Friday, February 27, 2009

Sir Fred is the Fuckwit this Friday

Good work if you can get it - earn £20 million in ten years, feck up the banking system, get knighted for it, your wife becomes a lady, retire at age 50 and then trouser a pension of £630,000 a year which if he lived to a ripe old age could be upto £16 million! Where do we apply?

The treasury did politely phone Sir Fred (knighted for his services to banking) and ask not to be such a greedy bastard but he politely told them to "fuck off" (read his letter here) in his letter to the treasury.
Now some on the left have argued that his pension is a diversion to hide how bad things really are in the banking world. But I don't buy that - Sir Fred Goodwin is a greedy bastard, how many other workers are even allowed to retire at 50 , local government workers and other workers have been told we have to work til we retire at 65 with reductions in our pensions - indeed will we even have a pension when we retire because of the likes of Fuckwit Friday Fred? I sometimes wonder if the public sector pensions are being used to gamble on a failing and ailing bank system.

Woolies staff didn't even get redundancy pay and Cowley car workers get given an hour's notice with no pay off but Fuckwit Friday Fred gets millions and millions of pounds for free falling capitalism (and no he isn't an undercover revolutionary!)

Look how brilliant the ruling class thought he was (we always thought he was a fecker)

  • December 2002 - Forbes "Businessman of the Year" by the global edition, which described him as an original thinker with a fast-forward frame of mind who had transformed RBS from a nonentity into a global name. (RBS made the most profit of any other bank in the world at this point, they call it profit, we call it theft)
  • April 2003 - No.1 in Scotland on Sunday’s Power 100
  • December 2003 - "European Banker of the Year" in 2003 (or was that "wanker")
  • June 2004 - Knighted in the Queen's 2004 Birthday Honours list, for his services to banking.
  • July 2008 - awarded an honorary fellowship by the London Business School

However by February 2009 Freddie's evil empire RBS reported that while Sir Fred was at the helm it had posted a loss of £24.1bn, the biggest loss in UK corporate history. Yes £24.1 bn!
He admitted that he had no banking qualifications to the Treasury Select Committee of the House of Commons on 10 February 2009, yes, Goodwin has no technical bank training, and has no formal banking qualifications. How does that work? In January 2009 The Guardian's City editor Julia Finch identified him as one of twenty-five people who were at the heart of the financial meltdown.

Check out what the Left Banker Blog has to say on the whole debackle here
So enjoy yor new accolade Sir Freddie Fuckwit - you are a Friday Fuckwit!!!


Change: Yes we can't! Comedy night for Hands off the People of Iran

Info via Facebook on this fundraising event for Hopi:

Comedy night with Peyvand Khorsandi and Hils Barker, with all proceedings going to Hands Off the People of Iran - a campaign that combines implacable opposition to war and sanctions on Iran with support for the grassroots secular movements of workers, women and students inside Iran. Tickets: £8.

Follow this link to download a flyer:

Date: 01 March 2009
Time: 20:00 - 23:00
Location: The Library Pub
Upper Street


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Depressing survey on student attitudes to rape

Quick post today, pinching this from the F Word:

A LondonStudent survey carried out on over 1,000 students at 119 Higher Education institutions around the UK has found that around a third still believe a woman is at least partially to blame for being raped if she is drunk (34%), was ‘alone or walking in a deserted or dangerous area’ (31%) or has behaved in a flirtatious manner (29%), while almost half (48%) believe she would be partially or wholly to blame if she failed to clearly say ‘no’ to the man. Perhaps as a reflection of more liberal attitudes to sex among the younger generation, a smaller - but still depressingly significant - proportion believe that a woman should take some share of the blame if she was wearing ‘sexy or revealing’ clothing (19%) or if it is known that she has had many sexual partners (13%).

Male students place greater blame on the woman than female students in all scenarios apart from where the woman is alone or in a supposed dangerous area. So not only are young people continuing to perpetuate the same old myths about rape, female “responsibility” and men’s inability to control their dicks, but young women continue to internalise the generally misplaced fear of being raped by a stranger when walking alone or in certain parts of town, while some male students appear to feel a need to justify male sexual violence against women, or at least to defend their apparent ‘right’ to access women’s bodies.

Very depressing that these attitudes are still so prevalent among supposedly educated young people.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Bankers taking the piss

Senior City bankers are demanding pay rises of up to 10 per cent this year to make up for the clampdown on the bonus culture, a senior City head-hunter has told The Independent.

So when they fuck up and can't get 'performance related' bonuses they then want more on their salary? So what happened to all the free market arguments about competition, rewarding ability etc etc.

Seems they want to get paid well regardless of how well they perform. Now what would they say of that was the public sector?


Sunday, February 22, 2009


For no real reason other that watching a David Attnborough documentary about Salmon Runs I have decided to let the left know that bears are my favourite animals. I am sure many of youse do not care about this trivial fact but I just really wanted to put up a picture of some bears, really.
I am sure there is a socialist and a feminist angle to support my blog post - like climate change, over fishing, hunting, loss of habitat, bear bile, bear farms, bear baiting, dancing bears etc but I won't but you can find out more about WSPA who do a lot of work to protect bears of the world here.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Fuckwit: 100 ways to cut council tax by Harry Phibbs

Right, here is the first "Friday Fuckwit" post . Suggestions please for next week.

Hammersmith and Fulham Councillor Phibbs has written in the Mail 100 ways to cut council tax without apparently cutting services.
Hmm, quite a few look like cuts to me, or if not a poorer service for often the most vulnerable .

A few choice ones :

- The old fashioned Public Lavatories represent pretty poor value for money in terms of maintenance. Often the buildings could be valuable capital assets. A better arrangement is to pay pubs a small fee for agreeing to allow non drinkers to use their loos. Also have more of those pay toilet cubicles on street corners.

- Cease funding Law Centres. (A double saving as they often sue the local council so the Council Taxpayers end us paying for the lawyers on both sides.)

- Employing full time Disabled Access Officers in the Planning Department is poor value for money. Planning applications have to meet statutory requirements for disabled access but it should not be for Councils to engage in 'gold plating.'

-Use sprinklers in care homes allowing a potential reduction in night staff and safer elderly residents.

-Reduce staff training to the statutory minimum.

- Cease to employ staff to be trade union officials.

- Charge for use of the staff car park.

- Reduce the energy bill for street lighting. At present most Councils have excessive street lighting. As with much else this is due to a culture of being unduly risk averse over health and safety. Aside from the cost, we cause light pollution and increase our carbon footprint. For instance if the lights presently go on 30 minutes after sunset to come off at 30 minutes before sunrise, how much could be saved by having the lights going on an hour after sunset and switching them off an hour before sunrise?

- Have periods where only half the lights are switched on (eg between 3am and 5am when scarcely anyone is using the streets.)

-Take a tough line in dismissing staff for persistent absenteeism. Monitor those who particularly claim to be sick on Fridays and Mondays. This will be easier having ceased funding full time union posts as the unions string out hearings for as long as possible. More positively, look at ways to improve the health of Council staff. Flu jabs represent good value for money in reducing genuine sickness.

- Ensure that the numbers of staff engaged in health and safety enforcement is kept to the statutory minimum.

-Speed up the planning process. Charging high fees is reasonable if there is a quick, efficient service. Give clear guidelines about the basics such as good design in the initial stages but reduce the gold plating demands on matters such as health and safety and disabled access. A lot of officers spend their time on such matters but the statutory requirements are quite onerous enough.

There is a few ok ones, such as

Ban mineral water at meetings. Use tap water instead. This has saved us £36,000 a year in Hammersmith and Fulham.

But generally if he had his way it would be poorly trained workers and understaffed services, streets that were unlit and thus more dangerous , limited access to toilets (a basic in terms of public health and not having streets smelling of urine), less attention to planning to ensure access for all, reduced rights and safeguards for workers and scrimping on health and safety. Roll on the election of Cameron...not.

I must though add a 'dishonourable' runner up for this weeks Friday Fuckwit. A newcomer to this blog , and we have our fair share of fuckwits who comment (yes you Paddy:-) )...welcome Steve Harrison. Yep, he endeared himself to the Stroppybloggers with the comment on the Derek Simpson post:

Coming from a working class background i'm not that sickened and outraged by his actions. I'm guessing you were privately educated or have small breasts.

And then called us fundamental feminists.

Ahh the cliches, yeah all feminists are ugly, jealous of women who have big breasts and wear dungarees and hate men. Takes me back to the 80s.

I look forward to more gems and Steve, keep em coming...


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Shock horror: Cats are evil, fox hunters are providing a social service

Did you know that cats in Britain are responsible for 92 million deaths in the UK every year - surely the scale of the carnage makes them equal to fox hunters? An argument I have recently seen on another socialist blog.
So what is so clever about hunting? What's it all about. I don't really mind hunting if you are eating your catch but even then is hunting all that necessary? Cats of course are natural hunters and carnivores, they do not make choices about whether to mouse or not they act on their instinct.

Is hunting a violent form of recreation? Animals for some animals has resulted un extinction for them e.g. Tasmanian Tiger and the Great Auk. Is this OK? Does it matter?
Some socialists are debating about the hypocracy of people keeping CATS because they hunt and comparing it to fox hunting, hare coursing etc.
Now I don't mind a debate on hunting but I can't be bothered with the argument thay toonies don't understand rural society, I just don't buy that the rural community are all out hunting and striking fear in the hearts of random foxes and other animals that are hunted.

I am particularly against fox hunting, mostly because who eats foxes? If you aren't going to eat it then why would you want to kill it - for fun and sport!

Is being chased for several hours to be killed by a pack of dogs cruel? No, say hunt supporters, citing the top dog of the pack's natural instinct to administer a "quick nip" to the back of the fox's head, which they allege kills it outright. I wonder if they really believe that or just say it to people who are horrified or bemused by fox hunting.

Some have presented research that says the average duration of a hunt is only 17 minutes. The fox does not anticipate death, they say, so is not unduly traumatised by the pursuit. (Glad to hear it - the death is just out of the blue after fleeing for its life, what do they think the fox is running for?)

Pro-hunters point to the alternatives - shooting, gassing, snaring or poisoning - all of which inflict much more pain and suffering on the foxes. Already, 10 times as many foxes are shot each year than are hunted to death, they say.

I just can't accept that hunting is NOT cruel - foxes have no natural predators except man, and is therefore not accustomed to being chased. If there are problems with a fox then it can be shot.

However animal rights activists argue "The quick, clean death of the fox, so joyfully spread by the hunting fraternity is, in the majority of cases a lie. They will say that a fox is always killed by hounds with a quick nip on the back of the neck, thus severing the spinal chord. It may finally die this way, but it is likely that it will suffer multiple agonising injuries before the final 'nip' is given.
Many foxes have been recovered with their innards torn out, but no sign of that fatal nip."

The RSPCA's Alex Ross, for the Campaign for the Protection of Hunted Animals, added: "We do not believe that foxes are a national pest or a national problem. We believe fox hunting is cruel and unnecessary. If there is a problem with a fox, then a skilled marksman is the only answer. But killing wild animals for pleasure should not be acceptable in this day and age."

Country sportsmen and women are at pains to point out, however, that they make no secret of enjoying the hunt. Huntsman Jeremy Barnfield said: "It is a sport, and it is one that is very much enjoyed - but it's enjoyed for the chase rather than the kill. "We are doing the farmer a service, we are getting rid of the fox that would kill his lambs or chickens - and we get a good day's riding out of it."

Anyway the idea that cats and their owners are as cruel as fox hunters really is the daftest debate for socialists to have.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Carnival of Socialism

The Carnival of Socialism is back and the first one this year is over at The Mustard Seed.
Its a themed this time , on Darwin and science, to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth.

Volunteers are needed for future Carnivals, which are every fortnight. They can be general or have a theme.

I have volunteered for the 15th March, not sure yet whether to have a theme. Suggestions welcome.

If you do one and its themed, you can ask people to write something for it. Its also a good idea to publicise in advance and ask for suggestions for posts to include, whether themed or not. Sad as it may sound , I quite like doing it and reading them. Its a good way to discover new blogs.

So if you're up for it, pop over to the Carnival Blog and suggest a date.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Edinburgh University Student Occupation for Gaza

There have been a spate of university occupations over Palestine in Scotland over the past couple of weeks, so far all have been sucessful!

Edinburgh Uni occupation just released a final statement:Press Release – Edinburgh University Student Occupation for Gaza

At 8:45 on the morning of Monday 16/02/2009 the student occupation of George Square Lecture Theatre will come to an end.We, the occupying students have secured the following…

• A complete end to Eden Springs bottled water on campus by the start of the next academic year (2009/10).

• An opportunity to bring our case regarding the university’s unethical investments directly to the University Court.

• Scholarships for 5 Palestinian students in Gaza to study at Edinburgh University, with consideration for fee waivers, reduced accommodation fees, travel allowances and visa support.

• A collaboration between the university management, student body and an NGO to collect various materials for shipping to Gaza and to fundraise for the implementation of this.

• A lecture and debate series, involving university staff and guest speakers, on various subjects relating to the Palestine/Israel conflict. There has already been interest in this from prominent scholars Ilan Pappe and Noam Chomsky.

We feel that this is only the beginning of the movement to end the university’s role in the occupation and oppression of Palestine by the Israeli government and military. There remain serious issues to which the university’s response was completely inadequate, including the active role of arms and defence companies in university research and on-campus recruitment.The occupation also provided a place to stage educational events, encouraging active engagement and participation about the issues in question.

Highlights included a discussion on the ongoing occupation of Palestine, with the participation of the President of Scottish Jews for a Just Peace and a workshop on ‘direct action’ with ways of defusing confrontational situations. As the week progressed, we at times numbered over 60 students, with a total of several hundred passing through the theatre doors.We feel it’s important to emphasize that the student occupation should be understood not simply as a tactic or a bargaining chip in getting our demands. Within the space that we took control of, we used consensus decision making to initiate a radically non-hierarchical way of making collective decisions. At it’s best, the occupation provided a space for a process far more democratic than what conventional university structures are able to achieve. The changes we want to see will be attained through our direct action but also by creating such spaces, and expanding them indefinitely.

Two key outcomes of the occupation…

• A planned open forum for reflection and discussion on the student occupation and the university’s reaction in the context of the Gaza conflict.

• An online network to consolidate the occupation group, welcome all who wish to be involved in future action and to take the movement forward immediately and effectively.We would like to extend a huge thank you to the countless groups and individuals who provided us with material and moral support.Lastly, we wish to assure Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank that we will struggle alongside them in solidarity until such time as they are a free and sovereign people.Please follow the blog for updates…

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Alistair Darling. Banks. Discuss

Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling has asserted today that banks are better run in the private sector.

The comments box is wide open for anyone who would like to offer a single coherent argument or shred of evidence in support of this view.


Favourite Films - the one that got away

When Stroppy did a 'favourite films' post a while back, I can't for the life of me fathom why I forgot to mention P'Tang Yang Kipperbang. But having just returned home from the anti-capitalist feminist conference co-organised by Feminist Fightback (about which more probably tomorrow), I find that it is on Film 4.

This was one of the first films I saw on Channel 4 in its early days, and though I haven't seen it in the quarter-decade since, I've always remembered it fondly. Basically, it's the post-war story of cricket-obsessed schoolboy Alan Duckworth, known as Quack-Quack, and his crush on a classmate. There is a great contrast between the handsome, confident, posh boys in long trousers, like Alan's love rival Jeffrey, and the bumbling nerds in short trousers like Quack-Quack. The former say their farewells with "Manana" "Manana's not soon enough for me"; the latter "P'Tang Yang Kipperbang - uuuuh!" - hence the title. Actually, they are all posh, but the contrast is still there.

Anyway, that's enough from me, cos it's on now and I'm going to watch it.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Wanker of the week

Janine has suggested we could have a "Stroppyblog wanker of the week award."

What do readers think ?

I suggest perhaps we could do that each Friday and during the week people can make suggestions in the comments box of the previous weeks post.

Thoughts ?


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Derek Simpson: what a tosser

(pic © Jess Hurd/

I think that Stroppyblog's Wanker Of The Week award has been resoundingly won by Derek Simpson, General Secretary of Unite-Amicus. Del is seen in this picture, with a couple of Daily Star 'girls', waving the flag for British Jobs For British Workers.

In doing so, he manages to be divisive, sexist and nationalistic, to assist a vile right-wing rag in disingenuously promoting itself to workers, and to debase a genuine workers' struggle. Quite an achievement for one photo.

Hat tip: Vicki / Jess Hurd

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Workers Snowed In And Frozen Out

Here's an article I've just written for 'Solidarity':

The heavy snowfall at the beginning of February prevented many people from attending work. While a few employers did the decent thing and paid them anyway, many workers have found themselves losing pay or leave.

The small minority included Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust and Croydon Council, which not only paid staff who could not attend, but gave staff who did make it to work an extra day’s leave entitlement to thank them! Union reps in other workplaces should demand that their employers do the same.

Some other employers allowed staff to work from home, or at locations other than their normal workplace that were easier to get to, or allowed workers to go home early.

These, however, were the exceptions. Solidarity has heard from many workers whose bosses will deduct either pay or leave for the days of absence - and even an NHS employer which refused to grant carer's leave for staff whose children were unable to attend school, in breach of its own policy!

Some schools have tried to dock pay, claiming that the kids got in OK, failing to take into account that teaching and other staff often live further away, and that some could not even get out of their streets. We have also received reports of hospitals and local authorities cancelling services to clients, but still penalising the workers who were unable to attend work to deliver the cancelled services!

One NHS worker told us, "Everyone is angry about it - especially as management didn’t bother to show until the thaw."

Greenwich Primary Care Trust told its staff that they should take the snow days as days owing or annual leave. One worker explained that, "The managers are pushing for the day owing and asking people to work an extra shift (or two, if they could not get in on Tuesday) in the next month. Our ward manager is arguing that a) our country is in crisis so we need to do our bit b) our failing PFI needs our support because it has got itself into huge debt. We should make it clear who should pay for the crisis and what we do about PFIs. The most shocking thing at our trust was that the support staff (cleaners, porters, domestics), all employed by ISS, were not offered taxis or beds, and most people I've spoken to had long walks home. I'm going to take it up with the union."

Trade unions should raise this issue as a matter of urgency, demanding that no-one be penalised for being physically unable to attend work. The TUC issued a statement arguing that "workers should not have to foot the bill for bad weather conditions", but was at pains to point out to employers that if they behaved like "Scrooge bosses", it would add to their "business woes" by demoralising staff!

London Underground workers were particularly annoyed to face loss of pay or leave, when the reason that many of them could not get to work was that their own employer – Transport for London (TfL) – had cancelled all the buses!

Within a few days, nearly 50 workers had put their names to a collective grievance organised by RMT, and company Directors had to discuss it with union officials. As the grievance stated, "This was not a day's holiday for us, but a day on which we tried to get to work but could not. This situation arose through no fault of our own."

Tube unions TSSA and RMT both issued press releases, leading to high-profile coverage in London, and a week after the heaviest snowfall, the Evening Standard reported that Mayor Boris Johnson had backtracked, his spokesperson saying: "The Mayor has absolutely no intention of penalising anyone who failed to get to work due to last week's exceptional weather." It seems that making a fuss has made the employers back down, although workplace union reps will still have battles on their hands about individual cases.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Another snowed under Stroppyblogger

Apologies for lack of posts these last few days. My excuse is I'm helping Dave with looking after his girls . Mamma Mia , sing along version, played continuously is doing more damage to my brain cells than my usual consumption of JD. This is not my natural territory, I mean childcare not Dancing Queen, but that is in gay bars when I'm usually drunk and I'm stone cold sober at the moment. So far I have managed to feed them and they in return torture me with Abba till Dave gets back from college. They are though lovely girls and I say that as someone who doesn't have any maternal broody feelings whatsoever.So clear thought and blogging is in short supply for a few days.

I will though just do a quick round up of upcoming meetings.

First off a reminder that tomorrow night there is Jewish Socialist Group meeting : After the War on Gaza . Check out an earlier post for details.

Then on Saturday there is Gender, Race and Class - An Anti-Capitalist Feminist event. Details again in an earlier post. The venue has changed , its now SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London. Details here.

Finally on Sunday, "SYN/HOPI - Revolution Betrayed - 30 years since the Iranian revolution, Joint Socialist Youth Network and Hands off People of Iran meeting."
This is from 18:00 - 21:00 in the Bertrand Russell Room, Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square .
More details here.

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Monday, February 09, 2009

Snowed Under

Apologies for lack of blogging lately. I've actually been snowed under organising for just treatment for Tube workers who could not make it to work due to the snow last week. You can follow RMT's progress with this here.

I'd be really interested to hear what action your employer took if you or your workmates could not get to work because of the inclement conditions, so please wax lyrical in the comments box.

Oddly, this is the first ever Stroppyblog post tagged 'weather'.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Tories splashing the cash crunch, what credit crunch.

No sign of it amongst those at the annual Tory Black and White Ball:

Hundreds of well-heeled aristocrats, socialites and celebrities turned out to gorge themselves in spectacular style at the Conservative Party’s annual Black and White Ball.

Arriving in a long-line of chauffeur-driven Bentleys – complete with personalised number plates and built-in TVs – they had paid £10,000 for a table at the lavish do.

Tory leader Cameron, 42, had contemplated cancelling the event because of the gloomy economic climate. A senior Tory admitted: “The last thing we want are photos of us quaffing champers while people across the country are losing their jobs.”

As a consequence, security guards manned the entrances and police patrolled the building, determined to prevent unwanted guests seeing the opulent soiree.

Cameron even ditched his bow-tie in a bid to show he is an ordinary guy and that his party has changed to be more in touch with the common man.

Guests including fashion guru Trinny Woodall, Liz Hurley, Bryan Ferry and ex-Tory leader Michael Howard, partied the night away in a giant Union Jack-decorated marquee in London’s Battersea Park. An auction for party funds raised around £300,000 with one true blue supporter paying £13,000 for a game of tennis with Cameron and actor Richard E Grant.

Another blew £70,000 – more than double the average national wage – to hire Annabel’s nightclub in London for just ONE night.

A large portrait of former leader Margaret Thatcher went for £3,100.

And as many people struggle to pay the mortgage or even put food on the table, last night’s revellers did not bat an eyelid when someone paid £16,000 for a day of partridge shooting on an estate in Salisbury.

Other lots included a two-seater Morgan, which went for £24,000, a special-edition Rolex for £18,000.


Cameron, who was careful not to be seen sipping champagne, left almost as soon as the auction had finished, stopping off for one quick dance with wife Samantha.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Jewish Socialist Group meeting : After the War on Gaza

See below for details. Looks interesting and I hope to attend:

Wednesday 11th February

7.30pm Tudor Room, Imperial Hotel, Russell Square, London WC1B 5BB
Public meeting - all welcome

After the War on Gaza
What next for the Palestinians?
And how can Jews here and in Israel help to bring about a just peace?

Karma Nabulsi, Gerald Kaufman MP, Yishay Mor, David Rosenberg

Karma Nabulsi is an Oxford-based academic who formerly worked
as a PLO diplomat at the UN and in Beirut, Tunis and Britain.

Gerald Kaufman has been a Labour MP since 1970 and has been
an outspoken supporter of a just peace in Israel/Palestine.

Yishay Mor is an Israeli activist for peace and social empowerment

David Rosenberg is a member of the editorial committee
of Jewish Socialist magazine

There is also a statement on their website.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Polish Workers Join Walkouts

This report tells of hundreds of Polish workers, together with their British workmates, joining the wave of unofficial action spreading round the country.

It is a great example of British and immigrant workers standing together, and highlights that the *real* core issues in the dispute are about employers attacking jobs and conditions and turning worker against worker, not the dead-end nationalist nonsense of being "against foreign labour" that the press have headlined and some strikers have wrongly rallied around.

Plenty of arseholes in the article's comments box, though.


Refinery Walkouts: The Industrial Issues

There are two key industrial issues which mean that we should support these strikes:

1. Often, contracting companies on a particular site change. They lose the contract, or another company gets the contract for the next stage of the work. But the workers, once on site, follow the work. They remain there, even if their contractor employer changes - they get taken on by the new boss. Shaw's was subcontracted by Jacobs, the main contractor for building the diesel refining plant, and had a contract running up to February for part of the work. Shaw's had also bid for the next stage of the work, and its employees expected - on the basis of a lifetime's experience - that even if Shaw's lost the bid, they would be taken on by the new contractor and remain working on the site. That did not happen. Instead, IREM won the contract and did not take on Shaw's workers, instead bringing in workers from Italy. TUPE did not prevent this happening because it was a new contract for a new phase of the work. [Note: What a neat trick by the employers to get round TUPE - easily done in a situation of construction rather than, for example, ongoing maintenance work.]

If you were one of the Shaw's workers - even with an immaculate internationalist outlook - wouldn't you be pissed off that you now face losing your job later this month?! If you worked at the Lindsey refinery, wouldn't you encourage your workmates to take action against this - whilst of course, standing firmly against racist or nationalist demands or conclusions?! Or should they just shrug their shoulders and say "Hey, let the best man win"?!

2. The National Agreement for the Engineering and Construction Industries (NAECI) covers workers on all major projects in the UK and ensures union involvement in all energy projects. It is an agreement between the main employers' federations and the unions (both Unite sections plus the GMB). It covers a range of working conditions, including the working week, working away from home, safety, probationary periods, guaranteed hours, rates of pay, training, union recognition and encouragement of union membership. It is overseen by a National Joint Council. Because of the ECJ rulings (Viking, Laval, Ruffert), the NAECI can not legally be imposed on IREM's contract at Lindsey - IREM's right to provide services across borders trumps the right of workers to impose and defend their agreement. The NAECI does not apply to the Italian workers at Lindsey.

So even if the Italian workers are members of an Italian union, even if they are on wages as good as the other workers on site - in fact, even if they were on better wages - this situation represents a significant crack in an important national agreement and a weakening of union power. This crack, if not fought against, could easily become much wider very quickly, leading to widespread de-unionisation of this sector and attacks on pay and conditions.

In this siutation, shouldn't workers fight to defend unionisation and national agreements?!


The slogan 'British Jobs For British Workers' is a reactionary dead-end. Socialists have to get in amongst the strike movement and put forward that argument, and better alternatives, rather than stand aloof denouncing the strike.

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