Solidarity 132, 14 May 2008

Millions starve. Business make record profits

Published on: Fri, 16/05/2008 - 13:44

Colin Foster

In Britain, rising food prices — up over 15% a year — mean poorer households scrape and struggle. In many countries, they mean people starve. The most basic foods — wheat, rice, corn — have pretty much doubled. Families don’t have enough to eat. In Egypt, workers have struck and occupied factories. In other countries, there have been food riots.

The high prices are good news for the world’s giant agribusinesses. Monsanto’s net income for the three months up to the end of February 2008 was more than double the 2007 figure, up from $543m to $1.12bn.

Cargill’s net earnings soared by 86 per cent

Immigration Raids: Resist these attacks

Published on: Fri, 16/05/2008 - 13:40

Robin Sivapalan

Since the end of February when the government introduced new penalties for bosses who hire “illegal workers” the number of raids on workplaces has increased drastically — twice as many in the last few months as during the whole of the 1990s. Fines totaling £500,000 have been issued. 63,140 people, asylum seekers and undocumented workers, were removed from the UK last year. That is still not enough for the Liberal Democrats and the Tories who continue to urge on the rabid dogs who run the Immigration Department.

The ruthless persecution of migrant workers from outside Europe is in part largely

Sans Papiers: “We want regularisation”

Published on: Fri, 16/05/2008 - 13:39

Ed Maltby

Since 15 April, a series of unprecedented strikes by undocumented workers have taken place in France. In the greater Parisian region alone, an estimated one thousand undocumented workers are involved in strike action. The strike and actions, led by the CGT and other unions, is mainly concentrated in construction and restaurants. All the disputes are demanding the mass regularisation of undocumented workers. The strikers chant, “Le cas-par-cas, on n’en veut pas!” — “We won’t accept case-by-case treatment !”

The strike has caused considerable disruption to many businesses in Paris. But as sans

Stop the student witch-hunt

Published on: Fri, 16/05/2008 - 13:37

Gemma Short

Five members of Sheffield University student union’s delegation to the 2008 National Union of Student’s conference (including myself) face disciplinary action following their refusal to vote in line with a “mandate” imposed on them by their union’s Council in favour of the NUS Governance Review.

They face permanent exclusion from all future union elections. At least two of the five are potential candidates in next year’s sabbatical elections.

This disciplinary action should be seen as a politically motivated attempt to exclude socialist and other radical elements, that is, people who want

Israel at sixty: We still stand for two states

Published on: Fri, 16/05/2008 - 13:19

May 2008. Sixty years after the declaration of the state of Israel in compliance with the November 1947 resolution of the UN. The conflict with the Palestinians and the Arabs which at the Jewish state’s birth led to Arab invasion, war and the elimination of the Palestinian state stipulated in the UN resolution (almost all its territory went to Jordan and Egypt) is, perhaps, further from being resolved now than it was sixty years ago. The 41 year occupation of territory captured in the June 1967 war continues to poison Isreali-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab relations.

Israel economicaly blockades

Grangemouth Pension Dispute Continues

Published on: Fri, 16/05/2008 - 13:15

A fortnight after the Grangemouth oil refinery was shut down by strike action, talks continue between refinery owners (INEOS) and UNITE.

The strike by the 1,200 union members was in defence of the refinery’s final salary pension scheme, inherited by INEOS from the refinery’s previous owners (BP).

INEOS wanted to close the scheme to new staff, force existing employees to pay 6% of their salaries into the scheme, and financially penalise workers who opted for early retirement.

Calculated on an hourly basis, the strike was the costliest industrial action in British history. Despite its relatively

Civil Service Pay

Published on: Fri, 16/05/2008 - 13:14

Pay will be the major issue before this year’s PCS national conference. Given the general pay squeeze across the public sector and high inflation rate everybody expects that civil servants will get below inflation offers; with many of these increases being non-consolidated. All rational activists agree on the importance of public sector unions working together. If this were to happen, or even if a few unions were to band together, it would be politically and industrially significant

There will be major differences at conference as to the tactics needed to win. Outwardly the differences are to

Local Government Pay

Published on: Fri, 16/05/2008 - 13:12

Two out of three Unison members voted to reject the local government pay deal in a consultative ballot. The yes vote was helped by the action taken on 24 April. These strikes gave a public profile and some urgency to the issue.

The leadership of Unison should take the initiative and build for a national ballot — but they are “less than enthusiastic”. There is a direct relationship between the mood of the leadership and the mood of the members. Without a clear campaign Unison members will be less likely to vote yes or even at all. Unison leaders will then say “the members don’t want to strike”


Published on: Fri, 16/05/2008 - 13:11

Mike Fenwick

A pay offer covering the next three years is being put to health workers this month. The national leadership of UNISON is completely split on whether it should be accepted or rejected. Workers’ Liberty supporters are convinced we should reject the offer. We also believe that industrial action is possible and we can win.

The three year deal offers pay rises worth just 2.75% this year, 2.4% next year and 2.25% in the third year. The lowest measure of inflation is 3% so the offer is effectively a pay cut.

UNISON head of health Karen Jennings said after last year’s pay deal that health workers

Action in the autumn

Published on: Fri, 16/05/2008 - 13:09

Patrick Murphy

The National Union of Teachers Executive met on 8 May for the first time since the 24 April pay strike. For a while it looked like there would be no discussion or vote on proposals to develop the pay campaign. Although the union’s Co-ordination and Finance Committee (CFC) had met the previous day and agreed some activities for the term ahead their report will not be discussed until the next Executive meeting two weeks later. In the event supporters of the left caucus on the Executive put a motion on pay to ensure that some commitments were made.

The motion, unanimously carried, agreed:

1. to

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