Solidarity 225, 17 November 2011

“The alternative” is working-class control

By Maria Exall

The joint union action on 30 November looks set to be the biggest strike for a generation. The fact that so many public sector workers are protesting against being forced to pay for the crisis caused by the excesses of the financial services sector and the failure of neo-liberal economic orthodoxy is good and necessary. We need resistance.

The police are a lethal weapon

In the days leading up to the student demonstration on 9 November, the Metropolitan Police announced that police would be able to fire plastic bullets [aka baton rounds] at protestors.

In Northern Ireland, between 1970-2005, 125,000 baton rounds were fired. They killed 17 people, the last in 1989. A larger number of people were permanently injured after being shot.

Don't cut Sure Start!

The government’s own figures say there are now 124 fewer Sure Start centres than there were when the coalition took office.

Sure Start Centres provide childcare, play opportunities for under fives as well as support for parents such as healthcare and job training.

For children, for parents, for the poorest families headed-up by single parents, and women in particular they have been — or at least could have been — a life line.

Huge win for Carlisle cleaners

Union officials have hailed a “groundbreaking” achievement by cleaning workers employed by Carlisle Cleaning and Support Services (CCSS) on the Virgin West Coast Mainline, who called off a planned 48-hour strike after bosses agreed to their demand for a 10% pay rise.

The workers will receive a 5% rise immediately, with an increase of a further 5% phased in over the next 10 months.

Rank-and-file control on N30

By Patrick Murphy, Leeds National Union of Teachers (pc), and Ira Berkovic

It now looks as if events in Leeds on 30 November will be lively and big, but only after local trade unions decided they had to take control of organising for themselves in the face of an attempt by the regional TUC to shape the day without consulting us.

New Zealand: class-based Maori party formed

A new political movement allying social justice and indigenous rights is gathering strength in New Zealand in the run up to the general election.

Maori-led and class-based, the Mana movement began a few months ago as a localised group contesting a by-election, which they won, and has become a national structure fighting on a number of policies which are for the most part socialist. Though Maori-based, it is not exclusively Maori; some of its leading representatives are European-origin NZers, and it tries to reach out to Islander-origin people.

Why governments always run debts

A five-pound note carries the words: “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of five pounds”, signed by the cashier of the Bank of England. Until 1931 (though with breaks around wars), you could take a five-pound note to the Bank of England and get the equivalent value in gold.

Socialists and Europe

Nations have not always existed. In Europe, the growth of trade created units with a common language, culture, laws, tax systems and communications, the nation states which developed between the 16th and 19th centuries.

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