Solidarity 196, 9 March 2011

"Yes to Libya", not "no to the USA"

In Libya, unlike Tunisia and Egypt, the army has not pushed aside the dictator challenged by mass upheavals. Qaddafi still controls much of the army. And so Libya is moving from street uprisings into civil war.

People at the chief rebel centre in Benghazi have called for military aid from the big powers, through a "no-fly zone" directed against warplanes controlled by Qaddafi. They oppose any idea of outside troops intervening on the ground.

Pensions: unions must organise industrial action

John Hutton, the renegade former Labour cabinet minister who is doing the Tories’ dirty work on pensions, will publish his final report this Thursday, 10 March.

It will propose further worsening of public sector pensions on top of the two big attacks which the Government has already put into train.

Tower Hamlets education workers to strike against cuts on 30 March

Local government and education workers who are members of Unison and the National Union of Teachers are likely to strike together on 30 March against education cuts planned by Tower Hamlets council.

The NUT ballot returned an 85% vote for discontinuous strike action. The Unison ballot is in progress, after many false starts due to Unison Regional Office being over cautious about the legalities.

Industrial news in brief

A wildcat strike at a BP plant near Hull has forced management to back down on plans for unilateral redundancies.

The GMB and Unite members, opposed attempts by Redhall (an engineering construction contractor operating on the site) to impose redundancies that were outside the framework of the nationally-bargained collective agreement for the industry. 400 workers walked off the job and blocked the main road into the site, backing up rush-hour traffic.

UCU names strike dates

Lecturers at 63 universities teaching more than 1,200,000 students will strike to defend their pensions later this month.

Their union, UCU, has announced strikes for 17 March in Scotland, 18 March in Wales, 21 March in Northern Ireland and 22 March in England, followed by a strike across the UK on 24 March.

Day of action for ESOL

The Action for ESOL campaign has called a national day of action against cuts to ESOL funding for 24 March.

Actions can be large or small — the main thing is that we get as much attention as we can!

Ideas for action:

• a demonstration outside your college or workplace

• public meetings, in or outside college premises (if your college is not friendly to this, try local community centres)

• leafletting, pickets

• pickets

Cuba and the unions

An article on the front page of the Communication Workers’ Union website proclaims that it is now “more important than ever” to make solidarity with Cuba.

A lengthy piece reporting on the visit of the new Cuban ambassador to the CWU’s National Executive Committee quotes CWU leader Billy Hayes in his affirmation that “the achievements of Cuba are an inspiration.”

High Street post office workers to strike

Postal workers have voted by over 90% to strike in a dispute over pay and job losses.

The workers, who work behind counters at Britain’s 373 “Crown” Post Offices (larger PO branches), have not been balloted since 2007. Post Office Ltd, owned by Royal Mail, has refused to consider a pay increase for counter staff, despite making increased profits of £72 million last year, and giving managers a 2.25% pay rise and a 21% rise for directors. Management is also refusing to renew a guarantee, valid until April 2011, that no further branches will be closed.

Anarchism, Marxism, and polemic

Martin Thomas’s article in Solidarity 3-195, “Working-class struggle and anarchism”, has prompted a long debate on our website. We print excerpts from two contributions and a reply to the debate by Martin Thomas. The original article and entire debate can be found here.

The polemicists have invoked the Anarchist Federation as proof that my criticisms of anarchism in Solidarity 3/195 were unjust. Let’s see what the Anarchist Federation says.

Its website recommends an interview with an AF member which says:

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