Solidarity 348, 7 January 2015

Industrial news in brief


Charlotte Zalens, Rhodri Evans and Gemma Short

Health workers in Unison, Unite and GMB will strike for 12 hours on Thursday 29 January, with a planned follow up of 24 hours on Wednesday 25 February.

This follows a series of 4 hour strikes in October and November over NHS pay. Unions are also calling on members to “work to rule” for the days between the two strikes.

Health unions are calling for an immediate 1% consolidated pay rise for all NHS staff, with a further consolidated award for 2015-16 and future increases that they hope will restore the value of NHS pay.

Nationalise City Link!


Darren Bedford

Union campaigners have called for bankrupt delivery firm City Link to be nationalised, after more than 2,400 workers were sacked on New Year’s Eve 2014.

Around 60 activists demonstrated at the company’s headquarters in Coventry on 31 December, with smaller demonstrations taking place at delivery centres elsewhere in the country.

New Era housing victory


Beth Redmond

After months of campaigning, the New Era housing campaign in East London won its battle against eviction shortly before Christmas.

Westbrook Partners, a US investment firm worth $11bn, bought the entire estate in March 2014 from First LBS Holdings. It is a big part of a wider trend of investors using homes merely as catalysts for financial gain, with no consideration to those who need somewhere affordable to live.

Italy: right surges as unions retreat


Hugh Edwards

Befitting his image as the man of action the Italian ruling class have been fantasising about for decades, Matteo Renzi didn’t hang about after he delivered on the reactionary Jobs Act (which among other things weakens employment protection and is aimed at making the workforce more “flexible”).

Juror makes challenge


Gemma Short

Under the banner of “Black lives matter”, protests against police racism and violence have continued across America over Christmas and in the New Year.

On Monday 5 January, protesters gathered for a 24 hour vigil in New York’s Grand Central Station, with placards carrying the names of those killed by police in the last decade. A rally outside Washington’s Capitol Hill with families of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and others attracted over 25,000 protestors on 13 December.

Uniting to defend Muslims and Roma in Sweden


Gustav Sternhamner

In Sweden, as across Europe, far-right and racist ideas are increasingly popular. Last autumn’s general election saw the anti-immigrant, far-right Sweden Democrats win almost 13 per cent of the vote and 49 MPs.

Cologne rally squashes Pegida


Colin Foster

On 5 January, 20,000 people demonstrated in Cologne, Germany, against a planned assembly by the “patriotic” anti-Muslim group Pegida. Pegida mobilised few people and decided to cancel its rally.

Pegida, “Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West”, a movement with some parallels to the English Defence League, nevertheless mobilised 18,000 on the same day in Dresden, where the counterdemonstration was only 4,000 strong.

Abandoned people


Rachael Barnes

At the end of December, and in the space of four days, two ships, both carrying hundreds of migrants, were abandoned by their crew in rough Italian seas, in an effort to force the Italian authorities to rescue the passengers.

800 migrants were rescued from the Blue Sky M, a ship registered in Moldova was sailing with no crew five miles from the Italian coast. And 450 people, mostly Syrian refugees, were rescued later in the week from the Sierra Leone-registered Ezadeen. A passenger said they had been at sea for ten days, half of which without food or drink.

Back to basics in the unions!


Ira Berkovic

The most explosive and inspiring flashes of class struggle in Britain in the three years since the defeat of the public sector pensions dispute have not been national-level pitched battles between large employers and/or the government, and one or several big unions, but local-scale struggles, usually over pay.

Outsourced cleaners at the University of London and SOAS have won significant victories, bringing the workers nearer to parity with their directly employed colleagues’ sick pay, holiday entitlement, and pension arrangements.

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