Solidarity 296, 18 September 2013

Defend unions' say in politics

Activists meeting on 16 September have decided to launch a broad “Defend the Link” campaign, based on a statement issued in July which has already got wide support.

Keith Ewing will be the president of the new campaign, Mark Seddon will be chair, and Jon Lansman and Marsha-Jane Thompson will be joint secretaries. They are confident of winning the official support of at least some unions.

Syria: bombing averted; prospects still grim

Plans by the USA to bomb Assad’s military bases have been stalled by the “Framework for the Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons”.

This agreement between the US and Russia demands Assad hand over his chemical weapons and allow for the handover to be verified by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). This would be a condition for Syria joining the Chemical Weapons Convention and removing its stocks of chemical weapons much faster then other signatories to the agreement — including the USA and Russia!

Industrial news in brief

Tube workers have returned a 98% vote in favour of industrial action against the introduction of biometric fingerprinting in their workplaces.

Teachers' campaign needs rank-and-file strategy

From the “Rally for Education” called by NUT and NASUWT on 14 September in London, I conclude that to combat Gove and the government, we will also have to organise at rank-and-file level, and challenge the leaders of our unions.

We will have to challenge the supposedly left-wing leaders of the National Union of Teachers as well as the openly professionalist NASUWT leadership.

The rally was supposed to be the first step in a renewed campaign about pay, pensions, and quality of education.

Hovis pickets stay strong

Police have attempted to break up picket lines at the Hovis factory in Wigan where workers are striking against the use of zero-hour contracts.

Three people were arrested in the early hours of 16 September, and one activist was thrown into the road on her back as police used force to clear a blockade of the road leading in the factory.

According to the Union News website, “two people were arrested on suspicion of obstructing the highway while a third was arrested for a public order offence. One of the three is a local Unite organiser.”

Firefighters to strike

Firefighters in England and Wales will strike on Wednesday 25 September after governments in Westminster and Cardiff refused to budge in the pensions dispute with the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

The FBU does not accept the proposed pension scheme that may see firefighters forced out of the job early or forced to work to 60, putting public safety at risk.

Chávez’s Trotskyist cheerleaders

Pablo Velasco concludes his assessment of Hugo Chávez’s political legacy and the relationship of the “Bolivarian” state to Venezuela’s working class. In this article, he looks at the attitude of international Trotskyism, and particularly the “International Marxist Tendency” to Chávez.

The accommodation and prostration of the apparently “Trotskyist” left to Chávez was one of the principal signifiers of a wider ideological collapse of socialism that took place in the early years of this century.

Dawn in New York

Claude McKay (1889-1948) was a Jamaican poet who, during his time in London, became involved in revolutionary socialist circles.

He attended the Fourth Congress of the Communist International in 1922. While he did not associate himself with Trotskyism, he became disillusioned with Stalinism in the 1930s and later became a Roman Catholic.

New strike wave in Greece

According to official figures, participation in the strike by Greek teachers on 16 September was over 90%.

Over 30,000 teachers, university administrators, students and workers in pension funds, and others flooded the centre of Athens. Four other sectoral union federations have coordinated with OLME (the union federation for high school teachers) and have announced repeated five-day rolling strikes against government plans to cut jobs and suspend tens of thousands of workers for eventual sacking or possible redeployment.

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