Solidarity 352, 4 February 2015

NHS: don't let them scrap our terms

The current government has been attempting to find a way to undermine the Agenda for Change national pay agreement for the NHS for some time.

Agenda for Change is a broad agreement that covers practically all terms and conditions for NHS workers, including basic rates of pay, extra pay for working “unsociable” hours, annual increments on pay scales, annual leave etc.

Originally the top of the pay scales were agreed to be the rate for the job, but initially new starters would be paid less because there was an element of learning in the post.

Industrial news in brief


Gemma Short, Charlotte Zalens, Ollie Moore and Peggy Carter

Teachers at Merrill Academy, Derbyshire, have been on strike for six days through January in a dispute over unattainable appraisal targets and denial of pay progression.

Both teaching unions, the NUT and the NASUWT, are taking part in the strike and have been staging daily picket lines. However picket lines were suspended on January 29 after drivers, believed to be a non-striking members of staff, drove aggressively at pickets over several days, leading to a striker and a student being hit by a car.

The left inside Syriza

Thanasis Kourkoulas and Sotiris Martalis from DEA (Internationalist Workers’ Left), a Trotskyist organisation in the left of Syriza, spoke to Micheál McEoin in Athens on 24 January, just before the election.

Sotiris began by setting out the backdrop to the election and the crisis in Greece:

To secure reforms, fight capitalist power


Theodora Polenta

On 30 January Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Dutch finance minister and chair of the Eurogroup of finance ministers, awkwardly shook hands with Greece’s new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, at a press conference after they had met in Athens, and whispered...”you have just killed the [EU/ ECB/ IMF] Troika”. Varoufakis responded: “Wow!”

Euro-solidarity can stop euro-cuts



On hearing the first declarations from the ministers in Greece’s new Syriza-led government, elected on 25 January, the invisible hand of the markets reacted. The stock market lost 8%. The interest rate on Greek bonds went up.

Some EU and IMF leaders sent harder messages about the need for compliance — Angela Merkel, Christine Lagarde — and some tried to be more conciliatory (Barack Obama, Francois Hollande, Matteo Renzi).

£450k? No way!


Beth Redmond

Over the past month, a wave of actions have sprung up on university campuses across the UK, highlighting the pay gap between the highest and lowest paid staff on each campus.

Health deal: vote No!

Strikes by health unions due to happen on 29 January and 25 February were called off on Tuesday 27 following a new offer from the government.

The unions will consult members over the next few weeks. Unison and Unite have stated strikes will be relaunched on March 13 if the offer is rejected.

Permanent revolution and the Irish left


Micheál MacEoin

Workers’ Liberty has recently examined Trotskyist debates on Ireland (Trotskyists debate Ireland WL 3/45). There is another set of relevant debates worth looking about: over how, and if, Trotsky’s theory of “permanent revolution” relates to Ireland.

The first debate took place in 1966-67 in the largely émigré Irish Workers’ Group (IWG). It was an attempt to clear away some of the confusions generated by a mechanical application of the theory to Irish realities.

Hold the Socialist Party and Mark Serwotka to account!


James Marine

The Socialist Party (SP) has defended the PCS civil service union’s decision to “suspend” national and Group elections for up to a year. (Groups are the major sub-parts of the union.)

The SP headlined its article: “PCS: Safeguarding its future in the face of vicious Tory attacks”.

“Faced with a temporary but very sharp drop in income as a result of check-off ending, the PCS National Executive Commitee (NEC) has had to make difficult decisions to cut expenditure, including suspending for one year the union’s annual elections”.

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