Solidarity 350, 21 January 2015

Let Greece breathe!

Published on: Wed, 21/01/2015 - 11:57

Colin Foster

Syriza is set to win Greece’s general election on 25 January.

A strong left wing within Syriza wants a left-wing Syriza government to confront the EU leaders and the banks which stand behind them; tackle the shipping magnates, church hierarchy, military machine, and business oligarchs who siphon off Greece’s wealth; and empower the working class.

The majority leadership of Syriza is more cautious. They reckon instead to form a “government of national salvation”, a coalition with this or that centrist group, and to renegotiate Greece’s terms with the EU and the European Central Bank so that

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 21/01/2015 - 11:53

Peggy Carter, Gemma Short, Charlotte Zalens and Darren Bedford

As Solidarity went to press on 20 January, health unions were meeting with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The NHS pay dispute is escalating. It started timidly with two days of four-hour strikes. But now there will be a 12 hour strike on 29 January, followed by a 24 hour strike on 25 February involving most of the unions in the NHS.

There were problems with the two four hour strikes. In some areas unions scuppered their own action by granting lavish “exemptions”, encouraging many members to go to work.

However there has been large public support for strikes, and picket lines have been lively.

Fight for rank and file control in Unison

Published on: Wed, 21/01/2015 - 11:36

Simon Nelson

The defeat of the Local Government pay dispute and the current uneven impact of the NHS strikes over the current pay claim have shown the current weakness of branch and workplace organisation in both health and local government.

Sections of the left in Unison have taken the defeat as a basis to direct their energy into the upcoming elections for the National Executive and General Secretary, as a way to build confidence. Calls for the left to unite around agreed candidates are of course welcome, but they don’t allow discussion of ways to transform the union or to build power in individual

Bus drivers fight for fair pay

Published on: Wed, 21/01/2015 - 11:31

As of 2015, new drivers with Arriva — the lowest payer for starter drivers — get £9.69 an hour. The previous starting rate with Arriva, before 2015, was £9.30 an hour. After eight years, a driver is on £12.89 an hour.

For Stagecoach drivers — the highest payer for starter drivers — the rate is £11.46. After two years, they reach the top rate of £15.63 an hour.

There are 80 different pay scales for drivers in London, across 18 different companies. They vary based on the company and the year that a driver started. TfL gives drivers a pass that works on public transport — buses, the tube and the

The Greek left needs our solidarity

Published on: Wed, 21/01/2015 - 11:25

Theodora Polenta

The epitome of the election campaign for 25 January of Greece’s main right-wing party, New Democracy, is ND candidate Makis Voridis — former member of a neo-fascist youth organisation and minister of health in the last government, using language from the Greek civil war of the 1940s and asking people to defend the values of “Country, Religion, and Family” against Syriza’s “communist threat”.

ND leader and outgoing prime minister Antonis Samaras escalates this argument with statements in defence of Orthodox Christianity and getting himself photographed next to the fence and barbed wire on the

Song of the mothers

Published on: Wed, 21/01/2015 - 11:16

Irene Rutherford McLeod

During the 1914-18 war, well over 2,000 people wrote published poetry in the UK. Most of them were not soldiers writing from the trenches.

The “soldier poets” such as Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon spoke eloquently of the suffering in the trenches to a British public still being told of the war’s glory by their rulers. Rightly, their poetry is getting plenty of attention in the centenary of that war.

But what of the poets on the home front? Many also speak eloquently, of the harsh realities of the war for those back home.

This poem articulates the anguish of women whose sons went to war to

France’s Front National tries to exploit Charlie Hebdo attack

Published on: Wed, 21/01/2015 - 11:08

Bill Holmes

The far right in France appear to see recent terrorist attacks as political currency to attack both the government and the EU on immigration.

The Front National has said the attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine and an assault on a Jewish supermarket are the final proof that open borders and poor efforts to tackle immigration in France have led to an “enemy within”.

Party leader Marine Le Pen described terrorism as a tool of Islamic fundamentalism which had been allowed to develop in France’s cities because people did not want to talk about the issue for fear of being politically incorrect.


Boko Haram kidnaps 80

Published on: Wed, 21/01/2015 - 10:55

Rosalind Robson

On Monday 19 January the ultra-Islamist Boko Haram crossed the border from Nigeria into northern Cameroon and attacked villages, kidnaping eighty people, mostly children.

This latest attack is part of a bid by the group to carve out an Islamic state in north-east Nigeria. In the last five years around 16,000 have been killed and 1.5 million displaced. Boko Haram now control 20,000 square miles of territory, an area the size of Belgium.

Boko Haram have stepped up their attacks as Nigeria’s presidential election approaches (14 February); their attacks have included using children as suicide

The Sun “drops” Page 3

Published on: Wed, 21/01/2015 - 10:34

Rachel Barnes

Supporters of the No More Page 3 campaign celebrated a victory on Monday 19 January as rumours of The Sun getting rid of bare breasts in its newspaper did the rounds on the internet.

Apart from a tweet from its head of PR (who told followers that page 3 would be in the same place it’s always been, between pages 2 and 4), the newspaper has given no formal statement on the matter, only removed nipples gradually from its print over the last few months.

The No More Page 3 campaign has been working for 28 months under the banner “Boobs Aren’t News”, and supposedly against the objectification of

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