Solidarity 327, 11 June 2014

World Cup begins with strikes and demonstrations

Submitted by Matthew on 11 June, 2014 - 11:54

In the run up to the World Cup, the Brazilian city of São Paulo was rocked by demonstrations, riots and a subway strike.

Striking workers successfully closed over half the subway stations in the city, and are threatening to strike again on the day São Paulo hosts the first match of the tournament.

Angry that their wages have stagnated whilst the government spends billions on the World Cup, the strikers are demanding a 12% pay increase.

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Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 11 June, 2014 - 11:51

The Hands Off London Transport (HOLT) campaign, a coalition involving the RMT union, Disabled People Against Cuts activists, student unionists, pensioner activists, and others, plans a Day of Action against Tube cuts on Friday 13 June.

Activists will organising leafleting, demonstrations, and other actions outside local Tube stations including King’s Cross, Walthamstow Central, Leytonstone, Elephant & Castle, and Brixton, to highlight the damaging impact Boris Johnson and London Underground bosses’ cuts plans will have on passengers as well as Tube staff.

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Their Europe and ours

Submitted by Matthew on 11 June, 2014 - 11:34

The political structures of the European Union exemplifies how badly the bourgeoisie “does democracy” when they are under no pressure from a confident working-class political organisation.

European political structures — the elected European Parliament, the European Council made up of heads of government and the Commission with member-state appointees — are all bureaucratic and dominated by obscure political horse-trading by member states.

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Make 10 July the start, not the end

Submitted by Matthew on 11 June, 2014 - 11:31

More than one million public sector workers could strike on Thursday 10 July. Workers across local government, education, the civil service, the fire service, and other public sector workplaces and industries are likely to launch coordinated strikes over pay.

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Better texts...better vision!

Submitted by Matthew on 11 June, 2014 - 11:22

GCSE English Literature hit the headlines after outrage on social media at the “banning” of certain well-loved texts including John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

The DfE were swift to claim that they have not banned any texts and denying Michael Gove has “a particular dislike” of Of Mice and Men. But what has not been denied is that Gove had significant personal influence over the design of the new syllabus (as distinct from the exams themselves, which the exam boards control).

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Take all religion out of our schools!

Submitted by Matthew on 11 June, 2014 - 11:20

A group of three academies, one other academy, and one council-controlled school in Birmingham have been put into “special measures” by Ofsted government inspectors for allegedly acting like “faith schools”.

Ofsted complains that Park View school has weekly “Islamic-themed assemblies”, with invited speakers “not vetted”, and that from year 9 onwards religious education is almost all Islamic. Faith schools are explicitly allowed to have their assemblies, and their religious education, organised around their chosen religion, and to imbue other subjects with religious ideology.

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Submitted by Matthew on Wed, 11/06/2014 - 12:54

It strikes me that the key issue is local authority control, or rather the lack of it, rather than religious groups running schools per se.

One of the ironies here is that it is in supposedly secular Academy schools that ultra-conservative religious attitudes towards women, creationism, evolution etc. have flourished; conversely, in local authority-controlled Anglican and Catholic schools, education, even in RE, is far more likely to conform to more liberal attitudes. Local authority should be extended to include not just the curriculum but also ensuring admission isn't restricted to just pupils of the school's faith and that all pupils have the right to opt out of its religious activities.

By what process would the Government turn "all schools — including those now Catholic, Anglican, Jewish, etc. — into secular schools" given that they are owned by dioceses or other religious bodies? Unless they voluntarily gave up their control to the State – with or without compensation – it would also require the suppression of all private schools (to stop them just becoming private religious schools) and presumably the simultaneous disestablishment of the Church of England to avoid the anomaly of the State church being barred from running state-funded schools.

Submitted by KieranMiles on Wed, 11/06/2014 - 21:57

In reply to by Matthew

"Religious education implants intense emotions, fears, and beliefs in children who as yet have little power of reason and judgement. It is vicious child abuse."

We should not be squeamish about saying this. Telling anyone that natural things like being gay, or having sexual thoughts, will send them to Hell is horrifying. It's particularly grotesque to hear in school, a place which should foster critical thinking, not utilise the threat of eternal torture for disobedience. The repetition of this message over years to young children, whose critical faculties have not yet reached their potential, and for whom the lessons of the teacher are unquestionable, is emotional abuse.

"it would also require the suppression of all private schools (to stop them just becoming private religious schools) and presumably the simultaneous disestablishment of the Church of England"

Abolition of private education, and secularisation of the state? Sounds good to me! Dare I say, it also points to republicanism - if there is no state religion, it undermines divine right somewhat.

Submitted by Matthew on Thu, 12/06/2014 - 09:08

In reply to by KieranMiles

The question though is whether religious education in local authority-controlled faith schools consists of telling children "that natural things like being gay, or having sexual thoughts, will send them to Hell". As I said above, that kind of thing is far more likely to happen in Academy, free and private religious schools.

If you think any religious education amounts to psychological abuse of children, then surely you should be demanding that the State intervene to stop it wherever it happens – churches, mosques, synagogues – and not just in schools.

Another irony is that for a number of reasons – providing a overarching framework in which to see the world, an alternative culture to that of the English establishment – religious, and especially Catholic, schools have over the decades produced far more revolutionary socialists than their secular counterparts, Sean being just one example.

Submitted by dalcassian on Thu, 12/06/2014 - 14:23

the "Muslim schools plot".

Submitted by LM on Thu, 12/06/2014 - 15:28

'Let me put this question to you - if we DID "take all religion out of our schools", what would the result be?
I believe it would lead to a generation of children who have no knowledge of the belief systems of others, and, as a result, would then be wide open and defenceless to the first street evangelist who they encountered.

Teach our children to think. Teach them how to weigh up what is being said to them. But don't treat them as stupid, and make sure there are checks and balances in the education system to make sure they are not being brainwashed. Teach them how to make up their own minds, without turning ourselves into fanatics.'

Did you actually read the article? There is a difference between teaching about religion on the one hand, and religious preaching on the other. As Sean writes:

"The real solution is to make all schools — including those now Catholic, Anglican, Jewish, etc. — into secular schools, places where religion is studied only in the cool comparison of different religions, their histories, the origins of their sacred books, the derivation and evolution of their core beliefs, etc.

That would give the children some secular space to retreat to in face of bullying, insistent parents or religious officials, and give them different values to counterpose to the religious values of homes which may be spiritually from a different age and very different societies."

Submitted by AWL on Fri, 13/06/2014 - 21:20

Liam writes: "Teach our children to think." KD writes: "[Children] need to be taught to think." KD, are you actually reading what's being written here, or are you arguing against a straw-man?

When we talk about taking religion out of schools, we obviously do not mean that education should pretend religions do not exist. The article is clear: "The real solution is to make all schools — including those now Catholic, Anglican, Jewish, etc. — into secular schools, places where religion is studied only in the cool comparison of different religions, their histories, the origins of their sacred books, the derivation and evolution of their core beliefs, etc."

We're in favour of religions being learnt about in schools, but only secular education about religion can guarantee children the freedom to make informed and consenting choices and develop their own beliefs.

What about that do you disagree with?

You say our view is "extremist". Yes, it is. Part of the article's point was to highlight the ridiculousness of the term. Anyone who is remotely serious about their own ideas — anyone who believes seriously in their own worldview, and in its rightness — is an "extremist". We are "extremist" in our revolutionary-humanism, our secularism, and our socialism. To be anything otherwise would be utterly meaningless.

-

DR

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Boycott Picturehouse!

Submitted by Matthew on 11 June, 2014 - 11:11

Cinema workers’ union BECTU has called for a national boycott of Picturehouse Cinemas until they agree a pay deal with workers at The Ritzy in Brixton, South London who are striking to win the London Living Wage.

Picturehouse Cinema bosses pulled out of talks with BECTU and unilaterally imposed a 4% pay deal, which still leaves almost all staff paid below the poverty line.

Comments

Submitted by davidosler on Thu, 12/06/2014 - 17:34

Be helpful to link to a list of which cinemas this company owns. I certainly won't be going to Hackney Picturehouse while the dispute is on. Are the Rio in Dalston and the Screen on the Green in Islington OK? Full solidarity to the Ritzy workers.

Submitted by AWL on Fri, 13/06/2014 - 21:22

Hi Dave,

There's a list here.

Submitted by AWL on Fri, 13/06/2014 - 23:06

Called by Cinema Workers' Solidarity
June 13 - June 22
See Facebook event here

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Free Yoo Ki-soo, South Korean union leader!

Submitted by Matthew on 11 June, 2014 - 10:44

Yoo Ki-soo, General Secretary of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), was arrested on 26 May by the South Korean government, after a protest calling on the government to take responsibility for the Sewol Ferry Disaster.

The ferry was carrying 476 people — mostly South Korean schoolchildren. It sank on 16 April off the southern coast of the country.

The death toll has reached 288, with 16 people still unaccounted for. No bodies have been found since 21 May.

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Ukraine: Moscow wants “Bosnia model”

Submitted by Matthew on 11 June, 2014 - 10:35

Russia has recognised Ukraine’s newly-elected president Petro Poroshenko by opening talks with him (through the Russian ambassador in Ukraine) on 8 June.

The talks have for now dispelled talk of further US or EU sanctions against Russia, and boosted the Russian stock market.

According to the Financial Times (9 June), Putin has three chief demands.

Ukraine to “give regions veto powers over foreign policy decisions made by Kiev — in part as a guarantee of Russian interests.

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