Solidarity 240, 28 March 2012

Help the AWL raise £20,000

Submitted by Matthew on 28 March, 2012 - 5:05

The six Tory donors whom David Cameron hosted at Downing Street and Chequers donated £23 million to the Conservative Party, their party.

Their vast wealth is what secures them influence in society – not just through donations, dodgy or legit, but through the sheer power that the very possession of such wealth constitutes under capitalism.

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Force Cameron out of office!

Submitted by Matthew on 28 March, 2012 - 1:23

On Monday afternoon, 26 March, David Cameron’s office said that they could not say who had come to private dinners with Cameron, as prime minister, because the office kept lists only of guests at official dinners paid for by the Government.

Within half an hour they had been forced to “find” the list they evidently had of guests at “meals for donors... paid for by the Conservative Party”.

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General strikes in Spain and Portugal

Submitted by Matthew on 28 March, 2012 - 1:21

Spain’s two main union confederations, UGT and CCOO, called a one-day general strike on 29 March over issues similar to those sparking the strike wave in Italy.

In a country with 23% unemployment, the new conservative government wants to change the law to make it easier for employers to sack workers.

The executives of UGT and CCOO met jointly, for the first time in history, on 9 March, to decide to call the strike.

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Submitted by AWL on Wed, 04/04/2012 - 11:51

Yesterday's general strike, called by all of the major unions in the Spanish state, was the backdrop for a contestation not only of the principle of secure, high quality employment and against the exploitation of low wage earners, but also of the control of the streets of Barcelona.

The police, clearly taking their cue from a political leadership that aimed to prioritise the dispersal and intimidation of demonstrators, were tooled up and ready to go from the start, with rubber bullets available immediately. At several points in the day there was firing of rubber bullets into a crowd which contained small children, on the pretext of “troublemakers in the crowd”, however the effect was not the de-escalation of the conflict, but its ramping up, as an increasingly frustrated police force fired more and more rounds as the day went on. More than one head injury was sighted, which seems to point to the fact that the police weren't even aiming at the legs, and could easily have blinded people.

Estimates of the strikes effectiveness have varied, with government sources describing the country as being in a state of, “complete normality”, with this assessment obviously being challenged by strike leaders. However, what this observer found interesting was the manic desperation of the police on the ground to keep the radical feeder marches of the CNT and autonomist groups away from the main demonstration, including a huge number of protesters in Placa Catalunya who spend much of the afternoon being shot at by police while responding in kind.

There was also, according to other media, a large number of plain clothes cops identifying individuals in the crowd for arrest, which is a trend that should be common by now.

Overall, it is likely that much of the information about the effectiveness of the strike (in purely economic terms) will be coming out at a later date, but at first glance it seems that the strike was not aimed around the stoppage of work, as the figures seem to indicate, but instead was a means to a symbolic mass mobilisation. Progress, certainly, but surely the real challenge would be to organise prolonged industrial action against the government, rather than a somewhat token national demonstration that can be passed off as a flash in the pan.

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Strike wave sweeps Italy

Submitted by Matthew on 28 March, 2012 - 1:17

Since the news on 20 March that the leadership of Italy’s largest union confederation, CGIL, had voted down acceptance of the proposed abolition by Mario Monti’s government of the job-security provision in Article 18 of the Labour Code, a wave of spontaneous strikes, occupations, mass assemblies and road blocks has burst forth across the whole country.

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Deeside picket next in Bootle lock-out fight

Submitted by Matthew on 28 March, 2012 - 1:12

Four of the 149 workers locked out of the Mayr Melnhof Packaging plant in Bootle near Liverpool have been sacked following sham disciplinary procedures.

A further 48 have been issued with redundancy notices, in addition to the initial 49 redundancy against which workers were taking official action when they were first locked out over a month ago.

The Bootle workers are now organising a flying “community picket” to visit the company’s plant in Deeside, Mobilising the solidarity of the Deeside workers could be crucial to the Bootle workers’ dispute.

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Tories set out railway cuts plan

Submitted by Matthew on 28 March, 2012 - 1:10

On 8 March, the Tories published “Reforming our Railways: Putting the Customer First”, a “command paper” with recommendations based on Sir Roy McNulty’s 2011 review and report into the railway industry.

It stated that the railway “remains unacceptably inefficient.”

As rail industry analyst and commentator Christian Wolmar says: “Given that Britain has experimented with the most radical change in structure of the railways of any country in Europe [where costs have gone down], is it not the case that [structure] … is the root of the problem?”

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War of attrition in Southampton

Submitted by Matthew on 28 March, 2012 - 1:05

Local government unions at Southampton City Council have settled into a low-level war of attrition with council bosses after an impressive campaign of creative, rank-and-file-driven industrial action in 2011 failed to prevent the imposition of new contracts.

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Cops to demand right to strike?

Submitted by Matthew on 28 March, 2012 - 1:03

The Police Federation will ballot its 135,000 members on whether to demand the right to take official industrial action.

The move comes in response to what the Federation call “an unprecedented attack on policing” by the government.

When cops took part in a similar ballot in 2008, 87% of those voting demanded full industrial rights for police.

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New sell-off threat for Royal Mail

Submitted by Matthew on 28 March, 2012 - 12:57

Royal Mail could be sold off (entirely or in part) by 2013 if the government’s latest scheme goes ahead.

In what the Financial Times calls the “most ambitious privatisation scheme since rail”, the coalition plans either to float Royal Mail on the stock market or seek an industry or private equity buyer.

In a move that could be seen as an early warning of privatisation, communications regulator Ofcom is expected to ease regulations on Royal Mail pricing, and potentially introduce increases of 50% on second-class stamps and limitless increases on first-class.

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