Solidarity 280, 27 March 2013

Socialist becomes President of Scottish National Union of Students

Published on: Wed, 27/03/2013 - 11:07

At this year’s National Union of Students Scotland conference, socialist and National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts national committee member Gordon Maloney was elected NUS Scotland President. He spoke to Solidarity.

Although it didn’t always feel like it I did expect to win.

The size of Scotland means that candidates can — and have to — make the effort to visit and speak to the majority of delegates in the run-up, and that allows the campaign to go quite deep into the politics of the candidates.

Some very bold left-wing policy was also passed.

My support was very broad. The organised left

National Union of Teachers: 27 June must be national strike

Published on: Wed, 27/03/2013 - 11:04

No matter what happens at the National Union of Teachers (NUT) conference (29 March-2 April), delegates will return home with the task of preparing members for strikes.

But the NUT leadership’s current plan, jointly agreed with NASUWT and beginning with a regional strike on 27 June, is vague and uninspiring.

It’s far too late to have any meaningful effect on the plan to tear up national pay scales, which take effect from 1 September. Despite these plans being announced in December and well known before that, we will have taken no action of any kind before the end of June, and even then we

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 27/03/2013 - 11:00

All three trade union activists at London Metropolitan University suspended by management have now been reinstated.

Steve Jefferys, Max Watson, and Jawad Botmeh were suspended over allegations of misconduct relating to the disclosure of Jawad’s background (he has spent time in jail), but all three are now back at work. A high-profile campaign involving both Unison and the University and College Union put huge pressure on uni bosses.

Unison activist Jonathan McCree, in a letter to the Islington Tribune, said: “This is testament to the campaigners from two unions at London Met, Unison and UCU,

Voices from the PCS Budget Day strike

Published on: Wed, 27/03/2013 - 10:55

“I’m really glad we’re doing it, I just wish we had more people along. There are a lot of different strands of action. It would help if we had one or two clear demands. Some members are disheartened because it isn’t coordinated with other unions but I think we’re the catalyst for other unions to take action. The teachers plan to take action soon.”


“We’ve made a big dent on the peers dining. They’ve had to cancel all functions today. They are hitting the bottom grade staff the hardest when we’re the ones that work the hardest. We already have the lowest pay for the longest hours. We’re

Unite election: vote McCluskey

Published on: Wed, 27/03/2013 - 10:51

Voting in the election for the general secretary’s position in Unite began on 18 March, with the ballot due to close on Friday 12 April.

The incumbent, Len McCluskey, is re-standing. His only opponent is Jerry Hicks, a former shop steward at a Rolls Royce plant in Bristol.

Workers’ Liberty members in Unite are backing a vote for McCluskey because he is the candidate of the United Left grouping in which we are involved.

While on some issues we agree with Hicks against McCluskey (such as union officials taking an average worker’s wage), we do not believe Hicks’s campaign offers a serious

Cleaners strike for dignity

Published on: Wed, 27/03/2013 - 10:43

Cleaning workers employed by the contractor Mitie at the Barbican Centre in London struck on Thursday 21 March.

They were demanding a pay increase to bring them in line with the London Living Wage of £8.55 an hour. Their current wage is £6.19 an hour.

They also want an end to the bullying and harassment they face from managers.

Strikers maintained a lively presence from 5.30am, the time the first cleaning shift begins, despite freezing cold conditions, and held a lunchtime rally that was addressed by Mitie contractors from other sectors, including London Underground.

The Barbican cleaners’

The workers' government

Published on: Wed, 27/03/2013 - 10:36

This is the third part of a review article looking at the themes of John Riddell’s new book of documents from the early communist movement. This week Paul Hampton discusses the idea of the workers’ government.

Probably the most wide-ranging and rancorous discussion at the Fourth Congress concerned the transitional slogan of a workers’ government.

This debate is of exceptional importance to the tradition represented by the AWL, yet outside our ranks it is rarely discussed or propagated at present. Translations of the theses and debates at the Fourth Congress were published by our predecessors

Ten years since the Gulf War

Published on: Wed, 27/03/2013 - 10:29

To mark the 10th anniversary of the start of the Gulf War in 2003, we reprint below extracts from Solidarity articles about the start and the aftermath of the war.

David Aaronovitch writes in the Observer: “If, in a few weeks time, the Security Council agrees to wage war against Saddam, I shall support it.” Others who consider themselves to be broadly on the left put the same case, from Salman Rushdie to Christopher Hitchens.

These are people who backed the war in Afghanistan after September 11, and who felt their stand was vindicated. Those opposing war, including this newspaper, warned of

Staging ideas: politics of form and content

Published on: Wed, 27/03/2013 - 10:24

I would identify myself as a socialist as well as a theatre-maker.

But someone viewing my work would not necessarily describe it as socialist theatre. Not because it’s apolitical, but because I wouldn’t say the theatre that I make is explicitly socialist (in the way we perhaps might describe Ken Loach as a socialist film director). However, I believe that what makes drama political is not just the themes the text discusses — whether it involves political events, characters, or explicit political arguments — but the form the theatre takes itself.

Radical theatre has never just been radical

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