Solidarity 295, 11 September 2013

“Boris Bike” rep wins tribunal

Published on: Tue, 10/09/2013 - 20:49

An Employment Tribunal has ruled that Zack Dahou, a leading trade union rep employed by Serco Barclays on the “Boris Bike” municipal cycle scheme, was unfairly dismissed and that his dismissal was linked to his trade union activities.

The victory comes in the context of union advances in the workplace, with a recent strike against unilateral shift changes and bullying management securing the removal of the two worst managerial culprits and a management agreement to consider union proposals for shift patterns.

The Rail, Maritime, and Transport workers union (RMT) is growing amongst “Boris Bike”

Firefighters move closer to strikes

Published on: Tue, 10/09/2013 - 20:46

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have voted strongly for strike action over the government’s pension proposals which could see the first national firefighters’ strike for a decade.

FBU members voted almost four-to-one (78%) on a 60% turnout for strike action with the next month – close to an absolutely majority of those balloted.

Although the Public Service Pension Act pushes up the normal pension of firefighters to 60, the union has sought guarantees that firefighters can continue to retire earlier than that because of the physical nature of the job. Even the government’s own review

Postal workers prepare for national ballot

Published on: Tue, 10/09/2013 - 20:44

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has announced that it will ballot members working for Royal Mail and Parcelforce for strikes from 20 September unless Royal Mail agrees a “legally-binding” deal that guarantees to protect workers’ pay, pensions, and conditions in the event of the privatisation of the service.

The ballot would be due back on 3 October, with strikes expected by 10 October if it returns a yes vote. It would be the first national ballot of CWU’s 125,000 Royal Mail members since 2009.

CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward said: “We are dealing with a company that is preparing

What should socialists say about fracking?

Published on: Tue, 10/09/2013 - 20:40

The recent protests in Balcombe in Sussex have prompted a revival of the largely dormant climate movement in the UK.

AWL members have rightly taken part in the mobilisations, which have brought local residents into an alliance with climate activists to thwart drilling efforts and stymie the Tory-led government’s “dash for gas” policy.

Shale gas has emerged as a potentially significant new source of “unconventional gas” in recent years, particularly in the US. Its extraction is now possible because of advances in drilling and other technologies, including hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

When Dutch workers under Nazi rule struck to save the Jews

Published on: Tue, 10/09/2013 - 20:33

“I looked into the workshop and saw all those girls and the boss. I wasn’t at all accustomed to speaking before a group. I said: ‘Ladies, all of Amsterdam has come to a standstill because they’ve been rounding up Jews and taking them away. We’ve got to join in.’ To my surprise, everyone took to the streets.”

“In the morning somebody from the communists came to the place where I worked and said: ‘We’re going on strike against the persecution of the Jews. Will you join us?’ So we did.”

“The whole city was on strike! On the way to the rally in the Noordermarkt we gave out leaflets calling on

Paving the way for New Labour

Published on: Tue, 10/09/2013 - 20:27

Cinema documentary has undergone a renaissance in recent years, with fine examples exploring subjects as diverse as sushi in Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011) and death squads in 1960s Indonesia in The Act of Killing (2012).

Nonetheless, a film about the semi-Marxist cultural theorist Stuart Hall is unexpected. Hall was born in Jamaica in 1932, went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in 1952 and was the founding editor of New Left Review (NLR) in 1960. This was a journal which explicitly adopted a “third way” approach between Soviet Communism and social democracy, but was ambivalent about the working

The “obscenity” of Gareth Bale?

Published on: Tue, 10/09/2013 - 20:18

“We speak the language that everybody understands. Instead of me saying somebody was avaricious, I’d say he was bloody greedy.” Bill Shankly

This summer’s football transfer window was a real seller’s market. Clubs dug their heels in to keep their best contracted players, and mostly succeeded. Rooney didn’t go to Chelsea. Suarez didn’t go to Real Madrid. Rooney, Suarez, Benzema, Cabaye, and Higauin didn’t go to Arsenal.

One player who did finally move, though, was Gareth Bale, whose transfer from Tottenham to Real Madrid made him the first €100m footballer in history. It was the most extreme of

Rebel Cities

Published on: Tue, 10/09/2013 - 20:13

After flirting with the Occupy movement in London, I found myself swerving into the Marxist school of thought.

Harvey’s book appealed because it examines the nature of the urban environment in relation to capital circulation processes and class struggle via the Marxist method, a twinning that neatly merges the latest two integers in my own political development.

Harvey begins by introducing the concept of “the right to the city”, building on the concepts of Henri Lefebvre and Robert Parks, a demand that he proposes should be central to the development of anti-capitalist struggle, and that is

Hovis strike shows how to fight zero-hours

Published on: Tue, 10/09/2013 - 20:10

Bakers, Food, and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) organiser Geoff Atkinson spoke to Solidarity.

We can be an inspiration to other workers facing zero-hours contracts. Sometimes it takes a little person to stand up and fight against a big bully.

We had always managed without agency labour at Hovis. In the past there was always an eight week rolling contract for temporary workers. If you worked 13 weeks, you got a permanent contract.

Now they want to use zero-hours contracts provided by a third party, and they also want to keep the zero-hours workers on minimum wage. They have told us they want to

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