Solidarity 124, 10 January 2008

How to organise young workers

Published on: Fri, 11/01/2008 - 16:44


One of the most visible impacts of capitalist globalisation has been the massive expansion of low-paid (and often semi-casual) jobs in the service sector.

This “precarious” employment — in bars, restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, fast-food chains, supermarkets, high-street retailers, call centres and elsewhere — means long hours, barely-legal wages and unsafe working conditions. Young people fill these jobs.

According to a recent TUC survey, workers between the ages of 16-24 make up nearly a third of the total workforce in hotels and restaurants in the UK (migrant workers and women of all ages

For a working class campaign against fascism

Published on: Sat, 19/01/2008 - 18:39

Charlie Salmon

Effective anti-fascist campaigning must encourage genuine non-racist action for working class interests on housing, employment and welfare rights; and promote non-racist democratic working class organisations, such as trade unions, to organise around such issues.

“Only one thing could have stopped our movement — if our adversaries had understood its principle and intentions and from the first day had smashed with the utmost brutality the nucleus of our new movement.” Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

“To bar the road to fascism, to bar it once and for all, it does not suffice that workers oppose it

Unpaid overtime action

Published on: Sun, 13/01/2008 - 19:04

A TUC investigation has found that the number of workers working unpaid overtime increased by over 100,000 in 2007, with the total topping the five million mark.

On average each of these workers loses a staggering £5,000 a year, which means that a total of £25 billion worth of overtime work goes unpaid. To put it another way, five million workers are putting in an average of over seven unpaid hours each week

The TUC has calculated that if all this overtime came at the start of the year, the first day workers would get paid would be Friday 22 February. It has declared this date ‘work your

Birmingham Equal pay fight

Published on: Sun, 13/01/2008 - 19:03

Birmingham city council has upped the ante in its battle with its staff over equal pay, by seeking to impose new contracts which mean drastic pay cuts thousands of workers and longer hours for thousands more.

The council claims that its goal is equal pay between men and women, but is quite transparently using this as cover for an attack on the workforce. Many women, as well as male, workers will suffer pay cuts if it is successful — some by as much as £6,000 a year. No wonder 70 percent of workers have either formally rejected or decided to ignore their new contracts.

This struggle has been

Prison officer strike ban

Published on: Sun, 13/01/2008 - 19:00

In response to the impact of August 2007’s 12-hour strike, Justice Secretary Jack Straw announced plans for a strike-ban for prison officers on January 8. Tabled as an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, the measure will be discussed in Parliament as Solidarity goes to press.

The decision to reintroduce a strike-ban contradicts its repeal in 2005, when David Blunkett replaced an all-out “reserve power” banning striking with a “voluntary” no-strike agreement, due to expire in May 2008. The Prison Officers’ Association gave 12 months notice of withdrawal from this agreement

Karen Reissman campaign update

Published on: Sun, 13/01/2008 - 18:59

Workers in Manchester’s Community and Mental Health Services, who struck last year against the victimisation and sacking of their Unison branch chair, SWP member Karen Reissman, have now returned to work — but are building a political campaign for her reinstatement.

On 11 December the branch unanimously carried a motion advocating a campaign including a Unison delegation to Health Secretary Alan Johnson, pressure on Unison-sponsored MPs and a one day strike on 5 February so that the whole branch can attend a lobby of Parliament in London.

As the motion puts it: “This raises issues of national

Why Pakistan is exploding

Published on: Sun, 13/01/2008 - 18:56

Cathy Nugent

The new Pakistani general [Musharraf], he’s just been elected — not elected, this guy took over office. It appears this guy is going to bring stability to the country, and I think that’s good news for the subcontinent. (George W Bush, 1999)

On 27 December Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan People’s Party was assassinated, killed by a gunman who then blew himself and 21 other people up. The belief that Musharraf was responsible in some way for the assassination has led to countrywide violent protests and riots; over hundred people have been killed. The government claim al-Qaida have taken

Further curbs on freedom of assembly

Published on: Sun, 13/01/2008 - 18:50

Reuben Green

It comes as no surprise that Gordon Brown’s comments about freedom to protest have turned out to be doublespeak and spin. The government is currently consulting — via a webpage! — on Sections 132-138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) (2005), which ban unauthorised protest within one square kilometre of Parliament. The consultation is being presented as a move to repeal the draconian laws. But the way the questions are posed in the consultation suggest that is actually an attempt to bring in far greater police powers in relation to “public order”.

Gordon Brown wants to

Labour and Tories race to attack benefits

Published on: Sun, 13/01/2008 - 18:48

David Broder

David Cameron has launched a fresh offensive against single parents, unemployed and disabled people with plans to force them into work. The Tory leader’s proposals include making the unemployed participate in “community work”, penalties for those who turn down “reasonable” job offers and cutting the number of people receiving incapacity benefit by 600,000 over the next five years.

At the heart of the Tories’ plans is a vast overhaul of the incapacity benefit system, which caters for 2.6 million ill and disabled people, most of whom suffer from either mental disorders or musculo-skeletal

US: pick-the-millionaire time

Published on: Sun, 13/01/2008 - 18:47

Sacha Ismail

In 1996, an independent Labor Party with over two million affiliated trade unionists was established, but it failed to break completely with the Democrats and eventually withered. Reviving such initiatives is the key task for socialists, and all those who want to see something more like real democracy in the US.

Click here for another article on this issue by Barry Finger, and ensuing debate.

Hundreds and even thousands of enthusiastic supporters have turned out at rallies and actions for the various candidates in the “primary” elections currently underway to select the two main parties’

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