Solidarity 293, 7 August 2013

Egypt nears tipping point

Published on: Wed, 07/08/2013 - 17:56

Five weeks after the 3 July coup, Egypt looks near another tipping point.

On 3 July the army, following huge protests against Egypt’s Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, ousted the Islamist government and installed a new administration of its choice.

The Brotherhood has chosen not to steer towards civil war as Algeria’s Islamists did when that country’s army cancelled elections in 1992 to stop the Islamists winning. But it is keeping up mass street protests.

Dozens of Brotherhood protesters were killed soon after the coup, but the Islamists remain undaunted. The army threatens to clear the

East Midlands Trains action has impact

Published on: Wed, 07/08/2013 - 17:52

From 20 July, on-train and platform staff working for East Midlands Trains. have refused to work rest days and overtime and are working to rule. This has caused numerous train delays and cancellations, particularly on Sunday 28 July.

The two to one result in the ballot for action short of strike is a welcome reversal of previous failures to respond to management attacks.

The dispute is due to a breakdown in industrial relations which covers several issues. One of these was rostering during the shutdown of Nottingham station for five weeks worth of long- planned engineering work.

A few days

Johnson to force through fire cuts

Published on: Wed, 07/08/2013 - 17:45

London Mayor Boris Johnson has overruled the city’s Fire Authority to force through potentially devastating cuts to the capital’s fire service.

10 stations, 14 engines, and 552 jobs will go as part of a cuts plan aimed at saving nearly £30 million. Johnson is making the cuts unilaterally, despite the Authority having voted against them.

94% of respondents to the public consultation around the cuts opposed them, with hundreds attending local meetings and demonstrations. Around 1,000 firefighters and supporters marched on 18 July to demand the cuts plan be shelved.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU)

One million on “zero hours” contracts

Published on: Wed, 07/08/2013 - 17:42

New surveys have revealed that the number of workers on “zero hours” contracts (that is, who work as and when their employer tells them to, rather than for a set number of hours each week) could be as high as one million.

The Office of National Statistics puts the figure at 250,000 for 2012 — an increase of 50,000 from the previous year’s statistics — but the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development says that its survey of 1,000, if projected across the whole country, suggests a figure four times that amount.

McDonalds, which first introduced zero-hours contracts in 1974, says that 90%

RMT to fight 12.5% budget cut

Published on: Wed, 07/08/2013 - 17:35

The Rail, Maritime, and Transport union (RMT) is planning a London-wide labour movement and community campaign against a 12.5% cut in central government funding to Transport for London announced in George Osborne’s June spending review.

A policy passed by the union’s General Grades Committee said: “We are already seeing attempts to make cuts — for example, London Underground ticket office closures, the removal of guards on London Overground, the sale of significant Transport for London property, and funding cuts to the LT Museum.

“This further savage cut will see transport services pared,

Assessing Chavismo

Published on: Wed, 07/08/2013 - 17:31

Pablo Velasco continues his assessment of the legacy of Hugo Chávez by looking at some of the aspects of his government most lauded by the left.

Probably the most common argument made by pro-Chávez supporters is that the extent of welfare spending makes Chavismo a social-democratic reformist project that socialists should support, albeit critically.

The Chávez government prioritised the “missions”, programmes in the areas of health (Barrio Adentro), education (Robinson, Ribas and Sucre) and food distribution (Mercal).

According to official government figures poverty declined from 44% in 1998

Women in men's skies?

Published on: Wed, 07/08/2013 - 17:23

Camila Bassi reviews Liz Millward’s Women in British Imperial Airspace, 1922-1937 (2008, McGill-Queen's University Press).

The period of 1922 to 1937 represented significant inter-war development of gendered airspace within the British Empire.

From 1922, when the International Commission on Air Navigation debated the place of women in commercial airspace, to 1937, the year in which the female pilot Jean Batten completed her last long-distance record-breaking flight, the British Empire was at its peak, ruling about one-quarter of the world’s territory. Millward notes:

“The interwar period was

The tragedy of the Biafran War

Published on: Wed, 07/08/2013 - 17:14

The Biafran war began in July 1967 and ended with the surrender of Biafra in January 1970.

The Biafrans, in south east Nigeria, were fighting for independence; the Nigerian army was fighting to keep the state intact. Perhaps two million people died as a result of the war, the majority from malnutrition or disease. Mark Osborn looks at the events.

I was born in 1961. And, like me, many people my age have two sets of black and white TV images in their heads. The first is of the US moon landing: “One small step for a man,” and Buzz Aldrin bouncing about. That was intensely exciting and impressive

Clarence Chrysostom, 1921-2013

Published on: Wed, 07/08/2013 - 16:58

Clarence Chrysostom, who died on 5 July aged 92, was one of the last survivors of the early revolutionary period of the Sri Lankan Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP), one of the few Trotskyist parties in history so far to win a mass following.

Joining as a young man, he later sided with the revolutionary minority when the leadership joined a bourgeois coalition in 1964. He came to England shortly afterwards and, after a very brief membership of Gerry Healy’s Socialist Labour League, joined the International Marxist Group, becoming part of the pro-Labour Party faction round Al Richardson in 1968-9.

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