Solidarity 230, 18 January 2012

The sadistic logic of capitalist cuts

Published on: Wed, 18/01/2012 - 14:04

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, millionaire Iain Duncan Smith, has pledged to cut the cost of benefits for disabled people by 20% — one of the “reforms” embedded in the Welfare Reform Bill.

The House of Lords recently voted down some of the measures relating to disability benefits on the grounds that they are arbitrary and gratuitously mean. Quite right!

None of the “reforms” in Welfare Reform Bill are about improving the benefit system for the people whose daily lives depend upon it but this reality is pushed into stark relief by the measures aimed at disabled people.

The reforms

Workers' organisation key to safety at sea

Published on: Wed, 18/01/2012 - 14:00

The causes of the tragic capsizing of the cruise liner Costa Concordia will hopefully soon be found.

But seafarers and their unions around the world have been warning about the safety standards on board ships for years.

By those accounts ships at greatest risk are those that sail under a "flag of convenience" (the practice of registering a merchant ship in a sovereign state different from that of the ship's owners). This avoids complying with the more stringent safety and training regulations imposed on ships registered in more economically developed countries.

However as Andrew Linington of

Pensions fight in the balance

Published on: Wed, 18/01/2012 - 13:57

Trade union militants across the labour movement are fighting to rescue the pensions battle from sell-out.

Activists in Unite are fighting to hold their national leadership to account and demanding that they uphold the policies of the union’s National Industrial Sector Committees (NISCs), which have voted to reject the government’s offer and organise further action.

Unite health activist Gill George said in a statement to the union’s United Left group: “The pensions fight is in the balance. A positive intervention by Unite — to implement the policy decision now coming from every single public

Tower Hamlets education workers gear up for jobs fight

Published on: Wed, 18/01/2012 - 13:54

Central Foundation Girls School (CFGS) in Tower Hamlets, East London, has triggered a significant confrontation with trade unions in the borough by announcing a restructure which could see 13 workers lose their jobs and large numbers of support staff face pay cuts.

Bosses claim that the school’s budget is in a terrible condition, forcing them to make cuts. But unions at CFGS have taken the view that the restructure is less about a financial imperative at CFGS and more about the borough-wide education funding priorities of Tower Hamlets local authorities. Unions insist that attacks faced by

More cuts at Doncaster council

Published on: Wed, 18/01/2012 - 13:48

Doncaster council has approved a 4% pay cut for all non-teaching staff, affecting 7,000 workers across the authority.

Unison, which organises local authority workers, is already planning a fightback. Branch secretary Jim Board said: "These plans mean a large number of our members are going to suffer quite a severe pay cut on top of an already falling standard of living.

"We are preparing a ballot and are recommending our members do not accept the pay cut. If they reject it and the council goes ahead then there is a very real threat of industrial action."

Doncaster council workers’ fight

Teacher reinstatement campaign

Published on: Wed, 18/01/2012 - 13:46

Following a disciplinary hearing last week, Duston School National Union of Teachers rep Pat Markey, a humanities teacher with 18 years service, was told of his dismissal by phone from his area union office.

Management at Duston School clearly lacked the decency to inform Pat about his “summary dismissal” in person.

Pat is “guilty” only of opposing Duston School becoming a Foundation Trust School and now an academy, and guilty of trying his best to defend working conditions so that both staff and pupils can work and study in reasonable conditions.

Local activists are mounting a defence

Stagecoach drivers strike again

Published on: Wed, 18/01/2012 - 13:41

Stagecoach bus drivers in South Yorkshire struck again on Monday 16 January after overwhelmingly rejecting bosses’ latest offer in a long-running pay battle.

Workers voted by 206 to 89 to reject the offer and continue fighting. Stagecoach are mounting a desperate strike-breaking operation, attempting to bribe Stagecoach workers from around the country (allegedly from as far afield as the Isle of Skye) to come to South Yorkshire to drive scab buses.

Workers are demanding an increase to £9.05 an hour, with back-pay. Management’s latest offer met the pay demand, but refused back-pay.

Messages of

La Senza workers occupy

Published on: Wed, 18/01/2012 - 13:34

La Senza workers are occupying one of their company’s stores in Dublin’s Liffey Valley shopping centre as bosses attempt to make workers pay for a downturn in company fortunes.

Lingerie retailer La Senza went into administration in December and has sold off several of its outlets. Workers fear that they won’t receive overtime payments for December, and occupiers have accused management of using administration as a “smokescreen” to restructure the company and make workers redundant. Over 1,000 La Senza workers have already lost their jobs.

“At every stage in the process, workers have been

Sparks to re-ballot

Published on: Wed, 18/01/2012 - 13:22

Unite will re-ballot its members at Balfour Beatty Engineering Services in attempt to defeat the Building Engineering Services National Agreement (BESNA), the new collective “agreement” being imposed on mechanical and electrical construction workers by Balfour Beatty and six other major construction contractors.

A previous strike ballot returned a majority for action, but electricians were forced to strike unofficially after Unite cancelled the strike following legal threats from BBES.

The rank-and-file committee that has been the de facto leadership of the campaign against BESNA reports that

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