News

Court rejects CWU appeal

On 28 November the High Court rejected an appeal by postal workers’ union CWU against the injunction granted to prevent strikes by Royal Mail workers.

A union statement said: “We have just left the High Court. Our appeal was dismissed. Six hours of evidence and they took two minutes to come to a decision. The justice system in this country is an absolute farce.”

Sponsor our Sheffield-Manchester ride!

Hannah Thompson and Dan Rawnsley from Sheffield will be doing a sponsored bike ride to raise funds for Workers’ Liberty on 15 February 2020.

The ride will be from Sheffield to Manchester, a slightly shorter distance but, because of the hills, a much harder ride than the one from London to Cambridge which raised £1250 in October.

We’ve set £1917 as a provisional target for total sponsorships this time, and it has raised £140 in the first few hours of the website going live. Add your contribution here.

After 12 December, what?

If Labour wins a majority government, some activists will think or semi-think “job done”.

There will be a feeling we have navigated deadly rapids to a place of a safety. But in fact the struggle will likely intensify, and become harder.

Labour’s manifesto only moderate higher taxes on the best-off, and nationalisation with compensation of selected sectors, not a democratic seizure of the productive wealth currently held by the plutocrats. But we should not assume Labour’s manifesto will be implemented easily.

University workers strike, students occupy in solidarity

University workers strike

By Ollie Moore

The strikes by higher education workers in the University and College Union (UCU) around pensions, pay, and workload, running from 25 November to 4 December, have seen significant student support.

A UCU striker in Cambridge sent this report of picketing at his university to Solidarity:

“There was a much noisier response from the road traffic today [27 November] where the West Cambridge picket is based. Possibly a sign that locally the news that a major strike is going on has got through.

Tracy wins in NEU

Workers’ Liberty supporter Tracy McGuire has won the by-election for support staff rep on the National Education Union’s national executive.

In a three-way election, Tracy won 1,200 votes, 53%, with the rest split almost evenly between the two other candidates. However, the turnout was, at 2270, only 7.7%.

Ballot for action against Npower job cuts!

On 29 November, the energy firm Npower announced plans to cut 4,500 jobs. We heard about the cuts on the news, on the way into work.

We were then summoned to a “briefing” by managers. The company says the unions were “consulted”.

That is untrue. Telling the senior stewards late the previous day and embargoing them from discussing with others is not any form of meaningful consultation.

Israel-Palestine: potential for a future

By Daniel Randall

At a recent meeting at the London School of Economics (14 November), hosted by the campaign group Yachad and others, Alon-Lee Green and Sally Abed from the Israeli Arab-Jewish socialist movement Standing Together were asked their views on the argument that the possibility of a two-state settlement is dead.

Should progressives demand a “one-state solution”? This is an edited version of Alon-Lee’s response, published with his permission.

Lib Dems: turbo-charged neoliberalism

Quite a few of the Lib Dems’ manifesto pledges read as quite leftish. Their opposition to Brexit is clear, though revoking Article 50 without a new referendum is misguided. On migrants’ rights and free movement, they stand in many respects to the left of Labour.

Even on public services, they are promising something like £50 billion above the Tories’ spending plans, and in a few areas have outflanked Labour – for instance childcare, where they are pledging more free hours from earlier and specifying it will be almost all year round.

Sanders campaign: Impeachment? What impeachment?

Something strange is going on with the Democratic presidential candidates and the impeachment of Donald Trump. All the candidates support Trump’s impeachment. But none of them want to talk about it.

At a recent event in Las Vegas, Bernie Sanders said that Trump “will be impeached, and he should be impeached.” But he quickly added that his own campaign is about “more than just defeating” the Republican president.

What if a hung parliament?

On 25 November Jeremy Corbyn reiterated his opposition to a coalition with the Lib Dems if the Tories lose the election but Labour does not win a majority.

He did not respond to a question about coalitions versus forming a minority government. Mostly Labour’s leaders have rightly said they oppose a coalition and that, if Labour comes out from 12 December ahead of the Tories but short of a majority, they will go for a minority government. The Lib Dems have gone even further and said they will not vote to make Corbyn prime minister, let alone join a coalition.

The fight against Driver Only Operation
Merseyrail workers picket against Driver Only Operation
Off The Rails Sun, 01/12/2019 - 19:57

The announcement by rail union RMT of a sustained programme of strikes on West Midlands Trains and South Western Railway represents a significant escalation and expansion of the union’s protracted and hard-fought war against the imposition of “Driver Only Operation”.

Neurodiversity at work: a social model

Fatima’s autism makes her hypersensitive to bright lights, so she can’t work in our office, poor thing.

Or: The bright lights in our office make Fatima distressed as she is autistic and unusually sensitive to light. She can work here if we turn them down.

Ed’s dyspraxia makes him so clumsy that he is a danger at work.

Or: The workplace is arranged in a way that is dangerous to Ed, who is dyspraxic, and to other workers.

Faryal is dyscalculic and cannot be trusted with people’s money, so she cannot possibly work in the finance department.

Labour: the manifesto, the movement, and us

What Labour's 2019 manifesto promises is, in itself, moderate. But the rich and owners of capital did not get where they are by being generous and easy. They got there by being the most ruthless in pursuit of greed, exploitation, trampling down and squeezing the working class.

After decades of almost everything their own way, they are in no mood to concede. They will fight, aggressively and effectively.

Labour must back UCU strike!

Above: UCU picket lines in Nottingham. At centre-right, holding the “four fights” placard, is, with supporters, including Nadia Whittome, Labour’s Nottingham East Parliamentary candidate. All Labour candidates near any of the 60 striking universities should join the pickets.

Higher Education workers in the University and College Union (UCU) are striking from 25 November to 4 December, in a national dispute over workload, pay, and pensions. A striker in Cambridge spoke to Solidarity:

Black Friday and the folly of anti-consumerism

In the US, Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November). The day revolves around large discounts in shops.

Black Friday sales are notorious for the levels of chaos or even violence that occur as crowds pour into the shops and scramble for the discounted goods. To take an extreme example, in 2008 a stampede of shoppers on Long Island, New York, trampled a Walmart employee to death.

Building wider climate action for 29 November

The next global youth climate strike is planned for Friday 29 November. In dozens of towns and cities across the UK, from hundreds of schools, and in hundreds of cities around the world, millions of school students and young people will be taking a stand against climate change.

It will be the first international climate strike since 20 September. There have been multiple strikes over the last year. On 20 September there was a call for workers to join students, and in several workplaces they did.

Lebanon’s revolt against oligarchic sects

Joey Ayoub, a Lebanese writer and participant in the protests, talked on the phone with Daniel Randall from Solidarity. This is what he had to say.

The movement started on 17 October, hence it’s being called “The 17 October Revolution”.

That day was very much a straw that broke the camel’s back; the consequences of some natural disasters, such as wildfires on 14 October, had piled social misery on a number of disastrous policies, and led to a widespread revolt.

Vote Tracy in the NEU!

The election for the Support Staff sector seat on the executive of the NEU is now running and will close on 2 December.

The candidate for the rank-and-file Education Solidarity Network is Workers’ Liberty supporter Tracy McGuire. She is supported by many militant support staff, including the Durham Teaching Assistants’ Value Us campaign.

Tracy says:

The socialist left in the Labour campaign

The Tory campaign for this general election has more money, but the Labour campaign has more people.

Tens of thousands of Labour volunteers are taking to the streets and the phone-banks.

As socialist internationalists, we are with those volunteers. The labour movement is our movement, and we want it to win in this election against the Tories and Lib Dems.

We also have more to do than adding our numbers to the general labour movement mobilisation. We have political tasks.

Facts and figures of the election

The Tories have condemned Labour’s plans as “eye-watering”, “wild”, “reckless”, “unaffordable” and set to “bankrupt the country”, with much of the press singing in tune.

Just after Labour’s 2017 election manifesto came out, Solidarity estimated that its proposals would “take some tens of billions of pounds — John McDonnell estimates £50-odd billion — out of the £1,000 billion a year which currently goes to the rich and the very well-off, or to enterprises under their control”.

Right wing on the rampage in Bolivia

After two weeks of protests Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, in power for the last 14 years, has been forced by the armed forces to resign his post.

The unrest was a result of accusations of electoral fraud in Morales’s latest election (October 2019), as well as the Supreme Court (November 2017) overruling the referendum result which denied Morales the right to run for his fourth re-election.

Hong Kong: the crackdown and the future

The conflict in Hong Kong has further escalated and has reached a critical point as I write on 19 November.

The escalation began last week with the first casualty of the protest, a university student falling fatally from a multi-story car park in a conflict zone. Since then, policeman have fired live rounds seriously injuring a number of protesters, a man was doused in petrol and set alight by protesters, a pro-Beijing legislator was stabbed, a pro-democracy legislator had his ear bitten off, and there have been many other individual violent acts.

Repeal all anti-union laws!

The High Court injunction won by Royal Mail to block strikes by postal workers in the Communication Workers Union (CWU) highlights the undemocratic nature of Britain’s anti-trade union laws, and the urgent need for the whole labour movement to renew our fight for their abolition.

Royal Mail claimed that the union’s social media campaign, and its encouragement for members to bring ballot papers to work and write their votes there, breached the 1984 Trade Union Act, which requires that members be able to vote in ballots without “interference” from the union.

Unis out from 25 November

Members of the University and College Union (UCU), the national union for academic staff in the UK, are set to strike at 60 universities for eight days between 25 November and 4 December 2019.

This follows a highly successful pair of strike ballots among UCU members in higher education: one on pensions, the other on pay, equality, casualisation, and workloads.

The pensions strike continues the long-running dispute over proposed cuts to the United Superannuation Scheme (USS), the main pension plan in the “pre-92” universities.

General election leaflets, stickers, posters, briefings, and more from Labour for a Socialist Europe

Labour for a Socialist Europe (L4SE) has produced leaflets, stickers, posters, and briefing papers for use in the General Election campaign.

You can order them via the L4SE website.

Also coming soon:

• "Socialist Internationalist" scarves to wear in winter campaigning.

Regrouping the left

Eleven years on from 2008, inequality is spiralling, the signs are that we’re heading for another crash, and mainstream ruling-class politics is veering away from neo-liberalism only towards the nationalist right.

The working classes of the world need a political movement which fights for socialism as working-class self-emancipation, as a full-scale change of society to social ownership and democratic control of productive wealth.

Doorstep comments

The printed paper carries an abridged version

Best campaigning moment so far yesterday. We were handing this out on a stall in Edinburgh. A woman took one, read it as she walked away. Turned around, came back and asked more about it. She told me she worked in a nearby fast food place. She is now a Labour voter and will be telling her fellow workers which party they should vote for!

- Katrina Faccenda, Edinburgh

The split in SDS

Across the world large and radical student movements came into prominence in the 1960s, fighting on their campus and against university administrators but raising wider political questions: opposition to the Vietnam War, opposition to the police, and opposition to capitalism. Their politics were often muddled and contradictory.

The Unwomanly Face of War

Kantemir Balagov’s film 'Beanpole' follows two female ex-Red Army soldiers working in a hospital in Leningrad after the siege, painting a striking and intimate picture of the febrile lives of Russians after World War Two.

The film’s titular character is Iya, nicknamed “Beanpole” for her long and lanky build. She is awkward and quiet and periodically suffers from fits of catatonic shock. Early in the film, her friend Masha returns from the front to join her working in the hospital.

The general election in Scotland

Speaking at last Saturday’s #indyref2020 rally in Glasgow, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon pledged that there would be another referendum on Scottish independence in 2020.

This was the first pro-independence rally to have been addressed by Sturgeon since the run-up to the 2014 referendum. But it was not the first time that she has promised another referendum.

Sturgeon first promised a second referendum immediately after losing the 2014 one. She has been promising one ever since.

The Berlin Wall and socialism

See a printable election briefing based on this article.

Thirty years ago, on 9 November 1989, the Berlin Wall came down.

It was a wall built through Berlin by the rulers of East Germany, which called itself socialist, to prevent people escaping to West Berlin, which was capitalist and linked to West Germany.

Over its 28 years, about 5,000 people managed to escape over the Wall, and somewhere between 100 and 200 were killed by East German border guards while trying to escape.

Johnson’s Trump-Brexit

According to the most thorough study so far, Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal will reduce average income per head in Britain by 6.4%. It will cost you about £1300 a year if your income is £20,000.

That’s not as bad as “no-deal” (8.1%). It is worse than Theresa May’s deal (4.9%), and of course a lot worse than Remain.

The bad economic impact comes from the barriers to trade and the barriers to immigration. Immigration, which mainly brings in young and energetic workers, boosts economic growth.

A socialist Green New Deal

Global climate change, caused primarily by the burning of fossil fuels, poses the greatest threat to humanity.

The evidence is overwhelming, as are the stark warnings of dire risks if we don’t act urgently to limit it. Yet fossil fuels are being burned at an ever faster rate, accelerating us towards more and even more severe catastrophe.

Bev Laidlaw for PCS General Secretary!

The nomination period for the post of General Secretary in the civil service trade union PCS has now opened. PCS branches should be organising to debate which candidate they wish to support in the actual elections, which will open on 7 November.

Bev Laidlaw, a DWP rank and file activist and NEC member, will be contesting the election as a PCS Independent Left candidate. All serious socialists and PCS activists who yearn for a departure from the many years of failed, bombastic, top down bureaucratic leader leadership should campaign to nominate and vote for Bev.

Labour for a Socialist Europe publishes election leaflet

Labour for a Socialist Europe has published a big-circulation leaflet for the general election campaign. It will also be producing briefing papers, stickers, posters, and other materials (maybe beanies and scarves?)

You can get large quantities of the leaflet by sending the pdf to a printer to order them, for example to Solopress, who will do next-day delivery. Click here for the pdf

Lorry deaths show: borders kill

As the news broke on Wednesday 23 October that 39 people had died in a refrigerated shipping container while attempting to reach Britain, the anti-immigration spin machine sprang into action.

Taking to the press, they insisted that the tragedy must be laid entirely at the feet of the smugglers and traffickers – and the “lax” borders enabling them.

The xenophobic Migration Watch think tank explained that protecting migrants meant more deportations and more resources to tighten the border against migration. The Mail demanded “added checks on vehicles entering Britain”.

Back Labour, fight for Remain!

In backing the dissolution of Parliament and an election, Jeremy Corbyn promised: “We will now launch the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change our country has ever seen.”

Every socialist, every labour movement activist, everyone who cares about equality and human rights, should throw themselves into the fight to kick out Boris Johnson and win a Labour government. We should simultaneously organise to hold Corbyn and the Labour leadership to that pitch.

Far right and soft left advance in Germany

The 27 October election in the German federal state of Thuringia saw Die Linke (a merger of the post-Stalinist PDS and a breakaway from the SPD) emerge as the biggest party, with 31% of the votes.

The far right AfD came second with just over 23%, and the CDU (German Tories) third with just under 22%. The SPD (roughly the German Labour Party) came a poor fourth with just 8% of the vote.

The FDP (German Liberal Democrats) managed to just scrape past the 5% hurdle, which parties must achieve to win any seats. It passed the hurdle by just five votes.

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