Solidarity 118, 27 September 2007

Tom Mann 3 —1889: The Great Trade Union Turning Point


Cathy Nugent

Continuing a series on the life and times of Tom Mann with an account of the London dock strike of 1889.

Today the trading and industrial activities of the port of London are a shadow of what they once were. The areas where docks and wharves once heaved with cargo, boats, ships and people, are now sites for skyscraper office blocks, exclusive apartments, trendy studios and pricey restaurants — a product of Thatcher’s demolish and “develop” project for the docklands in the 1980s.

Why did union leaders vote to end Labour democracy? An open letter to Tony Woodley



Dear Tony Woodley,

We hear that at a fringe meeting at Labour Party conference in Bournemouth (23-27 September), you invited a mild critic of your knee-bending before Gordon Brown to “come outside and say that!”

Your offer to punch your critic at least shows some fighting spirit — but, Tony, isn’t it the wrong sort of fight, and isn’t it misdirected? Evidently you have a bad political conscience? So you should!

Inside the Crisis of Respect

Andy Newman is a former Socialist Alliance activist who has followed developments in Respect closely. Martin Thomas interviewed him.

Both sides of the row are saying that Respect is in a bad way, yet you've chosen this time to rejoin. Why?

I’m not sure that both sides are saying that it is in a bad way. The SWP’s line now is that it is business as usual.

We did the only thing we could

Steve Cohen continues a series about important socialist novels, looking at Ring Lardner Jr and the background to his novel the Ecstasy of Edwin Muir

Ring Lardner Jr. was one of the Hollywood Ten — the ten screenwriters who went to prison for refusing in 1947 to testify before the House of Unamerican Activities Committee (HUAC). Today he is best remembered, if at all, for his response to the question as to whether he was or had ever been a member of the Communist Party — “I could answer the question exactly the way you want, but if I did I would hate myself in the morning”.

More Strikes at Freemantle Trust Care Homes

200 careworkers at the Fremantle Trust, which holds the contracts for care homes in Barnet, North London, took their fourth day of strike action on Thursday 20 September as part of an ongoing fight against drastic cuts in their pay and conditions.

Protesting outside the company HQ, workers held up signs spelling out the words “Dismantle Fremantle” and “We will not be silenced”.

DWP Pay Dispute


civil servant

Following their rejection of a three year pay offer that will see 27% of staff in the Department of Work and Pensions staff get consolidated rises of 2% in year 1, 40% get 0% in year 2 and 49% get 1% in year 3, PCS and Prospect have met with DWP bosses for further talks.

Another meeting is taking place as we go to press, with the PCS DWP executive meeting on 27 September “to receive a report of these talks and take decisions on the next stage of our campaign.” (The Retail Price Index rate of inflation — PCS’s preferred measure — rose to from 3.8% in July to 4.1% in August.)

Defend Karen Reissmann

Manchester mental health workers have held a second three day strike to protest against the victimisation of their UNISON steward, Karen Reissmann. Karen was suspended in June for supposedly bringing the health trust she works for into disrepute after leading a previous strike against cut jobs and making public plans to cut services.

Workers have decided to take two day strike action again from Wednesday 26 September.

3 November NHS Demo


health worker

The long awaited national demonstration in defence of the NHS will take place on 3 November. It’s now 18 months since the decision to call a demo was made at UNISON’s health conference, but it has been an ongoing battle to make it happen. This despite the widespread popularity of such an idea with many hundreds of thousands taking part in local actions.

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