Solidarity 577, 13 January 2021

6 January 2021, 6 February 1934

Many historians, in hindsight, regard the 6 February 1934 attempt by mostly far-right army-veteran groups to storm France’s Chamber of Deputies, over a corruption scandal, as a blip. They can make a case. The 6 February riot was smaller than 4 January’s in Washington. The police were solid against it, indeed shot down the protesters, killing 16 and injuring 600-odd. The riot never got near breaching the parliament building. The biggest contingent, the Croix du Feu, went home when trouble started. Politically, the protest was a mix of small groups. The French far right in 1934 was weaker than...

The organised far right on 6 January

On 6 July, at the storming of the US Capitol, a number of far-right groups — as distinguished from the “regular” far-right Trump supporters — were present. Among them were the Proud Boys, donning orange hats to distinguish themselves. While their founder Gavin McInnes denies having been there, a man looking suspiciously like him was recorded giving orders to various members of the group. Others present included militia groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers, members of which were recorded marching up the Capitol steps in body armour, holding onto each other, suggesting...

Vaccine nationalism in Israel

After a deal with Pfizer, Israel is leading the world in Covid-19 vaccinations, with a goal of vaccinating everyone over 16 by the end of March. It has already vaccinated about 20% of its population. It is not providing vaccines to the millions of Palestinians living under its rule in the Occupied Territories, let alone to Gaza. Israel may have completed its vaccination programme by the time Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank start getting vaccinated. Israel has done badly in the pandemic, with lockdowns lifted too fast and inadequate social policies. It is now in the middle of its third...

Towards telecoms strike in BT?

In December, BT Group workers in the Communication Workers Union (CWU) voted by a 97.9% majority for industrial action to defend job security and conditions, in a consultative ballot. A BT Group worker and CWU activist explains the background to the dispute and other struggles in BT. The national consultative ballot against job cuts and compulsory redundancies across BT is the logical result of the failure of industrial leadership by the CWU Telecoms Executive for over a decade, and also of the disastrous outcome of the 2019 general election for communication workers. The current faction in...

Barnoldswick workers consider offer

Workers at Rolls Royce’s plant in Barnoldswick are considering a proposal from their employer which could end a weeks-long strike at the factory. Unite suspended its latest strikes, which began on 4 January and were due to continue until 22 January, when the offer was received. The union has described the offer as a “landmark deal”. 350 jobs at the Barnoldswick site were threatened by Rolls Royce’s plan to offshore the factory’s work to countries including Singapore. The cuts are part of a wider tranche of job cuts planned by Rolls Royce, totalling 9,000. Unite says the employer’s offer would...

Deliveroo goes to the stock market

Deliveroo is set to become publicly traded in the first quarter of 2021. This “initial public offering” (IPO) will mean incredible wealth for a few; cheated, red-faced shareholders a few weeks down the line; and intensified exploitation for food delivery workers. Deliveroo is not currently publicly traded on the stock exchange. Rather than raising money by selling shares (and being accountable to shareholders), the company has thus far funded itself by making impressive and boastful pitches to big private investors. Between 2014 and May 2019 it had raised over US$1bn in successive charm...

McAnea wins in Unison

Christina McAnea has been elected as the new general secretary of Unison — the first woman to head the UK’s largest union. McAnea is viewed as the continuity candidate following Dave Prentis, who is retiring after 20 years as general secretary. She takes up her post on 22 January. The full results were: Christina McAnea 63,900 (47.7%); Paul Holmes 45,220 (33.76%); Roger McKenzie 14,450 (10.79%); Hugo Pierre 10,382 (7.75%). McAnea secured less than 50% of the vote in the First Past The Post election. The combined vote of the three other candidates (all of whom stood against McAnea from the left...

"Everyone is a bit frazzled" (Diary of a Tube worker)

“And now it is in Nigeria, and it’s bad. It is the big parties spreading it. People are still going to them, they don’t know what it’s like here. I need to call my sister so she knows what happens when it is out of control. But you know it wasn’t Nigerians there that got coronavirus, it was all of us going back home and visiting. More Nollywood actresses have got it now, it is the parties I am telling you!” C is at once both the most Covid-alarmist worker on the station and also the greatest believer in the conspiracy theories associated with it. No one wipes down as many surfaces as C as they...

Kino Eye: American fascism on film

Unsurprisingly, here’s another American film. Tony Kaye’s American History X (1998) features Derek, a committed Nazi, complete with swastika tattoos and membership in the “Disciples of Christ”. He is sentenced to three years for voluntary manslaughter of an African-American. While imprisoned he begins to distrust the “Aryan Brotherhood”, the prisoners’ fascist network. Instead, he befriend’s Lamont, an African-American with whom he works in the prison laundry. On release he finds that his younger brother Danny has become a hard-line Nazi but eventually Derek persuades him to drop his views...

Covid-safety on Tube

Latest figures show that 57 transport workers in London have died from Covid-19. 42 were bus workers, highly exposed by their employers’ unforgivable foot-dragging over moving to middle-door boarding and additional distancing measures. Eight of the deaths are of Tube/rail workers, with three from Transport for London (TfL) offices, and three from outsourced employers. These were 57 workmates, friends, family members. Each leaves people devastated by their loss. On the Tube, a full train service is now being run, despite ridership being at only 18% of pre-pandemic levels. Only those workers who...

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