Solidarity 157, 20 August 2009

Iraq: unions press for labour law

Published on: Sat, 29/08/2009 - 10:52

Rhodri Evans

According to Iraq Oil Report (4 August), the Ministry of Industry and Minerals has written a memo “advising” its employees to avoid unions.

The move highlights how the consolidation of the Maliki government in Iraq, and of something approaching real government administration in the country, cuts two ways.

The government is more assertive with the USA. It organised celebrations when US troops quit Iraq’s cities on 30 June. There was some fudging at the edges of that withdrawal, but the US troops have largely stayed out of the cities since, and are due to withdraw completely by December 2011.


Workers of the world: Zanon and other reports

Published on: Sat, 29/08/2009 - 10:47

Zanon victory; US union recognition law setback; Korean occupation ends; Chilean miners' strike

Zanon victory

Workers at the occupied Zanon ceramics factory in Neuqen, Argentina, have won a major legal victory. The provincial parliament has voted 26 to 9 to accept that the factory is expropriated and handed over to the workers’ co-operative to manage legally and indefinitely.

The workers of the Zanon factory in Argentina occupied the factory in 2001, following a boss’s lock-out, and have run it since then under workers’ control. The workers renamed the factory FASINPAT (Factory without a Boss)

Outcry over US health plans: Lies, opportunism and the NHS

Published on: Sat, 29/08/2009 - 10:43


Gordon Brown and David Cameron have been posing as champions of the National Health Service against the rabid outcry by US right-wingers.

What they gloss over is the fact that both Tories and New Labour have spent decades undermining the Health Service and pushing Britain in the direction of the USA’s market-governed health-care system.

Thatcher cut the NHS harshly and encouraged private health care. Blair and Brown have developed a “market” for care within the NHS and given massive handouts to the private sector to “encourage competition”.

New Labour’s NHS “reforms” have constantly worked to

Short industrial reports

Published on: Sat, 29/08/2009 - 10:37

Tube; National Express; Unison Four

Tube: RMT wins limited gains – but what now?

The 10-11 June strike by members of the RMT union on the London Underground has won gains on all three of the fronts it addressed.

London Underground previously wanted a five-year pay deal. It shifted to offering a two-year option, and has now agreed to up it to RPI plus 1.5% in the first year (from 1%) and RPI plus 0.5% in the second.

The RMT has secured jobs or job offers for all RMT members facing compulsory redundancy. The union has also secured improvements to the attendance procedures. For example, the

Thomas Cook: Lessons of the Dublin occupation

Published on: Sat, 29/08/2009 - 10:35

Stan Crooke

Eighteen Thomas Cook employees, six officials of the TSSA union, and the partner of one of the workers appeared in the Irish High Court last week after they refused to end their four-day sit-in against the closure of the Thomas Cook branch in Grafton Street in Dublin.

Before 31 July, the staff, together with employees in the travel company’s other shop in Dublin, had just voted 100% in favour of strike action and action short of strike action in opposition to plans announced by Thomas Cook in May to close its high street shops in the Republic of Ireland. Turnout in the ballot was 84%.


Socialist election campaign: fight for working-class politics

Published on: Sat, 29/08/2009 - 10:30

Rick Denton

The AWL is standing Jill Mountford against New Labour's Harriet Harman in the general election. Our election campaign continues to roll on, as the local AWL branch leaflets and runs stalls across the Peckham and Camberwell constituency.

Peckham has an acute housing problem, exacerbated by a recent major, fatal fire in an unsafe council block. On many local estates unemployment runs at 30%, with many other workers on minimum wage jobs.

Housing, pay and jobs are the key issues workers raise with us. The branch sold a large number of the recent issue of Solidarity with a heavy emphasis on the

Iran after the election: the repression continues

Published on: Sat, 29/08/2009 - 10:28

Nasrin Parvez

Iranian socialist Nasrin Parvez was imprisoned for eight years by the Iranian regime during the 1980s. She spoke to Solidarity about why British socialists should make solidarity with Iranian political prisoners and workers.

The situation for Iranian political prisoners is very bad, getting worse. For example though they say they have shut down Kahrizak detention centre (outside Tehran) but they have not.

People are beginning to talk about how they have been raped in prison, following the June protests. This development started after a letter on the subject was issued by (opposition cleric)

Harry Patch: a human understanding

Published on: Sat, 29/08/2009 - 10:25

Bruce Robinson

Harry Patch, the last surviving British soldier to have fought in the First World War, died aged 111 in July. Conscripted in 1917, he went “over the top” at the Battle of Passchendaele, in which half a million men died on both sides. It was probably only his being seriously injured and taken out of the front line that enabled him to survive the war and live to such a great age.

For many years, Patch did not talk about the war, working as a plumber and acting as a fireman in the Second World War. Only when he was one of the last remaining soldiers and aged 100 did he begin to talk about his

Siegfried Sassoon: after war, a new world?

Published on: Sat, 29/08/2009 - 10:23

Cathy Nugent

Siegfried Sassoon is best known as a “war poet” of the First World War. But after the war he became involved in the Labour Party, and covered union issues as a journalist. He was the literary editor of the Labour newspaper Daily Herald for a brief period in 1919, and continued to write poetry.

Before the end of the war Sassoon was converted to leftist and anti-war politics by H G Wells and other literary lefts. In 1917 he refused to return to the front, writing an anti-war manifesto, Declaration Against War. “I am making this statement as an act of willful defiance of military authority,

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