Britain

Today marks the end of the Trade Union Congress in Blackpool. It was a Congress that reflected the mood not seen since the hey-days of the miners' strike of 1984-85. Since that time, we have had a decade and a half of "new realism" and policies of (class) "collaboration" or "partnership", epitomised by the likes of Sir Ken Jackson, ex-general secretary of the AEEU. Now a wind of change has hit the trade union movement.

The magnificent one million-strong strike of local authority workers on July 17 has forced important concessions out of the government. Anyone who still doubted the power of militant industrial action has been answered. Before the strike there was no more money available, no matter what, for chronically underpaid council employees. Furthermore Blair insisted that he would not be involved, this was "a matter for the employers not the government." However, the militant action of the workers and their determined mood has forced an immediate U-turn. Blair personally intervened to persuade the employers to propose a new, improved offer. The threat of a further one-day strike on August 14,

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On Tuesday July 16, UK Coal, the biggest deep mine coal company in the UK, announced the closure of the Selby coalfield. It was a shock in some respects, but in others a lot of us had expected it. We believe that UK Coal do not want the bother of mining the Selby coalfield - that is the problem. They have starved long-term investment to the coalfield since privatisation, they have raped the industry over the last ten years, and now they want to get out - and they are asking the government for the money to get out.

This article deals with the scandalous so-called "Private Finance Initiative" in Britain. This process allows private companies to be involved in the building and running of what were formerly public services, such as hospitals, railways, and even schools. Mick Brooks shows quite clearly that the only people to benefit from PFI have been the fat cat capitalists who run the private firms.

What a decisive answer to all the cynics who had written off the labour movement in Britain. In scenes reminiscent of the late 1970s, scenes we were told would never be repeated in Blair's New Britain, more than a million local authority workers took strike action yesterday, the first national public sector stoppage in 20 years. The action by members of UNISON, the T&GWU and the GMB was described in the London Evening Standard as "the biggest strike in Britain since the 1926 General Strike". All over England, Wales and Northern Ireland schools, museums and leisure centres were closed, rubbish went uncollected, architects demonstrated alongside caretakers and dinner ladies and the

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What a decisive answer to all the cynics who had written off the labour movement in Britain. In scenes reminiscent of the late 1970s, scenes we were told would never be repeated in Blair's New Britain, more than a million local authority workers took strike action yesterday, the first national public sector stoppage in 20 years. The action by members of UNISON, the T&GWU and the GMB was described in the London Evening Standard as "the biggest strike in Britain since the 1926 General Strike".

Steve Jones from the British Marxist magazine Socialist Appeal looks at the World Cup and also the game closer to home, with the ITV Digital catastrophe.

We are appealing for messages of support and financial backing for 24 airport security staff in Belfast who have been sacked for striking against low pay and poor conditions. The sacked workers were prominent union activists, including two key shop stewards. The response of some of the higher-up officials in the T&GWU union has been woefully inadequate. Gordon McNeil, one of the sacked shop stewards, spoke to Socialist Appeal.

On April 26, 2001 two leading Irish trade unionists of the ATGWU, Brothers Michael O'Reilly and Eugene McGlone, were suspended after Bill Morris, the General Secretary of the British TGWU, intervened personally. This is an attack on union democracy, and thus on the interests of workers. The two were due to present a resolution at a meeting of the ITCU opposing the social contract, and it was likely to be passed. Socialist Appealhas been following their campaign for justice and reinstatement. We interviewed Michael O'Reilly to find out how the campaign is going.

The election of Tony Woodley, regarded as the left candidate, in the recent T&GWU Deputy General Secretary election is an important step forward in the struggle to reclaim the union for its members. Woodley has consistently supported the victimised Irish officials Mick O'Reilly and Eugene McGlone, and must now act to see them reinstated. In the near future Morris will retire and there will be an election for General Secretary. The election of another left candidate, perhaps even Woodley himself, would mark yet another step forward. The Deputy General Secretary election coming on top of the election of class fighters and socialists like Dawn Stuart to the GEC of the T&G

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The Jubilee has come and gone. India and Pakistan stood on the brink of nuclear war. Suicide bombers were striking in Israel and Belfast was aflame with sectarian conflict. But on the streets of London and other British cities, millions of people cheerfully participated in street parties in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Yet this year's festivities totally lacked the grassroots "spontaneity" of the Silver Jubilee, 25 years ago. The enthusiasm for the monarchy that has been whipped up by the media in recent weeks is at best superficial. The mood is quite different to 1977 and even more distant from that of 1952.

On May 21, 2002 Socialist Appeal organised a successful public meeting in central London. More than 100 people packed Conway Hall, with some having to stand, to hear Ted Grant launch his new book History of British Trotskyism. The event was also to celebrate 10 years of Socialist Appeal, and 75 years of Trotskyism.