Solidarity 197, 16 March 2011

Fight these pension cuts!

Published on: Wed, 16/03/2011 - 18:14

John Hutton has produced his final report on the future of public sector pensions. But even before the report, according to the TUC, the value of these pensions had been reduced by 25 per cent due to a mix of negotiated changes and the government’s arbitrary switch to the Consumer Price Index as a measure of inflation.

But other Hutton recommendations will worsen the situation.

The recommendation to end final salary schemes and increase the Normal Pension Age (NPA) for all staff to 65 will impact badly on existing and future public servants.

Unfortunately public sector unions have already

Libyan rebels in retreat

Published on: Wed, 16/03/2011 - 18:06

The initial successes of the uprising in the east of Libya gave comfort to those who were looking for the complete elimination of the Qaddafi regime. The taking of cities close to Tripoli gave some grounds for optimism that the uprising, backed by the defection of large parts of the military, would soon move on to take Tripoli.

There are now reports that Misurata has been taken back by government forces and critically Brega may be about to be retaken. Rebel troops in Brega are apparently taking shelter in the old refinery — which Qadaffi’s forces are reluctant to bomb as it is the central oil

24 March: strike across post-16 education

Published on: Wed, 16/03/2011 - 18:02

University and College Union members in both higher and further will be on strike over the next ten days over pensions, pay and jobs.

University strikes over pensions will take place in Scotland on 17 March, Wales on 18 March, Northern Ireland on 21 March and England on 22 March. Then on 24 March university lecturers across the UK will strike over pensions, jobs and pay, alongside members in further education striking over pay.

The 24th is also the national day of action in defence of ESOL provision.

Bringing in virtually the whole of UCU, this is the most significant industrial action yet

We can beat cuts!

Published on: Wed, 16/03/2011 - 17:56

Wirral TUC relaunched Wirral Against the Cuts in order to campaign against closures of care homes.

We leafleted care homes, organised meetings, and a lobby of the budget meeting, and one of the users of the Fernleigh centre who we met put in for a legal injuction.

The Fernleigh centre is the only centre providing support and respite for those with mental health problems.

Now Wirral council have backed down and Fernleigh is to stay open for at least 12 months.

We need to let people know that it is possible to win precious small victories by organising campaigns such as this.

RMT young members get organised

Published on: Wed, 16/03/2011 - 17:50

RMT Young Members held their largest ever conference on 25-26 February.

Fifty delegates might not sound a lot for a union of 80,000 members, 11,000 of whom are under 30. But four years ago there were just nine delegates. Young RMT activists have worked hard to build the conference over recent years; this reflects increasing participation of young RMT members.

The conference focused on the fight against cuts. RMT General Secretary Bob Crow described the Government’s cuts as an attack on the working class of historic scale: “This will be the first generation where parents leave behind worse

Rape services X Factor and "petition wars"

Published on: Wed, 16/03/2011 - 17:43

Cambridgeshire’s ruling Tories are running a “Participatory Budgeting Project” for Violence Against Women and Girls projects in Cambridgeshire. Residents can vote for which VAWG projects get funding of up to £3,000 — and which get nothing.

Cambridge Rape Crisis is the only specialist VAWG organisation who has gone in for the vote (to avoid similar organisations competing). The service is a lifeline to women and girls who have experienced rape and sexual abuse. Funding will enable them to start running face-to-face counselling again.

It is disgusting that essential services are put up against

Public health cuts mean shorter lives

Published on: Wed, 16/03/2011 - 17:38

Oxfordshire’s Heath Scrutiny Committee is being lobbied by unions and service users to order the Primary Care Trust to launch a full public consultation on public health cuts.

Oxford is a city of extremes: men and women living in the working class estates of the city die seven and six years earlier than those a few miles away in affluent areas of Oxford.

Over the last five years the NHS Public Health Directorate has put together specialist teams to improve life expectancy for working people. Now the PCT, to save cash, proposes that these teams are sacked without even consulting with the

Lib Dem protest: build a political campaign!

Published on: Wed, 16/03/2011 - 17:35

The Liberal Democrats at their Spring Conference in Sheffield (11-14 March) were safe enough — both politically and physically — behind the security barriers.

The police presence was enormous at the demonstration on Saturday 12 March with around 1,000 cops and horses manning fences, a mobile metal riot wall-barrier.

All this — a largely passive protest of 3-5,000 — cost £2 million to local people. An outrage to a city slashed by cuts.

Following a mostly quiet march, protestors massed outside the City Hall compound and heard a multitude of speakers, including some trade unionists and several

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