Solidarity 241, 11 April 2012

Spain pushes “pay for health care”

Published on: Wed, 11/04/2012 - 10:40

Spain’s new conservative government is planning to change Spain’s health service so that the sick will have to pay a fee for medical examinations, doctors’ visits and prescriptions.

Health care in Spain is currently free at the point of need, as in Britain’s NHS.

Already (on 14 March) Catalonia has legislated a one-euro fee for prescriptions, on top of a means-tested requirement to pay up to 40% of the cost of medications. Britain’s Health and Social Care Act (passed on 20 March) points in the same direction. By thoroughly “marketising” health provision, it makes the introduction of fees for

Syria: slaughter and duplicity

Published on: Wed, 11/04/2012 - 10:36

Syrian regime leader, Bashar Assad, fighting to smash the year-long uprising against his dictatorship, agreed to a UN-Arab League plan with a 10 April deadline for a ceasefire.

But the deal, which Assad felt forced to formally accept, is now almost certain to fall apart as the state steps up the violence against its own citizens.

Several towns, including Homs, Deraa and the Douma suburb of Damascus, are being shelled. 100 killings were reported in the two days leading up to the deadline.

On Monday 9 April Syrian forces fired across the Turkish border into a camp for Syrian refugees near the

Unite “aims for” strike on 10 May

Published on: Wed, 11/04/2012 - 10:31

A recent decision by the leadership of the Unite union’s health section to “aim for” another strike over pensions on 10 May offers a glimmer of hope in the battle to revive a national industrial campaign on the issue.

NHS workers in Unite voted by 94% to reject the government’s pensions deal, but Unite officials mobilised against left-wingers on its National Industrial Sector Committees (NISCs) to prevent the union giving a lead on, or participating in, strike action since 30 November. According to Gill George, a Socialist Workers’ Party member on the health NISC, there has been a “change of

MMP lock out battle needs industrial action

Published on: Wed, 11/04/2012 - 10:26

Bosses at the Mayr Melnhof Packaging (MMP) plant in Deeside locked up the facility in advance of a community picket organised by workers locked out of MMP's Bootle plant and their supporters.

The picket was part of an attempt by the locked-out Bootle workers to build solidarity for their dispute by reaching out to Deeside workers.

On Sunday 1 April, Unite held a meeting to discuss its strategy for the campaign. This focuses on legal action in court and through Employment Tribunals (including claims for unfair dismissal and claims under TUPE regulations) and a “leverage” campaign targeting

Tube: co-ordinate battles

Published on: Wed, 11/04/2012 - 10:21

Transport union RMT is fighting disputes against several employers in London Transport, and activists are trying to maximise their effect through co-ordination.

The disputes include battles over pensions and passes involving maintenance workers at Tube Lines, London Underground service controllers’ and signallers’ fight against threats to jobs, pay and union recognition on maintenance contractor companies, and cleaners’ battles over pay and the right to the same travel passes other Tube workers have.

All the battles take place against the backdrop of the ongoing campaign to secure a decent

NUT grassroots get organised as leadership moves to block pensions fightback

Published on: Wed, 11/04/2012 - 10:17

At the National Union of Teachers conference, in Torquay between 6 and 10 April, activists finally began to get organised to fight for rank-and-file control in the fight over pensions. The behaviour of the NUT leadership at the conference, and the official "left" that supports it, showed how much such a rank-and-file movement is needed.

On the opening Friday night of the conference, NUT associations (branches) from across the country organised a fringe meeting to discuss the way forward for getting further national action, under the "Local Associations for Action on Pensions" banner. It was

Anti-semitism explained away

Published on: Wed, 11/04/2012 - 09:59

The slippery, urbane face of Islamism, Tariq Ramadan, has excelled himself explaining away the actions of Islamist murderer Mohamed Merah.

Ramadan, proving Merah was no Islamic militant, writes that, “Two weeks before the shooting… he spent an evening in a nightclub in a very festive mood.”

Hardly unique. The BBC reported that “Many [of the 2004 Madrid train bombers] appeared westernised and integrated into the Spanish community, with a liking for football, fashion, drinking and Spanish girlfriends.”

Ramadan assures us: “Religion was not Mohamed Merah’s problem ; nor is politics.” Merah was

The “second coming” of George Galloway

Published on: Wed, 11/04/2012 - 09:45

Some parts of the left have greeted Respect’s success in Bradford West with what can properly be described as religious enthusiasm. Writing over the Easter weekend on Britain’s most widely read socialist blog, one long-time activist even described the spectacular by-election overturn as “the second coming”.

What George Galloway — a politician who frequently plays on his Catholic devotion — makes of such implicit comparisons between him and Christ, I cannot guess. But while his victory may not be quite the equivalent of walking on water, the sheer scale of what was achieved is beyond dispute.


As we were saying: The Falklands and the war of 1982

Published on: Wed, 11/04/2012 - 09:32

The Falkland Islands, small specks in the South Atlantic, were annexed by Britain and settled by British people in the 1830s. There had been no previous indigenous population.

A century and a half later, in the 1970s and 80s, the islands were an odd little relic of empire. They had no huge economic or strategic importance. Their 1,800 or so inhabitants, many of whom would move on to more clement climates after their time in the Falklands, had no desire to separate from Britain.

Argentina had long laid claim to the islands — calling them the Malvinas — on the grounds that it was the nearest

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