Solidarity 302, 6 November 2013

Israeli military refuses tour

Israeli military refuser Noam Gur is touring Britain from 12-26 November. Solidarity spoke to her about her political activity.

Why did you get active in politics and what has been the personal impact on you?

When I was about 15 years old I started understanding what was really happening in Palestine and Israel, after years of being told scary stories and lies by the educational system, my family, and the Israeli society in general.

Multi-billion bank scandals exposed

Big banks stand accused of rigging the markets for trading between currencies, in which £3 trillion of business — £400 for every child, woman, and man on earth — is done each day.

Through their frantic scramble for speculative super-profits, those banks brought us the 2008 global crash and the economic depression that still blights us.

They have escaped, so far, with mild reprimands. But with their affairs under more scrutiny, scandal after scandal has tumbled into the open.

3 Cosas campaign fights on

On Tuesday 5 November, cleaning, catering and security workers at the University of London begin balloting for strikes.

The strikes are part of the workers’ ongoing campaign for sick pay, holiday, and pensions equality with their directly-employed colleagues.

The workers are members of the Independent Workers’ union of Great Britain (IWGB), and have run the rank-and-file “Tres Cosas” (“Three Things”) campaign since summer 2012.

Fire dispute escalates

The FBU’s dispute over pensions escalated last week after the fire minister withdrew a previous offer in the wake of further strikes.

Firefighters in England and Wales held two further solid strikes on Friday 1 November for four and a half hours and a further two hour strike on Monday 4 November. A further strike is planned for Wednesday 13 November.

Tube workers gear up for strikes

The Rail, Maritime, and Transport workers’ union (RMT) is balloting London Underground train maintenance workers for strikes and action short of strikes.

The union is trying to stop management imposing unilateral changes to workers’ terms and conditions.

Meanwhile, an all-grades ballot of Tube workers for strikes to demand an end to casualisation, and for workers supplied by agencies, including the 33 previously employed by Trainpeople, to be offered permanent jobs, is due to begin this week.

Postal strikes off

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) called off a national strike of postal workers, planned for 4 November.

Although the immediate issues balloted over were day-to-day industrial issues including pay and pensions, the CWU explicity placed the ballot in the wider context of its political fight against Royal Mail privatisation. A strike before the 15 October sell-off could have thrown a spanner in the works of privatisation. By delaying calling action, and then calling it off entirely, the CWU allowed the privatisation to go through unresisted.

University workers fight for better pay

On 31 October, Higher Education workers in three unions (UCU, Unite, and Unison) struck against a 1% pay offer. Here, we feature snippets from picket lines around the country.

“The consensus from UCU members on the picket line was that there should be a “‘general strike” (their words), by which they meant more coordinated public sector strike action.”

University of Northampton

“There were around a dozen pickets from all three unions at each of the main entrances to University of East Anglia (UEA) all morning.

A fighter for freedom

When it was revealed on 11 October that Malala Yousafzai, the teenage girl that captured the world’s imagination after being shot by a Taliban rifleman, was not awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, it came as a relief.

Malala no doubt deserved it more than any other person in the world, but to tarnish her name by giving her the same prize given to such renowned peacemakers as Henry Kissinger and Menachem Begin would have been a disservice to everything she had stood for.

Why art fairs are thriving

“Frieze Art Fair” was held in Regent’s Park, London, from 17 to 20 October. Solidarity asked Lisa Le Feuvre, an art curator, about it. The interview started with Lisa putting a question to Solidarity.

Lisa Le Feuvre: My first response would be to ask Solidarity why you are choosing Frieze Art Fair as the impetus to talk about art, given that this is the most commercial side of art?

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