Solidarity 345, 26 November 2014

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 26/11/2014 - 12:41

Sacha Ismail and Gemma Short

Over two hundred outsourced workers who are members of the GMB at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, South London struck for 48 hours on 24-26 November.

On the 24th the workers, who are employed by Dutch multinational ISS as cleaners, security, ward hostesses, caterers, on the switchboard and as porters, struck alongside directly employed NHS staff striking for their national pay dispute.

The outsourced GMB members are looking to level up to the same terms and conditions as directly employed NHS workers — on basic pay rates, unsocial, weekend and bank holiday hours rates, sick pay and

Sell-out in UCU dispute

Published on: Wed, 26/11/2014 - 12:29

Lucy Clement

After only two weeks of action, the marking boycott in pre-92 universities has been put on hold until mid-January.

The decision to abandon the action for talks just as it was beginning to bite has prompted furious criticism by branches, unhappy at the enormous compromises the leadership seems prepared to accept to cut a deal. There is already evidence that universities are taking advantage of the suspension to bring forward exam-setting deadlines. This will make it much harder to make action effective in January.

Although the UCU compromise plan is better than the employers’ proposals, it

Employers discuss plans to undermine unions

Published on: Wed, 26/11/2014 - 12:27

In leaked documents from HMRC (the tax and customs part of the civil service) we see in the open how bosses try to “handle” unions.

In the document a senior manager writes:“...If we are unable to persuade the new GEC (the union body that runs the PCS union in HMRC) and full time officials to change their stance this suggests that the usual rules for engagement with a trade union will not work.”

The paper recommends “aiming to marginalise PCS by maintaining dialogue only to meet statutory minimum requirements.”

The paper outlines “advantages: creates pressure on PCS to re-engage with the

Health strike gains momentum

Published on: Wed, 26/11/2014 - 12:11

Todd Hamer

Health workers struck for a second 4-hour block on Monday 24 November.

Although the strike may not be the most militant on record, there is some evidence that the NHS pay dispute is gaining momentum and the unions are turning up new activists.

Despite painfully timid leadership, the dispute has become a rallying point for health workers concerned about NHS cuts and privatisation.

If it is going to grow and be successful then those new activists need to turn outwards and convince the large numbers of strikebreakers to join us and create a renewed union movement.

Many healthworkers crossed

From the Youth of All Nations

Published on: Wed, 26/11/2014 - 12:06

H C Harwood

From the Youth of All Nations reads to me as a bitter complaint against the ruling classes on all sides of the First World War playing out their arguments with the sufferings and lives of soldiers.

Its title declares both a bitterness of the young against old leaders, and an internationalist outlook. Then its fifteen four-line (quatrain) stanzas spell out the manipulations of the call to war and promise rebellion rather than reverence. The strict iambic tetrameter rhythm creates an impression of an army marching to settle scores with its rulers.

Sadly, I can’t tell you much about the poet, H C

Hyping it up

Published on: Wed, 26/11/2014 - 12:01

Colin Foster

Duncan Morrison’s irate letter (Solidarity 344) misses the point in Jon Lansman’s column in Solidarity 343 which really most calls for criticism.

Jon wrote that “no shortcoming of Ed Miliband is responsible for the rise of UKIP.” He probably meant that no other halfway-likely leader of the Labour Party in anything like its present shape could have stopped a rise of UKIP, either, which is true.

If so, that truth is only a half-truth. UKIP feeds on social despair. Social despair feeds on the perception that no large party offers social hope. That Labour offers so little social hope — no relief

There must be room for doubt

Published on: Wed, 26/11/2014 - 11:55

Martin Thomas

In her article “Don’t ban the SWP!” (Solidarity 344) Cathy Nugent argues, rightly, I think, that we should “challenge and protest”, “try to discuss with” SWP members, not try to ban.

Along the way, though, she drops in the assertion: “There is no doubt whatsoever that the SWP has been guilty of rape apologism, of denying the complaints of rape by women in their organisation”.

I still think what I wrote in Solidarity 281: “The SWP leadership’s approach, over two years and more, was to steer as near as it could to bureaucratic brush-off”. But: “Such wrong attitudes do not make them ‘rape

Iranian workers protest

Published on: Wed, 26/11/2014 - 11:50

Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network

On Sunday, November 16, 1000 construction workers protested outside the Iranian regime’s “parliament”.

They were protesting against proposed changes to the social insurance law. Workers have written to the Iranian regime’s “MPs” protesting against the change to the social insurance law approved by the Health Commission of “parliament”. Under this plan there will effectively be no new building workers insured and 400,000 of those currently insured by the Social Security Organisation will also lose their insurance. The reduction of the number of workers insured will help developers to boost

Israel: “an anti-democratic bill”

Published on: Wed, 26/11/2014 - 11:45

Alternative Information Centre in Jerusalem

A bill defining Israel as “the nation state of the Jewish people” was passed on Sunday 23 November by the Israeli cabinet, despite protests that this bill undermines the “democratic” character of Israel and discriminates against Israel’s Palestinian citizens, who comprise 20% of the population.

Fourteen ministers supported the bill while Justice Minister Livni and five ministers from the Yesh Atid party voted against.

The attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, has also expressed concern. A number of Israeli basic laws use the term “Jewish and democratic”, giving equal weight to both. The new law

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