Solidarity 249, 13 June 2012

Solidarity with Spanish miners!

Spanish coal miners, located mainly in the northern region of Asturias, went on indefinite strike against the austerity measures of Spanish prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at the end of May.

Banning families

Tory Home Secretary Theresa May plans new legislation to make it easier to deport refugees and asylum seekers by clamping down on their right to stay in the UK if they have family connections here.

The “right to family life” is enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and means that (for example) refugees can legally remain in the country if they are married to a British national. May is now claiming that the right is “not absolute”.

Greece challenges ECB

The left can win in Greece’s election on 17 June. And if it does, a left government’s pro-worker policies will predictably cause screams of outrage from the bosses in Greece and the EU.

ECB and EU bosses will probably quickly kick Greece out of the eurozone.

Yet Syriza is not preparing its own supporters and the working class generally for the consequences of confrontation with the Troika, the markets and the Greek ruling class.

Industrial news in brief

Cleaning workers at St. George’s Hospital have won the London Living Wage, as well as pushing back bosses’ plans for job losses and cuts.

Reviving action in universities

The congress of the University and College Union (UCU, 8-10 June) voted to resume industrial action over pension cuts for workers in “pre-1992” institutions.

A work-to-rule will be reinstated with immediate effect, and a sustained programme of industrial action in autumn will be worked out over the summer and decided upon at a special conference in September. Congress also voted to recognise that the suspension of the work-to-rule, carried at a pre-1992 conference in January, was a mistake.

Scotland: to get trade union unity, break up the unions?

An article in the current issue of Scottish Socialist Voice, newspaper of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), proposes that the existing British trade union movement should be broken up into its national components.

The article begins with a lament for the opposition to Scottish independence expressed by unions at the recent congress of the Scottish TUC.

Rank and file teachers' conference: a forum and a voice

The 16 June Local Associations conference of school teachers will discuss a statement from its organising committee resolving to “build a network of local associations and school reps that will enable teacher trade unionists to exchange information, debate and discuss strategy... and organise solidarity”.

Tom Unterrainer suggests why and how.

9-5ers Anthem

While perhaps less accessible than some of hip-hop’s more obvious “protest songs” (Public Enemy’s ‘Fight The Power’ or KRS-One’s ‘Sound of da Police’, for example), this brooding, imagery-heavy piece from Aesop Rock’s seminal album ‘Labor Days’ finds the rapper in his most explicitly “political” register.

The “We the American working population” chant (performed acapella on the recorded track) is a stark, no-frills attack on the shackling effect of work on human creative potential, and contrasts brilliantly with the dense, figurative content of the song’s other verses.

Labour Briefing: a double coup?

Earlier this year the left saw the equivalent of a small dinosaur walking down the street. Labour Briefing magazine had, as its front page, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s slogan “Prenez le pouvoir” — “take the power”.

Mélenchon wouldn’t have known it, but for the inner core of Briefing, and for older readers, the slogan evokes a lot.

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