Solidarity 351, 28 January 2015

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 28/01/2015 - 11:36
Author

Peggy Carter, Gemma Short and Charlotte Zalens

On Tuesday the 13 January the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) branch of the PCS union voted by an overwhelming majority to call strikes over pay.

The ICO has been lagging behind civil service pay for some time, with members’ salaries a grade behind what the rest of the civil service receive.

This year’s pay offer was limited to a 3% rise for workers who have been in the job longer, and bumping newer workers up the pay scale. Whilst this allows management to bribe newer staff with superficially large increases in pay this is money they are contractually obliged to over time. It does

The ANEL coalition

Published on: Wed, 28/01/2015 - 11:21
Author

Theodora Polenta

Syriza fell short by two of the 151 MPs needed for an absolute majority in parliament. As widely rumoured during the election campaign and before, ANEL (Independent Greeks, a 2012 splinter from New Democracy, a nationalistic and anti-immigrant neo-liberal party with an anti-Memorandum stance) came to an agreement with Syriza.

ANEL will give Syriza a vote of confidence, but ANEL leader Panos Kammenos is likely to be assigned the ministry of National Defence, with other two minor ministries being assigned to ANEL MPs.

Syriza’s leaders had already said that they were aiming for a government of

Greece shakes Europe

Published on: Wed, 28/01/2015 - 11:18
Author

Micheál McEoin

On the night of the election in Greece (25 January), other visitors from Britain and I watched the exit polls with comrades from DEA (a left group inside Syriza) and international visitors in the Syriza building on Leonidou Street. Then everyone converged around the Syriza tent in Klafthmonos Square.

By contrast with the press crews and general buzz by the Syriza tent, the suited-up New Democracy members in Syntagma Square looked despondent. The Pasok hut near the University had been simply abandoned by its inhabitants during the afternoon; a padlock protected piles of unused election

Speak Greek to the bosses!

Published on: Wed, 28/01/2015 - 11:05
Author

Editorial

As thousands of left-wingers and Syriza supporters both from Greece and from the broader European and international anti-Memorandum movement celebrated in Athens on 25 January, Alexis Tsipras made his first speech as the first ever Prime Minister of Greece who belongs to the left.

Red flags were waving, the Internationale was sung, and slogans were chanted about the “Time of the left that has arrived”. Alexis Tsipras promised to scrap the memorandum from Monday, reverse austerity, beat unemployment, renegotiate the bailout agreement, fight against corruption and ensure “democracy, decency and

Labour MPs call for left turn

Published on: Wed, 28/01/2015 - 10:59
Author

Martin Thomas

In the wake of Syriza’s victory, and in the run-up to the Left Platform conference called by John McDonnell MP for 7 February, 15 Labour MPs have made a statement calling for a shift to the left by Labour.

They oppose continued cuts, and call for “public investment to kickstart the economy out of faltering growth and to generate real job creation and rising incomes”, financed maybe “through taxing the ultra-rich by a special levy”.

They want a Labour government to return “rail franchises when expired to public ownership rather than subjecting them to competition”.

They demand “the restoration

Stifled Story of the Month

Published on: Wed, 28/01/2015 - 10:49
Author

Harry Davies

On 20 January, The Guardian reported on academic research showing benefit sanctions push people into destitution, not jobs.

The 1.9 million benefit sanctions that were imposed between June 2011 and March 2014, stopping people from receiving jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) and the 43% of those sanctioned subsequently ceasing to try to claim the benefit, did reduce the unemployment figures. No surprise there. Massaging unemployment figures is what every government since the 1980s has done. 

But only 20% of those who went off benefit said they had found work.

In the words of one of the authors, David

ISIS defeated in Kobane

Published on: Wed, 28/01/2015 - 10:44
Author

Gerry Bates

Kurdish fighters have expelled Daesh (ISIS) from inside the Syrian border town of Kobane.

This is a huge physical and symbolic blow to Daesh’s ambitions.

Some Daesh forces reportedly remain in the Maqtala district, on the eastern outskirts of the town.

Daesh is said to have lost more than 1,000 fighters since it began its advance on the town on 16 September 2014 in an attempt to control the border between Syria and Turkey. At one point the group had taken over most of the city.

Kurdish forces of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), later reinforced by the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga, slowly

Russian nationalists stage new offensive

Published on: Wed, 28/01/2015 - 10:34
Author

Dale Street

Russian-separatist forces based in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) have launched a major offensive against Ukrainian government forces in order to seize more territory.

The DPR was formally declared last May, after a sham referendum in which voters were not even asked if they backed independence. The DPR “head of state”, Alexander Zakharchenko, was appointed by Moscow in August, shortly before Russia escalated its aggression against Ukraine by invading the south-east of the country.

Zakharchenko won “elections” held in the DPR in November. But most opposition parties and would-be

500 prevent eviction

Published on: Wed, 28/01/2015 - 10:28
Author

Tim Cooper

On Friday 23 January a 500-strong demonstration stopped the eviction of 63 year old Tom Crawford from his home in Nottingham.

Tom was due to be evicted by bailiffs acting on behalf of Bradford and Bingley building society who claim he owes them £45,000.

Tom is suffering from cancer and when faced with eviction last year put a video on YouTube saying he would give a cup of tea to anyone who came to help avoid his eviction. It struck a chord went viral and hundreds turned up to stop the eviction.

Tom said: “I can’t believe that people have come from all over the country to support me. This is

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