Solidarity 257, 19 September 2012

Greek strikes build to 26 September

On 26 September the Greek government, led by the right-wing New Democracy party with the support of Pasok (similar to Labour) and the Democratic Left (soft-left), will take its latest round of cuts to parliament.

Some Democratic Left MPs, such as former Pasok rebel Odysseas Voudouris, have denounced the cuts.

On 14 September, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, said that giving Greece two more years to do its cuts “needs to be considered as an option”.

Capitalism: a murderous system

At least 314 garment workers burned or suffocated to death in two factory fires in Pakistan on 12 September.

Twenty-five people died in a shoe factory in the city of Lahore, when chemicals caught alight; 289 died in a garment factory in Karachi.

In the Karachi fire, workers were trapped inside the burning building because exits had been locked and they could not open security grilles at the windows.

Rescue the NHS from demolition

The size and scale of the NHS demolition project is slowly coming into view.

Every Primary Care Trust is now putting three services out to tender. In April 2013, the National Commissioning Board will sell off 912 specialist services (or “products” as they are referred to in government reports). By October 2013 a further three chunks of the NHS will go to the private sector.

In total the Financial Times estimates contracts worth a staggering £20 billion (or 20% of the NHS) will be in the hands of private contractors in the next few years.

Industrial news in brief

Workers involved in a long-running battle with contractor Carillion at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital (operated under a Private Finance Initiative) took the fight to Portsmouth’s Queen Alexandra Hospital (QAH) on Tuesday 18 September.

Carillion managers at QAH have been accused of the same bullying and harassment practises against which the Swindon workers have taken 21 days of strike action. One Carillion manager from Swindon also works one day a week at QAH.

Discussing autism at work

[img_assist|nid=19580|title=cartoon by Landon Bryce,|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=400|height=192]In October and November, trade unionists from a variety of different unions will attend a one-day seminar on “Autism in the Workplace”, hosted by the Workers’ Educational Association London Region.

TUC: considering a General Strike?

The motion that caused the most controversy at this year’s TUC Congress (9-12 September) was from the Prison Officers’ Association, calling on the TUC at “the consideration and practicalities of a general strike”.

It resulted in a lively debate.

Film protests: any “struggle” will do?

Like many others, I watched The Innocence of Muslims thinking it must be some kind of satirist’s joke — that this couldn’t possibly be what all the fuss was about. It was too ludicrous, too obviously amateurish and awful, for anyone to take seriously.

I had precisely the same experience reading articles by the International Socialist Group (Scotland) (which is linked to the English splinter from the SWP led by John Rees). Someone, I thought, has written a parody of playschool “anti-imperialism”.

Support the independent left in Venezuela

The Venezuelan elections on 7 October are an important turning point for the Chavista movement in the country and for the international left.

Hugo Chávez faces not only a resurgent right wing candidate Henrique Capriles, but also a socialist challenge in the shape of Orlando Chirino. Chávez, despite being hampered by his treatment for cancer, has over 40% in most reliable polls and is well ahead of Capriles. But it is around Chirino that the genuine working class forces can coalesce.

The history of school exams

The government plans to replace GCSEs with a new qualification, the English baccalaureate, which will put the focus on end-of-year examinations.

Pat Yarker discusses the history of school exams, and how they have been used.

End-of-school exams for all, like mass compulsory education, arrived fairly recently in England.

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