Solidarity 249, 13 June 2012

Solidarity with Spanish miners!

Published on: Wed, 13/06/2012 - 09:53

Spanish coal miners, located mainly in the northern region of Asturias, went on indefinite strike against the austerity measures of Spanish prime Minister Mariano Rajoy at the end of May.

Fuelled by massive property speculation — a bubble which has now well and truly burst — the dictates of the IMF and the deteriorating capitalist crisis, the Spanish economy nosedived into recession in the second half of 2008 and since then millions of jobs have been lost. With 30 billion euros of cuts, as well as huge tax increases, Spain also now has one of the highest unemployment rates in the EU.


Banning families

Published on: Wed, 13/06/2012 - 09:49

Tory Home Secretary Theresa May plans new legislation to make it easier to deport refugees and asylum seekers by clamping down on their right to stay in the UK if they have family connections here.

The “right to family life” is enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and means that (for example) refugees can legally remain in the country if they are married to a British national. May is now claiming that the right is “not absolute”.

May’s new proposals will mean that the spouses of UK nationals will have no automatic right to live in the country unless their spouse

Greece challenges ECB

Published on: Wed, 13/06/2012 - 09:46

The left can win in Greece’s election on 17 June. And if it does, a left government’s pro-worker policies will predictably cause screams of outrage from the bosses in Greece and the EU.

ECB and EU bosses will probably quickly kick Greece out of the eurozone.

Yet Syriza is not preparing its own supporters and the working class generally for the consequences of confrontation with the Troika, the markets and the Greek ruling class.

Some Syriza leaders argue that when they form a new government, the Troika’s bluff will be called and they will be forced to back down and make big concessions. They

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 13/06/2012 - 09:43

Cleaning workers at St. George’s Hospital have won the London Living Wage, as well as pushing back bosses’ plans for job losses and cuts.

The cleaners, who are employed by Ocean Contract Cleaning Ltd., began their campaign defensively when bosses proposed a reduction in hours for all workers and lay-offs for some. Organising through the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the cleaners began a campaigning of petitioning, leafleting, and protests, which soon built up enough momentum to not only stop the attacks but go on the offensive to win pay increases to the London Living Wage that Ocean

Reviving action in universities

Published on: Wed, 13/06/2012 - 09:33

The congress of the University and College Union (UCU, 8-10 June) voted to resume industrial action over pension cuts for workers in “pre-1992” institutions.

A work-to-rule will be reinstated with immediate effect, and a sustained programme of industrial action in autumn will be worked out over the summer and decided upon at a special conference in September. Congress also voted to recognise that the suspension of the work-to-rule, carried at a pre-1992 conference in January, was a mistake.

The resumption of industrial action is excellent news and happened in spite of the General Secretary

Scotland: to get trade union unity, break up the unions?

Published on: Wed, 13/06/2012 - 09:30

An article in the current issue of Scottish Socialist Voice, newspaper of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), proposes that the existing British trade union movement should be broken up into its national components.

The article begins with a lament for the opposition to Scottish independence expressed by unions at the recent congress of the Scottish TUC.

This hostility to Scottish independence is attributed to the fact that the STUC’s biggest affiliates are all “signed-up supporters of the Labour Party ... British-based organisations ... run by London-based bureaucracies.”

But, continues the

Rank and file teachers' conference: a forum and a voice

Published on: Wed, 13/06/2012 - 09:25

The 16 June Local Associations conference of school teachers will discuss a statement from its organising committee resolving to “build a network of local associations and school reps that will enable teacher trade unionists to exchange information, debate and discuss strategy... and organise solidarity”.

Tom Unterrainer suggests why and how.

A rank and file network needs the maximum amount of democracy and accountability as it seeks to test and extend such mechanisms within the union as a whole. On a national level, it should be based on delegates from representative groups of workers — most

9-5ers Anthem

Published on: Wed, 13/06/2012 - 09:20

While perhaps less accessible than some of hip-hop’s more obvious “protest songs” (Public Enemy’s ‘Fight The Power’ or KRS-One’s ‘Sound of da Police’, for example), this brooding, imagery-heavy piece from Aesop Rock’s seminal album ‘Labor Days’ finds the rapper in his most explicitly “political” register.

The “We the American working population” chant (performed acapella on the recorded track) is a stark, no-frills attack on the shackling effect of work on human creative potential, and contrasts brilliantly with the dense, figurative content of the song’s other verses.

Even in the verses,

Labour Briefing: a double coup?

Published on: Wed, 13/06/2012 - 09:17

Earlier this year the left saw the equivalent of a small dinosaur walking down the street. Labour Briefing magazine had, as its front page, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s slogan “Prenez le pouvoir” — “take the power”.

Mélenchon wouldn’t have known it, but for the inner core of Briefing, and for older readers, the slogan evokes a lot.

The people who launched Briefing in February 1980 were veterans of the Revolutionary Communist League of the 1970s, a would-be Trotskyist group distinguished from others by its slogan “Labour Take The Power”. For them that meant a call on the Labour Party, not just to take

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