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From The Socialist newspaper, 14 November 2012

Workplace News in brief

Support Ford workers

On Sunday 11 November, more than 15,000 people attended a demonstration organised by the Belgian trade unions for jobs and against the closure of the Ford car factory in Genk.

The plant closure would mean the slashing of 4,000 jobs, without counting the subcontractors. November was a record month for the number of bankruptcies in Belgium. Like in Britain, layoffs and closures are hitting workers hard.

We need a united fightback. Workers need to organise under the slogan of the nationalisation of major companies, under workers' control, and to stop the redundancies.

In Britain, National Shop Stewards Network and Socialist Party members have been producing regular bulletins supporting the Ford workers fighting the closure of the Ford plants in Dagenham and Southampton. They have been distributed in Ford plants across the country.

PCS protest

Tens of thousands of Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) members will stage 15-minute protests against plans to rip up working conditions in the civil service and related organisations.

These protests on 30 November are in opposition to a government 'review' of all existing terms and conditions, including hours and holidays, and family-friendly policies such as flexible and part-time working.

The union's national executive meeting in December will consider a timetable for a fresh industrial action ballot in the new year.

The ballot will be designed to include opposition to the terms and conditions review and attacks on pay, pensions and living standards.

Injuries at work

Members of transport union RMT and postal union CWU protested outside parliament on 12 November. The protest was because of government plans to cut the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, which will affect workers in both unions and others.

The government want to exclude injuries caused by trespass on the railway, which would affect train drivers traumatised by witnessing a suicide.

Postal workers injured by dogs will also be excluded from claiming compensation if these changes go through.

"They Slash, You Burn"

Firefighters from across the country lobbied parliament on 7 November over horrendous proposed cuts to the fire service.

The union has also taken out adverts in national papers with the slogan "They slash, you burn".

1,500 frontline firefighters' jobs have been lost since 2010, and the government plans to cut another 6,000 by 2015.

In London, 17 fire stations could close, with further cuts to the number of engines at other stations.

London firefighters waged a massive battle in 2010. Fire bosses then were prepared to sack the entire workforce to impose shift changes.

In the FBU rally, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka gave his full support to the firefighters. He made the point that we have to fight all cuts - we cannot accept cuts to some services in order to save others - and that strike action should be coordinated.

Paula Mitchell

No to rural poverty

Members of the agricultural workers' section of Unite lobbied parliament on 12 November to protest at plans to scrap the Agricultural Wages Board (AWB).

The AWB negotiates pay and fair housing provision and its abolition will open the door to increasing poverty in rural areas.

Unite is calling for the period of consultation to be extended from four to at least 12 weeks.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

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In The Socialist 14 November 2012:


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