Solidarity 153, 12 June 2009

Which way for the unions and Labour?


John Bloxam and Martin Thomas

What should socialists conclude from the debate at the Communication Workers’ Union conference on the union’s political relationship to the Labour Party (where no policy was passed)? The AWL’s National Committee favours disaffiliation moves where they are linked to positive moves for independent working class politics. We are also conducting a debate on this issue in the AWL ). Two responses.

Activists should back working-class candidates

By John Bloxam

Protecting children from religion


Rosie Woods

A young child is removed from his family, taken to live in a remote community, made to engage in strange rituals, denied the company of ordinary children, dressed in unusual clothes and surrounded by adults who worship him. Are these scenes from some despotic cult? No, this is the way that new religious leaders are “nurtured” under the auspices of what are widely held to be the enlightened and progressive practices of Tibetan Buddhism.

Politics in the New Depression


Barry Finger

America is a centre-right nation. Or so the pundit class in America tirelessly insists. The Obama administration is ubiquitously warned, from quarters both friendly and hostile, that failure to adhere to this truism augers political calamity. At first glance it might seem very curious that a President, who ran as a moderate and who made no secret of his desire to reach across the political aisle to create a new political center, should require such constant and persistent admonishments.

Tube: striking for jobs and pay

London Underground workers struck for 48 hours from Tuesday 9 June-Thursday 11 June over pay, jobs and management bullying.

• 1000 jobs are at risk on London Underground and up to 3000 in Transport for London as part of a £2.4 billion cuts package. LUL have refused to rule out compulsory redundancies, despite signing up to a “no compulsory redundancies” agreement in 2001.

• London Underground had been offering a five year pay offer that would have amounted to a pay cut.

A victory for militancy!


Rob Hope

Rob Williams, Unite convenor at the Linamar car plant in Swansea, has been re-instated following his sacking by the company last month. Rob was sacked for his record of defending members’ interests and building solidarity with the Visteon struggle.

The company’s capitulation is a huge victory for Rob and for the workers at Linamar who voted overwhelmingly for industrial action to save Rob’s job.

Probation Service fight

NAPO and Unison members in South Yorkshire Probation Service last week suspended a planned 24 hour strike against jobs cuts which management are trying to impose.

Several staff have already taken voluntary redundancy/voluntary early retirement, but the management plan to restructure the service and cut middle management and admin staff.

Post: use the ballot!

Postal workers across London recently voted nine-to-one for strike action over jobs and cost savings.

At the postal sector conference of the CWU, on Wednesday 10 June, Dave Ward, union deputy general secretary responsible for the sector, declared that this is “a time of maximum vulnerability for both the government and Royal Mail management”.

CWU rejects BT deal

On Wednesday 10 June, the telecom sector conference of the post and telecom union CWU heavily defeated the sector Executive on the issue of the “Service Delivery Transformation” deal for BT Openreach engineers.

The Executive majority, the so-called “Effective Left”, had proposed the deal as the only way to avoid compulsory redundancies.

The plan involves:

• A new “foundation grade” which will put all new workers on £4000 lower wages.

• A change in attendance patterns so that workers lose premium pay for Saturdays.

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