News in Brief:
Workers Demonstrate at M&S over Job Losses
Marks & Spencer on January 12 released its trading
figures which showed that sales were down on last year. Its figures showed that
its clothing business was particularly hard hit.
On the same day, workers demonstrated at its head office
against job losses.
Teachers Oppose Five-Term Year
Teachers warned on January 11 that they may take strike
action against the proposal to move from a three-term to a five-term year. They
point out that this would rob them of holidays, as it would mean the end of the
six- or seven-week summer break which they sorely need.
NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters Union of
Women Teachers) General Secretary Nigel de Gruchy said, "This would be the
last straw, to impose this change on teachers on the back of successive changes
in recent years, with no evidence that it would have any beneficial effect. We
have already said that we would back teachers opposing this, up to strike
A spokeswoman for the NUT (National Union of Teachers) said
that there was "no educational argument" for the proposals.
East Sussex Education Authority had planned to make the
switch to a five-term year from September, but the plan was dropped after
public consultation showed that 73 per cent of 23,000 people questioned were
A commission set up by the Local Government Association is
to examine the potential impact of a five-term year on teacher stress,
childrens learning and the transition from school to university.
Trains Delayed as Drivers Refuse to Work Overtime
On January 4, train drivers on Connex South Central began to
refuse to work overtime, and the company on that day had to cancel 387 trains.
ASLEF had originally threatened a work-to-rule before the holiday period, but
it was blocked by a High Court injunction. The workers union said that no
industrial action had been called and the train drivers were acting on their
Connex drivers are calling for a cut in the working week to
35 hours and for all hours worked to count towards pensions.
Routes worst affected included lines along the Sussex
coast, as well as a number of services into London. Connex South Central
carries some 90,000 passengers into London on an average weekday.
Railway Workers Vote for Strike Action
Workers on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) voted in a
postal ballot for strike action in pursuit of a 6% wage increase. The workers
voted by a six-to-one majority to back the RMT leaderships call in a 60%
turnout announced on January 11. In doing so, the workers defied the threats of
DLR to sack workers who supported industrial action.
The RMT executive immediately announced that unless the
dispute is resolved "in full" by Monday, January 17, it will call a
series of 24-hour strikes. The workers rejected a 3% offer put forward by DLR
and demanded instead an increase of 6%.
The DLR line carries up to 120,000 people daily into the
City of London. Gross profits have increased over the last year by 57.5% from
£5.7 million to £8.97 million.
Dunlop to Cut 650 Jobs
The tyre monopoly Dunlop is to eliminate 650 jobs, or 38 per
cent of the workforce, at its Birmingham plant. The Fort Dunlop site has been a
landmark at Castle Bromwich outside Birmingham since 1917. The company is to
end truck tyre production and mould manufacturing, blaming excess capacity in
the European tyre-making industry. It will continue to produce car, light truck
and motor cycle tyres. It currently employs 1,700 workers. A Dunlop spokesman
said that to axe the jobs was necessary in order to ensure the firm remained
competitive. The move to stop production of truck tyres in March is part of a
Europe-wide "rationalisation process". The production of truck tyres
will be moved to other plants in Germany, France and Britain. The tyre-mould
operations will be moved to Luxembourg.
Dunlop is now a subsidiary of Sumitomo Rubber Industries
Ltd, of Japan. In September last year, Sumitomo entered a series of joint
ventures in North America, Europe and Japan with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.
Under the alliance, Goodyear is the dominant partner in North America and
Europe. Goodyear indicated early on that the European venture, with a total of
14 plants, would require a "massive redeployment of our manufacturing
base" in Europe.