Solidarity 322, 30 April 2014

683 sentenced to death in Egypt

On Monday 28 April, 683 people were sentenced to death in the city of Minya, Egypt. The same judge then upheld the death sentences of 37 others, with life sentences for 491 more.

Amnesty International say "This is the largest single batch of simultaneous death sentences we’ve seen in recent years, not just in Egypt but anywhere in the world.”

Against Jobbik and anti-semitism

On 27 April, 25,000 people protested against anti-semitism in Hungary.

Every year, a march takes place in Budapest to commemorate the Hungarian Jews killed in the Holocaust.

This year, a record number joined the march, with many marchers protesting against the rise of anti-semitism in Hungary. Just three weeks earlier, elections had seen the far-right, anti-semitic Jobbik party win 21 per cent of the national vote.

The rich rake it in

On 24 April, Scott London, the former head of the southern California audit practice for KPMG, one of the world’s “Big Four” audit companies, was jailed for 14 months.

He had pleaded guilty to leaking information to cronies so that they could profit in share trading. He got bribes in return, including packs of money wrapped in paper bags and handed to him in car-park rendezvous.

Industrial news in brief

On 1 May, UCU members at Lambeth College in South London will begin indefinite strike action to block attacks on their conditions.

These attacks include increased working and contact hours, cuts to annual leave, additional duties for no extra pay, reduced redundancy notice and drastically reduced sick pay.

Management are attempting to impose the new contracts on new workers, current staff who are promoted, and hourly-paid staff. They have also said that these new conditions may be rolled out to cover all staff.

An alternative for teachers

Two out of every five teachers leave the profession within their first five years of teaching - a shocking indictment of what we are up against.

Most teachers cite excessive workload and the oppressive culture at work as the main reason for quitting, though having to work longer and pay more for a worse pension, and having a real term pay cut hardly helps.

With performance pay coming in big-time in September, more rocky times lie ahead. So we need to call a spade a spade.

Council workers prepare for strike ballot

Unison members who work in local government have voted by 70% in a consultative ballot to reject the employers’ meagre 1% pay offer. As reported in previous issues of Solidarity, workers have faced a real-terms pay cut of 20% in the last four years.

A formal strike ballot will take place from 23 May to 23 June. Strikes could begin on 10 July.

A whole new ball game?

After three years of negotiations secular nationalist Fatah and political-Islamist Hamas have announced a deal in which they say they will soon form a unity government for the Palestinian Authority.

Construction death traps in the Gulf

M worked as an architect on construction sites in Dubai. He told Solidarity what daily working life is like on those sites.

The major difference between a construction site in Dubai and one in Europe is the number of hours that they work. The workers are present on site from 7am to 7pm — twelve hours a day for six days a week, sometimes seven.

Self-determination for Ukraine!

As Solidarity goes to press on 29 April, the conflict in Ukraine is deadlocked. The Ukrainian government has said it will re-take city halls in east Ukraine seized by pro-Russian groups, but has made few moves so far.

Evidently the Ukrainian government is worried that any armed clash will give the Russian army an excuse to invade and claim it is only keeping the peace.

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