National News

Construction companies tear up agreements

THE GIANT union Unite last week denounced a “cynical attack” by major construction companies on workers’ terms and conditions.

The union declared its opposition to all attempts by a breakaway group of major mechanical and electrical firms to withdraw from agreements covering thousands of workers at some of the country’s key infrastructure projects and has launched a campaign to defend their members’ terms and conditions.

Unite has been approached by eight major employers, including Balfour Beatty and Crown House who intend to withdraw from five long-standing national agreements and impose on their employees, a new single agreement that represents a significant attack on worker’s terms and conditions.

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Housing crisis looming

THE NATIONAL Housing Federation (NHF) last Tuesday warned that that Britain faces a housing crisis because of a “chronic under-supply of homes” and which could lock an entire generation out of the housing market.

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Housing benefit cut suicide

RICHARD Sanderson of south London committed suicide last May after receiving a letter from the London Borough of Wandsworth telling him his housing benefit was to be cut by £30-a-month, an inquest heard last Tuesday.

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Campaigners rally to defend Dale Farm

HUMAN rights campaigners from across Europe have gathered to protest against the eviction of families at England’s largest traveller site at Dale Farm in Essex.

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Abortion rights set back

DR CLARE Gerada, head of the Royal College of General Practitioners, last week warned that Government plans to change counselling procedures for women seeking abortions would create new barriers and set the system back 25 years.

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NHS Bill removes Government commitment

LEGAL opinion commissioned by the campaigning 38 Degrees website last week warned that the Health and Social Reform Bill will remove any obligation from the Government to provide a national health service.

The Health Secretary will be able to “wash his hands” of the NHS if the bill is passed because it contains a “hands-off” clause that gives autonomy to commissioning groups.

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The Burston School strike

by Robert Laurie

A HUNDRED years ago in February 1911 two schoolteachers arrived to take up new posts in the Norfolk Parish of Burston and Shimpling near Diss. This was not the first posting in the agricultural county for the couple Tom and Kitty Higdon. Kitty Higdon married her younger husband, also a teacher, in their native Somerset in 1896.

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International News

Egyptians cheer burning Israeli flag

by Deirdre Griswold

AHMED el-Shahat became an instant hero, known on Twitter as “Flagman”, when in the early hours of 21st August he scaled the walls of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, removed its flag and replaced it with the Egyptian tricolour. A huge crowd that had been demonstrating at the embassy then burned the Israeli flag that Shahat had torn down.

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Maoist elected as new Nepali Prime Minister

Xinhua news agency

BABU RAM Bhattarai, the vice chair of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M), was elected as the new Prime Minister of Nepal, beating the Nepal Congress leader in a vote in the Constituent Assembly last Sunday.

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Cuba seeks to revitalise World Disarmament Conference

by Osmany González Tocabens

DEPUTY Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno has affirmed that Cuba wants to revitalise the United Nations World Disarmament Conference to prevent a climate disaster that would be caused by a nuclear conflict.

One of Cuba’s main goals is to boost, move forward, and revive the conference so that it can plays its initial role, which dates back to its creation in 1979, Moreno said.

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Acid test in Chile

Radio Havana Cuba

HUNDREDS of thousands of Chileans have carried out a massive labour strike and protests in several cities to demand structural changes to two remnants of the Pinochet regime: the educational system, and the fundamental law of the country, the Constitution.

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Features

Nepal: doctors who serve the people

by Eric Ribellarsi

JANAMAITRI Hospital has a way of catching one’s attention. It stands as a six-storey glass building, one of the nicest looking buildings in all of Kathmandu. This is the second time I have visited this hospital.

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US: Verizon strikers end action but remain vigilant

Workers World (US)

THE 45,000-strong, two-week strike of Verizon workers in nine states along the United States East Coast and mid-Atlantic regions is over. For now.

The militant strikers have pushed the corporation back to the bargaining table. They had walked off their jobs on 7th August after their contract expired and Verizon refused to negotiate. The company would not budge on its demands for 100 concessions from its unionised workforce. That Verizon would agree to bargain shows the effectiveness and strength of the strike, although the fight is far from over.

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