Solidarity 285, 8 May 2013

Solidarity 285

Click here to download the paper as a pdf. Click here to read articles online.

Bangladesh unrest grows as death toll rises

The death toll from the Rana Plaza factory collapse has now passed 700. It is one of the worst industrial disasters in recent history, and the worst ever in Bangladesh. A government building inspector has confirmed that the building, which housed five factories, was built with inadequate, weak materials that could not withstand vibrations caused by electricity generators on the top floor. The building’s architect has said it was intended to house residential or light commercial properties rather than heavy industry. Primark, one of the western suppliers which sourced textiles from the factory...

Students fight ULU closure

On Friday 3 May, University of London bosses voted to shut down its students’ union from summer 2014. The University of London Union based in Malet Street, Euston, represents more than 120,000 students, and is the only London-wide representation that students have. The union has been at the centre of the student movement for many years, and is in the process of establishing a London-wide tenants’ union. It has also recently expanded its democracy, establishing a full-time Women’s Officer post. The building and union are a base for clubs and societies, political and cultural meetings, sports...

Industrial news in brief

Teachers at Bishop Challoner school in East London are balloting for strikes against management bullying. Union activists say that the atmosphere in the workplace has become so bad that many of the school’s most experienced and longest-serving teachers are considering leaving. Since the appointment of a new head three years ago, and subsequent management restructure which replaced the old senior management with new managers loyal to the head, and with no ties to the staff, workload and stress has steadily increased. Members of staff spoke to Solidarity and told us about a litany of smaller and...

How Gove's scheme will work

The Department for Education has issued guidance to schools on how to implement the planned performance-related-pay regime from September 2013. Automatic pay increases will be replaced with discretionary rewards based on teachers’ annual appraisals. The national pay scale will be retained only as a point of reference. The new system will also abolish teachers’ right to retain the same pay level when starting a job in a new school. The guidelines also say the opinions of pupils and parents can be taken into account when appraising teachers’ performance, as well as participation in after-school...

Turkey: workers' centres nourish new culture

In mid-April 2013, I visited Istanbul to meet a group of socialist activists involved in building a workers’ support group, Uluslararası Işçi Dayanışması Derneği (Association of International Workers’ Solidarity, UID DER). My visit co-incided with feverish campaigns to prepare for May Day celebrations. UID DER runs six community centres in rented-out shopfronts in different working-class neighbourhoods of Istanbul and Ankara; they want to open offices in other places. On the morning of my arrival we went to see the office in Sarigazi, a diverse neighbourhood, where Turks and Alawites live...

Greek CP makes fake left turn

In the run-up to its 19th congress, on 11-13 April, the Greek Communist Party (KKE) pleasantly surprised us by publishing much debate, mainly in its paper Rizospastis. On paper it appeared as a disagreement between the advocates of the “theory of stages” from the KKE’s 15th congress (1996) and the leadership’s new “revolutionary” line of socialism as an immediate demand, In reality a large chunk of KKE members had understood the duty to form a united front with Syriza aiming at a government of the Left, dialectically linked to working class struggle and organisation. The large losses for KKE...

Chen Duxiu: Trotskyist critic of Stalinism

Chen Duxiu (1879-1942) was a founder of Chinese Communism and, later, a Trotskyist critic of Stalinism and Maoism. Born into a wealthy family in Anhui, Chen participated in the Xinhai Revolution in 1911 which overthrew the Qing Dynasty and established the Republic of China. Like many intellectuals, he was dissatisfied with the dictatorial rule of President Yuan Shikai and was part of a new generation who proclaimed the need for profound cultural renewal in China. From the pages of his New Youth magazine, Chen wrote that the task was “to fight Confucianism, the old tradition of virtue and...

The Nazis’ book burning campaign

Eighty years ago this week — 10 May, 1933 — organised book burnings took place in university towns throughout Germany. The objects of this literary auto-da-fe were the writings of anti-war, Jewish, socialist and liberal authors, both German and non-German. The Nazis (NSDAP) had been in power since the end of January. In the following three months one and a half million new members had flooded into the party. A ban on new members had had to be imposed on 1 May in order to protect its ranks from “dilution”. State and party organs had been merged into a single apparatus of repression which set...

Help us raise ÂŁ15,000

As the weather improves, Workers’ Liberty members will be increasing the number of street stalls we organise around the country. Even in the age of smartphones and social media, a face-to-face conversation and exchange of ideas about politics is irreplaceable. Our paper has a print run of around 2,000 each week. That’s not a bad stat for a small revolutionary group, but selling Solidarity isn’t a big money-spinner for us. It’s not a mass circulation publication, and even at the “top” price of 80p, the quantities we shift aren’t likely to have the coffers overflowing. If you donate to our fund...

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