Solidarity 414, 31 August 2016

Support Ritzy cinema workers

Published on: Wed, 31/08/2016 - 13:54

Two years after a prominent series of 13 one day strikes at the Ritzy Picturehouse Cinema in Brixton, The Ritzy workers are set to strike again. The strike ballot result is annonced today with union reps expecting a strong mandate to strike.

The previous strikes garnered national press attention, won a large pay rise to £9.10ph. All gained in return for a two year no strike agreement, which has now expired.

Now the Ritzy workers are coming strong back demanding what they didn't quite win the first time around. To name the basics; the living wage now £9.40ph, sick pay, compassionate leave and

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 31/08/2016 - 13:41

Gemma Short and Ollie Moore

A recent survey of workers at Lambeth Council, south London, conducted by the Unison union uncovered high levels overwork, stress and anxiety among staff, following years of job cuts. The survey found that 56% of staff do not feel that they can continue at the council unless workloads improve.

Unison is launching an indicative ballot asking members if they’d be willing to take industrial action around workload and job losses. Ruth Cashman, Unison branch secretary explained; “Lambeth Council has lost thousands of jobs but people still need our services so we are left with workers doing two

Not-so-liberal commentariat

Published on: Wed, 31/08/2016 - 12:55

John Cunningham

Although I’ve never had had warm feelings towards the media, I also dislike the tendency to blame the media for every ill or woe in the world; it just doesn’t work like that. The media isn’t all bad all the time.

Personally, I have regularly turned to the journalism of people like Andrew Rawnsley, Nick Cohen, Polly Toynbee, John Harris and others, not because I agree with them (this rarely happens) but because of a desire to read some occasionally intelligent — or moderately intelligent — viewpoints put forward in a clear and articulate manner. However, within the last year or so, the

Trotsky’s criteria for a workers’ state

Published on: Wed, 31/08/2016 - 12:47

Martin Thomas

In a thorough study of Trotsky’s writings about bureaucratism and bureaucracy in Russia from 1917 to 1936, US socialist Thomas Twiss has shown that Trotsky’s conceptions changed as he grappled with the unexpected evolutions of the state.

At first Trotsky, focused on his task of leading the Red Army, saw as “bureaucratism” only buck-passing, routinist formalism, departmentalism, sluggishness, especially in economic affairs. In 1922-3, however, Trotsky was gradually won over to Lenin’s concern with “bureaucracy” in the sense of the state apparatus raising itself above the working class, outside

Connolly and the First World War

Published on: Wed, 31/08/2016 - 12:24

Part 11 of Michael Johnson’s series on the life and politics of James Connolly. The rest of the series can be found here.

In March 1914, Asquith made his new and final proposal on Home Rule, putting forward a scheme whereby the Ulster counties could exclude themselves from the new Irish constitution. It was supposed to be a temporary exclusion, for six years, but a general election in the interim delivering a Tory majority could make it permanent.

It was clear that Ulster was holding out for permanent exclusion — partition — if could not prevent Home Rule from passing. Adding to the

Labour’s leadership contest and after

Published on: Wed, 31/08/2016 - 12:05


The political movement around Jeremy Corbyn is part of a global context which also includes the Sanders movement in America, the rise of Syriza and Podemos in Greece and Spain, and, in earlier and more ephemeral forms, the Spanish Indignados movement and the Occupy movements across the world. On the right, the Trump movement, the rise of Ukip, and “Brexit”, are also expressions of some of the same phenomena: the effects of capitalist globalisation, long-term neo-liberal economic policy, and specifically the 2007/8 crash.

The Corbyn movement represents an opportunity to transform our labour


Published on: Wed, 31/08/2016 - 11:49

I really enjoyed reading Laura Rogers’ presentation on Trident (Solidarity 412) which powerfully and evocatively set out the class based case against nuclear weapons.

Despite or perhaps because growing up in the Cold War, I was never an instinctive unilateralist or a moral disarmer. Probably I was naïve, but I never felt I was living in constant fear of a nuclear holocaust. I never believed the Russians ever had any intention of invading Western Europe. My argument against nuclear weapons was and is more objective.

The most common scenario was the initial limited use of nuclear by NATO in

Stop the purge, transform Labour

Published on: Wed, 31/08/2016 - 11:37

A letter to John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn:

Dear Jeremy and John,

Comrades: There now seem to be scores of Party officials trawling through Labour members’ and supporters’ social media accounts, going back for years, looking for “evidence” to prevent Corbyn supporters from voting in the leadership election. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, have been barred.

Most ridiculous appears to be the case of Catherine Starr, who has been prevented from voting for Corbyn with the excuse that the fact that she wrote, “I fucking love the Foo Fighters” on Facebook, was “inappropriate”. The most

GCSEs: a pointless misery

Published on: Wed, 31/08/2016 - 11:28

Every year, the media report on GCSE and A-level results and how they compare to previous years. Then they forget about until the next August. For students and school workers, however, GCSEs are a constant source of bewildering misery.

This year, GCSE results have dropped by 2.1%: the biggest fall since the qualifications were introduced. One reason may be changes in exam format and the overloading of content that have happened in some subjects. Another could be the pressure put on school workers and pupils by the amount of funding per pupil dropping, teacher shortages, and accountability

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