Solidarity 292, 17 July 2013

Ireland: abortion ban cracks

Published on: Wed, 17/07/2013 - 12:04

On Thursday 11 July, Irish parliamentarians passed a law finally allowing limited abortion rights in Ireland.

The law, passed by 127 votes to 31, allows for abortion only in cases where a woman’s life is in danger or if she is suicidal.

The new legislation, the first of its kind, does the bare minimum to comply with the 2010 European Court of Human Rights ruling which found that Ireland’s failure to regulate access to abortion was a violation of its human rights obligations.

However, it does not reform or add any new grounds for legal abortion.

The law does not apply to cases of rape and will

Egypt: neither the army nor Morsi!

Published on: Wed, 17/07/2013 - 12:08

The events in Egypt have confounded the image that pundits of both right and left have about the Muslim world — that the people are dominated, or automatically inclined to, Islamist movements.

The movement against Morsi has been a huge popular movement against an Islamist government, and not just any Islamist government either. The Muslim Brotherhood, and its political wing, are in many ways the most formidable Islamist party, and it was democratically elected.

What’s taken place is a coup. It’s not something to celebrate, and is in fact quite dangerous. The fundamental nature of the movement

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 17/07/2013 - 11:57

Further Education workers at Lewisham-Southwark College will strike on Wednesday 17 July against departmental closure and job cuts.

A lunchtime strike rally is planned from 12.45 outside the college on Lewisham Way (SE4 1UT).

Send messages of support to

Cleaning workers’ two-week strike

Cleaning workers on the Tyne and Wear Metro began a fortnight-long strike on Friday 12 July.

The workers are demanding that their employer, cleaning contractor Churchill, pays living wages, as well as gives them sick pay, pensions, and travel pass equality with directly-employed

“3 Cosas” news

Published on: Wed, 17/07/2013 - 11:53

The “3 Cosas” campaign of outsourced workers at the University of London for sick pay, holiday, and pensions equality organised a week-long “planton” at the university’s flagship Senate House building on 8-13 July.

The planton (from the Spanish “plantar”, meaning to plant or install – there is no direct English translation, but the nearest equivalent is “presence”) involved holding all-day stalls outside Senate House offering tea, coffee, biscuits, and (most importantly) information about the campaign and the union to members of staff. New members were signed up to the IWGB University of

Postal workers strike

Published on: Wed, 17/07/2013 - 11:46

Postal workers in Bridgewater, Somerset struck on Saturday 6 July in a dispute over job cuts and management bullying.

Communication Workers Union (CWU) rep Dave Chapple said the strike was “one of the best we’ve ever had”, with over 100 workers taking part.

Union reps have promised escalation if the dispute is not resolved.

In Peterborough, 170 postal workers held a wildcat strike following the suspension of a union rep.

There was also a strike at a delivery office in Plymouth. The CWU said members are fed up with increasing levels of bullying and harassment from bosses.

The strikes come in

RMT: “all-out fight” on job cuts

Published on: Wed, 17/07/2013 - 11:41

Over 100 jobs on the London Overground network could be lost, as London Overground Rail Operations Ltd. (LOROL) seeks to move to “driver-only operation” (DOO).

The immediate impulse for cut is a 12.5% cut in central government funding for Transport for London, announced in George Osborne’s 26 June spending review. Moving towards DOO is also key recommendation of the McNulty Review into railway industry reform.

LOROL wants to implement DOO by December 2013, and, according to rail union RMT, plan to begin the process even if the new staffing arrangement has not been safety-certified.

A union

Firefighters ballot for national strike

Published on: Wed, 17/07/2013 - 11:30

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will ballot members from 18 July for national strike action after the government issued an ultimatum over changes to firefighters’ pensions.

The ballot, which lasts until the end of August, is expected to produce a large yes vote, with strikes likely in September if a settlement is not reached before then.

Why are firefighters balloting at this late stage of the pensions battle? Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Expecting large numbers of 60 year olds to fight fires and rescue families is dangerous to the public and to firefighters. The government is

Syriza faces new challenges

Published on: Wed, 17/07/2013 - 11:11

For the congress on 10-14 July which transformed Syriza from a coalition into a single party, there was a programmatic proposal from the majority leadership (“mainstream”), which won 68% of the vote, an amendment from the Left Platform which won 30%, and a counter-proposal from another minority.

The keynote speech from Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras was bland. It did not cancel the leftish turn which Tsipras has made since the start of the workers’ occupation at ERT (Greek equivalent of the BBC, which the government wants to shut down), but it did not sharpen it either. It did not return to the

Labour representation, not “payment-by-results”

Published on: Wed, 17/07/2013 - 11:06

In a letter to the Evening Standard on Tuesday 9 July, Jerry Hicks, Len McCluskey’s challenger in the 2013 Unite general secretary election, set out his view for how trade unions should seek political representation.

He believes Unite should give money to the Labour Party on a “payment on results” basis, effectively giving them financial rewards for delivering political favours in office. Hicks said this approach would “make it easier for Ed Miliband”, presumably by ending the permanent, structural (and financial) link between unions and the party. Hicks must have his tongue in his cheek when

Matt Merrigan: a fighter for the Third Camp in Ireland

Published on: Wed, 17/07/2013 - 10:57

Matt Merrigan (1921-2000) was a socialist, trade unionist and one of very few Third Camp Trotskyists in Ireland.

Born into poverty in Dolphin’s Barn, Dublin, Merrigan left school at 13 and worked for twenty years at the Rowntree-Mackintosh chocolate factory. He became a shop steward with the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union (ATGWU), rising to be its national secretary in 1960, a post he held until 1986.

Merrigan’s first contact with the Trotskyist movement came in 1942, when he met Jim McClean and Bob Armstrong, members of the Revolutionary Communist Party [the British

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