Solidarity 315, 5 March 2014

Ludwig Feuerbach: "the true conqueror of the old philosophy"

Among Karl Marx’s most famous writings are his Theses on Feuerbach. But who was Feuerbach?

Ludwig Feuerbach was brought up a devout Protestant, and started at university as a student of theology. He then became one of the most brilliant students of Hegel at Berlin university in the 1820s, and a Hegelian academic philosopher, though, as Engels remarked, “a never quite orthodox Hegelian”.

Banker = thief?

Giant Swiss bank Credit Suisse stands accused of helping US plutocrats avoid tax by, among other things, shredding documents, holding meetings in a secret elevator, and hiding bank statements inside copies of Sports Illustrated.

The same bank also recently agreed to pay the US Securities Exchange Commission $196.5 million for another misdeed: cross-border brokerage and investment advisory services it provided to unregistered US clients.

14 other banks are under investigation by US authorities on the tax-avoidance front.

Wages still squeezed

Economic recovery? Only for a few. Wages are still lagging behind inflation. The average annual increase in wages is still onIy 1.0%, while prices (even on the conservative CPI measure) are going up about 2% per year.

Real wages (wage growth minus inflation) have been falling consistently since the end of 2009. It is certainly the longest squeeze since modern records began in 1964, and probably the longest since the 1870s.

Scrap disability benefits regime

IT giant Atos wants to ditch its contract to assess ill and disabled people claiming out of work benefits, but it has not given up assessing people with long-term ill-health and disability for the new Personal Independence Payment.

Atos wanted out because the government told them they weren’t up to the job of implementing the Work Capability Assessment. A National Audit Office report shows Atos is also not up to the job of implementing PIP (replacement for the Disability Living Allowance).

Industrial news in brief

Campaigners presented online retail giant Amazon with a 56,000-strong petition demanding it pay living wages.

The hand-in, which took place on Friday 28 February, was the latest action in an ongoing media campaign to expose exploitation in Amazon warehouses.

Campaigners have now set up a blog where Amazon workers can share and discuss experiences of working life.

Yorkshire care workers' seven-day strike

Workers at Care UK in Doncaster, South Yorkshire struck for a week from Thursday 27 February.

Tube unions resist driverless trains

A London Underground “Employee Bulletin” of 19 February announced Tube bosses’ plans to commission driverless trains on several lines.

The Rail, Maritime, and Transport workers’ union (RMT) and drivers’ union ASLEF have launched a dispute over the issue. The announcement, in the midst of an ongoing RMT and TSSA fight against job cuts and closures on stations, is an extraordinarily belligerent act by management and an indication of the extent of their plans to automate and destaff the network.

University cleaners strike

Outsourced cleaners at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in central London struck on 4 and 5 March to win the same holiday entitlement, contractual sick pay, and pension scheme as directly-employed staff.

The cleaners, who work for the outsourced company ISS, have been involved in the long-running Justice 4 Cleaners campaign at SOAS. The strong ballot of 100% in favour of strike action on a 62% turnout is a testament to the strength of the campaign and the local SOAS Unison branch.

Expulsions, exclusions, and “punishments”

Some union branches which previously nominated SWP members as left candidates in union elections have not done so this year.

The motive is to register a protest against the SWP’s 18 months or so of crass mishandling of charges of sexual harassment and then rape against a leading organiser.

Some of those refusing to nominate explain that in the actual vote between an SWPer and a right-winger, they will vote for the SWPer. The refusal to nominate is intended as a gesture of reprimand.

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