Solidarity 196, 9 March 2011

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

Published on: Wed, 09/03/2011 - 15:01

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.

Socialists should not give a blank cheque to US or British military intervention. In such matters, positive support for US or British military

Pensions: unions must organise industrial action

Published on: Wed, 09/03/2011 - 14:54

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.

Hutton’s report should be a last-minute alarm signal to the unions to start fighting on pensions. Almost a year has passed now since the Government finalised its first decisions, and still the union leaders are saying “we’ll have to seek negotiations, and if that doesn’t work, then think about

Tower Hamlets education workers to strike against cuts on 30 March

Published on: Wed, 09/03/2011 - 14:45

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.

The NUT ballot asked members to vote, first, for a one-day protest strike, and, second, for discontinuous action should it be necessary in months to come. 85% of people voted yes to the first question,

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 09/03/2011 - 14:38

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.

The strike marks a further flare in militancy in an industry that saw enormous unofficial strikes over similar attempts by bosses to disregard

UCU names strike dates

Published on: Wed, 09/03/2011 - 14:32

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.

University employers want to amend the Universities Superannuation Scheme from 1 April to reduce pension benefits and increase costs for workers. For existing members of the scheme, contributions would go up. New starters would receive a career average rather than a final salary pension

Day of action for ESOL

Published on: Wed, 09/03/2011 - 14:28

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

• symbolic actions such as: students taping their mouths in protest and holding hands round the college building (thanks to students at Greenwich Community College for this one

Cuba and the unions

Published on: Wed, 09/03/2011 - 14:25

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.”

Presumably he means the impressive healthcare system and literacy rates, but one wonders what the union has to say about Cuba’s less “inspiring” “achievements” — its one-party state, its lack of free press, its ban on independent

High Street post office workers to strike

Published on: Wed, 09/03/2011 - 14:17

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.

Dave Ward, the deputy general secretary of

Anarchism, Marxism, and polemic

Published on: Wed, 09/03/2011 - 13:14

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:

“Too often the anarchist scene is incredibly elitist. There are loads of friendship

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