In Britain, rising food prices — up over 15% a year — mean poorer households scrape and struggle. In many countries, they mean people starve. The most basic foods — wheat, rice, corn — have pretty much doubled. Families don’t have enough to eat. In Egypt, workers have struck and occupied factories. In other countries, there have been food riots.
Solidarity 3/132, 14 May 2008
Since the end of February when the government introduced new penalties for bosses who hire “illegal workers” the number of raids on workplaces has increased drastically — twice as many in the last few months as during the whole of the 1990s. Fines totaling £500,000 have been issued. 63,140 people, asylum seekers and undocumented workers, were removed from the UK last year. That is still not enough for the Liberal Democrats and the Tories who continue to urge on the rabid dogs who run the Immigration Department.
Since 15 April, a series of unprecedented strikes by undocumented workers have taken place in France. In the greater Parisian region alone, an estimated one thousand undocumented workers are involved in strike action. The strike and actions, led by the CGT and other unions, is mainly concentrated in construction and restaurants. All the disputes are demanding the mass regularisation of undocumented workers.
Five members of Sheffield University student union’s delegation to the 2008 National Union of Student’s conference (including myself) face disciplinary action following their refusal to vote in line with a “mandate” imposed on them by their union’s Council in favour of the NUS Governance Review.
May 2008. Sixty years after the declaration of the state of Israel in compliance with the November 1947 resolution of the UN. The conflict with the Palestinians and the Arabs which at the Jewish state’s birth led to Arab invasion, war and the elimination of the Palestinian state stipulated in the UN resolution (almost all its territory went to Jordan and Egypt) is, perhaps, further from being resolved now than it was sixty years ago. The 41 year occupation of territory captured in the June 1967 war continues to poison Isreali-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab relations.
A fortnight after the Grangemouth oil refinery was shut down by strike action, talks continue between refinery owners (INEOS) and UNITE.
The strike by the 1,200 union members was in defence of the refinery’s final salary pension scheme, inherited by INEOS from the refinery’s previous owners (BP).
Pay will be the major issue before this year’s PCS national conference. Given the general pay squeeze across the public sector and high inflation rate everybody expects that civil servants will get below inflation offers;
Two out of three Unison members voted to reject the local government pay deal in a consultative ballot. The yes vote was helped by the action taken on 24 April. These strikes gave a public profile and some urgency to the issue.
A pay offer covering the next three years is being put to health workers this month. The national leadership of UNISON is completely split on whether it should be accepted or rejected. Workers’ Liberty supporters are convinced we should reject the offer. We also believe that industrial action is possible and we can win.
The National Union of Teachers Executive met on 8 May for the first time since the 24 April pay strike. For a while it looked like there would be no discussion or vote on proposals to develop the pay campaign.