The Heat is On

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Strikes and pickets are now back in the news. Pay heads a list of grievances that express growing frustration with New Labour. Peter Morgan explains why workers are getting more awkward.

There is clearly something going on with workers in the offices, factories and workplaces of Britain. It can best be summed up in a single word: confidence. Today our side seems to be winning more disputes than it loses and sometimes this happens without a strike taking place. Often it is simply the case that a resounding yes vote for action in a ballot is enough to win.

Nursery Nurses: The Building Blocks of Struggle

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For eight weeks over 4,000 nursery nurses have been on all-out strike across Scotland.

This is the latest action in a fight for decent pay that has been going on for over two years. Prior to the strike the top rate of pay for a nursery nurse was £13,800. Despite ever increasing responsibilities, they had not been regraded for 16 years. Crucially the strike also became a battle for national pay and conditions after the association of local authorities in Scotland (Cosla) told nursery nurses that new deals would have to be settled with individual councils.

Miners' Strike: Class of 1984

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The Great Miners‘ Strike mobilised whole communities and transformed lives. Sally Campbell speaks to some of the many fighters about what they did at the time.

Bridget Bell
North Staffordshire Miners‘ Wives Action Group

The strike was a year-long struggle in which a community was attacked on all fronts - not only in the way the state was acting at the picket line level. In Staffordshire women were on the picket line because the area was subject to a lot of scabs. So women were absolutely critical to the strike. We had to be on the picket line as well as building support at all the other levels. Throughout the whole of the strike women got involved with speaking tours, organising major events, collections and so on.

The Wildcats are Back

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The victorious postal strike has put unofficial action back on the agenda, writes Martin Smith. Postal workers describe their success.

'Your world has turned upside down, and if you strike it will turn upside down again.' So warned Royal Mail chairman Allan Leighton, shortly after post workers narrowly rejected a national strike ballot over pay. The post workers' world has not turned upside down - but Leighton's surely has. An unofficial strike by over 35,000 workers has produced one of the biggest victories the British trade union movement has seen in over 20 years.

Industry - Anger into action?

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The firefighters' action has revived talk of the winter of discontent in the 1970s. Chris Bambery and Peter Morgan look at what happened.

Everyone has their breaking point and I'm afraid the FBU has reached theirs.' These are the words of Jim Burge, a firefighter of 15 years based in North London, who takes home just £21,500 per year. He was speaking shortly before the FBU leadership announced that they were suspending their first two strikes over pay after the government hinted that there might be more on offer than the 4 percent on the table.


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