Year 2000 No. 44, March 9, 2000

TUC Women’s Conference Opens

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index : Discuss

TUC Women’s Conference Opens

NUS Launches "Fightback against Elitism"

News In Brief:
Deutsche Bank and Dresdner in Talks on Mega-Merger

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TUC Women’s Conference Opens

Yesterday, International Women’s Day, the TUC Women’s Conference opened in Scarborough. Today a debate is to take place on achieving fair pay for women. The conference closes tomorrow.

The theme of the conference is "A Fair Day’s Pay". The TUC published a report under that title yesterday, which was given to the delegates at the conference. The report carries case studies drawn from a TUC survey of union workplace representatives and women workers, and gives statistics on women’s pay.

The report shows that full-time women workers earn only 81% of the average wage of full-time male workers. For part-time women workers, the figures are even worse. They are paid only 60% of the average full-time male wage.

The title of the report, "A Fair Day’s Pay", is reminiscent of the slogan that Marx criticised 135 years ago, "A Fair Day’s Wage for a Fair Day’s Work!", which he called a conservative motto. Marx commented on the failure that limiting the struggle to one against the effects of the existing system brings, rather than simultaneously trying to change it, to use the organised forces of the working class for its final emancipation. When women affirm their rights and fight against discrimination on the grounds of their gender, for example, these struggles gain a profound significance when the context of these struggles is recognised. This context is that of the fight for the complete emancipation of women, a fight which will fully meet with success with the transformation of society to one in which all of humanity is emancipated.

The fact is that the spirit of the women, which is also evident at the TUC Women’s Conference, is that of striking out on that line of march which will bring them to a society where the concrete conditions exist for the recognition of their rights, where they can affirm their rights in practice and their claims on society are given constitutional guarantees.

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NUS Launches "Fightback against Elitism"

Hundreds of students took part in a lobby of parliament organised by the NUS on Tuesday.

The students handed in a 10,000-signature petition to Number 10 Downing Street in the morning, demanding an end to tuition fees and the top-up scheme.

This was followed by a discussion on the implications of the Cubie Report (the Independent Review of Scottish Student Finance) at King’s College, and how it could be applied in England and Wales also. The discussion included a presentation on the Report and a panel debate on the future of HE funding and on the opposition to top-up fees. Speakers included Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat Higher Education spokesperson, and Paul Coterell, the Association of University Teachers Assistant General Secretary. The lobby of MPs took place in the afternoon. The students are concerned that "elite" colleges could form a "premier league", and charge up to £60,000 for their degree courses. The students are opposed to such a creation of a two-tier university system, which goes against the principle that higher and further education should be available at the highest level without discrimination.

A spokesperson for the NUS said: "Top-up fees will return higher education to an elitist Dark Ages where only the rich get access to top universities. Poorer students are at risk of being ghettoised."

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Deutsche Bank and Dresdner in Talks on Mega-Merger

According to news reports, Deutsche Bank, Germany's largest bank, and its rival Dresdner Bank are in merger talks that could create the world's biggest bank.

On Monday night, the talks between the banks and their advisors were said to be progressing positively and at an advanced stage, and it was said that a formal announcement could come within days. However, the talks could also be called off at any stage, as previous negotiations between the two banks have collapsed. If the talks extend to a full-blown merger, the combination of the two groups would create the world's largest bank with total assets of around DM2,500bn ($1,228bn). If the two banks merge it is unclear what the future would hold for the Dresdner Kleinwort Benson investment banking business.

The latest discussions come five months after Deutsche and Dresdner announced that talks about a possible merger of their retail operations had ended in failure. There is speculation that the latest talks could involve divesting the banks' retail operations to Allianz, the German financial services group which is a shareholder in both groups. Last year's discussions, which came to light in August, involved merging their retail businesses in a separate company, in which each would have owned equal shares. Deutsche, Germany's largest private sector bank, has 1,600 branches, while Dresdner – the third largest behind HypoVereinsbank – has 1,400.

Expectations of bank mergers were heightened recently when the German government revealed plans to scrap taxes on sales of domestic shareholdings. If passed, the move would allow the banks to sell off their large industrial holdings and focus on core activities. The introduction of the euro is forcing Europe's banks to compete for a bigger slice of a new "domestic market", the European single market. As yet, no one bank can claim to have established an extensive network across the region. Leading banks now have to decide whether they want to remain regional players or become European players, according to analysts. To become European players they will have to acquire market share in several countries and to do that potential buyers need to further increase their size and their concentration of capital.

Earlier this year Deutsche launched a rationalisation of its retail and online banking unit, involving the loss of 1,200 jobs and the closure of 250 branches.

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