Solidarity 234, 15 February 2012

Pensions: strike on 28 March, plan next action!

Published on: Wed, 15/02/2012 - 13:21

The Executives of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and of the civil service union PCS, meeting on 9 February, decided to call for a new strike to defend public sector pensions on 28 March.

The unions will survey all members, asking them to endorse rejecting the Government’s so-called “final offer” from December and to support further action “beginning with” a strike on 28 March.

The Exec of the lecturers’ union on Friday 10th “unanimously agreed to join with our sister trade unions the NUT and the PCS in co-ordinated strike action on 28 March”. The Exec rejected a call from UCU general

Class struggle explodes in Israel

Published on: Wed, 15/02/2012 - 13:16

A general strike which paralysed the Israeli economy for nearly a week is over — for now.

The strike, called by Histadrut (the main Israeli trade union centre), followed a similar action in November 2011 and focused on the issue of the increasing use of agency labour by public sector employees. It demanded the levelling up of pay and conditions for the 250,000 contract workers, who Histadrut says are paid an average of 30% less than directly-hired staff. Unions ultimately want the government to end the use of agency labour and hire workers directly.

Government sources claim conditions for

Pay cuts for care workers

Published on: Wed, 15/02/2012 - 13:14

Care workers formerly employed by Southern Cross are facing a month without pay as their new employer, Four Seasons, unilaterally announced that it would withhold wages for March 2012.

Four Seasons took over the management of 140 homes in autumn 2011 after Southern Cross went bust, but were themselves already running debts of nearly £800 million. Despite assurances from Four Seasons head Dr. Pete Claveley that the takeover would not lead to any changes in pay or conditions for workers, the company has told workers they will not receive any wages in March 2012 and will be paid on 17 April. Pay

Cleaners fight for their jobs

Published on: Wed, 15/02/2012 - 13:08

Trade unionists will demonstrate outside the offices of NTT Communications Ltd. in London, where cleaning contractor Dynamiq Cleaning and Program Management Ltd. recently sacked its entire workforce for attempting to organise a union.

The workers’ union, the Industrial Workers of the World (Cleaners’ Section) is also involved in a reinstatement battle at the landmark Heron Tower in Liverpool Street, where prominent rep Alberto Durango was sacked when a new contractor, Incentive FM Group Ltd., took over the running of the work.

The protest will take place from 5pm on Friday 17 February at Devon

Council workers strike against cuts

Published on: Wed, 15/02/2012 - 13:05

Workers at Cheshire West and Chester Council staged a three-hour stoppage on Tuesday 14 February to mark the beginning of a campaign of industrial action that will involve selective strikes in coming weeks.

The workers – members of Unite, Unison and GMB – are attempting to force management to abandon a plan to introduce new terms and conditions, which unions say will reduce overtime pay and weekend allowance, by dismissing and re-engaging staff.

GMB organiser Graham McDermott said: “The aim of this industrial action is to oppose the council’s decision to impose changes to terms and conditions

Leeds Labour debates cuts

Published on: Wed, 15/02/2012 - 12:59

On Tuesday 7 February East Leeds and Elmet and Rothwell Labour Party held a public meeting with Owen Jones. They got an impressive 70 people on a very cold Tuesday night.

The speakers from the floor included local trade unionists, old Labour lefties and a few younger people who had joined Labour recently. Many of the contributions were on the money in blaming union leaders for supporting New Labour and not forcing Miliband to support the strikes.

There was talk about re-shaping the Labour Party and the union movement with rank-and-file control, and even from one contributor the need to re

Sparks sweat on court ruling

Published on: Wed, 15/02/2012 - 12:47

As Solidarity went to press, electricians working for Balfour Beatty Engineering Services were still awaiting the outcome of a High Court ruling as to whether their latest strike ballot – which returned a 66% majority for action – is legal.

If the Court rules in favour of the workers’ union, Unite, the earliest conceivable date for an official strike would be 21 February. A strike committee elected from BBES stewards agreed that any walkout would be followed by rolling and selective action as well as action short of a strike, including an overtime ban.

The sparks’ rank-and-file committee have

Eurostar cleaners fight for living wage

Published on: Wed, 15/02/2012 - 12:44

Eurostar cleaners at the company’s flagship St. Pancras terminal will strike for two days on Thursday 16 February.

The workers, who are employed by cleaning contractor Initial, have not received a pay rise for four years. Their bosses’ most recent offer, an increase of just 13p, has been described by their union, RMT, as “insulting”.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “It is a shocking indictment of London as a city that the luxurious Eurostar terminal is cleaned by an exploited workforce on poverty wages and that Network Rail have done nothing to stop Initial from treating their staff like

As we were saying: “Anti-Zionism”

Published on: Wed, 15/02/2012 - 12:37

AWL member Daniel Lemberger Cooper’s victory in the recent [2012] elections at the University of London Union (2-9 February) was won in the teeth of a large campaign, orchestrated by the SWP, branding Cooper a “racist” on the grounds that he is “a Zionist”, i.e. he defends Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself, while also supporting the right of the Palestinians to an independent state of their own alongside Israel.

This recent flurry is an echo of an old argument. In the student movement in Britain, it started in 1974. In April that year, the National Union of Students (NUS) voted for

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