Solidarity 314, 26 February 2014

Lecturers threaten marking boycott

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) have threatened to refuse to mark essays or exam papers from 28 April unless Higher Education bosses make concessions on pay.

The threat has already secured the promise of new talks ahead of the scheduled pay negotiations for 2014/2015.

A marking boycott is considered to be lecturers’ “nuclear option”, and widely seen as a more effective and impacting form of industrial action than striking.

Real fight needed on local government pay

Local government workers’ unions have told the Local Government employers’ body that they consider themselves to be in formal dispute, after bosses failed to make a pay offer for 2014/2015.

Bosses also insisted that any offer they did make would be “pegged” to the national minimum wage, thereby rejecting unions’ demand that all local government employers pay at least the Living Wage (£8.80 in London and £7.65 elsewhere).

NUT must end its “one-day” culture

The upcoming National Union of Teachers (NUT) strike against the government’s attacks on teachers pay, terms, and conditions on March 26 is a positive development, and the strike should be built for across the country.

There needs to be serious discussion about what to do on the day and, most importantly, what should follow on from this strike. These discussion must involve the members at every level of the union. NUT activists must link up with other workers fighting across the public sector.

Inspiring resistance to Stalinist tyranny

In an era of wars and revolutions — a new book from Workers’ Liberty — features American socialist cartoons spanning the middle of the 20th century. This era saw Stalinism at the height of its prestige and power, as well as some of its most notorious atrocities.

In the late 1920s, the bureaucracy of the Soviet Union, under the political leadership of Joseph Stalin, wrested the last vestiges of power from the working-class, and unleashed a wave of expulsions and exiles to purge the Bolshevik party of those who resisted and held fast to their revolutionary socialist principles.

How a community organised its own flood defences

If you want proof that the Tory government does not care whether people die, look at last year’s £100 million cut to the national floods budget. That’s all too clear where I live in Egham.

Egham is situated on the western part of the Thames, a river which stretches from the outskirts of London, through Surrey and Berkshire, up to Oxford, and across Wiltshire and Gloucestershire. Here £1.8 million was cut from the Arklyn Kennels scheme, which involved building up concrete and earth bank defences. £1 million of the funding for the project won’t be available for another four years.

Gove's programme: break up, purge and privatise

In his four years or so as Education Secretary, Michael Gove has accelerated the pace at which English state educational provision has been fragmented.

New Labour proved itself just as hostile to democratic comprehensive education (as an ideal and where it existed) as the Tories and the Coalition. But by adding to the plethora of school types, and enabling more and more individual schools to be acquired by edu-management trusts, academy chains, charities, faith groups and social entrepreneurs, Gove is deepening the damage.

Right on Scottish independence, but for the wrong reasons

“It is difficult to decide which camp in the Scottish independence debate makes the stronger case for voting the opposite way,” were the sensible opening words in the 21 February editorial in the Morning Star.

In recent weeks, the editorial pointed out, “some dire weakness in the SNP-led Yes campaign have been ruthlessly exposed.”

Yanukovych falls. Back the left!

On 22 February, three months of protest in Ukraine culminated with the parliament unseating president Viktor Yanukovych.

Yanukovych fled from the capital, Kiev, and from his luxury estate nearby. Parliament installed a member of the opposition as acting president and called for new elections soon. On 24 February the new government issued a warrant of Yanukovych’s arrest on charges of responsibility for the killing of protesters.

Joy at the fall of the corrupt and authoritarian Yanukovych may sour very soon, though.

Atos cuts and runs

Atos, the French firm which runs the government’s Work Capability Assessments for Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance claimants, is seeking an early exit from the contract. They claim threats to its staff have been made, online and in person.

We don’t believe for a moment that these heartless bastards care a jot about their staff. More likely is that the campaign against Atos has damaged the company’s reputation so badly that it is desperately seeking a pretext to cut and run.

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