Solidarity 332, 28 July 2014

Solidarity 332

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

Ukraine government in crisis but fighting in the east continues

The Svoboda (neo-fascist) and Udar (right-wing) parties resigned from Ukraine’s coalition government on 24 July. A few hours later the Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, announced his resignation as well. Svoboda’s stated reason for pulling out of the coalition was: “A parliament which protects state criminals, Moscow’s agents, and refuses to strip (parliamentary) immunity from those who work for the Kremlin should not exist.” Udar’s stated reason for pulling out was: “We see that the Verkhovna Rada (Parliament) is not set for constructive work in accordance with the will of the Ukrainian...

Birmingham students occupy

On Monday 28 July, students from Birmingham Defend education occupied the Strathcona building. They were occcupying in solidarity with their fellow students, Kelly Rogers and Simon Furse, who have been suspended on very spurious and draconian charges for previous occupations, in protest against Birmingham University management. An occupier told Solidarity, “Comrades have been suspended on trumped up charges and in solidarity with them, we’re reclaiming university space. “The suspensions of the students has a reflection on the modern corporate, neoliberal university. I don’t think the...

Construction workers' sit-down safety strike

Nearly 1,000 construction workers at a gas plant in Shetland staged a sit-down strike in their workplace canteen on Monday 21 July, over safety concerns. The sit-in also raised a number of long-running grievances, including some workers being deprived travel allowance, inadequate accommodation for non-Shetland-resident workers, and Total and Petrofac’s (the companies which run the plant) refusal to pay workers for a previous 2.5 hour safety stoppage, which workers are legally entitled to undertake if working conditions are unsafe. A further sit-in on 23 July drew in greater numbers, and the...

Struggles on London Underground

Tube cleaners who are refusing to use “biometric fingerprinting” machines to book on for shifts remain locked out by their employer, ISS, with the lock out now stretching into its third week. ISS want the machines, which take unique DNA-based data from everyone who uses them, to replace the existing method of booking on using telephones, and have already admitted that the data collected would be shared with the UK Border Agency and the Home Office. One cleaner told Solidarity: “This is a racist attack on a predominantly immigrant workforce.” The locked-out cleaners are using their time to...

Save Stafford Hospital camp

Around 40 people have set up camp outside Stafford Hospital in protest at plans to downgrade the services there. Accident and emergency, paediatrics and maternity ward are all set to be scrapped. If the changes go ahead, locals would be forced to travel all the way to Stoke or Wolverhampton in the event of a medical emergency. The protest was organised after it was discovered that two applications for a judicial review of the decision to downgrade the hospital had been rejected. The Support Stafford Hospital campaign plans on appealing against the decision, but have camped outside the hospital...

Unison to discuss pay fight

After just a single day’s strike over pay by workers local government, education, and the civil service, the press and the Tories are on the offensive against unions, highlighting the low turnouts in ballots, and pushing for new anti-union legislation. We are right to highlight the hypocrisy of these calls coming from a government elected by a minority of voters with low turnouts in many constituencies, but in our own movement, we cannot be complacent. We have to honestly assess how we are organising for action and how best it can win. Turnouts and getting strong “yes” votes for industrial...

Racism and division increase in Israel

In the narrow, densely populated ribbon of land by the Mediterranean that is Gaza, hundreds of civilians have been killed and injured by the Israeli military. But while the worst horrors of the conflict are taking place in the strip itself, the war has also unleashed a fresh wave of racial and religious sectarianism far beyond the Palestinian territory. In Israel, street violence against Arabs has spiralled. In Jerusalem, two young Arab men were hospitalised after being beaten by a mob with baseball bats and metal pipes. Both right-wing street movements and the government ministers are...

Good riddance to the “fake sheikh”

The career of the Sun reporter and so-called “fake sheikh” Mazher Mahmood looks to be in tatters, after a judge ruled that he seems to have lied under oath in the trial of musician Tulisa Contostavlos. Mahmood has a made a career out of entrapping celebrities in sting operations, and claims to have been responsible for stories that have seen hundreds of people imprisoned. There can be genuine public interest in undercover sting operations. Arms trading, corrupt politicians, human trafficking — all can reasonably be justified in the public interest. But there was neither public interest, nor...

Support Al-Jazeera journalists!

An Egyptian court which jailed three journalists for “spreading false news” has issued a statement explaining its decision. Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, Baher Mohamed and Peter Geste, who work for the Al-Jazeera news network, were given jail sentences of seven to ten years after reporting on the brutal repression of Muslim Brotherhood supporters following the military coup of 2013. The court said that the journalists had “falsified the truth” and that “the devil guided them to use journalism and direct it towards activities against this nation.” The military regime in Egypt believes that Al Jazeera...

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