Eastern Europe

Letter: No socialist content in Hungary

Author: 

John Cunningham

Gemma Short is quite right in her comments on Steve Bloom’s review of The Two Trotskyisms (Solidarity 402): the nationalisations in Eastern Europe had no socialist content.

I lived in Hungary from 1991 to 2000 and in this time became acquainted with the giant Ózd steelworks complex near the border with Slovakia. I hasten to add that I never, unfortunately, visited the steelworks, but I knew a documentary filmmaker, Tamás Almási, who made a series of films on the workers there and their experience of going through privatisation and finally the closure of the works.

The nationalisations in Eastern Europe had no socialist content.

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Gove’s Albania model

Author: 

Colin Foster

Economic issues if Britain quits the EU? No problem, says the anti-EU Tory Michael Gove. We could be just like Albania.

Bosnia, Albania, and Ukraine, as Gove said, have free trade with the EU without having to comply with EU rules. The Albanian trade unions, who in their May Day message ask the Albanian government for measures “in terms of rights and freedoms of association, labour relations and labour legislation, closer to that of the European Union”, have difficulty getting traction with the demand. Gove wants British unions to face the same prospect.

Gove’s “Albania” speech is significant not because it is realistic, but because it shows us his model for Britain: a low-wage, low-rights offshore production site for global capital, with workers cajoled into submission by promises to keep out migrants.

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A Europe of borders and resistance

Author: 

Theodora Polenta
For as long as the war in Syria lasts and chaos prevails, refugees will try by every means possible to get to a place that is safer, however many summits the governments call and however many fences and borders they erect.

Here’s what the “Fortress EU” of ever increasing land, air and sea fences and more actual and conceptual borders says to us all, and not only to the refugees of Syria’s war: There is no place for you to live, because I want to grab your resources and check your routes. There is no other place for you to go to breathe. There is no way to walk. The only option to endure, to endure, to adapt, to live with the annihilation of any planning for a better future. And, to a large extent, those messages represent the broader social, economic, and cultural values of today’s capitalism.

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The rise and fall of Polish Stalinism

Author: 

John O'Mahony

In Poland a coalition government is being formed in which the Stalinist organisation, the so-called Communist Party, will, for the first time in over 40 years, have only a minority of ministers.

The main other force in the government will be Solidarnosc, the political organisation based on the working class which has its origin in the great strike movement of August 1980 and the ten million strong free trade union which grew up between August 1980 and its suppression under martial law in December 1981.

Our comment on the entry of Solidarnosc into Poland's government, 1989.

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Oppose Tusk-Cameron, oppose Brexit

Author: 

Vicki Morris

On 2 February EU president Donald Tusk published proposals to placate David Cameron. They will be ratified, or not, at an EU summit on 18-19 February.

Cameron wants to hold an in-out referendum quickly, possibly in June. The chief plan is for the UK (or any other EU state) to be able to cut EU migrants’ rights to in-work benefits (tax credits, child benefit, etc.) for four years.

East European states have objected to the proposal, since it discriminates mainly against their citizens travelling to the UK for work. They are right to do so.

Cameron wants to hold an in-out referendum quickly, possibly in June. The chief plan is for the UK (or any other EU state) to be able to cut EU migrants’ rights to in-work benefits (tax credits, child benefit, etc.) for four years.

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Solidarity with refugees Open the borders!

Author: 

Vicki Morris

Refugee flows into Europe from the Middle East and Africa were expected to decline as autumn sets in and sea crossings become more dangerous, but the numbers of people fleeing poverty and war, particularly in Syria, remain very high and are even growing.

Refugee flows into Europe from the Middle East and Africa were expected to decline as autumn sets in and sea crossings become more dangerous, but the numbers of people fleeing poverty and war, particularly in Syria, remain very high and are even growing.

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Árpád Göncz: 1922 – 2015

Author: 

John Cunningham

Sometimes being worthy, decent and honest isn’t enough.

Although at the time I moved in slightly more elevated circles than I do now, in the nine years I lived in Hungary I never met Árpád Göncz, Hungarian President for ten years in the nineties, who died on 6 October.

Árpád Göncz, Hungarian President for ten years in the nineties, died on 6 October.

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Open Europe's borders!

Author: 

Vicki Morris
We must increase the pressure and make the case for the EU to open its borders and let the refugees in!

Germany is back-pedalling on its earlier stated open borders policy and has suspended freedom of movement, as EU governments fail to deal with the migrant crisis.

Germany re-introduced border controls on Sunday 13 September, and stopped train traffic from Austria. This is the route by which as many as 450,000 refugees, most fleeing the war in Syria, have come into Germany via the Balkans this year.

The German Interior minister Thomas de Maizière said the public resources of the southern German states were exhausted by the scale of the current migrant flows.

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Solidarity with sacked Gdansk port worker

Maciek Konopka, a dock worker in Gdansk, Poland, has been sacked for union organising, sparking an international campaign for his reinstatement.

Maciek’s sacking is the latest union-busting action by dock management, including intimidation and threats of dismissal as workers organise for better pay, against the use of temporary contracts, and over negotiation of a collective bargaining agreement.

Management employs workers on rolling temporary employment contracts, seemingly to maximise a culture of fear and job insecurity.

Maciek Konopka, a dock worker in Gdansk, Poland, has been sacked for union organising, sparking an international campaign for his reinstatement.

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