Solidarity 584, 3 March 2021

Workers' control and the Chicago model

On 6 February, the Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) issued a “framework... relating to resumption of in-person instruction” to its membership, and their vote to ratify was reported on 10 February. That framework included familiar features. Every CPS (Chicago Public Schools) facility must have sufficient hand sanitiser, disinfectant wipes, “sneeze guards”, medical grade face coverings, and PPE. But some is unfamiliar — and can be a model for us in schools, and other workplaces too. The framework agreement says: “The Union and the Board [management] will create two levels of Covid-19 safety...

Tax the rich to unwind inequality

Economists on a Wealth Tax Commission reported in December 2020 in favour of a small one-off wealth tax to raise £260 billion over five years. Britain has the lowest rate of tax on corporate profits among big, rich countries — 19% where the US rate is 26%, Germany 30%, France 32%. To really “build back” for equality, we need to win democratic public ownership over the bulk of the business, financial, and real-estate wealth of the top few per cent, the bosses and bankers. Even short of that, there is overwhelming reason to tax the rich for reconstruction costs. Advance reports of the 3 March...

Vaccines: requisition the patents

Producing vaccines fast and distributing them widely has become a top priority. India and South Africa have pushed for a world waiver on vaccine patents, a sharing of “intellectual property”, to maximise production. No rich country has supported them. The World Health Organisation has set up a Covid Technology Access Pool to share vaccine know-how. No big pharmaceutical company has supported it. Moderna and Pfizer expect huge profits from their vaccines. Many of the companies with big vaccine-production facilities are little involved in the vaccine roll-out, because they don’t have “their own”...

Genocide denialists at the Morning Star

TheDaily Worker had a shameful record of justifying or denying the Stalinist show trials of the 1930s and the systematic denial of basic human rights in the USSR and Eastern Europe after the war. It had nothing to say against Stalin’s mass deportation of the Crimean Tatars and other peoples during World War 2, or against China’s treatment of the people of Tibet. You could argue, however, that it never sunk so low as to attempt to justify or deny genocide. Its successor, the Morning Star, is doing just that. On Friday 26 February, the Morning Star carried three articles about China. Inevitably...

Women's Fightback: More services, fewer jails!

The government has announced a ÂŁ150m plan to create 500 new prison places for women. It says that the extra places are needed because an extra 20,000 police officers will lead to more female arrests. Prisons are filled with people whose lives have been made especially difficult by the brutality of capitalism: the poor, the homeless, those with mental health and addiction, those who experience racism. Two-thirds of women in prison are survivors of domestic abuse. Over half experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse during their childhood. Coercive and abusive relationships can serve to...

Activist agenda: Student Uyghur solidarity; Safe and Equal budget day protest

Students at SOAS university in London passed a Uyghur solidarity motion by an 86% majority at an online union general meeting on 22 February. The Ugyhur Solidarity Campaign will be urging other student unions to do similar. ND Labour is supporting Safe and Equal’s Budget Day online protests (3 March) demanding full sick and isolation pay for all. Some neurodivergent people are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, especially those with mental ill-health and/or learning disabilities and those who live in care homes. • All links and info on these and other campaigns, and suggested words for...

The climate movement and the workers' movement

Protest outside the Vestas wind turbine factory (on the Isle of Wight, 2009), in support of the workers' occupation to stop it closing Often, when you speak to people in the youth-led environmental movement, you encounter people who don’t think climate change has anything to do with the liberation of oppressed groups – the working class, LGBTQ people, people of colour, and so on. It can be frustrating. One’s instinct might be to dismiss them as "bourgeois" or as having antagonistic class interests. But “to write people off lightly is not the mark of an organiser” (Ray Dunne, Trotskyist union...

New repression in Hong Kong

On Sunday 28 February 47 participants in Hong Kong’s democratic primaries last June were charged with “conspiracy to commit subversion”, a charge that brings a possible life sentence. The hearing of bail requests from the 47 slowed down court proceedings. Only six were heard before the normal end of court business. The court continued until 2:30am, when Clarisse Yeung, one of the defendants, collapsed and had to be taken to hospital. Another three were also taken to hospital, including Leung Kwok Hung. It looks as though all bail will be refused and all will be remanded in prison for the next...

Linking up against council cuts

A Zoom meeting on 23 February, “Fighting Local Government Cuts”, hosted by Lambeth branch of the public services union Unison, brought together activists across local government unions, community campaigns and the Labour Party. Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Labour councillor James McAsh spoke on the national context for cuts. There was a speaker from each of the major unions in local government and schools, Unison, Unite, GMB, and the NEU. Shona Jemphrey, a member of Momentum’s National Coordinating Group and chair of Momentum’s Local Government Working Group, announced a relaunch of the...

Punishment without trial

The UK Supreme Court has upheld the government’s removal of citizenship from East London woman Shamima Begum, who went to Syria six years ago to support Daesh / ISIS. The court said that Begum has a right to contest the decision, but the government has a right to bar her from re-entering the UK, which means she cannot exercise the right to contest it. Begum devoted herself to supporting a monstrous, blood-soaked ideology and movement (though she was only 15 when she went). But the removal of her citizenship is a setback, not a victory, for human rights. Since 2003 the UK government’s legal...

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