The Walrus

Heathrow Dispute: Bring the Bosses Down to Earth

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Strikes and solidarity are needed to bring the Gate Gourmet bosses' union busting operation to a standstill, argues The Walrus.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Gate Gourmet dispute has been the way it has taken the lid off what goes on at Heathrow airport - the biggest workplace in Britain. Concerted attempts by parts of the media and by the BA boss, Rod Eddington, to whip up an outcry over unofficial strike action have not been at all effective - mainly because the overwhelming impression has been that of a wildcat management acting in the most despicable fashion against a workforce made up almost entirely of Asian workers.

Why Rover Crashed

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New Labour put the market before jobs, argues The Walrus.

Sanctimony personified, the image of Tony Blair scuttling back from the pope's funeral to turn up at the T&G offices at Longbridge alongside Gordon Brown might have been laughable if it wasn't so nauseating. Having treated what he has now taken to calling 'hard working families' with utter contempt for the best part of eight years, Blair's dissembling performance - dripping with praise for the workforce and its skills - absolutely reeked of hypocrisy.

Pension Revolt: Time for the TUC to Get its Finger Out

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Nothing better illustrates the utter cynicism at the heart of New Labour than the timing of its decision to launch an all-out assault on public sector pensions.

Nearly all of the key announcements - which affect millions of workers in the NHS, schools and universities, the civil service and local government - were made in the past two months, in a hasty rush of activity. With customary double-speak, health secretary John Reid and education secretary Ruth Kelly have both been trying to make out in their inimitably patronising fashion that doing away with existing pensions entitlements and making people work longer is actually a tremendously egalitarian measure.

Watch Out, Oughton's About

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The Treasury's money saving schemes hide the real public finance leaks.

It should become clearer this month how much substance there really was in the deal brokered between leaders of the main unions and New Labour apparatchiks at Warwick before the Labour Party and TUC conferences. On Guy Fawkes Day, the vast majority of the country's 350,000 civil servants will take part in a day of action over government plans to slash anything between 80,000 and 130,000 posts from key departments.

The Joker Returns

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Deep inside Silvio Berlusconi's batcave, did the demon Bliar really imagine that all he needed to do was to round up a few other cartoon baddies like Milburn and Mandelson to startle the nation and, with another whirl and spin, the rest of us would forget all about the war in Iraq?

Or that we would all be bamboozled by his nauseating, ever so humble performance at the TUC - which in every previous year he had always treated with absolute contempt?

A few years ago a speech from the PM would still have generated a polite ovation. Not any more. For the most part, delegates sat in stony silence and, as the BBC's Nick Assinder reported, even when promised that the government would not renege on pledges in 'the Warwick agreement' made in June, 'they were far from overcome with excitement or gratitude'.

New Berth for Prezza

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Silently and majestically, the good ship John Prescott slipped effortlessly into a new safe haven over the summer recess.

This amazing manoeuvre provides Prezza with a new berth at Amicus, the union which just a few weeks back became the largest in the country through a merger with the much smaller GPMU print union. Not only has Amicus now got about 1.3 million members, it also has by far the largest concentration of union-sponsored MPs in the House of Commons. Prescott's move makes him the 120th member of the Amicus parliamentary group, and having the deputy prime minister wedged in among that lot will do no harm at all come the TUC and Labour Party conference season this autumn.

PPP = Poxy Private Pension

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How the World Bank and your boss are conspiring to wreck your retirement.

Slumbering great hulk that it is, the TUC can sustain an extraordinary level of inertia for very long periods. But when it eventually does get off its arse it can still be quite an impressive sight. The last time leaders of the TUC made any serious attempt to call a national demonstration was in 1992, when there was an upsurge of anger throughout the land over Tory plans for a second wave of pit closures. The turnout on the demo was massive and helped force Michael Heseltine to impose a (temporary) moratorium on further closures.

Time to be More Awkward

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Tony and Gordon's public pay policy problem

Before the Little Bliar set off to put an Easter tan on his flawless conscience in Bermuda, he must have thought that things weren't going too badly, all things considered. The fact that he was still in the job was little short of a miracle in itself. Then the Iraqi people go and decide to mount a major uprising on the first anniversary of the start of the war and back home three major trade union disputes rear up all at once.

Why Numbers Matter

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Secondary picketing could have won the 1984-85 miners' strike.

Most press coverage of the 20th anniversary of the miners' strike has been pretty crass, turning it into nothing much more than a glorified punch-up. There was plenty of violence, of course, mainly courtesy of Maggie Thatcher's boot boys - entire regiments of coppers shipped into mining villages with ruthless instructions to spare no quarter. But the main reason for the eventual defeat of the miners a year later was that the tactics adopted by the miners 12 years earlier - in the fantastic strike of 1972 - were not replicated.

Mind the (Gender) Gap

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Shocking new figures have put equal pay back on the agenda.

A batch of recent statistics on the role of women in the labour market highlight the fact that widespread discrimination has not gone away - even though women now make up virtually 50 percent of the workforce in Britain. The figures on pay discrimination are particularly scandalous given that it is now more than 30 years since the Equal Pay Act came into force and - despite all the ballyhoo about 'Blair's babes' - there has been hardly any shift in the gender pay gap since New Labour came to power.

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