and conditions but on lower pay scales than those members at DHL Enfield. Despite attempts by RMT to negotiate a settlement here has also been no resolution so far to the union demands for harmonisation between the depots or the call for the company to honour paid breaks. In fact union efforts to secure further talks with the company are still awaiting a response with the suspicion that M&S top brass are once again using their power of veto to hold down pay at poverty levels despite their £297 half yearly profit haul.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“It is a scandal that the highly-profitable Marks and Spencer’s organisation are using strong arm tactics to drive down pay to poverty levels in the supply chain at DHL. While the board room is awash with cash they expect the staff who generate those profits to accept shockingly low pay and attacks on their living standards that are a national disgrace.

“RMT is urging members to stand firm together and support this action with the same 100% solidarity as they have shown in both the ballot for action and the recent strike. Previous unsatisfactory offers from the Company have all been rejected by the union as they do not meet the real increased cost of living. RMT remains available for talks but is down to Marks and Spencer’s to lift their veto and allow those talks on pay justice to commence.”

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British Museum cleaners strike to stop sell-off - 05-11-2012
Cleaners and maintenance staff at one of the country's most prestigious museums were on strike on Monday against plans to privatise their work.

Low-paid workers who keep the British Museum clean and safe voted overwhelming for industrial action amid fears their pay and conditions could be seriously cut if maintenance work is contracted out as planned.

The unions, which together represent around 50 of the museum's cleaning and facilities management staff, believe senior managers are close to confirming the outsourcing will go ahead, with the new contract starting from April next year.

Monday's strike, between 4pm and 7pm, coincided with a museum members' event which attracted 3,000 guests. It involved a large number of PCS and Unite members and followed the well-supported strike last Monday.

The museum, which celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2003, is one of the most popular cultural attractions in the country with six million visitors a year.

The strike comes just days after the Office for National Statistics reported that people's living standards had fallen sharply since 2008. Food and energy costs are rising well above the rate of inflation and train companies recently announced another steep increase in fares.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "With the cost of living soaring the last thing these low-paid workers need is a private company taking over and cutting their wages and working conditions to boost profits and line shareholders' pockets.

"Cleaners and other museum staff work incredibly hard to maintain this prestigious and popular cultural attraction and we know this is appreciated by the millions of visitors the museum attracts every year. Introducing the profit motive is not only unnecessary, it risks undermining these important services to the public."

Unite regional officer Carolyn Simpson said: "Unite will not stand idly by whilst our members and this vital museum service is sold-off to an external provider.

"Without our members carrying out the cleaning and servicing of the buildings and exhibits, the British Museum's standing as a world class heritage site is in danger of becoming second class. We will not allow these jobs be outsourced without a fight."

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Colombian Teacher Trade Unionist Brutally Shot Dead - 27-10-2012
The Cauca teachers’ union, ASOINCA, has reported the murder of one of
their leading members, 43 year old teacher trade unionist Ariel Adolfo Camayo

Mr Camayo worked at the ‘Manuel Jose Mosquera de Paniquita’ school in the area of Totoro, Cauca Department teaching social sciences and geography. He
was gunned down at 6.30pm on October 26th, on his way home from work. According to reports, he died almost instantly.

The union has condemned the murder, and highlighted around 28 teacher trade unionists have been killed during the administration of President Santos, making the most dangerous country in the world in which to be a teacher trade unionist.

from Justice for Colombia
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Savage cuts will unleash a poverty whirlwind on our communities, warns Unite - 20-10-2012
The leader of the country’s biggest union warned today (Saturday October 20) that a ‘poverty whirlwind’ will sweep through Britain’s communities if this government presses on with plans to impose savage cuts.

Speaking ahead of the TUC-organised march, which will see thousands of people march through the capital in protest against the government’s austerity-only policy, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said that with living standards already crumbling people simply will not be able to cope with further punishment from the government.

Some 90 percent of cuts have yet to be imposed by the coalition. With the axe falling heaviest on the low and unwaged from April next year, as the government attacks essential income and housing support for the poor, Unite warns that the UK is not a place to be vulnerable.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “People are already borrowing hundreds of pounds to get by each month. We know – and the government knows full well – that millions of low waged workers are just about keeping their heads above water. Yet this government is going to crush their last vestiges of hope by attacking housing and income help. The poverty that will follow will engulf our communities for generations to come.

“What thanks is this for bailing out the bankers?

“In coalition Britain, big businesses and energy giants can laugh at the government's failure to rein them in and dance around their social responsibilities, while bankers can shower themselves in bonus cash.

“But be poor, be vulnerable, be sick or in need and this government will show no mercy.

“There is not a shred of economic evidence to support this austerity addiction but plenty to warn about the dire outcomes for ordinary people. Failure to think again is not just heartless, but a senseless assault on our country’s stability.”

Unite members have already reported drops in weekly income of around £66 per week since the budget in April this year. In the six months since the budget, they report borrowing on credit cards and from payday lenders has increased by £128 per month to £328, approximately one week’s wages.

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Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS) stands in solidarity with UK workers - 18-10-2012
Occupied Palestine, 18 October 2012 – The Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (PTUC-BDS), the largest coalition of Palestinian trade unions and professional syndicates, stands in solidarity with working families across the UK marching on October 20 against cuts and austerity and for “A Future that Works”. All across the world, workers are being made to pay for a crisis we did not create. We in occupied Palestine salute your efforts to defend your pensions, jobs, working conditions and public services.

PTUC-BDS was launched at a historic conference in Occupied Palestine on 30 April 2011 to provide the widest and most representative Palestinian reference for the international trade union movement and to help coordinate trade union solidarity efforts. Leaders of all major Palestinian political parties have warmly endorsed the formation of PTUC-BDS as the unified voice of Palestinian workers and professionals struggling to end Israeli occupation, apartheid and colonialism through effective, peaceful BDS measures.

PTUC-BDS calls upon trade unions to implement boycotts of Israeli and international companies that are complicit with violations of Palestinian rights, divest trade union funds from companies and institutions complicit in Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid, and apply pressure on governments to cut military and trade relations with Israel, leading to sanctions.

The so-called austerity agenda is becoming a global trend that all trade unions must combat together. Recently, due to the outrageous price rise wave in Palestine, and increase in taxation and the price of basic consumer goods and fuel, the Palestinian unions have been leading various activities, events and protests across the Occupied Palestinian Territories. PTUC-BDS coalition members have been at the forefront of strike actions demanding social protection.

As you prepare to march for social justice, we take this opportunity to thank all trade unions across the UK and the inspiring trade union activists who continue to promote BDS measures against Israel until it complies with international law, as the most morally consistent and proactive form of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

We were especially heartened by the overwhelming positive vote at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) on 14 September 2011 on a motion to “work closely with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to actively encourage affiliates, employers and pension funds to disinvest from, and boycott the goods of, companies who profit from illegal settlements, the Occupation and the construction of the Wall”. At the 2012 congress, TUC has passed a motion committing to organizing with the PSC a delegation to Gaza “to determine how the TUC may most effectively contribute to the end of the blockade”. We look forward to welcoming you in Gaza and to working closely with TUC and partners to implement your BDS policy.

We take this opportunity to invite UK workers and trade unionists to join the World Social Forum – Free Palestine to be held from November 28 to December 1 2012 in Porto Alegre (Brazil). This historic event will be a unique space for unions to discuss together with social movements, solidarity campaigns and other civil society organizations joint efforts to develop more effective support for the Palestinian people.

We understand these are critical times for the trade-union movement world-wide, and the UK movement specifically is gearing up to challenge some of the most severe cuts and austerity measures taking place in Europe. We stand shoulder to shoulder with you in your fight and thank you for the solidarity you continue to show to the struggle for Palestinian workers’ rights. We wish you the very best in your upcoming march against government attacks on your conditions.

An injury to one is an injury to all!
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Lucy Masoud on Question Time
Firefighter faces sack after Question Time appearance and Ham&High interview

Rhiannon Evans , Reporter Thursday, March 24, 2011
11:55 AM

Lucy Masoud, whose parents live in bomb-hit Tripoli, is facing disciplinary action for speaking in public

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A female firefighter is being threatened with the sack after speaking out while in the studio audience at Question Time and giving an interview to the Ham&High.
The timing could not be worse for Lucy Masoud – a union official and therefore allowed to speak to the press. Her parents live in the bomb-hit Libyan capital Tripoli and have not been contactable for more than a week.
Ms Masoud was told last week by her station manager at the Priory Road base in Hornsey that she faces three possible levels of disciplinary hearing – the worst of which would see her lose her job.
As well as speaking to the Ham&High before and after last year’s industrial action, she also appeared in the audience of a special Question Time during September’s Labour leadership race – front-runner David Miliband was so concerned he spoke to her after filming and emailed her.
Ms Masoud said: “My parents are in Libya getting bombed because Britain thinks people should have the right to a democracy and free speech, but I can’t make a legitimate comment about the London Fire Brigade.”
Ms Masoud made her comments on the BBC panel show after another audience member asked the panel if it is ever okay to go on strike.
She said: “All I said was with the government using the financial crisis as an excuse to savage the public sector, I’m a London firefighter and my position is being dismantled, so sometimes you are pressured into going on strike. It was nothing controversial.”
Then in October as strikes broke out across the capital, Ms Masoud appeared alongside other firefighters telling the Ham&High: “The main issue is, we are not going on strike about the change of shift patterns, it’s the way they are bullying us into taking new contracts.”
She later commented on a story about 27 fire engines – removed by strike-breakers Asset Co – not being returned to stations.
The firefighter, based at Hornsey for four years, said: “We all had an email saying during the strike we could not talk to the press unless we were a union press official. I called to check if I was okay and they said it was fine.
“I’m devastated. I believe I made a legitimate comment on Question Time and I felt the comments I gave to the Ham&High were in keeping with what was going on and I have the right to do that and have freedom of expression.
“I put my life on the line every day and I happily do that and love my job. But I have a right to air my grievances when I feel my health and safety is at risk – but when I do this, I am threatened with the sack. Are we in North Korea or Libya?”
She added: “I feel I am being targeted because I am active in the union. I feel bullied by management and don’t know how much more I can take. I would never want to lose the job I love but I feel the brigade management either wants to sack me or bully me until I am forced to quit.”
Ms Masoud, 33, has been further upset by the timing of the disciplinary, more than four months after her comments.
“The fire brigade has not asked about my welfare,” she said. “A month ago, I discovered I had a non-cancerous tumour on my knee. I have got enough stress, but all they can do is threaten to sack me.”
Gordon Fielden, chairman of the London Fire Brigades Union, said: “As a union official Lucy is entitled to speak for and on behalf of whoever she represents and the union without being harassed by managers for doing so,” he said. “We will use the full weight of the law to support her. It’s unacceptable and it threatens the freedom of the press and its ability to get a balanced story.”
A London Fire Brigade spokesperson said: “We do not comment on individual issues concerning any member of staff.”

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Fragmenting rail infrastructure ‘a recipe for disaster’, says RMT - 30-11-2010
Publication Date: November 29 2010

SPLITTING UP Britain’s rail infrastructure among private rail operators would be an expensive recipe for disaster, Britain’s biggest rail union warned today.

Handing responsibility for track and signalling to train-operating franchises could only result in the return of the spectre of Railtrack, with further dangerous fragmentation undermining safety as private interests sweat the assets for profit, RMT said as the government prepared to publish Sir Roy McNulty’s interim report on rail spending.

And the union warned that any resulting move to undermine rail workers’ safety, jobs and conditions would be resisted.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today: “The privateers have been longing to get their hands on the track and signalling in order to syphon off even more of the public’s money for their shareholders, but our railways are already split into far too many pieces.

“It is bad enough that we have a score of different train operators, without divvying up the infrastructure as well.

“The privateers like to talk about ‘vertical integration’, but what they want would lead to further damaging fragmentation and massive confusion, particularly where track is shared by multiple operators.

“We have already seen with Railtrack the deadly consequences of turning rail infrastructure into a cash cow, with assets being sweated and safety corners being cut by contractors whose sole interest is profit.

“For safety’s sake alone we need to maintain the integrity of rail infrastructure, but splitting it up would almost certainly lead to even more freight being priced off the rails and back onto the roads and another bonanza for our learned friends.

“The only way to achieve real vertical integration is to re-unite infrastructure and operations in a single entity with a single command structure with safety as its core principle, and what the private sector calls ‘vertical integration’ is the opposite of that.

“It is imperative that the views of the rail workers who get out there day after day to deliver our rail services are taken seriously – and it goes without saying that RMT will do whatever is necessary to protect its members’ safety, jobs and conditions.”


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Tuesday, 30, Nov 2010

Student protestors returned to London streets today and police sought to impose their control..

Students were concerned when police moved to kettle demonstrators in Parliament Square around midday, despite assurances before the march that there would be no 'kettling'.

As a result protestors spread across central London, with groups of school children and students involved in minor scuffles with police in Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square.

Police said " a line of police officers formed a cordon across Whitehall. This line of police officers intended to steer the march to one side of the road and the agreed route. There was never any intention to contain the protesters."

The police were constantly pushing protestors. Some objects were thrown at police lines.

Protestors kept moving to avoid use of the 'kettling' tactic.

"Several police vans have been deployed in such a manner that can only be described as conspicuous bullying," organisers said.

"Such misleading actions on behalf of a state institution are deplorable and unacceptable."

The National Campaign against Cuts and Fees accused police of "physical violence towards very young people and general victimisation of protesters. .... Preventing the public from their democratic right to protest peacefully is a shame to any country describing itself as liberal and democratic."

Students occupying University College London (UCL) put out a statement reading: "It is a sad day for democracy in the UK when students who accommodated every police requirement and were given permission to march are treated like criminals, with no provocation.

"We lay the blame for any disruption, distress or injury squarely at the feet of the police."

Late in the afternoon a large group of protestors remained in Trafalgar Square chanting and singing. Police closed off all entrances and exits, but encouraged small groups to leave down any street apart from Whitehall.

Other large demonstrations are being reported in major cities and throughout the UK.

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RMT takes rail cuts protest to National Rail Conference this Thursday
Publication Date: July 7 2010

AS OPPOSITION to the ConDem’s cuts measures gathers pace, rail union RMT will be holding a demonstration outside the National Rail Conference, where Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond is key-note speaker, tomorrow (8th July).

The demonstration, under the banner “Rail Cuts Cost Lives”, will start at 9am on Thursday 8th July outside the main entrance to the BT Convention Centre in Liverpool.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“We know that the ConDem Government are planning to carpet-bomb our public services with unprecedented levels of cuts that will rip apart the key building blocks of our society.

"With cuts of up to 40% in the transport budget we are looking at thousands of job losses amongst the staff who operate and maintain services with dire consequences for passenger safety as corners are cut. It is crystal clear that modernisation and upgrade works will be axed with high speed, electrification and Crossrail all on the butchers block.

"With the Government also planning to raise fares by up to 10% it doesn't take a genius to see that the state-funded racket of rail privatisation is being protected from the scorched-earth economics of the ConDems. Meanwhile, rolling stock replacements are being scrapped and station refurbishments scaled back.

“The public will be forced to pay through the nose to travel on obsolete and crowded trains on creaking and dangerous track out of crumbling and dingy stations while the private rail companies are laughing all the way to the bank.

“Thursday’s demonstration will give us an opportunity to ram the point home to the Transport Secretary that “Rail Cuts Cost Lives”. RMT will not sit back and wait for another Hatfield or Potters Bar tragedy on our railways before we act. Thursday’s demonstration is just a part of the growing Trade Union fight back against the cuts.”
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Reps come together to discuss response to cuts
7 July 2010

More than 100 senior PCS reps and officials are meeting today to discuss reaction to the most draconian public spending cuts in living memory.

The meeting comes a day after the government announced it intends to change the law to get round a High Court ruling that cuts to existing civil servants’ redundancy terms were unlawful.

The union has warned that the drastic cuts to redundancy pay, under the civil service compensation scheme, would pave the way for mass job losses that will damage the essential services that its members provide to the public.

Reps will discuss how proposed cuts to the compensation scheme fit in with the wider issues of threats to jobs, pay and pensions
Reps will discuss how proposed cuts to the compensation scheme fit in with the wider issues of threats to jobs, pay and pensions, and feedback will be presented to the union’s national executive committee next week to help frame how PCS responds legally, industrially and politically.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The coalition government has wasted no time in setting about dismantling the public sector piece by piece, so we’re wasting no time in planning how to fight back.

“We have always said we are willing to negotiate and reach agreement, but when jobs, pay, pensions and now civil servants’ contracts are under attack, we will have to plan for industrial, political and community campaigns on a scale not seen for decades.”
from www.pcs,
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Burston rally 2010
Sunday 5th September 2010, 11:00-16:00

Church Green, Burston, near Diss, Norfolk

Burston Strike School - the Longest Strike in History

On 1 April 1914 the pupils of Burston School marched in support of their two dismissed teachers, Tom and Kitty Higdon. The Higdons were closely associated with the Agricultural Workers' Union which brought them into conflict with the squirarchy and the Church of England which was responsible for the education of children in the countryside.

Association with the farm workers' union and Tom's election to the Parish council as a Labour member had prompted the dismissals. The school children, 66 out of 72, had gone on strike. This was to be the first day of the longest strike in history.

The Strike School, the alternative to the CoE County School from where the Higdons had seen sacked, was firstly located in the blacksmith's workshop and latterly in purpose built premises erected on Burston Village Green by Labour Movement subscription.

The Strike School continued to function until the beginning of the Second World War. Tom Higdon died on 17 August 1939 and the school closed a few months later. Kitty, then in her seventies, was unable to carry on alone and the remaining pupils transferred to the County School. Kitty died on 24 April 1946.

In 1949 the Strike School was registered as an educational charity. There are 4 self-perpetuating trustees who, with the support of Unite, manage the school and try to develop it as a museum, visitor centre, educational archive and village amenity.

Since 1984, an annual rally has been held in Burston to commemorate the first rally held in 1914 and celebrate the struggles that took place in Burston in the first half of the last century - a celebration of a challenge to the old rural order that has yet to be completed, but continues to be inspired by the struggle that began in Burston.
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National industrial action involving rail maintenance workers - 20-02-2010
RAIL UNION RMT confirmed that a ballot for national industrial action involving rail maintenance workers across the country will begin next Thursday – 25th February.

The ballot for action is over the threat of redundancies as part of a national drive to axe up to 1500 safety-critical maintenance jobs, a failure to follow existing redeployment procedures, a threat to use external contractors to carry out existing in-house maintenance work and a failure to communicate planned changes as part of the on-going Network Rail maintenance re-organisation. The ballot will be run in parallel with a vote for action by sister rail union TSSA.

RMT have repeatedly warned that the rail maintenance jobs massacre will threaten the safety of passengers and staff and have compiled a dossier on the impact of current unfilled vacancies – the latest example being a prohibition notice on works in South Wales due to a shortage of key workers.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“We are balloting for a national strike because we know that the threat to axe jobs and compromise safety standards makes another Hatfield, Potters Bar or Grayrigg disaster on the UK rail network inevitable.

“We have warned Network Rail repeatedly that if they don’t lift the threat to jobs and rail safety that we will have no choice but to take action. They have ignored those warnings and so the ballot will begin next week.

“I have no doubt that the British people will understand that you cannot take reckless gambles with rail safety in the name of “efficiency” and to hit financial targets on the bottom of a balance sheet.

“We are calling for an overwhelming yes vote in this ballot but remain committed to talks with Network Rail aimed at reaching a settlement to this dispute that puts the safety and security of passengers and staff right back to the top of the agenda.”

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RMT SUCCESS ON TUBE - 21-08-2009


The RMT has had a noted success with its action against threatened redundancies andv attacks on terms and conditions on the tube. The report below from the Morning Star on 19 August sums up the position.

LONDON'S Tube workers proved that strikes work yes­terday after London Under­ground bosses caved in and withdrew their threat to make 1,000 redundancies.

The stunning breakthrough in the RMT union's long-run­ning fight to defend jobs and beat back Tube bosses' attacks on workers' conditions was re­vealed exclusively to the Morn­ing Star last night.

RMT leader Bob Crow said that, following the huge capital­wide strikes in June, "London Underground has now agreed to the union's demand that there be no compulsory redundancies."

"As a result of our members standing firm, management has agreed to abide by the key secu­rity of employment clause in our union agreement and this will apply to all LUL operation­al staff," he emphasised.

London Underground had threatened to tear up a hard­won union agreement that pro­tected jobs from being cut after the Tube lines were privatised and handed over to Metronet and Tubelines. But, after the privateers ran up £6 billion in debts proving that they couldn't run the Un­derground, the government re­nationalised the franchises.

LUL executives then tried to renege on the union deal to pro­tect jobs and forcibly sack a thou­sand workers in what the RMT feared was just the beginning of the bosses' demands to make their staff pay for the debts.

But facing down virulent anti-union tirades from London Mayor Boris Johnson and the right-wing press, thousands of Tube workers walked out in a 48-hour strike this summer, in what has now proved to be a successful fightback.

"Thanks to the two days of strike action, we have safe­guarded members jobs and forced management to abide by negotiated agreements," Mr Crow stressed. "To win a commitment of 'no redundancies' from an employ­er at a time when bosses are threatening redundancies eve­ry day is a massive victory and shows what can be done," he de­clared.

"The stand that RMT mem­bers have taken has proved that, by sticking together, the union can protect jobs and conditions."

In a letter to union members, RMT organiser Steve Hedle added his praise for the stand that Tube workers had taken.

"I want to thank everyone of you who showed steadfast sup port for your colleagues which were at risk of being made unemployed," he wrote. "In particular, I would like to thank all the reps and activist: and those who manned the pick et lines that made our 48-hour dispute a huge success," he added.

Mr Crow said that the fight will now move on to securing a pay deal, highlighting that LUL bosses had already been forced to tear up their offer for a five­ year agreement that would have raised wages by barely 0.5 per cent.

"This was unacceptable," he insisted. "But, as well as securing the agreement on jobs, we have forced LUL management to back down from victimising workers taking sick leave and we will now be meeting with ACAS and the other Tube un­ions to discuss the outstanding issues around pay," Mr Crow added.
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Arab Railway Workers in Israel Fired to Make Way for Army Veterans - 30-03-2009
Sawt el-Amel, March 30, 2009:

Arab Railway Workers in Israel Fired to Make Way for Army Veterans

On April 1, 2009, most Arab railroad crossing guards in Israel will lose their jobs. This mass lay-off is a result of Israel Railways’ new policy denying employment to workers who have no permit to carry weapons – that is: who have not served in the Israeli army. According to Israel Railways, a government company, the new employment policy is designed to give priority to young army veterans.
from labourers voice
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An active trade unionist who had requested but been denied protection from the Colombian authorities was shot dead outside of his home yesterday morning as he left for work.

Ramiro Cuadros Roballo, a member of the teachers' trade union SUTEV, had been active in his union for over 20 years and, from 1995 to 2005, served as the local president in the Riofrio region. In recent years he had led a campaign to secure the payment of teachers' back-wages that they were owed by municipal authorities.

from Justice for Colombia
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NUT STRIKE ON 24 APRIL - 23-04-2008
NUT are taking national strike action on April 24. Their web site - - carries the arguments behind their action.

There is no two per cent limit in the private sector. Average earnings are rising by 4.3 per cent. Chief executives’ pay is up by 37 per cent, reaching 100 times average earnings, while bonus payments are up 30 per cent this year to £14 billion pounds.

The NUT thinks teachers’ pay should be sufficient to recruit and retain a quality workforce and avoid teacher shortages. It should be comparable to that of other graduate professionals. There should be no cuts in living standards.

Instead, teachers have suffered pay cuts in real terms every year since 2005 and now face threats of further below-inflation pay increases for 2008 to 2011.

Teachers’ pay is already lower than other professional workers. Starting pay is below other professions and pay progression is slower.

The Government threatens to create a return to “boom and bust” in teachers’ pay.

The Government and STRB agreed a pay review mechanism for 2006 and 2007 in case inflation averaged 3.25%+ over 12 months.

Inflation averaged 3.7 per cent. The Government refused the STRB a remit for 2006 & 2007, telling it to reflect its concerns in 2008 recommendations.

The NUT has called on the STRB to act independently. Its report is awaited.

NQTs’ starting pay would be £700 a year higher. Experienced teachers would be earning over £1000 more and primary heads over £1500 more. Cumulative pay losses are far higher – UPS3 teachers have lost over £2000 and this figure is rising.

The Government’s public sector pay limit means it wants to limit teachers’ pay increases to 2% for 2008 to 2011. Other public sector workers have already faced a 2% limit in 2007.

The STRB’s report on teachers’ pay is due in November 2007.

The TUC has agreed to oppose the 2% limit and “co-ordinate a joint campaign of opposition … including co-ordinated joint industrial action”.

The NUT plans to ballot members later this term. You should vote YES when the ballot takes place. In the meantime, visit – tell your story about how your living standards are being harmed and use the facility to email your MP.

The NUT achieved success in its recent campaign on pensions. All members of the Teachers Pension Scheme had their pensions protected and new teachers retain access to a quality pension scheme. This was achieved by united campaigning across the public sector.
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Gaza and Southern Israel:
ETUC demands respect for international law and a return to peace negotiations

Following a report from the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) the ETUC Executive Committee today called for an immediate cession of violent actions by Israel and Hamas, and for a return of Israel and the Palestinian authorities to the negotiating table.
The Executive Committee condemned the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli military in Gaza in recent days that has caused the deaths of over one hundred Palestinians – many of them civilians, women and children among them. It is a collective punishment of the population of Gaza which violates international law.

The Executive Committee urged Israel to refrain from all activities that endanger civilians and to respect their obligations under international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention. At the same time the Committee condemned Hamas violations of international law by firing of rockets into Israel, causing civilian casualties, and called for it to be ended immediately, so that negotiations can resume.

The Executive Committee expressed their continuing concern at the blockade of Gaza that has contributed to escalating unemployment and poverty in the territory. Negotiations are the only way to reach a lasting peace agreement based on international law and relevant UN resolutions.

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Nrest Tube Holburn.

A steering group is being organised to generate support for an inquiry into the events surrounding he arrest and conviction of Pickets arising from the 1972 building workers strike.
Currently in the South East only building workers have shown an noticeable interest in this campaign. As this is an issue that touches the whole of the Trade Union Movement and the Justice system in this country, we hope to involve a wider participation from other areas of the movement.

We are hoping to develop a steering group to take the Campaign forward and we request that if possible you can spread the word of this meeting among as many sources as you can.
If you need further information please contact me.

Mick Dooley
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Agreement reached in BBC dispute - 23-01-2008
Following all night talks the BBC and the joint unions have reached an agreement in principle over the current dispute.

The statement below was issued to the press at 5.30pm today.

Joint statement by the BBC, BECTU,
the NUJ and Unite
After extensive overnight talks, the BBC and the Joint Unions (BECTU, the NUJ and Unite) have reached agreement in principle in the current dispute.

The agreement is subject to acceptance by a consultative ballot of the joint unions’ membership.

All the parties welcome the progress made so far on jobs, allowances and pensions and will continue to work together to achieve an acceptable final settlement.

Director of BBC People, Stephen Kelly, said: “The negotiations with the trade unions have been very constructive given the complexity of the issues and the BBC’s financial position. We are hopeful that the proposed agreement will settle the dispute and enable the BBC to make the necessary changes required for the benefit of our audiences.”

BECTU General Secretary, Gerry Morrissey, said: “This set of negotiations with the BBC has been particularly difficult given the financial constraints on the BBC and the number of areas targeted for cuts, all of which impact significantly on many staff. After extensive talks overnight we have an agreement in principle which we hope will pave the way for a final settlement of the dispute. Talks in BBC Vision will continue up until the opening of a consultative ballot in March.”

NUJ General Secretary, Jeremy Dear, said: “We’re pleased the imminent threat of compulsory redundancies has been addressed and that all staff required to work unpredictable hours will continue to get a fair deal. These negotiations now give us a basis on which we can address further changes proposed by the BBC.”

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Strike ballot over BBC cuts - 23-11-2007
BBC unions have voted unanimously to ballot for national strike action, in protest at compulsory redundancies and other changes.

Representatives of BECTU, NUJ, and Unite, meeting in London today (November 22) voted for industrial action ballots after hearing that the BBC planned compulsory redundancies, despite the emergence of hundreds of volunteers.

The meeting followed a BBC-wide day of action on 5 November, with meetings and pavement gatherings at buildings across the UK.

BBC Vision staff on strike earlier this year over job cuts in Childrens TV (see photo)

Representatives heard that talks had been held earlier in the week with BBC Vision and BBC News over Director General Mark Thompson’s proposals to slash a total of 2,500 jobs across the corporation, which were announced on 18 October.

Unions were informed that 343 staff had volunteered for redundancy in News, and 303 staff in Vision. The BBC’s target for cuts was 328 in News and 440 in Vision.

However, management would not guarantee that those who have come forward as volunteers will be allowed to go. Adding to union anger, management in BBC Vision, the TV production division, announced that the process of selecting staff for compulsory redundancy while at the same time considering the volunteers – in effect cherry-picking staff – as soon as possible.

Further compulsory redundancies are threatened in BBC Scotland and other parts of the corporation including the World Service, and the Thompson cuts plan also affects Nations & Regions, Future Media & Technology, and Audio & Music.

Unions are demanding that the trawls for volunteers should be extended, and that more effort should be made to retrain and redeploy threatened staff in the 700 new jobs that the BBC plans to create in the next five years.

On top of the 2,500 job cuts, the BBC plans to withhold unpredictability allowances (UPA) from new staff from 1 January 2008 and implement changes to the pension scheme from April 2010 - plans that the unions have rejected.

Gerry Morrissey, BECTU’s General Secretary reacted by saying: “The BBC has left us with no option than to ballot our members for strike action. I am confident that we will get an overwhelming ‘Yes’ vote and that very successful strike action will take place at the beginning of January.”

He added: “The current financial shortfall of £2.2bn is a shortfall based on the BBC’s wish list to government which was not agreed as part of the licence fee settlement. Rather than continuing with this wish list, we believe that BBC management should be using the available resources to deliver quality programmes across Factual, Drama News and Sport. This is what the general public wants, not the BBC’s expansion plans.”

Luke Crawley, Assistant General Secretary said: “The BBC appears to believe that compulsory redundancies will solve the problem it faces. In doing so it displays a lack of imagination and fails to see that a demoralised workforce will find it harder to produce the high quality programmes needed to justify the licence fee. BECTU members are ready and willing to take strike action to oppose these cuts.”

Meanwhile, Supervisory Official Helen Ryan commented: “We have been outraged by BBC management’s attempt to run rough-shod over national agreements, especially in relation to the cherry-picking that has been proposed in Vision. Our members are extremely concerned that the changes to UPA and pensions, if pushed through, will lead to the gradual degradation of terms and conditions across the board and this must not be allowed to happen.”

Ballot papers will go out to members after 30 November and the ballot will close on 9 January 2008. If members vote to strike, industrial action could take place seven days after this.

from 22/11/07
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from BECTU website -

Strike action threat at BBC

Unions have called on the BBC to halt a mass redundancy exercise and enter negotiations, or face industrial action.

“The BBC must honour its agreements with the joint unions or face the fact of an immediate industrial action ballot”
A meeting of BECTU, NUJ, and Unite representatives in London today, 18 October, voted to issue an ultimatum to BBC management after hearing details of a cost-saving plan which could cut up to 2,600 jobs.

Unions have threatened to run industrial action ballots if the BBC refuses to suspend the redundancy exercise and enter full negotiations at a senior level. Management have until noon on 19 October to respond.

Representatives at the London meeting heard that officials had been told of 2,600 potential redundancies, along with unilateral changes in allowances and pensions, at an early morning briefing with Director General Mark Thompson.

Unions were told that from January 2008 Unpredictability Allowances for irregular working would no longer be paid to new staff, and from April 2010 staff over 50 being made redundant would no longer be entitled to enhanced pensions.

Management had also given notice that the process of identifying volunteers would begin two days later, before any discussions had taken place with unions about the scale of the cuts package.

Mark Thompson was warned that a premature start to the redundancy process would undermine the management's claimed desire to work constructively with unions on the cuts plan.

Managers have been accused by the unions of ignoring their legal obligation to consult unions before implementing redundancies, and breaking union agreements by giving insufficient notice of the pension and allowances changes.

BECTU Assistant General Secretary Luke Crawley said: "The BBC must honour its agreements with the joint unions or face the fact of an immediate industrial action ballot. It is unacceptable to trawl for volunteers without agreeing a national framework covering the treatment of staff facing redundancy."

The savings which the BBC anticipates from the job cuts are intended to offset a £2.2 billion shortfall in BBC funding over the next six years.

Television Centre, planned to be sold as part of the cuts (Picture: Tony Scott)

During talks about renewal of the BBC's Royal Charter last year, the Corporation made commitments to introduce new services and extend the range of content available on digital platforms like mobile phones.

Despite welcoming these plans, the government later rejected the BBC's claim for a funding formula which would provide annual increases above the rate of inflation to pay for them.

Under the cuts plan announced today, roughly £700 million will be saved over the next six years though a combination of a reduced wage bill and a £100 million annual cut in TV programme-making.

Even if all these savings were achieved, they would fall £1.5 billion short of the original £2.2 billion spending target, leaving the long list of proposed new services unfunded.

Union officials are concerned that the staff who remain after any redundancies would be expected to take on onerous new duties to help deliver the promised new services, leading to stress and illness.

One issue that the unions believe must be settled before the redundancy exercise can begin is a guarantee that there will be opportunities for re-skilling and resettlement for staff threatened with redundancy.

In a previous job cutting exercise which began in 2004 and resulted in over 3,000 post closures, managers were criticised for putting too little effort and imagination into finding alternative employment for redundant staff.

In one area, Childrens' Factual TV, union members took strike action after compulsory redundancy notices were issued, despite the existence of many staff in the same job categories who were willing to volunteer to leave the BBC.

Unions have called for an immediate freeze on recruitment at the BBC to create redeployment opportunities as an alternative to redundancy for threatened staff. Under the new cuts plan, 700 new posts are expected to be created, and unions believe that these should all be available to existing staff who are seeking resettlement.

Officials have emphasised that the unions are willing to negotiate over all aspects of the latest cuts round, but will not hesitate to call for strike action if the BBC refuses to agree to suspend the redundancy process to allow talks to take place.

Letter from Joint BBC Unions to Mike Gooddie, BBC Employee Relations and People Strategy Director
I am writing on behalf of the Joint BBC Unions in relation to the announcement of 2,500 redundancies at the Corporation.

We believe that, given the number of proposed job cuts and the five-year time frame, compulsory redundancies can, and should, be avoided by the BBC.

In failing to consult with the recognised Trade Unions the BBC is in breach of employment legislation and existing union agreements.

A meeting of the joint unions in response to the announcement has passed the following proposition unanimously:

The BBC must agree a national framework which will cover how the divisions will process the redundancies, and crucially, what they will do to assist staff to be retrained and redeployed. Until the national framework is in place, no divisional talks should take place, and the process of consultation should not start. This means that the clock will not start ticking for those either identified or selected for redundancy until agreement is reached on the national framework.
The joint unions will regard it as a hostile act if the BBC starts the process by calling for volunteers before a national framework is in place. The unions require an assurance from the BBC, no later than noon tomorrow October 19th, that no trawl will begin. In the event of the BBC conducting a preference exercise seeking volunteers for redundancy without union agreement, the unions will immediately begin ballots for industrial action.
The agreement from ACAS which provides five months from the date of seletion for staff to allow them to be redeployed expires in March 2008. The BBC needs to extend this agreement long enough to cover all redundancies included in this round of cuts.
There should be an external recruitment freeze for the duration of this round of cuts.
Any new jobs created should be reserved for those at risk of redundancy.
The BBC must provide an agreed financial incentive to divisions to ensure that staff selected for redundancy are redeployed rather than be forced to leave the BBC.
This meeting notes that the Health & Safety Executive has informed the BBC that it is breach of existing laws concerning stress management. The BBC should carry out an immediate stress-specific risk assessment across the BBC to ascertain the impact of the changes on the workers who remain, and should put in place control measures to reduce risk of increased stress to a minimum
The BBC would be in breach of its agreements with the unions by trying to withdraw Unpredictability Allowances without giving the currently-agreed notice period. This is unacceptable, and the BBC should withdraw the threat. The unions would be willing to discuss this at national level, but not against the threat of the allowance being automatically withdrawn in January 2008.
The proposal to withdraw pension augmentation from 2010 also needs to be discussed at national level well in advance of any changes.
Full information on the BBC's proposed spending plans for the next six years should be provided to the Joint Unions, who would welcome an opportunity to discuss them with the Director of Finance.
In view of the Director General's commitment, expressed earlier, to work closely with the Joint Unions on the restructuring plan announced today, I look forward to a positive response.

Luke Crawley, BECTU Assistant General Secretary

BECTU Press Release - 18 October 2007
BBC unions to ballot for strike action over 2,500 job cuts
The BBC unions (BECTU, the NUJ and Unite) today voted unanimously to commence ballots for strike action in the event that the BBC does not agree to a national framework to promote re-skilling rather than redundancy.

This emanates from BBC Director General Mark Thompson’s announcement earlier today that the BBC intends to make 2,500 staff redundant. The proposed cuts will mainly affect BBC Vision and News departments. However, he also announced there would be 700 new jobs created.

Under his proposals, the bulk of the redundancies will take place in the first two years and he gave notice to terminate unpredictability allowance (UPA) for all new staff from a date to be agreed early next year. At the same time, he also gave notice that the current preferable discounting arrangements on pensions for staff being made redundant would terminate on 6 April 2010.

Mark Thompson said the 2,500 job losses and the changes to UPA and pensions were necessary to balance the books after a very unsatisfactory licence fee settlement. In addition, he announced the BBC would be spending £100m a year less on original production than is currently the case – equivalent to a 10% cut of its original production budget. In addition there would be less pages on its website and less frequent updating.

Union reaction
Senior representatives from the three joint unions met Mark Thompson prior to him addressing BBC staff. When the proposals were reported back to union reps there was a clear feeling of outrage that the BBC was failing to abide by its national agreements and many members said they felt they were paying for management’s incompetence with their jobs. The unions unanimously rejected the BBC’s request for divisional talks on the cuts until such time as there is a national framework agreement in place.

BECTU’s BBC supervisory official Helen Ryan commented: "We do not believe there can be productive negotiations at divisional level until we have a framework to ensure that wherever you work in the BBC you will be treated fairly and consistently throughout this process."

When confronted on Wednesday morning, Sir Michael Lyons ensured the unions there would be meaningful negotiations on the proposals. However, the unions are now being informed by management that a trawl for voluntary redundancies will begin tomorrow, Friday 19 October. The joint unions have made it clear that this is a provocative act and unless letters to staff are withdrawn before 12 noon tomorrow will lead to an immediate ballot for strike action.

National Framework Agreement
The unions’ demands as part of a national framework agreement are principally as follows:

An agreed percentage of all newly created positions are to be given to those staff at risk of redundancy.
Divisions of the BBC are only to be given money from the corporate centre to cover the net number of redundancies, rather than the gross number. Ie., if a department needs to recruit and they choose not to redeploy existing staff, that department will have to fund the extra redundancy costs involved.
The BBC commits to doing a risk assessment of each area including a stress assessment before implementing any redundancies.
No recruiting will occur while redundancies are taking place.
Luke Crawley, BECTU’s Assistant General Secretary said: "We are extremely concerned that the pressures on staff left behind will lead to increased stress and strain, which is why we are demanding that the BBC implements a programme of risk assessments before any redundancies take place. Destructive cuts like these will damage programme quality."

Gerry Morrissey, BECTU’s General Secretary commented: "We were expecting redundancies as a result of the poor licence fee settlement, but this magnitude is far greater than we expected, or is required. We are concerned that the salami slicing proposed by management will damage quality as well as put unreasonable demands on staff.

"Staff do not want the BBC damaged in this way. Failure to heed these demands will lead to a strike ballot and will receive strong support from staff and the general public."

He concluded: "The Director General today said many fine words about skilling current staff for the future. The demands that we are making of him will prove whether or not his words are just lip service."


Notes to editors:

UPA (Unpredictability Allowance) is an additional shift allowance payment given for working unsociable hours.
Preferable discounting arrangements for pensions govern how much a person will suffer in abatement if they choose to retire early. Under Mark Thompson’s proposals, this abatement will be waived if a member of staff is made redundant. [NB: This coincides with the BBC’s decision to move the retirement age to 55 from 2010. So, anyone born after 6 April 1960 will not now be able to retire until 55 unless they are prepared to take an abatement.]
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A PETITION calling for jobs for disabled people to be safeguarded has been delivered to Westminster after a 114-mile overnight march from a Poole factory. Scores of Remploy employees from the Alder Hills plant struggled with the weighty 8,000-signature document before handing it over to a team of six runners spearheaded by Newtown ward councillor Mike Plummer.

The team delivered the papers - which made up the last segment in a national 60,000-signature petition - to work and pensions secretary Peter Hain.

Cllr Plummer said: "It is very rare for a minister to accept a petition in person, so it was very reassuring.

"He was very interested in one of our suggestions to appoint a disabled person as a Remploy director.

"We want all 43 threatened factories to stay open, every one of the 2,270 disabled jobs to be guaranteed and more recruitment into Remploy factories."

Mr Hain threw Remploy a lifeline of sorts at last month's Labour party conference in Bournemouth.

He said government was working to land more public procurement contracts and promised no factory would close without ministerial say-so.

Unions have been at loggerheads with Remploy management, who want to close 32 factories - including the Alder Hills plant - and merge 11 as part of modernisation plans.

Cllr Plummer said: "When you tour the factory the workers come up to you in tears.

"They are desperate to stay on. It is more than just a place of work, it is their family."

The Poole factory makes lifejackets for the MoD and employs 47 people, including 42 with disabilities.

Of his march to Westminster, Cllr Plummer said: "It is fair to say I am pretty tired today, especially after spending five hours in casualty last night.

"As I got out of the support car to start my leg on the A31, some idiot had thrown rubbish out of his window and I tripped over it.

"I fell over, fracturing my elbow, but in the spirit of true grit, picked myself up and continued with the journey.

"I will continue to fight for Remploy workers."

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The 35th anniversary meeting of the Pentonville 5 , commemorating their being got out of jail by mass working class action, made a big impact in London on Saturday 28 th July.

The tone was set by Martin Gould, SERTUC President who said that although we needed to remember our history we needed to learn the lessons so we could effectively campaign for trade union frredom today. This was echoed by he other speakers Ann Field National Officer AMICUS with a print background and TGWU Region 1 Secretary Steve Hart. A strong statement of how the spirit of the working class would triumph over the attacks being made on it came from Vic Turner, one of 5 jailed dockers.

Extracts from the Cinema Action film about the events in 1972 made a powerful impact on the audience as it showed the print workers closing down Fleet Street and the march up to Pentonville prison when the dockers were released. Copies of the DVD sold like hotcakes.
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Public Services meeting Harrow Wednesday 25th July 2007 - 10-07-2007
Public Services not Private Profit meeting at 7pm on Wednesday 25 July 2007 at Harrow Baptist Church, College Road, Harrow HA1 1BA
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(NEAREST TUBE – Tottenham Court Road)

In the last week of July 1972 mass working class action got the Pentonville 5 out of jail. The 5 dockers, imprisoned under Tory anti-union laws, were released due to mass solidarity strike action by workers across Britain.
This meeting marks that important victory but also uses its lessons to look at the need to fight for trade union freedoms today.

Looking at what happened in summer 1972. Its position alongside the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in, the miners strikes of 72 and 74, the engineers fight over hours with occupations and sit-ins, the building workers struggle, Fakenham womens work-in, equal pay struggles, internment in Ireland, Vietnam War and much more.

Looking at the importance of solidarity action in union struggles and the need to remove the anti-union laws in 2007.
STEVE HART Regional Secretary TGWU No1/Unite
ANN FIELD National Officer Amicus/Unite
VIC TURNER one of the Pentonville 5
Chair – Martin Gould President S&ERTUC
Plus special guests
Video, photos, posters.

Celebrating and learning from the past in the cause of today and the future.

Organised jointly by


Supported by S&ERTUC & GLATUC
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MAY DAY CARDS - 19-04-2007

A Celebreation of Workers Solidarity


A small community project now in its 14th year of production

£7.00 for ten
Northampton Connolly Association
5 Woodland Avenue
Northampton NN3 2BY

Tel. 01604-715793

Part of our alternative voices series – we distribute…

1. “HIDDEN WOUNDS” Brutalised soldiers are coming home to brutalise…

About the rehabilitation / psychological problems that Northern Ireland veterans experience on their return to civvy street and the number who end up in HM prisons. Also comment on Vietnam veterans. By former soldier

Aly Renwick. £4.99. (nb. Between 1984 and 2006, 687 serving soldiers committed suicide-MoD statistics)

They ask me where I’ve been

And what I’ve done and seen.

But what can I reply

Who knows it wasn’t I,

But someone just like me

Who went across the sea

And with my head and hands

Killed men in foreign lands...

Though I must bear the blame,

Because he bore my name. Wilfred Gibson 1WW vet

2. “NOTHING BUT THE SAME OLD STORY” – the roots of anti-Irish racism by Liz Curtis.

“I welcome this book and feel it will help play a valuable part in helping to remove the negative and racist stereotyping which so often adversely effects the Irish community in Britain.” Ken Livingstone, now Mayor of London. £2.50

Part of our Irish Studies series – includes books and videos. Ask for separate leaflet.

3. An Interlude with Seagulls - Memories of a Long Kesh internee by Bobby Devlin. ‘I went into Castlereagh a poor, humble postman, but according to information received, I was a brigadier-general in the Irish Republican Army. This dramatic promotion must have even eclipsed General Custer’s meteoric rise in the American civil war. £1.50

4. …LAST NIGHT ANOTHER SOLDIER…by Aly Renwick. A novel written by an ex-soldier. Not for the

faint hearted, it deals with the reality of British soldiers experience in Northern Ireland. £3.95

5. Cormac Strikes Back – resistance cartoons from the North of Ireland. Cormac is a radical and very popular Belfast cartoonist. Introduction by Guardian cartoonist

Steve Bell. £2.50

6. British Soldiers Speak Out on Ireland. 1969-198? A real exposé by ex squaddies. Some then on the run.

Only a few left. £1.00

7. THEY SHOOT CHILDREN – between April 1972 and April 1986, 16 people, seven of them children, were killed by plastic and rubber bullets. £1.00

8. Selected Short Stories Of Donall MacAmhlaigh. – Northampton based writer and chronicler of the Irish working experience in Britain, author of An Irish Navvy, Schnitzer O’Shea, An Dialann Deoraí etc. £6.00


A poetry anthology by the first and later generations living in Britain, France and the USA. 47 poems by 32 internationally acclaimed poets. Fergus Allan, Linda Anderson, Samuel Beckett, Brian Farrington, Nigel Gray, Desmond Greaves, Sean Hutton, Derry Jeffares, Richard Kell, Brendan Kennelly, Thomas Kinsella, Tom Leonard, James Liddy, Eddie Linden, Roger McGough, Edward Mackin, Joe Malone, Gerard Mangan, Ewart Milne, Aiden Murphy, Hayden Murphy, Michael P O’Connor, Desmond O’Grady, Michael O’Neill, Derry O’Sullivan, Tom Paulin, Cyril Leslie Riley, Padraig Rooney, Deirdre Shanahan, Matthew Sweeney, Shaun Traynor, Robert Welsh. £3.80 including postage UK. $9.00 USA airmail – only a few left.

10. Rebel Cards – a celebration of our heroes - most cards have a picture on the front with a short biography or quote on the inside left. Wolfe Tone + Bastille day card – 3, Jamie Hope, Henry Joy McCracken, James Connolly – 3 Countess Markievicz, Padraig Pearse, Roger Casement, Maud Gonne MacBride, Jim Larkin, Chartist Leaders, Feargus O’Connor, Bronterre O’Brien, Michael Davitt, Robert Emmet – 2, Jim Connell + The Red Flag, Charles Bradlaugh + I was there quote, Anne Besant, Terence MacSwiney, John MacLean, William Morris, Robert Tressell, Sylvia Pankhurst, G.B.Shaw, Charlotte Despard, Keir Hardie, Tom Paine, Robert Owen, Martin Niemoeller quote, Eva Gore-Booth, Shelley red poet, John Clare poet, Scotland Go Bragh, Erin Go Bragh, Irish Proclamation - facsimile edition, Revolution means Change, The Minstrel Boy, The Training Ground, etc + May Day Cards - 8 designs-The Solidarity of Labour, Tolpuddle Martyrs etc. Peace Cards (anti-war)-6 designs, Bookmarks etc.

11. The Missing Piece in the Peace Process by Ken Keable. Why British people must campaign for Britain to withdraw from Northern Ireland. Forward by Tony Benn. £3.00

12. The Irish Republican Congress Revisited by Patrick Byrne (former joint Secretary with Frank Ryan) £2.00

13. Video – ‘The Irishmen’ social commentary made in 1965. Music by Ewan Macoll and Joe Heaney. £18.00

From;-Northampton Connolly Association 5 Woodland Avenue Abington Northampton NN3 2BY Tel. 01604-715793 e-mail: [email protected]

Also – we attend community festivals.
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Harrow Trades Union Council

Defend Public Services- Not Private Profit

Paul Kenny, General Secretary GMB
Mark Serwotka, General Secretary PCS
Dr John Lister London Health Emergency
Harrow Baptist Church College Road, Harrow

For more information contact HTUC Secretary

John Rattray 07956 828280
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See full datails -
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The last week in July 1972 saw the successful freeing of the Pentonville 5 (5 imprisoned dockers) by mass workers’ action. July 26 was the day they were released as a mass demonstration reached the prison.

Combined with all the other mass actions going on during the early 70s this led to the defeat of the Tory anti-union laws in the Industrial Relations Act (which had been foreshadowed in Barbara Castle’s “In Place of Strife” document for the previous Labour Government). The Miners Strike of 74 brought it all to a head and the defeat of the Heath Government.

The example of the Pentonville 5 struggle was how united trade union action could defeat attacks on workers rights. The anti-Trade Union laws we now face – brought in by the Thatcher but enthusiastically continued by Blair – have to be defeated. They are the key attack on civil liberties – denying workers the right to support each other. The shackling of unions was the necessary precursor to the mounting attacks on civil liberties that have followed.

The spirit of Pentonville lives on in the struggle of workers to improve their conditions and to maintain the bond of solidarity. We must build on that to defeat the anti-union laws.


Cities of London & Westminster Trades Council
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Central House,
Upper Woburn Place,

President: Jim Smith (PCS)

Secretary: Roger Sutton (TGWU) 0207-388-0852w
[email protected]

Treasurer: Malcolm Key (UNISON)


Speakers include -

Institute of Employment Rights
PCS National Executive

TUESDAY 4 JULY 2006 18.00
PCS London /SE Region Offices Douglas Houghton House
231 Vauxhall Bridge Road
London, SW1V 1EH
(nearest tube Victoria)
The legal stranglehold on unions needs to be broken Britain is in breach of ILO Conventions on workers rights. Last year the TUC adopted the call for a campaign to remove these restrictions. On May 1st the TUC gave a first boost to the campaign. It also began a discussion on a Trade Union Freedom Bill with unions and organisations like the IER..
We all need the removal of these anti-union laws to enable a more effective trade union fight for members. We need to build the campaign which has been led by the United Campaign and the Liaison Committee over many years.
We need to build the campaign locally. If you want to help build the campaign come to this meeting. All welcome.
We urge you to get activists and branch members to come and hear what the campaign is doing and what needs to be done to get unions fully involved,
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trade union and employers' representativess are due to meet later today to consider an outline proposal put forward tto break the deadlock in talks on a new national partnership agreement.

The talks adjourned May 30 after 12 hours of negotiations. The proposals allow for general pay increases of 10% over 27 months but unions and employers have yet to reach agreement on pensions.

The Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, said the proposals represented a fair balance between the need to secure the living standards of those at work, and the pressures of the enterprise sector of the economy.

The increases would be paid with an initial increase of 2%, followed by 3% six months later. Another 2% would be paid after a further six months with 3% six months later again.

There would be a special 0.5% additional increase for the low paid. However, there would be no provision for local bargaining in profitable sectors.

Speaking after the talks, Turlough O'Sullivan of the employers' group, IBEC, said he was reasonably happy with the proposals.

However, David Begg of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions said he was not happy with proposals put forward to address the issue of pensions.

Sources - RTE, ICTU
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lLcturers' jn Northern Ireland strike over pay toda
Lecturers have said they have run out of patience with their employers.

They want "equal treatment" with school teachers, who on average earn £2,500 more than college lecturers.

Almost 1,900 college staff in NI are members of the union, Natfhe, which has voted for three separate day-long strikes and a work-to-rule.

Jim McKeown, the union's regional officer, said there would be little teaching done on Thursday.

"The action short of strike is aimed at mainly frustrating the administration of the colleges not directly at hitting students," he said.
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CWU Conference: Strike Call On Post Office Pay - 24-05-2006
The prospect of strike action across the Post Office as well as Royal Mail was raised by the passage of a second emergency motion at this week’s Annual Conference.

The vote, which could affect counters and clerical staff plus those who work in the Cash In Transit division, followed hot on the heels of a unanimous call for strike action in letters business Royal Mail.

The motion - moved by the CWU’s Postal Executive - called on Post Office Limited to re-open stalled pay negotiations with the aim of reaching a settlement. If such negotiations fail to materialise the union’s executive is empowered to conduct a consultative ballot with a view to holding an immediate industrial action ballot among members.

A series of speakers derided the 2.9 per cent ‘final offer’ placed on the table by POL. “The time has come to take POL on,” said assistant secretary Andy Furey. “We will take our argument for the future of the network to Government. We can do this if we put the hard work in and do the best for members.”

Chris Osborne, of London No7 branch, said stress levels had gone up 70 per cent over the past two quarters, affected by the demands of a new sales culture. “People are dropping like flies,” said Chris.

Territorial Counters rep Jim Reeves pointed out how POL was offering £1.4 million across 6,000 workers, resulting in an average bonus of £200 while 500 managers were receiving £2,000 each.

Greg Charles, of London South West Postal, called on the NEC to ensure minority grades were not picked on or left out. “If they won’t recognise the contribution being made we must use an industrial action ballot,” he said.

POL must now engage in serious negotiations around the future of the Crown Office network, pay parity for the new CSA grade and the future of external contract work for the Cash In Transit division. If they fail to do this, the union will engage members in a consultative ballot, with a possible industrial action ballot to follow, the motion said.

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Dear Friends,

Last Sunday 2nd April trade union activist Daniel Cortez, from the Colombian electricity workers’ union SINTRAELECOL, was assassinated near the city of Barrancabermeja by an army-backed paramilitary death squad. According to the Colombian TUC, Mr Cortez, who had been active in the union for 16 years, was shot twice in the face and died instantly.

Despite claims to the contrary made by the Colombian Government the situation faced by trade unionists is still extremely critical with at least 70 trade union activists assassinated last year. Justice for Colombia is also aware of a further three trade unionists who were forcibly disappeared during 2005.

Please send messages of protest about this latest killing, and demanding a full and open investigation, to the following:

Colombian Vice-President Francisco Santos
[email protected]
Colombian Minister of Defence Jorge Alberto Uribe
[email protected]
Head of the Presidential Human Rights Program Dr Carlos Franco
[email protected] & [email protected]

Please also consider sending a message of protest to the above named people regarding the continuing threats against two activists of the Colombian agricultural workers’ union FENSUAGRO – a union with which Justice for Colombia has a human rights project.

In recent weeks the two activists – Oscar Salazar and Hubert Ballesteros, who is also the national Vice-President of the union – have been regularly followed by military intelligence officers in the city of Popayan where both are based. The military are using a blue Mazda 323 jeep with tinted windows and a Honda motorbike to shadow the two men. Five FENSUAGRO activists have been assassinated in recent months after being followed in a similar manner.

Although both Hubert and Oscar have been offered armed bodyguards by the Colombian Government, they are not allowed to choose who these guards will be. The bodyguards they have been offered are in fact members of the Colombian DAS secret police. The DAS have been involved in numerous assassinations of trade unionists and the FENSUAGRO General Secretary, Luz Perly Cordoba, was unjustly imprisoned for eleven months after her DAS bodyguards provided false testimony against her. Not surprisingly, Hubert and Oscar are not willing to accept DAS bodyguards.

Please write to the Colombian authorities mentioned above demanding that the lives of these two trade unionists be respected and asking that they are offered bodyguards that are not employed by the DAS secret police service.
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Council staff back mass strikes - 15-03-2006
Supplied by Citiesof London & Westminster Trades Council -
Council workers have voted for industrial action in protest at pension changes.

Up to 1.5 million staff will stage a walkout on 28 March following a ballot .Unions cover cooks, refuse collectors, home helps and manyothers.

The unions are angry at government plans to scrap a rule that allows some to retire on a full pension at 60.

Councils say that costs mean this must rise to 65 for all employees.

About four-fifths of the members of eight trade unions - including Unison, the Transport and General Workers Union and the GMB - who took part in a national ballot voted for strike action.

UNISON says -Members vote for pensions action
(15/3/06) UNISON members have voted Yes to strike action over pensions by an overwhelming majority.

Some 80% supported strike action to demand fair treatment over pension rights in the Local Government Pension Scheme.

The union’s industrial action committee today endorsed the first day of strike action on 28 March. UNISON will be joined in the action by nine other unions.

General secretary Dave Prentis said: “Civil servants, teachers, police, firefighters and the NHS have all been given protection for existing members over changes to their pension scheme. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason in singling out LGPS members for such unfair and unjust treatment.

“Our members deserve the pensions they have already paid for.”
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Colombiam trade unionist assassinated on 2 March 2006 - 10-03-2006
Sent by: The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme with the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT and the International federation of Human Rights (FIDH)

The Observatory has been informed by the Barrancabermeja branch of the Central Trade Union Federation (CUT) about the assassination in this city, Santander department, of Sr Hector Diaz Serrano, affiliated to the Oil Workers Union (USO) and an employee of the Colombian Oil Company (ECOPETROL) in Camp Casabe for the past 11 years.

According to information, on 2 March 2006, towards 10 at night, Sr Hector Diaz Serrano, 43 years old, was waiting for his transport to work in El Cincuentenario district in the south of the city (according to reports, an area totally under the control of paramilitaries) when he was shot several times by a hitman (paid assassin) who approached the victim and shot him without saying a word.

This assassination occurred amid prevailing insecurity in the region, especially since the publication on 2 March 2006 of the following threat in the daily newspaper Vanguardia Liberal: “Our armed organisation maintains that it will continue with the demobilisation process of the Uribe government. However, we will continue with the struggle until we have eliminated every last terrorist guerrilla and their accomplices.” This published communication was signed by commander Taraza, whose organisation calls itself “Magdalena Medio Regional Command.” According to information, the threat is directed specifically towards trade union candidates standing for election to the House of Representatives and the Senate who belong to the CUT, the Association of Departmental Workers (ASTDEMP), the Santander United Workers Union (USITRAS), the Metropolitan Displaced Peoples Organisation and the USO.
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GMB is leading the fight against Croydon Council's plan to close its Crosfield supported factory with the loss of 100 jobs, including 85 local disabled people of which 60% have learning disabilities.

Croydon Council directly employs some 10,000 workers but less than 2% of its workforce is disabled.

Crosfield is a supported employement factory and its disabled workers represent 47% of the Council's disabled workforce. So nearly half of the Council's disabled workers spent Christmas with the fear of redundancy hanging over their heads.

For all latest news go to GMB Site and click on Crosfield button
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NUJ protest supports Eileen on her last day - 16-01-2006
Tower Hamlets Council NUJ chapel held a protest lobby against the sacking of Eileen Short on her last day as an employee as the council refuses to reverse their decision to sack her.

The protest took place outside the Town Hall and NUJ members went along to support a fellow member facing victimisation of the worst kind.

Eileen Short, a joint NUJ/UNISON member, has been deselected from her job at Tower Hamlets council. She is a key figure locally and nationally in opposing housing stock transfers and members in Tower Hamlets are convinced that is why she is being victimised.

Eileen was told she was redundant as part of a review, despite there being four suitable vacancies she could be transferred to.

The chapel sent an open letter to councillors asking them to reinstate Eileen Short but has so far received no reply.

The letter calls on the councillors to resolve the dispute before it becomes necessary for the case to be taken to an industrial tribunal – which her legal team are confident she would win.

The Tower Hamlets NUJ chapel went out on strike in late November and for two days in mid-December and have held well-supported lunchtime rallies addressed by the local MP George Galloway and councillor Oliur Rahman.

NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear said: “We are calling on NUJ members to come and be there with Eileen so that she knows she is not alone on what will be an extremely difficult day for her.

“She has our total support and our admiration for her courage and determination in the face of the most outrageous treatment. We will not let this matter rest until there is a just solution.

"It is still not too late for the council to rectify the situation. Eileen is an experienced employee and an asset they cannot afford to lose. They must act now before it is too late."

More than fifty MPs have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM 797) opposing Eileen's victimisation.

Please send messages of support to Eileen c/o Tower Hamlets Unison, 41/47 Bow Road, London E3 2BS Fax: 0207 364 5033 or [email protected]

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RMT members have won a a "massively improved pay offer" from the Docklands Light Railway after the threat of strike action over Christmas.

RMT s Executive will consider the offer which is a 2-stage no strings package worth 5.25%, big advances in travel concessions and a £100 New Year's bonus.
There would be a 3.5% increase from January 1 and a further 1.75% in July. The deal will also mean on completion of training staff will get full-pay rather than a year on reduced rates.
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Threshold of decency defended in Irish Ferries dispute - 19-12-2005
14 December 2005
Brendan Hayes

Agreed settlement terms in the dispute between SIPTU and Irish Ferries have been negotiated, according to SIPTU Vice President, Brendan Hayes.

"The Union has been successful in ensuring that the threshold of decency has been defended and that vulnerable migrant maritime workers have the protection of Irish law," said Mr. Hayes.

"The settlement terms will provide a framework for the protection of workers in the company and for the viable operation of the ferries business into the future.

"One of our key objectives was the payment of the Irish minimum wage and this has now been achieved," he said. "SIPTU has secured substantial increases in the rates of pay originally proposed by management, which will bring wages up to and above the Irish national minimum wage.

"The protection of the terms and conditions of employment of Irish Ferries staff who wish to remain working for Irish Ferries has been secured.

"The redundancy offer will be reopened to those staff who did not respond to the original deadline unilaterally set by management in September of this year.

"Crewing ratios will now be substantially higher that those originally proposed and will guarantee reasonable periods of rest.

"The terms and conditions for both officers and ratings will far exceed those originally proposed.

"A framework agreement which will legally protect all employees - irrespective of the flag under which the company registers its vessels - has been agreed.

"SIPTU will meet the contract company Dobson to agree the details of a collective bargaining agreement covering new employees.

"The full terms of the agreement will now be put to the members and we anticipate that this dispute will be settled.

"The negotiating team would like to thank the general public for the massive support they have shown throughout this dispute and we particularly want to thank the general members of SIPTU and the international trade unions - through the International Transport Workers Federation - for their solidarity over the past several months.

"We are now calling on the Government to enforce and enhance our labour legislation to ensure that a situation such as that which occurred in Irish Ferries never happens again," he concluded.

from SIPTU website
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Protestors were out in force last night (14/12) to lobby Tower Hamlets council as part of the growing campaign to oppose the victimisation of press officer and NUJ member Eileen Short.

The lobby coincided with strike action by 20 members of the council’s Communications Department in support of Eileen’s redeployment. Eileen, a respected journalist and tenants activist is facing compulsory redundancy after being forced to reapply for her own job.

Despite 14 years’ excellent service and despite being the only permanent staff member eligible for four vacant Communications Officers posts she has been refused redeployment under a reorganisation of the Department carried out by outside consultants believed to be being paid £250,000.

Campaigners believe Eileen is being victimised as a result of her active participation in opposing the transfer of council housing stock.

At last night’s rally NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear joined local campaigners, Unison representatives and councillors in pledging support for Eileen.

Jeremy said: “The reality is Eileen is not redundant, she does not lack the skills necessary to do her job, she does not lack experience and she does not have a poor record. She is being victimised and it is time the council ended this scandal and redeployed her into one of the vacant posts.”

More than 50 MPs have already signed a protest motion backing Eileen, and John McDonnell and Austin Mitchell, secretary and chair of the NUJ Parliamentary Group have written to the Minister for London and council leaders demanding urgent talks to resolve the dispute.
nuj website
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Well over 180,000 people have taken part in protests across Ireland in support of Irish Ferries workers.
The national day of protest on 9 December was called by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, shoewing solidarity with the threatened workers and demanding Government action to combat exploitation of migrant workers and the displacement of jobs.
There were rallies in Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Shannon, Wicklow, Limerick, Galway, Sligo, Athlone and Rosslare. Bus and rail services were disrupted during the protest.
The workers on board the Isle of Inismore in Pembroke and the four engineers occupying the ships control room have said they were overwhelmed by the level of support shown by marchers in today's rallies.
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Dublin Council of Trade Unions condemn extradition attempt

The following Motion was proposed at the Monthly Delegate Meeting of Dublin Council of Trade Unions on October 11th by Mr. Jack O'Connor, President of the country's largest trade union, SIPTU and passed by a vote of the Trades Council:-

"This Trades Council notes with concern that the Court in Northern Ireland has placed serious restrictions on Sean Garland, President of the Workers Party, prohibiting him from leaving that jurisdiction pending the Hearing of an application for his extradition to the US.

Moreover, the Council is also concerned that no evidence has been advanced in support of the application, despite suggestions that an invstigation has been underway for fifteen years.

The Council also notes that Sean Garland, who is 71 years old and in declining health, has not been charged with any crime and is concerned that his rights under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights may be violated in that he has not been offered the right to a fair trial".

The Dublin Council of Trade Unions has sent a copy of this motion to the Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern.

Sean Garland arrest raised in Dail Eireann

The arrest of Sean Garland and the demand for his extradition to the United States was raised on the Order of Business in Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament) this week by Ruairi Quinn TD (former Finance Minister and Leader of the Labour Party) and by John Gormley TD of the Green Party. While the matter was ruled out of order on procedural grounds the deputies will attempt to raise it again shortly.

Major demonstrations in Greece

The Communist Party of Greece were one of the first international parties to come onboard our campaign with strong expressions of support for Sean Garland and condemnation of the US attempts to extradite him. The party held a number of large demonstrations at the US Embassy in Athens and several other Greek cities.

The following Greek organisations have also added their voice in support of Sean Garland:-
- Greek Federation of Pensioners

- Trade Union of Workers in Pharmaceutical And Cosmetics Industries of Attica – Piraeus & Islands

- Federation of Workers in Pharmaceutical Stores

- Trade union of professional accountants of Athens

- Students’ Association of the Faculty of Law of the University of Athens

- Students’ Association of the Faculty of Economy of the University of Athens

- Student’s Association of the Faculty of Physics of the University of Athens

- Student’s Association of the Faculty of Biology of the University of Athens

- Student’s Association of the Athens University Of Economics And Business

- Student’s Association of the Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences

- Athens’ Committee for International Peace and Détente

- Labour Centre of Agrinio
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CWU Rally today 7/9/05 in Friends House London opposing privatisation. With leading CWU figures including GS Billy Hayes, DGS Dave Ward and London Officer Norman Candy plus speakers from PCS, FBU, RMT, NPC etc.
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Over 100,000 South African gold miners are on on strike for the second day of the SA's first national stoppage in 18 years.
members of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), are protesting about both pay and living conditions.

The employers' offer of about 5-6% pay rises are not aceptable to the miners. The union says this fails to take into account rising profits as gold prices go up.

The NUM may be joined by the Solidarity union.

Most Solidarity members are white and this would be a an important move in the it is rare for it to take industrial action.

South Africa is the world's biggest producer of bullion - accounting for around 15% gold output - and the sector accounts for approximately 8% of the country's gross domestic product.


The strike started on Sunday as the NUM rejected the aqpproach iof the emplyers.

A key part of the union's position is that the largest mining firms - AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and South Deep - have yet to address long-standing problems with miners' living conditions.

Under apartheid laws miners were forced to live in barracks, leaving their families in townships far away.

Even though the racial zoning laws were struck down by 1991, ahead of 1994's landmark multi-racial elections, about three out of four of South Africa's 200,000 miners still live in hostels.

AngloGold Ashanti says there is an average of six men per room in its hostels, down from 12 a decade ago. Harmony says its hostels average 4.2 men per room.

The union now wants the "living-out allowance" for finding family accommodation to be doubled, whereas the mining firms are offering only a 10% rise.

The employers say they are working to improve hostels, but cannot move faster without jeopardising jobs. The NUM says the crowded hostels are a breeding ground for tuberculosis.

It also warns that South Africa's Aids pandemic is worsened by the system, since miners far from home are more likely to visit prostitutes.
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Hundreds of Thousands of Australian Workers Rally Against Anti-Union Laws - 01-07-2005
Hundreds of Thousands of Australian Workers Rally Against Anti-Union Laws 1/7/2005

Brussels, 1 July 2005 (ICFTU OnLine): More than 250,000 people have taken part in public protests over the past two days against the conservative Australian Federal Government’s plans to remove protection from unfair dismissal for most workers, impose heavy restrictions on union organising and collective bargaining rights, push workers onto individual employment contracts and weaken mechanisms for setting minimum wages.

Around 100,000 people took part in rallies throughout the state of New South Wales today, following yesterday’s 100,000-person demonstration in Melbourne and protests in cities and towns around the country involving tens of thousands more.

“This is about whether or not working people will be treated like commodities and that is the international principle - no worker should be treated like a commodity." said Sharan Burrow in Perth where some 20,000 took part in a rally. Burrow is President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and of the ICFTU.

The ICFTU Executive Board at its meeting last week pledged to generate international support for the Australian trade union campaign, recognising that if the laws proposed by Prime Minister John Howard are implemented, then Australia would find itself at the bottom of the OECD ladder in terms of rights and protections for working people. A case will also be brought to the UN’s International Labour Organisation, which has already criticized existing anti-union measures introduced by the Howard government.

The ACTU is also running an extensive advertising campaign to bring home the full impacts of the government’s plans, and community and church groups from around the country have expressed serious concern over the prospect of lower wages and even less protection, especially for the most vulnerable and lowest-paid workers.

“Respect for fundamental workers’ rights, and the social and economic benefits which stem from this, are the cornerstones on which every country should build its economy. Joining a race to the bottom can only harm Australia’s position in the global economy, and will seriously damage its international reputation”, said ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder.

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Dear Friends,

A paramilitary death squad has assassinated peasant organiser Jose Maria Maldonado in the Loma Arena area of the municipality of Pondera in Atlantico department. According to witnesses two men on a motorbike approached Mr Maldonado and shot him dead on the morning of May 17th.

For a long period a paramilitary death squad has been operating in the municipality of Ponedera where they have carried out a systematic campaign of assassinations against local union organisers. Local people say that the paramilitary unit acts under the orders of local landowners and that they use terror to force people from their land allowing the landowners to take over their property. Recently the legal officer of the agricultural workers union, Seferino Padilla, was forced to flee his land and the region after the paramilitaries said they would kill him.

Please send a message of protest condemning this latest murder and calling for a full investigation to the following:

Dr. Álvaro Uribe Vélez
President of Colombia
Fax: 57 1 566 2071

Jorge Alberto Uribe
Minister of Defence
E-mail: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]

Dr. Carlos Franco
Director of the Presidential Human Rights Program
E-mail: [email protected]; [email protected]

Dr. Luis Camilo Osorio
Attorney General
E-mail: [email protected]; [email protected]

Please also copy your message to the Justice for Colombia office on [email protected] and the UN High Commission for Human Rights on [email protected]
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Colombian Army Massacres Community Leaders and Children - 25-02-2005

Dear Friends,

On Monday 21st February soldiers from the 11th Brigade of the Colombian Army massacred two community leaders, their partners and three children in the Rio Mulatos area of Uraba region in the department of Antioquia.

Those murdered were Luis Eduardo Guerra, a regional peace and human rights activist and community leader, his partner Bellanira Areiza Guzman, their 11-year-old son Deiner Andres Guerra, Alfonso Bolivar Tuberquia Graciano, another regional peace activist and community leader, his partner Sandra Milena Munoz Pozo and their two children 2-year-old Santiago Tuberquia Munoz and 6-year-old Natalia Andrea Tuberquia Munoz.

Although the whereabouts of the victims was in doubt the bodies of all seven have now been found. Most of them, including the children, had been mutilated and chopped up by the soldiers.

The killings come not long after Colombian Vice-President Francisco Santos gave public guarantees that the rights of civilians in this area would be respected – including personal guarantees Luis Eduardo Guerra himself.

This latest outrage is all the more disturbing for British people as the UK Government is continuing to train and fund parts of the Colombian military despite their constant murders of civilians.

Please protest in the strongest possible terms to the Colombian authorities calling on them to arrest without delay the soldiers responsible and open an independent investigation into the killings. Please also contact the UK Government calling on them to immediately freeze UK military assistance to the Colombian Army.

Your protests should be sent to:

Colombian Vice President Francisco Santos [email protected]
Colombian Ministry of Defence [email protected]
Colombian Embassy in London [email protected]

And to the Minister responsible for UK relations with Colombia:
Bill Rammell MP: [email protected]
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Outrage over Colombia’s expulsion of foreign trade unionists - 03-11-2004
Colombian President Uribe lied to union delegation: International unionists took part in a meeting with Uribe, where the President assured the delegation of his government's full commitment to trade union rights, and thanked them for their interest in the situation in Colombia. When they returned to the country again, they were expulsed.

03.11.2004 [Jhony Valetta, ANNCOL/CIOSL OnLine] An international trade union organisation expressed its outrage at the expulsion of four international union representatives from Colombia on 30 October and 1 November, on the order of the government of President Alvaro Uribe.

It is understood that the Uribe government has drawn up a list of trade union representatives banned from entering the country, and that this list includes persons who took part in an international solidarity mission to Colombia in September, to press the Uribe government to bring an end to the killing of Colombian trade trade unionists and the other means of anti-union repression which are rife in the country.

According to a statement by ICFTU, an international confederation that represents 148 million workers; »Colombia has had a notorious record of violence and discrimination against trade unionists over many years, with more than 50 trade unionists murdered already this year«.

The four expulsed unionists, Victor Baez Mosqueira, General Secretary of the ICFTU regional organisation for the Americas, Antonio Rodriguez Fritz of the International Transport Workers' Federation, Cameron Duncan of the Public Services International, and Rodolfo Benitez were due to attend an Americas region trade union coordination meeting.

Immigration officials detained them on arrival in the country and expelled them, in contradiction to Colombia's normal visa entry requirements. Three of them had taken part in a meeting with President Uribe during the September solidarity mission, where the President assured the delegation of his government's full commitment to trade union rights, and thanked them for their interest in the situation inside the country.

According to Spanish news agency EFE, the Director of Colombia’s secret police DAS, denied the expulsion of the foreign union leaders, saying that in order to perform other activities than tourism, a visa is obligatory.

In another development, union leaders from Great Britain, Ireland and Spain who had arrived in Colombia to attend a meeting of women trade unionists had their 60-day visas cancelled and were permitted to stay only three days in the country.

The ICFTU is writing to formally protest to President Uribe at his government's actions, which constitute a "totally unacceptable attempt to deny Colombian workers their legitimate right to international representation", according to ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder.

The expulsion of the trade union leaders will also be brought formally to the International Labour Organisation, which is this week examining a number of complaints from the trade union movement over attacks committed by state security forces and their paramilitary groups.

(Translated by Karen Holguín)
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TUC condemns attempts to prevent trade unionists visiting Colombia - 03-11-2004
TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber will today lodge formal protests in face-to-face meetings with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Colombian ambassador Alfonso Lopez Caballero about attempts by the Colombian government to prevent British and Latin American trade unionists visiting Colombia.

On Sunday, a TUC delegation led by Deputy General Secretary Frances O'Grady was refused the normal entry visas for Colombia and told that their five-day day visit would be ended after three, at which point they would be expelled. At the same time, the leading trade unionist in the Americas, ICFTU Regional Secretary Victor Baez was refused entry to the country, along with three other leading trade unionists from the region.

The ten-strong TUC delegation - which includes Prospect General Secretary Paul Noon, UNISON Deputy General Secretary Keith Sonnet, GMB Deputy General Secretary Debbie Coulter and PCS Deputy General Secretary Hugh Lanning - was arranged to find out about the harassment and intimidation of Colombian trade unionists which has resulted in more than 50 murders so far this year and countless death threats, physical assaults and unjustified imprisonments.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

"This is the first time that the TUC has ever had a problem getting into Colombia. The Uribe Government is picking on trade unions, obstructing our attempts to highlight the persecution of Colombian trade unionists and the failure of his government to stop the killings. Expelling trade unionists is not what democratic governments do, and the Colombian government's actions suggest that the global union campaign to expose its human rights abuses is starting to have an effect. President Uribe doesn't seem to like being in the spotlight of international opinion, but if he thinks closing his borders to trade unionists will allow him to carry on in secret, he is wrong."

Action by British diplomats is believed by the TUC to have forced the Colombian government to extend the TUC delegation's visas, but the TUC is still troubled by the refusal to allow other international trade unionists to enter Colombia, and the lack of any apology for or consistent explanation of the harassment of the TUC delegation. Allegations from the Colombian government that the TUC delegation did not have the right visas have been dismissed by the TUC, as the Colombian Embassy website makes it clear that all EU citizens (except for Irish nationals) may enter Colombia without a visa.

Brendan Barber will be meeting the Foreign Secretary at a TUC/Foreign and Commonwealth Office seminar taking place tomorrow (Wednesday) at Lancaster House. He will then meet the Colombian ambassador later in the day.

Owen Tudor
Head, EU & International Relations Department
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DEVONSHIRE PLACE - nearest tube Gt Portland Street

organised by Chilean organisations - want TU support
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More civil servants are going on strike in Northern Ireland as part of the public service union, Nipsa's, pay dispute. Staff at the Omagh planning office have have joined the 35-week-long industrial action, following their counterparts in Belfast. It means that planning applications in Omagh as well as Belfast and the Greater Belfast area will be affected. It will also affect the planning appeals system.

Last week, NIPSA turned down a government offer of 4.65% over 16 months. Nipsa has been involved in strike action since December over the government refusal to give any cost of living increases in rates of pay since April last year. The government had offered a package which would add 3.67% to the wage bill but union officials pointed out this was part of a pre-agreed increment and took no account of the rise in the cost of living.
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Colleagues and friends,

Here in Sheffield and South Yorkshire, bus workers in First are on an all out strike, now in its 18th day.

First now run the privatised former PTE bus company, and the strike means that most of South Yorkshire's bus services are not running.

After such a long strike, support and funds are now urgently needed. Please support our TGWU colleagues by doing the following:

1) Collect donations from as many sources as possible - branch meetings, workplaces, Trades Coucils etc and send to the address below.

2) View the strike website at which is updated regularily for more news and information.

3)Send mesages of support, which will be published on the website at [email protected]

4)Forward this email and attachments to all your friends and contacts.

Donations to the First South Yorkshire Strike Fund should be sent to:

First South Yorkshire Strike Fund

C/o Steve Clark

Regional Industrial Organiser

TGWU Regional Office

55, Call Lane

Leeds LS1

Cheques should be made payable to "TGWU"


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ICFTU Athens, August 10, 2004: The Play Fair at the Olympics campaign today staged an action in Athens on the eve of the opening of the Olympic games in solidarity with sportswear workers worldwide.

Twenty women gathered on an Athens rooftop to mark a silent protest staged by the Play Fair at the Olympics campaign. Play Fair held a “sew-in”, featuring “faceless” activists, operating sewing machines against the backdrop of the Acropolis. The action was staged in order to highlight the appalling working conditions experienced by hundreds of thousands of workers in the sportswear industry. They face punishing work schedules, poverty wages, harassment and discrimination on a daily basis.

Spokespersons from the campaign commented that improvements had been seen in the sportswear sector, but serious problems still exist, and much more needs to be done to ensure workers’ right are respected in this global industry. They also announced that the IOC had declined to accept over half a million signatures from campaign supporters in Athens.

Launched on March 4, 2004 by Oxfam, the Clean Clothes Campaign and Global Unions, the Play Fair at the Olympics campaign is one of the largest ever worldwide mobilizations against sweatshops. The rooftop event was part of a wider mobilization in the run up to the games. Other actions include a regional workers’ Olympics in Thailand and a journey made by 27 cyclists from Belgium to Greece in support of the campaign.

For more information, please contact the ICFTU Press Department on +32 2 224 0232 or +32 476 621 018.
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Dear Friends,

News has come through that the Colombian Army yesterday murdered three trade union leaders in the municipality of Fortul in the department of Arauca. Two other trade unionists, including the regional President of the CUT were detained. All five of the victims were well known to Justice for Colombia and our recent British trade union solidarity delegations to Colombia had met with some of them.

Those killed were:

Leonel Goyeneche, Treasurer of the CUT trade union federation in Arauca
Jorge Prieto Chamucero, President of the health workers’ union ANTHOC in Arauca
Hector Alirio Martinez, President of the agricultural workers union ANUC in Arauca

Those detained were:

Samuel Morales Florez, President of the CUT trade union federation in Arauca
Maria Raquel Castro, an activist with the Arauca teachers’ trade union ASEDAR

The Colombian Vice-President Francisco Santos as well as General Luis Fabio Garcia, the commander of the 2nd Division of the Colombian Army whose troops were responsible for the massacre, have both claimed that those killed were in fact guerrillas. Defence Minister Jorge Alberto Echavarria described all three as “delinquents”. This is a complete fabrication and all five victims are interntionally known trade union activists – indeed, Samuel Morales, was recently in the United Kingdom as a guest of Amnesty International.

Carlos Rodriguez, the national president of the CUT trade union federation, has described the murders as the “annihilation of our movement in Arauca” and progressive Congressman Wilson Borja has called for those government officials that have described the victims as guerrillas to “immediately resign”.

Justice for Colombia asks all supporters to write to the Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez expressing their outrage at the murders and the subsequent accusations that the victims were guerrillas, calling for the immediate release of the two detained trade unionists and calling for a full and impartial investigation to be carried out and for those responsible to be punished.

President Uribe’s e-mail address is [email protected] Please also send a copy of your protest to the Colombian Embassy in London at [email protected]
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Brussels, 4th August 2004 (ICFTU Online): For the third time in less than 10 years, the Attorney General of Ankara is suing one of the country’s largest unions – Egitim Sen (*) – in a move which threatens to undermine internationally ratified conventions on freedom of association and the right to organise.

The Attorney General is claiming that an item on Egitim Sen’s statute breaches the country’s constitution. The statute’s support for the right to be educated in one’s own mother tongue is being unfairly treated as a cause for legal proceedings. In 1998 and 2002, the Attorney General brought a similar charge against Egitim Sen of contravening the constitution; however, judges decided in favour of the teachers’ trade union on both occasions. In spite of this, on 13 July 2004, in the presence of an ICFTU representative acting as an observer at the hearing (**), the Ankara labour court instructed the teachers' union to change the statute in question. If by 15 September it is unable to provide the court with documents proving that the provision on language of education has been changed, Egitim Sen would face the threat of closure.

As the world’s largest international trade union body, the ICFTU expressed serious alarm over the Attorney General's decision to sue and voiced its concern that this was a politically motivated move - a thinly disguised attempt to close down Egitim Sen. ICFTU sources believe the Attorney General is acting under instructions from the Turkish Army, which retains strong influence over the country’s politics.

Against the backdrop of the problems faced by Turkey’s Kurdish-speaking population, which have marred the country’s potential accession to the European Union, the ICFTU underlined that the right to education in one’s own mother tongue is a fundamental human right to be respected. Indeed the government’s negotiations with the EU would be considerably hampered if Egitim Sen were to be closed down as a result of these legal procedures. In its correspondence with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the ICFTU therefore called on the government to make sure that the lawsuit be withdrawn promptly.

The ICFTU represents 148 million workers through its 233 affiliated national trade union centres in 152 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions:

For more information, please contact the ICFTU Press Department on +32 2 224 0232 or +32 476 621 018.

* Egitim Sen, a teachers’ trade union, is a member of the national trade union organistion KESK which is in turn an affiliate of the ICFTU.

** The ICFTU observer also represented Education International (EI), the Global Union Federation for the teaching profession, to which Egitim Sen is also affiliated.
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Burston Strike School Rally - from TGWU web site
5 Sep 2004

Organiser: Tony Gould

Location: Church Green, Burston, Norfolk (nearest mainline station: Diss)

Times: 11.00 am to 4.30 pm

Keynote speakers at the 2004 Rally: Frances O'Grady, TUC Deputy General Secretary; Diana Holland, T&G National Organiser; Jeremy Corbyn, MP; guest speaker from the Portugese Workers' Association

Other highlights: music, food and refreshments, campaign stalls and kids' fun area.

Burston - the longest strike in history
On 1 April 1914 the pupils of Burston School marched in support of their two dismissed teachers, Tom and Kitty Higdon. The Higdons were closely associated with the Agricultural Workers' Union which brought them into conflict with the squirarchy and the Church of England which was responsible for the education of children in the countryside.

Association with the farm workers' union and Tom's election to the Parish Council as a Labour member had prompted the dismissals. The school children, 66 out of 72, had gone on strike. This was to be the first day of the longest strike in history.

The Strike School, the alternative to the CoE County School from where the Higdons had been sacked, was firstly located in the blacksmith's workshop and latterly in purpose built premises erected on Burston Village Green by Labour Movement subscription.

The Strike School continued to function until the beginning of the Second World War. Tom Higdon died on 17th August 1939 and the school closed a few months after. Kitty, then in her seventies, was unable to carry on alone, and the remaining pupils transferred to the County School. Kitty died on 24 April 1946.

In 1949 the Strike School was registered as an educational charity. There are four self-perpetuating trustees who, with the support of the T&G, manage the school and try to develop it as a museum, visitor centre, educational archive and village amenity.

Since 1984, an annual rally has been held in Burston to commemorate the first rally held in 1914 and celebrate the struggles that took place in Burston in the first half of the last century. The rally is held on the first Sunday in September.

Leading figures from the Trade Union and Labour Movement have retraced the steps of their predecessors to come to Burston to speak about the great issues of the day: Tony Benn, Ron Todd, Jack Jones, Joan Maynard MP, Ian Gibson MP, Ken Livingstone and many others have addressed crowds of thousands on the Village Green.

People visit from all over the country to have some fun, be entertained and listen to what the visiting speakers have to say. Union branches bring their banners and the march around the village echoing the demonstrations of nearly 100 years ago. This march around the "candlestick" follows the route of the children's original march and remains the centrepiece of the annual event.

Political speeches, music and entertainment combine to create an event unusual in Britain - a celebration of a challenge to the old rural order that has yet to be completed, but continues to be inspired by the struggle that began in Burston.

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On July 3rd, in the town of Chalan in Sucre department, Colombian police detained Fanime Reyes Reyes a regional leader of the agricultural workers’ union FENSUAGRO. She has been accused of ‘rebellion’ and on July 8th she was taken to the La Vega jail in the city of Sincelejo, also in Sucre, where she is currently being held.

On July 7th the police detained Nubia Gonzalez, daughter of the former regional president of the union, Telberto Gonzalez, both of whom have been detained on previous occasions. She is being held in the secret police headquarters in the city of Sincelejo.

Others in the regional leadership of FENSUAGRO that have been detained include the regional General Secretary Rudy Robles, the regional director of human rights Ney Medrano and the regional treasurer Eliecer Flores. All have been accused of ‘rebellion’ for their opposition to government policies and their work to defend trade union and other human rights in the department of Sucre.

Please contact Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez insisting that all trade unionists being held in jail be released immediately and demanding that freedom of association and organisation for trade unions be respected in the department of Sucre and elsewhere in Colombia.

The address to write/e-mail to is:

Alvaro Uribe Velez, President of the Republic of Colombia, Palacio de Narino, Carrera 8 No. 7-26, Bogotá, Colombia
[email protected] and [email protected]

For more information please see
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Middle East: Continued Israeli Assassinations Putting Peace out of Reach 20/4/2004

Brussels, 20 April 200 (ICFTU OnLine): The ICFTU today condemned the Israeli government’s continuing policy of targeted assassinations, following the killing of Palestinian Hamas leader Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi in Gaza on Saturday. Rantissi’s son and a bodyguard were also killed in the missile attack, which also injured two others.

The killing follows the assassination of the previous Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin along with seven others on 22 March, also in Gaza. The ICFTU believes that the policy of targeted assassinations, which has been widely condemned by leaders from countries around the world, can only exacerbate the situation and put the prospects of a just and peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict even further out of reach.

Both sides must fully commit to the “Road Map” for peace, and the international community must do all it can to make the process work. In particular, the leaders of the USA, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, must follow through the commitments made when they launched the Road Map in 2003.

The ICFTU represents over 150 million workers in 233 affiliated organisations in 152 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions:
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Dear Friends,

At 7.30pm on Thursday 1st April trade union defence lawyer Carlos Bernal Ramirez and his bodyguard Camilo Jimenez were both assassinated in the Prado Norte neighbourhood of the Colombian city of Cucuta in Norte de Santander department. According to the Permanent Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CPDH) they were killed by paramilitaries operating with the acquiescence of the Colombian army.

Carlos Bernal Ramirez was also the leader of the Social and Political Front opposition coalition in the region and the President of the CPDH in Cucuta. He had previously been the peace advisor to the Governor of Norte de Santander and to the mayor of Cucuta.

The CPDH, one of Colombia’s most important human rights NGOs, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last week, has blamed the government of President Alvaro Uribe Velez for both killings.

Please send messages of protest to:

Alvaro Uribe Velez, President of the Republic of Colombia, Palacio de Narino, Carrera 8 No. 7-26, Bogotá, Colombia
[email protected]


General Carlos Alberto Ospina, Commander of the Colombian Armed Forces, Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, Avenida El Dorado con Carrera 52, Bogotá, Colombia
[email protected]

For more information please see
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National Demonstration
No More LIES Mr Blair!

Saturday 20 March
Assemble 12 Noon Hyde Park (nearest tube Marble Arch) Marching to Trafalgar Square

Download petition Sign petition on-line Order your leaflets and posters
Coach details Send us yours: [email protected] Liftshare

"March On..." post-demo Club Night @ Bar Lorca, Brixton

Stop the War Coalition

[email protected] 020 7053 2153/4/5/6 or 07951 235 915 17 Britannia Street, London WC1X 9JP

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HUGH McGRILLEN - 14-01-2004
We received the following information about Hugh McGrillen activist/worker at the London Hazards Centre and regional activist in AMICUS/MSF -

As you may know, sadly, Hugh MacGrillen died last Saturday after a long

These are the arrangements for his funeral which will be at

Islington Crematorium, High Road, East Finchley, London N2 9AG

at 1.30pm Monday 19th January 2004

and afterwards at the Five Bells Pub 165-167, East End Rd, East Finchley,
London, N2 0LZ
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FBU BALLOT RESULT - 01-12-2003
Firefighters and emergency control staff have voted 3 to 1 in favour of accepting a staged pay deal worth a total of 7%. The decision was taken after an individual postal ballot of all 52,000 FBU members in which 56% voted.

But FBU General Secretary Andy Gilchrist blasted fire service chiefs saying:“Fire service staff have made a mature and difficult decision after a stupid move by the employers. The decision to stagger the rise in two stages was pointless, self-defeating and an industrial relations disaster.“It caused widespread unofficial action and wiped out months of hard work trying to rebuild trust and confidence. We had a deal and they broke it without gaining anything but the disgust of the public.“We have agreed a raft of major changes which have now been delayed by the utter stupidity of fire service employers. This is a period of major change in the fire service but after this many will be questioning the competence of management in actually carrying it out.“They now need to rethink how they are going to contribute to rebuilding the relationship with their staff which they have left in tatters. And they need to start by recommitting themselves to implementing this agreement in full.

”Key points:7% in two stages of 3.5%13.74% pay rise for retained firefighters to achieve pay parity with whole time crewsAn additional 3% for emergency fire control staff backdated to November 2002 bringing their pay rises to a total of 10%
An end to the overtime in conjunction with the introduction of local integrated risk management plans
The removal of barriers to locally agreed duty and shift systems
An additional 4% from July 2004 From 2005 a pay formula tying increases to the average rises of professional workers.
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The Central Trade Union Federation of Colombia (CUT), through its human rights department, denounces that:

In recent days in Colombia, the number of assassinations of trade unionists has been increasing. There have been 58 assassinations to date, there are sadly a growing number of forced displacements and we endure death threats on a daily basis.

The latest person to receive a death threat is DOMINGO TOVAR ARRIETA, National Executive and Director of the Human Rights Department of the CUT.

On the evening of 30 October he received a telephone call to his mobile phone and was told: “YOU WILL PAY FOR THE DEFEAT OF THE REFERENDUM WITH YOUR LIFE”.
The CUT was publicly and constitutionally at the forefront of the Active Abstention campaign against the Referendum of the President, and comrade TOVAR was one of the promoters of the campaign.

This threat against DOMINGO comes just days after the District Court of Cundinamarca ruled in favour of compensation to be made directly to DOMINGO and declared the Ministry of Defence, the National Army and the Public Prosecutor responsible for damages inflicted through the unjust imprisonment of DOMINGO on 12 February 1994.

We are asking international organisations, such as the ILO, the Human Rights Commission of the Organisation of American States, the UN and Amnesty International to ask the Colombian government to act constitutionally and democratically in the effective application of the right of dissent and to oppose all actions aimed at harming workers and the people in general.

We are grateful for your solidarity with our affiliates.

National Executive Committee

Carlos A Rodriguez Diaz
Jorge Alvin Anaya

Bogota, 31 October 2003
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ICFTU opposes Israeli steps against Arafat 16/9/2003

Brussels, September 16, 2003 (ICFTU OnLine): The ICFTU has urged the two parties in the Middle East conflict to start immediate dialogue, and has called on the Israeli Prime Minister to block any measures for the possible deportation of Chairman Arafat.

According to the ICFTU, the "road map" must provide the basis for a just and peaceful solution to the conflict and both sides must make every effort to end all violence and return to the negotiating table. The Israeli government must heed the advice of the UN Secretary General, Security Council members, and the international community not to expel the Palestinian leader.

ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder said, "Any move to deport or in any way harm Arafat would have catastrophic consequences for the people of Palestine and Israel."

The ICFTU represents 158 million workers in 231 affiliated organisations in 150 countries and territories.
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Health workers blaim President for killings

By Alfredo Castro, ANNCOL Colombia

Colombian health workers struggle against privatisations and a murderous administration. The government doesn't discuss their plans with us - they just kill us, says union activist Betsy Cardona in an interview with ANNCOL.

Betsy Cardona Jaramillo is a member of the Colombian health workers’ union ANTHOC. Here she talks to ANNCOL’s Alfredo Castro about the situation faced by Colombian trade unionists:

ANNCOL: Last week the leader of your union in the city of Barranquilla, Carlos Barrero Jimenez, was assassinated. Can you give us any details of why the attack happened and who was responsible?

Betsy: Carlos was killed just in front of the Barranquilla General Hospital where he worked. He was at the bus stop waiting to go home when two paramilitaries arrived on motorcycles and shot him. It is hard to know the exact reason why he in particular was targeted although he was very well known and had been at the forefront of the protests against privatisation of public health in his region. He had also spoken out publicly about corruption among the hospital managers. It was a very sad day for us all when we heard. He was a very intelligent and militant worker for whom we had great respect – a great trade unionist.

ANNCOL: Tell us about the current ANTHOC struggle against privatisation.

Betsy: The government is trying to privatise the entire health system so that only those with money will receive good quality care. We are convinced that this will lead to poorer people being left without coverage, without the right to health. They call it reforming the system or restructuring it but the aim here is to sell it off to the highest bidder – companies or individuals who will obviously want a return. We believe that this is fundamentally wrong, that it is playing with people’s lives. Health should be available to all not just the wealthy.

ANNCOL: What is the Government response to your concerns? Are they talking with the union and discussing their plans with you?

Betsy: No, we just spoke about what their response is – they kill us. We have had over 100 members of ANTHOC murdered or disappeared by the state in the past ten years, including our Vice-President Ricardo Orozco Serrano who was killed in 2001. This is how the state operates here and with President Uribe it is getting worse.

Last month they killed three comrades from other unions on one day*. All of these crimes go unpunished and the murders are a direct result of the policies of the government. If they allow people to get away with it, if they allow impunity, then of course it will continue and it is clear for all that they are simply turning a blind eye when it comes to the paramilitaries and army killing us. We are seen as a nuisance so the government allows us to be attacked.

ANNCOL:: Will ANTHOC be participating in the General Strike that has been called for later this month?

Betsy: Of course as we have to show our opposition to Uribe and even though we have more than 25,000 affiliates in the union it is only when we work together with other trade unions that we can really apply effective pressure. We are expecting that students and other sectors will join us too as the policies of the current government are not just harming the trade unions and the workers of Colombia but also many other parts of civil society.

ANNCOL: What will you be calling for?

Betsy: Obviously we will demand an end to the human rights violations and the general repression committed by the army but there are many other issues too such as our opposition to the referendum that the President wants to hold. This will attempt to give legitimacy to his illegal and immoral policies and will also assist him with his project to legalise the paramilitaries.

We will also be striking in solidarity with the 9,000 workers from Telecom who were thrown out of their jobs overnight when the government announced the liquidation of that state company in breach of the collective agreement that they had with the communication workers’ union.

Uribe wants to liquidate all state enterprises and we will not allow this. The enterprises and public services belong to all Colombians not just to him and he cannot just hand our patrimony over to foreign companies and the Colombian elite.

ANNCOL: Are you concerned about what the reaction of the government and security forces might be to the strike?

Betsy: It is not so much a problem of the day of the strike but in the proceeding days it is extremely likely that they may try to pick off individuals involved in organising it. Last month they killed four union organisers, including one from ANTHOC, in the run up to the general strike on the 19th and we expect that they will use such tactics again this time.

One problem is that the military high command and the mass media continue to say that those involved in the trade unions and in the campaign against the referendum are all linked to the insurgency and this places us in great danger. We already know of a plan by the paramilitaries to assassinate the leaders of the anti-referendum campaign and we expect that the coming months will be very difficult for us all.


* The trade unionists referred to were assassinated by paramilitaries on July 15th 2003. They were:

Marco Tulio Diaz a former regional president of the oil workers’ union USO who was killed in his home in Tibú in Norte de Santander department.

Jose Evelio Alvarez of the construction workers’ union SUTIMAC who was assassinated by paramilitaries in the municipality of Santa Barbara in Antioquia department as he returned home from the cement plant where he worked.

Alberto Marquez of the agricultural workers’ union FENSUAGRO who was murdered along with his bodyguard Nelson Franco by paramilitaries in the municipality of Natagaima in the department of Tolima. His five-year-old daughter who was wounded in the attack. The paramilitaries, who arrived in a grey Renault car, were identified as being from the Bloque Tolima of the AUC group that are supposedly respecting a ceasefire.

Luis Alberto Olaya of the teaching union FECODE who was taken away by paramilitaries on June 15th in the town of Dagua in Valle department and has not been seen since.

Luis Rolon of the Lottery Vendors Union who was shot and killed in the city of Cúcuta on June 16th.

Morelly Guillen of ANTHOC who was killed at home in the town of Tame on the evening of June 16th whilst the town was under military occupation.

And Orlando Fernandez Toro, a member of the public services union SINTAEMDES, who was killed on June 17th in the city of Valledupar in Cesar department.
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The FBU Executive Council met yesterday (29 APRIL) and agreed that it will reconvene on May 15, after full consultation with the membership on the Burchill proposals. Should no new offer be made from the Employers by this meeting, the EC will discuss and set further strike dates.

Separately, FBU General Secretary Andy Gilchrist has sent a letter to Charles Nolda, National Joint Council Employers secretary, expressing the FBU’s concerns over the National Employers’ criticisms of the proposals by NJC Chair, Professor Frank Burchill. Andy has requested an urgent meeting with Employers and clarification of their objections to Burchill.

In a circular (April 22) to Chief Fire Officers, Chief Executives and Chairs of Fire Authorities, the National Employers described the Burchill proposals as “wholly unacceptable”. The circular said the proposals are “incompatible with Government guidance on the introduction of Integrated Risk Management Planning”; they “prevent service improvement necessary for public safety”; they “undermine the funding of the Employers’ final pay offer”; and “cut across the recommendations of the independent Bain report on the future of the Fire Service”.

The circular calls on the “political leadership” of local authorities – elected councillors with fire service responsibility - to inform the FBU leadership that the Heads of Agreement remains the Employers’ “final offer”, warning that if it is not accepted by the FBU then “Government imposition on a less favourable basis is the almost certain consequence.”
The National Employers, says the circular, also “advise fire authorities to proceed locally with those parts of the modernisation agenda which do not require changes to the Grey Book”.


In a separate press statement earlier this month, the National Employers advised fire authorities to “begin all elements of fire service modernisation”, including:

• Preparation of integrated risk management plans – in other words, cuts
• Introduction of joint control rooms – a well documented danger to the public and FBU members.


Branch meetings to discuss the Burchill proposals are taking place over the next week or so – members should attend.

Earlier this month, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister published the 2001-2002 Best Value Performance indicators, which are part of the government’s drive to deliver “value for money” in public services. Designed to measure efficiency and set standards in service levels, including the 2003 Best Value plans due to be published June 30, they will be used as benchmarks for the forthcoming Fire White Paper.

One of the key conclusions was that: “Overall improvements are recorded in the performance in meeting the existing national standards of fire cover; the containment of fire spread; the performance in recruiting employees from ethnic minorities; and in processing the payment of invoices.” All this during “an increase in the numbers of fires, fire deaths and fire false alarm calls”.

These findings were buried on page 2 of an ODPM press release with the eye catching headline: “Best Value
Performance Indicators for Fire Authorities for 2001-2002.” Strange for this spin-happy government to miss an opportunity to praise the public services!

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FBU delegates have voted overwhelmingly to reject the latest pay and conditions offer from the employers. The delegates were in Brighton on Tuesday 15 March for the emergency conference to debate the dispute.
But they also voted not to strike while the conflict continues in Iraq. FBU GS Andy Gilchrist argued it would not be in the best interests of the dispute to take action during hostilities with Iraq.

"Every time we've cancelled or postponed strike action the government has come back with a worse deal," said Sid Platt, Kentish Town FBU. "So we've made the assumption that the only way we're going to get a better deal is if we go out on strike."

The FBU executive voted three to one in favour of latest proposals put forward by Professor Frank Burchill to end the dispute and this position was endorsed by the conference by 2 to 1. Opponents, which included London, saw the proposals as going against the key principles behind the dispute. It was argued that if local London management tried to impose working changes there could be local strikes.

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The General Council reaffirms their continued support for the following statement adopted on 26 February:

'The General Council recall and reaffirm the positions adopted by Congress in 2002, the key points of which were that the emphasis should be on a multilateral approach working through, and only with, the explicit authority of the UN Security Council; that they unambiguously opposed any military action being contemplated by the US or any other country on a unilateral basis; that the Government should seek to align with our EU partners its response to any initiative by the US Administration; and that military action should only be an option as a last resort, if all diplomacy failed, and if there was evidence made generally available which clearly demonstrated that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems and posed a real threat to world peace.

On the evidence currently available, the General Council do not judge these conditions to have been met and for war to be justified. They reiterate the view of Congress that to avoid the desperate human cost that would arise in the event of war, particularly on the various peoples of Iraq and the massive refugee problem which may be caused, every effort should be made to find solutions through diplomatic and peaceful means with the UN playing a central role to ease tension and avoid war, with the clear objective of achieving disarmament and not regime change.

The General Council are deeply concerned at increasing indications that the United States Administration backed by the British Government and some others, is intent on military action in Iraq within weeks, and that action might be taken without the explicit authorisation of the UN Security Council. They emphasise that this approach is not supported by working people and their families, their trade union organisations led by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the European Trade Union Confederation, and the majority of peoples and Governments worldwide. The General Council welcome the joint statement of the President of the AFL-CIO and the TUC General Secretary on 30 January in advance of the meeting in Washington of the US President and British Prime Minister.

The General Council welcome the massive and historic demonstrations against war held in London, Glasgow, Belfast and other towns and cities around the UK on February 15, in which hundreds of thousands of trade unionists participated, and believe that no democratic government can embark on a war without the consent of the people. The General Council note the opposition to war of such leaders as Nelson Mandela, the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, and believe that moral repugnance towards any regime cannot on its own be sufficient justification for war. The General Council note that many British trade unionists will be affected directly or indirectly by any conflict, including as a result of the economic consequences of war. They are also concerned at the dangers of an increase in racial tensions and a possible increase in racist attacks and activities in the event of war.

The General Council are concerned at the damaging consequences of action taken without the sanction of the Security Council for multilateral institutions, such as the UN and NATO, and for the future development of the European Union. Such action would further destabilise the Middle East region as a whole and exacerbate the problems in Israel and Palestine.

The General Council reiterate the condemnation by Congress of the continuing political, national and religious oppression by the Iraqi regime which has resulted in great human suffering and a massive flow of refugees, as well as its persistent flouting of the decisions of the United Nations since 1991, which included 17 Resolutions. They insist that Iraq should respect the terms of UNSC Resolution 1441 and co-operate fully with the weapons inspectors.

The General Council have considered the reports of the chief weapons inspectors to the UN Security Council on 14 February and the subsequent debates in the UN and in the EU Council. It was clear that the inspectors believed that, while Iraq did not meet the requirements of Security Council Resolution 1441 and previous Resolutions and should co-operate fully, particularly concerning large unaccounted-for quantities of deadly chemical and bacteriological agents and in respect of prohibited long-range missiles, they also believed that the inspection process had not run its course.

The General Council believe that the monitoring and inspection process should be given the time required and be ongoing until the Security Council decide otherwise. The adoption now of a further Security Council Resolution aimed at short-circuiting this process would only undermine the unanimity reached over UNSCR 1441.

The General Council are requesting a meeting with the Prime Minister to press him to use whatever influence he may have on the US Administration, even at this late date, to work towards a peaceful solution by all available means. The General Council will be closely monitoring events in the coming days and may be reconvened urgently - on an extended basis to include representatives from all affiliated unions - to consider the TUC’s position further.

The General Council support the joint statement of the Foreign Secretary and the Norwegian Foreign Minister on 21 January that ‘the international community must take as much care to address the crisis in Israel and the Occupied Territories as the crisis that results from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction’. They call on the Prime Minister to press on the President of the United States the need for active support in seeking a lasting settlement based on the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions, notably 242 and 338, including the ending of the settlements policy and the creation of a viable Palestinian State alongside Israel.'

Nevertheless in the light of recent events, the General Council deeply regret that it was not possible to establish agreement through the UN and that, as a result of yesterday’s Parliamentary decisions, military action involving British troops now appears inevitable. This risks damaging the UN and other international institutions and all involved share the responsibility for this massive diplomatic failure.

The General Council recognise that many trade unionists will wish for reasons of conscience to show continued opposition to military action taken without explicit UN authority in lawful and peaceful ways. It is also clear however that, now that Parliament is committed to this course, British armed forces and their families, and other staff involved in the military action, including those in civilian roles, will expect and must receive the support of the British people.

The General Council strongly urge the Government, in the coming conflict, to take all possible steps consistent with the safety of British troops, to keep civilian casualties to the minimum.

The General Council also call for vigilance in seeking to ensure that members of minority communities here in the UK doe not find themselves under threat as a result of increased racial tensions.

For the future, the General Council are concerned that everything possible should be done to rebuild confidence in the authority of the UN and that reconstruction in Iraq should be undertaken under a United Nations mandate. They will be giving further detailed consideration to these issues. They note the statement of the European External Relations Commissioner that it would be more difficult for the EU to co-operate fully in any long-term reconstruction efforts in Iraq if events unfolded without proper United Nations authority and if EU Member States remained divided on the issue. Strong efforts need to be made to restore relations with EU partners. The General Council note the Prime Minister’s statement that there should be a new UN Resolution following any conflict providing not just the massive resources that will be needed for humanitarian help but also for the administration and governance of Iraq, including ensuring that Iraqi oil wealth is administered through a UN Trust for the benefit of the Iraqi people.

The General Council strongly welcome the first moves towards the publication of a Roadmap for peace leading to the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. This is long overdue. They urge the British Government to keep up the pressure it has been exerting to ensure that this leads to the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions, notably 242 and 338.
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The Stop the War Coalition in Northern Ireland has made Friday 'Day X' and has organised peace vigils in many towns. These were part of international action taking place across Ireland and throughout Europe.

At Belfast City Hall several hundred people took part in a protest and were addressed by representatives of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU). It said the action was supported by the European Trade Union Confederation. The ICTU said the protests were being co-ordinated by local trades councils, with the support of other organisations. The ICTU is co-ordinating the Stop the War Coalition in Ireland.

Assistant General Secretary Peter Bunting said the US/British forces were "now engaged in an unnecessary and devastating war that is endangering millions of people. It is utterly wrong and we must oppose it - we can do no other. We oppose this war while supporting the troops and hold our political leaders - in particular Tony Blair - accountable for recklessly putting so many lives at risk."

He added people could "simply and powerfully show their opposition by taking part in these silent protests in Belfast and town centres across Northern Ireland".

A march and rally is also expected to take place in Belfast on Saturday March 22.

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The ETUC Executive Committee believes that the rush to war in Iraq is not justified and that the legitimate goal of the international community to disarm the Saddam Hussein regime can be effectively persued by other means and in the framework of the United Nations.

The UN inspections are delivering the first concrete results and therefore they must be allowed the resources and the time necessary to bring about the total elimination of the arms of mass destruction detained by Iraq.

To this end, and in compliance with the UN Resolutions, Iraq must provide prompt and unrestricted cooperation with the inspections.

The European Union and Governments need to act together under the conviction so largely shared by European citizens that war is not inevitable and that all possible attempts must be made to spare the human suffering and the devastation which it fately entails, including its negative consequences on the economy, the last thing Europe needs at this point in time.

To convey this message, the Executive Committee calls on all ETUC affiliates to organise work stoppages on Friday 14 March at noon as well as to take part in the mass demonstrations planned all over Europe on March 15.

In the case of the outbreak of war, they will immediately reconvene to decide upon further actions.

ETUC Brussels 10/3/03

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TUC statement on Iraq
The TUC General Council unaminously agreed the following statement on Iraq at its meeting today 26/2/03:

'The General Council recall and reaffirm the positions adopted by Congress in 2002, the key points of which were that the emphasis should be on a multilateral approach working through, and only with, the explicit authority of the UN Security Council; that they unambiguously opposed any military action being contemplated by the US or any other country on a unilateral basis; that the Government should seek to align with our EU partners its response to any initiative by the US Administration; and that military action should only be an option as a last resort, if all diplomacy failed, and if there was evidence made generally available which clearly demonstrated that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems and posed a real threat to world peace.

'On the evidence currently available, the General Council do not judge these conditions to have been met and for war to be justified. They reiterate the view of Congress that to avoid the desperate human cost that would arise in the event of war, particularly on the various peoples of Iraq and the massive refugee problem which may be caused, every effort should be made to find solutions through diplomatic and peaceful means with the UN playing a central role to ease tension and avoid war, with the clear objective of achieving disarmament and not regime change.

'The General Council are deeply concerned at increasing indications that the United States Administration backed by the British Government and some others, is intent on military action in Iraq within weeks, and that action might be taken without the explicit authorisation of the UN Security Council. They emphasise that this approach is not supported by working people and their families, their trade union organisations led by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the European Trade Union Confederation, and the majority of peoples and Governments worldwide. The General Council welcome the joint statement of the President of the AFL-CIO and the TUC General Secretary on 30 January in advance of the meeting in Washington of the US President and British Prime Minister.

'The General Council welcome the massive and historic demonstrations against war held in London, Glasgow, Belfast and other towns and cities around the UK on February 15, in which hundreds of thousands of trade unionists participated, and believe that no democratic government can embark on a war without the consent of the people. The General Council note the opposition to war of such leaders as Nelson Mandela, the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury, and believe that moral repugnance towards any regime cannot on its own be sufficient justification for war. The General Council note that many British trade unionists will be affected directly or indirectly by any conflict, including as a result of the economic consequences of war. They are also concerned at the dangers of an increase in racial tensions and a possible increase in racist attacks and activities in the event of war.

'The General Council are concerned at the damaging consequences of action taken without the sanction of the Security Council for multilateral institutions, such as the UN and NATO, and for the future development of the European Union. Such action would further destabilise the Middle East region as a whole and exacerbate the problems in Israel and Palestine.

'The General Council reiterate the condemnation by Congress of the continuing political, national and religious oppression by the Iraqi regime which has resulted in great human suffering and a massive flow of refugees, as well as its persistent flouting of the decisions of the United Nations since 1991, which included 17 Resolutions. They insist that Iraq should respect the terms of UNSC Resolution 1441 and co-operate fully with the weapons inspectors.

'The General Council have considered the reports of the chief weapons inspectors to the UN Security Council on 14 February and the subsequent debates in the UN and in the EU Council. It was clear that the inspectors believed that, while Iraq did not meet the requirements of Security Council Resolution 1441 and previous Resolutions and should co-operate fully, particularly concerning large unaccounted-for quantities of deadly chemical and bacteriological agents and in respect of prohibited long-range missiles, they also believed that the inspection process had not run its course.

'The General Council believe that the monitoring and inspection process should be given the time required and be ongoing until the Security Council decide otherwise. The adoption now of a further Security Council Resolution aimed at short-circuiting this process would only undermine the unanimity reached over UNSCR 1441.

'The General Council are requesting a meeting with the Prime Minister to press him to use whatever influence he may have on the US Administration, even at this late date, to work towards a peaceful solution by all available means. The General Council will be closely monitoring events in the coming days and may be reconvened urgently - on an extended basis to include representatives from all affiliated unions - to consider the TUC’s position further.

'The General Council support the joint statement of the Foreign Secretary and the Norwegian Foreign Minister on 21 January that ‘the international community must take as much care to address the crisis in Israel and the Occupied Territories as the crisis that results from Iraqi weapons of mass destruction’. They call on the Prime Minister to press on the President of the United States the need for active support in seeking a lasting settlement based on the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions, notably 242 and 338, including the ending of the settlements policy and the creation of a viable Palestinian State alongside Israel.'
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European Trade Unions on Iraq - 09-02-2003
Statement by the ETUC Executive Committee
Brussels, 09-10 October 2002

Reflecting the deep concerns of the Working people in Europe of a possible War in Iraq, the ETUC reaffirms its conviction that all political and diplomatic means must be applied in view of avoiding a devastating armed conflict and Iraq fully acting in compliance with the United Nations resolutions which they have been refusing to abide by for so long.

A unilateral decision by the US or a bi-lateral one with the UK to go to war and to act by a preventive strike would be a violation of International Law. Only the United Nations have the authority to decide how to ensure the implementation of their resolutions.

Iraq must allow unfettered inspection by the United Nations and accept to do away with the arms of mass destruction which constitute a threat for the region and for the world at large.

The ETUC is equally concerned and indeed shocked by the escalation of violence in Israel and Palestine causing the unacceptable human loss of life among the civil populations. The United Nations have also the responsibility here, to see their resolutions implemented and to urgently reactivate a credible political process leading to a lasting peaceful solution.

Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories must be ended and a Palestinian independant State established along side a State of Israel, recognised by the Arab World and free of terror.

On Iraq, as well as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the European Union must speak with one voice in favour of peaceful solutions, uphold the role of the United Nations, increase its contributions in humanitarian aid to deprived populations, support democratic reforms and stand ready to contribute to the economic reconstruction and social development of a region of vital importance for Europe.

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Brussels, 31 January 2002, ICFTU OnLine : On the eve of today’s meeting between US President George Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, the ICFTU-affiliated AFL-CIO (US) and TUC (Great Britain) have appealed in a joint letter on 30 January to the two leaders to allow the United Nations Iraq weapons inspectors adequate time, and to “take every possible step to achieve the legitimate ends of disarming Iraq without recourse to war”.

The letter, signed by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and TUC General Secretary John Monks, urges the two governments to continue to work against totalitarianism and terrorism through the United Nations, and stresses that if the path of war is chosen as a last resort, it should be done on the basis of the fullest possible support of friends and allies of the two countries.
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Iraq: ICFTU warns of danger of a slide into war in Iraq - 08-02-2003
Brussels, 24 January, 2003 (ICFTU online): The ICFTU today warned of the dangers of a slide into war in Iraq, and called for the crisis to be addressed through the United Nations as the surest means for preserving peace and guaranteeing international security.

The rapidly escalating military build-up runs the risk of short-circuiting the processes which are currently taking place under the authority of the United Nations Security Council and which have the legitimacy of international law.

Military action outside the UN framework would undermine, not contribute to, international security. Such action is on present evidence unnecessary and would be unacceptable.

A peaceful solution to the real threats posed by the Iraqi dictatorship to its own people and to the world is possible and is needed urgently. The ICFTU renews its call upon the international community to work together, through the UN, to bring this about.
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Colombia: ICFTU challenges President on the rise in anti-union violence - 07-02-2003

Brussels, 7 February 2003 (ICFTU online): ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder has asked the President of Colombia to take action to protect human and trade union rights and to bring those who violate them to justice. With the spiralling of murders and death threats against them, Colombian trade unions are critical of the purely security-oriented policy of the government.

Guillermo Rivera Plata, Vice-President of the national Agricultural Workers Union (SINTRAINAGRO), was previously granted special protection by the authorities following the numerous death threats he had received. However, this year the same authorities removed that support, putting his life at risk. On 23 January 2003, Resolution n°141 adopted by the Public Services Inspectorate annulled the previous agreement of 29 January 2002, which had been concluded after several disputes between the Government and the workers of the Cali local authority (EMCALI). Following the ensuing protests by workers, the security forces openly threatened to kill the workers if they continued their protest.

These two examples, among many others, demonstrate the extremely dangerous situation faced by Colombian trade unionists, whose work all too often costs them their lives. That is what happened to Jose Marcelino Diaz Gonzalez, President of the College of Rectors and Directors affiliated to the Arauca Teachers Association, who was assassinated on 13 January 2003, and to Abelardo Barbosa Paez of the FENSUAGRO union, who was killed on 21 January 2003 whilst going to work on his motorbike.

During 2002 around 180 trade unionists were assassinated, making Colombia by far the most dangerous country to be a trade unionist. The militarisation of civilian institutions and the declaration of a state of emergency have done nothing to improve matters. Over 70 Colombian NGOs, including many trade unions, have therefore expressed their concern over the worsening human rights situation following measures adopted by the new government in a joint statement. These measures range from the declaration of a state of emergency last August to the exclusively security-oriented public policies that are undermining humanitarian law and human rights.

In view of this exceptional violence and the numerous trade union rights violations reported to it, the ICFTU asked President Alvaro Uribe to give serious consideration to the human rights situation, to amend his policies and to respect the rule of law. The ICFTU has also repeated its demand that assassinations of trade unionists be ended and the current impunity over human rights issues be removed
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ICFTU forms “Trade Union Friends of Venezuela” group - 05-02-2003

Brussels, 27 January, ICFTU OnLine: At a meeting on 24 January at the Porto Alegre World Social Forum, the ICFTU and its regional organisation for the Americas, ICFTU-ORIT, held a meeting with the national trade union centres for the countries which comprise the “Friends of Venezuela” group, which was created on the initiative of the newly-elected Brazilian President Ignacio Lula Da Silva, to mediate in the current crisis in Venezuela. The meeting decided to create a trade union “Friends of Venezuela” grouping which will promote a negotiated, democratic, peaceful and electoral solution to the crisis.

The ICFTU and ORIT, rejecting absolutely any recourse to violence in particular through a coup d’etat, fully support the mediation initiatives of the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the intergovernmental Friends of Venezuela group.

Along with their affiliates in the Friends of Venezuela group countries (Brazil, Chile, Mexico, the United States, Portugal and Spain), the ICFTU and ORIT aim to use their close relationships with their Venezuelan counterpart the CTV, to encourage the CTV to positively consider proposals from the OAS, the Friends of Venezuela group and other bodies such as the United Nations and the Carter Centre, to bring about an agreement in accordance with the above principles.

The ICFTU and ORIT also believe that it is essential that the governments in the Friends of Venezuela group work to influence the Venezuelan government to adopt a negotiating position that enables an agreement which satisfies all the parties to be reached. In addition, in line with the decisions of the Governing Body of the UNs International Labour Organisation (ILO), the government must implement in full the ILO Conventions concerning trade union organising and collective bargaining rights.

The Porto Alegre meeting also decided to maintain direct contacts with the OAS and with each of the governments in the Friends of Venezuela group. The trade union group will also visit the south American country to hold dialogue with the CTV, the government and other components of the opposition “Coordinadora Democratica”, of which the CTV is a leading member.

For more information, please contact the ICFTU Press Department on +32 2 224 0212.

The ICFTU represents 158 million workers in 231 affiliated organisations in 150 countries and territories. ICFTU is also a member of Global Unions:
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Unions in Porto Alegre: ICFTU leader calls for practical approaches and alliances to tackle globalisation - 04-02-2003
ICFTU Online, Porto Alegre, January 27, 2003: “The trade union movement is international in vocation, and we are very clear that the solution to the problems of globalisation does not lie in a retreat behind national borders”, ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder said Saturday to assembled trade union and non-governmental organisation (NGO) delegates at a two day trade union seminar on Decent Work. “The solution must lie in globalising social justice, and globalising equality.”

Ryder opened the trade union seminar on Friday with a call for trade unions and NGO's to work together to change the current model of globalisation. The seminar was discussing the importance of “Decent Work” to a sustainable and just model of globalisation, and what role workers and workplaces would play in the building of a new globalisation.

“Workplaces will remain on the frontline of the struggle against injustice and exploitation”, said Ryder to participants of the World Social Forum, “and like Lula's campaign slogan for a decent Brazil, the ICFTU wants a decent world.”

The two day seminar on “decent work” allowed trade unionists and other delegates to the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre to follow up on the impetus of the Trade Union Forum, a rousing curtain raiser attended by a 700-strong crowd which closed on Thursday morning.

When the Trade Union Forum opened on Wednesday, Ryder set the tone with an invitation for NGOs to work together with trade unions to make another world a reality, not just a possibility.

“Record numbers of trade unionists are here in Porto Alegre from all corners of the world. And they are here with one mission: to keep working to make our globalised world a fairer place”, said Ryder to the large crowd of forum delegates
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Croatia: ICFTU condemns threats to liberalise labour law - 04-02-2003
Brussels, 4 February 2003 (ICFTU OnLine): The ICFTU has expressed its regret at the Croatian government's decision to again yield to IMF demands and the interests of international financial institutions by proposing a number of new amendments to that country's labour legislation. “We fully support the Croatian unions in their calls upon the Croatian government to scrap these amendments and play their part in the process of changing labour legislation.”

The amendments put forward by the Croatian government ? due to be debated by parliament in the first week in February ? are designed to liberalise labour relations further still and reduce workers’ rights, without ensuring in return that any social support will be given to those workers who lose their jobs. The proposed changes are directly linked to the Stand-By Arrangement that the Croatian government recently signed with the IMF.

The trade union movement, which is threatening to call a general strike in early February if the government refuses to back down, has pulled together and set up a Strike Committee comprising the five union confederations (UATUC, HUS, URSH, NHS and Matica) and signed a joint declaration on the announced labour legislation amendments. The unions are threatening to organise a general warning strike and a several other forms of joint action – such as the first All-Croatian Union Congress – in February.

The main changes proposed by the government aim to reduce the level of severance pay and the notice required before firing a worker. However, there are no new provisions planned for unemployment benefit. The government also plans to scrap the defined criteria for concluding fixed-term contracts, which means that job security in Croatia will soon be a thing of the past. Under another of the proposed amendments the definition of a small employer would be changed – the number of workers being increased from 10 to 20 – so that many more workers would slip through the net of protective legislation from which small employers are exempt.

The government cites European standards in support of its argument in favour of these changes to the Labour Law, but conveniently fails to include the protective measures directly associated with such standards. At the same time, the government’s claims that the proposed changes will benefit people are not substantiated in any way, leaving the population in the dark as to the motives behind and the need for such amendments.
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Right-wing gunmen kill leader of teachers' union


Colombian Labor leaders accuse President Uribe of increasing the war "on all fronts" after death squad gunmen linked to the security forces have murdered yet another union leader - this time in the eastern Colombian town of Tame

ANNCOL is pleased to provide our readers with an English translation of the latest press release from Colombia's biggest trade union federation CUT:





The Central Trade Union Federation of Colombia (CUT), denounces before the world the continuing assassinations of trade unionists in Colombia, especially those affiliated to the CUT.

This fact is demonstrated by the more than 170 comrades who were assassinated in the year 2002 and yet we see President URIBE VELEZ saying every day "THAT THERE WILL NOT BE ONE MORE ASSASSINATION", while, on the contrary, the war has been increasing and intensifying on all fronts.

Another example of the campaign being waged against the trade union movement is the assassination of teacher JOSE MARCELINO DIAZ GONZALEZ,  Rector of Froilan Farias College, municipality of TAME, department of ARAUCA, in the northeast of the country. This premeditated crime was committed on 13 January of the current year.

Comrade MARCELINO was working as President of the College of Rectors (COLDIT), affiliated to the Arauca Teachers Association (ASEDAR - FECODE).

We will not stop our denunciations until there is an end to the assassinations of members of the social movement. Once again, we hope for your solidarity with the Colombian people.

Director of the Human Rights Department of the CUT
Bogota, January 13 2003

(Translated by the Colombia Peace Association)
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Sent 15 January 2003


Through direct threats and information received from a number of reliable
sources, we know that a plan is underway to attack the national president of
the USO, comrade Rudolfo Gutierrez Nino.

The situation has come about since union discussions with the government and
Ecopetrol management regarding the very serious situation the state company
is in because of the fall in reserves and production, the low yields from
the refineries and the leasing of pipelines, as well as the system of
storing fuel; as well as counter-reforms that are eroding workers' rights
and preventing the free exercise of their trade union activities, including
dismissals, disciplinary processes and criminalisation.

All these things have prevented any possibility of negotiating the list of
demands we presented in order to renew the Collective Labour Convention
which expired on 31 December 2002.

Those who are planning to carry out this criminal act seek to unleash
violence against the union in order to silence the voices of protest against
the intentions of North American multinationals to take possession of the
hydrocarbon industry, a process that started with the restructuring of the
company and official oil policy.

USO rejects and condemns this dark plan targeted at the president of our
organisation. We demand that the government of President Alvaro Uribe Velez
provide guarantees to enable the union to function and to preserve our right
to exercise civilised and democratic opposition to government policies.

National Executive Committee of the Oil Workers' Union (USO)
15 January 2003, Bogota


The Central Trade Union Federation of Colombia (CUT), through its Human
Rights Department, denouces before national and international public opinion
the onslaught by the government of Alvaro Uribe Velez against the Colombian
trade union movement.

A specific example of this onslaught is the ongoing criminalisation of the
leaders of the Oil Workers Union (USO). Today, 15 January, the National
Public Prosecutor gave the order to detain comrade HERNANDO HERNANDEZ,
Secretary for International Affairs of the Oil Workers Union (USO); comrade
HERNANDO was the First Vice-President of the Executive Committee of USO in
its last session.

Likewise, we denounce the death threats against comrade RODOLFO GUTIERREZ,
President of USO, and against EDGAR MOJICA, the National Leader of the

These events coincide with a growing labour conflict concerning the
negotiation of the union's list of demands to which the response of the
"ECOPETROL" corporation has been to dismiss trade union leaders and
militarise the refineries.

We will continue to call for solidarity with Colombian workers. Now as much
as ever we need your urgent and vital response to the attitude of the Alvaro
Uribe Velez government.

Director of the Human Rights Department of the CUT
Bogota, 15 January 2003
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The annual TUC Safety Reps survey has shown the worst health & safety levels are in London.

London is worst for bullying, violence at work,, asbestos fatalities, long hours, display screen problems and stress.Over 59% of workplaces recorded overwork and stress as a major concern. London employers were rated worst in Britain for doing basic health & safety work. Only 38% had done adequate statutory risk assessments.
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The "Guardian" reported that 2 Motherwell based train drivers refused to operate a train carrying ammunition destined for forces going to the Middle East. This was termed as "conscientious objection". The train was to run between Glasgow and the Glen Douglas base.

This reminded of previous workers objections to warmongering and reactiopnary policies - 1920 dock workers refused to load arms on the "Jolly George" in East India Dock, London. The arms were intended for the anti-Bolshevik foces in Russia. In 1973 dockers refused to load arms meant for the Chilean regime after the murder of Presiden Allende.
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The counter-revolutionary sectors of Venezuela - the leaders of the business
owners union (FEDECAMARA), the illegal and illegitimate leadership of the
CTV, the parties AD, COPEY, First Injustices Project Anti-Venezuela, and
some NGOs - faced with the failure of the strike, are trying to create chaos
and anxiety among the people, leaving tear gas bombs in the Caracas metro
which is functioning perfectly normally, scattering nails in the avenues and
streets to hold up the traffic, inciting people to set fire to public
transport, and other acts of sabotage in the oil and energy industries in
order to bring about power cuts and create the impression that the workers
and the people support them.

Some of these acts were carried out yesterday (2 December), at the start of
this cynical strike. They scattered nails in streets and avenues to stop the
traffic, but it did not work. Today (3 December) they set light to a public
transport vehicle just outside the capital. But they did not succeed in
making the public transport drivers afraid and they are continuing their
work of transporting passengers.

THE CYNICAL STRIKE FAILED, the workers and the people caused the
perpetrators an outright defeat, but now the fascists have dark plans to
carry out acts of terrorism and sabotage in order to unleash violence and

We are calling on the International Community to be alert because the
fascist sectors have been dealt a fatal blow and in their desperation they
intend to generate violence, chaos and sabotage and even cause deaths among
the population, and using media propaganda they want to create the
impression that our Bolivarian state is in a critical condition of

In a few hours they are planning to extend the failed and cynical strike,
and even though they have no support among the workers or the people, they
are continuing to try and justify their sinister activities abroad.

The coup d'etat script is the same as last April. All they are lacking are
the march, the snipers and the clowns dressed up as soldiers.

Knowing the misinformation being disseminated about events in Venezuela, we
ask you to remain alert and to spead as much factual information about
Venezuela as possible. Please see the internet pages:;

we need BOLIVARIAN SOLIDARITY NETWORKS in order to support the Bolivarian
process. Commander Che Guevara once said that: "Solidarity is the lifeblood
of peoples". Here and now the Bolivarian state needs solidarity like never
before in its history because the oligarchy and its allies want to snatch
away the hopes of the workers and the poor.

Pedro Vargas
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There are three main TU centres in Venezuela. CUTV is affiliated to ICFTU and has been opposing President Chavez in recent situation. It also has close links to AD party, called Social Democratic in some sources. Others are CGT and CODESA.

General Union of Venezuela Workers (CUTV)

Av. Este Dos, Torre Los Caobos, Mezzanina
Phone.: 58 12 577 91 27
Telefax: 58 12 576 17 29
José Gregorio Ibarra

General Confederation of Workers of Venezuela (CGT)

Toro A Cardones, Edificio Fristol - Parroquia Altagracia
Phone: 58 12 860 7951
Fax: 58 12 862 72 53/576 1729
Mobile phone: 014 8656772
E-mail: [email protected]

Chairman: Pedro Félix Vargas Pedro Félix Vargas

Confederation of Autonomous Labor Unions of Venezuela (CODESA)

Miracielos A Hospital, Torre Sur 2, Piso 7 Oficina 711
Phone: 58 12 482 41 16
Fax: 58 12 482 00 22 / 482 41 61
Eleónides Rodríguez Ocanto.

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GLATUC has been very concerned at events in Colombia. Since the new right wing President was elected, he has been manipulating events to try and justify ever expanding emergency powers suppressing democratic opposition, giving massive powers to police and military and giving new impetus to the right wing militias and death squads.
Trade unionists have been regularly targetted for attacks, following on decades of murders and disappearances of union and community activists. To give an idea of the sort of attacks our brothers and sisters in Colombia are suffering we list two recent reports -

Four unionists killed in one day - new government blamed

By Alfredo Castro, ANNCOL Bogotá

In a massive upsurge in attacks against trade union activists four union members were reported assassinated in Colombia in just one day. The CUT trade union federation has openly blamed the newly elected right wing government of Alvaro Uribe Velez for the murders.

In an unprecedented increase in attacks against the Colombian trade union movement four unionists affiliated to the CUT trade union federation were assassinated in one day in attacks that the movement have blamed on the new state of emergency legislation introduced by President Alvaro Uribe Velez last week. According to the CUT the new legislation is being used as “a way to further attack human rights activists and union leaders”.

All four of the following assassinations occurred or were reported on August 15th:

- Felipe Santiago Mendoza Navarro was pulled out of his house in Tibu in Santander department by paramilitaries and shot repeatedly in the head. He was a member of the USO oil workers union.
- Paramilitaries entered the local hospital in the town of Miranda in Cauca department and killed nurse Amparo Figueroa. She was a member of the ANTHOC health workers union.
- Paramilitaries murdered teacher Francisco Mendez Diaz of the FECODE teachers union on the road between the municipality of Chalan and the city of Sincelejo in Sucre department.
- Blanca Ludivia Hernandez, a member of staff and vice president of the SINDES trade union in the public hospital of the municipality of Cordoba in Quindio department, was found dead after paramilitaries had taken her away the previous week. Her body showed signs of torture.

In a separate attack two days earlier two paramilitaries on a motorbike in the city of Cali shot and severely injured Omar Romero Diaz of the SUTIMAC construction workers union. Romero Diaz, who is now recovering in hospital was a full time activist with SUTIMAC and also worked voluntarily with a local human rights collective. It is interesting to note that although the attempted murder occurred in the centre of the city of Cali the motorbike carrying the two assassins was not stopped at any roadblocks despite the fact that due to the problem of drive by killings it is illegal to carry a passenger on a motorbike in the city - unless you are a member of the security forces.

According to the CUT these new killings are “a direct consequence of the repressive state of emergency policy that Álvaro Uribe Vélez has implemented and which he argues is to fight terrorism but is in reality aimed at intensifying the armed conflict, rejecting a negotiated solution to the conflict and will thus aggravate the humanitarian crisis, increase human rights violations and destroy individual and collective rights.”

So far this year 116 CUT members have been murdered by the paramilitaries, the state security forces have violently attacked seven peaceful protests organised by the federation, 8 CUT members have been forcibly disappeared and 16 others have been kidnapped. Furthermore not one person has been arrested for any of these crimes meaning that impunity for crimes against the Colombian trade union movement is currently running at 100%.


By Alfredo Castro, ANNCOL Bogotá

Although it has gone unreported in the mainstream media paramilitary death squads working with the Colombian security forces have continued assassinating hundreds of civilians in recent weeks. Among the dead lately are human rights workers, religious and community leaders, land reform and peace campaigners and trade union and student activists.

In what appears to be a systematic campaign to ignore paramilitary abuses in Colombia, the two families that control the Colombian media, the Santos family and the Ardila Lülle family, both of which are also accused of making donations to the death squads, seem to have instructed that their newspapers and television channels ignore any and all reports of human rights violations committed by the death squads.

Unfortunately the western media too seem to have followed their lead and despite the fact that the army and death squads have murdered hundreds of civilians in recent weeks not one of these assassinations has been reported on.

To follow is a list of some of the serious human rights violations that have been ignored by the mainstream media:

August 14th Paramilitaries entered the town of San Juan del Cesar in La Guajira department and assassinated four civilians whom they accused of being guerrilla sympathisers.

August 10th Land reform campaigner Roberto Hugo Santander is shot dead by paramilitary gunmen in the city of Medellin.

August 4th Paramilitaries entered the indigenous community of Cascajeros in Choco department and shot dead three people including a pregnant woman. They then ordered all residents of the community to leave the region or face the same punishment.

August 3rd Paramilitaries massacred four young people in the municipality of Soledad just outside of the city of Barranquilla. Neither the army nor police intervened despite having a heavy presence in the area. Three of the victims have been named as Luis Alberto Cantillo Correa, Ricardo David Borrero and Deiver Garcia Gonzalez.

August 2nd A joint marine and paramilitary unit entered the town of Puerto Saija on the remote Pacific coast of Cauca department and proceeded to terrorise the residents whom they accused of helping local FARC guerrillas. The government forces told hundreds of residents of the town and the surrounding area to leave the region or be executed and some three hundred people fled by boat down the rivers Saija and Timbiqui. On the morning of Aug 3rd two civilians were found murdered although at around noon some 200 FARC guerrillas arrived and launched a heavy assault on the government troops forcing them to leave the area.

July 31st A death squad shot union activist Alonso Pamplona five times on a road in Sabana de Torres municipality in Santander department. The unionist, who worked for the USO oil workers union, was left for dead although miraculously he survived and is now recovering in hospital.

July 29th Paramilitaries ‘disappeared’ union leader Gonzalo Ramirez Triana of the USO oil workers union in the town of Villeta in Cundinamarca department. He has not been seen since.

July 27th 16-year-old Jorge Perez Ardila who worked selling newspapers in the streets of the city of Barrancabermeja was taken away by a group of paramilitaries in the La Victoria neighbourhood. He has not been seen since and was the 60th person that the paramilitaries have ‘disappeared’ in the city so far this year about half of whom were youngsters whom the death squads accuse of being rebel spies.

July 26th A paramilitary assassin shot and killed Yolanda Castaño, a community leader in the La Loma neighbourhood of the southern city of Cali.

July 25th Paramilitaries killed three men on the road leading from the city of Pereira to the city of Armenia in central Colombia. Carlos Antonio Gallego Herrera, Harold Andres Varela Galviz and Andred Humberto Correa Bedoya were all murdered by the death squad whilst two other civilians were injured when the paramilitaries indiscriminately opened fire at the vehicle they were travelling in.

July 22nd Paramilitaries executed three people in the Yarumal region of Antioquia department and disappeared four others.

July 21st Paramilitaries go on a killing spree in and around the city of Monteria in Cordoba department. In the rural community of Guateque just outside of the city the death squads decapitated Rafael Velasquez Vergara. In the neighbourhood of Brisas del Sinu in the city a separate death squad executed a teenager and another man whom they accused of being guerrilla collaborators. Yet another death squad went from house to house in the rural community of Guacharacal and dragged four peasant farmers away before executing them.

July 19th A death squad entered the community of San Miguel in the municipality of San Carlos in Antioquia department where they killed a man and his three children before they moved into the neighbouring community of Santa Rita and murdered Graciano Gil and Jairo de Jesus Giraldo.

July 16th A paramilitary unit kidnapped four female students at the ‘Creadores del Futuro’ College in the Blanquizal neighbourhood of the city of Medellin. All four girls were executed and had their bodies dumped in the nearby neighbourhood of La Pradera. The victims were identified as Matalia Carvajal Saldarriaga, Sandra Milena Florez Garces, Sara Lucia Acosta Montoya and Luz Andrea Velasquez Hernandez, all of who were killed for alleged guerrilla sympathies.

July 14th Two paramilitary gunmen in the municipality of Mogotes in Santander department approached Martha Ines Velez, a nun with the Order of the Poor of San Pedro Claver, and shot her dead. She was killed for bringing attention to paramilitary massacres in rural communities in the region that were not reported on by anyone else. ANNCOL has learnt that Colonel Jorge Daniel Castro, the commander of the police in Santander department, was involved in the planning of her murder.

July 13th Paramilitaries in the municipality of Aracataca in Magdalena department stopped a public bus carrying indigenous leader Maria Torres and dragged her from the vehicle. She was shot dead at the side of the road whilst her young daughter and niece were forced to watch.

July 12th A paramilitary death squad entered the community of La Union in Antioquia department and assassinated four men whose names they had on a list. One of the men was forced to dig his own grave before being killed by machete blows and a gunshot to the head.
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Report from Cities of London & Westminster Trades Council.

A major dispute is taking place between the unions, UNISON Westminster & GMB, and Westminster City Council. The City Council is selling a whole range of jobs and services to private contractos, mainly a firm called Vertex SW1, which has already been condemned for the level of service provided by the Tories in Ealing Council.
The move means forcibly transferring staff to Vertex, withdrawing them from the Local Government Pension Scheme and ending local governmenmt continuity of service. This will hit services across the Council including Environmental Health, Building Control, Planning, Trading Standards, Social Services and Libraries. Hundreds of staff are to be transferred in this wholesale sell-out to the privatisers.

A series of strikes and pickets are being organised and a strike fund has been set up. UNISON Westminster can be contacted on 0207-641-2389 and donations sent to them at 1st Floor, City Hall, 64 Victoria Streeet, SW1 6QP.

Roger Sutton, Secretary of the Cities of London & Westminster Trades Council, speaking to a meeting of office workers in Westminster today (Monday 12 August) condemned Westminster City Council's "crazy plans to hand over customer services to Vertex".

Slamming the proposals he said "Vertex is a company that Tories on Ealing Council have demanded be sacked as being 'so poor'. Just when most serious analysis is questioning the whole argument that services be given to the private sector; when horror stories are emerging about the effects of the hunt for profit is having on delivery; and when the dedication and experience of council employees nationwide are being increasingly recognised - Westminster starts this exercise.

It is a kick in the teeth of their staff and a kick in the teeth to the people of Westminster. The richest borough in London should be giving the best service to its residents - not the cheapest, cut corner, cut standards service. The Trades Council stands four square behind the council workers who have been forced to strike by the callous indifference of the Council. Do you like the prospect that, for example, environmental health and trading standards are to be dealt with by a company that has an abysmal track record with those who currently use it."

The Trades Council is organising local trade union branches and workplaces to send support to the UNISON and GMB members involved in the dispute. This will also be reflected across London through the GLATUC, organising all London's trades councils.
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Five people from Brighton were charged today following a peaceful protest at Euromin's Shoreham docks on 3rd December 2001. The protest, organised by the Simon Jones Memorial Campaign, followed the aquittal of Euromin and its general manager, James Martell, on manslaughter charges the previous week.

The five were charge in Brighton Police Station under section 241 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1992 for 'besetting'. They will appear at Worthing Magistrates Court, Christchurch Road, at 9am on Wednesday 23rd January. A picket is planned for the hearing at which all defendants will plead not guilty.
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The campaign around the death in police custody of Tottenham resident, Roger Sylvester, has seen a new development. GLATUC, supporter of the vigil held in August this year, welcomes the news that Haringey Council has supported a call for a public inquiry into the death.
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London Conference of Trade Unionists and Pensioners - 17-10-2001
The Greater London Pensioners Association organizes an annual conference bringing together trade unionists and pensioners. Its main purpose is to keep the increasingly urgent issue of the state retirment pension on the trade union agenda and in the minds of workers. GLPA official Lionel Miller (a past member of the GLATUC Executive Committee) says, "Unless trade unionists help defend the non-means tested state retirement pension now it will be worth virtually nothing when the collect it in future decades."
The conference will be held from 11.00am on Saturday 27 October at TGWU, Transport House, 128 Theobalds Road, Holborn WC1.

We urge trade unionists of working age to attend. Help GLPA to defend ythe comfort and dignity of our old age!
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Stop the War - 27-09-2001
Saturday 13 October

The GLATUC Executive Committee calls for support for the march and rally against the projected military action against terrorism. This will assemble at Hyde Park and march to Trafalgar Square.

In the morning GLATUC meets at 10.00am in T&G Transport House, 128 Theobalds Road, Holborn. On the agenda, in addition to Rodney Bickerstaffe, the new Chair of the National Pensioners Convention, will be Dave Read, a leading trade unionist at Heathrow Airport, who will update us on the threat to jobs posed by the original attacks on America and the US and UK governments' reaction.

We warmly invite trade unionists to join our meeting and go with us to the march afterwards.
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GLATUC, along with many other organisations, was sad to hear of the death of RMT General Secretary, Jimmy Knapp (who's memorial; service took place in London on 20th August before his body was taken by train to Scotland for burial). Among all the other tributes and obituaries, GLATUC remembers Jimmy from his time on the South East Region TUC (sertuc) of which he became President and as an active supporter of trades councils on the TCJCC (the TUC co-ordinating body for Trades Councils, now known as the TUCJCC).
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17TH AUGUST 1968 - 18TH JANUARY 1999

17 AUGUST 2001 Friday 17th August 2001 would have been Roger's 33rd birthday. He died in
the hands of the Tottenham Police almost three years ago. His family and
friends held a vigil outside the New Scotland Yard on Friday,
between 2pm and 4pm, to remember Roger.
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Trades Councils Annual Conference - 23-07-2001
Bob Tennant reports.

I was re-elected as the TUCJCC representative for London and South East England, running again after some hesitation. Really, the job is an impossible one because of the vastness of the geographical constituency and the fact that there are no financial resources available. The Regional TUC advises that resources are a matter for the national TUC and the latter does not make budgetary provision. But I will continue doing my best and will accept invitations to your meetings wherever possible. Thank you for your continuing support.

I can be contacted at 25 Vicarage Road, London E10 5EF (phone number 020-8558 6612, email address [email protected]).

The TUCJCC has decided that the 2002 Conference will be in Wales (Cardiff), the 2003 Conference in South East England (venue to be arranged) and 2004/5 in the Midlands and Yorkshire (the order is not yet determined).

The TUCJCC has an annual task of drawing up a Programme of Work arising from the Conference. This year this will be an easy thing, because of the consensus that the two salient issues are the defence of public services and a campaign against fascism and racism. Public services became a sharp issue during the general election campaign, with the TUC making what may have been unprecedented criticism of the Labour Party for its apparent proposal to extend privatisation in education and health. Concerns about fascism and racism were increased by the success of the BNP in several constituencies and by a high level of activity by fascists in organizing civil disorder and fomenting racism.

I will issue further bulletins in due course. However, items will be posted, where appropriate, on this page of the GLATUC Website. And despite its London orientation, trades councils might consider subscribing to GLATUC NEWS, which I edit and which regularly contains TUCJCC-type information. I think it can be assumed that increasing at least someone in each trades council will have access to the Internet and email.
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Waltham Forest unions strike against education privatisation - 23-07-2001
On Thursday 20 July the three major unions in LB Waltham Forest—TGWU, UNISON and NUT—all went on strike together. We were uniting against the proposed privatisation of the central services provided for the borough’s 90 schools. In the event the Council meeting that evening went ahead with the decision, so that EduAction, a company formed by private schools provider Nord Anglia and land management company Amey Construction, will get the contract. Amey in particular must be rubbing their hands because EduAction will undoubtedly recommend that many schools are rebuilt under PPP, at which point Amey will step forward to claim the prize. The battle has been lost—as expected—but the war continues. The main aim of the strike was to unite the workforce. In this it was very successful. Only one trade union member crossed a picket line, and only for a (to her) special reason. The vast majority of the strikers came to the pickets, leafleted various public places and turned up to the evening’s rally at the Town Hall. We therefore go into privatisation from a position of industrial strength—especially since the local union Secretaries have a mandate for further strikes in their pockets if necessary. A dialogue will now begin with a company that is set to be an aggressive employer with no understanding of racism and little prospect—even if we co-operate—of improving standards. All this because central government is so crazed ideologically that it cannot look reality in the face. I hadn’t organized an official strike in LB Waltham Forest for 12 years (unofficial ones are a different matter) and I was struck by the anti-union attitudes of the younger generation of managers. A picket was enticed (briefly) into a building on the pretence of a crisis personal phone call. Some workers in another Department crossed the picket in tears after being told they would be dismissed if they didn’t. My own impending redundancy was turned into what looked like summary dismissal. Management tricks are a sign of fear, and as such to be welcomed. But local authority workers will have to toughen up as the campaign progresses.

Bob Tennant
Secretary, TGWU 1/1228
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Close racist detention centres! - 23-07-2001
The national protest on Saturday 30 June was very successful and continued the campaign of driving home the fact that the asylum seekers regime is a stain on Britain’s social policy. The new Harmondsworth Detention Centre will have 500 beds and will be the biggest in Britain. It was due to open on 29 June but isn’t yet fully operational. As a gesture towards political correctness it will even have the facilities to detain people with disabilities, as well as families with children. Detainees can’t even get out if they are ill or due for a court bail hearing. There are “enhanced health care units” provided and a special bail court inside the Centre. To supplement the special isolation block for trouble-makers there is full-time work available at the rate of £12 per week. If your trades council, trade union branch or other group isn’t yet committed to the Close Down Harmondsworth Campaign, you can phone it on 07960-309 457 (Eve Turner of Ealing TUC).
The 2001 Trades Councils conference adopted anti-fascism and anti-racism as one of its two priorities (the other being the defence of public services). Practical activity against detention centres is a very good way of grappling with the issue of institutionalised racism, as “family-friendly” detention centres can sound a humane innovation. But it disguises the larger question of the values built into a policy which regards asylum seekers as criminals, alien threats to our way of life or, at best, a source of cheap labour if and when allowed to stay here.
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Oldham United Against Racism - 25-06-2001
Oldham United Against Racism were given a warm reception when they addressed the Annual Conference of Trade Union Councils in Congress House on Monday 25 June. Conference gave strong indications that it wishes the campaign against fascism and racism a high priority in the trades councils movement's programme of work for 2001-2.
Oldham United will be pleased to send a speaker to a meeting of your organization. Please contact them c/o Oldham Law Centre, Archway House, 3 Bridge Street, Oldham OL1 1ED. Tel: 0161-627 0925; fax: 0161-620 3411; email: [email protected].
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