Solidarity 244, 2 May 2012

Murdoch scandal: is Cameron next?

There is now a serious possibility that the evidence uncovered in the Leveson Inquiry might bring down David Cameron.

The Tory leader had set up Leveson to isolate himself from the phone-hacking scandal and to manage any damage from his relationship with special adviser and ex-News International editor, Andy Coulson. This also meant Cameron distancing himself from Murdoch and his empire after years of working to get as close to him as possible.

Solidarity can win London schools fight

After the 24 April strike against pay cuts and restructuring at Central Foundation Girls School in East London, school management are showing signs of shifting. They have backtracked from cutting support staff pay this year.

This has only happened because of the united action taken by members of the NUT and Unison. But management still plan to cut pay next year.

CFGS workers plan another strike around 11 May.

Unite debates political strategy

The biennial policy conference of the Unite union takes place at the end of June.

It is important that Unite members take the opportunity to argue for policies which would help make Unite fight politically and industrially against the Tories, and against the Labour Party leadership.

Industrial news in brief

Unite will ballot its 2,500 members at Ford plants across the UK for strike action after the motor industry giant announced plans to close its final-salary pension scheme to new starters.

Attacks on private sector pension schemes are becoming increasingly common. Retail manufacturing company Unilever made a similar move in 2011, sparking several days of strike action in early 2012. According to Ford’s figures, 80% of private-sector employers have closed final-salary schemes to new starters.

UNISON vote rejects pension terms

Despite the best efforts of the Unison leadership, members in the NHS have voted to reject the government's pensions offer and take “sustained industrial action”.

50.4% of members voted to reject the deal and for more strikes, against 49.5% to accept, on a turnout of 14.8%. Given that the official union propaganda that accompanied the ballot papers obscured the issues, presenting the improved “deal” in glowing terms and scaremongered about the effects of further strikes, this is a surprising result.

CWU: not just a partner for Royal Mail and BT!

At this year’s Communication Workers Union (CWU) conference (22-26 April), the controversial issue of the CWU’s role in “workfare” schemes in Royal Mail (RM) was swept under the carpet.

The CWU Executive supported a motion from South Central No 1 branch (which is influenced by the SWP) full of sound and fury about the principle of workfare, but which stopped short of criticising the current use of the system in Royal Mail!

How student workers got organised

Our campaign at Royal Holloway began as an awareness-raising campaign about rights at work.

We put out posters and leaflets around campus which focused on basic rights around pay, terms and conditions, health and safety, and made the basic case for trade unionism.

We held “know your rights” meetings, which we targeted both at university staff and campus students. We established a relationship with the existing GMB branch on campus and found out shift-change times for cleaners, porters and grounds staff so we were able to leaflet them.

The legacy of Agnes McLean

Publicity for this year’s Glasgow May Day demonstration and rally refers to the celebrations including “a tribute to Agnes McLean.”

McLean’s politics and activities were representative of a particular period in the history of the West of Scotland trade union and labour movement. But how far one should pay “tribute” to them is another question.

McLean’s generation grew up in the shadow of “Red Clydeside”. Her father was a member of John MacLean’s Scottish Workers’ Republican Party. As a child she attended a Proletarian Sunday School and then a Socialist Sunday School.

Greece: halfway answers will not serve workers

People on the left in Greece are beginning to believe that a united and electorally empowered left, and a left-wing government, can be the initiator of a popular pro-working-class exit from the crisis.

But there are many political problems along the way.

In the last two polls the combined percentage of what is reckoned as the left (Democratic Left, Syriza, KKE, Greens, Antarsya) was above 30%. The combined percentage of Pasok and the conservative New Democracy party (ND) were below 40%.

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