Solidarity 128, 6 March 2008

Tories want to break Tube workers’ power

Published on: Fri, 07/03/2008 - 20:28

Jack Staunton

Tory candidate for mayor of London Boris Johnson unveiled his transport policy on March 3, including a promise to obtain a no-strike agreement on London Underground as well as the capital’s train services. This policy, echoing an earlier UK Independence Party manifesto pledge, further demonstrates the utterly reactionary agenda of the ex-public schoolboy Henley MP, who appears to have a serious chance of winning the election against Ken Livingstone.

Johnson, who previously attracted controversy by referring to black people as “picanninies”, also announced plans to scrap the £25 congestion

Vote Lindsey German no. 1

Published on: Fri, 07/03/2008 - 20:26

“Red” Ken Livingstone’s campaign for re-election is being supported with a high profile statement signed by... trade union militants? left activists? anti-cuts campaigners? No, instead we have a statement of the great and good, launched by that oh so radical organisation Compass.

Its signatories include Sir Jeremy Beecham of the Local Government Association, former Unison gen sec/sell-out Rodney Bickerstaffe, NUS president/sell-out Gemma Tumelty, NUS president/sell-out-in-waiting Wes Streeting, various Blairite MPs and the head of the Cooperative Party. To be fair, it does include a few trade

A profitable way to “happiness”

Published on: Fri, 07/03/2008 - 20:25

Mike Fenwick

The recent survey of all the existing evidence for the effectiveness of the anti-depressants of the type made famous by Prozac has demonstrated how easily drug companies can get away with cherry picking studies that highlight the effectiveness of their drugs whilst hiding any negative results.

The survey revealed that none of these drugs had an effect better than a placebo in any but the most depressed patients.

Prozac was the first of the group of drugs called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) where a massive marketing campaign was launched to put depression in the forefront of

Fighting low and unequal pay

Published on: Fri, 07/03/2008 - 20:24

On the 29 February members of the PCS union in the Department for Transport (DfT) took strike action over low and unequal pay, jobs and privatisation.

The strike had a great impact:

• Picket lines were in operation across Britain;

• MPs joined the pickets in Stockton, Northampton and in London;

• At the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) the support was very strong, with the huge main office in Swansea making top billing on BBC Wales at lunchtime. Local activists believe that it was the best supported action held in Swansea for years;

• In the local DVLA office network members managed

Rent rises in Lambeth!

Published on: Fri, 07/03/2008 - 20:22

Heenal Rajani and Dan Jeffreys

Lambeth council wants to increase council tenants’ rents by 6.5%. This is far higher than the increases in other boroughs and equates to around £250 a year extra for the average property.

How does this council expect tenants to afford this, when food and energy prices are also rising? The increase is far more than the increases in pay, benefits and pensions that most Lambeth tenants will receive.

The people making these decisions are consultants each “earning” £800 per day! They will never have to worry about not being able to pay their rent! The council’s housing department squanders £4.6

Oppose the witch-hunt

Published on: Fri, 07/03/2008 - 20:21

A statement from “Defend the Five” Campaign —
This campaign has been launched because of the attack by Unison’s leadership on four London branches and five officers of these branches.
The attack began at the June 2007 Local Government and National Delegate conferences when these branches sought to challenge why our conferences are constantly denied the right to debate issues because some see them as too controversial.<1--brak-->

The five officers under investigation are Glenn Kelly, NEC member and Bromley branch secretary; Onay Kasab, Greenwich Branch secretary; Brian Debus and Matthew

A campaigning union

Published on: Fri, 07/03/2008 - 20:19

Solidarity spoke to Steve Hedley, the newly elected Secretary of the RMT union’s London Transport Regional Council. The union is currently gearing up for a number of important fights.

Q: What do you think the RMT in London Transport Region should be doing?
A: We should have a coordinated strategy to take back into public ownership all parts of London Underground. We should try to eliminate the use of contractors and casual labour and employ all contract workers as full time staff. We need to put maximum pressure on Livingstone before the mayoral elections in May. The RMT needs to become a

Single status: time to level up

Published on: Fri, 07/03/2008 - 20:18

Frank Mitchell

Recently there have been a number of strikes and protests in local government in response to settlements of Single Status Agreements.

The most significant was a one-day strike in Birmingham which has brought the local authority back to the negotiating table. The industrial action is now officially suspended as talks progress. Three days of strike action in Argyll and Bute also led to new negotiations and a commitment to a collective agreement rather than the imposition without formal consultation of a deal.

Numerous “final deadlines” have now passed since Single Status Agreements were first

From charity to capitalist contractor?

Published on: Fri, 07/03/2008 - 20:16

On Wednesday 5 March 450 members of Unite union who work at Shelter struck for the first time in the housing charity’s 41 year history. A Shelter worker explains the background.

Since his arrival in 2003, Shelter’s headhoncho has seen his salary increase from “between £50-60,000” to “between “£90-100,000”. He is paid more than the top boss at Oxfam, despite Shelter having a massively lower turnover than the NGO.

The bosses who award themselves pay-rises of this scale are the same people who are now aggressively pushing a deal that will see Shelter workers’ pay and conditions slashed.

The worst

Knowing your place

Published on: Fri, 07/03/2008 - 20:14

Pat Yarker

Contradictions inherent in New Labour’s policy of increased diversity and “choice” in school-provision have surfaced again over admissions to state secondary schools.

Media attention has once again focused on Brighton and Hove, the first Local Authority to make “random allocation” of schoo places, rather than proximity to the school, the criterion to resolve conflict where schools in the same catchment-area are over-subscribed. (A handful of individual schools in other areas already use the system.) Some Tories have objected, noting that Brighton’s “ballot” or “lottery” prevents wealthier

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