Solidarity 352, 4 February 2015

NHS: don't let them scrap our terms

Published on: Tue, 10/02/2015 - 17:59

The current government has been attempting to find a way to undermine the Agenda for Change national pay agreement for the NHS for some time.

Agenda for Change is a broad agreement that covers practically all terms and conditions for NHS workers, including basic rates of pay, extra pay for working “unsociable” hours, annual increments on pay scales, annual leave etc.

Originally the top of the pay scales were agreed to be the rate for the job, but initially new starters would be paid less because there was an element of learning in the post.

The unsociable hours payments are significant for

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 04/02/2015 - 11:54

Gemma Short, Charlotte Zalens, Ollie Moore and Peggy Carter

Teachers at Merrill Academy, Derbyshire, have been on strike for six days through January in a dispute over unattainable appraisal targets and denial of pay progression.

Both teaching unions, the NUT and the NASUWT, are taking part in the strike and have been staging daily picket lines. However picket lines were suspended on January 29 after drivers, believed to be a non-striking members of staff, drove aggressively at pickets over several days, leading to a striker and a student being hit by a car.

School management have aggressively attacked the unions in the local press, and have run

The left inside Syriza

Published on: Wed, 04/02/2015 - 11:06

Thanasis Kourkoulas and Sotiris Martalis from DEA (Internationalist Workers’ Left), a Trotskyist organisation in the left of Syriza, spoke to Micheál McEoin in Athens on 24 January, just before the election.

Sotiris began by setting out the backdrop to the election and the crisis in Greece:

GDP went down 25%, which had only happened before during the Second World War. Wages are down 35-40%. Taxes have increased eight-fold, and now we have near 30% unemployment. They destroyed laws protecting workers such as collective bargaining, and there are no restrictions on lay-offs.

We have had big

To secure reforms, fight capitalist power

Published on: Wed, 04/02/2015 - 10:51

Theodora Polenta

On 30 January Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Dutch finance minister and chair of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, awkwardly shook hands with Greece’s new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, at a press conference after they had met in Athens, and whispered...”you have just killed the [EU/ ECB/ IMF] Troika”. Varoufakis responded: “Wow!”

That felt good. It did not feel as good when Tsipras subsequently committed himself to the “fulfilling of our debt obligations towards the ECB and the IMF”. It did not feel as good when Yanis Varoufakis said on 1 February in Paris that the Greek government is willing to

Euro-solidarity can stop euro-cuts

Published on: Wed, 04/02/2015 - 10:11


On hearing the first declarations from the ministers in Greece’s new Syriza-led government, elected on 25 January, the invisible hand of the markets reacted. The stock market lost 8%. The interest rate on Greek bonds went up.

Some EU and IMF leaders sent harder messages about the need for compliance — Angela Merkel, Christine Lagarde — and some tried to be more conciliatory (Barack Obama, Francois Hollande, Matteo Renzi).

Cristobal Montoro, finance minister in Spain’s right-wing government, was aghast that any government should be less compliant with Euro-austerity than his own. There could

ÂŁ450k? No way!

Published on: Tue, 03/02/2015 - 18:23

Beth Redmond

Over the past month, a wave of actions have sprung up on university campuses across the UK, highlighting the pay gap between the highest and lowest paid staff on each campus.

Groups of students worked out how many days into the year the highest paid (the vice chancellor) would earn the entire annual wage of the lowest paid worker, and organised protests and mock-parties to “celebrate” on that day. In Birmingham, David Eastwood's pay exceeds an annual sum of £450,000, taking only thirteen days to earn what the lowest paid worker does in a year, on top of which the university also pays for his

Health deal: vote No!

Published on: Tue, 03/02/2015 - 18:17

Strikes by health unions due to happen on 29 January and 25 February were called off on Tuesday 27 following a new offer from the government.

The unions will consult members over the next few weeks. Unison and Unite have stated strikes will be relaunched on March 13 if the offer is rejected.

The dispute was initiated by the failure of the government to implement the NHS pay review body recommendation of 1% for 2014/15. The offer for that year remains exactly the same. A pay freeze for the majority, 1% bonus (unconsolidated — i.e. disappears on 31 March) for those on the top of their pay band.

Permanent revolution and the Irish left

Published on: Tue, 03/02/2015 - 18:12

Micheál MacEoin

Workers’ Liberty has recently examined Trotskyist debates on Ireland (Trotskyists debate Ireland WL 3/45). There is another set of relevant debates worth looking about: over how, and if, Trotsky’s theory of “permanent revolution” relates to Ireland.

The first debate took place in 1966-67 in the largely émigré Irish Workers’ Group (IWG). It was an attempt to clear away some of the confusions generated by a mechanical application of the theory to Irish realities.

In 1983, another debate took place in Socialist Organiser (forerunner of Solidarity). That debate showed how confusion present in the

Hold the Socialist Party and Mark Serwotka to account!

Published on: Tue, 03/02/2015 - 17:58

James Marine

The Socialist Party (SP) has defended the PCS civil service union’s decision to “suspend” national and Group elections for up to a year. (Groups are the major sub-parts of the union.)

The SP headlined its article: “PCS: Safeguarding its future in the face of vicious Tory attacks”.

“Faced with a temporary but very sharp drop in income as a result of check-off ending, the PCS National Executive Commitee (NEC) has had to make difficult decisions to cut expenditure, including suspending for one year the union’s annual elections”.

This is nonsense. Yes, the PCS is facing a financial tough time but

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