Solidarity 323, 7 May 2014

Save Lambeth College!

Lambeth College workers struck on Thursday 1 May.

Workers are fighting the introduction of reduced terms and conditions for new workers, creating a two-tier workforce at the college, and threats to the terms and conditions of current staff.

An all out indefinite strike by members of the UCU union had been announced. However the bosses at Lambeth College obtained an injunction against that action. The 1 May strike was exempt from the injunction and so went ahead.

Higher Education dispute ends

The UCU dispute in higher education was called off on 2 May after a campaign of strike action over eight months.

In an e-ballot there was a 5:1 majority to settle on a 53% turnout.

The dispute, launched in October 2013, was to recover the 13% loss of pay experienced by University workers from 2008 through to 2012. But as the settlement provides no more than 1% for 2013/4 and another 2% for 2014/5, fails to keep up with inflation and will lead to further erosion of pay.

Tube strike forces concessions: keep up the pressure!

The RMT rail union suspended its three-day strike on 5-8 May after the union reached a settlement with London Underground management.

The settlement commits management to actually carrying out the station-by-station review first promised after the February strikes, sets out a timescale for this (by 23 May), and establishes a framework for proper trade union input. The settlement also commits managements to discussions to “ensure” that workers who previously faced pay cuts will be reallocated to a role of at least equivalent salary.

Ukraine: self-determination is still basic

Accounts vary of the clashes between pro-Russian and Ukrainian nationalist groups in Odessa on 3 May, in which some 42 people were killed.

Some people say it started with an attack by militarised Russian and pro-Russian far-rightists on a peaceful Ukrainian nationalist demonstration. After that, “ultras” among the Ukrainian nationalists set out for the building where the pro-Russians had their headquarters.

Socialists celebrate May Day

An international solidarity event organised on 3 May in London by Marxist Revival (an international project of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty and the Iranian Revolutionary Marxists’ Tendency) heard speakers from around the world, live or via video clips.

Jade Baker of AWL chaired the event which included August Grabski and Urszula Lugowska of Dalej (Poland), Dashty Jamal of the Worker-communist Party of Kurdistan, Maziar Razi (IRMT) and Alejandra Rios, representing the Left Workers’ Front of Argentina.

Don’t use sexist stereotypes

Activists in the RMT union, and wider labour movement, were dismayed in March 2014 when a boxing tournament organised to raise money for the RMT’s London Widows and Orphans fund was promoted with a poster including a stylised, cartoon image of a bikini-clad “ring girl”.

The cartoon woman, with an exaggeratedly small waist and exaggeratedly large breasts, entirely played into sexist stereotypes about body image and beauty standards. Although women boxers did participate in the event, only one was featured on the poster, compared to 15 men.

May elections

In the 22 May council elections, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is making a big effort to stand 561 candidates. In the European elections on the same day, No2EU will field 46 candidates in seven regions. The Left Unity group is standing only 12 council candidates across the country.

TUSC is an electoral alliance mainly of the Socialist Party and the leadership of the RMT union. It also involves the Independent Socialist Network and the Socialist Workers’ Party. Its platform is pretty much limited to opposing cuts.

Private tenants get organised

On 30 April I attended a Waltham Forest Trades Council meeting on London’s housing crisis.

Rosie Walker from Waltham Forest Renters, a private tenants’ group organising against landlords, spoke about the need for rent stabilisation and longer, more secure tenancies.

WFR also demands the licensing of landlords and the curbing of “buy-to-let”. And Walker called for the abolition of section 21 of the Housing Act, which allows landlords to evict tenants without any reason.

Claimants forced into zero-hours jobs

A Parliamentary business letter from Conservative minister Esther McVey has revealed that jobseekers face losing their benefits for up to three months if they turn down jobs on zero-hours contracts.

Under the new universal credit system, job centre staff will be able to mandate claimants to accept zero-hour contract jobs, sanctioning them if they refuse. This change will take place despite senior government ministers publicly denouncing the use of zero-hour contracts.

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.