Solidarity 344, 19 November 2014

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 19/11/2014 - 12:23

Charlotte Zalens, Ollie Moore, Gareth Devonport and Gemma Short

Cleaners working for contractor Interserve at Waterloo station struck on 17-18 November after a manager claimed “we shouldn’t be employing black people.”

The strikes follow earlier action on 10-11 November, and a further 24 hour strike has been called starting at 3pm on 21 November.

The RMT union says bosses have refused to address the allegation through agreed procedures. The union also says Interserve has underpaid wages, as well as victimising, bullying and harassing staff.

Cleaners at Waterloo are not the only ones facing these conditions, or fighting back. Across various contractors,

Local government workers accept deal

Published on: Wed, 19/11/2014 - 11:59

Dave Pannett

Local Government workers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have voted to accept a pay offer which equates to no more than the 1% offer the same group of workers rejected in this year.

The deal simultaneously ties workers into a 1% pay deal for 2015-16.

64% of Unison members voted to accept the deal, 36% to reject

While there was significant opposition to the deal in the regions of North West and London, the leadership of Unison (by far the largest of the three unions) called off the strike action planned to coincide with the TUC week of action and NHS workers’ strikes in October, and

Health workers to strike again

Published on: Wed, 19/11/2014 - 11:44

Todd Hamer

Health unions will stage a further four hour strike on 24 November in their ongoing pay dispute.

If we do not win a decent pay settlement and build a union movement capable of defending our already much degraded terms and conditions, then we will have helped speed on the end of the NHS as a free state-of-the art health service.

Since 2010 the NHS has been starved of £20 billion. By 2020 the gap between funding and necessary expenditure will be around £50 billion.

But the current strategy of the unions is risible. So far the campaign has involved a four hour strike, four days of not doing

Left Unity's second conference

Published on: Wed, 19/11/2014 - 11:27

Sacha Ismail

About 300 people attended the conference on 15-16 November of the Left Unity group set up by Andrew Burgin and Kate Hudson in late 2012.

Varied left-wing views on a wide range of issues were debated and voted on in a reasonably comradely way.

However, the conference was smaller than the previous one, and there were very few young or even youngish people there. The document and motions discussed were mostly of the “policies for an ideal government” type. Left Unity has almost nothing in terms of trade union or student work.

A sort of left-social democratic viewpoint, as advocated by national

Don’t ban the SWP! Challenge and protest!

Published on: Wed, 19/11/2014 - 11:24

Cathy Nugent

In recent weeks there have been attemps to ban the Socialist Worker Student Society at Edinburgh University, Sussex University and Goldsmiths, University of London.

The motion to ban at Edinburgh was withdrawn when the SWP threatened to sue the student union. The motion at Sussex failed by a large majority. As we go to press we do not know the result at Goldsmiths.

In their handling of allegations against Martin Smith from start to finish, and up until today, the SWP have utterly disgraced themselves: brushing aside two extremely serious allegations, setting up a deeply compromised process of

“Red warning” on economy

Published on: Wed, 19/11/2014 - 11:12

Martin Thomas

Prime Minister David Cameron has used the occasion of the G20 summit of big-power governments in Brisbane to declare that "red warning lights are once again flashing on the dashboard of the global economy", as in 2008.

"The eurozone is teetering on the brink of a possible third recession... Emerging markets [like Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa...] are now slowing down... [There is] instability and uncertainty".

It is not a dispassionate scientific opinion. Cameron wants to use "global warning lights" to square the circle of justifying the Tories’ cuts frenzy while also claiming

Anti-ISIS passport ban won't work

Published on: Wed, 19/11/2014 - 11:07

Simon Nelson

Around Kobane, the Kurdish-majority Syrian city near the Turkish border besieged by ISIS ("Islamic State", Daesh), US airstrikes have significantly increased.

Kurdish forces (Iraqi-Kurdish peshmerga, and the Syrian-Kurdish YPG, linked to the Turkish-Kurdish PKK) have now begun to retake territory.

1,200 people have now been killed in the siege.

Fuad Hussein, chief of staff to the KRG (Iraq-Kurdish) president Massoud Barzani, says that the CIA’s figuree of 31,000 ISIS fighters is a big underestimate, and the Iraqi government National Security Adviser concurs.

ISIS continues to recruit

Italy: strikes rally revolt

Published on: Wed, 19/11/2014 - 10:56

Hugh Edwards

Italy’s radical metalworkers’ union FIOM struck on 14 November, sharpening and deepening conflict with the goverment of Matteo Renzi over workers’ rights and protections.

It followed a million-strong demonstration in Rome on 25 October, called by the CGIL union confederation.

The strike also testified to the emergence of jointly-oordinated action by FIOM union and a number of the smaller and more radical BASE unions, especially in the public sector, and with a broadening spectrum of campaigns and movements embracing the unemployed, migrant workers, the "precariat", Social Centres , students ,

22% still below living wage

Published on: Wed, 19/11/2014 - 10:53

Gemma Short

On 3 November, the UK living wage increased by 20p an hour, to £7.85.

The London living wage increased by 4% to £9.15 an hour. However 22% of workers, 5.28 million, still earn below the living wage, despite the Living Wage Foundation having accredited more than 1000 employers.

Research conducted for consultancy firm KPMG shows 43% of part-time workers earn less than the living wage, compared with 13% of full-time employees. It also found 72% of 18- to 21-year-olds and one in four women earn less than the living wage, compared with 16% of men.

The living wage is now 21% higher than the

NUS leaders wriggle out of backing demo

Published on: Wed, 19/11/2014 - 10:49

Beth Redmond

Two weeks before NCAFC’s 19 November demonstration for free education, the National Union of Students leadership undemocratically decided to withdraw its support.

This was on the basis that the organisers had not adequately dealt with NUS’s risk assessment questions, meaning the demonstration was “too dangerous” for their students to attend.

Emails exchanged between NCAFC, Toni Pearce and Megan Dunn have since been leaked which prove the NUS have been bending the truth to liberation officers in order to suit their own right-wing agenda. Pearce argued strongly against free education in favour

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