Solidarity 188, 12 January 2011

Students restart the movement

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.

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

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?

Kirklees pushes back cuts

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.

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

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.

Jail used to intimidate protesters

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.

Scottish anti-cuts campaign

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.

London fire dispute

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

UNISON oppose NHS pay freeze

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.

Jobcentre Plus benefits workers to strike against casualisation

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.

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