Archive for the ‘transport’ Tag

Workers told to ‘think long and hard’ over union ballot

A better title would, perhaps, be “Autologic threatens workers with redundancy in anti-union move.”

Workers at a Northampton car firm have been warned to “think long and hard” about their futures as part of a battle between the company and the unions.

Drivers of car transporters who work for the Grange Park firm Autologic were sent a two-page letter earlier this month calling for union members to vote for de-recognition of the Unite union within the firm.

The letter, from the firm’s human resources director, Bernard Brown, has prompted a warning of possible industrial action.

It told workers: “You must decide what it is you want. We will not be able to offer job security and good futures unless existing practices are changed and the trade union stranglehold on this company is removed.

“The last thing we want to do is get into yet another punitive round of compulsory redundancies which in the event would dig deeper than ever before into remaining driver numbers and will not include enhanced terms, but if we do not get the changes we need we will have no alternative.”

The letter added: “The ballot choice is yours, but think long and hard about the economic climate outside of Autologic.

“Think long and hard about the lack of jobs available outside if you decide against de-recognition.

“Think long and hard about how you will continue caring and looking after your families and your dependents with no job.”

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Workers occupy Visteon Ford car plant in Enfield, North London

Workers at a car parts manufacturing plant in Enfield, North London, have occupied their workplace. The occupation began following news that 600 workers were to lose their jobs at plants in North London, Essex and Belfast.

Photos of the Enfield occupation can be found here, while ongoing coverage is available from libcom.org.

Occupiers have issued a leaflet explaining their action and issuing demands:

We have occupied our factory Ford Visteon workers have occupied our factory since Wednesday 1st April. The previous day in a meeting lasting just 6 minutes we were told that the European company, with plants in Belfast, Basildon and Ponders End, Enfield, was going into administration and that we were to leave – without our wages being paid. Personal possessions could be collected the next day, but at 10 o’clock the factory was locked closed. Workers had already occupied the Belfast factory.

We demand what is due to us The 200 workers who are part of the Ford subsidiary want the same conditions they have always had via “mirror contracts” with the parent company. Up to now they don’t know when they will get wages due, and their pensions are to be controlled by the government Pensions Protection Fund. This means a maximum of £9,000 payout, and much reduced conditions! Some of the women and men have 40 yrs service!

The whole situation has been created for news management – announce it during the G20 and it will get buried in the media. And this is largely what’s happened. The move is to save Visteon USA money at our expense.

But unexpectedly Unite union members have taken determined action that bosses thought they had eliminated years ago.

The workers want their existing terms respected. Ford Visteon can’t be allowed to avoid their responsibility. So far they have tried legal intimidation but have even managed to mess this up.

As well as proper redundancy payments, some are suggesting that the skills of the workers who can make anything in plastic, should be used to make increasingly needed parts for green products – bike and trailer parts, solar panels, turbines, etc. Government investment in this rather than throwing money at bankers could be profitable & save jobs in the long term.

On Saturday, supporters converged for a solidarity protest with the occupiers. Today the leader of the union will be demanded to appear in court, while in Belfast, the sit-in continues and messages of support come in from around the UK and further afield. An interview with some of the occupiers and workers can be found here.

Railway workers to vote on strike action

Railway workers to vote on strike action

Rail workers on some of London’s busiest commuter routes are to be balloted for strike action over threats to jobs as train operators move to cut costs in the face of the recession and slower passenger growth.

The call by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union for industrial action threatens some of the most serious disruption to commuter networks for years.

The union is to ballot more than 3,500 workers at South West Trains, First Capital Connect and National Express East Anglia over plans to cut more than 1,000 jobs. A further 300 RMT workers at London Overground will vote on whether to strike over claims that industrial relations have broken down at the company.

Voting in all four ballots will start on March 3 and close on March 17. The RMT accused train companies of cutting jobs and reducing opening hours at ticket offices when they were still making healthy profits.

The union said more than 1,000 jobs were being cut at South West Trains, First Capital Connect and National Express East Anglia and that companies had “failed to provide unequivocal assurances that there will be no forced job losses”.

Meanwhile, concerns have been raised over the cost of rail fares in the UK as compared to mainland Europe.

Climate Activists smash windows at The Department for Transport

Climate Activists smash windows at The Department for Transport

At 4 am, three women, wearing red climate sashes, hurled bricks and
broke the glass doors of The Department for Transport, on Marsham
Street, London. Echoing the protests of the Suffragettes, they wrapped
their bricks in notes that read: ‘NO THIRD RUNWAY, THE SUFFRA-JETS ARE
BACK before hurling them at the government building. They also
hurled green paint to symbolise the greenwash they heard from the
government today. They targeted the building as a direct response to
yesterday’s decision to allow a third runway at Heathrow.

A spokeswoman said: “The government has opened the flood-gates for
radical action. Yesterday they sacrificed all of our futures and spat
in the face of democracy. The third runway is unwanted and is a
global threat. When they make democracy meaningless what other
reaction could they expect?

“We have less than ten years to turn climate change around. Women
cannot just stand by and let this government treat our futures as a
joke. We fight for the safety of humanity, and if the government will
only listen to the smash of windows, then so be it.”

Noting that their elected MPs had been refused a vote on this issue, she added;

“The government has bypassed democratic process for the sake of
corporate profit. The Suffragettes died for the democratic rights that
the government so sweeps aside. We take our lead from our past to
defend our future.”

US car bail-out fails in Senate

US car bail-out fails in Senate

A $14bn (£9.4bn) bail-out deal for the US car industry has failed to get Senate support, raising fears of job cuts and a possible industry collapse.

Bipartisan talks on the rescue plan collapsed over Republican demands that the United Auto Workers (UAW) union agree to swift wage cuts.

The White House said the plan was American carmakers’ “best chance to avoid a disorderly bankruptcy”.

Shares fell sharply around the world on the news.

Japan’s Nikkei share index fell 484.68 points, or 5.6%, to 8253.87, with carmakers among the hardest hit. Shares in Toyota, Honda and Nissan all fell by at least 10%.

German, French and UK stocks all opened lower on the news, with the FTSE-100 index of leading shares down 147.4 points at 4,241 in early trade.

Some Democrats have now called on President Bush to use some of the $700bn bail-out earmarked for Wall Street to help the car industry.

Heh…Bush. Remember him?

Police officer faces jail after crashing riot van

Police officer faces jail after crashing riot van

A FORMER police officer who crashed a riot van after taking it from a police station was told today he could go to prison.

Geoff Jackson, 29, crashed the vehicle into a central reservation after taking it from Paddington Green police station in London – said to be one of the most secure in Britain.

Jackson, of London Road, High Wycombe, then fell asleep in the back of the van. He had consumed “a considerable amount” of alcohol at a party the previous night.

He admitted taking a vehicle without consent, careless driving and driving without insurance when he appeared before City of Wesminister Magistrates Court today.

Liverpudlian Jackson resigned his position as a Metropolitan Police officer working with the Territorial Support Group at Paddington Green following the incident.

Plane Stupid shuts Stansted Airport

Plane Stupid shuts Stansted Airport

Over fifty young protesters from the climate action group Plane Stupid have this morning shut down Stansted Airport by camping on the runway and surrounding themselves with fortified security fencing.

The peaceful protest began at 3.15am this morning (Monday) whilst the runway was temporarily closed for maintenance work. Plane Stupid aims to prevent the scheduled reopening of the runway at 5am. The group intends to maintain its blockade for as long as possible, preventing the release of thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

10:20am update: The Press Association reports that 57 people have been arrested, and 56 Ryanair flights cancelled.

8:10am update: At least 39 people have been arrested and the runway
re-opened. BAA are claiming that 21 flights have been cancelled. Every
minute the airport emits around 4 tonnes of CO2.

6:00am update: BAA have confirmed that the first flights out of the airport have been delayed. The average flight out of Stansted has a climate impact equivalent to 41.58 tonnes of CO2.

Big Three auto CEOs flew private jets to ask for taxpayer money

Big Three auto CEOs flew private jets to ask for taxpayer money

(CNN) — Some lawmakers lashed out at the CEOs of the Big Three auto companies Wednesday for flying private jets to Washington to request taxpayer bailout money.

“There is a delicious irony in seeing private luxury jets flying into Washington, D.C., and people coming off of them with tin cups in their hand, saying that they’re going to be trimming down and streamlining their businesses,” Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-New York, told the chief executive officers of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors at a hearing of the House Financial Services Committee.

“It’s almost like seeing a guy show up at the soup kitchen in high hat and tuxedo. It kind of makes you a little bit suspicious.”

He added, “couldn’t you all have downgraded to first class or jet-pooled or something to get here? It would have at least sent a message that you do get it.”

Unions prepare big pay demands to offset food and fuel price rises

Unions prepare big pay demands to offset food and fuel price rises

Substantial pay rises are being sought to compensate for sharp increases in energy and food prices, the union-funded Labour Research Department warned last night.

A survey of more than 800 pay deals covering 6.3 million workers shows that last financial year a gap opened up between the private and public sectors.

Workers in the private sector were averaging 45% higher settlements than those in the public sector, where the government has been determined to hold pay rises below 3%.

Highest pay rises in the private sector – up to 6% a year- were in the nuclear, energy, mining and water industries. Lowest were in privately run public administration, education and health. Hotel and catering was also held down.

The government kept the average public sector rise to 2.75% last year, largely because of the decision of 1.2 million NHS staff to accept that figure.

With strikes now planned by civil servants and teachers balloting for further strike action, the LRD predicts a much more unstable pay situation this winter.

MEPs warn on ‘virtual strip searches’

MEPs warn on ‘virtual strip searches’

Members of the European Parliament have asked the Commission to look carefully at the privacy implications of millimetre wave scanners – which effectively produce naked pictures of passengers.

The technology has already been trialled in the UK – at Paddington railway station – but was found to be impractical and abandoned.

Although the technology can be used to peer beneath people’s clothes, more recent incarnations, like the 12 ordered by the US Transport Safety Administration, work on an alarm system – a red light flashes or an alarm sounds if an unexpected object is detected beneath clothing.

But that hasn’t stopped the MEPs getting into a tizzy about the fact that the machines could produce “scanned images of persons as if they were naked, equivalent to a virtual strip search.” Yes, NAKED.