Solidarity 455, 24 November 2017

Unstaffed tube stations

Submitted by cathy n on 24 November, 2017 - 1:28 Author: Ollie Moore
Underground sign

London Underground has informed union reps of its intention to reduce the frequency of maintenance checks carried out on some trains from 24 to 96 hours. 

The checks, which involve ensuring the train is safe to run, are carried out my fleet workers in depots across the network. 

Tube union RMT has objected strongly to the plans, insisting that they put passenger safety at risk. The union has also accused the employer of wanting to cut fleet workers’ jobs. 

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University workers strike

Submitted by cathy n on 24 November, 2017 - 12:51 Author: University of London student
Uni cleaners

On November 21, workers at the University of London struck over outsourced contracts, insecure hours, and pay.
A loud protest organised by their trade union, the IWGB, took place outside the iconic Senate House during the university’s Foundation Day — when the Chancellor, Princess Anne, visits. The dispute is made up of mostly security guards, cleaners, porters, post room workers, and receptionists.

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BiFab: direct action works

Submitted by cathy n on 24 November, 2017 - 12:39 Author: Dale Street
BiFab protest

Faced with the imminent threat of closure, workers employed by BiFab (Burntisland Fabrications) in the company’s yards in Fife and Arnish (Isle of Lewis) staged a work-in and mobilised a 1,000 strong demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament.

News that the company was about to call in the administrators, putting over 1,400 jobs at risk, broke on 12 November. The company faced cash flow problems on a contract for the Beatrice offshore wind farm in the Moray Firth.

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Labour campaigns to make homes safe

Submitted by cathy n on 24 November, 2017 - 12:35 Author: Gerry Bates
Housing rights

Labour launched a “Make Homes Safer” campaign on the 9 November to pressure the government to put aside money for urgent repairs to old buildings in the autumn budget.

The campaign calls for central government to set aside money for local councils to retrofit sprinklers and other safety systems to their housing. In his speech launching the campaign Jeremy Corbyn said: “The evidence is clear: where sprinkler systems have already been fitted, injuries sustained from fires have been cut by approximately 80 per cent and deaths from fires have almost been eliminated entirely.”

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Unite, Len McCluskey and Jewish Voice for Labour

Submitted by cathy n on 24 November, 2017 - 12:26 Author: Jim Denham
Unite logo

″I‘ve never recognised [that Labour has a problem with anti-Semitism]. I believe it was mood music that was created by people trying to undermine Jeremy Corbyn.

“In 47 years of membership of the Labour Party, I’ve never been at a meeting where there was any anti-Semitic language or any attacks on the Jews. They would have had short shrift in any meeting I was at.


Submitted by Jason Schulman on Tue, 28/11/2017 - 00:16

'In other words, this ″network for Jewish members of the Labour Party” will be campaigning in support of the ″right″ to boycott the people of the only Jewish-majority state, and by implication to stigmatise all Jews keeping contact (however critical) with those people.'

Hyperbole, Jim. And I wish the AWL would overcome this consistent hyperbole. The point is less to boycott people but institutions that, in one way or another, benefit from the occupation of the West Bank and/or the strangling of Gaza or try to present Israel as something other than the colonial power that it is, as a liberal democracy that treats all people in Israel equally, etc. At least that's what BDS means over here in the States.

Submitted by peewee29 on Wed, 29/11/2017 - 20:27

Jason,: I've heard the argument that the BDS / academic boycott campaign is against "institutions" and not "people" many, many times. But it simply doesn't stand up, if you give it a moment's thought. The nonsense of this distinction was explained by Ari Y Kelman in a piece for The Nation in 2013:

I recognize that the language of the American Studies Association resolution (as with most language from the broader BDS movement), focuses on institutions, not on individuals. This is, I think, a distinction without a difference. Judith Butler, in her response to Michelle Goldberg in the pages of The Nation carefully parses his distinction, but even she falls prey to its murky logic when she writes:

"Concretely, that means that US or other institutions can offer to pay for an Israeli citizen who usually relies on institutional support from his or her own country, that non-profit organizations can be solicited to cover travel costs, as they would for others who do not have the means to come to conferences, or that Israelis might pay from their own personal funds, as some already have elected to do. It also means that when Israeli scholars invite those of us who support the boycott to Israeli institutions, we decline, explaining that until those institutions minimally take a public stand against the occupation, we cannot come and support that silence, that status quo."

Her defense is eloquent, but slips a little too easily back and forth between individuals and the institutions that support their work. The hypothetical invitation in Butler’s explication is extended by one scholar to another, both of whom, presumably, are housed in academic institutions (and supported by them). The work of academics is the work of individuals and (more or less) cooperative teams. Our intellectual labor, though supported by our universities, belongs to us, as individual scholars. This, again, is one of the fundamental tenets of academic freedom. For better or for worse, we work as individuals, not as institutions. Her proposal that Israeli academics “might pay from their own personal funds” is sheer folly if they are employed by a University. At what point in the exchange of funds does the money stop belonging to the university and start belonging to the individual payee? Does that same logic apply to research or travel grants?

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“New era” but same repression
CCP congress
cathy nFri, 24/11/2017 - 12:18

In October, the 19th national China Communist Party (CCP) congress took place in Beijing. China’s president, Xi Jinping, used the propaganda event to push his distinct brand of CCP rhetoric, which sounded vacuously futuristic and echoed the party’s nationalistic and imperially ambitious past.

To achieve the “Chinese Dream” would be “no walk in the park”, he declared, it would require “more than drum beating and gong clanging to get there” (Xi Jinping, cited in Phillips, 2017).

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Distinctions on left antisemitism

Submitted by cathy n on 24 November, 2017 - 12:06 Author: Martin Thomas
Left antisemitism

Workers’ Liberty has been debating theories of racism and their relationship to left anti-semitism. This contribution is a response to Carmen Basant (Solidarity 454).

Modern political antisemitism consists in damning the very existence of the Israeli state (however modified) as inescapably racist and imperialist, and thus damning all Jews who fail to renounce connection to or sympathy with Israel (however critical) as agents of racism and imperialism.

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