Solidarity 260, 10 October 2012

Organise to recue the NHS!

Published on: Wed, 10/10/2012 - 11:58

At the start of October, on the initiative of the NHS Liaison Network, Labour Party conference voted to prioritise the NHS for debate and then passed a resolution calling for the repeal of the Health and Social Care Act, opposing the cuts, and demanding the rebuilding of the NHS, paid for by taxing the rich.

Within hours of conference passing the resolution, Labour leader Ed Miliband told Channel 4 news he could not promise not make cuts in the NHS.

Few believe we can rely on the Labour leaders to save the NHS. It was the last Labour government that promoted the Private Finance Initiative

March on 20 October

Published on: Wed, 10/10/2012 - 11:56

The TUC’s “A future that works” demonstration on Saturday 20 October (assembling at Embankment at 11 a.m.) will be an important opportunity to send a message of defiance to the government.

The bigger and more belligerent the demonstration, the more galvanised and emboldened people will feel going into the fights ahead.

But a simple A to B march, no matter how large, can only achieve so much, particularly if its headline message is the content-free platitudes of the TUC. Workers’ Liberty members will be attending the march to argue for working-class political alternative to austerity, and a

Protests grow in Spain and Italy

Published on: Wed, 10/10/2012 - 11:52

Anti-austerity protests in Spain are continuing to grow, with many cities witnessing near-daily protests.

There were marches in 56 different cities on Sunday 7 October, mobilising tens of thousands of people. Around 60,000 people marched in Madrid.

Spain’s unions are now threatening a general strike unless Prime Minister Rajoy holds a referendum on his deeply unpopular austerity budget. The budget, which involves €13 billion of additional cuts, was passed on Tuesday 25 September despite enormous protests in Madrid on which 35 people were arrested and 64 people injured. A survey in the El Pais

My City is a Hard Femme

Published on: Wed, 10/10/2012 - 11:48

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a Toronto-based writer and activist.

Much of both her writing and activist work focuses on the struggles of LGBTQ people, particularly queer and trans people of colour.

This piece explores both gender and sexual identities, and their intersection with identities of place (particularly, in this case, urban space). The poem itself is “hard”, with the alliterations (“guts of the girl gang”) landing like little punches. It’s a poem of collision and contrast, of “broken things” which are still “lovely”, in spite of (or because of?) their “brokenness”.


Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 10/10/2012 - 11:44

Street cleaners in the richest borough in London will vote on whether to strike, with action likely to take place on 29 October if the strike vote wins a majority.

The workers, who are employed by contractor SITA in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, are paid £7.85 an hour — less than the £8.30 that even Boris Johnson admits is the minimum amount necessary to live a decent life in the capital. Their pay is also significantly lower than other workers working for contractors in London Boroughs; street sweepers in the City of London earn £8.30 an hour.

According to GMB, the union which

Fighting low pay in retail

Published on: Wed, 10/10/2012 - 11:39

The GMB union has been conducting a campaign of demonstrations outside Next stores to highlight the issue of low pay at the high-street clothing retailer.

The union is demanding a pay increase for all staff, who are currently paid at the national minimum wage of £6.19 (for workers aged 21 and over). GMB wants workers to be paid at least £7.20 an hour, the “living wage” for workers outside London.

A recent trading statement from Next showed that they expected a profit increase of between £10 and £15 million, taking profits for the year to January 2013 up to £620 million. Next makes profits of

Teachers' action escalates to strike

Published on: Wed, 10/10/2012 - 11:35

Teachers at Bishop Challoner school in East London have voted to strike against increasing inspections and observations after their headteacher threatened to hold a mock OFSTED inspection.

NUT and NASUWT members already voted unanimously not to cooperate with any mock inspection, as part of their unions’ industrial action against excessive workload.

The headteacher performed a limited climbdown, saying that although extra lesson observations would take place, they would not constitute a full mock inspection. Workers were not satisfied by this guarantee, however, and voted by 50-4 to escalate

The paradox of Hobsbawm

Published on: Wed, 10/10/2012 - 11:32

The Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm died on 1 October at the age of 95.

I will personally remember how, when I was a new undergraduate history student, Hobsbawm kindly replied to my precocious letter about the world financial crisis in 2008. That said, Hobsbawm was a political figure and deserves to be appraised politically.

As an historian, Hobsbawm was part of a generation which revolutionised historical writing. He was much influenced by the pioneering journal Annales d’histoire économique et sociale, co-founded in 1929 by Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre, which opened up hitherto unexplored

Continuing and renewing the tradition

Published on: Wed, 10/10/2012 - 11:25

In Solidarity 242 (18 April 2012), we began series of recollections and reflections from activists who had been involved with the “third camp” left in the USA — those “unorthodox” Trotskyists who broke from the SWP USA in 1939/40 to form the Workers Party, and the tradition they built (the Independent Socialist League, and later the Independent Socialists and International Socialists). Here, we reprint an extract from a speech by Phyllis Jacobson given at the “Oral History of the American Left Conference”, organised by the Tamiment Library in New York from May 6-7, 1983.

The conference brought

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