Solidarity 278, 13 March 2013

Sussex occupation grows

Published on: Wed, 13/03/2013 - 12:00

On 28 February, students at Sussex University occupied two further buildings on their campus.

Michael, a student occupier, said: “We wanted to prove that we could occupy across campus; we will continue to do so as long as this process continues.”

University management have announced the outsourcing of 235 jobs. An occupation against the privatisation — which is uniting staff and students — is now entering its fifth week, with the university still refusing to negotiate.

Students have chosen a yellow square as their symbol, in homage to the red square used by Quebec students in 2012.


March to save Whittington Hospital

Published on: Wed, 13/03/2013 - 11:55

On 16 March, thousands will demonstrate in North London in defence of Whittington Hospital.

Following a successful public meeting attended by 500 people, campaigners from the Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition have been building for the march, which will begin at Highbury Corner and end at the hospital.

On 28 February, 150 campaigners demonstrated at a hospital board meeting, demanding the planned cuts and sell-off be scrapped. They marched through the hospital canteen and were cheered by health workers.

The Whittington Hospital board are seeking Foundation Trust status. In the past, Dr

Taking on the loan sharks

Published on: Wed, 13/03/2013 - 11:52

Solidarity spoke to Carl Packman, the author of Loan Sharks: The Rise and Rise of Payday Lending, about the growth of payday loan companies and how working-class people can fight them.

The value of the payday loan market has increased massively over the past decade. In 2004, it was worth around £100 million. Now it’s worth between £2-4 billion.

That increase has taken place at the same time as we’ve seen wages stagnate to 2003 levels, and massive unemployment and underemployment.

High-street banks are increasingly risk-averse, meaning they’re less likely to give credit or overdraft accounts.

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 13/03/2013 - 11:48

PCS branches are mobilising to defend workplace reps victimised for union activity.

Lee Rock in Sheffield, Jon Bigger in Merseyside, and Kevin Smith in Bootle all face the sack for trade union activity. For more on these cases, and how labour movement activists can support Lee, Jon, and Kevin, see here.

The Civil Service Rank-and-File Network (CSRF), a newly-formed grouping of PCS activists, is planning local actions to coincide with the European TUC’s Day of Action on 13 March.

Union officials block Lewisham hospital fight

Activists in Lewisham Hospital in south London are discussing their

Civil servants' budget day strike

Published on: Wed, 13/03/2013 - 11:32

The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) will begin a three-month programme of industrial action, including strikes, on 20 March, when George Osborne announces his budget.

The strikes are against a variety of measures, including attacks on pay, job losses, and pension reforms.

The programme will include both national and sector-specific action, and will combine strikes with other industrial action. In between days of industrial action, the union will organise local protests and campaigning activity around specific themes.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This is not a one-day

Why is the working class central?

Published on: Wed, 13/03/2013 - 11:18

Hal Draper answers the question: why is the working class fundamental to the socialist project?

Why do socialists believe there is a special connection between their own great goal of a new society and the interests of labour, this one segment of society?

Is it because we “idealise” workers as being better, or more clever, or more honest, or more courageous, or more humanitarian, than non-workers? Isn’t it rather true that the workers have time and again followed reactionary courses and leaders and have by no means shown any invariable affinity for progressive causes? ... Aren’t they filled

Workers on the wireless

Published on: Wed, 13/03/2013 - 11:12

So often in the broadcast media, the lives of working class people come packaged in the form of grotesque exaggeration for the pleasure of the voyeur, or through the cold and de-humanising lens of statisticians.

Mouthpiece on Sheffield Live! 93.2fm is a weekly politics and arts radio programme that features music, community news, and covers everything from local industrial disputes to discussing disability and sex; the interviewees are chosen for their ideas and experiences, rather than their title or privileged position.

Three elderly Jamaican migrant women who had been cleaners and factory

Putting working-class voices centre stage

Published on: Wed, 13/03/2013 - 11:02

On 14 March, a short play I wrote about the 1974 Clay Cross rents dispute (where the Labour council, backed by a strong labour movement campaign, refused to implement a Tory act increasing council rents) will have a reading (i.e. a rehearsed, but not full, performance) as part of a new writing festival at the Pomegranate Theatre in Chesterfield. The play is called The Rest of the Cod (trust me, the title makes sense in context...)

The script is based around interviews, Hansard proceedings, film footage and other sources. I’ve been grappling with whether or not to describe it as verbatim

A short history of Maoism

Published on: Wed, 13/03/2013 - 10:58

The following article by Mike Kyriazopoulos was originally written for an internal discussion in the Workers’ Party of New Zealand (now Fightback Aotearoa/NZ).

Fightback has its origins, in part, in a Maoist-influenced tendency.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) grew out of the anti-imperialist May 4th movement against the ruinous Versailles Treaty, which was founded by Chen Tu-hsiu in 1919.

One of the most pressing questions for the CCP, founded in 1921, was how to relate to the nationalist Kuomintang (KMT), who ran the government of the fledgling republic.

Lenin had insisted that: “The

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