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Government 'war games' against the working class

The Cabinet Office has reportedly been carrying out ‘war games’ to prepare for possible strike action against sweeping cut backs. Plans have centred on ensuring there’s enough scab labour available to break strikes in key sectors. 

Ministers have already suggested they will tighten Britain’s already draconian anti-strike laws in the event significant strike action breaks out. A string of recent strike ballots have been ruled unlawful in the courts, using technicalities to annul majority votes for action. Both Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne have threated to further tighten the law “as a last resort” if union bosses don’t co-operate.

Merseyside protest at planned plant closure

Workers and supporters at the Burton’s biscuits factory in Moreton have marched against plans to close the plant.

A march and rally, organised by the Unite union, saw several hundred people assemble at Moreton Shore car park. The march took in much of the surrounding area, with lots of support and banter from local people, an march past the factory before returning to the starting point for a rally.

The company had previously reached an agreement with the Unite union to guarantee work until 2012 and to make Moreton its flagship site. It has since reneged on that deal.

Brighton homeless housing farce

The number of homes standing empty in Brighton and Hove outnumber the number of homeless families ten to one - but a Tory MP is leading calls to criminalise squatting. Brighton and Hove Council accepts responsibility for housing 368 homeless households, while 3,655 homes sit empty. Despite this, Tory MP Mike Weatherly wants to criminalise squatting, putting the interests of landlords and property speculators before those of the homeless. Home repossessions peaked last year following an increase in defaults on mortgages and rent during the recession.

Industrial accident claims two lives

Two workers have been killed at the Sonae industrial plant in Kirkby after they were reportedly dragged by a conveyor belt into the workings of a silo. It is believed that James Bibby (24) and Thomas Elmer (27) had been contracted in to carry out maintenance work at the plant which manufactures wood-based panels for use in the furniture and construction industries.

One Sonae worker told the Liverpool Echo: that “for a long time, staff have been warning about concerns over safety at the plant.” Previously, the plant has been the scene of chemical leaks, fires, as well as other industrial accidents. Residents on the nearby Northwood estate have also raised environmental concerns about Sonae, claiming that emissions coming from the plant were having an adverse effect on their children’s health.

On top of industrial accidents, Hazards magazine says that “up to 20 per cent of the UK’s biggest killers, including heart disease, cancer and chronic respiratory disease, are caused by work”, and “the risk is greatly higher in those lower down the workplace pecking order.”
- Workers’ Memorial Day will take place on April 28th 2011.

Asbestos law not up to EU standard

The UK version of a European Union-wide law on asbestos safety is illegally lax and must be amended, the government has been told. The TUC, which had warned against the dilution of essential safety measures, said the European Commission (EC) ruling nails the myth the UK “gold-plates” Euro laws.

Unpaid overtime worth £29 billion

British workers are contributing £billions in free labour to their bosses  every year simply by working unpaid overtime. The surplus is being squeezed out of workers through the threat of unemployment or reduced prospects. One in five workers regularly worked unpaid overtime last year, the highest proportion since 1997. Last year 5.26 million people across the UK clocked up an average seven hours 12 minutes unpaid overtime a week, worth a record £28.9 billion to the economy.

Over 50,000 NHS jobs face axe

Despite campaigning on a promise to “cut the deficit, not the NHS”, the government’s public sector cuts look set to slash frontline healthcare provision. The total confirmed, planned and potential NHS staff cuts across the country currently stands at just over 53,150 posts, with more set to be announced.

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