Solidarity 241, 11 April 2012

Spain pushes “pay for health care”

Submitted by Matthew on 11 April, 2012 - 10:40

Spain’s new conservative government is planning to change Spain’s health service so that the sick will have to pay a fee for medical examinations, doctors’ visits and prescriptions.

Health care in Spain is currently free at the point of need, as in Britain’s NHS.

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Syria: slaughter and duplicity

Submitted by Matthew on 11 April, 2012 - 10:36

Syrian regime leader, Bashar Assad, fighting to smash the year-long uprising against his dictatorship, agreed to a UN-Arab League plan with a 10 April deadline for a ceasefire.

But the deal, which Assad felt forced to formally accept, is now almost certain to fall apart as the state steps up the violence against its own citizens.

Several towns, including Homs, Deraa and the Douma suburb of Damascus, are being shelled. 100 killings were reported in the two days leading up to the deadline.

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MMP lock out battle needs industrial action

Submitted by Matthew on 11 April, 2012 - 10:26

Bosses at the Mayr Melnhof Packaging (MMP) plant in Deeside locked up the facility in advance of a community picket organised by workers locked out of MMP's Bootle plant and their supporters.

The picket was part of an attempt by the locked-out Bootle workers to build solidarity for their dispute by reaching out to Deeside workers.

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Tube: co-ordinate battles

Submitted by Matthew on 11 April, 2012 - 10:21

Transport union RMT is fighting disputes against several employers in London Transport, and activists are trying to maximise their effect through co-ordination.

The disputes include battles over pensions and passes involving maintenance workers at Tube Lines, London Underground service controllers’ and signallers’ fight against threats to jobs, pay and union recognition on maintenance contractor companies, and cleaners’ battles over pay and the right to the same travel passes other Tube workers have.

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NUT grassroots get organised as leadership moves to block pensions fightback

Submitted by Matthew on 11 April, 2012 - 10:17

At the National Union of Teachers conference, in Torquay between 6 and 10 April, activists finally began to get organised to fight for rank-and-file control in the fight over pensions. The behaviour of the NUT leadership at the conference, and the official "left" that supports it, showed how much such a rank-and-file movement is needed.


Submitted by martin on Sat, 14/04/2012 - 21:32

The text is long, but the active gist is brief. Tergiversatio longa, summa brevis, as it might be put if schools still taught Latin.

  • "further industrial action on pensions should be considered"
  • "establish a programme of targeted local or regional strikes in the summer term"
  • "aim of organising a further one day national strike before the end of June 2012".

Thus it really doesn't pin the Exec down to anything.

Conference condemns the Government's attacks on the pensions of teachers and public sector workers and its broader attacks on our living standards. Conference commits the Union to resist measures which seek to make teachers and other public sector workers pay for the economic crisis.

Conference recognises that we have to mobilise our members to resist the threat to pensions as part of the broader determined attack by this Government on public sector workers and the services they work in, including the pay freeze, the move to introduce local pay, cuts to public services and the continuing undermining of teachers' professionalism.

Conference congratulates NUT members for the outstanding role that they have played in the fight to defend teacher pensions, public sector pensions and State pensions and the campaign for Fair Pensions for All, particularly through the national strikes on 30 June and 30 November and the London strike of 28 March and for their response to all of our other lobbying and campaigning activities.

Conference endorses the decision by the National Executive in March to reject the Government's "final" proposal on teachers' pensions.

Conference believes that the strike action taken by the Union and others on 30 June and again on 30 November, which galvanised the trade union movement and won concessions from Government, has shown that our campaign can succeed.

Conference affirms that the concessions made so far are insufficient to justify ending the Union's campaign. More must be done to protect teachers' pensions and to secure decent pensions for all workers. Teachers cannot be expected to work until they are 68 or beyond; nor should they have to work longer and pay more to get less.

Conference welcomes the decisions of other unions which have not accepted the Government's pension proposals, including NASUWT, UCU, NAHT, ASCL, EIS, SSTA, UCAC and INTO in teaching and PCS, Unite, BMA and NIPSA in other public sector schemes. Conference welcomes the NUT's leadership role in ongoing efforts to co-ordinate continuing joint campaigning by all those unions which have not signed up to the Government's deal. Conference expresses its support for creating the maximum unity in action of all TUC affiliates towards the attacks that are taking place against public sector pensions, the state pension and the attacks on public services such as those on Education and the NHS.

Conference calls on the National Executive to continue to seek unity with the other teacher unions, in particular, to secure further progress on pensions, including through further joint strike action. Conference notes that NUT member opinion surveys throughout 2011 and 2012 have consistently shown that NUT members believe that persuading the teacher unions to stand together is of vital importance and that support for joint action has always been far greater. However, while recognising the clear benefits of joint action by teacher unions, Conference resolves that we cannot make the willingness of the NASUWT to take part as a necessary requirement before proceeding to call further strike action as part of our ongoing pensions campaign.

Conference instructs the Executive to:

Maintain the NUT's opposition to Government attempts to make us pay more, work longer and receive less;

Maintain our principled and determined campaign to protect teachers’ pensions;

Work to secure the widest possible alliance of trade unions and others to continue the fight for pensions including "fair pensions for all";

Continue to work with those other unions which have not signed up to the Government's proposals and seek to persuade other unions to the joint campaign.

Further, Conference instructs the Executive to:

Speedily conclude the review it is undertaking with Division Secretaries, in the light of the London action of 28 March 2012, on bringing all other regions and Wales, in turn or together, into pensions action and to act on it. Conference congratulates members, school representatives and local officers for their efforts in building a significant turnout for the London regional strike and demonstration on 28 March, a response which demonstrated a continued willingness to oppose the Government's unacceptable threats to teachers' pensions

Submit a motion to TUC Congress to develop the maximum unity in action against the attacks on Pensions and against any measure to introduce local pay and conditions.

Seek to build a coalition of unions committed to further strike action in the summer term and beyond to defeat the Government's proposals;

Discuss with those unions all possible forms of joint strike and non-strike action, including national, regional and selective strike action, and campaigning activities such as joint national and local demonstrations and public meetings;

Urgently approach the other unions who have not accepted the government's final proposals to seek support for this plan of action as the basis of an agreed plan of co-ordinated action next term, and to urgently announce the confirmed calendar of action to our members and to the press.

Formulate precise demands in order to win our dispute with Government, particularly around removing or reducing the damaging effect on teachers' incomes of both the contribution increases and the raising of normal pensions ages.

Seek immediate talks with all the teacher unions on campaigning jointly on teachers' pensions and other attacks on the teaching profession, through strike action and other means of opposing the Government; and

Write to all members to explain the decision of Conference and to explain the Union's view that, at this time of increasing attacks on teachers, it is now crucial that the teacher unions begin to work together much more strongly - and to outline the NUT's support for the maximum unity in the co-ordination of campaigning whilst working towards a merger to create one union for all teachers.

Conference congratulates NUT members in London for their responses to the strike call on March 28th and for the excellent march to, and demonstration at, Michael Gove's office.

In the light of the March 28th strike, Conference believes that further industrial action on pensions should be considered and that we should seek to co-ordinate such action with as many teaching, and non-teaching, unions as possible.

Conference believes that the focus of such action should be a demand that the government:

(a) carry out a valuation of the Teacher Pension Scheme;

(b) re-open negotiations particularly around the retirement age and increased contribution rates.

Conference therefore instructs the Executive to:

(i) establish a programme of targeted local or regional strikes in the summer term, based on the survey and consultation with divisions and regional offices;

(ii) work with divisions and associations with the aim of organising a further one day national strike before the end of June 2012;

(iii) approach other unions, especially teaching unions which have not signed up to the Heads of Agreement, with a view to achieving the maximum possible co-ordination of any such strike action and joint campaigning;

(iv) consider if sustentation would be appropriate and if so what levels of sustentation would enable us to continue a programme of targeted local actions into the autumn term;

(v) consider if the campaign of action on pensions can be linked with a campaign on pay in the autumn term and if so what measures might need to be taken.

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Anti-semitism explained away

Submitted by Matthew on 11 April, 2012 - 9:59

The slippery, urbane face of Islamism, Tariq Ramadan, has excelled himself explaining away the actions of Islamist murderer Mohamed Merah.

Ramadan, proving Merah was no Islamic militant, writes that, “Two weeks before the shooting… he spent an evening in a nightclub in a very festive mood.”

Hardly unique. The BBC reported that “Many [of the 2004 Madrid train bombers] appeared westernised and integrated into the Spanish community, with a liking for football, fashion, drinking and Spanish girlfriends.”

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The “second coming” of George Galloway

Submitted by Matthew on 11 April, 2012 - 9:45

Some parts of the left have greeted Respect’s success in Bradford West with what can properly be described as religious enthusiasm. Writing over the Easter weekend on Britain’s most widely read socialist blog, one long-time activist even described the spectacular by-election overturn as “the second coming”.

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As we were saying: The Falklands and the war of 1982

Submitted by Matthew on 11 April, 2012 - 9:32

The Falkland Islands, small specks in the South Atlantic, were annexed by Britain and settled by British people in the 1830s. There had been no previous indigenous population.

A century and a half later, in the 1970s and 80s, the islands were an odd little relic of empire. They had no huge economic or strategic importance. Their 1,800 or so inhabitants, many of whom would move on to more clement climates after their time in the Falklands, had no desire to separate from Britain.

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