A sixteen-year old schoolboy pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey this month to raping his teacher in her classroom at a south London school. He was 15 years old at the time of the assault in September 2004.
Three and a half months after the 30 January elections, Iraq now has an elected government, a coalition of the Shia and Kurdish alliances, with some seats set aside for Sunni Arab politicians. The Sunni-Islamist “resistance” has marked the occasion with a new surge of bombings.
Meanwhile, May 25–26 will see Iraqi trade unionists and civil society activists gather at the Oil Institute of Basra for a two-day conference aimed at fighting the privatisation of Iraqi oil.
Local RMT members and supporters joined a lively demonstration through London on Saturday 30 April, demanding that rail privatisation be reversed.
Marching from Whitehall Place to King’s Cross, demonstrators took their message to thousands of shoppers and tourists. For the previous two weeks, a group of 25 union members had marched through cities from Glasgow to London on a mobile demonstration.
Mayday in Europe, in addition to the traditional marches, witnessed a number of “Euromayday” events. The organisers are more or less anarchistic activists involved in struggles of the unemployed and insecurely employed and are generally scornful of the “organised” labour movement.
In general, that attitude isn’t helpful. However, the aims of the movement — to organise the unorganised, to foster rank and file control of struggles, to link struggles — are good aims.
The European Parliament has voted to scrap an opt-out from the rules limiting the working week in the EU to an average of 48 hours, but the ruling won’t come into force for another three years and it could still be blocked if the UK Government wins support in the Council of Ministers.
UK unions are rightly pleased about the Euro-Parliament vote. Under the current system — used more in the UK than elsewhere — individuals can opt out if they “want” to work longer hours.
A shorter working week deal on London Underground which gave workers a 35 hour week is about to blow apart.
Management have used the deal as cover to viciously attack staffing levels, to push through cuts that they have wanted for a long time. Double-cover supervisors, platform turns, Ticket Office opening hours, gateline coverage — are all in the firing line.
Hardly had the last election result been counted, and the Chair of Royal Mail, Allan Leighton, began to call for a share issue and employee buyout for the ailing firm. He says he wants to pump £2 billion extra investment into the postal industry. His proposals, as far as they have been made clear, assume a part-privatisation of Royal Mail. The CWU has written to all MPs saying it opposes such proposals.
Truck drivers from across Europe have agreed to work towards more European-wide trade union co-operation to tackle problems on social dumping, security and health as well as organising in pan-European companies. At a conference attended by over eighty delegates from nine EU conference at the T&G Centre in Eastbourne, delegates highlighted action on these points as well as individual country concerns.