Solidarity 288, 5 June 2013

Big powers and smaller oligarchies

Pandelis Pouliopoulos died 70 years ago, on 6 June 1943, shot by Italian occupation forces in Greece during World War Two. In his final moments he delivered an internationalist speech to his executioners, so that the firing squad rebelled and the officers had to shoot instead.

Balls to keep Tory plans

George Osborne is due to announce his latest spending review on 26 June, the day before the first regional strike in teachers’ industrial action over pay, pensions, and workload.

Industrial news in brief

Tube cleaners working for ISS suspended a planned strike after management backed down on use of the “Bradford Factor” sickness management system (which allows bosses to sack workers for missing as few as three days) to discipline staff.

Cleaners are also demanding an end to biometric fingerprinting, and want ISS to pay the arrears of a pay rise from November 2012 to bring wages in line with the London Living Wage. ISS cleaners on new contracts have also seen their working day increase with no extra pay.

Spaces for working-class politics

Val Graham, a trade union and Labour activist in Chesterfield, spoke to Solidarity about the “alternatives to austerity” discussions she has been organising in the town.

Sectarian surge in Iraq

Sectarian attacks have reached a new high in Iraq. Most are bombings by Sunni-sectarian militias aimed at Shias.

Syria and the embargo

On 28 May the European Union ended its arms embargo on Syria. The move was driven by the UK and France. They say that they don’t intend to send arms, but instead to use the threat of sending arms to apply pressure for a deal at the Geneva conference convened by the US and Russia, which is pencilled in for 15-16 June, but may be postponed.

The next five months

This is an abridged version of a report on plans for the next five months adopted by the AWL National Committee on 1 June.

The working class is on the back foot. Working-class struggle is low. There is no big, exuberant rush to the left.

Politics, sexism and Facebook culture

It’s fair to say that Facebook and Twitter have changed the face and shape of left-wing organising in Britain, particularly organising young people and students.

As well as posting about the music you like, what you’re eating, and what colour you’ve dyed your hair, you can post about your views: either on your profile, or in numerous groups.

The True Prison

Ken Saro-Wiwa was a writer and activist. He was one of the leaders of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, a community-rights and environmental movement which challenged the power of oil companies and the Nigerian government.

In 1994, the Nigerian government launched a concerted offensive against the Ogoni people to make the region safe for oil multinationals. 3,000 people were killed. In 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed by the Nigerian government.

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