Solidarity 342, 5 November 2014

Industrial news in brief

Train drivers' union ASLEF has gone into dispute with the Northern Rail franchise and is to ballot its members, after rejecting a two-year pay offer of 2.7% this year (RPI inflation in April 2014) and 2.5% or RPI next year, whichever is greater.

The company argues that this is a "good offer" "in the current climate". ASLEF points out that it leaves drivers at the company behind those at other train operating companies.

Lecturers begin marking boycott


Lucy Clement

University lecturers are preparing to begin an assessment boycott in protest at attacks on pension provision.

The action, due to start on 6 November, will mean no setting or marking of exams and coursework so long as employers refuse to make concessions. It affects sixty-nine universities, mainly the older “pre-92s”.

FBU: pensions fight still on!


Darren Bedford

Firefighters in England completed a 96 hour national strike over pensions as Solidarity went to press (31 Oct-4 Nov).

Firefighters have now taken more than 10 days of strikes in the increasingly bitter dispute over pensions. Reports from picket lines across England have shown solid levels of support from firefighters and widespread public sympathy.

Up with solidarity!



One voter in four would consider voting UKIP at the next election, according to a poll in the Mail on Sunday (31 October). The poll was published as UKIP looks set to win the Rochester and Strood by-election. Even allowing for bias from a poll commissioned by a paper which routinely feeds hostility to the EU and migration, the level of UKIP support is disturbing.

Human needs not human greed


Bob Carnegie

My first two articles dealing with attempts to organise defence base workers in Australia attempted to highlight the problems with on the ground organising, union arguments over which unions should cover these workers, the workers’ battle for jobs and redundancy payment and most important of all, the horrorible effect of contracting out of services has on the wages and conditions of those workers concerned.

Unity: from wishing to do


Rhodri Evans

Socialist Worker on 14 October called for unity on the left. The two articles in SW, one an editorial and one a comment by Alex Callinicos, suggested that the call was really aimed at Scotland.

The SWP hopes to reknit the fragments of the old Scottish Socialist Party split apart by Tommy Sheridan (with the SWP's support!) in the row over his libel case.

But how to move from a wish to appear as people who want unity, to actual progress?

Projecting alternatives

The Alliance for Workers' Liberty, which publishes Solidarity, met for our annual conference on 25-26 October.

The main resolution on perspectives noted the possibility of a growing pay revolt in the next year. Real wages have been squeezed more and longer than ever before on record, and yet union organisation, for all its weaknesses, remains stable.

US right stokes Ebola


Tom Harris

According to the Financial Times, more than 45% of Americans believe that they, or close friends and relatives, will contract the Ebola virus.

Even if this were a rogue poll, that is a remarkably high percentage when one considers that only four people have tested positive for Ebola in the US, three of whom have since recovered.

Why are people so worried?

A million march in Rome


Hugh Edwards

On Saturday 25 October, up to a million protesters marched to Rome's Piazza San Giovanni in response to the call from CGIL trade union leader Susanna Camusso to support her union's opposition to the coalition goverment of Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi.

It was largest mass demonstration in Italy for over a decade.

His goverment is in the final stages of introducing legislation to drastically worsen job-security conditions won 40 years ago in mass struggles.

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