Solidarity 193, 16 February 2011

Help Egypt's workers defy army

Following the fall of Mubarak, a huge wave of workers' strikes is sweeping Egypt. The army threatens to ban strikes.

On Sunday 13 February, an Egyptian army representative told the news agency Reuters that the next day the army would decree a ban on all union meetings and strikes.

After taking over from the hated president Mubarak when he resigned on 11 February, the army wanted to stop the social upheaval in Egypt, and restore capitalist calm, in the most abrupt way.

Daily Star comes out for the EDL

You don’t expect to see political news stories on the front page of the Daily Star. More than any other tabloid the Star is mostly a showbiz scandal sheet, leading most days with gossip about the sex lives of soap stars and Premier League footballers. Was it then progress to see this paper, with so many working class readers, turn to politics for its front page?

Teachers build for strike action in East London

In January the biggest local meeting of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) for a generation saw more than 120 members vote unanimously for a ballot for strike action to defend jobs and services in Tower Hamlets.

Over the next three years £70 million is being cut from the budget of one of the poorest boroughs, £38 million of that this year. In education huge cuts are being made to central services which provide outreach and support to schools and families.

Birmingham council strike ballot

Local government workers in Birmingham will demonstrate on 26 February and lobby their employer, the council, on 1 March, following unanimous votes at four mass meetings to push for a strike ballot.

Birmingham council, the largest local authority in Europe, is planning a cuts programme which would see workers lose allowances for night shifts and anti-social hours, and lead to a pay cut of up to a third for some workers. Park rangers and some library workers stand to lose up to £4,000.

UWE academics strike

Following a 66% vote in favour, University and College Union (UCU) members at the University of West England in Bristol have struck over a management restructure that would cut some academic posts by 25% and force existing staff to reapply for their own jobs.

The strike action is the first in the UCU branch’s history, and was bolstered by a flash occupation of UWE students which took control of a central campus location. The Core24 site was previously occupied for nearly a month in the November-December 2010 wave of student occupations.

SWP all at sea

The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) is floundering. It had a big opportunity with the “People’s Convention”, organised through the “Right To Work” campaign, on 12 February.

The celebrity-heavy “Coalition of Resistance” (COR) and the narrowly factional NSSN had given it the opportunity, if the event were open, serious about debate, and oriented to unity, to become the centre for real networking against the cuts.

Unite declares ballot unlawful

Unite has declared its own recent ballot of cabin crew workers, which returned a 78.5% majority in favour of strike action, unlawful.

This action sets a new and worrying precedent in the ongoing battle against Britain’s anti-union laws. If Unite, the country’s biggest union, is now so jumpy that it will do the bosses’ and courts’ work for them the ruling class will only grow in confidence.

Strike against academy status

Teachers at a south London school will strike this week against proposals to turn their school into an academy.

An 84% turnout returned a 76.5% majority for strike action at Chestnut Grove school, which is set to lose money following the government’s scrapping of the Building Schools for the Future programme.

Finance capital cannot be our climate ally

It is a measure of the state of climate politics when apparently radical thinkers accommodate themselves to the mainstream. In Climate Capitalism the disorientation of climate activists has found its academic expression.

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