Solidarity 349, 14 January 2015

Tories plan new law to cripple strikes

Submitted by Matthew on 14 January, 2015 - 12:51

Britain already has “the most restrictive trade union laws anywhere in the western world”, as Tony Blair complacently told the Daily Mail in 1997.

If the Tories win in May 2015 the laws will become not just “most restrictive” but crippling, or least crippling for national strikes. The Tories will ban public service strikes unless at least 40% of the workforce vote for the strike in a ballot.

Only 23.5% of the electorate voted Tory in 2010, but they think that’s enough to decide the government!

Free Shahrokh Zamani and Reza Shahabi!

Submitted by Matthew on 14 January, 2015 - 12:48

On Saturday 10 January over forty people came to hear poets speak out for Shahrokh and Reza and a fundraising gig.

The gig raised £200 for legal defence funds for jailed Iranian trade unionists as well as attendees taking away petitions to gather signatures. Morad Shirin of the Iranian Workers Solidarity Network spoke about the situation for Shahrokh and Reza as well as for the Iranian working class generally, and poet Janine Booth performed a sonnet for Shahrokh and Reza.

Vote Patrick Murphy in NUT election

Submitted by Matthew on 14 January, 2015 - 12:43

According to an National Union of Teachers (NUT) survey, 30% of teachers have been denied pay progression this year under new performance related pay rules brought in from September 2013.

The survey also found that denial of pay progression was higher in primary schools that in secondary schools, and was higher for black and minority ethnic teachers. 90% of those denied progression reported that there was no indication in the year that this was a possibility.

Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 14 January, 2015 - 12:35 Author: Gemma Short, Darren Bedford, Gerry Bates, Charlotte Zalens and Micheál McEoin

As Solidarity went to press on 13 January, bus drivers across London were staging a 24 hour strike in a bid to level up pay across the capital.

London’s bus network is outsourced to 18 different companies. Each one of these companies has their own pay scales and the union Unite must separately negotiate pay with all 18 companies. As a result pay differs by up to £3 an hour across the capital for drivers doing the same work. Unite is calling for a London wide pay scale.

Tax the rich to save the Health Service!

Submitted by Matthew on 14 January, 2015 - 11:58 Author: Sacha Ismail

Spurred by waiting times in Accident & Emergency departments which are the worst since records began in 2004, the Tories have promised an extra £2 billion a year above inflation for the health service.

Labour says it will go £2.5 billion a year above that (funded by a mansion tax, a levy on tobacco companies and closing tax loopholes). Both are completely inadequate

NHS boss Simon Stevens says that the NHS will need at least £8 billion a year above inflation even with dramatic “efficiency savings” – by which he means attacks on NHS workers.

Journalists repressed the world over

Submitted by Matthew on 14 January, 2015 - 11:48

Every year Reporters Without Borders produce a World Press Freedom Index, looking at how 180 countries rate on press freedom and the degree to which journalists and bloggers are targetted by militias, criminal gangs and the armed far right (both fascists and extreme Islamists). It is a window on how dangerous and unfree the world is.

The 2014 Index highlights the effects of the Syrian crisis. 130 journalists were killed between 2011 and the end of 2013; more since then have been killed, arrested or intimidated by Bashar Al Assad, ISIS and Kurdish PYD militia.

Scots, Wha Hae Wi Murphy bled!

Submitted by Matthew on 14 January, 2015 - 11:41 Author: Anne Field

Newly elected Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy has produced his own version of a new Clause Four for the Labour Party in Scotland.

(To be more accurate: he claims that it is all his own work. In fact, it reads like an entry in a primary school competition (“Write your own clause four and win a gold star!”) which has been pulled out of a hat at random.)

The first part of the new, Scottish, Clause Four is the verbose and vacuous Blairite Clause Four adopted by the Labour Party in 1995, albeit with a reference to Scottish Labour and “the people of Scotland” thrown in.

The SWP and Charlie Hebdo

Submitted by Matthew on 14 January, 2015 - 11:29

Those familiar with the Socialist Workers’ Party’s politics won’t have been surprised by its statement responding to the Charlie Hebdo attack. It was the most crude example of the kind of response we have seen from parts of the left in the UK.

The SWP’s statement included one line implying opposition to the killings and nothing at all about the basic principle of the right to free speech.

Crux of complaints?

Submitted by Matthew on 14 January, 2015 - 11:25 Author: Colin Foster

Aha! Now Duncan Morrison says what he’s getting at in his stream of letters of complaint about Jon Lansman’s article in Solidarity 343. Or maybe he does.

Lansman’s article was “right wing” because it said that “the current Labour leadership shouldn’t be got rid of”. It was wrong because it “argue[d] that there shouldn’t be a leadership election”.