Solidarity 369, 24 June 2015

Why people are fleeing Eritrea


Dan Katz

The UN estimates that 5,000 Eritreans are escaping from their homeland each month.

The number leaving has been increasing rapidly since the last months of 2014. There are over 100,000 Eritrean refugees in both Ethiopia and Sudan.

Many migrants are taking the dangerous route to Europe across the Mediterranean. Perhaps 25% of the total is from Eritrea. Why do they risk the people-smugglers and the chance of drowning?

“We are not going back”


Hugh Edwards

Earlier this month hundreds of migrants made their way, against state resistance, to the Italian-French border town of Ventimiglia, aiming to get into France.

The French authorities, like the Swiss, the Austrians and the Hungarians have denied them entry.

But the migrants have had enough of being at the mercy of an increasingly warring collection of chauvinists. They refused to budge from the town , occupying the rocky shore of the little nearby locality, Ponte San Ludovico.

Industrial news in brief


Gemma Short and Ollie Moore

UCU members at seven London colleges struck today as Solidarity went to press (Tuesday 23 June) in disputes over job losses.

Strikes will happen at College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, South Thames College, College of North West London, Croydon College, Greenwhich Community College, Hackney Community College, and Lewisham Southwark College (LeSoCo).

Unison for Corbyn

Just over 3000 delegates met in Glasgow for Unison’s National Delegate Conference, 16-19 June. 

The conference was taking place in the midst of two disputes with Glasgow City Council, as well as strikes involving members at London Met and Barnet Council.

Greece: rescue? At what price?


Theodora Polenta

At the meetings of EU prime ministers and finance ministers on 22 June, it looked like grey smoke was coming out at the end of the negotiations.

For the first time, our “partners” (except German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble) spoke as if the Greek government were nearing a deal. Whether a new deal, or another short-term extension of the existing deal, was not clear.

The latest proposal, submitted by the Greek government in the early hours of Monday morning 22 June, has superseded the previous 47-page “memorandum-lite” document.

Tories rob poorest families


Ed Maltby

The government is threatening to cut child tax credits, a move which the Institute for Fiscal Studies says would take £1,400 per year from 3.7 million of the poorest families.

The Resolution Foundation point out that this is a piece of regressive taxation. It would mostly affect the poorest 30% of households and leave the richest 40% almost entirely untouched. But the Conservatives are selling this move — surreally — as a means of raising wages.

Free Raif Badawi!


Pete Radcliff

On 7 June the Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia upheld the increased sentence made on Saudi blogger, Raif Badawi.

Raif was charged with “setting up a website that undermines general security”, “ridiculing Islamic religious figures”, and “going beyond the realm of obedience” in December 2012 — a victim of the reaction across the region to the Arab Spring. In July 2013 he was sentenced and in May 2014 his sentence was increased to 10 years imprisonment and a 1,000 lashes to be delivered over 20 weekly sessions of 50 lashes each.

Student grant cuts planned


Monty Shield

Since its foundation in 1990, the Student Loans Company has been growing.

It is the body which handles maintenance loans — loans which could be about to increase.

It has recently been reported that the government plans to reduce student maintenance grants before eventually removing them altogether. They plan to push students who currently receive grants into taking higher loans by increasing the amount of maintenance loan open to poorer students.

Rent strike wins compensation

Solidarity interviewed David Dahlborn, the Halls Accommodation Officer at UCL Student’s Union who has been very influential in organising the rent strike in two of the university halls.

Solidarity: How did the idea of a rent strike first come about at UCL?

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