Solidarity 017, 22 November 2002

Art and the market

Published on: Thu, 28/11/2002 - 02:05

This year's obligatory row over the Turner prize for art has been kicked off by culture minister Kim Howells, who thinks the whole lot, exhibited at the Tate, "cold, mechanical, conceptual bullshit." My own knowledge and understanding of visual art is too limited for me to make a judgement on the Turner nominees. But bigger questions are raised.

In all the arts there are fashions which work rather mysteriously, commercial pressures, and "arbiters of taste" - people employed to make decisions about, for example, who gets commissions, who makes a living, what reaches the public. According to

Labour movement news in brief

Published on: Thu, 28/11/2002 - 01:13
  • Felixstowe wage deal
  • Rails strikes
  • Airport strike
  • the global picture:
    • Bermuda teachers' strike

  • Bush use 'anti-terrorism' to break strikes

Felixstowe wage deal

Workers at the Port of Felixstowe are to get a pay rise of up to 25%. In the late 1980s - after the abolition of the National Dock Labour Scheme - new workers at the port of Felixstowe started to be paid a lower wage for doing the same job as existing workers. Currently employees on newer contracts earn about £5,000 less a year than those on older contracts. Now all workers will have the same pay.

A new or so-called 'Blue'

Stop sell off in Royal Mail!

Published on: Wed, 27/11/2002 - 01:01

By a postal worker

Royal Mail still want to sell off its Cash Handling & Distribution section. In a ballot of postal workers affected by their union, The Communication Workers Union, there was a 95% yes vote for strike action.
This sell-off would be the most significant privatisation in the Post Office so far and has huge implications for all postal workers. Under the sell-off plan workers would not have the option to revert to Operational Postal Grades, take early retirement or even leave under the a new redundancy package.

Royal Mail have now dropped their plan to sell the business to

The power of solidarity 1913-14: how Dublin's workers built their union

Published on: Wed, 27/11/2002 - 00:04

During the 1980s and 90s Margaret Thatcher's government introduced legislation to shackle the trade unions. New Labour has kept most of these anti-union laws. One of the central aims of these attacks was to end "secondary", or sympathetic strikes. The sympathetic strike has always been a tremendously powerful weapon in the arsenal of the working class. The Tories were trying to reverse working class gains of the 1960s and 70s, when solidarity strikes were used time and again.

When they come out in this kind of solidarity with other workers it is class action far more advanced than mere

China: New faces, same path

Published on: Tue, 26/11/2002 - 00:10

By Paul Hampton

China's Stalinist rulers have appointed a new leadership to continue the turn to capitalism begun in 1978.

President Jiang Zemin handed the leadership of the Communist Party to his deputy, Hu Jintao, but retains a tight grip behind the throne. Hu was designated Jiang's successor as far back as 1992 by Deng Xiaoping - the butcher of Tiananmen Square who led China from a USSR-style Stalinist economic system towards capitalism after 1978.

Hu cut his teeth as the party secretary in Tibet. His rule there began with the bloody suppression of an uprising in March 1989, when the army

Tube workers make a stand for safety and solidarity

Published on: Mon, 25/11/2002 - 21:05

The Tube workers' union RMT has called a strike ballot after London Underground management said that Tube workers who refused to work in conditions which they judged unsafe without a proper fire service would have their pay docked. The Underground bosses refused to give the union a guarantee that it would not take disciplinary action against those workers who took a stand for safety.

Many Tube workers - mainly drivers - took a firm stand for safety during the Fire Brigades Union strike on 13-14 November. Service was disrupted on nearly every line. The Government and the London Underground

Twenty Italian activists arrested

Published on: Mon, 25/11/2002 - 18:02

Mass protests against jailings

By Olivier Delbeke

Rome, Florence and Naples saw large demonstrations on Saturday 16 November against the police swoop which arrested 20 activists after the European Social Forum in Florence and the huge anti-war demonstration on 9 November in the same city.

Despite a lot of scaremongering in advance by Italy's right wing government, there was no violence at the Forum or the demonstration. Police kept away from the demonstration, and it was efficiently stewarded by activists from Rifondazione (the Party of Communist Refoundation) and the CGIL union federation.


Solidarity with Iranian students

Published on: Mon, 25/11/2002 - 15:21

By Workers Left Unity Iran

Since 9 November Iranian students have been demonstrating for the release of all political prisoners and against a death sentence passed on a reformist Islamist academic, Aghajar. The demonstrations started when a group of about 500 students set a fire outside the Tehran University". On Monday 11th some 3,000 students gathered at Tehran University, 2,000 joined protests in Oroumiyeh and the Universities of Hamadan, Kerman, Isfahan and Tabriz held similar gatherings. By Tuesday a boycott of lectures at Tehran Unievrsity turned into a demonstration. The struggle

Top up fees furore

Published on: Mon, 25/11/2002 - 15:21

Tax the rich to fund education
By Faz Velmi

After a long period of quiet, the battle over higher education funding is once again raging in the open. As an unholy alliance of Downing Street, big business and the elite universities pushes openly for higher, or even deregulated, tuition fees, splits at the highest levels of the Labour Party suggest that all is not lost if the student and labour movements respond with clear politics and the maximum possible counter-pressure.

Suggestions that the forthcoming Government review of student funding will open the door to top up fees had already prompted

Myra Hindley and justice

Published on: Mon, 25/11/2002 - 15:20

By Gerry Bates

Someone once said that free speech is for the person whose views you despise. The question of whether you are for or against free speech only arises acutely when you loathe the "speech" whose freedom you are called upon to defend. So also with justice. Justice is for the person you hate and feel like nailing to the wall. If you are not prepared to give justice to someone you would like to see in hell, then you do not believe in justice.

Myra Hindley proves the point. She has just died after spending 37 years in jail. Ian Brady and Myra Hindley were Nazi-worshippers, sexually

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