Solidarity 279, 20 March 2013

Civil servants strike on Budget Day

Working-class people saw further attacks in George Osborne’s 20 March budget in the form of cuts to benefits and a continued pay freeze for public sector workers.

However, the strike by PCS members across the civil service on Budget Day — over pay, pensions, and terms and conditions — should help raise our spirits!

Tories test water on strike bans

On 18 March, Parliament began debating a new bill which could remove the right to strike for some civil servants.

The Crime and Courts Bill would prevent staff employed by the National Crime Agency (NCA) from striking. The ban would affect 3,500 members of the civil service union PCS.

Leveson drama glosses over the real scandal

The drama about the last-minute deal between Labour, Lib-Dems, and Tories over measures in response to the Leveson report on the phone-hacking scandal obscures the main issues in the scandal.

By controlling such a large part of the means of communication, through sheer wealth, Rupert Murdoch and his cronies play a large part in the public life of the country. They observe no social responsibility or accountability.

The police and Government advisers, if not ministers, were shown to be in cahoots with the Murdoch empire.

Industrial news in brief

Cleaners at the Barbican in the City of London will strike on Thursday 21 March, the day the antiquated body which runs the City of London Corporation (which owns the Barbican) elects its “Court of Common Council”.

The Corporation has a London Living Wage policy, but has staggered its introduction across various contracts. It has told cleaners at the Barbican, who are employed by Mitie, that they must wait until 2014 to get the Living Wage of £8.55 an hour. They are currently paid £6.19 an hour.

How German revolutionary workers wrote the “united front”

In this second part of a review article looking at the themes of John Riddell’s new book of documents from the early communist movement Toward the United Front: Proceedings of the Fourth Congress of the Communist International (Haymarket, 2012), Paul Hampton discusses the concepts of transitional demands and the united front.

The first three congresses of the post-Russian revolution Communist International (Comintern) had not elaborated a programme of demands, although they had issued manifestos and declarations.

George Julian Harney: England's first Marxist?

George Julian Harney (1817-1897) was a radical Chartist leader who became a pioneer of English revolutionary socialism.

Born in Deptford, Harney decided against following his father’s maritime career and became a shop-boy for Henry Hetherington, editor of the Poor Man’s Guardian. Hetherington, whose paper advocated the “cause of the rabble… the poor, the suffering, the industrious, the productive classes,” refused to pay the 4d. stamp duty on each paper sold. In the early 1830s, twenty-five of his forty paper sellers went to prison for selling the unstamped publication.

Seventy per cent probation privatisation plan

The government plans to privatise 70% of the entire national probation service by 2015, leaving just “high-risk offender management” to public probation trusts.

The proposals are not evidence-based; there is not a single shred of evidence to suggest the service will be more effective with a privatised, payment-by-results system. The probation service has in fact been successful in reducing re-offending rates year on year, so there is simply no reasonable argument to privatise. It’s purely ideological.

Greece: left and unions must unite to fight racism

Racism is a key component of Greece’s three party coalition government. This was emphatically confirmed when last summer the Minister of Public Order, Nikos Dendias, launched a fierce attack in Parliament on “illegal immigrants”.

He claimed that “an incredibly large number of immigrants are involved in serious crime”. He forgot to say that the vast majority of “foreign immigrants” are EU citizens, not “illegal”, and that the overall involvement of “Greeks” in crime has increased rapidly since 2010, due to widespread impoverishment.

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