CommentPlus: pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers.

1. If bombers were a threat once, they still are (Times)

David Aaronovitch argues that it would be disastrous for the UK to distance itself from the United States. The US remains an indispensable, practical and ideological ally in a world where fundamentalist terror has not gone away.

2. Eureka! At last, I can see what David Cameron is on about (Daily Telegraph)

Cameron's "Big Society" project is truly radical, says Benedict Brogan. Here is a rare example of a politician who has faith in individuals to wrestle responsibility for society away from the state.

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3. Big ambition (Times)

But a leader in the Times says that it is still hard to see how the "Big Society" translates into policy. Cameron appears to have forgotten that the voluntary sector draws most of its funding from public sources.

4. We're getting everything from this election but radicalism (Independent)

As polling day draws closer, the differences between the parties are narrowing not widening, writes Adrian Hamilton. We desperately need a bold approach to a host of challenges, from Afghanistan to Trident to financial reform.

5. Berlin has cut the motor, but now Europe is stalled (Guardian)

Germany once drove the European project but its retreat into British-style self-interest puts the EU at risk, argues Timothy Garton Ash.

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6. Brown's lies and chicanery on immigration are crying out to be exposed by the Tories (Daily Mail)

The Tories should launch an all-out attack on Gordon Brown's misuse of immigration statistics, says Stephen Glover. The party should not be frightened of saying that indigenous workers have been priced out of the job market.

7. Immigration: Speaking softly (Guardian)

Staying with immigration, a Guardian leader says that Brown's attempt to reassure voters will work only if they believe he is telling the truth. The Prime Minister must not use inaccurate data again.

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8. When Beijing and New Delhi pull together (Financial Times)

To bring China and India closer together, the yawning trade deficit between the two countries must be remedied, writes James Lamont.

9. Begin by breaking up the big banks (Guardian)

We will suffer a repeat of the financial crisis if we fail to reform the banks fundamentally, warns Larry Elliott. Politicians must recognise that the main banks remain far too big and far too complex.

10. Serbia says sorry for Srebrenica, but it should go further (Daily Telegraph)

Serbia's apology for the massacre at Srebrenica should acknowledge that what happened there was genocide, argues Harry de Quetteville.

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The Future of the Left: trade unions are more important than ever

Trade unions are under threat - and without them, the left has no future. 

Not accepting what you're given, when what you're given isn't enough, is the heart of trade unionism.

Workers having the means to change their lot - by standing together and organising is bread and butter for the labour movement - and the most important part? That 'lightbulb moment' when a group of workers realise they don't have to accept the injustice of their situation and that they have the means to change it.

That's what happened when a group of low-paid hospital workers organised a demonstration outside their hospital last week. As more of their colleagues clocked out and joined them on their picket, thart lightbulb went on.

When they stood together, proudly waving their union flags, singing a rhythmic chant and raising their homemade placards demanding a living wage they knew they had organised the collective strength needed to win.

The GMB union members, predominantly BAME women, work for Aramark, an American multinational outsourcing provider. They are hostesses and domestics in the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, a mental health trust with sites across south London.

Like the nurses and doctors, they work around vulnerable patients and are subject to verbal and in some cases physical abuse. Unlike the nurses and doctors their pay is determined by the private contractor that employs them - for many of these staff that means statutory sick pay, statutory annual leave entitlement and as little as £7.38 per hour.

This is little more than George Osborne's new 'Living Wage' of £7.20 per hour as of April.

But these workers aren't fighting for a living wage set by government or even the Living Wage Foundation - they are fighting for a genuine living wage. The GMB union and Class think tank have calculated that a genuine living wage of £10ph an hour as part of a full time contract removes the need for in work benefits.

As the TUC launches its 'Heart Unions' week of action against the trade union bill today, the Aramark workers will be receiving ballot papers to vote on whether or not they want to strike to win their demands.

These workers are showing exactly why we need to 'Heart Unions' more than ever, because it is the labour movement and workers like these that need to start setting the terms of the real living wage debate. It is campaigns like this, low-paid, in some cases precariously employed and often women workers using their collective strength to make demands on their employer with a strategy for winning those demands that will begin to deliver a genuine living wage.

It is also workers like these that the Trade Union Bill seeks to silence. In many ways it may succeed, but in many other ways workers can still win.

Osborne wants workers to accept what they're given - a living wage on his terms. He wants to stop the women working for Aramark from setting an example to other workers about what can be achieved.

There is no doubting that achieving higher ballot turn outs, restrictions on picket lines and most worryingly the use of agency workers to cover strikers work will make campaigns like these harder. But I refuse to accept they are insurmountable, or that good, solid organisation of working people doesn't have the ability to prevail over even the most authoritarian of legislation.

As the TUC launch their Heart Unions week of action against the bill these women are showing us how the labour movement can reclaim the demands for a genuine living wage. They also send a message to all working people, the message that the Tories fear the most, that collective action can still win and that attempts to silence workers can still be defeated.