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(en) Britain, Direct Action # 35 - ON THE EDGE

Date Sat, 27 Aug 2005 20:39:15 +0300


Centra Strikes
A 24 hour strike on May 9-10th by RMT members at Centra Buses
in Croydon has forced the company into talks just 2 days before a
second planned stoppage for May 20-21st. This is despite
Centra’s attempts to break the strike by threatening dismissal for
those taking action, and by breaking health and safety laws by
requiring unqualified agency drivers to be available for up to 24
hours. Workers are claiming a basic £500 weekly wage, equal
contracts with equal pay for all employees, no zero-hours contracts,
adequate annual leave, sick-pay from day one of employment, full
rostered earnings for victims of assaults at work, fair allocation of
overtime and an end to victimisation for trade union membership.


Migrant Workers

A damning report, ‘Forced Labour and Migration to the
UK’, was delayed until after the general election. Compiled at
Oxford and Sussex Universities, it details how employers coerce
migrants to work for low wages in appalling conditions; how they
subject them to intimidation, to physical and sexual violence, to
blackmail and debt bondage; how they report to the immigration
authorities anyone who complains about their treatment. There are
also examples of the state, as an employer, paying migrants below
the national minimum wage.

While the research is wide ranging, it focuses on farming, cleaning,
building work and residential care. It found migrants being prevented
from seeking help; being forced to take loans from loan sharks; and
being forced to work very long hours in dangerous conditions. One
of the more disturbing findings is that the NHS is involved in this
exploitation through the use of agencies, which demand huge
deposits for accommodation. This report looks unlikely to see the
light of day until it is substantially revised.


RSI

Although you might never have heard of it, International Repetitive
Strain Injury (RSI) Awareness Day came and went on the 28th of
February. Meanwhile the fifth TUC survey of workplace safety reps
showed that stress, RSI and back strain are the three top workplace
hazards in Britain. What’s more, these problems are getting
worse - two years on, the incidence of stress is up 2% to 58%; RSI is
up 3% to 40%; and back strain is up 4% to 35%. Employers are still
failing to protect workers from illness and serious injury, all the
while seeking to blame workers themselves. For further information
on these conditions visit:
http://www.worksmart.org.uk ; or the HSE site at:
http://www.hse.gov.uk/msa/ index.htm

Text for Victory

At Ozer’s restaurant, Langham Place (near Oxford Circus),
workers used to be sacked on the spot if customers were not fully
satisfied with the level of service being provided. This was the
situation before a successful texting campaign instigated by GMB
rep, Serdar, which forced owner, Huseyin Ozer, to stop putting cards
on tables urging customers to inform on the mainly Turkish staff.
Now Ozer has victimised Serdar because he told a customer that the
service charge went to the company, not the waiting staff. GMB
branch secretary, Mick Duncan, has called for another texting
campaign to get Serdar reinstated. To join up: text: ‘reinstate
Serdar now!’ to Huseyin Ozer on 07850 667777.
Top



Deserters

The number of soldiers ‘illegally absent’ last year was 530,
up from 205 in 2003. While many soldiers strongly disapprove of the
government’s stand on Iraq, a growing number are also not
prepared to suffer the indignities and discipline of army life. Hardly a
month goes by without some revelation about abuse and bullying of
recruits while the shadow of the unresolved Deepcut murders looms
large despite the government’s outright refusal of a public
inquiry.
Top



Stress Kills

Working poorly structured shift patterns causes physical and mental
health problems. This has been revealed by separate studies, at the
University of Surrey and Cardiff University, on the physiological and
psychological health of a group of 45 men working on offshore oil
rigs. The workers on the more popular split rota of seven night shifts
followed by seven day shifts ‘were at increased risk of heart
disease and diabetes and stress related health problems. This pattern
also makes workers more tired and inattentive, increasing the
chance of accidents and mistakes.
Top



Doesn’t Add Up

It seems Gordon Brown’s drive to reduce Whitehall cost does
not include money spent on that modern parasitic phenomenon, the
office consultant. Last year the government spent at least £1.9
billion on management consultants, up 46% on 2003. A
spokesperson for the Treasury stated that the consultants were
needed to ‘provide the expertise that civil servants cannot
give’ at a time when all departments are looking to make
efficiency saving. Part of the efficiency saving includes the spending
of £2 billion on consultants at a time when the government is
planning to cut 100,000 civil servants jobs to make a saving of £3
billion.
Top



The CCTV Don’t Work

Most CCTV schemes fail to cut crime and do not make the public
feel safer, according to a Home Office study. CCTV cameras,
acclaimed by police, government and the companies flogging them
as a major step in tackling crime and disorder, have been
‘disappointing’ because many schemes are
‘ill-conceived’. Only in one case in thirteen could CCTV be
shown to have reduced crime. The authors blame these failings on
the way the technology is being used. Nevertheless they don’t
even go so far as to claim that overcoming such failings would cut
crime – just that ‘effectiveness will suffer’ in schemes
lacking good management and staff. The Home Office spent £170
million on 684 local projects between 1998 and 2003.
Top



£900,000 Fine no Deterrent to Shell

Shell has recently been fined a record £900,000 for a series of
safety failings on its Brent Bravo platform which killed two workers
in September 2003. Though the fine is almost treble the previous
biggest in the North Sea, it will do little to alter Shell’s appalling
safety record. After all, it is equivalent to only a minute’s worth
of the oil giant’s global revenue, which amounted to about
£2.8 billion in the first quarter of this year. Though Shell released a
statement taking full responsibility and regretting the ‘sad loss of
two lives’, what they did not mention were the warnings issued
in March 2003 by the offshore union, Amicus, of poorly maintained
equipment, one of the causes of the accident. The company
responded by doing nothing. Just as appalling was the fact that a
HSE report published three weeks before the deaths said there was
no immediate problem. Which just Demonstrates yet again that the
HSE is more interested in protecting company profits than ensuring
the safety of workers.

=====================================
Journal of the anarchist Solidarity Federation
THE BRITISH SECTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL WORKERS'



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