Solidarity 147, 12 March 2009

Probation Service: Build support for a ballot

PROBATION SERVICE: Probation areas up and down the country are facing huge cuts in government funding. Redundancies are already on the cards in several areas along with attacks on terms and conditions.

Workers Climate Action speak at RMT

UNIONS AND CLIMATE CHANGE: Workers’ Climate Action were invited to speak at the RMT young members’ conference on 1 March. Bob Sutton went to made the case that young rail and maritime workers are in a position to make a massive difference on the issue of ecological damage both as an industrially strong and organised section of the working class but also as having a grip on the future of what is one of the key questions in any programme of transition to a low carbon economy, that of transport.

Further Action at Staythorpe

Engineering construction: Workers demonstrated outside the Staythorpe power station construction site, in Nottinghamshire, again on Wednesday 11 March. But Unite union officials seem to be quietly encouraging a winding-down of the action.

Most of the workers currently on the site are Spanish workers, reportedly non-union and walled off from access by trade unionists, employed by two Spanish sub-contractors. The demonstrations are for labour for future phases of the contract to be hired locally under the national union agreement for engineering construction.

Vote John Moloney for PCS Deputy General Secretary

The coming election for Deputy General Secretary of the civil service union PCS will be a choice between the old centre-right of the union and a candidate, AWL member John Moloney, backed by the Independent Left.

The PCS union “machine”, though on paper left wing — dominated by the Socialist Party — will be backing the centre-right candidate, Hugh Lanning.

What “quantitative easing” means


Martin Thomas

The Bank of England’s move in early March to a new monetary tactic — “quantitative easing” — came alongside much economic-disaster news.

The banks “bailed out” so lavishly last year still need more bailing out. Lloyds TSB, which was supposed to be a “strong” bank capable of saving HBOS by buying it out with Government aid, turns out to be as much a basket case as any other.

In the USA, giants like Citigroup are in deep trouble, and conservative politicians talk about nationalisation.

For jobs, fight the bosses, not other workers!

An Appeal by Socialists and Trade Unionists

As the recession brings attacks on jobs, wages and conditions, we are determined to fight back, and to support our fellow workers who do so, for example in the recent engineering construction walkouts.

We demand:

• Jobs for all workers

• Work or full pay

• Pay to be levelled up to the best rates

• Direct recruitment of labour by the companies or by principal contractors, rather than the use of subcontractors, wherever possible

• Union agreements to be enforced without exemptions for contractors

Obama sets plans for Iraq pull-out


Rhodri Evans

On 27 February new US president Barack Obama announced his detailed plans for Iraq.

Small reductions in US troop levels have already started. After them the US military presence will remain large — 120,000-plus — until after the Iraqi elections scheduled for December 2009.

Then faster withdrawal is planned, and “combat” operations are due to end by 31 August 2010.

World News in Brief


Thousands of workers have rallied in Tokyo demanding job security and wage rises.

Japan’s economy is in its worst condition for three decades, with several large firms announcing job losses. The rally, organised by the Japanese equivalent of the TUC, represents a markedly different approach to that taken by many union leaders in the UK (such as those of the GMB and USDAW) who have meekly accepted job losses and have reduced the union’s role to that of mitigating the impact of forced redundancies.

Act to reverse climate change now


Riki Lane

Riki Lane reports from Melbourne

“Black Saturday”, 7 February 2009, was Australia’s greatest fire disaster. Unstoppable fires at over 1200C, driven by winds of up to 100 km/h on a 46ºC day, wiped small communities off the map. At least 210 people died. 2000 houses were burned down, another 2000 made uninhabitable, 7000 people made homeless.

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