Solidarity 303, 13 November 2013

Philippines: why the typhoon killed

Published on: Wed, 13/11/2013 - 13:02

One of the deadliest storms since records began hit the Philippines on 8 November. Over 10,000 people have died. Extracts from a declaration by the Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM, a Filipino socialist party), on 10 November.

The people are still reeling from the impact of possibly the biggest typhoon to strike the country. Death toll numbers are rising rapidly. There is huge devastation.

Firstly, we have to support and take whatever measures are necessary to protect the people.

In the hardest hit city of Tacloban, in south eastern Visayas, the people are already taking what food and relief

University workers to strike again

Published on: Wed, 13/11/2013 - 12:58

Higher Education workers’ unions UCU, Unison, Unite (and the EIS union in Scotland) have called a strike on Tuesday 3 December.

Lecturers’ union UCU has begun a work-to-contract, asking members not to take on any duties not strictly required by their terms of employment.

Universities depend on the willingness of staff to work well beyond reasonable hours, and a well-organised campaign will help put management under pressure. Local organisation, down to departmental level, with regular members’ meetings, is the key to making the work-to-contract effective.

Already one employer — the University

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 13/11/2013 - 12:55

Outsourced cleaning, catering, and security workers at the University of London are balloting for strikes in their long-running campaign to win sick pay, holiday, and pension equality with their directly-employed colleagues.

The workers are organised by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), a small union with few resources. Solidarity and financial support are essential if the workers are to be able to take the kind of action necessary to force concessions from the bosses. You can donate to the strike fund online.

For more information on the campaign, including updates on the

More strikes due in fire dispute

Published on: Wed, 13/11/2013 - 12:50

Firefighters in England and Wales were posed for their fourth short pension strike this week, as the battle began to harden into a more protracted dispute.

On Wednesday 13 November, FBU members in England and Wales will strike from 10am to 2pm, another short action designed to show that firefighters do not accept the government’s unworkable pension changes. The differences have hardened since the last strikes on 1 and 4 November, after the fire minister withdrew part of an earlier offer, making the actuarial reduction for retiring early even more draconian.

The most prominent issue is the

Resist jobs massacre

Published on: Wed, 13/11/2013 - 12:48

Thousands of jobs are on the line as bosses in the shipbuilding, manufacturing and aviation industries plan huge layoffs.

BAE Systems plans to axe nearly 2,000 jobs by closing, or significantly reducing, sites in Glasgow and Portsmouth, ending shipbuilding entirely in the southern English city. The Polimeri chemical refinery in Southampton plans to close, threatening 300 jobs, and the Flybe airline, based in Exeter, plans to cut 500 jobs.

Unions organising workers at the BAE shipyards and the Polimeri plant, plan a demonstration outside the filming of BBC’s “Question Time”, which takes place

Hicks and the witch hunt

Published on: Wed, 13/11/2013 - 12:46

Another Sunday, another issue of the Sunday Times, another attack on Unite (on pages 1, 4, 16, 17, and 33).

But this time Jerry Hicks — three-time general secretary candidate, founder of “Grass Roots Left” in Unite, and now a leading figure in the new “Unite Grass Roots Rank and File” — has given a helping hand.

Hicks later backpedalled, and stressed that he was opposed to any attempt to use the complaint he has made over Unite’s general secretary election in a witch hunt against the union. But that was all too little, too late — and singularly unconvincing.

According to the Sunday Times’

The left on Grangemouth

Published on: Wed, 13/11/2013 - 12:40

The Unite union’s defeat by Ineos at the Grangemouth oil refinery and petrochemicals plant in Scotland merits serious analysis and discussion by socialist organisations. We need to understand what happened and draw appropriate lessons in order to minimise the risk of such defeats in future.

Much of the left press has been desperate to spin a narrative of a militant workforce champing at the bit to take radical action, but being held back (and, ultimately, stitched up and sold out) by a capitulatory bureaucracy.

Workers Power told us: “The workers and their shop stewards, who bravely

The legacy of Mao Zedong

Published on: Wed, 13/11/2013 - 12:33

Knowledge of China’s past is crucial for understanding the country’s present. To illustrate this interrelationship, let’s remind ourselves of the case of British citizen Akmal Shaikh.

In 2007, Akmal was arrested by the Chinese authorities for drug smuggling (specifically, heroin), and was sentenced to death despite the fact he was mentally ill. The representation of the case in China by the Party-controlled media recalled the nineteenth century Opium Wars between the British Empire and China’s Qing Dynasty, which involved the British trading of opium, from India, within China. The story

Paul Klee: the quiet revolutionary

Published on: Wed, 13/11/2013 - 12:28

This exhibition is expansive, comprehensive, chronological, and as well-ordered as the work on display. All that is good.

However, I felt less inspired than I thought I would be. Klee should be my thing. Early 20th century, modernist, hated by the Nazis — what’s not to like?

In truth nothing here is not to like. Klee’s vast collection of work, in slightly different styles at different points in his life, shows him to be an artist who was constantly experimenting and pushing at boundaries.

It is true, as has been said, that the close texture of musical composition is reflected in the small

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