Solidarity 237, 7 March 2012

Tax the rich at 75%? At least!

Published on: Wed, 07/03/2012 - 10:35

François Hollande, candidate of the Socialist Party in the French presidential election coming up on 22 April and 6 May, has called for 75% tax on incomes above a million euros.

Supporters of incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy have expressed outrage and muttered about “confiscation”, but polls show 61% of voters backing the policy and only 29% against.

At present the highest marginal income-tax rate in France is 41% (on pay above 70,830 euros: similar to the 40% highest rate in Britain, on pay above £34,371, before the 50% band for pay above £150,000 was introduced in April 2010). In fact,

Get Carter!

Published on: Wed, 07/03/2012 - 10:31

The NHS Cooperation and Competition Panel (CCP) was set up by the last government as part of its drive to intensify the NHS market.

Controversy over potential conflicts of interest for its chairman Lord Patrick Carter of Coles, have just surfaced (Guardian 5 March) — three years after he first took up the job.

Under the Health and Social Care Bill the CCP will be merged with another regulatory body, Monitor, and Monitor will oversee a gigantic expansion of private sector companies in the NHS.

Patrick Carter founded and built up Westminster Health Care (a private nursing home company) in the

Locked-out workers vote to fight on

Published on: Wed, 07/03/2012 - 10:20

Workers at the Meyr-Meinhoff Packaging plant in Bootle, Liverpool have voted on 5 March to continue their pickets of the factory.

At a union meeting, workers voted 138 to 1 to reject the management’s derisory offer and continue with the dispute. They have now been locked out since 18 February.

The company have been spreading lies to their other plants over the nature of the dispute and have been accusing the workers of “intimidating behaviour” — no doubt the children’s football matches, barbeque and stuffed donkey are all very frightening. The workers have organised an ongoing blockade of the

Pensions strikes in Scotland

Published on: Wed, 07/03/2012 - 10:15

NHS workers in Scotland will begin rolling strikes from 12 March as part of the ongoing battle over pensions.

Workers will strike on a local basis, with workers at the Ayrshire Central Hospital taking part in the first wave and further local action in Edinburgh, Lanarkshire and Glasgow expected later in the month.

The strikes will attempt to reverse a Scottish Government decision to impose a 2.4% increase in employee contributions from 1 April.

Writing on the UnionNews website, Tom Waterson, the chair of Unison Scotland’s Health Committee, said “Our members have been demanding action on this

Tanker drivers' struggle

Published on: Wed, 07/03/2012 - 10:12

After drivers working for logistics firm Wincanton took two rounds of seven-day strike action in February, the Unite union will ballot 2,000 fuel tanker drivers for national strike action.

Drivers across the fuel haulage industry are facing attacks on jobs and conditions. Unite wants to end what it calls the “contract merry-go-round and beat-the-clock culture” now endemic in the industry. Companies where workers will be balloted are Wincanton, DHL, Hoyer, BP, J.W Suckling, Norbert Dentressangle and Turners, accounting for 90% of distribution to the UK’s petrol station forecourts.

Unite

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 07/03/2012 - 10:10

Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) in Merseyside struck for three hours on Monday 5 March.

The strike was part of an attempt to stop the transfer of 100 workers from local job centres to centralised call centres.

29 job centres and two existing call centres were affected by the action.

Carillion workers launch more strikes

Carillion workers at Great Western Hospital in Swindon will take a further five days of strike action from 8 March, followed by another 7 days from 17 March.

The strikes involve porters and auxiliary workers working on a PFI contract.

They are part of

State colludes with bosses to blacklist workers

Published on: Wed, 07/03/2012 - 10:06

Information has emerged that implicates the police and intelligence services in a comprehensive operation to help construction industry employers monitor and ultimately blacklist radical workers.

The organisation behind the data collection is the “Consulting Association”, a clandestine body funded by many of the construction industry’s major employers. But the records it gathered were so detailed as to make it almost inconceivable that its data came from any other source except official police records.

Firms behind the “Consulting Association” include Balfour Beatty, whose Engineering Services

The Marxism of José Carlos Mariátegui

Published on: Wed, 07/03/2012 - 10:01

There is a rich and authentic tendency of Latin American Marxism, in which José Carlos Mariátegui is probably the brightest star. His contribution during the 1920s has rightly earned him the epitaph of Latin America’s Gramsci.

The publication of José Carlos Mariátegui: An Anthology, edited by Harry Vanden and Marc Becker (Monthly Review, 2011) is therefore welcome. This is the most comprehensive selection of his works so far to appear in English. The texts in the book are well worth reading, but the choice of selections and the editorial interpretation detract somewhat from its value.

Openings for the far right

Published on: Wed, 07/03/2012 - 09:52

The English Defence League (EDL) recently split, with the “Infidels”, a more explicitly racist and pro-fascist grouping, breaking off.

The EDL leadership has also formed a relationship with the British Freedom Party (BFP), a splinter group from the British National Party (BNP). And BFP is attempting to position itself as the sister party to European right-wing populist groups such as the Dutch and Austrian Freedom Parties. How do these developments fit into the wider European picture?

Far-right populism and anti-immigration sentiment has a foothold right across mainland Europe. The recently

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