Solidarity 355, 25 February 2015

Renationalise rail!


Colin Foster

Labour’s new shadow transport secretary, Michael Dugher, has signalled a shift towards rail renationalisation.

In an interview with the New Statesman on 19 February, he said: “The public sector will be running sections of our rail network as soon as we can do that”. He added that he was “adamant about putting the whole franchising system, as it stands today, in the bin”.

Industrial news in brief


Charlotte Zalens, Ollie Moore and Gemma Short

Cleaners at financial analyst Bloomberg planned to strike from 23-25 February in a continuing struggle over pay and conditions.

The cleaners, members of the IWGB union, won the Living Wage in November last year after strikes and occupations. The cleaners also got the Living Wage updated to the newest rate after threatening to strike earlier this month.

Another Brest-Litovsk?


Colin Foster

No small country, and in fact no country at all, can simply defy and ignore the pressures of the capitalist world market, not unless it wants to reduce itself to a pauperised, shut-off condition.

It would be wrong and demagogic to denounce the Greek government just for trying to do a deal with the eurozone leaders, the European Central Bank, and the IMF. It is even more demagogic to say that it could have an easy way out of the difficulties just by quitting the European Union.

Greece: five questions that demand an answer


Costas Lapavitsas

The Eurogroup agreement has not been concluded, in part because we do not yet know what “reforms” will be proposed by the Greek government today (Monday 23 February) and which ones of those will eventually be accepted.

However, those of us that have been elected based on the programme of Syriza, and see the announcements made at Thessaloniki [i.e. the “Thessaloniki Programme”] as pledges that we have promised to the Greek people, we have deep concerns. It is our duty to write them down.

The general programme of the agreement is as follows:

Edinburgh fights cuts

On 12 February 2015 the City of Edinburgh Council, a Labour-SNP coalition, passed a budget with £22 million of cuts which will see a reduction of 1200 jobs from the council workforce.

Fiona Menzies from Edinburgh East Save Our Services told Solidarity: “This did not go unmarked. Community and trade union activists both lobbied outside the council and delivered inspiring deputations inside. People can get some idea of the range of groups and the arguments being made by watching the deputations on the council webcam.

Self-serving greedy pigs!


Charlotte Zeleus

Two politicians, and former foreign secretaries, from both the Tory and Labour parties, have been caught by undercover journalists hawking their “expertise” and “connections” for thousands of pounds.

Labour’s Jack Straw has resigned from the Parliamentary Labour Party, and Tory Sir Malcolm Rifkind has resigned as chair of Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee and intends to step down as MP at the general election. Both have referred themselves to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.

Stop Academies in Lewisham

On Thursday 12 February, Governors of the three schools in the Prendergast/Leathersellers Federation, in Lewisham, voted to press on with plans to turn their schools into academies.

This despite the fact they have carried out no meaningful consultation with the parents, students or the staff at the schools.

Fortunately teachers in the schools did not wait until for this decision to start a fight against the proposals.

£27 billion for landlords


Gerry Bates

Private landlords gain about £27 billion a year from housing benefit and tax breaks, according to the Generation Rent lobby group.

There are about 1.6 million buy-to-let landlords in the UK, and about 4.75 million households rent from them. Numbers both of landlords and of private tenants are rising.

The £27 billion total comes from:

£9.3 billion of housing benefit

£1.69 billion of “wear-and-tear” tax relief landlords can claim on their properties

£6.63 billion of tax that landlords do not have to pay on mortgage interest payments

London housing campaigns step up action


Gemma Short

The occupation of the Guinness Trust estate in Brixton, South London, has ended after campaigners managed to stop the eviction of some residents and secured an agreement for shorthold tenants to be rehoused in secure Guinness Trust houses elsewhere in London.

Campaigners have vowed they will re-occupy if there are any further moves to evict the estate’s 44 tenants.

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