Solidarity 092, 27 April 2006

John McDonnell says: Scrap the anti-union laws!

Published on: Thu, 23/11/2006 - 21:38

John McDonnell MP spoke to Solidarity about the campaign for a Trade Union Freedom Bill

Some of us have been working for trade union reform for five years. We have lobbied for change from Labour, but it has been like crying in the wilderness. The official TUC response has been to point to the legislation the Labour government has introduced, to the rights that have been won. Yet these changes and concessions have been fairly minimal. Tony Blair’s says the UK has the most restrictive trade union laws in western Europe. He is right, and that situation has been maintained.

But two things have

Taff Vale

Published on: Thu, 27/04/2006 - 14:41

The Trade Union Freedom Bill is being proposed to coincide with the repeal of the “Taff Vale Judgement”. What was “Taff Vale”?

Bit by bit, over the 19th century, British workers rolled back the Combination Acts, passed in 1799-1800, which had made trade unionism illegal in the early years of the Industrial Revolution.

But the law was unclear. In 1900 the Taff Vale Railway Company sued the rail union ASRS (forerunner of the RMT) for compensation for the losses caused to the company when its workers struck for union recognition. The company won the initial court case; had the decision reversed

Free our unions!

Published on: Thu, 27/04/2006 - 14:40

The Trades Union Congress is campaigning for trade union freedom from the shackles of anti union laws. It is backing a Early Day Motion in Parliament, the Trade Union Freedom Bill. (EDMs do not get time to be debated in Parliament, but serve to “flag up” issues). The TUC has made the campaign the theme of the London May Day demonstration.

These moves must be warmly welcomed by all those who want to see the abolition of the many anti-union laws that make effective industrial action difficult or impossible within the law.

It is also important to understand the limitations of the TUC’s new turn,

French workers won because solidarity strikes are legal there

Published on: Thu, 27/04/2006 - 14:35

For two months growing mobilisation of French students and workers confronted the French government.

For two months, France’s right-wing government said it wouldn’t budge. It passed the CPE — a measure allowing bosses to sack young workers without having to prove any good cause — into law.

Then, on 10 April, the government backed down. It withdrew the CPE. Solidarity won.

Every single bit of the strike action that won in France would have been illegal in Britain. Britain’s “most restrictive labour laws in the western world”, as Tony Blair smugly described them in 1997 when promising to keep

Pensions: unions let Government off hook

Published on: Thu, 27/04/2006 - 14:34

from UNISON United Left

Local Government workers across the UK have reacted with alarm and anger at the news that all further action in our pensions dispute has been suspended as of 13 April pending further talks with the Local Government Association to conclude in June.

This despite the fact that there is no concrete offer from the employers, merely an agreement to framework talks with “nothing ruled in and nothing ruled out”.

The success of the massive united national strike action on 28 March, and the threat of further regional and national strike action in the run up to May’s local

Iranian left calls for solidarity as theocrats crack down on workers and women

Published on: Thu, 27/04/2006 - 14:31

By Sacha Ismail

In the run up to May Day, Iranian socialists and labour movement activists in the International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran have launched a new call for international solidarity. The statement puts forward a clear “third camp” perspective against both US war threats and Iran’s theocratic dictatorship, in refreshing contrast to the mealy-mouthed pro-Islamist position of much of the British left.

The initiative could not have come at a better time. An important element of the Iranian rulers‚ show down with Bush is their attempt to create a nationalist release valve

From Iran to France!

Published on: Thu, 27/04/2006 - 13:57

Message of Congratulations and Solidarity of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company on the victory of the workers, students and people of France. 11 April 2006.

Over the past few weeks, the people of Iran, the working people, students and our union, have been closely and with much interest following the news from France, hoping in our hearts for the victory of the just movement of the great workers’ and students’ unions and the people of France.

The news of this movement was inspiring and exhilarating for the imprisoned union activists in Iran. The Syndicate of Workers of

“Left” politics without class struggle?

Published on: Thu, 27/04/2006 - 13:55

The Euston Manifesto, launched on 29 March, proposes a “fresh political alignment” of “democrats and progressives” reaching “beyond the socialist left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment”. It claims to want “to draw a line between the forces of the left that remain true to its authentic values”... But against whom do they wish to “draw a line”, asks Pete Radcliff?

There are a lot of lines to be drawn in this period of faith schools, accelerated dismantling of the welfare state, the glorification of capitalist greed and privilege by New Labour, the

The Left's accommodation with Islam now and the 1960's Stalinist “dialogue between Marxism and Christianity”

Published on: Thu, 27/04/2006 - 13:45

Anthony Mahony (Sean Matgamna)


Much of the ostensibly “revolutionary socialist” left has fallen on its knees before the forces of reactionary anti-Western political Islam, hailing it as a progressive “anti-imperialism”.

The increasingly strange organisation that still, perhaps for old times’ sake, calls itself the Socialist Workers’ Party, welcomed the victory in Palestine of the Islamic fundamentalist party Hamas! It has aligned itself on the side of a world-wide reactionary-Islamist offensive against secularism, liberal civil rights, women’s liberation,

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