Solidarity 204. 18 May 2011

Tory adviser boasts: "no mercy for NHS"

Published on: Wed, 18/05/2011 - 13:10

Mark Britnell, recruited by the government as an adviser on the changes it will force through in the Health Service (Nursing Times, 3 May), has said:

“In the future, the NHS will be a state insurance provider, not a state deliverer [...] The NHS will be shown no mercy and the best time to take advantage of this will be in the next couple of years” (Guardian, 14 May).

In the Health Service Journal (11 May), Britnell proposes Singapore as a model: “the government [...] provide people with a sort of individual savings account that enables them to take greater personal responsibility. The central

4 June: build for new student struggle

Published on: Wed, 18/05/2011 - 13:03

On 4 June, anti-cuts groups and activists from across the country will meet to discuss the way forward for the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts.

Founded in February 2010 to coordinate student anti-cuts struggles, the NCAFC gained huge recognition and influence during the big student protests last winter. However, its failure to create accountable democratic structures has prevented it from consolidating and developing.

The campaign is still organising impressive initiatives and actions, but these are spurts, rather than part of an ongoing, consistent, planned campaign.

In practice,

Unite health sector: where's the ballot?

Published on: Wed, 18/05/2011 - 13:00

On 13 April, Unite’s National Industrial Committee for the health sector voted to join in with the planned 30 June strike action over pensions.

Since then very little as been heard, at a time when the union should be preparing to ballot its members in the NHS. No ballot date has been set.

National Industrial Committees are notionally fully autonomous. If an NIC votes to ballot, then the union should ballot. However, it seems there have been delays in the executive deciding on how to implement this. Time will soon run out to give legal notice to ballot before the planned strike day.


Saltend workers in court protest

Published on: Wed, 18/05/2011 - 12:57

Saltend workers demonstrated outside Hull Magistrates’ Court hearing on 17 May for GMB national officer Phil Whitehurst who was arrested on a picket on 4 May.

Whitehurst had been taking part in the regular pickets over the lockout of 430 workers from the failed £200m Vivergo Fuels Ltd bio-ethanol fuel plant project.

A group of about 30 workers and trade unionists protested outside the Court before going inside for Whitehurst’s hearing. Entering to a round of applause, he was charged under section 14 of the Public Order act, used by the police to limit the number of people at a protest to

Tories attack railworkers as "workshy"

Published on: Wed, 18/05/2011 - 12:53

According to an article in the Times (12 May), “David Cameron is facing growing pressure to take on rail unions amid anger over workshy practices that are said to be putting the future of the network at risk.”

So it is the rail unions that are putting the network at risk, is it? Not according to the opinion, for example, of the Potter’s Bar accident enquiry judge. He recently ruled that “Overall responsibility for the breach of duty lay with Railtrack at senior management level and their failures were significant and extensive.”

The article continues that train companies are troubled by our

British Airways deal: "employers have upper hand for now"

Published on: Wed, 18/05/2011 - 12:32

An activist in BASSA, the section of the Unite union which covers BA cabin crew, spoke to Solidarity about the deal negotiated between the airline and union leaders which workers are now voting on.

There has been much debate in various forums about what is, and what is not, included in the deal.

As far as I know all those who have been subject to disciplinary action can have their cases reviewed by ACAS, and ACAS’s decision will be binding on BA. The only people who are outside this part of the deal will be the three people who have already had their employment tribunals (none of them have

Debating “SlutWalk”

Published on: Wed, 18/05/2011 - 12:28

On 4 June “SlutWalk” — a march to protest against blaming rape victims who dress “provocatively” for what happens to them — will take place in London. The original SlutWalk took place in Toronto in April after a policemen said “women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimised.”

One aspect of SlutWalk in North America and here in the UK is to reclaim the word “slut”. Older feminists here have apparently objected to the march on those grounds. You can’t and shouldn’t try to reclaim such language.

Back in the 80s and early 90s I would probably have agreed with that point of

Callinicos and the International Socialists

Published on: Wed, 18/05/2011 - 12:23

Martin Thomas is wrong when he says that Alex Callinicos joined IS/SWP in 1973 (“The Quinlan Terry of Marxism”, Workers’ Liberty 3/33). It was probably 1970 or before, or failing that 1971.

He was an active member of Oxford IS in 1972 when he returned to complete his degree after being sent down for a year for painting slogans somewhere in Balliol College to protest at a visit by a South African or Rhodesian government representative. He had been a member before this happened in mid-1971. He was thus not around in Oxford when the branch split 50-50 over whether to support the expulsion of

Nuclear and workers' power

Published on: Wed, 18/05/2011 - 12:11

Les Hearn’s article on nuclear power (Solidarity 3/203) seems to be based mainly on the arguments being put forward by George Monbiot and Mark Lynas.

Though he lists the objections to nuclear power, he doesn’t even attempt to answer many of them, and on the issue of waste disposal, plant safety and cost, he fails to see the reality of nuclear power within the context of a global capitalist economy.

Critically, he also fails to question the projected “energy gap” which is being used to justify nuclear power expansion. And he doesn’t ask what is the best way forward for energy in the interests

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