Solidarity 582, 17 February 2021

Myanmar: solidarity against the coup

The Burmese military is stepping up repression to secure the coup it launched on 1 February, but facing strong resistance – mass street protests (in their eleventh consecutive day as we go to press) plus widespread strikes and workers’ actions. (See here for our report last week, with some photos, and here for the week before.) In the last three days armoured military vehicles have appeared on the streets of some cities. Water cannons, rubber bullets and perhaps live rounds have been used against protesters. There is an intermittent internet blackout, prominent social media activists have been...

Social care: only a fully public system will do

Recent Covid data has underlined the alarming state of social care in the UK. Yet the biggest union of social care workers, Unison, has responded by allying with the very people overseeing this dire situation. Not that far off a quarter of the UK’s virus-connected deaths so far, over 26,000, have been in care homes. That includes over 7,000 this year. Meanwhile between March and December there were 79 deaths per 100,000 social care workers, as opposed to 31.4 among workers in general (among women, 35.9 vs 16.8). Among frontline care home and home care workers, the figures were 109.9 for men...

Chinese state still has defender in British media

On February 4, Ofcom, the media watchdog, revoked the UK broadcast licence of China Global Television Network (CGTN), the Chinese state’s English-language television channel. The grounds were that it is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and not the licence-holder, Star China Media Limited. That the licence-holder has editorial oversight of the channel’s output is a legal requirement. Fiona Edwards, of the “No Cold War” international organising committee, responded in the Morning Star (6-7 February) that the decision was “an outrageous act of censorship which reveals that the West’s...

Hong Kong faces wave of trials

On 16 February, Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions general secretary Lee Cheuk-yan went into court for his trial for alleged “unauthorised assembly” on 18 August 2019. He said: “Let’s uphold the fundamental rights, freedoms and democracy. As 2021 is the year of the Ox, I wish everyone to be as strong as an ox and persistence for democracy… “It should be the police, the Department of Justice and the Hong Kong government to be put on trial, because they deprived us of the right to assembly and demonstration, which is protected constitutionally”. The 18 August 2019 protest, against police...

The China-capitalist-Tory nexus

UK-based banks HSBC and Standard Chartered have come under attack for their collaboration with the governments of Hong Kong and China. Consider also Jardine Matheson, one of the top 200 trading companies in the world, with assets of £49 billion and a turnover of £40 billion. They own a significant proportion of Hong Kong’s very expensive real estate. Soon after the imposition of the National Security Law [NSL], Jardine Matheson put full-page advertisements in pro-Beijing Chinese newspapers Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po in support of the NSL, declaring that “the rule of law” and “One Country, Two...

Activist agenda: Asyum-seekers, Uyghur solidarity

The Labour Campaign for Free Movement is celebrating a victory: the Home Office backing down from plans to house up to 200 asylum seekers in prefab accommodation next to Yarl’s Wood detention centre. Their “official” reason is that anticipated extra demand to house asylum seekers never materialised. But... Students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) are moving a motion to their student union general meeting to campaign in solidarity with the Uyghurs: more at the Uyghur Solidarity Campaign website. • All campaign links and info, and suggested wordings for labour-movement...

Defend NEU activists, stop the victimisations!

When trying to keep your workplace safe during the pandemic, when what you do could save lives, how would you expect your boss to respond? Maybe with some appreciation or a grudging “thank you”? The reality in many cases is that union reps are facing bullying and harassment for trade union activity during the pandemic. Louise Lewis of Kirklees National Education Union, John Boken of Shropshire NEU, Tracy McGuire of Darlington NEU, and Kirstie Paton of Greenwich NEU are just four of the activists who are currently facing victimisation for supporting staff and for raising safety issues during...

Turkish government attacks LGBTI+ activists

The protests at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul have continued: at the beginning of this year, President Erdoğan appointed a puppet rector against the wishes of students and university workers. Much of the recent “culture war” around the protests has focused on LGBTI+ people. During an art show at the university, a piece of art showed the Kaaba (the large black cube in Mecca which is the final destination of the Hajj) alongside a rainbow flag. Students involved in this were arrested, and the Minister of the Interior Süleyman Soylu called them “four LGBT perverts” on Twitter. The state also...

Making buildings safe in future

Jon Wharnsby, North East London area secretary for the Fire Brigades Union, spoke to Solidarity. Under the cover of resolving the issue of dangerous cladding, the Tories are hitting working-class people twice over. On one hand, there’s an arbitrary limit of 18m on the height of buildings for which grants will be available. Home-owners in buildings below that will have to take out thousands in government loans. On the other hand they’re paying out £3.5bn to companies to do the work on taller buildings, so we’re all paying as tax-payers too. There will be a levy on developers but it will only...

Coal-mine backtrack

Cumbria’s Labour county council has announced that it will reconsider the development of a new deep coal mine. A spokesperson for the council said this was due to the official Climate Change Committee’s advice in December 2020 with regards to the UK’s sixth carbon budget. It does not take a rocket scientist to work out that digging coal to burn, whether for electricity or steel-making, is not a good way to reduce carbon emissions. Whilst the current trend might look like it is going against new coal, the inconsistency and lack of alternative economic opportunity undermines any climate ambition...

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