Solidarity 092, 27 April 2006

John McDonnell says: Scrap the anti-union laws!

John McDonnell MP spoke to Solidarity about the campaign for a Trade Union Freedom Bill

Some of us have been working for trade union reform for five years. We have lobbied for change from Labour, but it has been like crying in the wilderness. The official TUC response has been to point to the legislation the Labour government has introduced, to the rights that have been won. Yet these changes and concessions have been fairly minimal. Tony Blair’s says the UK has the most restrictive trade union laws in western Europe. He is right, and that situation has been maintained.

Taff Vale

The Trade Union Freedom Bill is being proposed to coincide with the repeal of the “Taff Vale Judgement”. What was “Taff Vale”?

Bit by bit, over the 19th century, British workers rolled back the Combination Acts, passed in 1799-1800, which had made trade unionism illegal in the early years of the Industrial Revolution.

Free our unions!

The Trades Union Congress is campaigning for trade union freedom from the shackles of anti union laws. It is backing a Early Day Motion in Parliament, the Trade Union Freedom Bill. (EDMs do not get time to be debated in Parliament, but serve to “flag up” issues). The TUC has made the campaign the theme of the London May Day demonstration.

These moves must be warmly welcomed by all those who want to see the abolition of the many anti-union laws that make effective industrial action difficult or impossible within the law.

French workers won because solidarity strikes are legal there

For two months growing mobilisation of French students and workers confronted the French government.

For two months, France’s right-wing government said it wouldn’t budge. It passed the CPE — a measure allowing bosses to sack young workers without having to prove any good cause — into law.

Then, on 10 April, the government backed down. It withdrew the CPE. Solidarity won.

Pensions: unions let Government off hook

from UNISON United Left

Local Government workers across the UK have reacted with alarm and anger at the news that all further action in our pensions dispute has been suspended as of 13 April pending further talks with the Local Government Association to conclude in June.

This despite the fact that there is no concrete offer from the employers, merely an agreement to framework talks with “nothing ruled in and nothing ruled out”.

Iranian left calls for solidarity as theocrats crack down on workers and women

By Sacha Ismail

In the run up to May Day, Iranian socialists and labour movement activists in the International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran have launched a new call for international solidarity. The statement puts forward a clear “third camp” perspective against both US war threats and Iran’s theocratic dictatorship, in refreshing contrast to the mealy-mouthed pro-Islamist position of much of the British left.

From Iran to France!

Message of Congratulations and Solidarity of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company on the victory of the workers, students and people of France. 11 April 2006.

Over the past few weeks, the people of Iran, the working people, students and our union, have been closely and with much interest following the news from France, hoping in our hearts for the victory of the just movement of the great workers’ and students’ unions and the people of France.

“Left” politics without class struggle?

The Euston Manifesto, launched on 29 March, proposes a “fresh political alignment” of “democrats and progressives” reaching “beyond the socialist left towards egalitarian liberals and others of unambiguous democratic commitment”. It claims to want “to draw a line between the forces of the left that remain true to its authentic values”... But against whom do they wish to “draw a line”, asks Pete Radcliff?

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