Solidarity 289, 12 June 2013

Solidarity 289

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

Industrial news in brief

Teachers at Bishop Challoner School in East London have voted by a 95% majority to strike against management practises described by many teachers as “bullying”, and the victimisation of a National Union of Teachers rep, with a strike due on 19 June. The victimisation is the latest episode in a string of attacks by management, which have accelerated since a successful action by the NUT group in the school to scupper a “mock Ofsted” inspection, planned by management without consultation and against the wishes of staff. One young teacher said: “We’ve got to go out. I’ve been waiting so long for...

Tories attack civil service union rights

Effectively following instructions from Francis Maude, civil service departments have cut the “facility” time (paid time off from work to carry out trade union duties) for civil service union reps to 0.6% of the total wage bill in the last month or two. The 0.6% limit is an utterly arbitrary figure, drawn up without genuine consultation with unions and without measurement of the actual duties being undertaken by reps. It is supposed to cover health and safety duties, individual case work, collective bargaining, learning representatives, and transfers of functions and staff out of and across...

From Tahir to Taksim

I was talking the other day to an educated and informed American and mentioned that I’d spent a lot of time recently working on building support for the protestors in Taksim Square. Her reaction surprised me. “But aren’t you worried about, you know, an Islamist takeover?” In the two years since the overthrow of the Mubarak Regime, many people have begun to learn all the wrong lessons from the Arab Spring. The fear that reactionary Islamists in Syria might hijack the revolution is a genuine one. But in Turkey, it’s the Islamists in power and secular, modern Turkey is in the streets and squares...

Antarsya and the united front

The second Conference of Antarsya, the main far-left coalition in Greece outside of Syriza and the Stalinist KKE, took place on 1-2 June. It was marked by increased participation, and involved over 1,000 elected representatives of local and sectoral committees across the country. More than 3,000 militants were involved during the preconference talks. The conference opened with a motion of solidarity with the Turkish protesters. Greetings were received from a range of other far-left, trade-union, and working-class community organisations. Arif Raman, a Bangladeshi migrant workers’ rights...

Turkish capitalism creates gravedigger

Protests to stop capitalism’s attempt to plunder Taksim Gezi Park have swiftly spread across the whole country and turned into an anti-government revolt. From the Turkish revolutionary socialist group Marksist Tutum, http://en.marksist.net/marksist_tutum/turkey_revolt_against_capitalist_…. Anti-government demonstrations are being held every day in many cities — Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir in particular. In Istanbul demonstrations have spread over many neighbourhoods. Hundreds of thousands have been taking part in the mobilisation. Thousands of people have been...

The Kurds in Turkey and Syria

In May the Turkish state oil company agreed a oil exploration deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq alongside US company ExxonMobil. Iraqi oil resources are vast, but heavily concentrated in Northern Iraq under the administration of the KRG. That and the KRG’s relative stability has attracted many multinationals, and governments (Turkey, Iran, Lebanon, Israel) to the autonomous area. There has been increasing pressure on the KRG by the Iraqi Federal Government to stop all further deals and for all investment decisions to be made at the national level. The KRG have said if...

What kind of anti-fascism?

The racist backlash following the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich has highlighted again the need for a working-class anti-fascist movement in Britain, which not only confronts far-right and fascist organisation in the streets but is part of a political alternative. “Mainstream” anti-fascism — the SWP-controlled United Against Fascism — retains a certain superficial dominance but without any organised local groups. In Socialist Worker (8 June) UAF leader Weyman Bennett proclaims that “[UAF’s] tactics can win”, but without any details as to what these tactics are. He mentions “over 100 demos”...

Islamism is more than “blowback”

I’m pleased that Tim Thomas enjoys my articles but, judging by his letter in Solidarity 289, I fear it is he who is missing the point. My article on “blowback” (Solidarity 288) did not attempt to deny that there was any link between events like Woolwich and western foreign policy. Rather, it argued that it could in no way be the major explanation and, more importantly, that the repeated focus on this particular cause was politically suspect. By way of illustration I would ask Tim to consider the growing presence of the far right in recent years. There surely cannot be any doubt that amongst...

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