Solidarity 246, 16 May 2012

NHS cuts bite

Health minister Andrew Lansley was heckled and branded a liar by delegates at the congress of the Royal College of Nursing on 14 May.

His appearance came on the same day that an RCN survey showed 26,000 nursing posts have been cut in the past two years and a further 61,000 posts are at risk.

At the same time there are real term pay cuts, attacks on sickness absence and holiday entitlement, not to mention the dismantling of 63 years of free state-run healthcare.

School strike forces concessions

Picket lines at Central Foundation Girls School in east London, where workers are striking against job losses, pay cuts and increases to workload, were well attended on Friday 11 May (the most recent day of action).

The increasingly nervy and confrontational headteacher repeatedly threatened to call the police because there were more than six people on the picket.

The action has already forced the school management into concessions, and it has now conceded on both job losses and pay cuts, which primarily effected support staff (i.e. Unison members).

Police against Tories

On 10 May 20,000 coppers joined a Police Federation demonstration against cuts and reforms. On the same day just 500 public sector workers joined London’s strike day rally against pension cuts.

Trade unionists should take note here — the police mobilisation put that of the labour movement to shame.

PCS needs more than one-day strikes

A famous politician once said: “You must be able at each particular moment to find the particular link in the chain which you must grasp with all your might in order to hold the whole chain and to prepare firmly for the transition to the next link”.

Young workers meet to discuss organising

Young workers and working students came together at Goldsmiths College on Saturday 12 May for ‘Student Worker Solidarity 2012’, an activist gathering organised by the Young Members Network of the GMB union’s Southern Region.

Co-sponsored by Goldsmiths Students Union, Royal Holloway Students Union and social justice NGO People & Planet, the event aimed to share experiences, skills and resources for anyone involved in trade union organising in their workplace or on their campus (and, as is often the case, when those two places are one and the same).

Industrial news in brief

The British Medical Association (BMA), the professional association for doctors, has begun balloting its 103,000 members for industrial action.

The BMA is opposed to increases in employee contributions to doctors’ pensions scheme, and the raising of the pension age from 65 to 68. Although the BMA has ruled out a full strike, a positive result in the ballot could see doctors refusing to perform any duties or procedures that could be safely postponed.

Doctors last took industrial action in 1975.

Justice for Dayna

Tanker drivers accept bosses' offer

A strike by fuel tanker drivers has been averted after workers narrowly voted to accept a deal to end a dispute over safety, job security and minimum standards.

Although the workers’ union, Unite, had recommended rejection, 51% of the workers, across seven haulage firms, voted to accept the deal that brings an end to a lengthy dispute which has seen panicked scaremongering from the Tory government.

Factory occupation wins

Irish workers who occupied their factory after being laid off have won the redundancy payments their millionaire boss initially refused to give them.

The former employees of the Vita Cortex foam manufacturing plant in Cork have ended a 150-day occupation of the plant after their union, Siptu, helped negotiate a substantial redundancy package.

Neither Washington nor Moscow: those were the days

We continue our series of recollections and reflections from activists who were involved with the “third camp” left in the United States — those “unorthodox” Trotskyists who believed that the Soviet Union was not a “workers’ state” (albeit a “degenerated” one), but an exploitative form of class rule to be as opposed as much as capitalism. This week, we publish contributions from people of two generations, David Finkel, who is now an editor of the Against the Current magazine in the US, and Marty Oppenheimer, who has been active in developing radical sociology.

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