Solidarity 188, 12 January 2011

Students restart the movement

Published on: Wed, 12/01/2011 - 16:14

26 January will be the first protest of the new year, a walkout from schools all over the UK. The next protest will be three days later, on Saturday 29 January.

The student movement against tuition fees and cuts to the teaching budget and Education Maintenance Allowance, which shook the country last month, is regrouping after Christmas and the January exams.

Trade unions should send delegations to join the protests on 26 and 29 January.

University students should occupy where possible, and join the walkout demonstrations if they can’t occupy.

University activist groups should get in touch

My life at work: "People know hard fights are coming but are cynical about fighting"

Published on: Wed, 12/01/2011 - 16:08

Rob Ottway is a railway worker in eastern England.

Tell us a little bit about the work you do.

I work on the railway as signalling technician in a team of three. It’s shift work — 24/7, 364 days a year. We sometimes have quiet times, but these are becoming rarer as management cut staff and don’t fill empty posts. The work is safety-critical and there is a lot of pressure on us to get faults solved quickly.

Do you and your workmates get the pay and conditions you deserve?

Not really. The pay is regarded by most as adequate but no more. The amount of overtime on offer was huge but lately this

Kirklees pushes back cuts

Published on: Wed, 12/01/2011 - 16:01

With over 100,000 local government jobs under threat, both council bosses and council workers are preparing for war.

Budgets need to be set at council meetings before the start of April and local politicians are slowly revealing the detail of the cuts.

Kirklees Unison branch recently balloted members over plans to cut non-school staff from 11,200 to 9,500. On a poor turnout (due in part to the snow) the branch got a slim majority for action. Branch officers kept their nerve and planned five days of action to start Monday 10 January. At the last minute management made an offer of no job losses

London Underground: "Strategies driven by the rank-and-file"

Published on: Wed, 12/01/2011 - 15:59

AWL member Janine Booth has recently become the first woman ever to hold the London Transport regional seat on the RMT’s Executive. She won her election by 2,062 to 947 for Lewis Peacock, a well-respected Socialist Party member (also supported by the SWP and the right wing) who campaigned on a platform of backing the RMT leadership. Janine spoke to Solidarity.

Your election victory was pretty resounding; tell us about the campaign.

I think that my win was quite decisive because lots of people worked hard campaigning for their workmates to vote for me; because lots of members already know me

Jail used to intimidate protesters

Published on: Wed, 12/01/2011 - 15:51

Edward Woollard, the student who threw a fire extinguisher off the roof of Tory party HQ at the 10 November student demonstration, hurting no-one, has been sentenced to 32 months in jail.

For a foolish but harmless act, an 18 year old will have key years of his whole life blighted. And the cop who bludgeoned Alfie Meadows on 9 December, so that he had to have emergency surgery to save his life? Nothing.

The three security guards who killed Jimmy Mubenga in October? They have been interviewed by police, but not charged.

The cops who killed Jean Charles de Menezes? Nothing.

On Sunday 9 January,

Scottish anti-cuts campaign

Published on: Wed, 12/01/2011 - 15:45

A Scotland-wide anti-cuts federation will be launched at a conference being held in Glasgow on 29 January.

In the weeks following the conference, councils across Scotland will discuss budget proposals to slash £1 billion from spending on services and jobs. This will be the first phase of cutting a total of £3 billions over the next three years.

All Scottish councils have signed up to a “deal” with the SNP government in Holyrood under which the SNP claimed that cuts in local authority funding would be “limited” to 2.6%, in exchange for councils maintaining the council tax freeze and maintaining

London fire dispute

Published on: Wed, 12/01/2011 - 15:29

An agreement to end the London firefighters’ dispute over shifts is due to be signed on 13 January.

In December, FBU members voted by 84% on a 58% turnout for new shift patterns of 10.5 days/13.5 nights, one of the options arising from the fire service arbitration process RAP. A London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority meeting on 13 January was expected to agree the basis of a settlement, although some issues from the dispute are not resolved and Tory chair Brian Coleman has continued to look for ways to attack firefighters. There are more battles ahead for the capital's firefighters and

UNISON oppose NHS pay freeze

Published on: Wed, 12/01/2011 - 15:27

Unison’s Health Service Group Executive (SGE) on 10 January voted down a miserly offer from NHS Employers.

NHS Employers offered a no compulsory redundancies deal in exchange for a two-year freeze on pay increments, on top of the pay freeze imposed by the government. Initially, Unison officers had described this as a “hard choice” for health workers, but the SGE (a body of elected lay representatives) rejected it.

This is an important victory for several reasons. NHS Employers could not guarantee that local Trusts would abide by the deal. The government has already expressed its committment to

Jobcentre Plus benefits workers to strike against casualisation

Published on: Wed, 12/01/2011 - 15:24

After over a year of prevaricating, the PCS leadership have finally called strike days around the Jobcentre Plus (DWP) “TPIP” (Telephony and Processing Implementation Project) on 20th and 21st January.

This affects seven “TPIP” sites across the country, in Sheffield, Springburn, Newport, Norwich, Chorlton, Makerfield and Bristol, which were compulsorily transferred from October 2009 (some sites have yet to “transform”) which has led to a huge reduction in terms and conditions for hundreds, even thousands, of low-paid, largely grades A-C*, staff.

In Sheffield, 450 staff were compulsorily

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