Solidarity 615, 24 November 2021

Nodeep Kaur on the farmers' and workers' struggle that beat Modi

On 19 November, India’s farmers triumphed after a year-long struggle, as Narendra Modi’s government announced it would repeal its neo-liberal agricultural reforms. In January, at a high point of that struggle, working-class activist Nodeep Kaur was arrested, held for 45 days and subjected to violence and abuse by the police. She briefly shot to international prominence after Meena Harris, niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris, tweeted about her case. See here for a short background article on Nodeep’s family and her arrest and treatment in jail, and here for a longer one on her and her...

Abolish GCSEs, turn the tide on toxic testing

Over the last ten years Workers’ Liberty school workers have been at the forefront of pushing the debate about testing in schools in the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and in its successor the National Education Union (NEU). In 2019 we wrote a motion passed at the NEU’s national conference which committed the union to an indicative ballot of members to boycott the statutory tests in primary schools. The ballot result was strong, but sadly not built upon. Last year, we wrote a motion, passed with amendments, that committed the union to call for the abolition of GCSEs. On 23 October Joint...

War sharpens in Ethiopia

A ceasefire is looking unlikely in Ethiopia, as tensions remain high in the conflict between the central government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. On 2 November, the federal government declared a state of emergency, and granted authorities the power to conscript “any military-age citizen who has weapons”. Five days later, a pro-military demonstration was held in the capital, with tens of thousands of attendees, denouncing efforts to stop the conflict through negotiations. Recently, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed even called on all Ethiopians “to organise and march... using every weapon...

The churches and the mobs in the battle for human freedom

This puncturing of the smug self-satisfaction of the Protestant Unionists in this article is valuable, not least in teaching socialists why we must fight religious bigotry in all its forms. The article is also an illustration of the limitations of the “but-what-about…” riposte in politics. Connolly told the truth about the past of the Anglicans and the Scottish Presbyterians, but the horrors he recounts were by and large things of the past. Catholic clericalism was very much of the present... And the future. Some of the details were different, but Lecky’s-Connolly’s account of the Presbyterian...

Women's Fightback: Taliban ban women actors

The Taliban have banned dramas and soap operas which include women actors. This comes as part of newly announced directive from the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. The Taliban also called on women television journalists to wear the hijab when presenting. The Ministry called for banning films or programmes that were against Islamic and Afghan values, a vague formulation. “These are not rules but a religious guideline”, ministry spokesman Hakif Mohajir told AFP. Afghan television channels have offered a wide range of programmes — outside of news the most popular have...

Couriers to strike from 6 December

Sheffield’s JustEat food courier workforce – employed by gig-economy firm Stuart – is set to demonstrate on Sunday 28 November and strike from 6 December, against a 24% pay cut. JustEat couriers, organised in IWGB, were previously able to win a postponement of this pay cut, in Sheffield only, following a militant response. As gig-economy firm Stuart is clearly in turmoil, having lost a big chunk of their JustEat contract to competitor Scoober, drivers now hope to be able to defeat the pay cut once and for all. Sheffield Labour MPs have spoken out in support of the IWGB couriers, including...

Victory at Sage care home

Strikes by care workers at the Sage care home in north London have won significant pay increases. From 1 December, care workers, domestic, and maintenance staff will receive a pay increase to £10.85 an hour. This represents a minimum pay increase of 11%. All other staff will receive a pay rise of 5%. The dispute at the care home began in March 2020, and has seen workers, who are members of the United Voices of the World union (UVW) strike several times, most recently in October 2021. Trustees of the care home include property magnate Benzion Freshwater, who has a net worth of over £2 billion...

Goldsmiths out for three weeks

Three weeks of strike action began at Goldsmiths University of London on Tuesday 23 November with picketing, a strike rally and the start of an extensive teach-out programme. The first day of action was the culmination of weeks of preparation, and the product of a determination to beat redundancies and damaging restructuring at the college. The day before the strike, Goldsmiths Warden (top manager) Frances Corner issued a disingenuous message (one of many) urging University and College Union (UCU) members to call off their strike, claiming that she is listening, and implying UCU are being...

Unison battle heats up

On 2 November the left narrowly won the Labour Link National Committee elections in the public services union Unison. With union President Paul Holmes suspended, we expected a dead heat in votes between left and right at the first Labour Link Committee meeting on 16 November. In fact, the right narrowly won all contested votes, because the Labour Party had expelled (for links to Socialist Appeal) Lilly Boulby, who was elected to the Labour Link Committee from the union’s National Executive (NEC). The right won Chair and Vice Chair of the Committee, and the casting vote where votes are tied...

Diary of a Tube worker: Trying to do the sensible thing

“Well, you are early,” the Train Manager says to me as I come downstairs to ask what is happening with my train. “I could just call you on the platform if there is an issue”. “I am giving myself plenty of walking time, my meal relief has finished but I can see my train number isn’t running yet”. I wonder why me trying to do us both a favour is so controversial… “I have no idea. I will call service control... Hello controller, I am ringing about Train 420. I have the driver here… Oh right, yeah, I did make a note. OK, that’s fine”. She hangs up and goes over to a sheet of paper. “Yeah, sorry...

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