Solidarity 181, 23 September 2010

Birmingham council workers fight back

Published on: Thu, 23/09/2010 - 18:09

Gerry Bates

Birmingham’s Tory-Lib Dem council has become the latest in a string of public sector employers to interpret the so-called “need” to make cuts as an excuse to take a sledgehammer to their workers’ pay, terms and conditions, and indeed their jobs.

26,000 workers (the entirety of Birmingham’s local government workforce, in fact, excluding education workers) have been issued with Section 188 notices. Section 188 is a notification of intent from an employer to make a number of workers redundant; it is not a formal notice of specific redundancy, so not every worker who receives one will necessarily

Pat Longman: "The cause she fought for will become the cause of millions"

Published on: Thu, 23/09/2010 - 17:53

Daniel Randall

Around 80 of Pat Longman’s friends, family and comrades gathered in central London on Saturday 11 September to commemorate her life. Pat was a Trotskyist for 44 years, and a member of the AWL tendency for most of 39 years, until her death on 2 August from chronic liver disease.

The attendance and the speeches at the event reflected Pat’s life and spoke of a woman who was a committed revolutionary, for whom Marxism was far more than a passing teenage fad, and who was kind, compassionate and caring as a person.

John Bloxam chaired the meeting: “Pat was a revolutionary; she wanted to overthrow

The story of Clay Cross

Published on: Thu, 23/09/2010 - 17:37

In 1972, the Tory government told local councils to implement the “Housing Finance Act”, designed to claw in a bit of extra money by increasing council tenants’ rents. The context was in some ways similar to that of today — an aggressively pro-profit, anti-worker Tory government seeking to make working-class people pay for economic instability created by capitalism itself.

There was significant working-class resistance to the Act, with several Labour councils initially stating that they would refuse to implement it. We reproduce below articles from Workers' Fight (the paper of the forerunner

Trotsky in life and in history

Published on: Thu, 23/09/2010 - 17:21

Stuart Jordan

As resistance to the public service cuts grows, and the labour movement reconstitutes, it will have to relearn the lessons of the past. This is no easy task given that much of history of 20th century is written by the anti-working class forces that crushed and defeated our movement — on the one hand the bourgeoisie, on the other the Stalinists.

The legacy of Stalinism — the lies, distortions and terror — have been a cancer on working-class struggle for the past 80 years. We will need to restore the reputation of Leon Trotsky as one of the greatest working-class militants of the twentieth

The "Plebs" go on strike

Published on: Thu, 23/09/2010 - 17:15

Colin Waugh

As Ruskin students and their contacts amongst former students became aware of the drive by people in the Workers’ Educational Association and University Extension movement to take control of Ruskin, they began to organise themselves against it.

During the “strike” that followed the enforced resignation of their principal Dennis Hird, a qualitative change occurred in their strategy, as a result of which 29 of the current students, again supported by former students, threw their energies into creating a new institution, the Central Labour College.

From the early days of Ruskin Hall onwards, its

Raul Castro's "Chinese road"

Published on: Thu, 23/09/2010 - 16:51

Cuba’s Stalinist government has said it will put 500,000 workers out of state employment next year. This interview with Sam Farber explains the background. Farber is the author of numerous articles and books about the country.

What’s the background to the announcement?

SF: I think it’s important to place this in the context of the Cuban regime being in decline, and that decline being accelerated because of the terrible economic situation.

It is the result of a combination of factors. One is the irrationalities and crises generated by the bureaucratic system itself. Another is the world

Olympics: property deals, sportswear, superprofits...oh, and some sport

Published on: Thu, 23/09/2010 - 16:37

Sports fan and sports coach Daniel Randall attempts to chart a socialist course through the polluted sea of jingoistic triumphalism and exploit-yourself trickery surrounding the run-up to the 2012 Olympic Games...

With just under two years to go until London 2012, the fanfare’s surrounding the games is getting pretty deafening.

In a recent Daily Telegraph article, head-honcho and Tory toff Sebastian Coe said: “There are two years to go until the Olympic Games begin and we want everyone to start planning their once-in-a-lifetime experience in 2012.” That’s pretty intense: the Olympics is meant

Phil Woolas election probe

Published on: Thu, 23/09/2010 - 16:11

Phil Woolas, the former Labour immigration minister, faces accusations of trying to exploit anti-Muslim feeling in his successful campaign to retain the seat of Oldham East and Saddleworth. He won narrowly (103 votes) over Lib-Dem candidate Elwyn Watkins.

Woolas had alleged in election literature that Muslim extremists were backing Wakins against him. Woolas says: "My strategy was to mobilise mainstream Muslims and the white community against the extremists and to do that I had to highlight it to the white community.”

Speculators starve the poor

Published on: Thu, 23/09/2010 - 15:57

Corn prices have gone up since 40% since July. The European wheat price has doubled since April, and the United Nations says that “global meat prices are already at the highest in 20 years”.

The UN's overall food price index is up 15% over the last year, and the odds must be that further price rises will work their way through from the rise in price of animal feed.

In Britain, these trends will squeeze living standards of the low-paid, and people losing their jobs. In large parts of the world, they mean desperate hunger, malnutrition, or even starvation, as happened during the previous world

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