Solidarity 267, 5 December 2012

Stop bosses' licence for unsafe workplaces!

Published on: Wed, 05/12/2012 - 14:38

If you are injured at work, and your boss has broken relevant health and safety regulations, then you can sue and win compensation. Soon you won’t be able to, or you may not be able.

New legislation is now already halfway through the House of Lords, propelled not by a Bullingdon Club Tory but by the allegedly saintly Lib Dem Vince Cable.

It opens the way for the boss to plead either that your injury was not a foreseeable result of his breach of regulations, or that it was beyond “reasonable practicability” for him to obey the regulations strictly.

You will have to show not only that the boss

Lewisham closure fight: a hospital worker speaks out

Published on: Wed, 05/12/2012 - 14:34

Anita Downs, a nurse at Lewisham Hospital, spoke at a big public meeting in Lewisham on 28 November, four days after the 15,000-strong demonstration against the threat to the hospital.

If the A&E [accident and emergency] closes, then the hospital as we know it will cease to exist.

Health workers, users and patient groups across the country will be watching the Lewisham campaign and taking hope and inspiration from it.

I want to raise with you tonight a question that has been raised with me dozens and dozens of times during the march and in the hospital: are petitions and meetings and marches

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 05/12/2012 - 14:31

Civil servants held protest meetings and rallies around the country on Friday 30 November as part of a Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) campaign against government attacks on terms and conditions.

The 10 December PCS National Executive will discuss a ballot for national action in the new year, but the Department for Work and Pensions Group Executive within PCS has already agreed to ballot for a strike. The ballot begins on 12 December, with a strike planned for 21 January if a “yes” vote is secured. Workers at the Seaham Pensions Centre, near Sunderland, which processes pensions

Martin Morat: The internationalist at a time of war

Published on: Wed, 05/12/2012 - 14:21

Martin Morat, also known as Paul Widelin, was a German-born Trotskyist who spearheaded efforts to form revolutionary cells within Nazi-occupied Belgium by fraternising with German soldiers.

Widelin was born in Germany in 1913 and became an activist at the age of 15 in Hashomer Hatzair, a socialist-Zionist youth movement. As a Jew and a sympathiser with the German Communist Party, Widelin was an obvious target for the Gestapo after the Nazis came to power in Germany. He emigrated to Belgium.

In Belgium he was won over to Trotskyism. He soon became a member of the European Executive Committee of

Facing up to Stalin's strength: how “Third Camp” socialists developed their assessments

Published on: Wed, 05/12/2012 - 14:17

In 1940 the US Trotskyist movement split, primarily over its attitude to the 1939-40 Russian invasion of Finland. The split would prove far-reaching.

The minority, led by Max Shachtman, which denounced Russia’s war in Finland as reactionary, soon moved to reject the idea that Stalinist Russia was any sort of workers’ state, and develop policy for a working-class “Third Camp” to confront both capitalism and Stalinism.

The majority stuck to the formula that the Stalinist USSR was a “degenerated workers’ state”, and over the next decade was dragged by its adherence to that formula into claiming

Big oil versus Kazakh workers

Published on: Wed, 05/12/2012 - 13:51

In May 2011, thousands of workers in Kazakhstan’s oil and gas industries struck against low pay and bosses’ interference in trade union affairs. A government-backed campaign of strike-breaking, blacklisting and repression ended in the murder by the police of more than a dozen workers in December 2011. A recent Human Rights Watch report, Striking Oil, Striking Workers: Violations of Labor Rights in Kazakhstan’s Oil Sector, based on interviews with oil workers and their supporters, lays bare the shocking details of this story.

Kazakhstan, the largest country in Central Asia, has, since the fall

After the UN vote, fight for an independent Palestine!

Published on: Wed, 05/12/2012 - 13:38

On Thursday 29 November, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to endorse Palestine’s bid to gain “non-member observer state” status — a recognition of Palestine’s de facto statehood which entitles it to participate in UN debates and join international bodies such as the International Criminal Court.

138 countries supported the bid, with nine opposing it, including America and Israel. 41 nations, including Britain and Germany, abstained.

The bid was driven by Mahmoud Abbas, the PLO/Fatah president of the Palestinian Authority, which notionally governs in the Israeli-occupied

Egypt's workers confront Mursi

Published on: Wed, 05/12/2012 - 13:35

Egyptian workers and activists rose up in protest last week after Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Mursi attempted to force through measures designed to strengthen the Islamists’ grip on power.

Mursi used the prestige gained from brokering the Gaza ceasefire to issue a six-part decree giving himself sweeping new powers. These include awarding himself blanket legal immunity, blocking judicial challenges to the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly and appointing a special prosecutor with powers to lock up activists for six months. Mursi has specifically targeted protestors who halt

Syria: anti-Assad rebels on the offensive

Published on: Wed, 05/12/2012 - 13:31

The fight against Bashar Assad’s one-party Baath state, which began in March 2011 and which had seemed locked in a bloody stalemate, may be tilting in the opposition’s favour.

Major military gains by opposition militias have been made in the east and north of the country in the past two weeks. Last week surface-to-air missiles brought down a regime helicopter and, for the first time, a MiG fighter plane.

The West has refused to supply modern anti-aircraft weapons to the military opposition for fear that advanced technology may, in the future, be used against Western or Israeli targets. But

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