Solidarity 337, 24 September 2014

Strikes on 13, 14, 15 October

Published on: Wed, 24/09/2014 - 11:47

Gemma Short

The ballot over NHS pay in Unison returned a yes vote with 68% in favour of strike action and 88% of action short of strike action.

Unison has called a four hour strike in all NHS services, from 7-11am on October 13. This is a different day to local government workers, who will be called out on October 14, and PCS (civil servants), who will be out on the 15th.

It is good that Unison has shown leadership in calling action on a ballot with a low turn out. However many NHS staff who are not part of emergency cover work 9-5, meaning many will only be asked to strike for only two hours.

NHS pay has

Labour promises tainted by austerity

Published on: Wed, 24/09/2014 - 11:43

Tom Harris

With under seven months to go until the General Election, the Labour Party held its annual conference in Manchester on 21-24 September.

So close to an election, the conference was expected to launch the key campaigns.

Speeches from senior Party figures were mixed at best. The rank and file did not get much input.

The Conference Arrangements Committee was able to rule out half the “contemporary motions” submitted from constituencies, as it has routinely done in recent years. The party machine got the CLP delegates voluntarily to forgo two of their four chances to get a subject debated, by

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 24/09/2014 - 11:33

Staff at Your Choice Barnet (YCB), who work with a variety of vulnerable adults, were on strike for two days last week.

The strike was in addition to two days the previous week, where they held a joint rally with visiting Doncaster Care UK workers.

The dispute is over a 9.5% pay cut being imposed by YCB management — an arms length organisation devolved from the council. As well as defending their pay, strikers are also demanding to be taken back in house.

The strike is very well supported amongst staff, and picket lines are lively and well attended.

Negotiations are happening with YCB

Cash wins RMT election

Published on: Wed, 24/09/2014 - 11:14

Ollie Moore

Mick Cash has won the election for General Secretary of the rail union RMT by a large margin, with nearly 9,000 votes to the 4,000 of his nearest rival, Alan Pottage.

John Leach, supported by Workers’ Liberty, came fourth, with 1,428 votes. Steve Hedley won 1,885 votes, and Alex Gordon won 1,176.

The election turnout was low, around 20%.

Although Cash’s election material used militant rhetoric, his record is far more moderate. Cash has a more cautious and conciliatory attitude to industrial strategy than his predecessor Bob Crow. It will be a step backwards if his leadership makes it harder

Andy Burnham put on the spot

Published on: Wed, 24/09/2014 - 11:12

Gemma Short

On 21 September over 200 NHS campaigners from across the country gathered outside Labour Party conference in Manchester.

We lobbied to demand Labour make serious commitments to rebuilding the NHS.

Andy Burnham, shadow health secretary, was spotted going into the conference centre and persuaded to come speak to the crowd.

Burnham confirmed his support for Clive Efford’s bill to parliament which seeks to remove the parts of the Tory Health and Social Care Act which force private tendering of NHS services. The bill, Burnham assured us, would return NHS run services to the position of being the

Schools for profit

Published on: Wed, 24/09/2014 - 11:08

Gemma Short

Academy schools are paying large sums of public money to private companies linked to their management, according to a report by the Education Select Committee.

Academies are state-funded but privately managed schools; many are “sponsored” by private education companies. Still more have individual board members who run or have interests in private companies.

It has always been clear that academisation meant privatisation, and private profit, but less clear how companies are making a profit. This report makes it clear. Aurora Academies Trust, for example, is paying £100,000 a year to use it’s

These homes need people

Published on: Wed, 24/09/2014 - 11:05

Gerry Bates

The Focus E15 Mothers campaign has occupied empty property on the Carpenters estate near Stratford station.

The women started their social housing campaign last year when Newham council evicted them from a hostel for young parents and said they would have to move out of London. They won the right to take up temporary private housing tenancies but these end soon. Meanwhile large parts of housing on the Carpenters estate lies empty, and Newham council’s housing waiting list is 24,000.

The women report that the flats on the Carpenters-estate are clean, well decorated and one even had a new

Over a third of student women face sexual harassment

Published on: Wed, 24/09/2014 - 11:03

Charlotte Zalens

Thirty-seven per cent of student women say they have faced sexual harassment at university according to an NUS report.

This is an extraordinarily high figure, given that it’s about harassment within only a few years of a woman’s life.

The report also found that two-thirds of respondents had witnessed others tolerate unwanted sexual comments and the same number witnessed the telling of rape or sexual assault jokes in a university environment. More than a third were aware of promotional materials around university that had sexualised images of women.

A second year student reported the use of

USA: 370 million student debt-years

Published on: Wed, 24/09/2014 - 10:55

Con Karavias

The UK is heading towards a US-style education system. This article by Con Karavias, adapted from the Red Flag, the newspaper of Socialist Alternative in Australia, explains.

Currently, 12 million US citizens borrow money annually to continue studying for their degree.

The total number of those paying off student loans is 37 million. It will take each of them an average of 10 years to do it. It’ll take a lot of them far longer.

In the US, the vast majority of people are deprived of anything resembling a worthwhile education.

The “diverse array of institutions” in the US is two-tiered. At the

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