Solidarity 248, 6 June 2012

Support Quebec's striking students!

In Canada, talks between the right-wing Quebec Liberal Party government and student groups resisting tuition fee rises have broken down.

The government representative said after four days of talks that the gap between the two sides was too wide. The students are continuing their protests.

Rank-and file teachers organise

National Union of Teachers activists will meet in Liverpool on Saturday 16 June to found a new network based on local branches (divisions and associations) of the union.

Syria crisis deepens

As the killing-rate in Syria speeds up, the underlying sectarian nature of Syrian society and the decades-old sectarian policy of the Assad dictatorship is increasingly being reflected in the violence on the ground.

The opposition — which, for the first few months of the rising against the dictatorship, was almost exclusively peaceful, and was demanding freedom and democracy — increasingly rests on local, mainly Sunni, militias.

Industrial news in brief

RMT and Unite have called off strike ballots of their members working for East Midlands Trains (EMT), leaving drivers-only union ASLEF as the only union in a position to take strike action in the immediate future.

Workers are in dispute over changes to their pension scheme. According to the RMT, EMT bosses have made some concessions over how pensions contributions are calculated. They plan to put management’s new offer to their members with a recommendation to accept.

Council pensions: who decides?

Trade unions in local government have accepted a “deal” on pensions not very different from what we went on strike against on 30 November.

The only actual “improvement” is on the increase in members’ contributions. Contribution rates will, for now, be unchanged for many workers, and lower for some part-time workers, though higher for workers on over £43,00 a year.

PCS votes to wait for others

Delegates gathered in Brighton from 23-25 May for the annual conference of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS).

The main debate facing the conference was the future of the national pensions, jobs and pay dispute.

Tube workers get no-strings bonus

Tube union RMT has reached a deal with London Underground bosses that secures an Olympics working bonus for Tube staff whilst defending collective agreements.

The Third Camp: “Neither victims, nor executioners”

We continue our symposium of recollections and reflections from activists involved in the “third camp” left in the United States with a piece by David McReynolds.

Although not from the Trotskyist third camp tradition, David worked closely with many who were, including Max Shachtman.

He joined the Socialist Party of America in 1951, and in 1958 was involved in negotiating the merger of the Independent Socialist League into the SP. In 1980, he became the first openly gay man to run for the US Presidency.

The long slump and the global working class

There is no definitive Marxist assessment of the current economic crisis or of the period leading up to it, but there is a vibrant debate among Marxists trying to grapple with the underlying causes of the world we’re in. David McNally’s book provides one of the most panoramic and provocative accounts with many insights.

He argues that the crisis of 2008 represents the terminus of a quarter-century wave of economic growth — neoliberal expansion — and the transition to a protracted period of slump. He defends three broad arguments:

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