Solidarity 213, 3 August 2011

Lambeth libraries: strong campaigns can save jobs

Published on: Thu, 04/08/2011 - 13:08

Lambeth Council in south London agreed to a deal which will save all the jobs in the library service following the workers announcing strike action against libraries cuts.

Lambeth council wanted a staffing restructure in its libraries which would massacre frontline services and leave 40 people at risk of redundancy. By combining a high-profile public campaign with the threat of strike action, every job in the service has been saved; reading groups, storytimes and enquiry services will continue.

This is a tribute to the unity and determination of trade union members in the libraries, who were

Heading for the double-dip?

Published on: Thu, 04/08/2011 - 13:05

On top of the public sector job cuts, private-sector industry is cutting jobs too.

On 27 July the bosses’ association CBI published survey results showing that most manufacturing employers plan to cut jobs over the next three months.

Until spring this year, manufacturing employment was increasing a bit from its slump levels in 2009. The increase was not enough to validate the coalition government’s claim that public sector cuts, by holding down public debt levels and so interest rates, will produce a counterbalancing private-sector boom. But there was an increase. No longer.

Manufacturing

Thousands march for Bombardier jobs

Published on: Thu, 04/08/2011 - 13:03

Thousands demonstrated on Saturday 23 July to save jobs at the Bombardier train manufacturing plant in Derby.

The demonstration was extremely well supported locally, and the fact that thousands were mobilised at relatively short notice for a demonstration in a location that doesn’t host many mass demos is an encouraging indication of the potential for a real campaign to save jobs at the plant.

Some senior union officials from the platform played up the “British jobs” aspect, and spoke of “working with” Bombardier management (the company’s UK chairman, Colin Walton, appeared on the

BBC strike

Published on: Thu, 04/08/2011 - 13:00

BBC workers took a second day of strike action on Monday 1 August in a battle over job cuts.

National Union of Journalists General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “The NUJ is proud that our members everywhere in the BBC have recognised this threat to their colleagues [...] The latest ludicrous management ploy is to claim that the strike today isn’t having any effect. Clearly BBC management doesn’t watch the corporation’s output very much.”

The BBC’s radio and television stations were forced to run repeats of old programmes and, in some places, senior managers were forced to fill in and

Social workers join Southampton strikes

Published on: Thu, 04/08/2011 - 12:57

Social workers at Southampton Council joined local government workers’ indefinite rolling strikes on 3 August as the Tory-led council continues to push ahead with its cuts programme.

Nearly 500 workers in the social care department struck on Wednesday 3 August, and Unison members will take a further 6 days’ action from 4 August. The strike highlights in particular the insulting £1,400 “market supplement” offered to some social workers, intended to offset the impact of cuts but which the workers’ union describes as “part of the problem, not the solution”.

Unison branch secretary Mike Tucker

FBU to ballot on pensions?

Published on: Thu, 04/08/2011 - 12:54

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has announced that industrial action in the autumn over reforms to the firefighter pensions scheme now looks “increasingly likely”.

Consultation with members is ongoing and the union reports that it is making “preliminary arrangements” for a strike ballot. It would be the FBU’s first national dispute since the 2002/2003 pay campaign.

The union is opposed to government plans to increase employee contributions by 3.2%, and increase the pensionable age to 60. Statements from union leader Matt Wrack talk of “when”, rather than if, the FBU is going to ballot.

But when

The Workers Committee

Published on: Thu, 04/08/2011 - 12:45

J T (John Thomas) Murphy was a Sheffield metal-worker and, in 1920, became a founding member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. He was involved in the shop stewards’ movement which arose during the First World War. He went on to be involved in the CP-initiated National Minority Movement, one of the most significant mass rank-and-file movements in British labour history.

Murphy was jailed in 1925 for seditious libel and incitement to mutiny. From the mid-1920s, when the Stalinist counter-revolution in Russia began to spread across Europe’s Communist Parties, Murphy took the wrong side and

Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln

Published on: Thu, 04/08/2011 - 12:39

By Dan Katz
This book is available for a bit more than £8 on Amazon, which makes it a bargain.

The author — Robin Blackburn — is a former editor of New Left Review, and has previously written two good books on slavery (The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery and The Making of New World Slavery).

Unfinished Revolution is divided into two sections: a 100 page introduction, followed by 150 pages of documents. It is a long time since I bought a new book which includes a section of historical writings — in this case from Marx, Engels, Lincoln and others. It makes a good change to find a writer who

The voice of power

Published on: Thu, 04/08/2011 - 12:34

It would be odd if book reviews in socialist newspapers spent much time reviewing novels about obscure dead aristocrats. It would look like the usual Independent on Sunday, Sunday Times or Observer books pages which are chock full of pastoral, aristocratic, nostalgic publications of dubious literary worth.

The ubiquity of this kind of stuff has led to writers like James Kelman largely boycotting literary events and festivals and the kind of bourgeois literary diet which is the staple of the assumed reading public in the UK — those who speak “with the accent of the cultural elite in this

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