Solidarity 292, 17 July 2013

Ireland: abortion ban cracks

On Thursday 11 July, Irish parliamentarians passed a law finally allowing limited abortion rights in Ireland.

The law, passed by 127 votes to 31, allows for abortion only in cases where a woman’s life is in danger or if she is suicidal.

The new legislation, the first of its kind, does the bare minimum to comply with the 2010 European Court of Human Rights ruling which found that Ireland’s failure to regulate access to abortion was a violation of its human rights obligations.

However, it does not reform or add any new grounds for legal abortion.

Egypt: neither the army nor Morsi!

The events in Egypt have confounded the image that pundits of both right and left have about the Muslim world — that the people are dominated, or automatically inclined to, Islamist movements.

The movement against Morsi has been a huge popular movement against an Islamist government, and not just any Islamist government either. The Muslim Brotherhood, and its political wing, are in many ways the most formidable Islamist party, and it was democratically elected.

Industrial news in brief

Further Education workers at Lewisham-Southwark College will strike on Wednesday 17 July against departmental closure and job cuts.

A lunchtime strike rally is planned from 12.45 outside the college on Lewisham Way (SE4 1UT).

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Cleaning workers’ two-week strike

Cleaning workers on the Tyne and Wear Metro began a fortnight-long strike on Friday 12 July.

“3 Cosas” news

The “3 Cosas” campaign of outsourced workers at the University of London for sick pay, holiday, and pensions equality organised a week-long “planton” at the university’s flagship Senate House building on 8-13 July.

Postal workers strike

Postal workers in Bridgewater, Somerset struck on Saturday 6 July in a dispute over job cuts and management bullying.

Communication Workers Union (CWU) rep Dave Chapple said the strike was “one of the best we’ve ever had”, with over 100 workers taking part.

Union reps have promised escalation if the dispute is not resolved.

In Peterborough, 170 postal workers held a wildcat strike following the suspension of a union rep.

RMT: “all-out fight” on job cuts

Over 100 jobs on the London Overground network could be lost, as London Overground Rail Operations Ltd. (LOROL) seeks to move to “driver-only operation” (DOO).

The immediate impulse for cut is a 12.5% cut in central government funding for Transport for London, announced in George Osborne’s 26 June spending review. Moving towards DOO is also key recommendation of the McNulty Review into railway industry reform.

Firefighters ballot for national strike

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) will ballot members from 18 July for national strike action after the government issued an ultimatum over changes to firefighters’ pensions.

The ballot, which lasts until the end of August, is expected to produce a large yes vote, with strikes likely in September if a settlement is not reached before then.

Syriza faces new challenges

For the congress on 10-14 July which transformed Syriza from a coalition into a single party, there was a programmatic proposal from the majority leadership (“mainstream”), which won 68% of the vote, an amendment from the Left Platform which won 30%, and a counter-proposal from another minority.

Labour representation, not “payment-by-results”

In a letter to the Evening Standard on Tuesday 9 July, Jerry Hicks, Len McCluskey’s challenger in the 2013 Unite general secretary election, set out his view for how trade unions should seek political representation.

Matt Merrigan: a fighter for the Third Camp in Ireland

Matt Merrigan (1921-2000) was a socialist, trade unionist and one of very few Third Camp Trotskyists in Ireland.

Born into poverty in Dolphin’s Barn, Dublin, Merrigan left school at 13 and worked for twenty years at the Rowntree-Mackintosh chocolate factory. He became a shop steward with the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union (ATGWU), rising to be its national secretary in 1960, a post he held until 1986.

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