Solidarity 129, 20 March 2008

Solidarity 3/129

Published on: Wed, 19/03/2008 - 23:22

We demand freedom for Tibet; press for action by teachers against Gordon Brown's pay freeze and for a better education system; start a series of interviews with Marxist economists about the current crisis; and much more. Download pdf.

“Direct contact with Iraqi unionists is our reason for being”

Published on: Thu, 20/03/2008 - 21:11

Riki Lane

Kathy Black spoke for US Labor Against War (USLAW) at a meeting at Melbourne Trade on 12 March. Riki Lane summarises her speech.

USLAW is a rank and file initiative, not an official wing of the AFL-CIO. Its achievements are quite historic.

It now has almost 200 affiliates, representing three million workers. They have managed to avoid the “hardhats versus hippies” syndrome of the anti-Vietnam war movement, and to turn out a contingent of 4,000 unionists to a major anti war demonstration.

They have affiliates in both the AFL-CIO and the split off “Change to Win” federation; they have managed

Let Mehdi Kazemi stay!

Published on: Thu, 20/03/2008 - 21:10

David Broder

Mehdi Kazemi is a 19 year old gay man being threatened with deportation to Iran. His case has hit the headlines because he would be in almost certain danger of arrest and execution if the government sent him back to his homeland. Furthermore, the threat hanging over him exposes the racism and homophobia of the immigration controls system.

Mehdi originally came to London to study English in 2004, but in April 2006 he learnt from his uncle that his boyfriend back in Iran had been arrested by the authorities. Under torture he had been forced to reveal the names of his lovers, and was then

In Brief: Northern Rock, Shelter, Tube, Driving examiners strike

Published on: Thu, 20/03/2008 - 21:07

Driving examiners strike

The pay and jobs disputes in the Department for Transport (DfT) continue. Following a one day strike on 29 February by seven of the eight bargaining units within DfT, staff in the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) took a day of action on 6 March. The union in DfT has followed this up with targeted action in the Driving Standards Agency. This targeted action will mean that administrative staff take a half day’s strike on 20 March. Driving examiners take a 2.5 hour strike on the 20th and a 1.5 hour strike on the 25th. The union calculates that this action will nearly

Giving them the measles

Published on: Thu, 20/03/2008 - 21:02

Ed Maltby

A large teachers’ strike has been called for Tuesday 18 March in France, with teachers in many schools voting to strike indefinitely. As the preparations for this are underway, the JCR (the LCR’s youth wing) has been mobilising to get word out to lycée (roughly equivalent to post-16/FE college) students, at a time when the organisation has identified expansion into that age group as a priority. I spent a day touring lycées in the south east of the city with two other comrades from my branch, handing out an A4 youth bulletin called La Rougeole (The Measle: online archive of PDFs here: http:/

The Beijing Olympics and class struggle

Published on: Thu, 20/03/2008 - 20:59

Paul Hampton

The Olympic spectacular in August this year is likely to be another step on China’s march towards great power status. For sure the media will marvel at the incredible stadia, the clean streets of the capital and the immensity of the country.

So spare a thought for the workers on Beijing’s Olympic construction sites, working for about US$5 a day, often not getting paid until the end of the year and sometimes not at all. To bring the sporting showpiece to the world, workers are toiling at least ten hours a day. They don’t get weekends off, nor any paid holiday, and most have no contract or

Why the left should not back Obama

Published on: Thu, 20/03/2008 - 20:57

Barry Finger

The inconclusive outcome of the Democratic Party primaries to date suggests an increasing certainty that the nomination process may only resolve itself during the August convention. The so-called “super delegates,” the skeletal deposits of the party — its elected officials and functionaries — may have the decisive say. Under that scenario, the convention portends the ugly spectacle of a Democratic Party in disarray, torn between democracy and bureaucracy, and unable to unite should the result upend the popular vote tally.

The Democratic National Committee is scrambling to avoid this nightmare

Anti-Tamil terror in Sri Lanka

Published on: Thu, 20/03/2008 - 20:54

Robin Sivapalan

The national conflict in Sri Lanka, so little reported in the mainstream UK media, is visibly deepening. In 2006, the recently elected president Mahinda Rajapakse in effect ended a ceasefire agreement brokered by the Norwegians in 2002.

The Sri Lankan Army launched an offensive on the east of the island to wrest control from the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE), successfully capturing all its strongholds there. 220,000 people fled the area between April 2006 and March 2007, and their land was seized by the military for the establishment of free trade zones; most of these Tamil people

US West Coast dockers protest against war

Published on: Thu, 20/03/2008 - 20:53

Jack Staunton

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union conference in San Francisco has passed a motion “calling on unions and working people in the US and internationally to mobilize for a “No Peace No Work Holiday” on May 1, 2008 for 8 hours to demand an immediate end to the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of US troops from the Middle East”.

Their strike call is reminiscent of the actions taken at the outbreak of the war in Iraq by train drivers in Motherwell and Italian dockers who refused to transport arms, as well as the May 2007 teachers’ pickets of docks in

Reject the review — fight for real democracy!

Published on: Thu, 20/03/2008 - 20:50

Daniel Randall

It has been some time since there was any meaningful link between the real struggles faced by the working class majority of students and the debates that took place at the annual conference of what is, officially, their union – the NUS. This year that disconnection will be as acute as ever, and (more significantly) we may see the end of the potential to ever reconcile it.

If the new constitution that will be voted on at this year’s conference – the result of a profoundly undemocratic “Governance Review” – is ratified, NUS will essentially be voting to abolish itself. Conference will be

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