Solidarity 421, 26 October 2016

Fees must fall … wages must rise

Published on: Wed, 26/10/2016 - 13:00

Dales Forbes

South Africa has seen some of its largest protests in two decades in the last month as tens of thousands of students, many activists affiliated with the "Fees Must Fall" movement, faced off with police and university authorities to demand a cheaper university system.

Battles have been raging at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where officials used tear gas to subdue protestors, at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein and the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban and at the University of Cape Town.

"Fees Must Fall" began in 2015, after the government proposed

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 26/10/2016 - 12:55

Gemma Short, Charlotte Zalens, Ollie Moore and Simon Nelson

Teaching assistants in Derby and Durham have been fighting attacks on their terms and conditions.

As previously reported in Solidarity, teaching assistants in Derby will have their pay slashed by 25% to bring them onto term-time only pay.

Durham teaching assistants face a similar cut in pay, and the council is planning on sacking all the teaching assistants and reemploying them on the new contract to force through the changes, Durham council′s ″solution″ would mean some workers only losing 10% of their pay — but working more hours for the privilege!

Teaching assistants in Derby struck on

Get ready for Momentum conference!

Published on: Wed, 26/10/2016 - 12:38

Sacha Ismail

Momentum’s (first) national conference isn’t until February, and in fact the date has not been set. Nonetheless Momentum activists need to get prepared now. This is an opportunity to democratise Momentum and push it towards more active campaigning and towards class-struggle socialist politics.

The first challenge is to ensure a democratic conference with control over Momentum policy and decision-making. Some oppose the conference taking motions and oppose a conference being held regularly with delegates from local groups – the only way meaningful democratic control can be established in a

New stitch-up in Brighton

Published on: Wed, 26/10/2016 - 12:31

Mark Sandell, elected chair of Brighton and Hove Labour Party, spoke to Solidarity.

After Jeremy Corbyn’s second leadership victory and the gerrymandering by the National Executive Committee at Labour Party conference, the stage was set. As the elected chair of Brighton and Hove, I received a letter expelling me from the Labour Party; and the Disputes Committee decided that Brighton and Hove should be broken up into three Constituency Labour Parties.

The process is to be overseen by a steering committee made up of the old executive and some of those elected at the 9 July AGM after which the

The Anthropocene or Capitalocene?

Published on: Wed, 26/10/2016 - 11:57

Neil Laker

In 2008, the International Commission on Stratigraphy created a Working Group on the Anthropocene (WGA) to examine the addition of a new epoch to the geological time scale. In August 2016, all but one of the WGA’s 35 members agreed that the Anthropocene is “stratigraphically real”, and 30 agreed that the new epoch should be formally added to the time scale.

Majority opinion also indicated in favour of the view that globally synchronous changes to the Earth System most clearly intensified in the “Great Acceleration” of the mid-20th century.1

While recognition of recent transformations to the

Heathrow: oppose third runway

Published on: Wed, 26/10/2016 - 11:48


On 25 October, the Tory government announced that it would back the building of a third runway at Heathrow. Tory MP Zac Goldsmith signalled that he would resign and fight a by-election as an independent candidate, and other Tories objected.

In a bid to reduce the disruption in the Tory party, prime minister Theresa May has said that the decisive parliamentary vote will not be taken until the winter of 2017-8. Construction is due to start in 2020 or 2021.

The CBI and the TUC backed the Heathrow expansion plan. The Lib-Dems and the Greens opposed it. Labour approved Heathrow expansion while in

Calais: Open the border!

Published on: Wed, 26/10/2016 - 11:44


None of us will know exactly what the terror feels like as our Syrian village is overrun by Daesh (“Islamic State”). Or exactly how disgusting the Mercedes-driving, people-smuggling parasites are that took all our money and pushed us out into the Aegean in a half-submerged dinghy.

And then, after months on the road, walking across scrubland, preyed on by Libyan gangsters, half-drowned, looking for a little help and solidarity – where do many migrants end up? Somewhere like the muddy, cold, wet fields on the outskirts of Calais. Thousands packed together, young and old, under plastic sheets

The Sun sinks again

Published on: Wed, 26/10/2016 - 11:35

Padraig Muir

The sentencing on 21 October, of star News UK reporter Mahzer Mahmood, otherwise known as "the fake sheikh", to 15 months' jail, has led to renewed demands for more official regulation of the press.

Mahmood made his considerable professional reputation through a series of especially audacious sting operations aimed at high profile figures in entertainment and sport. His nickname stems from the most common and famous of the disguises used to fool these figures into dodgy financial deals which he would secretly film. In his last major operation he was disguised as an oil-rich film mogul.


Pardon not good enough?

Published on: Wed, 26/10/2016 - 11:20

Simon Nelson

A private members Bill which would have pardoned up to 15,000 living gay men who have a criminal record due to the defunct Sexual Offences Act was recently talked out of Parliament by Tory Minister Sam Gyimah. By speaking for 25 minutes he ensured the Bill ran out of time and was not voted on.

He argued the government had already agreed to let gay men apply for their convictions to be disregarded and had introduced a posthumous “pardoning process.” Gyimah argued the Bill would have allowed pardoning for actions that remain crimes, e.g. would pardon those who had sex with someone under the

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