Solidarity 143, 4 December 2008

Ballot on BT pensions

BT PENSIONS: CWU and Connect unions are conducting a consultative ballot of their members from 27 November to 18 December. The leaderships want members to accept a pension review they have negotiated with BT. BT employees should reject this deal.

CWU and Connect members opposing the pension deal are campaigning for a “no” vote in the ballot, pointing out that the deal will mean:

• increasing normal retirement age from 60 to 65;

• moving to a scheme based on career average earnings rather than final salary;

Sack the bank bosses! Bring finance under democratic social control


Gerry Bates

Bank of England and government support for the banks so far totals something like the equivalent of £18,000 for every child, woman, and man in the UK.

The Bank of England's Financial Stability Report of 27 October 2008 gives the figures: a total of £1107 billion.

It can’t be right? After all, the average household in the UK is about 2.4 people. That average household doesn't have £43,000 (£18,000 times 2.4) to give to the banks, even if it wanted to.

Irish students fight fees


Ed Maltby

Ed Maltby spoke to Paul Murphy, a left student activist in Dublin in the group Free Education for Everyone.

EM: Describe the general political situation in Ireland at the moment.

PM: We’re fighting a defensive battle, not yet an offensive one. The government’s attacks on Higher Education are part of a broader agenda to decrease the role of the state, and to cut or privatise large parts of the public sector. The same offensive includes the privatisation of Aer Lingus and the attempted privatisation of the Dublin public transport service.

And who else do they jail?

When the police raid the office of Tory front-bencher Damien Green and take him into custody for some hours, it is tempting to laugh out loud. One of the habitual biters bit!

That response would however be a mistake. If a Damien Green can be so treated, think what that says about civil liberties in society as a whole.

Union News in brief: PCS, public sector pensions, Sussex university technicians

CIVIL SERVICE: PCS has, for all practical purposes, announced the end of its national pay campaign. In a union circular, general secretary Mark Serwotka and union president Janice Godrich claim that the union has won major concessions.

In fact the so-called deal is not a deal at all. It does not materially change the circumstances on the ground. It does not revisit the below-inflation pay awards of 2007. It does not reduce the number of different bargaining units into which the civil service is divided for pay negotiations (currently about 200).

BNP growth: how should we respond?



The publication of the BNP membership list online shows an enormous growth in the strength of the BNP. There is serious cause for alarm here.

According to Nick Lowles of the anti-fascist magazine Searchlight, the party had 600 members in 1997 and 3000, 1500 of them active, in 2000. Even if we assumed that the new figure of 13,500 is a two-to-one over-estimate, that would represent a ten-fold growth in a decade.

Don’t pay for the bosses’ crisis!


Daniel Randall

The sharp increase in oil prices, and now the credit crunch, has led to sales of large cars and people-carriers falling by 30% in Europe. SUV sales have fallen by 45%.

The industry giants have responded to the crisis with massive layoffs. Volkswagen, for example, has announced 25,000 job losses; Rolls Royce, Peugeot and Chrysler are also making swingeing cuts. The first instinct of most socialists will be to defend workers' jobs; that instinct is correct, but the situation calls for a far more thoroughgoing response that isn't limited to defending the pre-crisis status quo.

US auto workers seek their own plan


Dan La Botz

The crisis in the auto industry is about many things: the possible collapse of General Motors, Detroit gas guzzlers, auto emission standards, the environment, and the need for mass transportation, among others. At the centre of it all, however, is the struggle between management and the workers, that is, between capital and labour....

Comrade Hand Grenade


Bill Hunt

The Builders Labourer, the journal of the Builders Labourers Federation of Queensland, carried this tribute to Bob Carnegie when he decided to step down as a full-time organiser with the BLF to return to work on the sites. Bob is a supporter of Workers’ Liberty Australia.

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