Solidarity 258, 26 September 2012

Low pay: stop the race to the bottom

Published on: Wed, 26/09/2012 - 12:23

Dozens of academics from Britain’s top universities — mainly professors of economics and business studies — have penned an open letter to the Times which calls for an end to national collective pay bargaining in the public sector.

The letter proposes a scheme whereby individual public sector bodies could negotiate local pay rates, thereby allowing pay to more closely reflect the cost of living in a particular area.

The letter states: “National pay rates in the public sector means that public sector wages are out of line with local conditions in many parts of the country. In some areas, the

Greece: another general strike but Golden Dawn surges

Published on: Wed, 26/09/2012 - 12:18

Greek workers are on general strike on 26 September, in protest against the new round of cuts planned by the coalition government.

A number of strikes are ongoing. Nikos Fotopoulos, leader of the power workers’ union GENOP-DEH, has called for a rolling programme of repeated 24 hour strikes, with occupations of public buildings and permanent protest gatherings in public squares.

Working-class mobilisation is urgently needed not only to defeat the government’s measures, but also to stop the rise of the Golden Dawn fascists. Golden Dawn has risen since 17 June to between 9% and 12% in the polls;

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 26/09/2012 - 12:15

French ferry workers employed by Brittany Ferries, which serves several ports in the UK, launched a prolonged strike against pay cuts and increases in working hours.

The workers, who are members of the CGT and CFDT unions (both based in France), walked out on Friday 21 September after bosses refused to back down on plans to recoup some of the company’s £56 million deficit by increasing working hours by up to 25%.

The strike has already caused considerable financial disruption to the company, forcing them to reimburse passengers whose journeys were disrupted.

Rail workers in pay strike


Workers unite in food factory campaign

Published on: Wed, 26/09/2012 - 12:05

British and Polish members of the GMB at the Cranswick Country Foods factory near Hull have been involved in three days of industrial action over a proposed 20-30% pay cut by factory owners.

The workers who have a permanent contract have also been subject to an 8 year pay freeze, while inflation has risen by 42%.

The workers went on strike on 29 of August, and again on 6 and 7 of September, before returning to negotiations with management.

Speaking at Hull & District Trades Council one striking worker said: “The bosses are asking us to work twice as fast while cutting our wages by a third.

More battles for construction workers

Published on: Wed, 26/09/2012 - 12:02

Plumbers and heating and ventilation engineers in the Unite union have overwhelmingly rejected a below-inflation pay offer, with their union threatening to move to an industrial action ballot unless the offer is improved.

The Building and Engineering Services Association (BESA) is offering a two-year deal with a freeze in the first year and a 1.5 percent increase in the second year, despite what Unite calls their “healthy profit margins and order books”. Workers rejected the deal by a margin of nine to one.

BESA employers are the same contractors behind last year’s attempt to comprehensively

Nora Connolly: A socialist fighter for national liberation

Published on: Wed, 26/09/2012 - 11:51

Nora Connolly (1893-1981) was an Irish republican socialist and the daughter of the martyred revolutionary leader James Connolly.

Born in Edinburgh in 1893 as the second of seven children, Nora had a turbulent childhood. Her family moved several times. It settled temporarily in Dublin in 1896. Then in 1904 it followed James Connolly to New York state after his emigration to the United States of America the previous year.

Nora grew up at a time when the lack of child labour laws permitted American capitalists to exploit children in steel factories, foundries and textile manufacturers. Nora

Why we should not back US Democrats

Published on: Wed, 26/09/2012 - 11:46

With Mitt Romney’s scorn for “the 47%”, many left-minded people will conclude that they must support Barack Obama in the USA’s presidential election in November.

The Democratic Party is firmly controlled by capitalist interests; Obama’s administration has increased inequality in the USA; yet the TUC’s pamphlet for 20 October sets up Obama’s policies as a model for Britain. “USA shows the way”.

When Franklin D Roosevelt was president, from 1933 until his death in 1945, and put through the “New Deal”, the political gap between Democrats and Republicans in the USA was even wider than

Libya: defeating the Salafists

Published on: Wed, 26/09/2012 - 11:40

The attack and killings at the US consulate in Benghazi — killings orchestrated ostensibly around the protest against the Innocence of Muslims film — were, in reality it seems, long-planned.

Many in Benghazi saw it as a reprisal attack for the US drone killing of a high-ranking Libyan al-Qaeda operative in Afghanistan.

The attacks were widely seen as the work of Ansar al-Sharia, a recently emerging hardline Salafist grouping who have some support in eastern Libya and Benghazi specifically. They have been condemned for their attacks on Sufi shrines and the demolition of holy sites dedicated

Labour: reverse NHS cuts!

Published on: Wed, 26/09/2012 - 11:34

According to the Royal College of Physicians, acute hospitals are on the point of collapse. Emergency admissions have increased 37% in the last decade, but hospitals have a third fewer beds than 25 years ago.

For a while the decrease in beds was matched by a shortening of patients’ stays in hospital, but that trend is now in reverse. Older patients are coming into hospital with more complex conditions and are staying longer.

Meanwhile the Tories plan £20 billion cuts by 2014-5, and £50 billion by 2019-20.

The Tories’ Health and Social Care Act, passed despite wide protest in March, will make

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