Janine's blog

Add Weight, Change Person?

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 01/16/2007 - 22:16

OK, it's the latest in my occasional series of things that really really annoy me. And the latest is ... the Weight Watchers advert currently running on TV.

And in particular, the closing scene of the bloke pushing the child on the playground swing saying with a relieved smile, "I've got back the woman I married" (or words to that effect).

Listen up, geezer, she didn't stop being the woman you married just because she put on a few pounds. Neither did she stop being the mother to that swinging child. Same person, just fatter, now thinner again.

Beat The Bigots – No Reduction In Time Limits For Abortion

Submitted by Janine on Sat, 01/13/2007 - 21:44

by guest blogger Glen Burrows, Secretary of Bristol Rail branch RMT

They’re at it again! The combined forces of religious bigotry, conservatism and patriarchy are having another pop at women’s abortion rights – meagre as they are.

When Judgementalism Replaces Politics

Submitted by Janine on Fri, 01/12/2007 - 11:44

My soundtrack to yesterday morning was BBC Radio Five Live and its phone-in discussion about whether the NHS should refuse to operate on people who refuse to give up smoking. Apparently, a doctor has suggested that it should. Other doctors, to their credit, immediately responded that they have a duty to treat all patients who need them.

Solidarity With Rail And Tube Cleaners

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 01/10/2007 - 11:36

On Monday, I joined other RMT activists protesting outside City Hall in defence of Rail and Tube cleaners. In particular, we were demanding that Mayor Livingstone intervene to prevent cleaning contractor ISS culling 200-plus jobs. It was a lively protest, with a strong display of cross-grade solidarity, illustrated by the banners held by drivers, signallers, station staff, ticket staff and others - all supporting our workmates, the cleaners.

Hayden Phillips, Trade Unions and Party Funding: a contribution to the debate

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 01/03/2007 - 21:49

A group called 'Unlock Democracy' - a project of Charter 88 and the New Politics Network - made a submission to the Hayden Phillips review of party funding. They interviewed various trade unionists, one of whom was yours truly.

I've attached their report (you have to be logged in to this website to look at attachments) as a contribution to the debate around Hayden Phillips, which has been discussed in depth elsewhere on the Workers' Liberty website.

Blears and Buck: Socialist Rebels or NIMBY Opportunists?

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 01/02/2007 - 17:19

Two Labour MPs have found themselves acting in protest against how their own government's policies are affecting them in their own back yard. Are these usual-suspect lefties? Or occasional rebels? No, both are ultra-Blairites.

First, Labour Party Chairperson Hazel Blears protested against cuts in her local hospital in Salford.

Three Books

Submitted by Janine on Sun, 12/24/2006 - 10:57

My friends gave me lots of books on the recent occasion of my fortieth birthday. Cheers, guys (in its non-gender-specific meaning). There was polemic, poetry and non-fiction a-plenty. But I kicked off with three works of fiction.

The notable thing was that all three of them are novels/memoirs told by adults about their relationship with their parents. You know, kind of critical but also reconciliatory. Are my friends trying to tell me something? And if so, about me, about them, or about middle age generally? Anyway, here goes ...

My union branch's women's newsletter

Submitted by Janine on Fri, 12/22/2006 - 18:16

You have to be logged in to this website to look at this newsletter.

I've recently produced a women's newsletter for my union branch, RMT Stratford no.1. Some of the issues are specific to where we work, but I think there is enough of general interest to justify posting it here.

I'd be interested in any comments, comparisons, and similar things from other unions and branches.

The Cleaners' Christmas Carol

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 12/20/2006 - 17:44

The video below is a short one put together by RMT about its campaign to organise, and improve the pay and conditions of, rail and Tube cleaners. It features the union's demonstration outside Metronet headquarters on Monday 4th December, and some words of wisdom from Alex Asare-Ansah, RMT cleaners' rep in contractor ISS on the Piccadilly line, who spoke at the recent No Sweat conference. I've also included beneath the video the words of the RMT's 'Cleaners' Christmas Carol'.

Labour Anti-Bolshevism in 1919

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 12/19/2006 - 21:37

Reading through some old issues of the East End News and Chronicle (I think I might have mentioned by local labour history nerd-ism before), I stumbled across this short article. Although much as changed since the days when Socialist was spelt with a capital 'S' and paragraphs went on forever, some things haven't - notably, it seems to me, hostility from union bureaucrats to rank-and-file initiative and, linked to that, terror on the part of Labour right-wingers about the prospects of actually changing the world.

BOLSHEVISM IN ENGLAND - A WARNING TO LABOUR

Welcome to No 10, now please leave the country?

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 12/13/2006 - 10:29

From the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC), Monday 11th December

Asylum seeker who was invited to Buckingham Palace, now invited to 10 Downing Street

"In recognition of services to the voluntary sector, The Prime Minister and Mrs Blair request the honour of the company of Farhat Khan at a Reception at 10 Downing Street, Whitehall on Tues. 12th December 2006 from 6.30 to 8.00 pm"

Like the queen, Tony Blair has made an excellent choice of who to invite home.

Televote TV Goes Wild Janine Fri, 12/08/2006 - 21:24

Now this is getting ridiculous. Tomorrow night sees the start of a new TV show where celebrities hang out with endangered species. Then you the viewer get to vote for which animals should get help to survive.

Primary School League Tables: an injustice to our kids

Submitted by Janine on Thu, 12/07/2006 - 15:33

The thing with school league tables is that no matter how unfair, counter-productive and downright reactionary you think they are, you still immediately look up where your kids' school ranked. So today's news is ... My kids go to Brook Community Primary School, the fifth worst primary school in the whole of London, the fourth worst in Hackney. It's a good job I do think that league tables are unfair, counter-productive and downright reactionary, otherwise I could feel quite demoralised.

Community Fightback In Rural Wales

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 12/06/2006 - 21:18

I'm linking to this video (below) for two reasons. Firstly, a good friend of mine, formerly of Hackney, now lives in the town concerned, and it's good to see that campaigning goes on outside cities as well as in them. And secondly, because it's also good to see a community get organised and fight back - even if road safety isn't top of your Subjects-That-Lefties-Usually-Get-Excited-About list.

Shame about the starring role for the LibDem MP, though.

(Oh, and third reason: I'm practising putting up YouTube videos, so thanks to Pete for explaining how.)

Unions and politics: getting lost?

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 12/05/2006 - 21:35

A resolution on political candidates that my (then) RMT branch passed in the summer finally made it to the Regional Council last week. It was defeated. I understand that it might not be everyone's cup of tea, and that there might be political differences, but some of the content of the debate has sent alarm bells ringing.

Tube cleaners and annual leave

Submitted by Janine on Thu, 11/30/2006 - 14:37

RMT is currently in the middle of a fortnight's intensive organising work amongst Tube and rail cleaners. Yesterday, I and others spent a lot of time talking with cleaners on London Underground's Central line. Every one I spoke to is a member of the RMT - some for up to a decade, some more recently - and are pleased to see a lot of campaigning from the union on cleaners' issues (more so than perhaps in the past). We have some new volunteers to become union reps.

No tears for sacked homophobic magistrate

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 11/28/2006 - 15:52

There aren't too many Employment Tribunals where I'd support the boss against the worker. But here's one.

Andrew McClintock claims he was forced to resign as a family division magistrate because he was not prepared to agree to remove children from their families because they might be placed with a lesbian or gay couple.