By Frances DavisIn the face of an increasingly belligerent management approach, intent on seeking a confrontation with the union, Unite cabin crew members began seven days of industrial action last weekend, with three strike days set to be followed by four further days to begin this coming weekend. The stakes in this dispute should not be underestimated.The dispute focuses on the union’s opposition to British Airways’ attempt to impose significant contractual changes on the workforce that would reduce pay and conditions. Proposals include the extension of working hours and the cutting of crew levels. The union has not sought such a confrontation and has consistently made clear its willingness to negotiate. In contrast, BA’s management have set a path of belligerence, intent on breaking the union’s strength. Having deliberately provoked the current action by tabling last week a worse offer to its workforce than the one it had been offering previously, the management have further sought to intimidate staff not to join the strike action including with threats such as losing travel privileges and even being sacked, and to organise scabs.
By Stephen MacAvoy
By Jennifer Nash
Photo Alexander Howell
The coalition government has launched a massive assault on students which will cause significant social and economic damage. It plans to increase tuition fees from £3290 to £9000 per year, alongside huge cuts of 40 per cent to the higher education budget. Also the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for students studying in Further Education will be axed. This move will deny poorer students the opportunity to study beyond secondary school.
By David James
Anyone who wants to understand why Cameron chose to launch his attack on multiculturalism last week, to the delight of the English Defence League and other fascist groups, need only follow the daily tracker polls carried by YouGov – which are a useful resource. Cameron’s speech was an attempt to bolster Tory support by one of the oldest capitalist manoeuvres – attempting to promote racism to divert the population’s attention from the real problems that are affecting them.
First published: February 1998 Only eight Labour women MPs voted against the attacks on lone parent benefits, with a handful of others conspicuously abstaining. Despite more than 90 MPs signing the parliamentary motion against the proposals tabled by Audrey Wise MP, outbursts of anger at meetings of the PLP addressed by Harriet Harman, protests and vocal opposition from women Labour Party members and lone parent organisations – even Glenys Kinnock MEP added her name to a petition and letter against the proposals – the new batch of Labour women MPs were largely noticeable by their absence. Of 97 MPs who, by 2 December, had signed Audrey Wise's Early Day Motion, only 9 were Labour women, and of these only 2 were from the batch of women MPs elected for the first time in May 1997.
There is no clearer test that these women MPs could have failed than this one, involving the fate of the poorest women, and children, in society. Ninety per cent of lone parent families are headed by women. The proposals will have a racist impact, since black women are disproportionately represented as lone mothers. Removal of lone parent benefits will thus also deepen the disproportionate representation of black women and children among the poorest in society.
By Nicky Dempsey
The 2010 Budget was not designed to aid the recovery from recession, or help narrow the public sector deficit or even boost New Labour’s electoral prospects at the forthcoming general election.
A useful analysis of the Budget measures can be found here. The most telling aspect of it is a complete reversal of the 2009 Budget stimulus measures. These amounted to £50bn in increased spending over the previous year, £26bn of which was an increase in discretionary spending, not just upward pressure on spending arising from the recession.
By Frances Davis
This Saturday the fascist English Defence League (EDL) will be demonstrating yet again, this time in Dudley in the West Midlands, to whip up racist hatred against Muslims. (See leaflet for UAF protest)
This follows a series of similar mobilisations by the EDL in the recent period, in Harrow, Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester , Stoke upon Trent and most recently in Bolton. On every occasion the EDL has sought confrontation, often violent – a flavour of what fascism represents, and what will happen if they get even the tiniest foothold in any part of society. As the Unite Against Fascism (UAF) has pointed out, despite its attempts to present itself as a legitimate expression of so-called 'English patriotism' and making the ludicrous allegation there is a need to oppose 'creeping Islamification', the EDL is in fact a violent, street fighting fascist organisation. The majority of the EDL’s so-called demonstrations have resulted in physical attacks, most recently in Bolton , where its demonstration was followed by a stabbing allegedly involving the EDL.
By Stephen MacAvoy
The formation of the Conservative-led coalition represents a sharp rightwards shift in the British political situation. Working class living standards are set to face an onslaught with the deepest public service cuts since the Second World War and the weakening of pay and working conditions of millions of people. The coming assault on the public sector far out shadows that undertaken by Thatcher.
Whilst all the mainstream parties fought the general election on the basis of cuts – a blatant attempt to restore capitalist profitability by making the working class pay for the economic crisis – the balance of forces for the working class under a Conservative led government, with a large majority provided by the Liberal Democrats, is clearly much worse than it would have been under a Labour government or Labour-led coalition.
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