Solidarity 244, 2 May 2012

Murdoch scandal: is Cameron next?

Published on: Wed, 02/05/2012 - 10:12

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.

When Murdoch gave evidence to the Inquiry last week he made it clear that the Tories’ attempt to slip quietly out of bed with News International would

Solidarity can win London schools fight

Published on: Wed, 02/05/2012 - 10:08

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.

This dispute is a breath of fresh air blowing through the local labour movement, which had been demoralised by the surrender of the national union leaderships in the pensions battle.

Wha

Unite debates political strategy

Published on: Wed, 02/05/2012 - 09:50

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.

Over the last six months, Unite has produced a political strategy which outlines its view on how to transform the Labour Party — a policy which, if implemented, would involve Unite fighting against the right-wing political leadership of the Labour Party, for trade union backed MPs, a restoration of democracy and

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 02/05/2012 - 09:47

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.

Unite officer Roger Maddison said: “We fiercely oppose the closure of Ford's final salary scheme to new

UNISON vote rejects pension terms

Published on: Wed, 02/05/2012 - 09:39

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.

Whatever else can be said about the vote, this is clear indication that the membership is not

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

Published on: Wed, 02/05/2012 - 09:31

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!

Although the scheme agreed between the union and Royal Mail contains negotiated guarantees for those taken on, the interaction with the benefits system is unchallenged and

How student workers got organised

Published on: Wed, 02/05/2012 - 09:26

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.

We held a meeting for student workers employed by the

The legacy of Agnes McLean

Published on: Wed, 02/05/2012 - 09:18

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.

It was a generation which

Greece: halfway answers will not serve workers

Published on: Wed, 02/05/2012 - 09:09

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%.

But three main left wing forces — KKE, Syriza and Democratic Left — have come up with three diametrically

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