Solidarity 225, 17 November 2011

“The alternative” is working-class control

Published on: Wed, 23/11/2011 - 12:34

By Maria Exall

The joint union action on 30 November looks set to be the biggest strike for a generation. The fact that so many public sector workers are protesting against being forced to pay for the crisis caused by the excesses of the financial services sector and the failure of neo-liberal economic orthodoxy is good and necessary. We need resistance.

It has the potential to move things forward both on the public sector pensions issue and on the wider ideological matter of the necessity of a cuts agenda. However, resistance is not enough. No matter how big or successful N30 is, there are

The police are a lethal weapon

Published on: Wed, 16/11/2011 - 14:20

In the days leading up to the student demonstration on 9 November, the Metropolitan Police announced that police would be able to fire plastic bullets [aka baton rounds] at protestors.

In Northern Ireland, between 1970-2005, 125,000 baton rounds were fired. They killed 17 people, the last in 1989. A larger number of people were permanently injured after being shot.

Plastic bullets are a so-called “less-lethal” weapon, allegedly to be used against individuals who pose an immediate physical threat, by being armed and dangerous. Their use in policing was pioneered in Northern Ireland; their use

Don't cut Sure Start!

Published on: Wed, 16/11/2011 - 14:16

The government’s own figures say there are now 124 fewer Sure Start centres than there were when the coalition took office.

Sure Start Centres provide childcare, play opportunities for under fives as well as support for parents such as healthcare and job training.

For children, for parents, for the poorest families headed-up by single parents, and women in particular they have been — or at least could have been — a life line.

Before the last election Cameron said, “Not only do we back Sure Start, but we will improve it, because at the moment the people who need Sure Start the most —

Huge win for Carlisle cleaners

Published on: Wed, 16/11/2011 - 14:14

Union officials have hailed a “groundbreaking” achievement by cleaning workers employed by Carlisle Cleaning and Support Services (CCSS) on the Virgin West Coast Mainline, who called off a planned 48-hour strike after bosses agreed to their demand for a 10% pay rise.

The workers will receive a 5% rise immediately, with an increase of a further 5% phased in over the next 10 months.

The latest victory means that, when the full increase is implemented, the workers will have secured wage increases of nearly 25% in total since last June, moving from £5.80 to £7.12 an hour. Impellam Group, the

Make Labour support the pensions strike

Published on: Wed, 16/11/2011 - 14:12

Some Labour councillors, and some full councils, have now declared their support for the 30 November strike.

Labour councillors in Islington were lambasted by their Tory counterparts for supporting the strike, and a motion in support of the action was passed by Lambeth’s Labour council on Wednesday 9 November. The motion, which "supports local government employees in defending their pension scheme", was passed by a margin of 40 votes to 17, while a Lib Dem amendment which asked trade unions not to take strike action was voted down by 18 to 39. In Tower Hamlets, former Labour councillor Rania

Rank-and-file control on N30

Published on: Wed, 16/11/2011 - 14:04

By Patrick Murphy, Leeds National Union of Teachers (pc), and Ira Berkovic

It now looks as if events in Leeds on 30 November will be lively and big, but only after local trade unions decided they had to take control of organising for themselves in the face of an attempt by the regional TUC to shape the day without consulting us.

The Yorkshire Region TUC set up a small sub-committee which planned four rallies across the region (in Bradford, Sheffield, Leeds and Hull). The plan is for each of the ’bigwig’ speakers to be followed by a couple of ‘ordinary workers’, and to have the whole thing

New Zealand: class-based Maori party formed

Published on: Wed, 16/11/2011 - 13:55

A new political movement allying social justice and indigenous rights is gathering strength in New Zealand in the run up to the general election.

Maori-led and class-based, the Mana movement began a few months ago as a localised group contesting a by-election, which they won, and has become a national structure fighting on a number of policies which are for the most part socialist. Though Maori-based, it is not exclusively Maori; some of its leading representatives are European-origin NZers, and it tries to reach out to Islander-origin people.

In the upcoming election they are contesting not

Why governments always run debts

Published on: Wed, 16/11/2011 - 13:46

A five-pound note carries the words: “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of five pounds”, signed by the cashier of the Bank of England. Until 1931 (though with breaks around wars), you could take a five-pound note to the Bank of England and get the equivalent value in gold.

Now, all the Bank of England will “pay the bearer on demand” is... another five-pound note. Money, in Britain as in other countries, is a system of never-paid-off IOUs from the government (or rather from the central bank linked to the government). Those IOUs function as universal equivalent because of laws saying

Socialists and Europe

Published on: Wed, 16/11/2011 - 13:20

Nations have not always existed. In Europe, the growth of trade created units with a common language, culture, laws, tax systems and communications, the nation states which developed between the 16th and 19th centuries.

But then a contradiction developed. The capitalist economy became more and more tied up with the nation state. Today, even after all the Tory talk about “rolling back the state”, the state is still a tremendous factor in the British economy. Over 30% of national income passes through the hands of the state. On the other hand there is a tendency for capital to outgrow the limits

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