Solidarity 344, 19 November 2014

Industrial news in brief


Charlotte Zalens, Ollie Moore, Gareth Devonport and Gemma Short

Cleaners working for contractor Interserve at Waterloo station struck on 17-18 November after a manager claimed “we shouldn’t be employing black people.”

The strikes follow earlier action on 10-11 November, and a further 24 hour strike has been called starting at 3pm on 21 November.

The RMT union says bosses have refused to address the allegation through agreed procedures. The union also says Interserve has underpaid wages, as well as victimising, bullying and harassing staff.

Local government workers accept deal


Dave Pannett

Local Government workers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have voted to accept a pay offer which equates to no more than the 1% offer the same group of workers rejected in this year.

The deal simultaneously ties workers into a 1% pay deal for 2015-16.

64% of Unison members voted to accept the deal, 36% to reject

Health workers to strike again


Todd Hamer

Health unions will stage a further four hour strike on 24 November in their ongoing pay dispute.

If we do not win a decent pay settlement and build a union movement capable of defending our already much degraded terms and conditions, then we will have helped speed on the end of the NHS as a free state-of-the art health service.

Since 2010 the NHS has been starved of £20 billion. By 2020 the gap between funding and necessary expenditure will be around £50 billion.

Left Unity's second conference


Sacha Ismail

About 300 people attended the conference on 15-16 November of the Left Unity group set up by Andrew Burgin and Kate Hudson in late 2012.

Varied left-wing views on a wide range of issues were debated and voted on in a reasonably comradely way.

However, the conference was smaller than the previous one, and there were very few young or even youngish people there. The document and motions discussed were mostly of the “policies for an ideal government” type. Left Unity has almost nothing in terms of trade union or student work.

Don’t ban the SWP! Challenge and protest!


Cathy Nugent

In recent weeks there have been attemps to ban the Socialist Worker Student Society at Edinburgh University, Sussex University and Goldsmiths, University of London.

The motion to ban at Edinburgh was withdrawn when the SWP threatened to sue the student union. The motion at Sussex failed by a large majority. As we go to press we do not know the result at Goldsmiths.

“Red warning” on economy


Martin Thomas

Prime Minister David Cameron has used the occasion of the G20 summit of big-power governments in Brisbane to declare that "red warning lights are once again flashing on the dashboard of the global economy", as in 2008.

"The eurozone is teetering on the brink of a possible third recession... Emerging markets [like Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa...] are now slowing down... [There is] instability and uncertainty".

Anti-ISIS passport ban won't work


Simon Nelson

Around Kobane, the Kurdish-majority Syrian city near the Turkish border besieged by ISIS ("Islamic State", Daesh), US airstrikes have significantly increased.

Kurdish forces (Iraqi-Kurdish peshmerga, and the Syrian-Kurdish YPG, linked to the Turkish-Kurdish PKK) have now begun to retake territory.

1,200 people have now been killed in the siege.

Fuad Hussein, chief of staff to the KRG (Iraq-Kurdish) president Massoud Barzani, says that the CIA’s figuree of 31,000 ISIS fighters is a big underestimate, and the Iraqi government National Security Adviser concurs.

Italy: strikes rally revolt


Hugh Edwards

Italy’s radical metalworkers’ union FIOM struck on 14 November, sharpening and deepening conflict with the goverment of Matteo Renzi over workers’ rights and protections.

It followed a million-strong demonstration in Rome on 25 October, called by the CGIL union confederation.

22% still below living wage


Gemma Short

On 3 November, the UK living wage increased by 20p an hour, to £7.85.

The London living wage increased by 4% to £9.15 an hour. However 22% of workers, 5.28 million, still earn below the living wage, despite the Living Wage Foundation having accredited more than 1000 employers.

Research conducted for consultancy firm KPMG shows 43% of part-time workers earn less than the living wage, compared with 13% of full-time employees. It also found 72% of 18- to 21-year-olds and one in four women earn less than the living wage, compared with 16% of men.

NUS leaders wriggle out of backing demo


Beth Redmond

Two weeks before NCAFC’s 19 November demonstration for free education, the National Union of Students leadership undemocratically decided to withdraw its support.

This was on the basis that the organisers had not adequately dealt with NUS’s risk assessment questions, meaning the demonstration was “too dangerous” for their students to attend.

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