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As Cardiff council votes to close more primary schools, parents in London have been involved in a rooftop protest against the closure of Lewisham Bridge school. Below is a Permanent Revolution bulletin about their fight.
More pictures from Lewisham Bridge here.
The Stop the Jobs Massacre meetings of 10 and 11 December represent an important initiative towards uniting the struggles of many workers and prompting a fightback. The following leaflet contains the demands I believe we should be uniting around:
For a united right to work campaign!
For years governments have been telling us there is not enough money to create jobs or maintain services. Then overnight, they produce billions to bail out failing banks. We must demand they now bail out the workers.
The huge job losses being announced in South Wales are a scandal. Nothing is more fundamental than the right to earn a living. No civilised society can accept millions being cast on the waste heap.
It’s time to fight back. We need a mass campaign for the right to work which unites everybody under threat and those already unemployed.
What should this campaign demand?
1 Open the books! If companies like Hoover claim they can’t afford to maintain production in Wales, let’s see the figures!
2 Take failing companies into public ownership! We pay taxes – now let’s see them used in our interest, by taking over factories and offices threatened with closure! If there’s no demand for a factory’s products, convert it to make what people need, and retrain workers on full pay! No compensation for the bosses!
3 Put the workers in charge! Workers’ control is not a pipedream. The miners at Tower proved that when they took over their colliery. But workers shouldn’t need to raise their own funds and compete on the market: that’s no guarantee against redundancies.
4 A programme of public works to get the unemployed back to work! There can never be enough hospitals, schools, low-cost houses, support for parents, youth and pensioner facilities – so why not use taxpayers’ money to build and staff what we need?
5 Defy the anti-union laws! Margaret Thatcher crippled the workers’ movement with her laws designed to prevent strikes and solidarity action, giving judges the right to steal union funds. There can be no progress unless these laws are confronted head-on.
Such a campaign will receive a massive boost if any group of workers are prepared to make a stand in defence of their jobs. We must ensure that anyone willing to put their necks on the line through strikes, occupations etc get the utmost solidarity – not just in words but in deeds, and if necessary, hard cash.
But we should not underestimate the weak state of the labour movement after decades of defeat and betrayal. We need to rebuild that movement from the bottom up. We must reject the idea of unions as huge inactive benevolent societies – we need fighting unions under the control of the rank and file. This is not only a fight against redundancy but also a fight for the pay and conditions of those still in work.
Finally, the campaign we need should be a model of democracy – if it elects a steering group or officers all should be answerable and recallable. General meetings of the campaign should be sovereign. All debate should be had out in the open. It’s the government and their rich friends who have something to hide – not us.
From Cardiff PR:
Charters to unite resistance are the political trend of the moment. For the purposes of comparison and discussion, here are three currently doing the rounds:
SWP’s People Before Profit charter
1.Wage increases no lower than the rate of inflation as given by the Retail Price Index. No to the government’s 2 percent pay limit.
2.Increase tax on big companies. Introduce a windfall tax on corporation superprofits, especially those of the oil companies.
3.Repeal the Tory anti-union laws. Support the Trade Union Freedom Bill.
4.Unsold houses and flats should be taken over by local councils to ease the housing crisis. No house repossessions. For an emergency programme of council house building.
5.Stop the privatisation of public services. Free and equal health and education services available to all.
6.End the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and use the money to expand public services. Stop the erosion of civil liberties.
7.Abolish tax on fuel and energy for old people and the poor. Re-establish the link between wages and pensions.
8.No to racism. No to the British National Party. No scapegoating of immigrants.
9.Reintroduce grants and abolish tuition fees for students.
10.Increase the minimum wage to £8.00 an hour.
John McDonnell’s 10-point May Manifesto
1.Nailing the 10p tax mistake by the introduction of a fair tax system removing the low paid from taxation and ensuring the wealthiest and corporations pay their fair share
2.An increase in the basic state pension, immediately restoring the link with earnings, lifting people off means tested benefits and providing free care for the elderly
3.An immediate start on a large scale council house building programme and assistance for those facing repossession
4.Immediate end to programme of local Post Office closures and liberalisation of postal services
5.An end to the privatisation of our public services
6.A new pay deal for public sector workers to protect their living standards and tackle low pay
7.Abolishing tuition fees and restoring maintenance grants for all students
8.Scrapping ID cards and abandoning 42 days detention
9.Introduction of a trade union freedom bill and measures to protect temporary and agency workers
10.Rejecting the proposals to renew Trident
Workers Power’s “Unite the Resistance” proposals for working-class action
1. Bust Brown’s pay restraint – for a Sliding Scale of Wages against Inflation
We fight for strikes against all pay restraint and a united strike across the public sector to smash the 2 per cent pay limit. Indefinite strikes are the surest and the quickest way to win.
We should set up local committees of delegates from the public sector unions, drawing in the private sector workplaces and local communities, to link up the fight against real pay cuts.
Don’t believe the official rigged inflation figures – we can monitor rising prices ourselves and draw up a Workers Cost of Living Index to track the real rate of inflation. On this basis, we demand the government introduce a Sliding Scale of Wages – a law guaranteeing wages rise 1 per cent for every 1 per cent prices rise.
2. No home repossessions – build a million new council houses
Rents should be frozen, mortgage interest should be scrapped and no homes should be repossessed. We should build community resistance to evictions.
We demand the government and councils seize empty properties and turn them over to the homeless, and that they build a million new council houses with a publicly employed labour force.
3. Defend every job – 35 hour week now
Instead of rising unemployment, we demand a maximum 35-hour week with no loss of pay – cut the hours, not the jobs – and a massive programme of public works to improve housing, transport, hospitals, schools and the environment.
Occupy workplaces marked for closure, call all-out strikes to stop sackings. Workers should have the right to inspect the accounts and know the business secrets of all companies making cuts to see where the money’s gone. All firms declaring redundancies should be nationalised – without compensation and under workers’ control.
4. Nationalise the profiteers: the banks, the gas and electricity companies, the supermarkets
If Labour can nationalise failing Northern Rock, then it can nationalise those companies awash with money and intervene to safeguard workers’ interests.
Nationalise the gas and electric companies and the supermarkets, freeze household prices and confiscate the companies’ vast profits. Nationalise the banks, finance houses and building societies and merge them into a state bank, with no compensation for the billionaires.
All PFI/PPP and rip-off outsourcing contracts should be ripped up – no compensation to the profiteers. Let’s put all public services under the control of the workers who provide them, and the workers who use them, not unelected bureaucrats
5. Tax the rich, not the poor
The government and councils will attempt to cut public services to pay for the bosses’ credit crunch. Instead we should raise high taxes on big corporations, the super-rich and unearned wealth and close the legal loopholes for the millionaires.
Scrap income tax for the poorest workers, the unfair council tax and VAT on essential items. Green taxes should be paid by the corporate polluters not the working class.
6. Work or full pay: hands off our pensions, our sickness and incapacity benefits
The minimum wage should be linked to the European decency threshold – 2/3 of average pay, currently equivalent to £8.75 an hour.
State pensions should be linked to earnings, and all pensions set at the level of their final salary or the minimum wage, whichever is highest. Instead of gambling away our retirement on the stock market, the pension funds should be nationalised and merged into a single state guaranteed pension under the control of their members.
Hands off jobseekers allowance, sickness and incapacity benefit. Unemployed, sick and disabled people deserve work or full pay – their final salary or the minimum wage. Students over 16 should receive a living grant, set at the minimum wage, and university fees should be scrapped.
7. No more bloody wars for profit: jobs not bombs, troops out of Iraq
Troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan now – and no attack on Iran! All workers should support soldiers’ right to refuse to follow orders in these illegal wars.
Not a penny nor a person should go to the armies of occupation and warmongering. We say, jobs not bombs – spend it on homes, schools and hospitals
8. Don’t let them divide us: stop persecuting black and Asian youth
As unemployment grows and jobs and vital services shrink, the press and politicians will stir up racism. Build self-defence against racist attacks, and resist the persecution of Muslims.
Deny the fascist BNP any platform.
We fight for full citizenship rights for all migrants and refugees and call for resistance to immigration raids and deportations.
Unite and strike for equal pay for women and men by leveling wages up, not down. Instead of more restrictions on women’s right to choose, we call for free abortion on demand.
9. Scrap repressive laws: get up and fight for your rights
Down with the anti-union laws – for a legal right to strike, to picket, to take political and solidarity action.
The “War on Terror” has been used to strip away our civil liberties. We demand the abolition of all so-called ‘anti-terror’ laws, scrap detention without charge and restore all our rights.
Prove it or drop it: no trials without jury. No to ASBOs, no to stop and search and other arbitrary police powers used to harass youth.
10. For fighting unions and a new workers party
Unions to be under full control of workers not unaccountable officials, strikes to be under the control of strike committees, elected and recallable by the strikers, the leaders and workers’ MPs paid average wage of workers they represent. Grassroots activists need to organise to fight with union leaders where possible, without them where necessary, and to build a rank and file movement in the unions.
We also need to break the unions from the Labour Party, and use our political funds to create a new workers’ party. A democratic conference should be convened to decide on the programme of the party, which could then stand candidates in next election, to campaign in the workplaces and the streets, and link up with working class parties and movements in other countries to coordinate international action.