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News In brief
No to NHS attacks
NHS workers are being threatened with the break-up of the national pay and conditions agreement, Agenda for Change.
If this goes through, workers will face serious cuts in their pay and conditions. It is clearly an attempt to make more of the NHS ripe for privatisation, by allowing the big health firms to boost their profits by paying poor wages.
Any concessions on these proposals will just mean the employers coming back for more. But Unison's leaders are arguing that accepting some cuts will stop some health trusts opting out of the agreement.
This is a divisive and dangerous strategy. Unite and GMB, with fewer NHS members have come out against the proposals.
Unison is consulting health workers on this, finishing on 24 January. It is important to reject these proposals and demand nationally led industrial action against them.
Stop fire cuts
The Fire Brigades Union has organised a demonstration against proposals by the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to close 12 fire stations, remove 18 fire engines and slash around 400 firefighter jobs. These cuts will obviously increase response times and jeopardise public safety.
The stations earmarked for closure are: Belsize, Bow, Clapham, Clerkenwell, Downham, Kingsland, Knightsbridge, New Cross, Silvertown, Southwark, Westminster and Woolwich.
The demonstration is on 21 January at 12 noon, outside the London Fire Brigade headquarters, 169 Union Street, London, SE1 0LL
Similar savage cuts to fire cover are also being proposed in the Plymouth area, where the chair of the firefighters' union FBU has said: "I'm not going to rule out strike action."
Police pay cut
Home Secretary Theresa May has confirmed that the starting salary for new police officers in England and Wales will be cut by £4,000 to £19,000.
May is saying this will "modernise" pay and conditions and "increase local flexibility".
Many other public sector workers will recognise this type of 'modernisation' and 'flexibility'.
RMT fights sackings
In 2007, London Underground (LU) inherited a contract with the Trainpeople agency from Silverlink. In breach of agreements with unions, these workers worked for five years in LU uniform while Trainpeople paid them as little as £6.75 an hour.
The Trainpeople staff joined RMT and organised for equal rights with permanent staff as stipulated in the 2010 Agency Worker Regulations.
Then, without warning, LU terminated its contract with the Trainpeople Agency a year early.
Now the RMT is campaigning for LU to reverse this injustice and employ the agency staff.
There have been protests all over London and the RMT is balloting all Trainpeople staff working for LU for strike action.
See www.shopstewards.net for more information.
In The Socialist 16 January 2013:
Fighting the cuts
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