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Year 2001 No. 124, July 17, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

East London Campaign for Living Wage for Hospital Domestics

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

East London Campaign for Living Wage for Hospital Domestics

Campaign to Save Marconi Workers’ Jobs

Rail Workers Decide on Two More Strikes

Final Summit of the Organisation of African Unity Paves the Way for African Union

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East London Campaign for Living Wage for Hospital Domestics

TELCO (The East London Communities Organisation) is campaigning for higher wages and dignity at work for the lowest paid people in East London.

With the slogan "acting together for change" it has been leafleting hospitals in East London to demand a living wage and dignity at work for everyone in East London’s NHS.

TELCO points out that hospital domestics, porters and catering staff do some of the dirtiest and toughest work in the NHS. They are critical to the cleanliness, safety and quality of healthcare in hospitals. At Whipps Cross hospital, domestics employed by ISS Mediclean earn as little as £4.05 per hour, a recent increase of 19p up from £3.86.

These poverty wages, declares TELCO, fly in the face of rebuilding and renewing the NHS in East London.

TELCO is calling on the family, friends and loved ones of the patients at Whipps Cross to sign a petition to support the campaign to see that everyone who cares for the patients are themselves treated with dignity and respect at work, and earn a living wage.

The leaflet distributed in the campaign says that independent research to look at costs of living in East London shows that a family of four needs to spend £322 per week to reach a "low cost but acceptable" living standard. That means £6.30 per hour in wages.

A meeting of Whipps Cross hospital domestics is being held on Tuesday, July 17. The unions at the hospital have negotiated with ISS Mediclean for a paid half hour off work to find out more about joining a union at Whipps Cross and about TELCO’s campaign for a living wage.

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Campaign to Save Marconi Workers’ Jobs

The MSF union on Monday, July 16, proclaimed the start of a campaign to save jobs at communications monopoly Marconi. Shop stewards from all the major plants are meeting in London on July 17 to decide strategy to oppose the intended compulsory job cuts at Poole, Dorset, and to prevent any future dismissals. The union, which anticipates hundreds of further job cuts from other sites, including those at Liverpool and Coventry, says Marconi failed to consult workers before informing of the Poole plant’s 570 job losses.

MSF General Secretary Roger Lyons said, "Our members are angry that their jobs have been put in jeopardy by a failed management strategy." He also referred to the "strong message to the Marconi management that employees cannot accept compulsory redundancies, nor the destruction of the company that they have spent their working lives building".

Workers at the Poole plant are striking on Tuesday in protest at the proposed job losses. Workers also plan to protest at the company's annual general meeting in London on July 18. The proposed job cuts of 4,000 from its world-wide workforce followed only months after Marconi’s axing of 3,000 jobs world-wide. Marconi has said that sales for the year would be 15% lower as customers put off buying due to the impact of the global slowdown.

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Rail Workers Decide on Two More Strikes

The Rail Maritime & Transport union has announced two more 24-hour strikes on the London to Southend c2c line as part of its campaign to maintain the role of train guards. The first stoppage scheduled for Wednesday, July 18, is to be followed by action on August 1. The c2c and Great Eastern companies remain the only passenger train operators yet to settle with the RMT. Previous strike action on June 25 and July 4 left one in four services running at peak times.

Further discussions between the union and Great Eastern management takes place on Tuesday, July 17.

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Final Summit of the Organisation of African Unity Paves the Way for African Union

The 37th and final summit meeting of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was held in Lusaka, Zambia, last week, concluding on July 11, in preparation for the inaugural session of the new African Union in 2002.

The creation of the African Union, which will have its own executive council, parliament, court of justice and central bank, was proclaimed at the Extraordinary Summit of the OAU held in Sirte, Libya, earlier this year. The proposal for an African Union, put forward at a previous Extraordinary Summit in Sirte in 1999, was endorsed at the 36th Summit of the OAU in Lomé, Togo, last July. The African Union, which will replace the 38 year-old OAU, is designed to create the conditions for closer economic ties between African countries and for a common African defence and foreign policy. Libya has already offered to host the African Union’s parliament and Mauritius has reportedly offered to host the court of justice. The summit elected Amara Essy, the former foreign minister of the Ivory Coast, as interim secretary-general. The Lusaka Summit was attended by representatives of the 53 Member States of the OAU, including 41 heads of state and government. Also attending were former South African President Nelson Mandela, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Continental political and economic union is seen by African leaders as vital if the continent is to combat the consequences of globalisation, its current debt of $334 billion and its marginalisation in world affairs. Libya’s leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, for example, spoke in Lusaka of the African Union playing a role in gaining for Africa a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. As one of its main decisions the historic OAU summit also adopted a social and economic recovery plan, the so-called African Initiative, which is intended to be a central part of the strategy of the African Union and which commits African governments to "achieving a human centred and sustainable development". A Summit resolution called on member states to ratify the 1991 Abuja Treaty, establishing the African Economic Community and called on the various African economic and trade organisations already established to submit views on their relationship to the African Union.

The South African capital of Pretoria was chosen to host the inaugural General Assembly of the African Union. Also, May 25 was declared an official public holiday throughout the continent to commemorate African Liberation Day, while March 2 will be commemorated as Union Day.

Addressing the closing session, Muammar Gaddafi said the session would go down in history as the one that laid the foundation of the AU. "The continent that was humiliated and its peoples treated like animals is now prepared to come together as one," he said. The conflicts on the continent now, he said, are an expression of the colonial legacy and the continued interference of the imperialist powers. With the African Union there would be no more conflicts, he said, adding, "Africa is distinguished by virtue of its unity."

Amongst other decisions the OAU summit meeting called on the UN Security Council to "immediately and definitively" lift the sanctions and embargo imposed on Libya following the Lockerbie disaster. The OAU summit also denounced Israeli aggression and affirmed the right of the Palestinian people to exercise their inalienable right to "self-determination and the establishment of an independent state on their national soil, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with the principles of international law and other pertinent resolutions of the UN".

The Summit also issued a declaration "on the resolution of the land question in Zimbabwe", in which it reiterated its demand for Britain to "honour its colonial obligation to fund the land resettlement programme in Zimbabwe in accordance with the Lancaster House Agreement". In this regard the Summit called upon the British government "to co-operate fully and enter into dialogue with the Government of Zimbabwe with the purpose of finding a final solution to this colonial legacy". In their pre-Summit meeting, African foreign ministers denounced Britain for reneging on its agreement made at independence in 1980 to fund the programme. They also denounced the British government for its "moves to mobilise European and North American countries to isolate and vilify Zimbabwe leading to the imposition of formal and informal sanctions against it".

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