Solidarity 206, 1 June 2011

Spain: "Real democracy needs socialism"

The youth protests — going under the banner of “Real Democracy” — which began during May as a public outcry denouncing political corruption and unemployment have swept across Spain. In the last week of May French youth have also taken to the streets.

With no end to the economic crisis and with the government forging ahead with its cuts programme, this protest has the potential for this to be the start of something much bigger.

Hundreds march for NHS in Sheffield

300 people marched in Sheffield on 28 May against the Health and Social Care Bill and local NHS cuts. The protest was called by Sheffield Save Our NHS to mark the end of the government “listening exercise” on the legislation. The demo highlighted cuts in the local pain clinic service and mental health crisis team and privatisation of the renal transport service from the ambulance service to a city taxi company.

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Southampton council workers begin indefinite strikes

On 23 May local government workers employed by Southampton City Council began indefinite rolling strike action in a dispute with the council over pay cuts. The dispute involves both Unison and Unite and will see a different section of council workers taking strike action each week. On 31 May, Council Enforcement Officers, Parking Equipment Technicians and Cashier Driver/Collectors began seven days of strike action. Mike Tucker, the branch secretary of Southampton District Unison, spoke to Solidarity.

Left must not hush up Islamist violence

On 26 May four young men from East London were jailed for at least four or five years each for an attack in July 2010 on a local school teacher.

Gary Smith, a religious education teacher at Central Foundation Girls’ School in Tower Hamlets, east London, was beaten unconscious with a metal rod and a brick as he walked to work. He is still unable to work full hours.

The men, who pleaded guilty, attacked him solely on the grounds that he was teaching Muslim girls about religions without being a Muslim himself.

Tower Hamlets cuts speed up

Tower Hamlets council in east London is planning on privatising its resources department, meaning that 800 workers will be transferred out of council employment and become employees of a private company.

Heathrow Express strike

Heathrow Express workers held a solid 48-hour strike on 27 and 28 May and are to follow it with a series of one-day strikes if the company does not back down.

RMT members picketed the company’s main office at Paddington, and while staff could book on duty at several other points, hardly any did. The company drafted in some managers to drive trains and advertised a half-hour service, but by mid-morning had achieved nothing like that.

London Met fight

As expected, the board of governors have done what management wanted and agreed all the cuts.

Lecturers meet

Delegates at the University and College Union (UCU) conference (28-30 May) probably came away a little confused on the real prospects for their disputes and their union.

Despite the union’s success in conducting strike ballots over the last year, its lack of a thought-through strategy is creating problems.

After the March 24 strikes, there are fears that momentum has been lost and that strategies are foisted on the union rather than debated. Partly as a result of that, delegates from pre-92 universities unfortunately voted narrowly to pull out of the June 30 action.

Sheffield College strike

Management at Sheffield College have gone on a vicious job cutting offensive, under the guise of voluntary redundancies.

In April the CEO of the College (pretty well off on a salary of £140,000 a year) announced the college’s intention to get rid of 60 teaching staff and a further 60 support staff. Up until now the college has used a voluntary redundancy scheme to try and tempt people out without a fight, but with the threat of compulsory redundancies to come.

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