Solidarity 232, 1 February 2012

Pensions: make unions commit to action now!

Unions which have not accepted the Government’s so-called “final” formula for public sector pensions are talking about a further strike on the issue in late March, and more action beyond that.

But activists in those unions, and especially in the officially “left-wing” unions, will have to fight hard:

• to make sure the further strike happens;

• that it is energetically organised, and not just a limp token protest;

Partial victory for Palestinian quarry workers

The struggle of the Salit quarry workers, in the occupied West Bank (Palestine), has concluded in a partial victory, with workers winning a financial settlement but not securing a commitment from contractors taking over work at the quarry to re-employ them.

Seize the bankers' loot!

Bonus payouts in banking and finance totalled £14 billion in 2011.

Most of these bonuses go to a top few. The government-owned Royal Bank of Scotland paid out £1 billion in 2011, when it had made a thumping loss, and plans to pay out £0.5 billion this year. Having persuaded top RBS boss Simon Hester to waive his £1 million bonus, prime minister David Cameron now says he “will not micro-manage” the bonuses paid to other RBS chiefs this year, some of them much higher than Hester's million. He hopes the fuss will have died down by the time other banks announce their bonuses.

Syria: fighting draws closer to Damascus

The Arab League has suspended its monitoring operation in Syria.

It has effectively accepted that the initiative — which should have seen political prisoners released, the army move away from urban areas, and a dialogue open with the opposition — has failed. The one-party Syrian state has continued to butcher its own citizens under the noses of the Arab League’s observers.

UCU strike on edge

The remarkable turnaround which saw the University and College Union (UCU) name 1 March as the day for further action in the Teachers Pension Scheme dispute (TPS, which covers workers in “post-92” universities and FE colleges) was won by the UCU National Executive Committee in the face of stern opposition from UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt.

Reinstate Alberto Durango!

The Industrial Workers of the World Cleaners and Allied Grades Branch Secretary Alberto Durango has been sacked from his job at the Heron Tower in London by the contractor Incentive FM Group Ltd.

It is an act of victimisation of a leading union activist well known for campaigning to defend and improve the conditions of workers in the cleaning industry.

In August 2011 IWW secured a significant success on the London Living Wage for cleaners at Heron Tower and in defence of victimised staff. Since the then there have been those seeking revenge against Alberto and the IWW.

HMRC strike pushes tax deadline

HM Revenue and Customs workers struck on 31 January.

The strike was in opposition to the appointment of private companies (Sitel and Teleperformance) to run call-handling trials in HMRC contact centres in Cumbria and Bathgate (Scotland).

The trials are due to begin in February, and the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) warns that they could open to door to further privatisation within HMRC.

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