Solidarity 264, 14 November 2012

Fight for decent housing for all!

Submitted by Matthew on 14 November, 2012 - 10:42

Imagine you are a council tenant, and you have lived in your current house or flat for years.

You always pay the rent two weeks in advance and adhere religiously to every aspect of your tenancy agreement. You are then told you and your family are to be evicted in order to make way for someone “in greater housing need.”

Students march on 21 November

Submitted by Matthew on 14 November, 2012 - 10:37

In an interview with the Mancunion student newspaper (5 Nov), National Union of Students President Liam Burns says of the 2010 siege of Millbank Tower that “occupying a locus of power is not a disproportionate response to the trebling of fees”.

This is a welcome progression from the outright condemnation of his predecessor, Aaron Porter. But Burns also says that he has planned the 21 November NUS demonstration to bypass Millbank and avoid anything similar. He is worried about “the danger of violence”.

Right-wing threat to anti-war meeting

Submitted by Matthew on 14 November, 2012 - 10:32

Young Tory louts have put out a call online to disrupt a Workers’ Liberty student forum on Thursday 15 November about the meaning of the First World War.

Workers’ Liberty member Daniel Cooper was invited to lay a poppy wreath at an official Remembrance service, in his capacity as Acting President of the University of London Union (ULU).

Daniel declined, on principled grounds — that the official remembrance service is a pageant of nationalism, monarchism, and militarism which celebrates the institutions which organised the First World War.

Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 14 November, 2012 - 10:26

Rank-and-file civil servants are taking part in walkouts and protests on 14 November. This is not only to coincide with the general strikes across Europe, but to draw attention to government attacks on terms and conditions.

The day of action follows a wildcat walkout at HMRC in Coventry, in response to a visit by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude.

Already the development has forced movement from the union leadership, who have called a follow up day of action on 30 November.

Union busting at Virgin

Submitted by Matthew on 14 November, 2012 - 10:23

The media arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group empire announced on 7 November that it plans to derecognise unions organising at the company, including the Communication Workers Union (CWU).

Virgin is offering an internal “Voice Forum” as an alternative staff representative, and will ballot employees on whether they wish to be represented this body or by an independent union.

A CWU statement said: “It’s self-evident that a company’s own ‘employee forum’ cannot possibly be as independent as a democratically accountable trade union”.

Thousands march against Ford closure

Submitted by Matthew on 14 November, 2012 - 10:13

20,000 workers marched to protest job losses at a Ford plant in Genk, Belgium, on Sunday 11 November.

4,300 workers face losing their jobs, and workers at the plant had previously responded to the announcement by blockading the factory gates. Sunday’s demonstration saw the campaign turn out to the wider community, as well as mobilising Ford workers from plants in Germany. A delegation from Belgium had visited Ford’s European headquarters in Cologne, where they held a demonstration of around 100 workers.

Teachers step up action

Submitted by Matthew on 14 November, 2012 - 10:08

Teachers at South Shields Community School in Tyne and Wear struck on 7, 8, and 13 November, as part of a planned series of strikes which will also see action on 14 and 15 November.

Members of teaching unions NUT and NASUWT at the school escalated the unions’ joint national campaign of industrial action short of strikes and voted to walk out after the school management refused the unions’ demand of a three-per-year limit on classroom observation.

New battle for John Lewis cleaners

Submitted by Matthew on 14 November, 2012 - 9:27

On Monday 12 November, the Industrial Workers of the World union (IWW) launched a fresh pay dispute on behalf of outsourced cleaners at John Lewis.

This follows an IWW cleaners’ strike at John Lewis in Oxford Street earlier in the year — the first strike in John Lewis history.

In the run up to Christmas and January sales, John Lewis can expect to see profits spike, bringing in millions of pounds. Meanwhile, cleaners working in their buildings are earning minimum wage of just £6.19 an hour.