Solidarity 191, 2 February 2011

Police use CS gas on UK Uncut

Activists taking part in a peaceful UK Uncut protest at a Boots store on 30 January in central London were attacked by police using CS spray. Three protesters were hospitalised and others were still feeling the effects hours later.

Anyone who thought the police had calmed down or softened up after their relatively laid-back showing at the London protest on Saturday 29 January will have been given an unpleasant shock by their attack on the UK Uncut action the next day.

Luton: help the defence against EDL racists

On Saturday 5 February the English Defence League (EDL), a racist street-gang drawn from football hooligan firms, will hold another “demonstration” in Luton. They are advertising it as “the biggest yet”.

Luton has a special importance for the EDL as it was here in May 2009 when they first appeared, as a bunch of white racists rampaging through the town, attacking Muslim-owned businesses and “Muslim-looking” bystanders.

The riot took place following a provocation staged by the Islamist group Al-Muhajiroun in March 2009, at a parade for soldiers returning from Afghanistan.

London and Manchester show student fight continues

More than 5,000 students and workers protested in London on 29 January in a lively march that showed that the revolt which began in early November 2010 is far from over. Although the parliamentary votes to increase fees and abolish EMA and the Christmas break have led to an ebbing of the movement, 29 January represented a launch pad from which to rebuild.

A rally outside ULU featured labour movement speakers including AWL member Janine Booth, the London Transport region representative on the RMT Executive.

Remember David Kato: fight for LGBT liberation

David Kato, one of the most prominent spokespeople for gay rights in Uganda, has been murdered.

David was one of several LGBT individuals targeted by a recent campaign by Rolling Stone, a small Ugandan newspaper.

The paper published the names and whereabouts of several people as part of an article which called for them to be hanged, and repeated the hoary homophobic slander that gays were infiltrating schools to “recruit” children. Kato and others successfully sued the paper, which has denied any connection between its campaign and Kato’s death.

Rebuilding solidarity in the trade union movement

Co-ordinated industrial action by trade unions to halt (at least some of) the massive attacks on workers’ jobs and living standards by this Tory-led Government is promoted as the current main demand of the trade union left.

Perhaps it should be, but as Marxists we need to face a few uncomfortable truths about focussing on this strategy alone.

The only co-ordinated action being seriously contemplated by trade union leaders is against the attack on public sector pensions.

Notts and Southwark workers balloted over cuts

Following a consultative ballot which voted 2 to 1 to move to a formal ballot, members of Nottinghamshire County Unison will vote on taking industrial action against proposed job cuts.

The ballot will involve 3,600 workers and comes in response to a briefing paper from council management which asserted that 1,000 compulsory redundancies are “likely to be needed” in 2011.

Tube: rank-and-file voice needed

Between September and November 2010, the RMT and TSSA led a series of solid one day strikes against job cuts on London Underground.

Then they stopped fighting. They declared a truce over Christmas and the union leaders recently voted not to strike before the cuts’ implementation on 6 February.

Unions must fix "confidence problem"

Building a campaign of co-ordinated industrial action to oppose the government’s attacks on public sector pensions is proving a very slow and painful business indeed.

The TUC finally held a meeting on 28 January. Around 55 unions were invited based on an assumption that they were “actively considering action”.

The evidence of what happened at that meeting is not encouraging.

Texas blues

Texas is in bad shape. Rick Perry was re-elected for another term as governor and the Republicans have a two-thirds majority in the State House.

The Republicans are committed to solving a deficit without a tax increase. Texas is one of the few states with no state income tax, and the Tea Party has stiffened the resolve of the “less government, less tax” current. Cuts are proposed to funding for public schools, colleges and universities, and to health coverage for poor people and children.

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