Solidarity 274, 13 February 2013

The untold scandal behind horse burgers

The horsemeat scandal is a scandal, but not for the reasons they say.

It’s not some “rogue trader “ in Poland or Romania, or France who we should be taking a closer look at.

The nice people from Tesco, Findus etc. are “appalled” at what has happened to them and their prey... err, sorry — I mean customers.

Workers' solidarity in Australia

Solidarity spoke to Emma Kerin, Communications Officer of the National Union of Workers in Australia, about class struggle down under. Emma has been involved in the campaign to defend victimised trade unionist Bob Carnegie.

While there are obviously industry specific issues such as public sector cuts and privatisation, or health and safety for truck drivers and care workers, or being able to earn a living wage for minimum wage earners: there are two key issues affecting Australian workers across industries.

Civil service fightback

Ballot papers have been sent out to 250,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) working in the civil service and associated bodies. The ballot is for discontinuous strike action and action short of a strike.

The dispute is about pay, job security, pensions, and terms and conditions. A series of regional briefings have been held in the run-up to the ballot to ask reps what sort of action, and how much of it, will members support. Feedback from the briefings suggests all is not well.

NHS: stop terms and conditions surrender

On 6 February, health union Unison’s Service Group Executive agreed to accept a number of attacks to Agenda for Change (AfC, the national terms and conditions for NHS staff) in a gambit straight out of the concession bargaining school of trade unionism.

How the Con-Dems are attacking our legal rights

Jonathan Gray, an employment lawyer acting for trade unions and their members, spoke to Solidarity about the government’s changes to workers’ rights legislation.

Since taking power, the Coalition government has been attacking workers’ rights and workers’ access to justice. The government justifies its actions on the grounds of reducing “red tape” and the regulatory “burden” (their words) on businesses. When balancing protecting workers and protecting profits, the emphasis appears to be heavily in favour of protecting profits at the expense of worker’s rights.

SWP’s “good old days”?

Oppositionist writers in the SWP, in their polemics against the SWP’s current regime, are sometimes harking back to the ideas of the SWP (then called IS) before 1968, as summarised by two texts by Tony Cliff: Trotsky on substitutionism (1960) and Rosa Luxemburg (actually also 1960, but usually attributed to 1959).

Both those texts are still kept in circulation by the SWP (though the Luxemburg one in a bowdlerised edition), and neither has been thoroughly criticised by any authoritative SWP writer.

Workers can counter climate change

The widening gap between the risks of ecological degradation and the politics needed to prevent massive damaging social and environmental impacts is well illustrated by recent climate announcements.

Glasgow: fighting rent rises

Tenants in the Glasgow suburb of Maryhill are organising a campaign of resistance to rent hikes being imposed on them by Queens Cross Housing Association.

Queens Cross is one of the largest providers of social housing in Glasgow, with around 4,500 properties across the north west of the city. The housing association has come in for stark criticism after announcing a 4.6% rent hike for tenants staying in the Cedar Court high flats.

Manchester: occupying to save services

This week Manchester City Council’s executive committee meets to discuss the proposed budget for 2013. Included in the discussions are plans to close our local library and swimming pool here in Levenshulme, Manchester.

We had a community planning meeting, attended by more than 60 people and four local councillors. During the meeting Julie Reid, councillor for Gorton South, said “over our dead bodies will we let these pools close”.

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