Solidarity 104 10 January 2007

After the Ipswich murders

The murder of five prostitutes in Ipswich at the end of last year prompted some discussion about how to improve the lives and safety of sex workers. A 400 strong Reclaim the Night march was held in the city at which Teresa McKay, chair of the trades council, spoke. Here are some of the points of view that were written on this issue at the time.

An open letter to Gilad Atzmon

Gilad Atzmon, the jazz musician who is prone to anti-semitic conspiracy theory rants played — not for the first time — for the Socialist Workers’ Party in December. The group’s invitation to Atzmon prompted a few words of protest by SWP apologist and children’s author Michael Rosen, writing as Isokotsky in the letters of page of Socialist Worker (7 January). Jazz fan Jim Denham has written this open letter to Atzmon.

Industrial news: post, TGWU-Amicus merger, ESOL cuts, London buses, JJB

Defend Mark O’Reilly

STOP press: North/ Northwest London CWU branch has perpetrated a bureaucratic stitch-up against Mark O’Reilly, a postal worker at Finsbury Park depot. Mark decided to challenge the incumbent union rep who has colluded with management over job cuts for over two years. Mark distributed a leaflet to workmates that referred to high work levels over the last Xmas period and demanded to know what the rep had done to alleviate the burden on staff.

Defend Antony Czubkowski

Shop steward and long-standing union activist Antony Czubkowski has been sacked by energy firm E.ON, in reaction to his complaint about being subjected to a verbal attack by his boss.

Antony has for the last 18 years been a leading Amicus activist, and in July 2006 convened a meeting for the five unions operating in E.ON. The manager, with a long record of anti-union and bullying behaviour, tried to sneak into the back of the meeting — Antony politely asked him to leave.

A child for life?

By Chris Leary

The case of the severely disabled girl, known only as Ashley, who has undergone surgery to remove her womb and breasts, and will receive other treatments to keep her anatomically at a stage before puberty raised profound questions, not just for socialists, but for all people who care about human society. Those question — about consent, personal autonomy and medical interventions with profoundly disabled people — cannot be done justice within a single article. But some immediately stand out.

City cleaners win!

As we reported on the front page of the last Solidarity, the T&G’s Justice for Cleaners campaign, seeking to organise and mobilise cleaners working in the City of London, has won substantial gains. After several weeks of demonstrations and direct action, including a sit in at the offices of Goldman Sachs and the threat of a hunger strike by five workers to put pressure on the Royal Bank of Scotland, three major companies — ISS, Lancaster and Mite — have conceded the union's main demands. These include collective bargaining to determine a uniform system for the whole of the City of London and the “fare share” system by which non-members pay a contribution to union negotiating costs. The latter will help obviously extend and maintain union membership massively.