Solidarity 279, 20 March 2013

Civil servants strike on Budget Day

Published on: Thu, 21/03/2013 - 11:38

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!

The government’s policies of pay restraint and pay freezes have seriously eaten into the living standards of the lowest paid civil servants over the past years. They face another hike in pension contributions this April with a further, final increase in April 2014.

The 20 March

Tories test water on strike bans

Published on: Thu, 21/03/2013 - 11:34

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.

Many of the workers affected are immigration and customs officers, people whose work frequently involves state violence against immigrants and asylum seekers. Their jobs are ones which socialists want to see radically reformed and repurposed entirely. But their right to withdraw their labour is what creates the

Leveson drama glosses over the real scandal

Published on: Thu, 21/03/2013 - 11:30

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.

All that has been glossed over. Ed Miliband and the Labour leadership did

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Thu, 21/03/2013 - 11:26

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.

The City of London’s “City Cash” account holds over £1 billion, and Mitie’s own profits were at £52

How German revolutionary workers wrote the “united front”

Published on: Thu, 21/03/2013 - 11:13

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.

Previous Marxist programmes had included the Communist Manifesto (1848), the

George Julian Harney: England's first Marxist?

Published on: Thu, 21/03/2013 - 10:59

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.

One of those arrested

Seventy per cent probation privatisation plan

Published on: Thu, 21/03/2013 - 10:56

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.

In my office, many workers of all grades are no longer content with their position within

Greece: left and unions must unite to fight racism

Published on: Thu, 21/03/2013 - 10:53

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.

Dendias promised to accelerate the construction of the fence

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