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From The Socialist newspaper, 7 December 2011

Workplace news in brief

Private pensions strike

Workers at Unilever have voted overwhelmingly for strike action to defend their pensions. 85% of those voting supported a strike and 92% supported action short of a strike. The 24-hour strike on 9 December is the first time that the Unilever workers have taken national strike action. Unite is the main union but there are also members of Usdaw and GMB.

The sites affected are in Norwich, Burton, Gloucester, Trafford Park Manchester, Purfleet, Port Sunlight (two sites), Warrington, Crumlin Gwent, Colworth Bedford, Deeside and Leeds.

School strike

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) at Langdon School in Newham, east London, are striking for three days, 6-8 December, against excessive workloads and management bullying.

The response of Newham's Labour council is to recruit supply staff to try and break the strike.

The use of agency staff during a strike is illegal but in the run-up to the 30 November strike action over pensions, the Department for Education issued guidelines to education authorities saying that a school could directly employ staff supplied by an employment agency.

The union's discontinuous strike action has been solid and is getting support from both parents and from trade unionists. A Newham NUT meeting voted by a magnificent 90-0 for a ballot for borough-wide action.

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Electoral alternative

On the N30 strike day, the appalling attitude of Labour leader Ed Miliband was discussed on picket lines all over London. The necessity of standing anti-cuts candidates against all the main parties was a popular subject of debate. When Socialist Party members and supporters of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) showed them the appeal letter from leading RMT and FBU figures in London, many picketers discussed the idea and took copies of the appeal letter, wanting to give it serious consideration. Many more were ready to sign straight away in support of the idea of trade union anti-cuts candidates in the Greater London Assembly elections in 2012.

New signatories, all in a personal capacity, include: Rula Sotiri GMB, Anthony Lines NUT, Hiren Das Gupta NUT, Sharon West Unison, Nia Phillips NUT, T Manning Unison, C Paul Unison, Eddie Tunnah UCU, John Barclay UCU, Christine Caldwell UCU, Adrian Budd UCU branch secretary, Mike Leary UCU, M Bishop PCS, Z Jamison PCS, Tracey Price-Tupper PCS

To read and add your name to the statement, go to or email

Olympic pay rise

Rail union RMT has negotiated a deal for workers on the London Overground over the period of the Olympic Games. Over 500 workers will be paid an enhancement rate of 25% (normal time plus one quarter) for shifts during the games, with a minimum gross payment of 650. This will ensure that adequate staff are available to work on the vital transport hub of Stratford while the Olympics and Paralympics are going on.

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

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In The Socialist 7 December 2011:

Socialist Party feature

Con-Dems pile on the misery - 'Enough is enough'

Socialist Party editorial

Eurozone crisis - capitalists have no solution

Workplace news and analysis

Cuts and misery - it doesn't have to be like this

Socialist MEP supports public sector strike

"The genie is out of the bottle"

30 November strike: a historic day!

Building a fighting union - interview with Steve Hedley

Defend the JIB, victory to the sparks!

Reinstate Paul Kelly: Solidarity with Portsmouth RMT

Workplace news in brief

Socialist Party news and analysis

Tory sleaze is back!

Reading the riots

All in it together

Them & Us

Climate change

Climate change and extreme weather

Housing crisis

Homes Crisis: Fund housing need - not fat cat greed!

International socialist news and analysis

Portugal: Build on the general strike action

Ireland: Resist latest austerity attacks

Tamil Solidarity: Gearing up for 2012

Brazilian socialists remember Socrates

Socialist Party reviews

Theatre review

When workers planned production: the Lucas Aerospace plan


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