Solidarity 347, 10th December 2014

Belgium: general strike on 15 December

Submitted by Matthew on 10 December, 2014 - 12:25 Author: A correspondent in Liège

The three union confederations in Belgium — the FGTB, linked to the social democratic parties, the CSC, the Catholic confederation, and the liberal-linked CGSLB — have called a general strike for 15 December against the new right-wing government’s cuts plans.

There have been regional general strikes on 24 November, 1 December, and 8 November and a demonstration on 6 November.

US protests spread

Submitted by Matthew on 10 December, 2014 - 12:20 Author: Gemma Short

The news that police officers involved in the death of black man Eric Garner will not face criminal charges has sparked protests across the US.

In a situation similar to that of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, a New York Grand Jury decided not to indict the officers who choked Eric to death using a stranglehold.

Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 10 December, 2014 - 12:14 Author: Ollie Moore, Dale Street, Gemma Short and Charlotte Zalens

London Underground has announced its schedule for closing every ticket office on the Tube, starting from early 2015.

It has done this despite the publication of a passenger survey conducted by independent watchdog London TravelWatch which shows the strength of public opposition to the closures.

Firefighters strike over pensions

Submitted by Matthew on 10 December, 2014 - 12:03 Author: Darren Bedford

Firefighters in England began another 24 hours of strike action as Solidarity went to press, as part of the FBU’s long-running pensions dispute.

The FBU also called a demonstration in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire on the same day, to rally activists for the pensions fight and to show solidarity with FBU executive council member Ricky Matthews, who was sacked during the four-day strike in November. Firefighters gathered in Aylesbury to demonstrate their anger with government proposals to make them work to 60.

Fight for the private renters!

Submitted by Matthew on 10 December, 2014 - 11:50 Author: Matt Cooper

There were only muted howls of anger from the rich who lost most from the changes to stamp duty on house sales in George Osborne’s Autumn statement.

That’s because those who will be paying an extra £163,750 on their £5 million house can afford it and they realise that this is a bid by the party of the rich to cling onto power in next year’s general election.

Equalise the wealth!

Submitted by Matthew on 10 December, 2014 - 11:44 Author: Editorial

According to NHS bosses, the Health Service needs an extra £8 billion a year by 2020 to cope with an ageing population and new medical technologies. Or a total of £30 billion on top of the Government’s projections.

Those figures, £8 billion and £30 billion, are both both big numbers. They are much bigger than the £2.5 billion which the Labour leaders have promised to add to the NHS budget from a mansion tax.

They are also small. They are small compared to the £297 billion which is the total wealth of just the hundred richest people in Britain.

Why so irate?

Submitted by Matthew on 10 December, 2014 - 11:35 Author: Colin Foster

Duncan Morrison's complaint (Solidarity 344) about Jon Lansman's column (343) seemed to be that Lansman implied we should push motions praising Ed Miliband, and wasn't really anti-cuts (since anti-cuts was mentioned only in the headline).

But now (Solidarity 345) Duncan says only that Lansman's column was bland. Why the irate complaint, then?

Verbal inflation blurs

Submitted by Matthew on 10 December, 2014 - 11:32 Author: Martin Thomas

Mumsnet defines a rape apologist as “someone who seeks to excuse rape. Normally by finding a way to blame the victim...”

Finally, a Feminism 101 Blog summarises: “A rape apology is any argument that boils down to the myth that rapists can be provoked into raping by what the victim does or does not do”.

Cathy Nugent (Solidarity 346) defends her claim that the SWP is “rape apologist” by quoting reports from SWP oppositionists of responses by SWP members in the “Comrade X” and “Comrade W” cases. They are bad. But not all bad is “rape apologist”.

Not so red

Submitted by Matthew on 10 December, 2014 - 11:25

On 5 December, Bodo Ramelow became the first state premier in Germany from Die Linke, Germany’s Left Party, which is a composite of remnants of the old ruling party of East Germany and a left split (mainly in West Germany) from the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in 2005.

He heads a three-way “red-red-green” coalition with the SPD and the Greens in Thuringia.