Solidarity 318, 26 March 2014

Self-determination for Ukraine!

Ukrainians are a nation. The nation includes both those who have Ukrainian as first language, and those who have Russian as first language, just as the Irish nation includes many who have English as first language.

Ukrainians are a nation long oppressed under Russian and other foreign rule. They have a right to self-determination.

Within Ukraine, there is exceptionally sharp class inequality. A few oligarchs are hugely wealthy and pay few taxes. The majority are much poorer even than in neighbouring Belarus or Romania.

Birmingham student victory

The campaign against police and management victimisation of student activists in Birmingham has ended in victory.

Following protest at Birmingham University in January at which police kettled, attacked and arrested dozens of students, and the university suspended the arrestees and banned them from campus, all charges have now been dropped and all students re-instated.

This victory comes after a letter, signed by 225 members of academic staff, was delivered to university management to condemn the suspensions and their implications for freedom of speech and protest.

Ealing hospital workers' seven-day strike

Outsourced health workers at Ealing Hospital in West London struck for seven days from Friday 14 March.

They are currently paid £6.31 an hour, 44% less than the lowest-paid directly-employed NHS staff. The workers are employed by Medirest, an outsourcing company which provides domestics, porters, catering workers, and other staff services. They are members of the GMB union, and have already struck for four days since the start of 2014.

12.5% of the membership, 0% of the leadership

The Women’s Conference of transport union RMT, held on 7-8 March in Glasgow, saw a new determination to campaign against sexism and for women workers’ rights and to tackle the under-representation of women within the union.

Guest speakers included North Ayrshire and Arran Labour MP (and RMT Parliamentary group member) Katy Clark and Scottish TUC Assistant Secretary (and former railworker and RMT activist) Ann Henderson.

Teachers' dispute must escalate

Members of the National Union of Teachers will strike on Wednesday 26 March.

Talks with the Department of Education are ongoing, but the government has made it very clear that these talks will not deal with the issues at the heart of the teachers’ dispute. They will only discuss the implementation of policies, including the raising of the retirement age to 69, the end of final salary pensions, and the end of automatic annual pay progression.

Turkey's sub-imperialist choices

Turkey’s recent political crisis started with the arrest of the sons of three cabinet ministers over claims of bribery and the rigging of state tenders. This quickly developed into a state-wide crisis.

The events appear to be a cut-throat power struggle between the government and Gülen movement, a transnational religious and social movement. But the matter cannot be reduced to that.

The left in the miners' strike

This year is the thirtieth anniversary of the great miners' strike. A new book by Workers’ Liberty, out this week, tells the story of how working-class communities fought a Tory ruling-class government. But how did the left conduct itself?

The Labour Party, led then by the former "soft left" Neil Kinnock, refused to indict the government and brand its activities for the vicious class war they were.

How the “organising model” went global

On 29 March 2014, Workers’ Liberty, the University of London branch of the Independent Workers’ union of Great Britain (IWGB), Ruskin College UCU, PCS Independent Left, and Lambeth Activists will host the “New Unionism 2014” conference at the University of London Union.

Education: for life, not for profit

The coalition government, building on New Labour, is pushing to shape education more and more along capitalist market standards and criteria.

They dare not making schooling just something bought and sold on the market. Even if they don’t care that barring children of worse-off parents from schooling would be unjust, they concede that it would produce an unqualified workforce and a brutalised society.

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