Janine's blog

Dodgy Business

Submitted by Janine on Thu, 03/23/2006 - 14:32

1. Rod Aldridge, Chair of Capita, has resigned in embarrassment over lending money to the Labour Party. His company holds several government contracts, including the administration of the Congestion Charge, and the Criminal Records Bureau's IT systems (a Public-Private Partnership, so I hear).

That would be the same Criminal Records Bureau that seems to take months to give clearance to people to work with kids, right? Here in Hackney, because of delays in CRB clearance:

Women’s Pay: Mind the Gap

Submitted by Janine on Fri, 03/17/2006 - 13:44

The hot topic of TUC Women's Conference was the gender pay gap – the fact that, three decades on from legislation supposedly guaranteeing ‘equal pay for work of equal value’, women still earn significantly less than men. Just a few days previously, the government’s ‘Women And Work Commission’ had published its report, containing a long list of recommendations, nearly all of them little fiddles with the system, and as a whole, letting employers right off the hook.

TUC Women's Conference: Iraqi & Kurdish Women Speak Out

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 03/14/2006 - 19:34

Nazanin T. Ali, Head of Women in the Kurdistan Workers’ Union, was a conference guest speaker.

She brought solidarity greetings, and talked of the struggle to improve workers’ conditions and women’s rights. She described the women’s contribution to the Kurdish national liberation movement, giving examples of women activists. She also reported on years of repression by the Turkish and Iraqi states.

Over the last 15 years, there has been some self-rule in Southern Kurdistan, with the election of a Kurdish National Authority.

Where Are The Women?

Submitted by Janine on Sat, 03/11/2006 - 20:04

Each year’s TUC Women’s conference has an hour-long informal session, and this year women delegates were asked to talk about the (under-)representation of women in union structures, and to give our views and those of our union (in my case, these are not necessarily the same thing).

I’m more than willing to blow the RMT’s trumpet most of the time – it is one of the most militant, and therefore effective, unions around.

An annual demonstration for working women’s rights? Yes please!

Submitted by Janine on Sat, 03/11/2006 - 18:00

Last thing Thursday afternoon, and it was our union’s big moment – the RMT resolution. Here’s what I said in proposing it …

One of the phrases I have heard most often at this conference goes like this: ‘We’ve been coming here for years, and we just keep repeating ourselves’. And it’s true. Every year we pass resolutions that low pay is bad. That we need more childcare. That sexual harassment must stop. Resolutions to defend abortion rights. For decent pensions.

TUC Women’s Conference: Speaking out about schools

Submitted by Janine on Sat, 03/11/2006 - 13:30

These last few days, I’ve been at TUC Women’s Conference in Eastbourne. There was no internet access, so no session-by-session blogging by yours truly – unlike at last year’s TUC Congress.

Now I’m back, you’ll be getting some chunks of reporting, in random order. First off, education …

SureStart pulls plug on Hackney Playbus

Submitted by Janine on Mon, 03/06/2006 - 15:01

A letter from me to Queensbridge & Dalston SureStart ...

Withdrawal of funding to Hackney Playbus

I was shocked and disappointed to discover recently that Queensbridge & Dalston SureStart has ceased its funding to the Hackney Playbus.

The Playbus is now no longer able to attend its sessions on Aspland estate, which my young son and his friends enjoyed greatly.

Child Trust Fund: Who needs it?

Submitted by Janine on Mon, 02/27/2006 - 14:28

It seems that about a third of parents entitled to set up Child Trust Funds have not done so. While the banks and the government tear their hair out wondering why, they might consider the fact that parents of babies are just a bit busy and just a bit tired.

I finally got mine (or Harrison's, rather) done last month. He will get the money when he is 18, when it will immediately get swallowed up offsetting student debt or subsidising low wages.

BBC4's 'Lefties': News On Sunday - I was there!

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 02/22/2006 - 22:35

Back in the 1980s, I supplemented my student grant by writing for News On Sunday, the "left-wing" tabloid which is now usually referred to as "the ill-fated News On Sunday".

And ill-fated it was, as documented by tonight's BBC4 programme. It was born and died in the same year, 1987.

In praise of my kids' school

Submitted by Janine on Sun, 01/22/2006 - 15:26

The Hackney Gazette published my letter in praise of Brook Community Primary School. The question is: have I gone soft on OFSTED? And the other question is: Will a particular one of our local MPs take note? Here's the letter.

Over recent weeks, the Gazette has reported improvements and successes in several local schools. Well done to everyone involved.

Know Thine Enemy

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 01/18/2006 - 08:43

Searching for some graphics, Googling the term “anti-union”, I came across this gem, ‘The Complete Union Avoidance Manual’.

Apparently, “this book's powerful ideas, wisdom and professional legal advice will help you successfully identify and/or defuse any union's attempt to organize your employees. You and your supervisors will be taught and guided, step-by-step, through the often confusing maze of activities that take place during a union organizing campaign.“

Recycling Your Recycling

Submitted by Janine on Sat, 01/14/2006 - 19:52

We in Hackney have received plenty of literature of late promoting the benefits of recycling. A cause that I wholly support.

The problem is: once you have read this literature and been convinced to act on in, how do you dispose of it? The Council, you see, has not collected the recycling boxes for nearly a month.

If they don't come soon, we'll have to empty the contents of ours into the bin.

Hackney Council - you couldn't make it up, really.

George is In Da House

Submitted by Janine on Fri, 01/06/2006 - 13:07

This is a blog, and therefore contains personal musings. So, although my objections to George Galloway are political (read more here), I will pass comment on his appearance in Celebrity Big Brother.

I couldn’t resist checking what Socialist Worker has had to say in the past about BB and its contestants. My favourite discovery is that Big Brother contestants are "sad, vulnerable people … desperate to be on TV".

Let's do the time warp again: 1998

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 12/28/2005 - 21:14

Following my earlier whistle-stop tour through 1997, let’s move on a year …

1998 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the National Health Service, and of the nationalisation of the railways. Tony Blair’s newly-elected New Labour government celebrated these twin milestones of Labour government achievements by starving the NHS of much-needed funds and announcing its intention to privatise London Underground.

Guardian editorial: talking crap about trade unions

Submitted by Janine on Sat, 12/10/2005 - 11:07

On Thursday, the Guardian excelled itself with an appalling, ill-informed, out-of-touch, way-off-beam editorial about trade unions.

The editorial took as its starting point a report published yesterday by the Fabian Society. Not the first place I would start in assessing trade unionism.

Not surprisingly, the report from the Society for Labour Movement Sucking Up to Capitalism praises the USDAW model of ‘social partnership’, contrasting it with the ‘confrontational’ approach of the RMT.

That was the year that was: 1997

Submitted by Janine on Thu, 12/08/2005 - 22:27

Off on long-term sick, I'm passing some time sorting through various stuff. In particular, I am dispensing with those obsolete items known as floppy disks. Which is some task, as I have hundreds of them.

Over the last few days, I have trawled collections of political files from around 1997 onwards, several of which have been worth posting onto the Workers' Liberty website for posterity. So here's a personal review of the year, with links to the rescued documents ...

Vote for Iraqi women!

Submitted by Janine on Wed, 12/07/2005 - 14:25

OK folks, here is a way you can support women in Iraq against both the occupation and the Islamists. It will take a minute of your time to click on the link below and vote for the Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq to win twenty grand. Please do it.

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Vote Organisation of Women's Freedom in Iraq for Mama Cash prize

Not such a SureStart

Submitted by Janine on Fri, 12/02/2005 - 12:49

The National Evaluation of SureStart (NESS) has published some early reports. It seems that these contain both praise and criticism - in particular, that it is not reaching some of the most needy kids and families. This has prompted me to dig out an article I wrote three years ago on this subject. Not that I'm saying "I told you so", but, erm, I told you so.

Dad Stuff, or Sexist Stuff?

Submitted by Janine on Tue, 11/29/2005 - 10:03

Two weeks ago, the Guardian published in its Family supplement a double-page spread called Things every dad should know. Said 'things' include:

  • How to start a fire
  • How to fly a kite
  • How to make a bow and arrow
  • How to teach a child to ride a bike.

These nuggets are from a book called Dad Stuff, which in return for giving Guardian readers a window into their wisdom, gets a shedload of publicity and a whopping sales boost.