Solidarity 233, 8 February 2012

Teachers must plan rolling campaign on pensions

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2012 - 14:27

On 2 February over 100 National Union of Teachers branch secretaries met for a national briefing at the union’s HQ in London to discuss the next steps in the pension campaign and to consider resistance to new performance management and capability arrangements which are likely to increase workload and monitoring.

The main business was pensions. The mood was as positive and determined as could be expected given the outright surrender by many unions on public sector pensions, and the lack of action since 30 November by others.

Most agreed that the current “offer” is absolutely unacceptable and

Syria moves closer to civil war

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2012 - 14:23

The Syrian army has used mortars, tanks and heavy machine guns against Khaldiyeh, an area of Homs, in an effort to re-take an area which had become a no-go zone.

The state killed nearly 200 people on Friday 3 February as tank shells destroyed private homes. The bombardment of Homs continued over the weekend, killing many more.

Friday’s killings took place after Syrians came onto the streets to mark the 30th anniversary of a terrible massacre carried out under the direction of Bashar Assad’s father, Hafez. At the beginning of February 1982 perhaps 20,000 people were slaughtered as the regime

Barak threatens to bomb Iran

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2012 - 14:20

On Thursday 2 February, Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak threatened an Israeli missile attack on Iran soon.

He said he believed that Iran’s nuclear programme would soon be so far shifted to heavily-shielded underground centres that bombing could not hinder it.

Washington Post journalist David Ignatius followed up by reporting that US defence secretary Leon Panetta believed there was a “strong likelihood” that Israel would attack Iran’s nuclear program within the next six months — as early as April.

Panetta responded: “Israel indicated they’re considering this [a strike], we’ve indicated our

Unite and PCS to merge?

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2012 - 14:09

Over the past months there have been persistent rumours of a merger between the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) and Unite, Britain’s largest union.

Nothing has been said to members about this possibility, yet the rumours persist. Possibly one reason for the persistence is the realisation that PCS will be broke in the next few years if nothing fundamentally changes. PCS currently has a “cost structure” (i.e. the number of full-time officers [FTOs] and officials and their salary levels) for a union of 320,000 members when it has closer to 250,000 members. The recent national strikes

Tanker drivers extend strike

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2012 - 14:04

Fuel tanker drivers employed by logistics company Wincanton supplying Jet petrol station forecourts across the UK will extend their strike action to Thursday 16 February.

Depots at Immingham (near Hull), Kingsbury (in Staffordshire) and Stockton-on-Tees will be picketed as workers take on their bosses over a number of terms and conditions grievances.

The extension of the strike to 16 February will take the action into a third week. Unite officer Matt Draper said: “Wincanton’s failure to offer these highly skilled drivers security over their futures and their pay and conditions means that the

Journalists set for strike action

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2012 - 13:56

National Union of Journalists members at Thompson Reuters will strike for two days from Monday 9 February after they voted by 83% for action in a dispute over pay.

Bosses have offered a below-inflation increase of 1.75%. NUJ deputy general secretary Barry Fitzpatrick said: “The management is proposing a below-inflation pay deal, while holding back money for a merit scheme. This is just not on.”

Thompson Reuters, whose headquarters are in Canary Wharf in London, has also come under scrutiny for its relationship with cleaning contractor Lancaster, which has been accused of intimidating and hyper

More action at Balfour Beatty

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2012 - 13:51

Unite members working for Balfour Beatty Engineering Services have voted by a 66% majority to take strike action to stop their bosses unilaterally imposing a new agreement for electrical and mechanical construction workers’ terms and conditions.

They also voted by a 70% majority to take action short of a strike.

BBES workers last voted to strike in December but were forced to take action unofficially after Unite caved in the face of BBES legal threats.

BBES bosses will again challenge the ballot result and will seek a High Court injunction on Tuesday 7 February.

The union says that it will

UCU suspends pension action in older universities

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2012 - 13:50

The conference on 31 January of representatives of University and College Union (UCU) branches in “pre-92” (“redbrick”) institutions voted 66 to 41 in favour of suspending industrial action over the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

USS is the pensions scheme for academic workers in pre-92 institutions.

Michael MacNeil — the National Head of Higher Education — gave a lengthy background to the dispute, slanted towards the negotiators’ recommendations.

He told the conference that it would be difficult to escalate action because the employers are ready to make 100% deductions from pay in

PCS: another pensions strike in late March?

Published on: Wed, 08/02/2012 - 13:40

It looks as if the civil service union PCS may move for a further strike on public-sector pensions around 28 March.

Since PCS was the only big union to reject the Government’s December “final offer” on pensions clearly and immediately, a continuing campaign for public-sector pensions hangs heavily on PCS initiative.

The lecturers’ union UCU set a strike for 1 March, but PCS has not come in on that date. The UCU Executive on 10 February is likely to debate whether UCU goes for a later date which PCS might back, or UCU general secretary Sally Hunt succeeds in her efforts to reverse the strike

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