Solidarity 272, 30 January 2013

Manchester councillors' anti-cuts pledge

Manchester Labour councillors Julie Reid and Aftab Ahmed have said they will vote against the City Council’s cuts budget. Other councillors may also vote against, and some will abstain.

The spending cuts in Manchester mean not only a further 900 council jobs to go — 2,000 had been cut last year — but also the closure of five swimming pools, six libraries, and a Council Tax rise of 3.7%.

Rally to defend Bob Carnegie

Supporters of victimised Australian trade unionist Bob Carnegie will rally outside the Federal Magistrates Court in Brisbane on Monday 11 February, as the first of the cases against Bob begins.

Bob appears accused on 54 criminal charges relating to his role in the nine-week-long community protest at the Queensland Children’s Hospital in August-October 2012. For more information on the rally, see here.

25,000 march in Lewisham

With as many as 25,000 people marching, the Saturday 26 January demonstration in Lewisham was the biggest local demonstration in defence of the NHS and against hospital closures in British history.

Industrial news in brief

Cleaners on the Tyne and Wear Metro have struck for the twelfth time in their battle against poverty wages.

The strike took place on 24 January. Strikers lobbied a meeting of the Labour-led Integrated Transport Authority to demand that it forces the private company which runs the Tyne and Wear Metro (and which contracts its cleaning work out to another private firm, Churchills) to pay living wages.

PCS national strike ballot

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) will launch a nationwide strike ballot on Friday 8 February. The ballot will close on 4 March.

PCS members will be balloted for strikes over a range of issues, including job cuts and attacks on pay. A union statement said: “Because of massive job cuts civil and public servants are working harder than ever to provide the public services that we all rely on. But instead of rewarding them, the government is cutting their pay, raiding their pensions and trying to rip up their contracts by cutting terms and conditions.

Yorkshire teachers say: strike in March!

A meeting of National Union of Teachers (NUT) reps and activists in Yorkshire has called on the union’s Executive to reverse its decision not to strike in March against Michael Gove’s plans to attack teachers’ pay.

The Executive voted by a margin of 22-20 on 24 January not to name a strike date. The Executive decided instead to prioritise discussions with the NASUWT, another teaching union, with the aim of getting NASUWT on board for a strike in June.

The Tuaregs in the Malian conflict

The Tuareg people, a nomadic Berber people living in Saharan north Africa, have had five rebellions in the last century — 1916-1917, 1962-1964, 1990-1995, 2007-2009 and in 2012.

These rebellions have not often been featured in the far-left press. The most recent, in 2012, involved the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) declaring an independent state of Azawad.

It is only since France’s intervention into the conflict in Mali that the left has discovered an interest in the region.

Occupy to defend jobs and services!

After the banking crisis hit fully in late 2008, throughout 2009 there was a spate of occupations as working-class people resisted job losses and threats to services. Though this flurry did not reach anything like the levels of the 1970s and soon died down, it was not a flash in the pan. Occupying as a tactic has re-appeared again recently, and, of course, in the meantime, the “Occupy” movement has given the word wide currency, even if it has diluted its meaning. Vicki Morris looks at some recent examples of occupation to draw out some lessons.

150 years of working on London Underground

Traverse these airless edges.

London Underground,

5am to final lamp.

A litany of tunnels punched out memory of light.

Station upon station, footfall crumbled.

Waterloo: Sainsbury’s.

Dance wire, via headwall and auto-phone.

Replicated ghosts.

Fire extinguishers idle and fat with chemical entropy.

Sidling at platform precipice,

Heart at fingers

Trains smooth and wreathed in souls.

Swiss Cottage: Spar, Iceland & Sainsbury’s.

Detritus: lives pared like gossamer bark.

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