Solidarity 372, 29 July 2015

Industrial news in brief

PCS members fighting privatisation at the National Gallery voted on 24 July for all-out strike from the start of August if the gallery does not back down. Workers have already struck for more than 50 days, as well as holding various stunts, parties and protests inside and outside the gallery. Workers will strike again on Wednesday 29 July and are holding an “alternative leaving party” for outgoing gallery director on Thursday 30 July. Sacked PCS rep Candy Udwin was due to have her appeal hearing with the gallery on 22 July, after being vindicated by a judge who said that a “tribunal would most...

Glasgow Free Pride retracts ban on drag performers

“Free Pride” is an event being organised by LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, questioning, intersex, asexual, other) people in Glasgow in response to the commercialisation of the Pride Glasgow. It is a two day “festival” and ticketed event, with prices from £8 for a day ticket to £55 for a “VIP” pass —with separate toilets and bars for those who can afford this price tag! Worse, Pride Glasgow has a vomit-inducing “happiness” theme with the Twitter hashtag (of course there’s a hashtag) #behappy. Trying to reclaim Pride so it is both political and accessible is entirely admirable and...

Cameron's hypocrisy on extremism

On 20 July 20 David Cameron spoke to a selected audience at an academy school in Birmingham about tackling violent extremism in Britain. While there were fleeting references to the far right and Islamophobia, the main focus of his speech was the extremism that led, among other things, to hundreds of young people leaving their homes in Britain to join Daesh (Islamic State). The speech was fundamentally about Islamist extremism. Cameron’s approach to tackling extremism was, as he claimed, based on four core principles. His government would confront the ideology, tackle non-violent as well as...

Fence Sitter

Fence Sitter They’re cutting help to those in need — What case to vote against? This is a tricky one indeed I’m staying on the fence Scrap targets for child poverty? My mind is wracked with doubt Perhaps, no — maybe, probably — I’m sitting this one out What’s wrong with capping benefits? Could someone please explain? There’s good things, bad things — call it quits I think I’ll just abstain Yes, voting No to welfare cuts Would lead to Labour losing! So we must show no heart or guts — My, this is so confusing! It’s been explained to me at last The logic’s mighty fine To be against, we let it...

Tories lie about 24/7 NHS

The new Tory government has wasted little time in stepping up its attacks on the NHS. Jeremy Hunt (Secretary of State for Health) has announced plans for a 24/7 NHS and all-out war on hospital consultants. This prompted a furious backlash from doctors across the country. And the hashtag #iminworkjeremy is reminding Mr Hunt that he already oversees a comprehensive 24-hour, 7-day week National Health Service. The backdrop to this latest fight between the government and NHS workers is the recent recommendations by the Doctors and Dentists Pay Review Board. The British Medical Association walked...

Fast track asylum detention unlawful

A judicial ruling, last month, has forced the Government to suspend its system of fast tracking asylum seekers’ appeals. This system leaves appellants in asylum cases detained and facing “kangaroo courts”, in a process deemed to be unlawful and ‘structurally unfair’ by the judge. 800 cases are to be reviewed, and 100 asylum seekers recently entered into the fast track detention system are to be released while this goes on. Most of those in the fast track system are to remain in detention because they face imminent deportation. The use of detained fast track has rapidly increased in recent...

Turkey breaks ceasefire with PKK

The bomb attack on the youth wing of the Socialist Party of the Oppressed, the SGDF, as their members travelled to Suruc on the Turkey–Syria border to help reconstruct Kobane, has provoked a wide ranging response from the Turkish state. The SGDF according to official accounts were attacked by a suicide bomber from Daesh (ISIS), with over 30 of their members killed. The SGDF is part of a coalition of groups with close links to the People’s Democratic Party. Press reports from across the region quote their members and supporters who are sceptical of the official claims and believe they were...

Chemical warfare in the First World War

A hundred years ago, on 22 April, poison gas was first used in warfare. Though about 95% of casualties in World War One were caused by explosives, sickness and malnutrition, there is a peculiar horror associated with the use of chemical weapons. It is also true that, apart from isolated examples, World War One was the only instance of the systematic and widespread use of gases in war. As early as 1854, the British Secretary for Science and Art, Lyon Playfair [sic], suggested bombarding the Russians in Crimea with shells filled with cacodyl cyanide, an evil-smelling substance which vapourises...

Why we need the right to strike

The Tories have wasted no time in turning their manifesto plan to further straight jacket the unions in law. Proposals in the Trade Union Bill include a 50% minimum turn out and a 40% threshold of those in favour of action in certain “key sectors”: health; education for under 17s; transport; fire services; border security and the decommissioning of nuclear plants and management of waste. Whilst these thresholds are not impossible to meet — the recent national strike action voted for by RMT members at Network Rail would have been legal under the new arrangements — they are extremely difficult....

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