Solidarity 204. 18 May 2011

Tory adviser boasts: "no mercy for NHS"

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).

4 June: build for new student struggle

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.

Unite health sector: where's the ballot?

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.

Saltend workers in court protest

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.

Tories attack railworkers as "workshy"

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.”

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

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.

Debating “SlutWalk”

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.

Callinicos and the International Socialists

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.

Nuclear and workers' power

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.

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