Bolivarian buses

[Tuesday]

If you saw John Pilger’s excellent documentary, The War On Democracy, on ITV the other night, this story might be of interest:

Venezuela, London agreement to benefit citizens on the lowest incomes
ABN 21/08/2007
Caracas, Distrito Capital

London, Aug 21st (ABN).- The energy cooperation agreement, signed by the City Hall of London and the government of Venezuela, aimed at favoring the poor citizens of the English capital city, will benefit at least 1 million people, AFP news agency informed.

The agreement, signed last February 20th by the Major of London, Ken Livingstone, and the Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister, Nicolás Maduro, established that the Venezuelan state oil Company (Pdvsa) will provide a 20% reduction in the price of combustible for London’s bus network.

The London City Hall’s website http://www.london.gov.uk underlined Livingstone’ statements announcing that the Londoners: single mothers and fathers, handicapped people and those people on the lowest incomes, will benefit for half price travel on London buses thanks to the bilateral agreement signed with Venezuela.

«The agreement will make easier the lives of thousands of poor Londoners,» Livinsgtone declared on Monday during the launching of the transport subsidy program.

In return, Venezuela will free receive by London expertise in public transport, urban planning, tourism and environment protection.

I like that London is described as the capital of England. Was this chance or do comrades at the Agencia Bolivariana de Noticias keep abreast of political developments in Scotland and Wales?

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Metronet strike?

I trust that the good folks at the web-based socialist paper The News Line will not mind me reproducing this significant news item:

‘Guarantee our jobs by Wednesday or we strike’

If Metronet do not guarantee our members’ jobs, wages and conditions, and pensions by Wednesday night, we will name strike dates, said the leaders of three Tube unions yesterday.

This was the message of RMT general secretary Bob Crow, TSSA general secretary Gerry Doherty and Unite assistant general secretary Jennie Bremner at a press conference to announce a massive vote for strike action by 3,000 Tube maintenance and construction workers.

In the RMT ballot, there were 1,123 (98.3 per cent) votes to strike, with 20 votes (1.7 per cent) against, on a turnout of 51 per cent. In the TSSA ballot, there were 127 votes for strike action (77 per cent) and 38 votes (23 per cent) against, on a 48 per cent turnout. In the Unite ballot there were 119 votes for strike action and 12 votes against.

Introducing the press conference at RMT head office near London Euston station, RMT president John Leach said: ‘98 per cent of RMT members taking part in the ballot have voted for strike action. This will be a serious action, all three unions are taking part.

‘With the failure of Metronet, our members’ terms and conditions were left high and dry. We warned what would happen under PPP. We warned that any attack on our members would be contested. Our members will lose 10 per cent of their pensions as a result of administration.’

RMT general secretary Crow added: ‘Our members have said with a single, united voice that they are not prepared to be made to pay for the failure of the PPP with their jobs, conditions or pensions. We reached an agreement with Metronet that no work would be contracted out, now we haven’t got any guarantees.

‘The three unions will be meeting with the administrators on Wednesday. We will be telling Metronet that if they don’t resolve this issue by late Wednesday/early Thursday, the unions will be taking action. We will be having a demonstration to tell transport secretary Ruth Kelly to bring the work back in-house, and we will be holding a demonstration at the TUC on the Tuesday.’

TSSA general secretary Doherty said: ‘The ballot result shows the strength of feeling. The unions did everything they could to get PPP stopped. It was a political decision. Our members are not prepared to pay with their jobs, pay and conditions and pensions for political failure.

‘The service is better served by the public sector. Privatisation on the rail was a disaster, PPP on the Underground has failed. The long-term solution must be to bring this work back in-house to the public sector.

‘A new contract has been awarded to Bombardier and we have no guarantees. If we don’t get satisfaction by Wednesday night our members will take action.’

Unite’s Bremner told reporters: ‘We are asking that our members terms and conditions will be secure, and that their jobs and pensions will be secure. The administrators left the same management in that failed. Metronet won’t talk to the unions. All three unions stand together – we have no intention of being picked off!’

Crow said: ‘We asked the administrators what was the position and they said it’s business as usual. So it’s up to Metronet. Ernst and Young spend the money and Metronet say they are in charge. It’s like inviting the burglars to stay in your home for another week. If we don’t get a result from Metronet by Wednesday night, all three unions will be naming dates for action.’