Rage against the Tories at hustings in Perth

Posted on: August 16th, 2022 by Charlie No Comments
Line of 100 anti-Tory protesters at Tory hustings in Perth wiht banner saying 'Tory scum out'

Many people had reasons to protest at the Tories in Perth (Picture: SWP Scotland)

Around 1,000 angry anti-Tory protesters gathered in Perth, central Scotland, on Tuesday to rage at the Liz Truss-Rishi Sunak hustings.

Anti-racists, trade unionists, pro-independence supporters, welfare campaigners, climate change activists and many others came to savage the leadership contenders. It was the biggest protest at a Tory hustings so far.

Protesters tried to break through police lines and some threw eggs at Tories entering the event. Activists greeted Conservative members with a chorus of boos outside the city’s concert hall.

Protest organiser Cat McKay from Perth Against Racism told Socialist Worker, “There is no way they couldn’t hear us inside the hall. It was a great atmosphere on the protest with lots of young people and  a great mix of activists and campaigners.

“For us the main issues were the Tory hostile environment towards refugees and migrants. But there were many other reasons to protest—the cost of living crisis, climate chaos, pensions and much more. We went away feeling stronger and more united. I’d encourage anyone else to go to a hustings and let your anger rip.”

Demonstrators blasted The Imperial March from Star Wars on a loudspeaker and a group of activists broke through a barrier intended to hold protesters back and tried to force their way into the venue. Police halted them as Tory members watched from inside just a few feet away.

The protest was called by Perth Against Racism and backed by Stand Up To Racism, Waspi women pensions campaign and Fridays for Future school strikers. There were speakers from the Unite and PCS unions, the Scottish TUC union federation, Stand Up To Racism and others.

Nurse Pauline Brady told the demonstration that health workers had rejected the 5 percent pay offer. She said, “This Tory government is trying to remove rights from workers and to make strikes ineffective.” She called for “all workers to go on a general strike and bring the country to a standstill. United we can win.” 

Inside the hall, top Tories referenced the protests. Andrew Bowie, MP for West Aberdeenshire, has the task of introducing Sunak. He denounced the “politics of gripe and grievance, of division and hate, that we have seen outside this hall tonight”. He wrongly said the protests were led by the Scottish National Party (SNP).

In fact David Linden, the SNP MP for Glasgow East reply to Tory slurs by saying militant protesters, “don’t speak for me or my party. We condemn their behaviour utterly and without equivocation. If anyone of them is found to be an SNP member, then they should be chucked out immediately.”

Anti-austerity campaigner Sean Clerkin told the Daily Record, “I’m here to call for support for the many Scots who face a winter without being able to afford heating.”

Stand Up To Racism supporters were there to show their anger against the state’s assault on migrant and refugee rights, the death of Sheku Bayoh after police contact, and the government’s attempt to start deportations to Rwanda.  

Protesters chanted, “Refugees are welcome here.” In the run-up to the hustings, Truss has vowed to keep the Royal Navy in charge of patrolling the Channel to confront refugees and migrants after it was revealed that it planned to withdraw from the role next year. At hustings, she pledged to expand the Rwanda scheme to other countries. 

As the strikes and protests grow against the Tories, hustings are a good chance to take the fury to Sunak and Truss.  

  • Future Tory hustings are: Fri 19 August Manchester, 6pm. Manchester Central, Windmill Street, M2 3DW Tue 23 August Birmingham, Thu 25 August Norwich, Wed 31 August London

Tories must face full force of class anger

Posted on: August 16th, 2022 by Isabel No Comments
bus strike strike picket fighting the Tories' cuts

Workers on picket lines show the way to fight the Tories (Picture: Unite North West)

The Tories are still partying while ordinary people face spiralling crises. Droughts are causing thousands to go without running water, and floods are set to follow. Yet in his final weeks as prime minister Boris Johnson, as ever, is living the high life.

He bragged about wanting a “champagne soaked soiree” to celebrate his one-year wedding at Chequers. And he was spotted on holiday at a five-star luxury “eco‑lodge” in Slovenia, and then at a second jaunt in Greece. As Johnson sponges off donors and rich friends, workers have suffered a record fall in the value of their pay.

Official figures on Tuesday showed real levels of wages fell at the fastest rate for at least 20 years in the second quarter of this year. Workers’ pockets are being emptied quicker than ever as the cost of living continues to outpace wage rises.

It means, for example, that buying a house is even more impossible for more and more people. Perenna, a specialist mortgage lender, has been handed a licence to offer mortgages with a fixed rate for up to 50 years. The 50‑year span effectively accepts that most people will never pay off their mortgage in their lifetime.

But this doesn’t concern Tory leadership hopefuls Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak. They are still busy battling to be the most brutal and right wing to please their ultra-reactionary audience. Both want to be the most vicious towards trade unions and limit workers’ ability to hit back. They’re competing to attack trans rights the hardest, and are refusing to take action over rising prices.

Through all their blunders and nastiness, the rising tide of resistance against the bosses, profit-hungry firms and their Tory scum friends is growing. Strikes, whether wildcat or official, have spread and are a sign of the hunger for revolt.

Another indication is that a poll showed that 49 percent of 18-24 year olds agree that “given the rising cost of living, rioting on the streets would be justified”. And only 41 percent didn’t agree. Meanwhile Labour won’t back the strikes, let alone more militant tactics and policies.

Even when he came up with some plans to curb fuel bills temporarily this week, Keir Starmer still opposed renationalisation of the privatised firms. The TUC union federation estimates that nationalising the energy retailers would cost £2.85 billion. It should be less— why should they be compensated at all?

But Starmer is talking about handing over £29 billion just to keep prices down. His opposition to nationalisation is pro-capitalist ideology, not hard-headed realism. As the social catastrophe looms larger, let’s make sure that whoever becomes the next Tory prime minister faces the full force of class anger.

Exams are used by rulers for class war

Posted on: August 16th, 2022 by Isabel No Comments
Exams hall

The Tories want to disadvantage working class children with exams

In the run up to A-Level results this week, the Tories were determined to reassert the importance of exams. The pandemic saw exams cancelled and the right don’t like that. They want the mechanism to select, divide and fail students restored.

Tory schools minister Will Quince plans to “move back to a position where qualifications maintain their value”. This means no to course work and teacher assessed grades, and yes to traditional tests. As with every other aspect of education, exams put working class children at a disadvantage.

A few will filter through into higher social levels, as without this opportunity the narrow ideology of progress would collapse. But according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies the attainment gap between poor and rich students is just as wide now as it was 20 years ago. The report says, “16-year‑olds who are eligible for free school meals are still around 27 percentage points less likely to earn good GCSEs than less disadvantaged peers.”

Any fall in A-Level grades will be used to claim that the lack of exams during the pandemic gave students an easy ride. In reality, lower grades would demonstrate that exams are a mechanism to impose wider class inequalities. The Tory attacks on students should be the spark for class anger, and a war against capitalist inequality in education.

Enough is Enough campaign has to push to build wider militant action

Posted on: August 16th, 2022 by Jeandre Coetser No Comments
portrait of CWU union leader Dave Ward in a pink shirt who is central to the enough is enough campaign

The CWU’s Dave Ward is central to Enough is Enough (Picture: CWU)

Trade union leaders last week launched a new campaign for action against the worsening social catastrophe. It has vowed to mobilise thousands for 50 rallies across Britain.

Enough is Enough (EIE) seeks to build a coalition of trade union leaders, MPs and community organisations to demand an end to hunger, decent homes for all, the slashing of energy bills, taxing the rich, and a pay rise for all.

Already signed up are the RMT and CWU unions, the Acorn renters’ union, Tribune magazine and Zarah Sultana MP.

CWU general secretary Dave Ward said, “There’s always another crisis, and it’s always workers who pay the price.

“Working people are seeing how a tiny elite want to make their lives all about working harder and longer for less. Now that same elite is profiteering from a cost of living crisis that will drive millions into poverty with sky-high bills. Things can’t go on like this—it’s time to say enough is enough.”

The campaign said it would be “forming community groups, organising solidarity with striking workers, and taking action against those profiting from the misery of millions.

EIE organisers said that in just three days, it received 300,000 sign-ups and over 6 million launch video views.

The new website had so much traffic on its launch that at one point it crashed.

It’s good to hear that there will be a focus for mass rallies and meetings, as well as organised solidarity with the strikes. And this could also be an opportunity to debate the tactics and strategy of the new strike wave.

Bringing together different strikers at a rally is powerful and can encourage others to fight themselves. But it’s not a substitute for united action.

That remains a central issue. And this emphasises that what is driving the new sense of confidence and resistance is strikes, not the echo of them at a meeting.

Any campaign centred on trade union leaders will avoid questioning of those leaders’ actions. But activists should seek to make sure that rank and file voices are heard at EIE events.

Meanwhile the Don’t Pay campaign, trying to build a mass non-payment strike, has reached 100,000 pledges to cancel direct debits from 1 October.

Organisers say over 31,000 people have joined some 180 Don’t Pay groups formed in postcode areas.

  • To sign up and receive details of events in your area, go to wesayenough.co.uk Launch rally Wed 17 Aug, 7pm, Clapham Grand, London. Follow on Twitter @eiecampaign

The West’s sanctions starving Afghanistan

Posted on: August 16th, 2022 by Sam No Comments
Afghan women around a kitchen table with jars of food

Food has become so scarce, over 90 percent of households struggle to get enough (Picture: Hand in Hand International)

The US is punishing millions of people across Afghanistan with hunger and poverty, a year after the Taliban forced it to end its 20 year occupation. Monday of this week marked a year since fighters from the Taliban resistance group took control of Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul.

It was a major humiliation for the US, which had waged war in Afghanistan since 2001 supposedly to get rid of the Taliban. Yet in the wake of its defeat, the US has spent the past year strangling Afghanistan with economic sanctions that cause widespread misery and suffering.

Even the establishment, mainstream watchdog Human Rights Watch pinned a large amount of blame on the US’s sanctions. “Since the US withdrawal and the Taliban takeover in August 2021, Afghanistan has been suffering from a worsening humanitarian crisis,” it reports.

“Acute malnutrition is now entrenched across the country. For nearly a year, over 90 percent of households have not been able to get enough food.”

It adds, “Tens of thousands of children are being admitted for emergency medical treatment for acute malnutrition monthly. Many others in remote areas are unable to get help and have starved to death. Over one million children under five—especially at risk of dying when deprived of food—are suffering from prolonged acute malnutrition, meaning that even if they survive, they face significant health problems, including stunting.”

Human Rights Watch explains that the crisis was largely caused by the US’s decision to cut off Afghanistan’s central bank from the global banking system. It also froze assets along with aid that directly paid public sector workers’ salaries. That shows that—even after the US’s retreat—ordinary people in Afghanistan are still paying the price of US occupation.

The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 with the aim of reasserting its military and economic dominance in the Middle East and Central Asia. After removing the Taliban government, it installed a corrupt, puppet regime entirely dependent on economic aid.

Rather than bringing freedom, the West’s occupying armies dealt out massacres, bombings and other brutality to ordinary Afghan people. They killed at least a quarter of a million Afghan people—likely many more, as the US never bothered counting its victims.

Afghans—especially in rural areas—remained impoverished, while the people at the top of the government enriched themselves off aid. That’s why the Taliban was able to resist the West’s occupation for 20 years then sweep back into government as soon as the US admitted defeat.

Afghanistan’s new government has proved reactionary, for instance placing restrictions on the right of women to study and work. But the Taliban survived and thrived as a force of resistance to the misery the West brought—and is still bringing—to Afghanistan.

Tories’ chancellor drowning in key links to fossil fuel firms

Posted on: August 16th, 2022 by Isabel No Comments
Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi

Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi profits from oil and fossil fuels (Picture: Wikicommons/ Parliament UK)

If Liz Truss becomes prime ­minister, her chancellor is tipped to be Nadhim Zahawi. How will he deal with the big energy firms? Well, he banked £1.3 million from an oil company while working as an MP, but he has been able to keep his total second job earnings hidden due to a ­parliamentary loophole.

Zahawi’s earnings from Gulf Keystone Petroleum included a final £285,000 “settlement payment” after he first became a government minister in 2018. Zahawi was co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Kurdistan in 2015 as he landed the job with Gulf Keystone. It has an oil field in Kurdistan and paid him more than £1,000 an hour.

His Gulf Keystone income was declared in his register of interests. But his total second job earnings are not known thanks to parliamentary rules allowing him to advise companies through Zahawi & Zahawi Ltd. That’s a consultancy he set up with his wife. Within months of becoming an MP in 2010, Zahawi became the vice‑chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Kurdistan. He took five free trips to the region from 2011 to 2015.

The secretariat to the group was funded by Gulf Keystone, operator of the Shaikan oil field in the Kurdish region of Iraq. Zahawi was a guest speaker at a ­conference sponsored by Gulf Keystone and a second oil firm, Afren, in Erbil in 2011. The two firms soon had Zahawi & Zahawi Ltd on the payroll.

Zahawi & Zahawi Ltd was an adviser to Afren from 2012 to 2015. It broke links after the Serious Fraud Office began a bribery investigation, which led to two Afren executives being jailed for fraud and money laundering. There is no suggestion Zahawi was involved in wrongdoing.

When he stopped advising Afren in 2015 he became chief strategy officer at Gulf Keystone, initially earning £20,126 and later £29,643 for eight to 21 hours a month, which he declared. Just weeks after taking the ­appointment, the Kurdish oil ministry agreed to begin huge payments to Gulf Keystone.

  • Health workers were amazed to receive a single tea bag as a gift from their employer. The packaging reads “A little treat to say thank you” and is labelled with NHS branding.

Matthew Hopkins, chief executive of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, told The Mirror newspaper it was a “small but sincere thank you to our midwives and nurses for International Day of the Midwife and International Nurses’ Day”. He added they the tea bag was part of a larger gift bag and was to encourage them to take a break. On to the picket line perhaps.

  • Feeling hot? Fancy a swim? You might find it difficult to find a pool. A BBC News investigation found swimmers across Britain have lost access to more than 60 public pools in the last three years.

Ukactive, which represents gyms and leisure centres, said a lack of staff, rising energy costs and chemical shortages had created a “perfect storm” for centres. A Ukactive board member said the closures were an “absolute health and welfare disaster”.

Facebook helps the US cops’ attack on women

Facebook turned over the chats of a mother and her daughter to Nebraska police as part of an investigation into an “illegal” abortion. The cops’ inquiry was launched in April before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade. It is a grim warning of how giant social media companies may react as all abortions becomes illegal in many states.

Madison County prosecutors say Jessica Burgess acquired and gave abortion pills to her daughter, Celeste. The two were charged last month and have pleaded not guilty. Under a Nebraska law abortion is illegal after 20 weeks.

Cops got a warrant in June for access into the digital lives of the mother and her daughter, seizing six smartphones and seven laptops. Facebook stores most user information on its servers. Beware.

Lies from inside the West Midlands cops

An officer at West Midlands Police pretended to have a girlfriend who died of cancer to get days off work. Constable Harry Sarkar created a “detailed tissue of lies” about a fake girlfriend who he claimed became sick with cancer and died, a hearing was told last week. He even lied about her funeral.

Sarkar resigned in March and did not attend his fast-track misconduct hearing. The force’s chief constable, David Thompson, said that if Sarkar had not left of his own accord, he would have been sacked. Thompson said the officer’s behaviour went against standards of integrity and honesty, which were “fundamental requirements for a police officer”. Really?

West Midlands Police is infamous for fitting up the Birmingham Six and a string of other incidents. In March 2021 Oliver Banfield, a probationary officer with the force, was convicted of assault by beating. He used techniques taught in police training to attack a woman while off-duty.

Peers cash in on energy profits

Shares in energy companies have bagged British politicians the equivalent of £705,000 since January, just as the rest of us face soaring bills. Thirty peers—21 of them Tories—have cashed in as in oil and gas companies soar in value, analysis by openDemocracy has found. Seven peers have shareholdings in BP and stand to make the equivalent of tens of thousands of pounds as stock prices have risen sharply since January.

The company has also promised to pay out higher cash dividends. At least two peers have investments in four energy companies. Conservative peer Michael Bishop, a former airline owner, owns shares in Shell, BP, Chevron and Total. Crossbencher—meaning no party—Peter Keith Levene is invested in Shell, BP, Total, Centrica and SSE.

Other beneficiaries include the crossbench peer Terence Burns, who sits on the Industry and Regulators Committee. This “scrutinises” the regulation of energy companies. Labour’s Lord Robertson, the former head of Nato, used to have BP shares but dumped them in April. Until January this year he was an adviser to BP.

You can’t trust Truss on LGBT+

Tory leadership hopeful Liz Truss “hates” her own plan to ban anti‑LGBT+ conversion therapy. That’s what the director of her leadership election campaign suggested last week. Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith strongly hinted that Truss plans to U-turn on the ban.

He was standing in for her at an event hosted by the Conservative Christian Fellowship. He was asked about the Truss campaign’s policy on the conversion therapy ban. Duncan Smith said, “I hate it. I think when you start banning things like this you enter a maze of problems.

“And I absolutely believe that Liz is very much there.” He added, “People are allowed their beliefs. The idea you ban them is this kind of ghastly woke culture.” At an earlier hustings event, Truss said, “I know a woman is a woman—that’s become a controversial statement in some parts of Britain today.”

Things they say 

‘Twice now Truss has made a serious moral misjudgement on a policy affecting millions of people’

Rishi Sunak, Tory leadership hopeful, burns bridges with the other candidate

‘People didn’t vote Tory to be subjected to Gordon Brown style politics of envy’

The Truss campaign fires back at Sunak

‘We’re playing into the hands of people like Corbyn, who want to completely undermine our way of life’

Liz Truss says why it’s wrong to ‘bandy the word profit around as if it is dirty and evil’

‘I’m a plain talking Yorkshire woman’

Truss who was born in Oxford and lives in Norfolk

‘She will change woke civil service culture that strays into antisemitism’

Team Truss slanders civil service workers

Reports round-up: action into autumn for the climate change movement

Posted on: August 16th, 2022 by Nick No Comments
Sixteen members of Extinction Rebellion take action with a banner reading 'Vanguard = Death in the Amazon' and another reading 'All investors complicit in ecocide'

Extinction rebellion members take action against investment company Vanguard (Picture: Extinction Rebellion)

Climate activist groups Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Just Stop Oil plan programmes of action from late summer and into early autumn. XR plans to begin its latest rebellion in London next month.

It is set to run from Saturday 10 to Tuesday 13 September. XR plans for activists to occupy different spaces across the city and set up camp there.

It describes this latest rebellion as having “people power and mass mobilisation at the heart.” After three days, the group plans to drive “rebellion buses” to locations across Britain for regional mobilisations.

Activists plan to kick off the action at 10am at Marble Arch on Saturday 10 September. From 1 October Just Stop Oil is set to begin an open-ended “campaign of civil disobedience” that will include occupying space around Westminster, central London.

It also plans direct action to block fossil fuel infrastructure. XR has announced that it will protest at Westminster on 14 October to demand an immediate end to fossil fuel use.

Every socialist should join XR and Just Stop Oil on the streets to communicate to those in power that something must be done about climate change.

  • Register for Just Stop Oil’s organising Zoom call at juststopoil.org/zoom
  • Join the Telegram broadcast group for the XR rebellion. Contact @rebellionbroadcast on Telegram

Felixstowe strike can show workers’ power

Almost 2,000 workers were set to strike at Britain’s biggest container port on Sunday after rejecting a below-inflation pay offer. The strike by Unite union members is set to continue until Monday 29 August.

Workers voted to strike after bosses offered a 7 percent increase. Bosses then tried to avert action by offering a further £500 lump sum. Talks between Unite officials and the Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company ended without a deal last week.

Strikes could bring the docks to a standstill and create a shock wave down supply chains across the country. The dock handles 40 percent of containers leaving and entering Britain carrying goods such as clothes and food.

The Felixstowe Dock and Railway Company is extremely profitable. Its most recent accounts show that it made pre-tax profits of £61 million in 2020, when it also paid out £99 million in dividends.

Workers should not have to sit back and watch wages reduce due to inflation and then suffer listening to bosses claiming they can’t afford to pay fairly. Dockers also worked throughout the pandemic to make record profits, but were given just a 1.4 percent pay offer last year.

Successful strikes in Felixstowe would cause havoc for bosses and the Tories, and pump real strength into the class fightback.

Criminal barristers could escalate to all out action

Criminal barristers who have been striking on alternative weeks are potentially moving to “uninterrupted strike action”. They are pushing for a 25 percent increase in fees, for the defence of legal aid and wider access to the justice system.

Their ballot was set to close on Sunday this week and an all-out strike would start on 5 September if barristers back it. Barristers began their latest strike on Monday for a week.

The possible escalation comes some four months after the criminal bar first implemented a “no returns” policy. This means barristers refused to accept cases returned by colleagues who had a diary clash.

Then from 27 June Criminal Bar Association (CBA) members began escalating walkouts, with barristers protesting outside court buildings across England.

The CBA said, “Whether the majority view is to maintain the current level of action or, alternatively, to escalate it, any action will continue indefinitely unless and until there is a substantial positive movement from government that would warrant a review of the CBA’s position by way of a further ballot.”

Fight back on in Dundee

Workers at the University of Dundee are set for a continuous strike from 25 August. Unite union members voted 83 percent to strike on a turnout of 66 percent.

In March last year the university proposed replacing the defined benefits pensions scheme with a defined contributions scheme. This would mean low paid workers losing up to 50 percent of their pension.

Some university workers could even lose as much as £5,700 a year. After 11 days of strikes last October the university withdrew its proposals. But Unite has seen “insufficient movement”.

Exam board workers hope strike gets good results

Workers at the AQA exam board are ramping up their programme of strikes over decent pay. Their action is set to have a massive impact as workers prepare to walk out in the busiest period of the year.

Bosses have tabled a pathetic 3 percent pay offer and are threatening to sack workers and employ them on worse conditions. With AQA workers receiving a pay rise of just 0.6 percent last year, they are right to strike over yet another savage real terms pay cut.

The Unison union members also want managers to back off from threats to fire and rehire workers. Some 180 workers struck for four days from 15 August and plan to walk out for a five-day strike from Wednesday.

It follows a previous three-day strike in July. A striking AQA worker said, “The longer this goes on, the more determined my colleagues are becoming.

“Managers are using aggressive fire and rehire tactics to intimidate staff, which doesn’t help anyone.”

The action is set to hit A Levels results day, as workers who would normally be fielding calls from schools will instead be on a picket line.

Red Funnel workers stand solid

Strikes have disrupted Red Funnel ferries between Southampton and Cowes, Isle of White—and look set to continue for another two weeks. Some 120 members of the Unite union rejected a 4.5 to 6.5 percent pay offer and announced 12 days of strikes between 27 July and 29 August.

One worker, Kimberly said, “We are trained to save lives—the work is hard and breaks are short. We try to give first class services but it’s not first class pay.”

Unite says the customer service staff, shunters and ratings are increasingly struggling to pay increased rents. Some are turning to food banks to keep bills down. 

Bus workers dealt double-edged-sword 

Continuous strikes by 170 Go North East bus workers at the Chester le Street garage have been called off after a deal was agreed to close the depot. Workers will be given a £2,250 bonus while keeping their jobs at other depots—up to 14 miles away.

One worker said, “It’s a double-edged sword. It’s the best outcome for the drivers who are displaced but a hammer blow to Chester-le-Street that all staff working on site are upset by.”

The workers are right to have put up a fight and likely wouldn’t have this deal without it—but more strikes could have kept the depot open.

Another victory for anti-racists
A group of protesers, some holding Stand Up To Racism placards, surround an unmarked white van

Protesters block the Home Office van

Militant protest has won another victory against deportations. Immigration officers tried to seize a worker from a restaurant in Chorlton, south Manchester, on Friday of last week, a day before the Caribbean Carnival.

A call issued by Stand Up to Racism mobilised 150 people to block the Home Office van. The individual targeted was released to their home and the police and immigration officers left. It follows other similar victories in Glasgow, Edinburgh, east and south London, and in other places.

Anti-raids groups, Stand Up To Racism and other organisations are showing what can be won by confronting the state’s racist offensive.

Cleaners fight on after a victory

Outsourced cleaners, porters, post-room and security staff at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have been brought in-house. But the members of the IWGB union say the fight isn’t over.

They are demanding that they are paid the same as those with similar responsibilities, from £14.38. Currently, cleaners at the university are paid £11.30 an hour.

Oil bosses pay up for security guards

Security guards at Fawley Oil Refinery in Southampton have accepted an above inflation pay rise that will see some staff receive as much as a 31 percent pay rise.

David McMullen, GMB union organising assistant, said, “Given the vast profits generated by the oil industry it is excellent to see some of this wealth finally trickling down to our members who rightly deserve a fair pay rise. “

Harrods threatens horrid tactics

Workers at luxury department store Harrods in London are balloting for strikes after rejecting a 5 percent pay offer.

In response, bosses wrote to workers warning they would use agency scabs to break any strike after Tories changed the law. The ballot by 150 Unite union members is set to end on Thursday 1 September.

Ballot to make bosses shell out

Medics who work on oil giant Shell’s platforms are being balloted for strikes after rejecting a 3.5 percent pay offer.

The Unite union members are employed by United Healthcare Global Medial. Their ballot will run until 8 September.

Construction strike off after offer

Strikes at construction companies Birtley Group and Bowater Doors have been suspended after a pay offer.

Both companies share premises in Chester le Street owned by Hill & Smith Holdings PLC. If the offer is rejected the scheduled 16 days of action will begin on 4 September.

Strikes could be death of pay cut

Unite union members who work in the manufacture of coffins for Cooperative Funeral Care have voted for strikes against a 3 percent pay offer. Strikes were set to run from Monday of next week until Monday 29 August.

Unite the strikes to terrify the bosses and beat Tories

Posted on: August 16th, 2022 by Sophie No Comments
Picture of big RMT and ASLEF solidarity strike rally outside kingcross station with RMT flags, GMB placards and trade union banners

Activists join a rally in support of RMT rail workers on strike (Picture: Guy Smallman)

Strikes by tens of thousands of workers this week should be the first shots in an even bigger war against the Tories and bosses. Rail workers in the RMT union are striking for two days this week, and they will be joined by London Underground workers and bus ­workers as well.

This will mean that transport will grind to a halt, particularly in London. Rail workers are fighting for a pay rise and also against job cuts that threaten safety. In response to action, Tory ­transport secretary Grant Shapps has made further brutal attacks. He told the Daily Mail newspaper that the days of union power “are numbered”.

He is also preparing to ram through Section 188 legal warnings to make trains guard-less. And he confirmed that laws to impose minimum service ­requirements—strike bans—are “written and ready to go” for the new prime minister to pass through ­parliament by the autumn.

‘We’re going to win this. I’m afraid for the unions this is their last stand,” he said. The Tories are preparing to wage war on trade unions, but workers can fight back.

The best way to guarantee the Tories take a “last stand” is to extend the strikes, for workers to strike together, more self-organisation from the ground up and more militancy. The week after the rail workers, 115,000 postal workers in Royal Mail will strike.

Bosses imposed a 2 percent ­wage-cutting “rise” that was nearly 10 percent below the rate of ­inflation. And they will soon be joined by 40,000 BT and Openreach workers on 31 August. Every rail worker—in the RMT, Aslef and TSSA unions—should be out together on that day with them. That would mean over 250,000 ­workers could unify and strike together.

Network Rail worker Dan, from the West Midlands, told Socialist Worker, “We are all facing a similar attack on our pay, and the impact of all of us going on strike would show how much power we hold as a class.”

The 31 August should be “Walkout Wednesday”—this could be a day of mass strikes, rallies, and demonstrations and would be a call for every worker to take action. Existing local battles by bus ­workers, bin workers, health workers and even barristers could be part of it.

Strikes can go much further than just the organised unions with strike mandates. Workers at Amazon, in construction and at an oil refinery have all walked out on wildcat strike recently. A mass movement, built from the bottom up, would give others the confidence to fight.

Non-unionised, retired and ­unemployed workers should join striking workers on picket lines and on protests. Climate change and anti-racist activists should mobilise and campaign with the trade union ­movement to be part of the fight to get rid of the Tories.

The only obstacle to this massive acceleration of struggle is if union leaders drag their feet and settle for less. This is a time of increasingly stormy class struggles.

Let’s strike to win.

Don’t leave it to union leaders

As anger against bosses and the Tories escalates, union leaders must not be allowed to agree to below-inflation deals. Train drivers in Wales in the Aslef union are being offered a 6.6 percent pay rise that union leaders are tempted to accept.

But with inflation far higher than that, it’s a significant cut in real terms. An Aslef official told the I news site, “We’re not actually asking for 9 percent, 10 percent, 11 percent—we have accepted a middle ground.”

They added, “What’s the point of saying 11 percent when you won’t get it? We’re not stupid.” The point is that workers can win 11 percent—and more—if they fight effectively.

And Unison union leaders have so far refused to make a recommendation on whether thousands of local government workers in England and Wales should accept a deal that will cut their pay. Nor did the Unite union leaders at Arriva North West. The battle can’t be left to the union leaders.