Solidarity 287, 29 May 2013

Greece: teachers' strike tests Syriza

Until recently we knew Syriza would at least support all workers’ struggles. Syriza might not take the initiative for struggles, it might not propose a plan for them, but at least Syriza would support them.

End tax dodging, fight for control

A report by the charity Oxfam, published ahead of EU talks on tax evasion, shows that there is £12 trillion hidden in tax havens around the world.

This figure is enough to eliminate “extreme poverty” worldwide, twice over. The figure represents a daily loss of £156 billion. Two thirds of the amount is stored in EU tax havens, including Luxemburg, Andorra, and Malta. £4.7 trillion of the total sits in British Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies.

Industrial news in brief

A City Hall discussion on possible reforms to the Transport for London pensions scheme provoked an angry response from the Rail, Maritime, and Transport workers union (RMT), which organises workers on London Underground.

Some London Assembly Tories want the scheme reformed to bring it in line with the (worse) scheme available to local government workers. A London Assembly budget committee is also discussing possible cuts to the travel pass scheme which currently allows Tube workers to nominate a family member for a free travel pass.

Disabled workers' action

This year's TUC Disabled Workers' Conference roundly condemned government attacks on disability rights, and pledged action against cuts in jobs and benefits.

Meeting in London on 23 and 24 May, around 200 trade union delegates debated issues including work capability assessments, benefit cuts and the propaganda war against claimants.

On the first day, Conference adjourned an hour early to take part in direct action against the cuts, blocking Tottenham Court Road for an hour.

PCS Conference

This year’s Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) conference (21-23 May) heard that the union will be taking action in early and late June and hopes to link up with the teaching unions for their action from 27 June.

DWP and HMRC members have a week of regional one-day strikes from 3 June; smaller departments and commercial organisations will strike on 30 or 31 May.

Northern Rail strike: sack the agency, not the workers!

RMT members working for Northern Rail have voted by a 58% majority to strike against management’s use of agency labour in new areas.

Northern Rail has been using the Trainpeople and G4S agencies to carry out work, including checking tickets. Management claims this is only a “trial”.

Under the Agency Worker Regulations 2010, agency workers employed in equivalent work to directly-employed staff are entitled to the same pay, terms, and conditions.

Don't despair of "two states"!

Around 30 prominent Palestinian leaders, most from Fatah but some from other groups within the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, have signed a statement saying the two-state solution in Israel-Palestine is no longer viable; the only “realistic” demand is for one democratic, secular state for Arabs and Jews, made up of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

The PLO has had a “two states” policy since 1988.

The "blowback" theory

In the aftermath of the Woolwich killing on 22 May all of the press, to one degree or another, and within the constraints of their own individual styles and prejudices tried to make sense of the horror.

Unite against the EDL and Islamism

The murder of an off-duty soldier in Woolwich, South East London on 22 May should be unequivocally condemned.

The young men who did it seem to have been ultra-Islamists — supporters of violently reactionary theocratic politics.

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