Solidarity 282, 17 April 2013

Thatcher destroyed working-class lives

Workers’ Liberty activists Karen Waddington and Jean Lane appeared on the BBC’s Big Question debate programme on Sunday 14 April, discussing Thatcher’s death.

Karen and Jean were involved in Women Against Pit Closures and other class-struggle activity during Thatcher’s government. The poet Benjamin Zephaniah also appeared on the show.

Nothing changed for me the day Thatcher died. My local authority is still suffering from cuts, and people in my village are still suffering from the devastation caused by Thatcher’s pit closures.

Hong Kong dockers strike

A strike of 500 dock workers in Hong Kong has entered its third week. The workers are demanding a pay rise of between 17 and 24%, with the bosses’ offer currently at 7%.

Justice for the 33!

Workers and supporters demonstrated outside Transport for London’s headquarters on Monday 15 April to demand jobs for 33 sacked agency workers.

The workers, some of whom had been working for London Underground for five years, lost their jobs when their employer (railway industry agency Trainpeople) did not have its contract renewed.

Their union, RMT, has been conducting a campaign involving demonstrations and petitioning to demand that these workers are given jobs.

Drop the charges against Max and Steve!

A recent campaign forced bosses at London Met University to rescind the suspensions of three workers, Jawad Botmeh, Steve Jefferys, and Max Watson.

But although all three are now back at work, Steve and Max are still facing “serious misconduct” charges for their role in appointing Jawad to his job in 2007.

The campaign believes Steve and Max have no case to answer, and are being victimised as part of London Met’s ongoing attempt to undermine union organisation in the workplace.

McCluskey wins Unite election

Len McCluskey has been re-elected at General Secretary of Unite with a 64% share of the vote.

McCluskey won 144,570 to rival Jerry Hicks’s 79,819. The turnout was 15.2%, lower than the union’s last GS election (where it was 15.8%). In that election, the opposition vote was split three ways between Hicks and two right-wing challengers to McCluskey (Les Bayliss and Gail Cartmail). Hicks’s vote in that election was 52,000, while McCluskey’s winning score was 101,000.

3 Cosas workers: right to leave Unison?

Solidarity 281 (10 April 2013) carried an interview with a worker involved in the “3 Cosas” campaign at the University of London, who explained their decision to quit Unison and join the Industrial Workers of Great Britain (IWGB). Their decision has caused some debate in the wider labour movement. We print two contributions originally posted on the AWL website.

North Korea: British left struggles to cope

Socialist Worker last week reported on the escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula — but in topsy-turvy world of the fast-decaying SWP, it denounced “imperialist war-mongering against North Korea” which “threatened to bring the region to the brink of nuclear war.”

Allow me to make one or two small corrections.

Building a British Syriza?

Jim Jepps is the Camden organiser for the Left Unity initiative launched by Andrew Burgin and Kate Hudson and backed by Ken Loach.

Jim is a former member of the SWP and then of the Green Party, which he left recently. He spoke to Martin Thomas of Solidarity about the initiative.

Syriza shows that radical leftist politics don’t have to be fringe politics. People will vote for left politics, if they’re done in the right way. That means being inclusive, and to some extent being populist.

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