Tuesday, July 16, 2002


More than a million council workers in England, Wales and the North of Ireland will be on strike tomorrow, 17th July. The votes in favour of industrial action by members of UNISON, the GMB and TGWU wetre absolutely decisive for an initial one-day walkout , and mark the biggest challenge to date against New Labour’s policy of public sector pay restraint.

A quarter of a million predominantly women workers on wages below £5 an hour are likely to be at the forefront of pickets and marches in many cities and towns across Britain.

There are rumours that the employers have made an offer of 4.5%. These are ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE. There has been no contact with them and they themselves are not meeting until 19 July - no doubt to assess the effectiveness of the strike. Let's show them we mean business.

Some councils are going to 'impose' a 3% pay increase on staff this month, with a promise to meet the difference after the settlement. Branches should resist such moves, but where they have happened, members should still take strike action on 17 July as we are still in dispute with the employers over the offer.

Th Local Government Association is just as adamant and has issued this advice to local authorities:-

"The National Employers' position is that these ballot results do not improve local authorities' ability to pay. 3% is the same as the average pay settlement in the economy as a whole, as calculated by an independent source (Industrial Relations Services)."

"...There is therefore no good reason for the Employers to reconsider their negotiating position. Solidarity among all authorities is most critical. The national Employers' position reflects the overwhelming message from this year's consultation. A firm message needs to be sent to employees that: 3% is fair and reasonable; it is all that the vast majority of authorities can afford; striking will not affect the position or result in an improved offer."
More info.

The LGA have also confirmed that participation in strike action would result in deductions from pay on the basis of 1/5th of a week's pay, a deduction that has dubious legality.

Local Government is staffed overwhelmingly by women. Take, for example, social services- thse are the people that do childcare, look after old peoople and the disabled, wipe bums, cook food, and do all the other shitty jobs -

Full-time Women employees 106,695 Part time: 155,384
Full Time Men 39,564 20, 593

Average male wage £390
Average £314

That means women are 63% of the fulltime Social Services workforce, and 87% of the part-time, but earn only 81% of the average male local government wage and 91% of the national average. (The national average wage is £17,880, or £343 per week.) The employers offer is 3%, an increase of £9.43 on the average woman's local authority wage.

Britain's top bosses enjoyed a 28% pay increase last year - six times more than the average wage rise. More on pay inequality.

I did try to find out what local authority chief executives and senior management are paid, but this has proved difficult. Again, from the LGA:
"Salaries, Earnings and Numbers Surveys: Chief Executives and Chief Officers - For more detailed information from the Chief Executives and Chief Officers database which is accessible to authorities on a confidential basis contact Mary Edge." Source

Too scared to say no doubt.

Taking a look at the Guardian's 'Society' section, it appears the average wage for management is around £60,000 a year. That's over a £1000 a week, or more than 300% of the average woman's wage in local government.

Surprise, surprise, 88% of senior executives in local authorities are men.

Sunday, July 14, 2002


A High Court verdict on Tuesday 2 July could be a short-term deterrent to right-wingers using libel writs to attack small radical bookshops; but it still leaves two of London's last such shops with potentially crippling legal bills, and it exposes a major gap in defamation law which needs plugging.

The two-day High Court case was the culmination of an
action brought nearly 2 years ago against Housmans
Bookshop in Kings Cross, London,by someone currently
using the name Alexander Baron. The right-wing anti-gay litigant had been referred to as a plagiarist in one
sentence in a 136-page pamphlet stocked in the shop.
He had chosen to sue only the shop, not the author or
publisher concerned, becauseof his distaste for the sort
of material made available in radical bookshops.

Although he had at one stage demanded that the shop
pay him £50,000 to drop the case, the jury awarded him
just £14. Because he had already rejected a settlement
offer higher than that, he was also ordered to pay most
of the shop's legal costs; however, there is no expectation that he has the resources to do so.

Despite the jury's apparent sympathy with the
defendants, they clearly felt virtually compelled by the
judge's legal rulings to find against the shop. Following
this test case - the first occasion on which a bookshop
has tried to use the "innocent dissemination" defence
introduced in the 1996 Defamation Act - it seems that if
anyone suggests to a shop or library that an item on their shelves is defamatory, and they fail to remove it
immediately, then they cannot use this defence in any
proceedings later brought against them, irrespective of
whether it was reasonable to take thesuggestion

This action against Housmans was one of a series,
dating back to 1996, brought against Housmans,
Bookmarks (also in London) and others by people
criticised in anti-fascist magazines. This was the
first to end up in court, but one of the earlier cases -
against Bookmarks and Housmans, and involving the
magazine Searchlight - is still extant. It is due in court
this autumn unless a settlement is reached first - either
course is financially costly.

The Bookshop Libel Fund is calling for urgent
financial support for the shops to cover their costs
in these cases, and for a change in the law to stop
bookshops being targeted in this way.

See the appended earlier release for the background
to these cases.For further details about this week's case, contact Albert Beale, tel 020-7278 4474

Donations to the appeal fund should be made out to
"Bookshop Libel Fund"
& sent to Bookmarks, or Housmans, (addresses below.)
On-line credit/debit card donations can be made at
update JULY 2002 newsletter

5 Caledonian Road, London, N1 9DX, UK 020 7278 4474
1 Bloomsbury Street, London, WC1B 3QE, UK 020 7637 1848

About Alexander Baron:

Alexander Baron is a racist and anti-semite with close ties to neo-nazi groups in Britain and Europe. He also writes juvenile, execrable poetry, plays and prose. He can also be found like a particularly purulent rash all over usenet, on uk.legal, talk.politics.mideast, de.soc.studium.verbindungen, soc.politics.marxism, soc.culture.usa, uk.current-events.general and countless other newsgroups. His website is easily found by googling.

The guy is scum, and plagiarist scum. If he doesn't like my saying so, he can sue me.