Solidarity 126, 7 February 2008

How the first Starbucks strike was made

Published on: Sat, 09/02/2008 - 20:25

Mark Sandell

Mike Treen, National Director of the New Zealand union Unite, will be touring the country in February as part of a No Sweat national week of action. [Details here]

He will explain how his union organised the world’s first Starbucks strike, winning recognition and better pay. What can we learn from Unite’s approach?

The scandal of jobs in fast food chains has often been exposed. The GMB union found that Burger King were making their staff clock off when a restaurant was empty. Workers paid the minimum wage were being forced to work many extra hours for no pay, because for much of the time at

Scapegoating black and Asian youth

Published on: Sat, 09/02/2008 - 20:22

Rosalind Robson

An increase in, and a strengthening of, stop and search powers looks set to become a key part of the government’s “tough on crime” agenda.

Currently the police have to state a specific reason for stopping someone and/or searching them in the street. The reason has to be in line with current legislation. They also have to give you form stating exactly why they stopped you and what the outcome was. If the stop and search is conducted under anti-terrorism legislation the police do not have to suspect you of having committed a crime in order to stop you.

New Labour have extended a anytime,

SWP-Respect to challenge Livingstone

Published on: Sat, 09/02/2008 - 20:19

Martin Thomas

Let’s look on the bright side first. SWP-Respect is reaffirming the need for a left challenge to Livingstone as London mayor.

George Galloway and his Respect-Renewal are now backing “Red Ken”, and appealing for a vaguely-left “Progressive List” for the Assembly. SWP-Respect says it will run candidates in the London mayor and assembly elections (May 2008) to respond to the needs of “working people” and present a “positive alternative”.

SWP-Respect is emphatic — has to be, I guess, following the split-away of Galloway and most of the Respect councillors in Tower Hamlets — about the need to win

Bread and roses for the rich

Published on: Sat, 09/02/2008 - 20:17

Reuben Green

The battle over arts funding is still raging, with the latest fall-out this week being a £3.5 million cut to the arts in Wales.

When in March last year it was revealed that the Arts Council of England would soon be making drastic cuts in light of an apparent £1bn lottery shortfall — and a massive diversion of these funds to the Olympics — a theatrical furore ensued. Tessa Jowell having brazenly lied about the Olympics budget, which now stands at nearly four times what was originally touted, was unapologetic about grabbing £112.5m from the arts for the £9.3 billion “once in a lifetime good

A horror story to learn from

Published on: Sat, 09/02/2008 - 20:15


An 81 year old retired Irish cardinal, Desmond Connell, has gone to the High Court in Dublin for a writ to stop his successor as Archbishop of Dublin from handing over church files on paedophile priests to a state-organised inquiry into clerical abuse of children.

He has called on the court to prevent the head of the Catholic Church in the Dublin diocese from handing over information about criminal priests to the government-appointed investigation. He has got an interim writ, freezing proceedings until there can be a full court hearing. He claims that some of the files contain solicitors’

Teachers: take action on pay!

Published on: Sat, 09/02/2008 - 20:11

This leaflet from Leeds NUT outlines the reasons why teachers are fighting for better pay.

Activists in every union, especially public sector unions, need to put the teachers’ case to other groups of workers. This is an important pay battle that we should all help the teachers to win.

A special meeting of the NUT National Executive on 24 January decided to call on its members to support industrial action to challenge the teachers pay award for 2008-11.

The ballot will open on 28 February and the planned strike day is Thursday 24 April.

Here are ten key reasons for teachers to support this

The future of the left?

Published on: Sat, 09/02/2008 - 20:10

Around 70 people heared John McDonnell speak at a Scottish Campaign for Socialism meeting in Glasgow on 2 February.

Speaking on “The Future of the Left” McDonnell’s starting point was that the current economic crisis was a vindication of Marx’s analysis of the nature of capitalism. But the Labour Party, despite the role played in it historically by socialists and revolutionaries, was now dominated by the forces of neo-liberalism. Any opportunity for the Party’s rank-and-file membership and affiliated trade unions to influence Party policy had been largely closed down.

The left outside of the

Lecturers; Birmingham; Remploy

Published on: Sat, 09/02/2008 - 20:07

Lecturers’ strike on 24 April

The UCU has announced plans for strike action for Further Education lecturers to coincide with the action planned by the NUT on 24 April.

(Universities cannot join the action since they are entering the third year of a three year deal, although rising inflation might cause that deal to fall apart later this year.)

Although the 2007-8 pay claim remains an issue of dispute, the union is bringing forward a demand for 2008-9 for 6% (with a minimum of £1,500). They are doing this jointly with other unions in the FE sector.

Accelerating the 2008-9 pay claim is necessary

Assessing anti-sweatshop campaigns

Published on: Sat, 09/02/2008 - 20:01

Bruce Robinson

Today’s globalised clothing industry involves transnational networks of production and sales in which manufacturing is subcontracted to producers, usually in developing countries.

To respond to the often horrific sweatshop conditions that result requires organising across national frontiers with multiple targets — the brands under which the clothes are sold and the subcontractors who supply them.

In a new book about garment workers * Ethel Brooks provides a critique of certain forms of “transnational labor organising” by looking at both ends of the chain, which she divides into the global

Would you like a certificate with that?

Published on: Sat, 09/02/2008 - 19:59

Heather Shaw

You’ve tasted the Big Mac, you’ve probably had some McNuggets in your time but how about getting your chops round a McA-Level? Sceptical? Me too.

David Fairhurst, senior vice-president and chief people officer of McDonalds, is hailing his company’s decision to award work-based qualifications as “an important and exciting step” for the company. The qualifications, by combining marketing, HR and customer service skills to the equivalent of A Level, will offer employees the all-important opportunity for “social mobility”, roughly translated as “getting working class kids to stomp on other working

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