Solidarity 066, 3 February 2005

All out for pensions on 23 March!

The Government has announced its intention that the pension retirement age for public sector workers should be 65.

On top of that they want to replace “final salary” schemes by “career average” schemes.

They flagged up these intentions a long time ago — the change to the pension age was announced in a Green Paper more than two years ago — yet only in the last few months has the trade union movement really started to react.

The civil service union, PCS, has urged a co-ordinated response. That work is now paying off.

Is there a split in the IRA?

By Thomas Carolan

As the 7th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) approaches, the work of seven years of constitution-making and Dublin and London structure-building to create a new interdenominationalist power-sharing government in Belfast, is rolling down the hill.

Perhaps unstoppably.

Anti-semitism on the rise

Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer were unorthodox Marxist academics and German Jews.

In the early 1930s, like others of their sort who could, they fled Nazi Germany for the USA. And they reported that, in ordinary day-to-day life, they encountered more anti-semitism in the USA than they ever had in Germany.

In other words, the idea of anti-semitism as something far away and long ago, unfortunate but solidly dealt with by the gallant World War 2 allies, is false.

A recent report shows that anti-semitism is on the rise in Britain today.

Stop the cuts in Incapacity Benefit!

By Joan Trevor

The government announced on Wednesday 2 February its five-year plan for benefits and pensions, including cuts in Incapacity Benefit (IB). This is a disgraceful attack on IB claimants, many of whom live in poverty. Instead of setting itself the humane goal of providing the sick and disabled with comfort and ease, the government is setting out to make the sick and disabled poorer still.

There will no longer be automatic increases in the amount of benefit paid to IB claimants after six months and one year. The amounts that can be claimed currently are:

Lessons of the Holocaust

During the recent Holocaust memorial week, the following question was posed many times in the media: has humanity learned the lessons of the Nazi genocide? The question is hard to answer in sound-bites. In fact, there was very little discussion about what the lessons might be.

One of the big lessons about what the Nazis did to the Jews, the gypsies, and other people in Europe, is that the ground was prepared for genocide by years of state-sponsored discrimination and prejudice.

Signal workers settle

London Underground signal workers have voted roughly 70% in favour of a new deal over the working week, pay and job cuts. The 30% “no” vote was significant for the RMT, where going against a recommended deal is not usual.

Signal operators and control staff were supposed to strike on New Year’s Eve and 4 January. RMT called off the action after the deal was struck.

The issues were:

Come to NUS conference. Vote “Education Not for Sale”

By Daniel Randall

In March 2004, the National Union of Students conference rejected Labour Students’ bid for the NUS presidency for the first time in more than 20 years. The beneficiary was Kat Fletcher, a former support of Solidarity and Workers’ Liberty, and still a self-proclaimed revolutionary socialist.

Over the past 11 months, however, Kat has proved anything but revolutionary in office.

Midland Mainline strike banned

By Janine Booth, Finsbury Park branch RMT chairperson (personal capacity)

The High Court has banned industrial action by train guards on Midland Mainline, in a case which shows the blatant class bias of Britain’s anti-union laws.

Midland Mainline operates multiple-unit trains which have no connecting door. This effectively divides the train into two halves. Guards and their union, RMT, believe that there should be a guard in each part of the train.

Stop New Labour plans for “house arrest”!

By Mike Rowley

House arrest, a form of incarceration formerly identified with Burmese dictators, has come to Britain under cover of the “war on terror”.

Charles Clarke, the new Home Secretary, has announced that indefinite detention without charge of people arrested under the Terrorism Act will cease. He was pushed to do so by a ruling by the House of Lords that the detention of 11 such people in Belmarsh Prison was unlawful. The Home Office will now not oppose bail for these 11.

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