Solidarity 245, 9 May 2012

Cameron is still in hock to the Murdochs

It’s no surprise that the Tories are taking most of the political heat from the revelations surrounding News International.

The fact that ex-News of the World editor Andy Coulson was Cameron’s adviser and the constant reminders that Rebekah Brooks and Elizabeth Murdoch are neighbours and close social friends of the Camerons (in the Chipping Norton set) all fix the Tory-Murdoch mutual backscratching link in the public mind.

NHS plc: the shape of things to come

Under its contract with the NHS, Circle Healthcare, the private firm which runs Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, is allowed to claim the first £2 million of any annual surplus, plus a percentage of any further surplus (a quarter of the remaining surplus between £2-6 million, and a third of that between £6-10 million).

The Health Service Journal (HSJ) has published a report (3 May) saying the hospital will need to make surpluses of at least £70 million over the next decade if it is to clear its debts and meet Circle’s contracted share.

Serco, privatisation and Alex Salmond's SNP

The SNP government in Holyrood has announced the privatising of ferry services connecting the Orkney and Shetland islands with the mainland.

The services are currently run by Northlink, a subsidiary of the state-owned David MacBrayne Ltd. From July onwards the services will be run by Serco. The contract, worth £243 million, will run for six years.

Serco has experience of running just one other ferry crossing — the Woolwich Free Ferry across the River Thames.

Industrial news in brief

Forty-five workers at the Enterprise Distribution Centre, which unloads paper reels from incoming vessels at the Tilbury docks in Essex, struck on Monday 7 May, the first walkout at the docks since 1989.

The workers, who are members of Unite, are striking against the arbitrary imposition of new contracts which could see them lose up to £2,500.

Unite official Jane Jeffery said: “Members are annoyed at the complete lack of negotiation and consultation. Since the ballot for strike action, we have had no formal communication with the company.

Reinstate Dayna Nembhard!

Tube worker Dayna Nembhard was racially abused in a branch of fast food outlet KFC after a shift at work on London Underground. She defended herself, was arrested but later released without charge.

Nonetheless her boss demanded CCTV footage from the KFC and took witness statements. Dayna has since been sacked.

Dayna was not at work when the incident took place, and not in uniform; and the “incident” consisted of Dayna defending herself against racial abuse. Yet London Underground have seen fit to dismiss her.

Southampton unions must make Labour keep its promises

Trade unions have described the electoral wipeout of the Tories from Southampton City Council as “the chickens coming home to roost”.

The Tory council, under the leadership of Royston Smith, pursued an aggressive cuts agenda, targeting both local services and pay and conditions for council employees. The cuts sparked a high-profile industrial battle which saw workers take months’ worth of strike action. The campaign had an unusually high-levels of grassroots participation and rank-and-file control of the direction of the strike.

The heart of the “third camp”

In Solidarity 242, we began publishing a series of recollections and reflections from activists who had been involved with the “third camp” left in the United States — those “unorthodox” Trotskyists who believed that the Soviet Union was not a “workers’ state” (albeit a “degenerated” one), but an exploitative form of class rule to be as opposed as much as capitalism.

The Olympics and social cleansing

In 2010 David Cameron claimed he wanted “the Olympics legacy [to] lift East London from being one of the poorest parts of the country to one that shares fully in the capital’s growth and prosperity.”

It is claimed the Olympic “legacy” will help regenerate five east London boroughs. The reality for working-class residents is very different: displacement, gentrification and in the words of housing association chief executive officer Gill Brown, “social cleansing”.

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