Solidarity 058, 23 September 2004

...Vote often

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 24 September, 2004 - 12:00

The presidential election in Afghanistan is scheduled for 9 October. As of 23 August 10.35 million Afghans had registered to vote. That is good. That so many people have registered must indicate that people feel a tremendous relief at being free of the Taliban regime. (Although apparently only 42% of eligible women have registered.)

But it is also strange… Why? Because the voting population is estimated to contain just 9.5 million people! It may be just that voting cards are so easy to get hold of that people are having fun trying to collect as many as possible.

Grassroots challenges FBU leaders

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 23 September, 2004 - 12:00

By Nick Holden

Fire Brigades Union (FBU) leaders are claiming a victory in the final stages of their two year long pay dispute. They say management are finally paying previously-agreed pay increases from the 2003 pay deal.

However, as the rank and file body Grassroots FBU point out, “the employers were able to delay payment of the 3.5% and 4.2% because of the vague and inadequate pay deal negotiated by the FBU leadership in 2003”.

Reject Agenda for Change!

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 23 September, 2004 - 12:00

The Health Service Group Executive of the public-service workers' union Unison voted on 8 September to recommend "Yes" to Agenda for Change.

The recommendation will go to a special conference of the health sector of Unison in London on 7 October.

Five health unions – Amicus, TGWU, Society of Radiographers, UCATT, and UNISON — are due to hold ballots this autumn to ask members if they want to accept the offer.

The Iraq Fat Cats Tour

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 23 September, 2004 - 12:00

Around 100 people, and organisations, including Voices in the Wilderness and No Sweat, came together on Saturday 4 September in central London to stage the Iraq War Fat Cats Theatrical Tour.

Scene 1: Outside the Shell HQ on the South Bank. Cast members plus the Strawberry Thieves choir sing radical songs; then perform a play about the historical role of the oil industry in seeking to control the Middle East with scant regard for the rights of the people living there.

Strike against “pack of lies”

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 23 September, 2004 - 12:00

Workers at Stratford Social Security office, in east London, are to be balloted for indefinite strike action by their union PCS The ballot starts on Wednesday 22 September and the result will be known on by Friday 8 October.

The dispute is over the victimisation of PCS’s East London branch secretary, Charlie McDonald, who works at the office. He faces trumped up charges of serious misconduct, accused of assaulting a manger on a picket line and being abusive to staff who crossed picket lines.

Road Rage

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 23 September, 2004 - 12:00

Bruce Robinson reviews The Motorcycle Diaries.

This film relates the story of an eight-month journey through South America taken by Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Alberto Granado in 1952.

It is difficult to disentangle the film from a foreknowledge of Guevara’s subsequent life and death, and the politics that went with them. But it would be a shame if anyone were put off the film because they expect an uncritical retelling of the Guevara myth. The film is well worth seeing in its own right.

Industrial News in Brief

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 23 September, 2004 - 12:00

Liverpool Social Workers' Strike, Swansea ballots on all out strike, Hackney College job cuts.

One hundred plus Liverpool social workers and front line managers have been on all out strike since 24 August. The action follows moves by the Liberal Democrat Council and Chief Executive David Henshaw to cut costs, privatise services and make the existing workers work harder. Bullying managers have led to high stress stress levels, people leaving and going sick.

Civil servants need strategy to win

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 23 September, 2004 - 12:00

Between 1 and 22 October PCS will ballot all its members for a one-day strike on 5 November.

The Government has already announced plans to cut over 100,000 jobs in the civil service. Now the civil service union PCS believes that by early October the Government will formally put proposals to the unions to increase the pension retirement age from 60 to 65.

Indonesia: fight for an independent union. Workers beaten by riot police

Submitted by Daniel_Randall on 23 September, 2004 - 12:00

On 8 September 200 police attacked the striking workers of PT Shamrock in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Several workers were injured, also some police. This was the most brutal attempt so far to suppress the building of an alternative union in this factory. The workers at Shamrock produce rubber gloves, for medical use, for a US transnational.

By Mick Duncan

At first the firm dismissed 14 workers involved in building the new independent union.