Solidarity 339, 8 October 2014

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 08/10/2014 - 11:48

Tube cleaners employed by contractor ISS have returned to work, after a months-long lock out.

Workers were locked out of work without pay for refusing to use biometric fingerprinting machines.

ISS, which has a history of using immigration law against its mainly-migrant workforce, had openly admitted that the data collected would be shared with the UK Border Agency.

The locked-out cleaners have been given a number of options, including returning to work on alternative contracts without biometric fingerprinting.

Tubeworker called for a cleaners’ strike, voted for by ISS RMT members, to be called

Disability fightback

Published on: Wed, 08/10/2014 - 11:36

Janine Booth, co-chair, TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee (personal capacity)

Campaigners fear that government “pilot schemes” to “help unemployed people with mental health problems find work” will lead to people being bullied off benefits and will not address the causes of mental ill-health.

Some Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) claimants will be offered employment support and “psychiatric help’. It is ironic that the government is wiling to provide such help to get people off benefits while many people who want and need therapy have to wait months or even years on waiting lists.

The BBC illustrated its report on these pilot schemes with the case of a chef who

Tube strike called for 14-16 October

Published on: Wed, 08/10/2014 - 11:28

Ollie Moore

London Underground workers will strike on 14, 15, and 16 October.

Tube union RMT is fighting to stop management imposing massive staffing cuts and the closure of every ticket office on the network.

The cuts would see a reduction of nearly 1,000 posts, with some stations set to lose more than 50% of their staff.

Major stations will lose significant numbers of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) posts from their rosters, with Oxford Circus set to lose 5.2 FTE posts, King’s Cross St. Pancras 7.6, Paddington 8.4, and Victoria 8.2. Barons Court, in West London, will be hardest hit, with a 58% cut to its

Scotland: time to move on

Published on: Wed, 08/10/2014 - 11:17

Colin Foster

After the 18 September referendum in Scotland, the battles against low pay, inequality, and cuts remain to be fought there, pretty much the same as in England.

The issue of NHS cuts in Scotland was raised as a scare just before the referendum, but the Institute for Fiscal Studies (conservative, but with no special axe to grind over Scottish separation) found that spending on the NHS in Scotland would fall by 1% in real terms, between 2009-10 and 2015-16, and rise by about 4% in real terms in England.

Overall public budgets in Scotland have been cut a bit less than in England, thanks to the

Why a democratic federal republic?

Published on: Wed, 08/10/2014 - 11:06

Martin Thomas

Matt Cooper (Solidarity 338) objects to our calls for a democratic federal republic and a constituent assembly on three grounds:

One, that to call for a constituent assembly is “abstract propaganda”, or would “give those views that dominate current political debate... political form”.

Two, that a federal system is impossible “where one unit (England) is far bigger than all the others put together”.

Three, that devolution (the status quo? or Cameron’s increased devolution?) is the “good approximate answer”.

His third point seems to contradict his opening lines, that we were right to “outline

Left to stand in Ukraine polls

Published on: Wed, 08/10/2014 - 10:58

Dale Street

Campaigning is now underway for the Ukrainian parliamentary elections on 26 October.

According to a recent interview with Ukrainian Left Opposition (LO) activist Nina Potarskaya, the LO will be standing candidates in the elections, to “use the campaign as an instrument for mobilising and organising people around us.”

It seems likely that the only candidates standing in the elections on a platform of working-class unity and mobilisation against oligarchic rule and the whipping up of nationalist antagonisms will be those put up by the LO.

The latest polls show President Poroshenko’s “Pyotr

Next steps in Hong Kong

Published on: Wed, 08/10/2014 - 10:55

Chen Ying in Hong Kong

The protest movement in Hong Kong has been forced to retreat in the face of orchestrated violent attacks by Beijing-funded triad gangs, with the complicity of the police force.

The gangs began their attack in Mong Kok, a high density urban working class district with a high concentration of organized crime.

The spontaneous occupation of Mong Kok on 29 September — in response to the deployment of teargas — was initially hugely successful and took the police completely by surprise.

By 1 October, with the protest movement highly mobilised over two public holidays, the student leaders called for

Student rent up by 5%

Published on: Wed, 08/10/2014 - 10:51

Omar Raii

At University College London students face constant increases in rent.

The average rise of a basic room at UCL accommodation has gone up by 5% since last year (higher than inflation!) while student loans have gone up by a measly 1%.

Though increased marketisation of universities across the country is ensuring university halls are becoming more and more expensive everywhere, UCL seems to have a particular problem with giving its students decent and affordable rooms to live in.

A year ago, upon its completion, UCL’s newest hall (appropriately named New Hall) was voted the worst new building in

Rousseff wins first round in Brazilian elections

Published on: Wed, 08/10/2014 - 10:45

Raquel Palmeira

In the first round of the Brazilian presidential elections, the incumbent Dilma Rousseff (Workers Party) took 41.1% of the vote ahead of Aecio Neves (pro-business social-democratic party) on 34.2%.

They will now face each other in a second round of voting on 26 October.

Socialist Party candidate Marina Silva got only 21.3%. This is surprising, as Silva had been favourite to win at one point. However it is unusual for a candidate to come close to challenging the two main parties.

Protests in June and July expressed growing disillusionment with the main two parties. Many talked about not

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