Solidarity 139, 25 September 2008

TU News in brief

LOCAL GOVERNMENT: The decision by members of Unison’s Local Government National Joint Council to agree to binding arbitration effectively brings this year’s pay dispute to an end. It is a failure for the union and the leftists who lead the sector and will be a bitter disappointment to the members who supported action but wanted a better deal.

Public sector pay: how to win


Chris Hickey

If anything sums up New Labour as a Government for the rich, a cuckoo in the labour movement nest, it has to be their year-on-year drive to keep public sector wages below the rate of inflation.

Against fees, debts and marketisation

Student union officers and student activists involved in the Education Not for Sale group have launched the following statement calling for a national student demonstration next year — the year that could see university fees completely deregulated, but in which the National Union of Students is planning no demonstration or serious campaign.

Education – a right not a privilege:

No to fees – A living grant for every student – Tax the rich to fund education

For a national demonstration at the start of 2009

What kind of student movement?


Dan Randall

Student Respect, or in other words Socialist Workers’ Party students, are organising a conference for a “democratic, campaigning student movement” at the School of Oriental and African Studies on Saturday 1 November.

Trade unionists for choice


Rebecca Galbraith

Next month we will have the first chance in 18 years to extend abortion rights when the House of Commons debates pro-choice amendments to the Human Embryology Bill.

Every day recently I have removed anti-choice leaflets from the entrance sign to the hospital where I work at and numerous friends have told me about receiving pro-life propaganda through their door, urging them to contact their MP and ask them to vote against all of the pro-choice amendments.

Jobless figure is rising


Tom Unterrainer

As the economic crisis generalises — creeping out of the financial markets and into the productive economy — material effects on working-class lives begin to hit home. Along with rocketing costs of living and house repossessions, unemployment looks set to increase.

According to predictions from the TUC, the number of people out of work for more than one year will double by the end of 2009. Long-term unemployment (as measured by the government) could increase to 700,000 and the total unemployment levels will increase to over two million.

Rebuilding the movement


Stuart Jordan

A brief look at the current industrial news is enough to make any socialist’s eyes water. We have seen the GMB (with one eye to the sinking ship of New Labour) seek talks with the Tories, and Unison scuppering any possibility of a united public sector pay fight. Even in the unions, such as PCS and NUT, where the “left” control the leadership, there is little industrial strategy to win the pay fight, and scant effort is going into the most basic task of building a fighting, militant union movement.

Convention of the Left Debates Equality


Laura Schwartz

The main hall at the Left Convention was full for the meeting on how to fight for women’s equality, with speakers from Abortion Rights, Feminist Fightback, the Labour Party and the Women’s Charter. Almost all speakers and contributors agreed on the need for a feminist politics that fought on class issues and Feminist Fightback stressed the need for socialist feminists to participate in the various feminist initatives that have been emerging in the last few years.

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