Solidarity 132, 14 May 2008

Millions starve. Business make record profits

Submitted by AWL on 16 May, 2008 - 1:44 Author: Colin Foster

In Britain, rising food prices — up over 15% a year — mean poorer households scrape and struggle. In many countries, they mean people starve. The most basic foods — wheat, rice, corn — have pretty much doubled. Families don’t have enough to eat. In Egypt, workers have struck and occupied factories. In other countries, there have been food riots.

The high prices are good news for the world’s giant agribusinesses. Monsanto’s net income for the three months up to the end of February 2008 was more than double the 2007 figure, up from $543m to $1.12bn.

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Immigration Raids: Resist these attacks

Submitted by AWL on 16 May, 2008 - 1:40 Author: Robin Sivapalan

Since the end of February when the government introduced new penalties for bosses who hire “illegal workers” the number of raids on workplaces has increased drastically — twice as many in the last few months as during the whole of the 1990s. Fines totaling £500,000 have been issued. 63,140 people, asylum seekers and undocumented workers, were removed from the UK last year. That is still not enough for the Liberal Democrats and the Tories who continue to urge on the rabid dogs who run the Immigration Department.


Submitted by Jason on Mon, 19/05/2008 - 19:27

It is indeed shocking how little profile this is getting on the left and how low a profile this is getting in the trade union movement.

Thius perhaps reflects how divided and weak the working class movement is- however, if a fightback can be built perhaps involving settled workers with secure immigration status and lightning strikes as well as community mobilisation then we do have the potential to do something on this.


Submitted by Matthew on Mon, 26/05/2008 - 16:11

What needs to be added is that the people carrying out the raids are members of PCS, a union led by self-proclaimed Marxists and members of the Socialist Party.

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Sans Papiers: “We want regularisation”

Submitted by AWL on 16 May, 2008 - 1:39 Author: Ed Maltby

Since 15 April, a series of unprecedented strikes by undocumented workers have taken place in France. In the greater Parisian region alone, an estimated one thousand undocumented workers are involved in strike action. The strike and actions, led by the CGT and other unions, is mainly concentrated in construction and restaurants. All the disputes are demanding the mass regularisation of undocumented workers. The strikers chant, “Le cas-par-cas, on n’en veut pas!” — “We won’t accept case-by-case treatment !”

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Stop the student witch-hunt

Submitted by AWL on 16 May, 2008 - 1:37 Author: Gemma Short

Five members of Sheffield University student union’s delegation to the 2008 National Union of Student’s conference (including myself) face disciplinary action following their refusal to vote in line with a “mandate” imposed on them by their union’s Council in favour of the NUS Governance Review.

They face permanent exclusion from all future union elections. At least two of the five are potential candidates in next year’s sabbatical elections.

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Israel at sixty: We still stand for two states

Submitted by AWL on 16 May, 2008 - 1:19

May 2008. Sixty years after the declaration of the state of Israel in compliance with the November 1947 resolution of the UN. The conflict with the Palestinians and the Arabs which at the Jewish state’s birth led to Arab invasion, war and the elimination of the Palestinian state stipulated in the UN resolution (almost all its territory went to Jordan and Egypt) is, perhaps, further from being resolved now than it was sixty years ago. The 41 year occupation of territory captured in the June 1967 war continues to poison Isreali-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab relations.


Submitted by Jason on Thu, 22/05/2008 - 09:46

Amid the various points I think a few things stand out clearly.

Arthur is right I think that the two state solution is unworkable as it will only realistically come about as an imposition from the ruling class. Any Palestinian 'state' would have its borders decided by Israel, 'borders' which would be/are rigorously policed to prevent free movement of Palestinians but to allow Israeli army incursions and would in effect become bantustans.

Bill I think makes a good point that the Israeli prime minister himself recognises the parallel with South Africa. Of course we don't always believe what a prime minister says for the sake of it but his candour here is no doubt aimed at critics who don't even want the pretence of a semi-independent Palestinian state-let and sometimes we have to use our class enemies' words against them!

Link here

Of courser I dare say I risk being abused as an idiot anti-imperialist or kitsch or something but I think it’s entirely fair to extend support to Palestinians engaged in self-defence, for class struggle within Israel/Palestine, for links where possible between the Israeli Jewish and Palestinian Arab populations and other ethnic groups such as the sizeable Ethiopian population (some of whom are Jewish) over basic class struggle demands, for democracy, for trade union rights, against the war. Of course there will be within these united fronts those who support two state solutions but as socialists I think we should be for united class struggle against the bourgeois, forging in that struggle class unity and solidarity. If Jewish or Arab workers wanted some kind of autonomy in a workers’ state then that is clearly a matter for them. But our immediate duty of solidarity is against the current inequality and national oppression imposed by the Israeli bourgeois as gendarmes for imperialism.

As immediate and practical solidarity I think we should be for demonstrations and direct action against the Israeli state’s aggressive military occupation and for the overthrow of the Israeli apartheid regime.

By the way as an aside, Richard Pipes, book,”The Russian Revolution” is a work of fiction, quite well written at times, though I found the style quite disfigured by a fanatical hatred. As history it is appalling. If you really want to know about the Russian revolution I’d suggest reading Revolution and Counterrevolution: Class Struggle in a Moscow Metal Factory by Kevin Murphy (reviewed by me in next issue of Permanent Revolution) or The Bolsheviks in Power: The First Year of Soviet Rule in Petrograd reviewed in this issue of Permanent Revolution online soon

Submitted by Jason on Thu, 22/05/2008 - 20:58

of a resurgent world wide capitalism. He saw the Russian revolution as a conspiracy. Archive material now avaible as well as any unbiased readung of what was available at the time leads me to think that revolutions are not conspitacies of a few fanatics. The version of Pipes I read had no footnotes as it happens- a most surprising omission. But I think it was a popularisation. The Murphy and Rabinowith books are scrupulously sourced. Are there legitimate questions about response to civil war? Of course. But to present the Russian revolution as a conspiracy of evil fanatic and the masses as inanimate playthings is fiction indeed.

On Israel I am for the overthrow of the apartheid state, of the state that discrimnates against Arabs and of its ruling class. Not the 'destruction of Israel.'

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Grangemouth Pension Dispute ContinuesAWLFri, 16/05/2008 - 13:15

A fortnight after the Grangemouth oil refinery was shut down by strike action, talks continue between refinery owners (INEOS) and UNITE.

The strike by the 1,200 union members was in defence of the refinery’s final salary pension scheme, inherited by INEOS from the refinery’s previous owners (BP).

INEOS wanted to close the scheme to new staff, force existing employees to pay 6% of their salaries into the scheme, and financially penalise workers who opted for early retirement.

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Civil Service Pay

Submitted by AWL on 16 May, 2008 - 1:14

Pay will be the major issue before this year’s PCS national conference. Given the general pay squeeze across the public sector and high inflation rate everybody expects that civil servants will get below inflation offers; with many of these increases being non-consolidated. All rational activists agree on the importance of public sector unions working together. If this were to happen, or even if a few unions were to band together, it would be politically and industrially significant

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Submitted by AWL on 16 May, 2008 - 1:11 Author: Mike Fenwick

A pay offer covering the next three years is being put to health workers this month. The national leadership of UNISON is completely split on whether it should be accepted or rejected. Workers’ Liberty supporters are convinced we should reject the offer. We also believe that industrial action is possible and we can win.

The three year deal offers pay rises worth just 2.75% this year, 2.4% next year and 2.25% in the third year. The lowest measure of inflation is 3% so the offer is effectively a pay cut.

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Action in the autumn

Submitted by AWL on 16 May, 2008 - 1:09 Author: Patrick Murphy

The National Union of Teachers Executive met on 8 May for the first time since the 24 April pay strike. For a while it looked like there would be no discussion or vote on proposals to develop the pay campaign. Although the union’s Co-ordination and Finance Committee (CFC) had met the previous day and agreed some activities for the term ahead their report will not be discussed until the next Executive meeting two weeks later. In the event supporters of the left caucus on the Executive put a motion on pay to ensure that some commitments were made.

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