Solidarity 335, 10 September 2014

14 October can be big!


Gemma Short

On October 14, local government workers in Unison, Unite and GMB unions will strike over pay. They may be joined by health workers in Unison, Unite and the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) who all have ballots under way. If civil servants in PCS union join the strike this will be a very large and important action against the huge cuts in pay public sector workers have endured since 2009.

Good turnouts needed in health union ballots

Strike ballots in the health unions runs up to the end of September, with Unison's closing date on the 18 September and Unite on the 26th. 

A pay offer of 1% for 2 years, with no rise at all for those who receive an incremental rise, has angered workers, but a good turn out in the ballot would be very significant. 

The government has stopped the Health Pay Review Body from even going through the motions of reporting on annual pay this year. Instead it has been asked to propose cuts in unsocial hours pay, should further galvanise the vote. 

Industrial news in brief

The Hands Off London Transport coalition plans a day of action for 16 September, involving leafleting, petitioning, and demonstrations at Tube stations.

The action will coincide with the introduction of contactless payment technology on the Tube which unions say will lead to problems for both passengers and staff.

The HOLT coalition want to raise the profile of cuts as a political issue, mobilise community direct action against them, and pressure GLAs and London MPs to take a stand on the issue.

The real price of gold


Kieran Miles

The pursuit of gold has led to great exploitation throughout history.

From the demands of the Pharaohs to be buried with enormous wealth; the use of slaves in mining operations in the Roman Empire; the genocide of indigenous peoples, first by the Conquistadors, then Columbus and the colonisers of the Americas, continued in the Californian Gold Rush, the “Scramble for Africa” by the major imperialist powers, and the Klondike; the Boer Wars, fought over the Witwatersrand mines; the use of forced labour in the gold mines of the Kolyma gulag; the list continues.

Pride! The power of solidarity


Karina Knight

The writer, Stephen Beresford, first heard the story of LGSM from a friend. He told a pre-screening audience that it inspired him greatly — the film is clearly a work of care and love. The characters are the real members of LGSM. Mike Jackson and others input into the writing and production, infusing the personalities, lives and experiences of the LGSM activists.

No pill for these ills


Les Hearn

Few of us can remember a time when people could die from trivial injuries or infections which now respond to antibiotics. The World Health Organisation estimates that drugs like penicillin and streptomycin have added some 20 years to our life expectancy.

Chun Tae-il: a life of struggle


Beth Redmond

I finished reading this book within three days of buying it. When I’d finished, I asked everyone I knew what they knew about Chun Tae-il — no one could tell me much. This surprised me because his story struck me as hugely significant to both the working classes (the “minjung”) of his time, and to the struggles we face today.

The author of this biography, Cho Young-rae, could for his own safety only be identified after his death. The first versions of the book were inevitably banned by the South Korean authorities. It has since been turned into both a film and a play.

Which “us”, which “them”?

“There are five million of us in Scotland, but sixty million in the rest of Britain. We’ll always be in a minority. That’s why we’ll never get the government we want.”

That’s the SNP case for a ‘yes’ vote on 18 September. Anyone who has attended referendum debates will have heard this argument – word-for-word – from SNP MSPs.

Even if not always expressed in exactly the same terms, that’s also the argument being fired back on the doorsteps by people who are saying that they will vote ‘yes’ on Thursday of next week.

A German soldier’s peace poem

From The Workers’ Dreadnought, 29 June 1918

A poem was found on the dead body of a German soldier. The British authorities reproduced it in facsimile and threw it from aeroplanes into the German lines.

Some of the copies were blown into the British lines, and a British soldier who caught one sent it to the New-York-based magazine Flying. The editor of Flying wrote: “Its value for propaganda purposes is a matter of opinion. The sentiment is of the class that Americans describe as ‘mush’.”

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