GMB calls off Pension strike after one day.

Barry Biddulph comments on the GMB union’s announcement on the Government’s pensions deal

The GMB’s national secretary for public services, Brian Strutton, has signed up to the TUC-approved Government pensions offer, which surrenders to the government on all the core issues of the pensions fight: working far longer, paying far more and getting far less. There has been no change in the offer in the key areas. Final-salary schemes will be replaced by a career average which will result in huge losses, particularly for women with irregular employment history. Unison leader, Dave Prentis, long seen by Cameron as someone he could do business with, recommended the  deal which breaks with the momentum of strike action and solidarity against the Coalition.

the November 30th public-sector strike over pensions was an advance in the battle against the Coalition: but now union tops have called off the pensions fight

Brian Strutton failed to inform GMB members that he had capitulated to the Government’s threat to impose a worse settlement than the one on offer. In an email to members he presented the deal, which undermines future action against the Government, as some kind of victory. What has been agreed is a ‘process’, he explained. What will be negotiated in this process? Well, he was unable to say. The details would be determined in the process. In other words, in return for suspending  strike action, the Government has agreed to talks on their terms. Continue reading “GMB calls off Pension strike after one day.”


fire brigade: will london burn?

The inside story of what is really happening in the London Fire Brigade, as told to The Commune.

16th September 2010 and the London left descend on the London Fire Brigade Headquarters to join the mass lobby of the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority (LFEPA) monthly meeting called by Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and Unison LFEPA Branch.

the FBU are perceived as militant, but we need to break down the division between 'frontline' and 'support' staff

The headlines of the ’left’ press only tell part of the story: ‘FBU up the ante in contract dispute’ (Morning Star 17th September), ‘London Firefighters ready to strike against dismissal threat’ (Newsline 18th September), ‘Brutal bosses? Time to fight back!’ (The Socialist 23rd-29th September) and ‘The ballot is on to save fire jobs’ (Socialist Worker 25th September). Continue reading “fire brigade: will london burn?”

public sector unions face turbulent times

by David Huckerby

According to research by the Independent newspaper, 20,000 council workers throughout England, Scotland and Wales face redundancy as forward planning for drastic government cuts take effect. Whatever the outcome of the general election the public sector will face austerity job cuts, cuts in services and attacks on terms and conditions.

Sheffield Council is one of local authorities identified where jobs are threatened. The director of Sheffield Homes, the council’s housing service has raised the spectre of at least forty job cuts in the financial year 2010/11 with more to follow. Over two hundred jobs have been lost in housing in the last few years. A recruitment freeze has been in place for some time. The council is the largest employer in the city so local unemployment is rising. Continue reading “public sector unions face turbulent times”

two ‘stars’ of british nationalism

by David Broder

“British workers target Gordon Brown”, screamed the Daily Star on January 19th. One year after Unite leader Derek Simpson posed with two Daily Star ‘glamour models’ holding ‘British jobs for British workers’ placards, the rag promised that thousands of angry construction workers would today “march on London claiming Gordon Brown has failed to honour his “British jobs for British workers” pledge”.

Meanwhile over at the Morning Star, the comrades were fuelling the flames of ‘working-class nationalism’ with a piece on yesterday’s demo over the Kraft-Cadbury deal. In true Communist Party of Britain tradition they almost seemed more concerned about standing up for the “historic British chocolate manufacturer” and “the national interest” than how to effectively resist redundancies.

However, at the construction workers’ demo today, all was not quite as we might have been led to believe… Continue reading “two ‘stars’ of british nationalism”

can the oil refinery strikers beat the industry?

An article by Gregor Gall on The Guardian site.

Click here to read Gregor’s analysis of January’s strike wave, which appeared in issue 3 of The Commune, and here to read his recent debate with Chris Kane on the current state of industrial struggle.


These are days of defiance in the engineering construction industry. The employers won’t give in and neither will the striking workers, even though the ante has been continually upped in the last week.

Total, on behalf of its contractors, refused to engage in any talks to settle the dispute while the unofficial strike at the Lindsey oil refinery continues. Last Friday, it spurned the use of the state conciliation service, Acas. It has also robustly supported its two contractors, IREM and Jacobs, who sacked their strikers (647 in all of them) and has made no play of its other seven on-site contractors who have not sacked their 500-odd strikers. For Total, this is a game of hard hardball. Continue reading “can the oil refinery strikers beat the industry?”