Solidarity 533, 5 February 2020

Sanders and the unions

Published on: Wed, 05/02/2020 - 13:12

Eric Lee

Bernie Sanders has introduced a new phrase into American politics: “working class.”

For decades, hardly anyone has used those two words together. It was far more common to speak of the “middle class” or, more recently, “working families”. By employing the language of class, Sanders has staked out his claim to be the candidate of the trade unions.

In early 2016, when Sanders’ chances of getting elected were considered to be around zero, the leaders of most major American unions rushed to endorse Hillary Clinton. In most cases, members were not asked who they supported, and to many union leaders

Health workers strike in Hong Kong

Published on: Wed, 05/02/2020 - 13:08

Chen Ying

Today, 3 February, over 2,000 health workers went on strike, after an overwhelming ballot held over the weekend in favour of action to press their two demands, and after the Government refused to meet with them:

1) The HKSAR Government must close its border with China to prevent more and more people infected with the Wuhan novel-coronavirus from coming in.
2) The HKSAR Government must secure sufficient masks, clothing and other equipment to enable hospital staff to carry out their work with sufficient protection against the virus.

With more health workers ready to join the strike tomorrow, the

Mobilising for COP26 in Glasgow

Published on: Wed, 05/02/2020 - 12:58

Peter Burton, Dale Street and Misha Zubrowski

About a hundred people attended the “Campaign against Climate Change” (CACC) conference in Glasgow on Saturday 1 February.
There were speakers from a wide variety of different campaigns who spoke in the two sessions aimed at mobilising for COP26 in Glasgow in November this year.

Key themes were 1) how to build for COP26 with a heavy focus on how to get more Trade Unions taking action for Green jobs, 2) a just transition to renewables, and 3) campaigning for Free Public Transport.

Two school student strikers announced future school strike dates. They have received invites to speak at STUC

Stop West Bank annexation!

Published on: Wed, 05/02/2020 - 12:55

Colin Foster

On Saturday 1 February, some 2,000 Israelis, Jews and Arabs, demonstrated in Tel Aviv against the “Trump plan” for Israel-Palestine, and the threats by leading Israeli politicians Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz to use the “plan” as licence to move quickly to annex large areas of the West Bank.

According to the Israeli press, the other opposition to annexation (this one behind closed doors) comes from the top brass of Israel’s armed forces, who calculate that it would create reverberating problems for them.

Early talk from Netanyahu of pushing through annexation this week has faded, but it

The Morning Star’s “identity politics”

Published on: Wed, 05/02/2020 - 12:50

Jim Denham

As the Brexit battle raged, the Morning Star identified a new and fearsome force, threatening working class unity and making rational debate impossible: identity politics (sometimes also known as the “culture war” and, more recently, by the single word “woke”).

An editorial (2 Sep 2019) playing down the significance of Johnson’s prorogation of parliament (“an extra few days to the habitual parliamentary break”), denounced “the one reactionary aspect that threatens to engulf the whole debate… the identity politics now gripping large parts of the pro-Remain, anti-Brexit movement.”

Notice that


Published on: Wed, 05/02/2020 - 12:36

Bob Carnegie’s interview in Solidarity 530 Tackling the union bureaucracies is instructive for understanding trade unions in the current period.

As Bob says, some of the problems are not that new, but I was reminded strongly of the situation in the railway industry in Britain.
The overwhelming majority of organised train drivers in Britain are members of Aslef, a union with membership open only to employees responsible for the “operation of trains”. The industrial union on the job, the RMT, has members
across the grades, cleaners, station staff, engineers, back office staff etc.

Aslef may

We're still for a united Europe

Published on: Wed, 05/02/2020 - 12:16


The socialist left should vocally oppose the Tories’ Brexit plans. It should argue for a united Europe, and for the UK to rejoin the EU. It should fight for the broad labour movement, including the Labour Party, to argue and campaign for this too.

Almost all the Labour-leader candidates say that we have no choice but to “move on” while the Tories “get Brexit done”. Even Emily Thornberry, the most vocally anti-Brexit candidate, says only that Labour should have been more anti-Brexit.

That is wrong. Actual, really-existing Brexit involves a range of attacks on the interests of the working class.

Labour leadership: challenge the candidates

Published on: Wed, 05/02/2020 - 12:01

Mohan Sen

Rebecca Long-Bailey has challenged the other candidates to support the commitments to public ownership in the 2019 manifesto. Richard Burgon has argued for a new pro-public ownership Clause IV in the party constitution.

Keir Starmer has backed the 2019 manifesto’s plans for higher taxes on the rich and come out for re-establishing UK-EU free movement. Dawn Butler has written in the Guardian about scrapping anti-trade union laws, though on inspection what she means is pretty fuzzy.

Even rising challenger Lisa Nandy, who some see as the most plausible leadership candidate for a right-wing

What France teaches us

Published on: Wed, 05/02/2020 - 11:40

Rachael Baylis

My decision to go on the delegation to France organised by AWL on 25-26 January had its roots in what happened on 12 December.

As a Labour activist and socialist for two years, I had a flame of hope that a left-wing government could triumph. As we all know, it didn’t. Facing an 80-seat Tory majority which will destroy communities, workers rights and environmental protections the question became — what next?

The possibility for resistance still exists and always will, so when I saw the opportunity to go and learn from the French strikes in Paris, I jumped. The only way we can resist the

Revolutionary organising in the German army in World War II

Published on: Wed, 05/02/2020 - 11:30

Paul Hampton

War-torn France 1943, occupied by the German army and administered by the Vichy regime: the tide had begun to turn against the Nazis, but they still ruled most of Europe.

The extermination of Jewish people proceeded relentlessly. Within France, the resistance was dominated by Gaullists and the Communist Party (PCF). Both expressed virulent nationalism, summed up by the slogan: “à chacun son boche” (let everyone kill a Hun).

In April 1943 Robert Cruau, a 23-year-old postal worker moved to Brest, along with Georges and Henri Berthomé. They were members of the Parti Ouvrier Internationaliste (POI

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