Solidarity 239, 21 March 2012

Health and Social Care Bill universally condemned

“I’m not being disingenuous. I really haven’t spoken to anybody who’s in favour of [the Health and Social Care Bill]”, says nurse consultant Andrew Frazer in the Guardian’s “100 NHS Voices” survey.

Regional pay is poverty pay!

Chancellor George Osborne wants to make public sector pay rates more “market-facing” and responsive to private sector pay rates. Regional pay bargaining is to be introduced, starting with some departments in the civil service.

Osborne claims that public sector pay has risen twice as fast as private sector in the last four years. This ignores the fact that bank nationalisations in 2009 artificially increased "public sector” pay and decreased private sector pay. Anyway, relatively higher union membership in the public sector should mean that we win better pay rises.

Scots strike for NHS pensions

Thirty Unison members working in the Central De-Contamination Unit in Ayrshire Central Hospital (Irvine) staged a 48-hour strike on 13-14 March as part of the union’s ongoing campaign in defence of NHS pensions in Scotland.

The unit had been opened just a week earlier by Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon.

Tube workers reject Olympics bribe

On Friday 16 March, all workplace reps for stations staff, drivers, service control staff, and maintenance workers met to discuss London Underground Limited (LUL)’s offer for Olympics working. The meeting vote unanimously to reject the offer.

Teachers' union limits strike to London

The National Union of Teachers (NUT) Executive ignored the views of a huge majority of members (as expressed in an internal survey) and decided not to proceed with a further national strike on pensions on 28 March.

Despite a 73.4% yes to strike action, the majority on the Executive decided that there was insufficient support for continuing action. 15 NEC members pushed a vote to proceed with the action but they were opposed by 24 members, including a significant number who would regard themselves as being on the left of the union.

Union leaders surrender on pensions

The leaders of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) have voted not to call national strike action on 28 March.

PCS leaders claim that, since the government’s policy has been applied across the whole public sector, only nationally-coordinated action by as many unions as possible can win any concessions.

Unions: not surveys but agitation

It has become habit for public sector unions, even when they have a legally valid ballot mandate for strikes, to conduct “surveys” of their members to see whether there is a mood for further action.

In the 1960s, sociologist John Goldthorpe undertook a survey of Vauxhall car workers in Luton. His study was technically sound. After detailed analysis he concluded that the workers were content with their working lives, thought well of management, and had no sense of working-class solidarity.

Merseyside: new challenge from far-right

Phil Dickens is an anti-fascist activist involved in Liverpool Anti-Fascists (LiverAF). He spoke to Solidarity about recent clashes with the English Defence League (EDL) and their splinter organisations.

Iran-USA: “You have to oppose both governments”

Ayob Rahmani of the International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI) spoke to Solidarity.

What do you think about the build-up to war?

I do not think full-scale war — invasion of Iran by the US and its allies — is going to happen. It seems impossible, given the problems the US and its allies have in Afghanistan and Iraq. Politically and militarily they failed to achieve what they intended.

Iran is a big country with around 75 million people and with a bigger and stronger army in a strategic position in the Middle East.

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