Solidarity 239, 21 March 2012

Health and Social Care Bill universally condemned

Published on: Wed, 21/03/2012 - 12:19

“I’m not being disingenuous. I really haven’t spoken to anybody who’s in favour of [the Health and Social Care Bill]”, says nurse consultant Andrew Frazer in the Guardian’s “100 NHS Voices” survey.

The Guardian’s interviews of 100 people who work in and around the NHS were heavily skewed in favour of medics, chief executives and other well-healed professionals. However, despite the middle-class bias, it gives a rough picture of where this Bill is at and how it is being understood. There is almost universal condemnation for the plans; their attitude is backed up by the tiny 14% approval rating

Regional pay is poverty pay!

Published on: Wed, 21/03/2012 - 12:06

Chancellor George Osborne wants to make public sector pay rates more “market-facing” and responsive to private sector pay rates. Regional pay bargaining is to be introduced, starting with some departments in the civil service.

Osborne claims that public sector pay has risen twice as fast as private sector in the last four years. This ignores the fact that bank nationalisations in 2009 artificially increased "public sector” pay and decreased private sector pay. Anyway, relatively higher union membership in the public sector should mean that we win better pay rises.

This new attack on our pay

Scots strike for NHS pensions

Published on: Wed, 21/03/2012 - 12:01

Thirty Unison members working in the Central De-Contamination Unit in Ayrshire Central Hospital (Irvine) staged a 48-hour strike on 13-14 March as part of the union’s ongoing campaign in defence of NHS pensions in Scotland.

The unit had been opened just a week earlier by Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon.

“She was happy to meet the staff then, have the plaudits, have the photo opportunities. This week, she’s chosen to ignore us. Rather than come and discuss the pensions issue, she decided to put the legislation through Parliament the same day,” said Unison rep Elaine McLeod.

Unison is

Tube workers reject Olympics bribe

Published on: Wed, 21/03/2012 - 11:58

On Friday 16 March, all workplace reps for stations staff, drivers, service control staff, and maintenance workers met to discuss London Underground Limited (LUL)’s offer for Olympics working. The meeting vote unanimously to reject the offer.

The offer was for an £850 bonus, but some of that included money reallocated from existing bonus packages that we would have got anyway. The new money was a £350 lump-sum plus a £20 bonus per shift worked during the Games. But the offer had substantial strings. For example, on stations staff could be deployed to any station on their group. As some groups

Teachers' union limits strike to London

Published on: Wed, 21/03/2012 - 11:54

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) Executive ignored the views of a huge majority of members (as expressed in an internal survey) and decided not to proceed with a further national strike on pensions on 28 March.

Despite a 73.4% yes to strike action, the majority on the Executive decided that there was insufficient support for continuing action. 15 NEC members pushed a vote to proceed with the action but they were opposed by 24 members, including a significant number who would regard themselves as being on the left of the union.

The NUT leadership have failed to show anything like the

Union leaders surrender on pensions

Published on: Wed, 21/03/2012 - 11:48

The leaders of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) have voted not to call national strike action on 28 March.

PCS leaders claim that, since the government’s policy has been applied across the whole public sector, only nationally-coordinated action by as many unions as possible can win any concessions.

Of course, we are not let into the secret of exactly how many unions are need to win concessions. Only the National Union of Teachers and the University and College Union were even “in the market” to take action alongside PCS on 28 March; after the NUT’s retreat and refusal to call

Unions: not surveys but agitation

Published on: Wed, 21/03/2012 - 11:44

It has become habit for public sector unions, even when they have a legally valid ballot mandate for strikes, to conduct “surveys” of their members to see whether there is a mood for further action.

In the 1960s, sociologist John Goldthorpe undertook a survey of Vauxhall car workers in Luton. His study was technically sound. After detailed analysis he concluded that the workers were content with their working lives, thought well of management, and had no sense of working-class solidarity.

Goldthorpe’s study is now famous for its profound failure to judge the mood. Within a month of

Merseyside: new challenge from far-right

Published on: Wed, 21/03/2012 - 11:39

Phil Dickens is an anti-fascist activist involved in Liverpool Anti-Fascists (LiverAF). He spoke to Solidarity about recent clashes with the English Defence League (EDL) and their splinter organisations.


What’s the current situation with street-based fascist activity in the north west? Who are the “North West Infidels”?

The North West Infidels (NWI) are a splinter group from the English Defence League (EDL). Whilst the EDL bill themselves as “anti-extremist” and liberal/civic nationalists concerned with militant Islam, the NWI have taken a more overtly racist, ethno-nationalist tone, as well

Iran-USA: “You have to oppose both governments”

Published on: Wed, 21/03/2012 - 11:23

Ayob Rahmani of the International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI) spoke to Solidarity.


What do you think about the build-up to war?

I do not think full-scale war — invasion of Iran by the US and its allies — is going to happen. It seems impossible, given the problems the US and its allies have in Afghanistan and Iraq. Politically and militarily they failed to achieve what they intended.

Iran is a big country with around 75 million people and with a bigger and stronger army in a strategic position in the Middle East.

They don’t have the military capacity to put troops into Iran

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