Solidarity 087, 26 January 2006

Stop Blair and Brown: An appeal to the unions

Published on: Tue, 29/08/2006 - 12:22

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

There are times when politics is in flux, when resolute action, or, alternatively, gutless inaction, shapes the future. Now is such a time.

Tony Blair’s “retirement agenda”, what he wants to do in his last period as prime minister, is thoroughly reactionary.

He wants to complete the destruction of the National Health Service which Thatcher began 25 years ago.

“Market forces” within the Health Service are working increasingly to disintegrate it. You know that as well as we do. Everyone who pays attention to politics knows it, too. NHS patients are being made

Big crowd at RMT conference

Published on: Sun, 29/01/2006 - 11:19

By Chris Ford and Pat Markey

Over 300 people attended the conference on working-class political representation sponsored by the rail union RMT on 21 January, and another 100 or so were unable to get in because the hall at Friends Meeting House in London was full.

The large attendance — despite the lack of publicity for the event even inside the RMT — shows the interest in the question among activists.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow opened the conference by stating there “needs to be a debate about whether the Labour Party can be changed. I think it can’t”. There is no prospect of convincing

Lib-Dems: moving right

Published on: Sun, 29/01/2006 - 11:17

by Sacha Ismail

“Scandal-hit Lib Dems in free fall” was a typical newspaper headline this week, as the fall out from the sex scandal surrounding ex-Liberal Democrat leadership contender Mark Oaten damaged the party in the polls. Yet the Lib Dems’ do have a substantial, although mostly passive, following among leftish youth.

Most activists of the global justice, People & Planet-type probably vote Lib Dem, at least where there isn’t a Green candidate standing. The Liberals get this support basically because they seem to scrub up well next to the ultra-reactionary policies of New Labour,

New Zealand: Unions show how to rebuild

Published on: Sun, 29/01/2006 - 11:15

By Bryan Sketchley

After years of union decline in New Zealand, at the hands of anti union labour governments and a concerted effort by the big business Round Table to take advantage of business friendly legislation, a recently formed union has made impressive headway in organising low paid and previously non unionised workers.

Unite has taken advantage of legislative changes and have refused to limit themselves to organising workers in a particular sector of the workforce, instead have signed up members regardless of occupation, full, part time or casual status.

To date Unite has had most

Zanon tour: Factories without bosses

Published on: Sun, 29/01/2006 - 11:13

The Zanon tile factory in Neuquen is one of many “recovered” factories in Argentina – factories taken over and run by the workers. Faced with pay cuts and redundancies – and then no pay at all – the Zanon workers occupied and began to run the factory. They are coming to Britain to discuss their experience with activists here.

Despite several attempted evictions, the workers, supported by their local community and allies have held out and even managed to dramatically increase production, sales and jobs.

Alongside all this they publish Nuestra Lucha (Our Struggle) – a newspaper of the

Firefighters give a lead on pensions

Published on: Sun, 29/01/2006 - 11:08

By colin foster

The new leadership of the Fire Brigades Union has launched a big campaign to mobilise firefighters to defend their pension rights. The FBU is organising a round of district mass meetings, in early February.

FBU branches will elect delegates to a special conference of the union on 16 February, where a call from the union’s Executive to ballot for strike action will be debated.

The Government wants to cut firefighters’ pension provision so that:

• Their normal retirement age will rise, from 2013, from 50 to 55.

• Provisions for early retirement from ill health will be

Zanon: a factory without bosses

Published on: Sun, 29/01/2006 - 11:06

The Zanon tile factory in Neuquen is one of many “recovered’ factories in Argentina – factories taken over and run by the workers in the last five years, in the wake of capitalist economic collapse in the that country. Here the workers tell their story.

In 2000 when the Zanon company announced that it had operational and commercial difficulties. And in that year one of the workers, 22-year-old Daniel Ferrás, was taken ill while working in the plant. The company did not have the necessary health facilities and Daniel died on his way to hospital.
We workers took to the streets for the first time

How US students built their movement

Published on: Sun, 29/01/2006 - 11:04

By Laura Schwartz

The US based student campaign United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) has groups in almost 200 universities and has dominated student politics on US campuses since it was founded in 1997. USAS campaigns have ensured on campuses all over the US that workers are paid a living wage and collegiate apparel is no longer made in sweatshops.

Students Against Sweatshops was founded in the UK a year ago, with the aim of running campaigns similar to those of USAS, based on workers’ rights and workers’ solidarity. We can learn a lot from USAS by looking at how they build and run their

Hamas set to make gains

Published on: Sun, 29/01/2006 - 11:02

By Mark Osborn

As Solidarity goes to press the Palestinians go to the polls in the first parliamentary election since 1996. 1.27 million Palestinians are eligible to vote and commentators predict an 85% turnout, with Hamas and Fatah closely contesting the election on 25 January.

Hamas did not participate in the last parliamentary poll, but recently beat Fatah in municipal elections in the main West Bank cities.

Seven hundred and twenty eight candidates are contesting 132 seats in the Legislative Council. Half will be elected by constituency and half by proportional representation.

The

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