Solidarity 241, 11 April 2012

Spain pushes “pay for health care”

Spain’s new conservative government is planning to change Spain’s health service so that the sick will have to pay a fee for medical examinations, doctors’ visits and prescriptions.

Health care in Spain is currently free at the point of need, as in Britain’s NHS.

Syria: slaughter and duplicity

Syrian regime leader, Bashar Assad, fighting to smash the year-long uprising against his dictatorship, agreed to a UN-Arab League plan with a 10 April deadline for a ceasefire.

But the deal, which Assad felt forced to formally accept, is now almost certain to fall apart as the state steps up the violence against its own citizens.

Several towns, including Homs, Deraa and the Douma suburb of Damascus, are being shelled. 100 killings were reported in the two days leading up to the deadline.

Unite “aims for” strike on 10 May

A recent decision by the leadership of the Unite union’s health section to “aim for” another strike over pensions on 10 May offers a glimmer of hope in the battle to revive a national industrial campaign on the issue.

MMP lock out battle needs industrial action

Bosses at the Mayr Melnhof Packaging (MMP) plant in Deeside locked up the facility in advance of a community picket organised by workers locked out of MMP's Bootle plant and their supporters.

The picket was part of an attempt by the locked-out Bootle workers to build solidarity for their dispute by reaching out to Deeside workers.

Tube: co-ordinate battles

Transport union RMT is fighting disputes against several employers in London Transport, and activists are trying to maximise their effect through co-ordination.

The disputes include battles over pensions and passes involving maintenance workers at Tube Lines, London Underground service controllers’ and signallers’ fight against threats to jobs, pay and union recognition on maintenance contractor companies, and cleaners’ battles over pay and the right to the same travel passes other Tube workers have.

NUT grassroots get organised as leadership moves to block pensions fightback

At the National Union of Teachers conference, in Torquay between 6 and 10 April, activists finally began to get organised to fight for rank-and-file control in the fight over pensions. The behaviour of the NUT leadership at the conference, and the official "left" that supports it, showed how much such a rank-and-file movement is needed.

Anti-semitism explained away

The slippery, urbane face of Islamism, Tariq Ramadan, has excelled himself explaining away the actions of Islamist murderer Mohamed Merah.

Ramadan, proving Merah was no Islamic militant, writes that, “Two weeks before the shooting… he spent an evening in a nightclub in a very festive mood.”

Hardly unique. The BBC reported that “Many [of the 2004 Madrid train bombers] appeared westernised and integrated into the Spanish community, with a liking for football, fashion, drinking and Spanish girlfriends.”

The “second coming” of George Galloway

Some parts of the left have greeted Respect’s success in Bradford West with what can properly be described as religious enthusiasm. Writing over the Easter weekend on Britain’s most widely read socialist blog, one long-time activist even described the spectacular by-election overturn as “the second coming”.

As we were saying: The Falklands and the war of 1982

The Falkland Islands, small specks in the South Atlantic, were annexed by Britain and settled by British people in the 1830s. There had been no previous indigenous population.

A century and a half later, in the 1970s and 80s, the islands were an odd little relic of empire. They had no huge economic or strategic importance. Their 1,800 or so inhabitants, many of whom would move on to more clement climates after their time in the Falklands, had no desire to separate from Britain.

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