Solidarity 387, 9 December 2015

Syria: “Just a few more jets”, but civilians die

Submitted by cathy n on 8 December, 2015 - 8:59 Author: Simon Nelson

Hours after MPs voted for air strikes in Syria on 2 December, RAF jets carried out their first raids. The strikes are said to have targeted Daesh-controlled oil fields and military installations.

Russia, which has been bombing in Syria since 30 September, has made strikes in the biggest Daesh-controlled city, Raqqa, which may have killed up to 30 civilians in a single raid. There is little evidence that Russia’s targets were well chosen.

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Class struggle in school

Submitted by cathy n on 8 December, 2015 - 8:52 Author: Various

Win at Alfreton school

By Liam Conway

Teachers at Alfreton Grange school have won a huge victory in their dispute over the imposition of a nine period day.

Teachers at the Alfreton Grange Arts College campaigned for six weeks, and struck for eight days. When the NUT leadership engages in empty talk of social movement trade unionism, they should be looking at Alfreton Grange for a living example!

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Submitted by martin on Wed, 16/12/2015 - 15:38

Picket lines have been strong again at Tech City on 15 and 16 December.

After the 8-9 December strikes, bosses of the Aspirations chain offered concessions on the teachers' demand for a limit on observations. Indeed, they offered to institute a limit across the whole chain, not just at Tech City.

But simultaneously they withdrew a previous concession about restoring pay progression for Tech City teachers who have been denied it on grounds of performance management even though they had been given no previous warnings about performance or support to address problems.

So this week's strikes are on.

On Tuesday 15th Tech City tried to bring all the students in, offering them a later start and exemption from rules about uniform. Rumour is that teachers from another Aspirations school, in West London, were brought in to teach, or at least supervise, them, but as of Wednesday morning 16th the hard facts were not clear.

Students have supported the teachers' stand.

I was able to bring the pickets a statement of support signed by almost all the maths teachers at my school, and several of the science teachers. The pickets say that such messages of support are welcome.

Most of the teachers have already decided to leave the school at the end of this term, i.e. on Friday 18th. Only seven are continuing into next term, and one of those has already given notice that she will quit in February.

Tech City bosses say they have recruited replacement teachers, but it's not at all certain this is true. Maths and science A level teachers tend to be in short supply, and many of them will look elsewhere rather than at a school whose current teachers find it so badly mismanaged.

This dispute points to the urgency of the NUT organising across Academy chains in addition to its old local-authority-by-local-authority pattern of organising. On paper the NUT says it's working to organise across Academy chains, but on the ground there is little progress.

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Unison full-timers caught cheating

Submitted by cathy n on 8 December, 2015 - 8:48 Author: Unison member

As the ballot closed for Unison’s general secretary election on 4 December, 23 minutes of audio recording were leaked revealing a covert campaign by Unison’s full-time staff to favour incumbent Dave Prentis in clear breach of Unison rules.

Left-wing challenger John Burgess has called for an independent enquiry led by respected labour movement representatives and for any result that secures Prentis’ victory to be declared null and void.
Burgess is right. Although this mess is probably illegal, the labour movement should hold its own to account and mete out its own justice.

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Daesh is not just “blowback”

Submitted by cathy n on 8 December, 2015 - 8:45 Author: Gemma Short

The response from much of the left to parliament’s vote to commence air strikes in Syria has been characterised less by their usual collapse into the “anti-imperialism” of supporting your enemy’s enemy, than by an absence of commentary.

It is good that most of the left have shifted from an (at best) implicit backing of reactionary regimes as long as they clash with UK-US imperialism, or feel that such a position is no longer popular. Yet in most of the left, what has replaced this is either a lack of commentary on Daesh, or at worst an ill-explained ″blowback″ argument.

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A story that is not told but felt

Submitted by cathy n on 8 December, 2015 - 8:43 Author: Dave Kirk

In 1952 Patricia Highsmith was so fed up with depictions of gay women in fiction who were either punished or pitied, that she decided to write a novel about love between two women that actually reflected her life as well as the crushing hypocrisy of straight society.

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Whose revolution

Submitted by cathy n on 8 December, 2015 - 8:41 Author: Kelly Rogers

What kind of revolution takes place in the Hunger Games trilogy? The answer is not particularly clear, because the films are marked by a notable absence of politics.

As Daisy Thomas writes in her review (Solidarity 386), the key themes sweeping through the film are the powerless vs. the powerful, and the mobilising force that comes from hope, but at no point do the uprising dissidents express any kind of political vision for a world after President Snow.

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Syria, US-UK bombing, and the Kurdish struggle

Submitted by cathy n on 8 December, 2015 - 8:39 Author: Interview

Kurdish campaign activists Choulia Mola and Alican Ercol spoke to Solidarity

Some prominent Kurdish Peoples’ Protection Unit (YPG) fighters from the UK seem to have welcomed the bombing because of US air strikes supporting the battle for Kobane. How has the UK joining bombing raids in Syria been taken more widely by Kurdish organisations and people in the UK?

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Far right gains in France

Submitted by cathy n on 8 December, 2015 - 8:34 Author: Gemma Short

The Front National (FN) has won 27-30% of the vote in the first round of France’s regional elections.

This vote share is the highest the far-right party has ever gained, and they came top of the poll in half of the regions. The FN has never before had control of any region, in the 2010 regional elections they got 11% of the national vote.

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