John McDonnell’s Letter To The Guardian Re: RMT Ballot

The media treatment of RMT and Bob Crow over the last 48 hours over the Network Rail strike ballot has been the worst example of a concerted campaign of media bias against a trade union that we have seen since the 1980s miners’ strike. John Humphrys’s interview of Bob Crow, with his references to ballot-rigging, and the BBC’s subsequent headline of “RMT’s Bob Crow denies ballot rigging”, was that disgusting classic of the old hack lawyer’s tactic of asking the defendant: “When did you stop beating your wife?”

Even the Guardian’s editorial (2 March) ignorantly weighed in with “No union that conducts its ballots properly according to the reasonable requirements of the law … would be in danger of being injuncted.” This reference to “reasonable requirements of the law” is patent rubbish. To hold a ballot the union must construct and supply the employer with a detailed and complex matrix of information setting out which members it is balloting, their job titles, grades, departments and work locations. The employer is under no obligation to co-operate with the union to ensure this is accurate. If there is the slightest inaccuracy, even where it did not affect the result, the ballot is open to being challenged by the employer and quashed by the courts.

There can be no question of the union ballot-rigging or interfering in the balloting process because it is undertaken by an independent scrutineer, usually the Electoral Reform Society, and all ballot papers are sent by post to the homes of the members being balloted, and returned to the ERS for counting. The union at no time handles the ballot papers.

On at least four occasions in the last three years I have tried in parliament on behalf of RMT and other TUC-affiliated unions to amend employment law to require employers to co-operate with unions in the balloting process so these problems can be overcome. Employers’ organisations, the Conservatives and the government have all opposed this reform.

The result is not fewer strikes but a deteriorating industrial relations climate as people become increasingly angry that their democratic wishes are frustrated by one-sided anti-trade-union laws.

John McDonnell MP

Also see SU

Posted in Human Rights, Labour rights, Media. Tags: , . Comments Off on John McDonnell’s Letter To The Guardian Re: RMT Ballot

Meanwhile, Posties

A second front has been opened in the increasingly bitter industrial dispute between unions and Royal Mail that threatens to bring more chaos for millions of households and businesses.
Leaders of the Unite union, representing Royal Mail’s 12,000 managers, urged them not to cover for postal workers in the next round of national strikes. The move could see even fewer letters and parcels delivered.
The ratcheting up of pressure comes as the national stoppage enters a second day, leaving managers to operate a skeleton postal service. The Communication Workers Union, representing the rest of Royal Mail’s 160,000 staff, also announced another wave of national strike action, starting on Thursday next week.
The beginning of the strike brought disruption to millions, among them small-business owners, people on benefits, hospital patients, parents trying to get their children secondary school places, online shoppers and those racing to meet the 31 October deadline for paper tax returns.
The Guardian, meanwhile, has learned that the CWU will seek an injunction in the high court in the next few days to prevent Royal Mail taking on 30,000 extra temporary staff. Rob McCreath, of Archon solicitors, said the union had a good chance of securing a temporary injunction with immediate effect, particularly now that further strikes have been announced. This would ban Royal Mail from taking on any more extra staff until a formal hearing takes place, probably in a couple of months.
The union claims the recruitment of temporary staff, announced last weekend, breaches employment law and constitutes illegal “strike-breaking”.
A second front has been opened in the increasingly bitter industrial dispute between unions and Royal Mail that threatens to bring more chaos for millions of households and businesses.

Leaders of the Unite union, representing Royal Mail’s 12,000 managers, urged them not to cover for postal workers in the next round of national strikes. The move could see even fewer letters and parcels delivered.

The ratcheting up of pressure comes as the national stoppage enters a second day, leaving managers to operate a skeleton postal service. The Communication Workers Union, representing the rest of Royal Mail’s 160,000 staff, also announced another wave of national strike action, starting on Thursday next week.

The beginning of the strike brought disruption to millions, among them small-business owners, people on benefits, hospital patients, parents trying to get their children secondary school places, online shoppers and those racing to meet the 31 October deadline for paper tax returns.

The Guardian, meanwhile, has learned that the CWU will seek an injunction in the high court in the next few days to prevent Royal Mail taking on 30,000 extra temporary staff. Rob McCreath, of Archon solicitors, said the union had a good chance of securing a temporary injunction with immediate effect, particularly now that further strikes have been announced. This would ban Royal Mail from taking on any more extra staff until a formal hearing takes place, probably in a couple of months.

The union claims the recruitment of temporary staff, announced last weekend, breaches employment law and constitutes illegal “strike-breaking”.

Robin Hood Goes Postal- Support The Posties!

The postmen & women who are being forced to defend their careers against a dishonest and rapacious management & government are to be applauded. What has become clear is the corporatist Neoliberals of New Labour and the bullying management have conspired to continue a backdoor process of privatisation despite public opposition and official denials. This coming strike will be a watershed moment that either successfully stalls their plans or leads to the destruction of a postal service that serves the British people rather than profits off them. What will be crucial in keeping the postal service in our hands will be the public’s support of the strikers, when the government and management see their ‘customer base’ reject their plans for exploitation it will create greater pressure for them to return and negotiate with the union.

Check out local CWU branches here. Show your support.

Check out Roy Mayall’s Blog Going Postal (ht2 Soul of a Man Under Capitalism)

As Dave Semple says-

Now it is a fight, alea iacta est. The working class, and all socialists, labourites and everyone on the Left, should stand behind the posties. Turn up to their picket lines and wish them well. As one young pluck did, bring them homebaked goods. Donate some money to the strike fund. Attend solidarity group meetings. The bottom line is this; the posties are the men and women who deliver a service we all take advantage of.

If, in our own jobs, we know about mismanagement or the government neo-liberal ideology getting in the way of efficiency, if we’re sick of being lectured at and told things which are blatantly untrue, of being bullied and cajoled into overtime we’re not getting paid for, and we ever want the support of other workers, now is our time to shine.

PS. I think it is crucial to pass on information that gives the context to the strike action, psychologically there is a tendency for people to assume all is well until something different happens or there is a change, when the event occurs and it has negative effects for the observer they will, in the absence of knowledge and context, make a judgement that the party that is presented as causing the change is to be blamed. So when a strike occurs the corporate media have an easy job making people annoyed at the strikers because people have not had the ongoing situation within the industry reported in as prominent a way, they have not read of bullying management, false statements and fraudulent negotiating stances. This combined with the false notions of balance corporate news uses as a fig leaf excuse for giving undue emphasis to the views of the powerful makes the media aspect of a strike very difficult. Or short version- if someone moans about the strike do make them read this from the London Review of Books then point out people do not like striking, it is anxious and worrying experience that costs them money, they do so because management have committed such serious abuses against them and all other means of redress have failed. The blame lies with management and the government and particularly millionaire Baron Peter Mandelson, the striking posties are the heros coming to the rescue of our postal service.

Like many businesses, the Royal Mail has a pet name for its customers. The name is ‘Granny Smith’. It’s a deeply affectionate term. Granny Smith is everyone, but particularly every old lady who lives alone and for whom the mail service is a lifeline. When an old lady gives me a Christmas card with a fiver slipped in with it and writes, ‘Thank you for thinking of me every day,’ she means it. I might be the only person in the world who thinks about her every day, even if it’s only for long enough to read her name on an envelope and then put it through her letterbox. There is a tension between the Royal Mail as a profit-making business and the Royal Mail as a public service. For most of the Royal Mail management – who rarely, if ever, come across the public – it is the first. To the delivery officer – to me, and people like me, the postmen who bring the mail to your door – it is more than likely the second.

We had a meeting a while back at which all the proposed changes to the business were laid out. Changes in our hours and working practices. Changes to our priorities. Changes that have led to the current chaos. We were told that the emphasis these days should be on the corporate customer. It was what the corporations wanted that mattered. We were effectively being told that quality of service to the average customer was less important than satisfying the requirements of the big businesses.

Someone piped up in the middle of it. ‘What about Granny Smith?’ he said. He’s an old-fashioned sort of postman, the kind who cares about these things.

‘Granny Smith is not important,’ was the reply. ‘Granny Smith doesn’t matter any more.’

So now you know.

Posted in Class War, Shock Doctrine. Tags: , . Comments Off on Robin Hood Goes Postal- Support The Posties!

Royal Mail Is Lying

London Review of Books, Diary by Roy Mayall:- The truth is that the figures aren’t down at all. We have proof of this. The Royal Mail have been fiddling the figures. This is how it is being done.

Mail is delivered to the offices in grey boxes. These are a standard size, big enough to carry a few hundred letters. The mail is sorted from these boxes, put into pigeon-holes representing the separate walks, and from there carried over to the frames. This is what is called ‘internal sorting’ and it is the job of the full-timers, who come into work early to do it. In the past, the volume of mail was estimated by weighing the boxes. These days it is done by averages. There is an estimate for the number of letters that each box contains, decided on by national agreement between the management and the union. That number is 208. This is how the volume of mail passing through each office is worked out: 208 letters per box times the number of boxes. However, within the last year Royal Mail has arbitrarily, and without consultation, reduced the estimate for the number of letters in each box. It was 208: now they say it is 150. This arbitrary reduction more than accounts for the 10 per cent reduction that the Royal Mail claims is happening nationwide.

Doubting the accuracy of these numbers, the union ordered a random manual count to be undertaken over a two-week period in a number of offices across the region. Our office was one of them. On average, those boxes which the Royal Mail claims contain only 150 letters, actually carry 267 items of mail. This, then, explains how the Royal Mail can say that the figures are down, although every postman knows that volume is up. The figures are down all right, but only because they have been manipulated.


Royal Mail’s Management Strategy- Scabbing


Royal Mail will recruit up to 30,000 temporary staff to deal with upcoming strikes by postal workers and the Christmas rush, the service has said. The Communication Workers Union has called two nationwide strikes next week over pay, conditions and reform. The firm said it would hire twice the usual number of extra pre-Christmas staff to cut the impact of “unjustified and irresponsible” industrial action. But the CWU said managers should be talking, not “planning for failure”. The 24-hour strikes will begin on 22 October. On the first day, mail centre staff and drivers will strike. The next day it will be delivery and collection staff.

And guess what, because of the ‘crisis’ (the creators of which are currently paying themselves multimillion pound bonuses) there are lots of unemployed people and because of welfare privatisation and ‘reform’ they cannot survive for long or take work of their choice, see how that works?

Island March

WHEN: 12pm, Saturday, 19th September 2009
WHERE: Holyhead Town Hall, Newry Street, LL65

Hundreds of Unite members, along with people from across Anglesey will hold a demonstration tomorrow (Saturday, 19th September) against the proposed closure of the Anglesey Aluminium smelting plant by Rio Tinto.

Demonstrators will carry placards demanding Rio Tinto ‘put people before profit’ to show their anger and disappointment over its decision to close Anglesey Aluminium, one of the largest employers in North Wales.

Anglesey Aluminium, jointly owned by Rio Tinto Alcan (51 per cent) and Kaiser Aluminium (49 per cent), was unwilling to commit to the long term future of the plant therefore condemning the 500 highly skilled workers. This decision has deeply affected the lives of families associated to the smelter and will kill-off Holyhead and its surrounding communities.

Unite found it astonishing that Anglesey Aluminium has refused to accept a rescue package of £48 million, given by the national government and the Welsh Assembly government, which would’ve seen the site remain open for at least another two years.

The site is currently continuing its smelting operations and is extremely busy in meeting customer demands. However, Unite believes it is in essence squeezing every last drop of aluminium prior to the closure which will be on the 30th September.

Unite national officer for metals, Terry Pye, said: “This is a disgraceful decision by Rio Tinto. We believe the only reason for the closure is one of greed. We have been angered further by the plant’s refusal to accept a rescue package which would’ve kept the site open for a further two years.”

Unite regional officer, Graham Rogers, said: “This is a clear case of a multinational company putting profit before people. This rally will demonstrate the strength of feeling the community has towards this closure. Hundreds of families’ livelihoods hang in the balance and we will not give up on them without a fight.”

Posted in Recession, Resistance, Shock Doctrine. Tags: . Comments Off on Island March

Vestas Repossessed By Bailiffs

Workers who staged a sit-in protest at a wind turbine blade factory on the Isle of Wight have left the building. Bailiffs entered the offices of Vestas in Newport at 1200 BST after the firm was granted a possession order. One man jumped from a balcony and was taken to hospital as a precaution and two abseiled from a wall.

Workers had occupied an office inside the plant since 20 July in protest at plans to axe 625 jobs, which the firm said was due to a fall in demand. Bailiffs were told they could use “reasonable force” to remove the remaining six workers after a court order was issued on Thursday.

Crowds of supporters lined the site cheering on the men before they were were spoken to by police. They had raised a sign from a balcony outside which said “Vestas, this is only the start, you will lose.” One of the workers told the BBC: “It was all a bit bewildering to get out but a big relief. I hugged my daughter who shed a few tears and saw my family. We feel that we have won a moral victory.”

A rooftop demonstration at a second Vestas site in East Cowes, by climate change protesters, is set to continue for “as long” as the workers want it to, a spokesman said.

The fight goes on meanwhile…fucking bailiffs, the thugs of capital, collaborators, cowards and betrayers, as usual.

Vestas Occupation Continues

A Statement From the Vestas Workers Inside the Factory
‘Another eventful day yesterday as everyone knows from yesterday’s newsletter, Vestas imposed a food ban but they didn’t stop our great supporters getting food to use and in the right way, walking calmly and peacefully and throwing food to us, thanks guys.

Despite Paddy Wier being in meetings for most of the day yesterday with other senior management, the network reps and the island’s MP Andrew Turner, it seems they appeared to have achieved very little, their only option was to issue a last chance ultimatum for the fourth time, ‘come out or lose your jos and your redundancy’ to which we declined. Afterwards we recieved a letter from Paddy Wier stating we are now liable for temination and no redundancy package.

Vestas are however allowing us some food, as from today Vestas have stated they will supply us food but they will not allow any outside food onto the premises.

The rally at 6pm last night was very sucessful it was great to see so many people showing their support and a big thanks to everyone out there organising these events.

All our supporters are doing a fantastic job and it is you guys who are going to win this for us and with all the hard work and support and the huge publicity we are generating it shouldn’t take too long.’

Posted in Environment. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Vestas Occupation Continues

Strike Culture

Dave @ Complex System of Pipes has a great report of strike action happening today, he tours around Manchester and gets the goods-

First we went to a council office in Gorton.  Unison steward Phil Moth said they’d had a very good response to the picket line.  This was borne out by the honking of supportive horns from virtually every other car or van that drove past, and hte near-emptiness of the car park.  One first-time striker said she was shocked by the level of hostility they received from some of the non-unionised workers; another steward commented that those scabbing were almost all at the higher end of the pay scale.  Several of the workers that did come in expressed an interest in joining the union – membership has apparently been surging in the run-up to the strike.  One visitor to the offices – a member of NAHT – said he wasn’t about to cross the picket line, and turned right around to leave, boosting the morale of the picketers considerably.

Here a number of schools and council run facilities have closed down for the day.

Janet Ryder [Plaid AM] said:

“The 2.45% pay offer is clearly below the current inflation rate of 4% , meaning that council workers are set to lose out in real terms. This comes at a time when fuel costs are escalating at an alarming rate, meaning that many of these workers will be far worse off in future compared to their previous position. The lowest paid – many of whom are barely above the minimum wage – will be hardest hit.

“Council staff provide key services to our local communities the length and breadth of Wales, and this has become evident with the strikes. We rely on these workers in our everday lives. However inconvenient, I would call on the public to think about the predicament that the workers find themselves in and offer them their support.

“It is unfair that local government workers are being asked to bail out UK Labour’s failed economic and spending decisions. While the Labour Government is happy to spend billions of pounds on a continuing war, an escalating Olympic Games bill and a mutli-billion pounds nuclear system, they are not prepared to help council workers in Wales who are facing hardship in paying their monthly bills.”

To demonstrate the climate this is happening in- I am told the leisure centre in Holyhead is being closed and no replacement built, the land sold off to developers apparently with some rumour of a private health club maybe being built somewhere. So if you must teach your children how to swim (sort of handy on an island) you could pay through the nose there… if it is built. Perhaps though an organised movement to get a new leisure centre could prevail… School meals were privatised on the island to a corporation that provides them for many councils, the local Gwynedd council run facility having lost the contract will have to fire workers. The council say they will monitor the new suppliers who say they will look to source local produce, that remains to be seen, even so the food is now provided for profit. Related to council activities- The theatre in Bangor has just been closed, the University that owned it is not well developed in arts or cultural studies and not having a theatre/cinema doesn’t help improve that, 12 people have lost their jobs. Vague mentions of a new arts centre have been used to placate some, but there is no commitment and already some pledges have been abandoned (call me crazy but if you were serious you would build the new before closing the old, or at the very least have a commitment and plans ready to break ground). There is now no theatre facility in Bangor or within a reasonable distance, I have seen three of my nieces perform there in schools and performing arts society productions, now they have no venue. It is indicative of the way facilities run for the common and cultural good are being closed and private space encroaching on the civic infrastructure. However the councils have millions to spend on management consultants, I would tell you how much ours spent but…they didn’t answer the FOIA request.

Still look on the bright side, crappy Euro-pop videos use the area as a cheap substitute for Spain. Culture!

Happy May Day in Grangemouth

The workers won, some further talks are planned but they proved (at least in circumstances where industrial action directly impacts crucial infrastructure- ps everyone stop marching in London, try shutting down fuel distribution instead) an organised united action based on just demands can prevail.

Talks are likely to take place next week between unions and management at Grangemouth oil refinery, BBC Scotland has learned. It is also understood that the company has withdrawn, for now, its proposal to close the final salary pension scheme for new employees.

Seumas Milne:- Whether this will lead to the much-predicted “summer of discontent” or simply escalating industrial guerrilla warfare remains to be seen. What is certain is that Gordon Brown can no longer afford the simmering disaffection the pay ceiling has created among such a crucial part of Labour’s electoral base. “There’s scope if they need to compromise,” Mark Serwotka, the leader of the main civil service union, told me yesterday. “But the situation’s turned quite dramatically. They underestimate the anger among core voters, as the 10p tax crisis has shown, and there are going to be big consequences.”

Those are likely to be industrial and political. When even Richard Lambert, the director general of the CBI, and Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, feel able to rail publicly at the disastrous impact of the City’s pay and bonus extravaganza, Brown can hardly expect public service workers to meekly carry the can for the government’s failure to bring the corporate feasting to heel. And as the prospect of recession looms, the question of who will shoulder the burden of retrenchment is bound to grow sharper.

Posted in Class War, Inequality, Neoliberalism, Resistance, Solidarity. Tags: . Comments Off on Happy May Day in Grangemouth

Ineos Pension Raids Foreshadow Scottish Fuel Crisis

So, Ineos-

INEOS is a young company. It has grown through a series of related acquisitions to become the world’s third largest chemical company with sales today approaching $45 billion.

Most of our employees have spent all their working lives in the chemical or oil industry. They arrived at INEOS from companies such as BASF, Bayer, Borealis, BP, Degussa, Dow, Enichem, Hoechst, ICI, Norsk Hydro, Unilever, and Solvay.

In the UK 2006-

Sales of £18.134 Billion, Profit of £630 Million (source Ineos declaration to Sunday Times KPMG Profit Track 100) year end 2006.

What it is doing at Grangemouth (Grangemouth-home of Lowlife!!!!!) refinery-

BBC:- Phil McNulty, national officer of Unite, insisted that the company was profitable and the pension scheme was well-funded and affordable. The union has previously said that Ineos is planning to close the final salary pension scheme after taking £40m from it and slashing its own contributions. Mr McNulty added: “The changes to the scheme Ineos are proposing are unreasonable, unnecessary and have forced our members at Grangemouth to take industrial action for the first time.”

First strike at an oil refinery for 73 years to go ahead– “The company is profitable, and the pension scheme in its present form is well funded and affordable. The changes to the scheme Ineos are proposing are unreasonable, unnecessary and have forced our members at Grangemouth to take industrial action for the first time. An agreement has been reached between the union and the company on the safe and orderly shut down of the plant. Previous claims by Ineos that Unite had not given adequate consideration to safety are untrue and deeply upsetting for our members and the local community.”

Thanks for the ‘insisted” BBC, such neutral dry journalistic language that, gee with a some googling I found out how profitable it was so no need to act as if there is some contention over that, the corporation itself declares it is profitable (unless it’s all porkie pies and they are on their uppers, hmm let me see, record oil prices, I think they might be making a few quid)! The Ineos Refining plant in Grangemouth (from Ineo’s own literature PDF here)-

INEOS Refining is Europe’s leading independent crude oil refiner. With two particularly advantaged refineries it processes more than 410,000 barrels of crude oil per day, to produce in the region of 20 million Tonnes of fuels per annum. Refineries are strategically located at Grangemouth Scotland and Lavéra France and are both fully integrated with co-sited petro-chemical assets of the company. Close proximity to feedstocks and customers are key elements of the business’ strength. Grangemouth is directly connected to the Forties oil field system in the North Sea and also imports other crudes from around the world via its deep sea terminal on the west coast of Scotland.

• Turnover $10 bn
• Personnel 1,000
• Pedigree BP and Innovene
• Volume 410,000 barrels per day of crude distillation capacity, processing 150 million
barrels of oil to produce 20 million tons of fuel per annum
• Logistics Lavéra: located on the coast of the Mediterranean crude oil trading basin, next to the port of Marseille and adjacent crude oil terminal. Linked by
pipeline to the hinterland of France, Switzerland and Southern Germany and
benefiting from efficient road, rail and sea facilities
Grangemouth: located on the Firth of Forth benefits by having direct access
to crude oil and gas from the North Sea via the Forties Pipeline System
(FPS), with additional crude oil import capability and fuel export facility at
the Finnart Ocean Terminal on the west coast of Scotland. Finished products
exported by pipeline, road, rail and sea

From Ineos Vision & Values

Excellence in safety, health and environmental performance
Focus on customer satisfaction, total quality and reliability
Continuous improvement to become the lowest cost producer of high quality products
Encouragement of innovation, entrepreneurship and reward for achievement
Empowerment of employees to create real value for our customers and ourselves

Which is a polite way of leaving out- screwing our workers to maximise profit- which in this instance is going to cause a fuel shortage because the workers for some reason think a company that made £630 million in profit in 2006 shouldn’t be taking from their pension fund and reducing the scheme. Uppity buggers. So any bets on this being reported as- Irrational Corporate Greed causes Fuel Crisis? Hmmm, any takers?

One could write to them and urge them to settle with the union, serve their customers and share the North Sea wealth, instead of cursing fuel shortages direct that energy to-

INEOS Manufacturing Scotland
INEOS Refining Grangemouth
PO Box 21
Bo’ness Road
Tel: +44 (0) 1324 48342

It might also be nice to urge politician’s in Scotland (ahem the Labour party) to support the workers and thus reach a quick solution. Best of all the profits from fossil fuels should be largely invested in new clean energy as oil based activity is environmentally poor and it is…how do you say it- running out. Or perhaps we should just leave things to corporations, after all they know how to make huge profits by siphoning off the pension fund, why with that level of innovation there’s no telling what they could come up with!

Update: This (ht2 Rebellion Sucks) [and confirmed by ‘Lord’ Rees Mogg although obviously he doesn’t take the workers side!] suggests the profits of late have dived due to the financial climate, that Ineos is structured more like an equity caper that is raiding the pensions to make up for debts from its rapid buying spree, all financed with huge loans. And as an ideological stance of maximum profits over just wages & benefits –

What lies behind the dispute? The Grangemouth refinery became part of the Ineos Group, when it bought Innovene from BP for $9 billion in 2005. This was part of the debt-funded buying spree that in ten years created what is now the world’s third largest chemicals producer from a standing start in 1997/8.

Jim Ratcliffe, Ineos chairman and CEO, and listed by the Sunday Times as the UK’s 10th richest man in 2007, borrowed $12 billion for the Innovene deal from Barclays Capital, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. The extra cash of about $3 billion was used by Ratcliffe, known as “the alchemist”, to refinance Ineos’ existing debt. And it helped to treble Ratcliffe’s estimated personal fortune to £3.3 billion.

Ineos is in trouble. Its sales and profits have been falling. In the third quarter 2007, its before-tax profits went negative – it started to make a loss. The impact of the falling value of the dollar only served to make things worse. In third quarter 2006 it made a profit of 96.9m euros on sales of 7395.7m euros. A year later, debt financing costs helped turn a gross profit of 485.9m euros on sales of 6934.1m euro into a before-tax loss of 0.9 m euros. But a tax rebate turned the loss into a profit of 1.2 m euros.

Closure of the final salary pension scheme to new entrants and reduction of the value of pensions for existing workers at Grangemouth that sparked the dispute will prove to be part of a global assault by Ineos on wages, pensions and working conditions. As the global financial and economic crisis deepens, firms in every corner of the globe will passing the burden on to their workforce if they can.

Grangemouth workers should seek support from unions across the globe in their struggle to defend conditions. They should build a campaign to transfer petrochemical production into social ownership under the control of the workforce. This will not only create the conditions for defending pensions, jobs and other rights but a necessary step in dealing with the depletion of resources and global warming that both arise from the chase for profit.

Corporate Manslaughter Law a ‘damp squib’

Under the new legislation companies may face higher fines of up to 10% of turnover, or more in the most serious cases. And for the first time the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act will make government bodies liable for prosecution by lifting their Crown immunity.

Tony Woodley, joint general secretary of trade union Unite, said: “Individual directors or senior managers will still not be held responsible for health and safety failures that result in the death of either their employees or members of the public.” Construction industry union Ucatt was even more damning, describing the law as “the dampest of damp squibs”.

Ucatt general secretary Alan Ritchie said: “Only by creating the possibility that directors will go to jail will there be a change of culture in the construction industry. “The new Act will not save the life of a single construction worker,” he said, adding that in 2007, 77 construction workers were killed at work.

Exploited Migrant Workers Left Homeless

Llanelli’s Polish centre says help must be available for migrant workers who come to Wales but end up homeless. It, along with the British Red Cross, is paying for temporary shelter for three Poles who were found living rough in the town after losing their jobs.The centre’s chairman Jeff Hopkins said the men, two brothers in their late 20s and another man in his 40s, had been brought to Wales by a recruitment agency. All initially had work but were laid off and ended up homeless.They lived in a “shanty” hut near the town centre and then moved on to sleeping in a makeshift den in woodland near the Jack Nicklaus golf course development.

Mr Hopkins said: “They are all keen to work but lost their jobs. We are attempting to find work for them but the problem is we don’t have the funding to keep paying for the accommodation and they have got no means of support. They don’t fall into any of the categories of support under the British system.”

The hut they were initially living in close to Avis Terrace has been burnt out but police said they were not treating it as suspicious.

There is more-

WE were sacked on Christmas Eve and have been living rough, far from home, ever since.”That is the claim of three East European migrant workers discovered living in bushes near Llanelli’s plush Pentre Nicklaus Village this week. Speaking through an interpreter, brothers Mario and Thomas and their friend Mark told the Post how they were brought to West Wales from Warsaw last October on a one-way ticket by a UK-based recruitment agency.

The three worked long hours in various jobs within the meat trade before being thrown on the scrapheap and left to fend for themselves the day before Christmas Day. Thomas, the younger of the brothers, said: “We were promised jobs in Wales, and wanted to come to earn money for our families back home.”

Thomas told how he and his brother Mario worked in “conditions no human should witness” in a slaughterhouse in West Wales, for £180 a week minus £50 accommodation, before being transferred to a meat packing company near Llanelli. Following a mix-up over starting dates, caused by the language barrier, the two turned up a day late, on Christmas Eve, only to be sacked on the spot.

Thomas said: “After we were sacked, we were told to leave our lodgings. It was either the bushes or a park bench. We had no money for anything else.” When asked how they felt about their situation, a dejected-looking Thomas said: “You can’t imagine how we feel.”

Now the three are faced with the difficult task of earning enough money to return to Poland. Thomas said: “We have been to the JobCentre and walked around every firm in Llanelli asking for work but have found nothing. I had to borrow a lot of money to come here. I cannot return to a load of debt. I have to make enough money to clear it before I go back.”

Despite their ordeal, the three men still had a kind word for the majority of people in Llanelli.

Maybe the people are nice but the businesses…bunch of capitalist bastards. And apparently land and money for a Jack Nicklaus golf course (just like the one in Burma, wankers) but human beings? Nah. Still, turns out those rumours the council denied were true.

Update: And Immigration & Police raided some restaurants in Caernarfon and took away eight Malaysian and Chinese nationals after ‘intelligence’ tipped them off, they are being imprisoned pending being deported. Look what the ghastly BIA robot said-

Jane Farleigh, regional director of the Border and Immigration Agency in Wales and the South West said: “This successful operation shows that we will find and arrest illegal workers wherever they are in Wales.” She added: “Illegal working hurts good business, undercuts legal workers and law-abiding businesses, creates illegal profits and puts those employed at risk.”

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Exploited Migrant Workers Left Homeless

Direct Action Guatemala Style

Guatemalan villagers holding a group of 29 police officers hostage have freed the men after government officials agreed to talks on legalising their disputed land, officials say. The crowd had earlier threatened to kill their captives, whom they seized from a police station in the Caribbean coastal town of Livingston on Thursday night.

Almost half of Guatemala’s population are indigenous, many landless peasants who often invade land for farming. Members of the group told Yoc that they had occupied the disputed land for more than a decade and that a powerful person had been trying to kick them out, he told AP.

Yoc also said that the government may drop charges filed against a jailed indigenous Maya farm leader, Ramiro Choc, who was arrested last week on charges of illegal land invasion, robbery and holding people against their will. Authorities say Choc leads land seizures in the region and has encouraged locals to take over protected nature reserves.

However the villagers had earlier called for his release. Choc had urged the villagers to release the officers in a telephone call from prison, Ricardo Gatica, a spokesman for the interior ministry, told AP. Five members of a local farmers union and community representatives will also be flown to Guatemala City, the capital, to negotiate with the government over the land.

Now let’s hope the new Colom government will negotiate openly and justly and not return to old methods.

Posted in Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , . Comments Off on Direct Action Guatemala Style

Nulabour’s Union Murdering Allies

“It is bad enough that the UK is aiding Colombian military units that violate human rights, but for a British minister to be photographed posing with the very unit that has tortured and assassinated trade unionists is shameful.”


Surrounding the smiling face of the Foreign Office minister Kim Howells in a picture taken in the Colombian region of Sumapaz are a general linked to paramilitary death squads and soldiers of a notorious unit of the Colombian army accused, including by Amnesty International, of torturing and killing trade unionists.

The photograph, taken in a military base and posted on the Foreign Office website, was yesterday greeted with outrage by Labour parliamentarians and trade union leaders. Howells is pictured with the High Mountain Brigades, a unit held responsible for the killing of trade union activists, peasants and anti-narcotics police during the past three years.

Behind him stand the Colombian defence minister, Juan Santos, and General Mario Montoya, head of the Colombian army, reports of whose collaboration with paramilitary death squads and drug traffickers and links with disappearances and killings – including leaked CIA reports – were cited last year by US congressional leaders as part of the reason for the suspension of tens of millions of dollars of US military aid to the south American regime. The Colombian government denies the accusations.

Of course this is not new for nulabour, hey there ‘Sir’ Mark Malloch-Brown.

PS. As Korova reminds me, General Mario Montoya is a SOA/WHINSEC  alumnus. It’s a small world.