Solidarity 262, 26 October 2012

Drop the charges against Bob Carnegie!

The defence campaign for Bob Carnegie, community protest organiser at the August-
October 2012 Queensland Children's Hospital construction site dispute in Brisbane, is getting underway.

In the dispute, the main contractor, Abigroup, eventually conceded the workers' demand for union-negotiated Enterprise Bargaining Agreement with a clause ensuring that workers get the rate for the job, whichever one of the many subcontractors they are employed by.

14 November: European unions to strike together

Trade union federations in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Malta, and Cyprus have called general strikes on Wednesday 14 November.

Unions in France and Italy are also said to be considering calling mass strikes.

Spanish union federation CCOO said: “Unemployment, cuts, the impoverishment of the majority and the deterioration of public services justify a general strike.”

CCOO and UGT, Spain’s two main union federations, held a “social summit” with working-class community organisations, students’ unions, and smaller trade unions to launch the strike call.

Industrial news in brief

Workers at the St Pancras Station outlet of chain sandwich shop Pret A Manger are facing intimidation and victimisation for organising a trade union in the store.

A group of workers began organising in August 2012, around a series of ongoing grievances including non-payment, late notification of shift changes, bullying by managers, and being rostered fewer hours than their stated contracts.

A petition around these demands was signed by nearly half of all staff working in the store.

Contact Centre dispute: reject the deal

Workers in Jobcentre Plus Contact Centres have been in dispute over working conditions since 2009.

There have been several strikes since the beginning of 2011. In each case Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) management have been adamant there will be no settlement after action, but in each case the strikes have been well supported and small gains have been won.

Joint action fights union busting in schools

The joint action by the two biggest teacher unions is creating some sharp battles between classroom teachers and their immediate bosses across the country.

For the most part, it seems that workers are winning back some control over their own workplaces and challenging the endless expansion of their workload demands.

Probably the most common success is that limits are being put on the number of formal observations of lessons to which teachers are subjected.

Remploy strikes need solidarity

For the fourth time this year, pickets were out in force at the Remploy factory in Springburn, Glasgow on Monday 22 October as workers there kept up their fight in defence of jobs and terms and conditions of employment.

The only person crossing the picket line was one of the £300-a-day consultants brought in by the company to “facilitate” the rundown and possible closure of the factory.

The 24-hour strike, which also involved the five other Remploy factories in Scotland, was timed to coincide with a meeting of the Remploy Task Force in the Scottish Parliament.

Total policing

Ira Berkovic picked up a copy of the Metropolitan Police’s “Total Policing” leaflet on the 20 October TUC demonstration.

If it was more honest, it would have said something like this…

The Metropolitan Police Service hopes that you stay at home.

However, if you insist on demonstrating, we are here to make sure you only do it within strictly defined parameters and with constant reminders that we are in charge. This leaflet explains how the demonstration will be policed.

What you can expect to see?

The spin doctor's verdict

Last Saturday I had the chance to sell AWL material to a famous person when I inadvertently bumped into the spin-doctor’s spin-doctor, Malcolm Tucker.

I’d knocked the mobile phone from his hand, but managed to field it before it squelched in the mud, and so seized the moment to launch my sales pitch. He listened for all of the second it took him to check his phone before interrupting.“Is it today’s issue, laddie?”

The outsider

Hilary Mantel has become the first woman to win two Booker prizes — for her novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies (the first two parts of a trilogy about Henry VIII’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell). Cathy Nugent reviews the books.

Historical novelists have used the form to discuss contemporary ideas and issues. And the practice has become very popular in recent historical novels.

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