Solidarity 197, 16 March 2011

Fight these pension cuts!

John Hutton has produced his final report on the future of public sector pensions. But even before the report, according to the TUC, the value of these pensions had been reduced by 25 per cent due to a mix of negotiated changes and the government’s arbitrary switch to the Consumer Price Index as a measure of inflation.

But other Hutton recommendations will worsen the situation.

The recommendation to end final salary schemes and increase the Normal Pension Age (NPA) for all staff to 65 will impact badly on existing and future public servants.

Activists from PCS and NUT on why the unions must fight the attacks on public sector pensions.

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Libyan rebels in retreat

The initial successes of the uprising in the east of Libya gave comfort to those who were looking for the complete elimination of the Qaddafi regime. The taking of cities close to Tripoli gave some grounds for optimism that the uprising, backed by the defection of large parts of the military, would soon move on to take Tripoli.

Reports suggest that Colonel Gaddafi's forces have retaken some areas of Libya from the rebels.

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24 March: strike across post-16 education

University and College Union members in both higher and further will be on strike over the next ten days over pensions, pay and jobs.

University strikes over pensions will take place in Scotland on 17 March, Wales on 18 March, Northern Ireland on 21 March and England on 22 March. Then on 24 March university lecturers across the UK will strike over pensions, jobs and pay, alongside members in further education striking over pay.

The 24th is also the national day of action in defence of ESOL provision.

UCU members across the country are preparing to take action over pensions, pay and jobs.

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We can beat cuts!

Wirral TUC relaunched Wirral Against the Cuts in order to campaign against closures of care homes.

We leafleted care homes, organised meetings, and a lobby of the budget meeting, and one of the users of the Fernleigh centre who we met put in for a legal injuction.

The Fernleigh centre is the only centre providing support and respite for those with mental health problems.

Now Wirral council have backed down and Fernleigh is to stay open for at least 12 months.

A campaign by Wirral TUC has stopped the local council shutting the borough's only centre providing support and respite for those with mental health problems.

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RMT young members get organised

RMT Young Members held their largest ever conference on 25-26 February.

Fifty delegates might not sound a lot for a union of 80,000 members, 11,000 of whom are under 30. But four years ago there were just nine delegates. Young RMT activists have worked hard to build the conference over recent years; this reflects increasing participation of young RMT members.

The recent RMT Young Members conference inspired delegates to go back to their workplaces and fight, as well as showing that union leaders can be questioned by their members.

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Rape services X Factor and "petition wars"

Cambridgeshire’s ruling Tories are running a “Participatory Budgeting Project” for Violence Against Women and Girls projects in Cambridgeshire. Residents can vote for which VAWG projects get funding of up to £3,000 — and which get nothing.

Cambridge Rape Crisis is the only specialist VAWG organisation who has gone in for the vote (to avoid similar organisations competing). The service is a lifeline to women and girls who have experienced rape and sexual abuse. Funding will enable them to start running face-to-face counselling again.

How Tory councils are attempting to divide public service users in order to make cuts.

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Public health cuts mean shorter lives

Oxfordshire’s Heath Scrutiny Committee is being lobbied by unions and service users to order the Primary Care Trust to launch a full public consultation on public health cuts.

Oxford is a city of extremes: men and women living in the working class estates of the city die seven and six years earlier than those a few miles away in affluent areas of Oxford.

Oxford is a city of extremes: men and women living in the working class estates of the city die seven and six years earlier than those a few miles away in affluent areas.

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Lib Dem protest: build a political campaign!

The Liberal Democrats at their Spring Conference in Sheffield (11-14 March) were safe enough — both politically and physically — behind the security barriers.

The police presence was enormous at the demonstration on Saturday 12 March with around 1,000 cops and horses manning fences, a mobile metal riot wall-barrier.

All this — a largely passive protest of 3-5,000 — cost £2 million to local people. An outrage to a city slashed by cuts.

“Sending the Government a message” is useless unless it is backed up by a movement that compels the unions to mobilise their members and use the Labour-link to actually defeat Tory/Lib Dem attacks.

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