Solidarity 337, 24 September 2014

Strikes on 13, 14, 15 October


Gemma Short

The ballot over NHS pay in Unison returned a yes vote with 68% in favour of strike action and 88% of action short of strike action.

Unison has called a four hour strike in all NHS services, from 7-11am on October 13. This is a different day to local government workers, who will be called out on October 14, and PCS (civil servants), who will be out on the 15th.

Labour promises tainted by austerity


Tom Harris

With under seven months to go until the General Election, the Labour Party held its annual conference in Manchester on 21-24 September.

So close to an election, the conference was expected to launch the key campaigns.

Speeches from senior Party figures were mixed at best. The rank and file did not get much input.

Industrial news in brief

Staff at Your Choice Barnet (YCB), who work with a variety of vulnerable adults, were on strike for two days last week.

The strike was in addition to two days the previous week, where they held a joint rally with visiting Doncaster Care UK workers.

The dispute is over a 9.5% pay cut being imposed by YCB management — an arms length organisation devolved from the council. As well as defending their pay, strikers are also demanding to be taken back in house.

The strike is very well supported amongst staff, and picket lines are lively and well attended.

Cash wins RMT election


Ollie Moore

Mick Cash has won the election for General Secretary of the rail union RMT by a large margin, with nearly 9,000 votes to the 4,000 of his nearest rival, Alan Pottage.

John Leach, supported by Workers’ Liberty, came fourth, with 1,428 votes. Steve Hedley won 1,885 votes, and Alex Gordon won 1,176.

The election turnout was low, around 20%.

Andy Burnham put on the spot


Gemma Short

On 21 September over 200 NHS campaigners from across the country gathered outside Labour Party conference in Manchester.

We lobbied to demand Labour make serious commitments to rebuilding the NHS.

Andy Burnham, shadow health secretary, was spotted going into the conference centre and persuaded to come speak to the crowd.

Schools for profit


Gemma Short

Academy schools are paying large sums of public money to private companies linked to their management, according to a report by the Education Select Committee.

Academies are state-funded but privately managed schools; many are “sponsored” by private education companies. Still more have individual board members who run or have interests in private companies.

These homes need people


Gerry Bates

The Focus E15 Mothers campaign has occupied empty property on the Carpenters estate near Stratford station.

The women started their social housing campaign last year when Newham council evicted them from a hostel for young parents and said they would have to move out of London. They won the right to take up temporary private housing tenancies but these end soon. Meanwhile large parts of housing on the Carpenters estate lies empty, and Newham council’s housing waiting list is 24,000.

Over a third of student women face sexual harassment


Charlotte Zalens

Thirty-seven per cent of student women say they have faced sexual harassment at university according to an NUS report.

This is an extraordinarily high figure, given that it’s about harassment within only a few years of a woman’s life.

The report also found that two-thirds of respondents had witnessed others tolerate unwanted sexual comments and the same number witnessed the telling of rape or sexual assault jokes in a university environment. More than a third were aware of promotional materials around university that had sexualised images of women.

USA: 370 million student debt-years


Con Karavias

The UK is heading towards a US-style education system. This article by Con Karavias, adapted from the Red Flag, the newspaper of Socialist Alternative in Australia, explains.

Currently, 12 million US citizens borrow money annually to continue studying for their degree.

The total number of those paying off student loans is 37 million. It will take each of them an average of 10 years to do it. It’ll take a lot of them far longer.

In the US, the vast majority of people are deprived of anything resembling a worthwhile education.

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