Solidarity 336, 17 September 2014

Refuse workers take on Green council

Published on: Thu, 18/09/2014 - 10:28

Refuse workers in the GMB union in Brighton struck on Monday 15 September. A worker involved in the strike spoke to Solidarity.

The dispute is a hangover from our strike against pay cuts last year. It's an equal pay issue; we used to get various allowances and benefits on top of our basic pay, and the Greens, who run Brighton Council, proposed removing them. We had a prolonged strike campaign against that last year. The deal which ended the strike graded us as a Local Government scale 4 (which has a top pay rate of £18,000), and built in all our old allowances as contractual overtime, etc. We

14 October: organise on the ground

Published on: Wed, 17/09/2014 - 15:58
Author

Gemma Short

Between 2008 and 2013 real wages fell by 8.2%, on average. The median worker lost £2000 a year, for many that will have been much worse.

The wage squeeze is worse for younger workers, a 14% drop for those aged 18-25, 12% for 25-29 year olds. Each decade since the 1980s real wages growth has been lower than the previous decade.

In the public sector wages have fallen by 15%, many face a pay freeze.

Overall price inflation over the past 5 years has been 19% (RPI), but the income needed for a minimum living standard has risen significantly. For a couple with a child this could be up to 33%, for

Burnham: put your words into action

Published on: Wed, 17/09/2014 - 15:55
Author

Gerry Bates

Andy Burnham once again repeated his promise to “repeal the Tory Health and Social Care Act” if Labour win the next election.

Burnham was speaking from the platform at the 6 September Trafalgar Square rally of the People’s March for the NHS. It is good that Burnham makes the promise to repeal the Act publicly, but it is not enough.

When Burnham was Health Secretary under the last Labour government he backed the recommendations of Sir David Nicholson, the chief executive of the NHS, to make £20 billion “efficiency savings” by 2015.

Burnham’s opposition to Lansley’s plans boils down to not

Culture shift on the left

Published on: Wed, 17/09/2014 - 15:50
Author

Rhodri Evans

A “common sense” which has dominated much left thinking since the late 1980s or early 1990s is now breaking down. That’s a good thing.

The old line was to support whomever battled the USA. By opposing the USA, they were “anti-imperialist”, and therefore at least half-revolutionary.

So many leftists backed the Taliban. They sided with Khomeiny’s Iran. They claimed “we are all Hezbollah”.

But Syria’s dictator, Assad? Some leftists have taken the US support for the Syrian opposition, and the US threats to bomb Syria, as mandating them to side with Assad. Most find that too much to swallow.

And

An organiser for black workers

Published on: Wed, 17/09/2014 - 15:47
Author

Michael Johnson

Ernest Rice McKinney (1886-1984) was a black US trade union organiser, revolutionary socialist and former National Secretary of the Third Camp Workers Party USA.

Born in Malden, in West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley, McKinney’s father was a coal miner and later a teacher as was McKinney’s mother. McKinney Sr. eventually landed a job at the US Treasury through his involvement in the Republican Party, which had widespread black support in the decades after the American Civil War.

Due to the efforts of anti-slavery abolitionists during post-Civil War Reconstruction, West Virginia had a black

Mike Banda: The Death of a Political Gangster

Published on: Wed, 17/09/2014 - 15:43
Author

Sean Matgamna

Michael Banda (Michael van den Poorten), who died recently, had for nearly three decades been a retired political gangster.

For much of the previous three decades he had been an all-too-active political gangster, as one of the two or three central leaders of the Healy organisation known variously as the Newsletter group, the Socialist Labour League, and the Workers’ Revolutionary Party.

He was known in the organisation during the 1950s and early 60s as “Mike the Knife”, after he pulled a knife on a man who had grabbed Gerry Healy by the coat collar in a factional row.

He also played “Mike the

TUC: Don't mention the war

Published on: Wed, 17/09/2014 - 15:34
Author

Dale Street

“Don’t mention the war!” — that well-known line from an episode of the 1970s sitcom “Fawlty Towers” — should have been the header for the emergency motion entitled “Situation in Ukraine” passed by last week’s TUC congress. (1)

The motion ignored Russia’s ongoing political and military attack on Ukraine’s right to self-determination. It misrepresented the (real but limited) influence exerted by fascist organisations in Ukraine. And its concluding demands sounded left-wing but were in fact politically incoherent.

The motion noted comments by the NATO General Secretary that its recent summit in

Owen Jones and the Class Struggle

Published on: Wed, 17/09/2014 - 15:31
Author

Matt Cooper

According to Owen Jones Britain is dominated by an unitary elite — the Establishment. This is defined not so much by its wealth and power but by its ideology and mentality.

Acting as a united group, it promotes its interests and undermines popular democracy. Superficially this is an arresting thesis. It is, however, full of inconsistencies and gaps.

Jones does have some class-struggle politics. For instance he argues the post-1945 welfare state and Keynesian economic policy was the result of the growing working-class power. He sees the victory of neo-liberalism under the Thatcher governments

Help Kurds and Iraqi left resist ISIS

Published on: Wed, 17/09/2014 - 15:27

The ultra-Islamist group ISIS is a threat to all the people of Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Syria, as well as to the people who live in the territory where it currently rules.

It openly declares itself a “caliphate”, hostile to democracy as a “western” idea. It represses and persecutes religious minorities — Christians, Yazidis, others — and Sunni Muslim Arabs who dissent.

Summary killing of people who refuse to pledge allegiance to ISIS has been common across Iraq and Syria. So have been persecution of non-Sunni religious groups and a special tax on Christians

The coalition of states

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