Solidarity 124, 10 January 2008

How to organise young workers

Author

Editorial

One of the most visible impacts of capitalist globalisation has been the massive expansion of low-paid (and often semi-casual) jobs in the service sector.

This “precarious” employment — in bars, restaurants, nightclubs, hotels, fast-food chains, supermarkets, high-street retailers, call centres and elsewhere — means long hours, barely-legal wages and unsafe working conditions. Young people fill these jobs.

For a working class campaign against fascism

Author

Charlie Salmon

Effective anti-fascist campaigning must encourage genuine non-racist action for working class interests on housing, employment and welfare rights; and promote non-racist democratic working class organisations, such as trade unions, to organise around such issues.

Unpaid overtime action

A TUC investigation has found that the number of workers working unpaid overtime increased by over 100,000 in 2007, with the total topping the five million mark.

On average each of these workers loses a staggering £5,000 a year, which means that a total of £25 billion worth of overtime work goes unpaid. To put it another way, five million workers are putting in an average of over seven unpaid hours each week

Birmingham Equal pay fight

Birmingham city council has upped the ante in its battle with its staff over equal pay, by seeking to impose new contracts which mean drastic pay cuts thousands of workers and longer hours for thousands more.

The council claims that its goal is equal pay between men and women, but is quite transparently using this as cover for an attack on the workforce. Many women, as well as male, workers will suffer pay cuts if it is successful — some by as much as £6,000 a year. No wonder 70 percent of workers have either formally rejected or decided to ignore their new contracts.

Prison officer strike ban

In response to the impact of August 2007’s 12-hour strike, Justice Secretary Jack Straw announced plans for a strike-ban for prison officers on January 8. Tabled as an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, the measure will be discussed in Parliament as Solidarity goes to press.

Karen Reissman campaign update

Workers in Manchester’s Community and Mental Health Services, who struck last year against the victimisation and sacking of their Unison branch chair, SWP member Karen Reissman, have now returned to work — but are building a political campaign for her reinstatement.

On 11 December the branch unanimously carried a motion advocating a campaign including a Unison delegation to Health Secretary Alan Johnson, pressure on Unison-sponsored MPs and a one day strike on 5 February so that the whole branch can attend a lobby of Parliament in London.

Why Pakistan is exploding

Author

Cathy Nugent

The new Pakistani general [Musharraf], he’s just been elected — not elected, this guy took over office. It appears this guy is going to bring stability to the country, and I think that’s good news for the subcontinent. (George W Bush, 1999)

Further curbs on freedom of assembly

Author

Reuben Green

It comes as no surprise that Gordon Brown’s comments about freedom to protest have turned out to be doublespeak and spin. The government is currently consulting — via a webpage! — on Sections 132-138 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) (2005), which ban unauthorised protest within one square kilometre of Parliament. The consultation is being presented as a move to repeal the draconian laws. But the way the questions are posed in the consultation suggest that is actually an attempt to bring in far greater police powers in relation to “public order”.

Labour and Tories race to attack benefits

Author

David Broder

David Cameron has launched a fresh offensive against single parents, unemployed and disabled people with plans to force them into work. The Tory leader’s proposals include making the unemployed participate in “community work”, penalties for those who turn down “reasonable” job offers and cutting the number of people receiving incapacity benefit by 600,000 over the next five years.

US: pick-the-millionaire time

Author

Sacha Ismail

In 1996, an independent Labor Party with over two million affiliated trade unionists was established, but it failed to break completely with the Democrats and eventually withered. Reviving such initiatives is the key task for socialists, and all those who want to see something more like real democracy in the US.

Click here for another article on this issue by Barry Finger, and ensuing debate.

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