Solidarity 447, 6 September 2017

Industrial news in brief: train cleaners; Sports Direct; Tube; Riverboats; Argos

Published on: Thu, 21/09/2017 - 12:19


Train cleaners ballot

Cleaners working for Southern and Southeastern railways will be balloted by the RMT in two separate disputes over pay and working conditions.
The cleaners are employed by two different cleaning contractors — Wettons on Southeastern and Churchill on Southern.
The ballot closes on 21 September.

Sports Direct

Working conditions in Sports Direct have hit the headlines again after the Guardian reported that warehouse workers were being asked to touch ″happy or sad emoji faces″ to indicate their satisfaction with working conditions. The touch pad faces are apparently linked to

Derby TAs may strike again

Published on: Thu, 21/09/2017 - 12:12

Ralph Peters

Teaching Assistants, who are members of Unison, in Derby may be forced into a dispute with the council again following 75 days of industrial action in the last year.

The dispute, that saw up to 600 teaching assistants strike, seemed to result in a partial victory 4 months ago when the council unilaterally implemented a new contract that saved some from wage cuts but still led to wage losses of up to 25% for many.

The council agreed to review the grading of workers that had led to the wage reduction. Farcically the excuse for the pay reductions of the overwhelmingly women workforce was an equal

Council reneges on bins deal

Published on: Thu, 21/09/2017 - 12:08

Jim Denham

Birmingham refuse workers have returned to the picket lines after the Labour city council reneged on a deal and sent out redundancy notices.

Mountains of rubbish bags piled up on street corners before the last seven-week strike was suspended on 16 August after Unite and the council struck a deal at ACAS.

Now the council leadership has inexplicably torn up the deal (incredibly, even claiming that there never had been any deal!) and cancelled a meeting on Friday that had been called to ratify the settlement. Even ACAS has contradicted the council leader and confirmed that the council and Unite

“A chance to put my principles into practice”

Published on: Thu, 21/09/2017 - 11:54

Picturehouse striker

A Workers’ Liberty activist and Picturehouse striker spoke to Solidarity about the strike, the Labour Party and why they joined Workers’ Liberty.

How did you end up getting involved in the Picturehouse strike?
I’ve always had an interest in workers’ struggles, and the Picturehouse strike has been the first time that I could take part in one, so straight off the bat I was like ″Let’s do this, I’m behind this.″ At first I was a bit cautious because I was on probation, and you have a contract so it’s easier for them to get rid of you. But after about two months, I thought ″I’m a decent worker —

1917 and problems of democracy

Published on: Thu, 21/09/2017 - 11:45

Andrew Coates

Review of The Russian Revolution: When the workers took power by Paul Vernadsky

The historian of the French Revolution, François Furet, wrote in 1995 wrote that that after the fall of the USSR, the October Revolution had ended its journey. Unlike the first French Republic, Soviet power, and Lenin, “left no heritage”.

Over 800 pages later the critic of the Jacobins concluded that while it was hard to “think” of another kind of society, democracy manufactured the need for a world beyond “Capital and the Bourgeoisie”. If the figure of the Bolshevik party had disappeared, the “idea of communism”

The Google memo and real bias

Published on: Thu, 21/09/2017 - 11:35

Les Hearn

James Damore, the recently (and perhaps unjustly) fired Google employee, criticised in an online memo(1) what he sees as the “left bias” of Google which has created a “politically correct monoculture” which “shames dissenters into silence.”

This left bias translates as “Compassion for the weak; disparities are due to injustices; humans are inherently cooperative; change is good (unstable); open; idealist.” A right bias would hold views such as “Respect for the strong/authority; disparities are natural and just; humans are inherently competitive; change is dangerous; closed; pragmatic.”


The changing economy and politics of Mauritius

Published on: Thu, 21/09/2017 - 11:21


Twenty years ago, the economy of Mauritius was still based on the sugar industry, mainly exporting to Britain under the terms of the Lomé convention.

There was also a significant textile industry, with exports to the EU and the USA, and a tourism industry.

Then the sugar oligarchy shifted its focus to finance. From 21 sugar factories, Mauritius is down to four (more mechanised) factories. The sugar cane is still there, but the sugar capitalists have shifted to Africa.

The financial sector has boomed. Some textile industry remains, but it is declining. The tourism industry has boomed.
We have

Climate change is the problem

Published on: Thu, 21/09/2017 - 11:07


Hurricane Harvey, which began on Friday 25 August and lasted until the middle of the following week hit Texas, Louisiana and Kentucky and especially the coastal areas of Texas.
Houston, the US’s fourth biggest city, spread out over 1700 square miles, was the worst affected. The hurricane displaced one million people, caused 44 deaths and damaged 185,000 homes.

Flooding on this scale, with such tragic effects, is not unique in the world; in recent weeks there have been devastating floods in Mumbai, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sierre Leone, Niger, Nigeria and DR Congo, none of which were as well reported

Labour’s soft Brexit not good enough

Published on: Thu, 21/09/2017 - 08:23


It is very unusual for a Tory MP to say he is “ashamed to be British in many ways”. But those were the recent words of Charles Tannock, complaining about his party’s stance on Brexit.

He even went on to say the Tories were “mired in arrogance and hubris… the petty nationalisms, the triumphalism.”

Tannock joined criticisms from senior Tories, including the former deputy prime minister Lord Heseltine. These Tories have denounced Theresa May, and openly talked about ditching her in order to prepare for the next election.

But moves to oust May could be a long way off. Most Tories will want to

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