Solidarity 273, 6 February 2013

Workers plan action to defend Bob Carnegie

Published on: Tue, 05/02/2013 - 20:51

Australian construction workers and dock workers will take action on Monday 11 February in solidarity with Bob Carnegie, as construction bosses begin their court case to victimise him for his role in a successful construction dispute in August-October 2012.

In London, protest on 11 February, 1pm outside Broadgate Tower, near Liverpool Street station.

Paddy Crumlin, the National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), which represents dock workers, and the CFMEU, which represents construction workers, have called on their members to take action on 11 February. The Queensland Council

Council tax benefit cuts hit poor

Published on: Tue, 05/02/2013 - 20:46

From April, the system of funding council tax benefit is being “devolved” to local authorities, but with only 90% of funds being made available.

Thus, every local authority will face a 10% shortfall which has to be made up. It is to be left up to individual councils to decide how to do this, but it will almost certainly mean that those who pay no or very little council tax will lose some of the benefit they currently receive.

Because of “redistributive factors”, and certain exemptions that will remain, this loss will be substantially higher than 10%.

This cut, coming on top of all the other

Boom for profiteers

Published on: Tue, 05/02/2013 - 20:42

According to research by investment bank Seymour Pierce, the public sector is likely to be contracting-out £101 billion worth of work by 2014-15.

Already the value of contracts awarded each year has doubled in four years since 2008. The rise has not been steady, but rapidly increasing in the last year.

60% of the contracts awarded in 2012 were from local authorities rather than central government, but the bankers say “healthcare is also seen as a growth market, with the value of private sector deals rising from £157 million to £552 million between 2008 and 2012”.

Industrial reports

Published on: Tue, 05/02/2013 - 20:38

On Saturday 2 February, around 70 cleaners held an angry and inspiring protest at the Barbican Centre in London.

Cleaners at the City of London Corporation’s prestigious arts centre are demanding pay increases to £8.55 an hour (the “London Living Wage”) from their current wage of £6.19.

One female worker who was pregnant was forced to work with dangerous chemicals and carry out unsuitable tasks. She very nearly lost her baby. The manager responsible for this still works at the Barbican and working practices remain the same. Mitie is refusing to recognise and negotiate with the

Ballot in anti-victimisation fight

Published on: Tue, 05/02/2013 - 20:29

Teachers at Bishop Challoner School in East London will hold an indicative ballot for strikes against the victimisation of an NUT rep.

School managers are taking revenge for a successful campaign to resist a draconian observation and inspection policy.

NUT rank and file pushes for strikes

Published on: Tue, 05/02/2013 - 20:27

Activists at National Union of Teachers (NUT) “pay briefings” have called on the Executive to reverse its decision of 24 January and name dates for strikes against Michael Gove’s pay reforms as soon as possible.

The London briefing on 30 January had an almost-unanimous show of hands for a strike in March. Joe Flynn, from Croydon NUT, told Solidarity: “Speaker after speaker expressed bewilderment at the lack of strike action announced so far and emphasised that one day of action alone would not be enough to win.” The same mood had prevailed at the much bigger London meeting on 19 January.


Is Gove irreversible?

Published on: Tue, 05/02/2013 - 20:24

On the day of the June 1987 General Election journalist Peter Wilby, then education editor of the Independent, predicted that “The return of a Conservative government… will mean the break-up of the state education system which has existed since 1944”.

It has taken twenty-five years, but it looks as if Wilby will see his prediction come true.

Education Secretary Michael Gove’s war aim is now clear. In one electoral term he will fragment the education system and parcel it out amongst academy sponsors (and supporters of free schools) so that a future Labour government would baulk at restoring a

Keeping their dreams alive

Published on: Tue, 05/02/2013 - 20:21

Tim Thomas previews Ken Loach’s new documentary, The Spirit of ’45.

Ken Loach’s documentary, to be released in March, is probably not going to be seen at your local cinema. You are more likely to be offered Sylvester Stallone in Bullet to the Head (two stars and totally worthless).

Spirit of ’45 should be shown in every cinema in the land but it won’t be; you can maybe catch it on Film Four. You might guess the reason why!

The production team (Sixteen Films) are letting groups book it for public film showings. Getting this film shown depends on you.

It is a film about the General Election of

Syriza: reverse drift to right!

Published on: Tue, 05/02/2013 - 20:18

Greece’s three-party coalition government, under the leadership of Antonis Samaras and the right-wing New Democracy (ND) party, is trying to stabilise itself.

It is trying to construct an alliance with the most reactionary and backward elements of the Greek population — conservative older people, and petty bourgeois layers who yearn for “law and order”. And it could succeed.

The latest polls are showing a stagnation of support for the left-wing party Syriza, which nearly won an election in June 2012. Of course the polls cannot be trusted, but it would be foolish to ignore their evidence.


Alfred Rosmer: From revolutionary syndicalism to Trotskyism

Published on: Tue, 05/02/2013 - 20:16

Alfred Rosmer (1877-1964) was a leading figure in the French revolutionary syndicalist union movement at the turn of the 20th century. Along with many others in that movement he joined the French Communist Party when it was created after the Russian revolution. Later he became an ally of Leon Trotsky.

Rosmer was born in America, the son of a worker who had fled France after the Paris Commune of 1871. In 1884 the family returned to France. Rosmer became attracted to anarchism while working as a proof-reader.

Rosmer became a militant in the revolutionary syndicalist Confédération générale du

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