Solidarity 338, 1 October 2014

Industrial news in brief


Gemma Short, Gerry Bates and Jonny West

Two hundred GMB members employed by ISS at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, South London have voted for strikes to end two-tier conditions in NHS.

The dispute is for the same pay rates, weekend enhancements and unsocial hours rates as the staff directly employed by the Trust.

The GMB members are employed as cleaners, security, ward hostesses, caterers, on the switchboard and as porters.

On 23 September GMB organised a protest outside the bondholders meeting of the PFI operator for the hospital.

Disability news


Janine Booth, co-chair, TUC Disabled Workers’ Committee (personal capacity)

The Independent Living Fund provides funding for severely disabled people to live independently in their own homes and participate in society — so it's an obvious target for the Tory-LibDem government to cut!

Mike Penney, then minister for (attacking) disabled people, announced in March this year that the Fund would close immediately to new applicants and then close completely. Disabled people's organisations and trade unions have campaigned vigorously against this appalling cut. 

E15 mums lead housing battle


Michael Johnson

Activists from the Focus E15 campaign have occupied an empty property on the Carpenters Estate to highlight the mismatch between the empty homes there and Newham's growing waiting list for social housing.

The campaign started after last year's funding cuts by Labour-run Newham Council, with a group of young mothers fighting eviction from their homes at a hostel.

Why you should march for free education


Beth Redmond

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts is organising a national demonstration in central London for free education on Wednesday 19 November.

Other student organisations such as the Young Greens and the Student Assembly Against Austerity are also collaborating. Students will be marching under the banner of “no fees, no cuts, no debt”.

False theories about “Zionist lobby”


Martin Thomas

Many of the protests against Israel’s murderous bombing of Gaza in July-August targeted, oddly, not so much the Israeli government as the BBC.

The BBC was charged with having something different here from its usual bias towards conservatism. And the charge was part of a discourse which claims that the whole of established authority in the richer parts of the world has a special pro-Israel bias.

To unravel the issues, we can best start with the case of a different established authority, the Australian government.

Bringing sex out of the closet


Gemma Short

A TV drama that combines social commentary about a divided and changing America with fraught relationships, plenty of sex, and 50s outfits, Masters of Sex is a gripping watch.

Now in its second series, Masters of Sex is the story of Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson, who in the late 50s embarked on an ambitious and daring study of human sexuality. Initially shunned for their work by most of the medical establishment, the series focusses on the struggles they faced both professionally and personally to get funding and recognition, and how their own attitudes changed along the way.

Men with more money than sense


Beth Redmond

The Riot Club, based on Laura Wade’s play “Posh”, is a parody of the Bullingdon Club — the 200 year-old exclusive Oxford University society for men with more money than sense.

The Bullingdon Club, as depicted in The Riot Club, calls itself a dining society, but it would be more accurate to describe it as a space for toffs to scream “look how much money we’ve got” at each other, interspersed with insulting poor people and saying “legend” over and over again.

BDS is a tactic, not a principle


Omar Raii

Last month the National Union of Students voted to support the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.

This campaign has seen increases support by student unions around the country, but the controversial vote by the NUS is a major step forward for the BDS campaign.

The regrettable rise of “boycott Israel” politics is due to a confusion that has developed on the left in general. BDS has increasingly come to be seen as a principle for activists rather than a tactic.

Scottish left pulled into SNP vortex

The working class voted “yes”. The Labour Party is finished. And we need a new mass socialist party.

To one degree or another, and in one form or another, these have been the three main responses of the pro-independence left to the result of the 18 September referendum.

The first element has some degree of truth to it. Three of the four regions which had a “yes” majority (even if not a very large one) are traditional Labour strongholds. The fourth (Dundee) used to be a Labour stronghold, until New Labour decided the sitting Labour MP John McAllion was a liability.

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