Solidarity 423, 10 November 2016

Fight the HE Bill!

Published on: Thu, 10/11/2016 - 14:32

Ruairidh Anderson

The National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, a free education activist network, writes that the HE reforms “are forcing marketisation on the university sector”, which will lead to universities “raising tuition fees, and allowing private providers further access to education provision.”

In brief “(the reforms) constitute a wide-ranging assault on the principles of free, liberated, critical education.” The main mechanism through which this will be achieved is through a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

This will be similar to the Research Excellence Framework, a way of ranking universities

New education union

Published on: Thu, 10/11/2016 - 14:27

A National Education Union (NEU) is likely to be formed by a merger of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL). This merger is a step forwards for school workers organising.

Both the NUT and ATL held special conferences on Saturday 5 November to decide whether or not to ballot their members on the proposal to create a new union. The merger would create the largest school workers’ union in the country, organising 450,000 members. Although the majority will be teachers, the ATL also organises a number of support workers who would be included in the

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Thu, 10/11/2016 - 14:19

On 8 November, the Dockworkers’ Union started industrial action, including a ban on overtime, at the Gothenburg terminal which handles 60% of Sweden’s container trade. It has also called for a blockade on traffic redirected from Gothenburg.

Problems in Gothenburg have increased over the last five years since APM, the container-terminal offshoot of the giant Maersk group, took over, and especially since, according to the union, about a year and a half ago, the company adopted “an anti-union stance”, presumably in response to the continued stagnation and sharper competition in global container

Momentum members call for democratic structures

Published on: Thu, 10/11/2016 - 13:27

Gerry Bates

After the 5 November meeting of Momentum’s National Committee was cancelled by Momentum’s Steering Committee (SC), a number of delegates and members decided to meet informally on the same day.

The discussion at this meeting in Birmingham was focussed on proposals to improve Momentum democracy and functioning. Eighteen NC members attended, along with a number of observers. Three members of Momentum Youth and Students also attended, after being mandated to do so by their Steering Committee.

Momentum’s Steering Committee was elected by the National Committee earlier this year. But it was always

Cutting the NHS to the bone

Published on: Thu, 10/11/2016 - 12:51

Gemma Short, Charlie Bell and Romesh Amaradeva

The NHS Bill 16/17 (formerly the NHS reinstatement bill) was due to have its second reading in Parliament on Friday 4 November.

NHS campaigners gathered outside Parliament to support the bill. The bill did not get discussed on that date and the second reading has now been rescheduled to 24 February 2017. The bill was presented to Parliament on 13 July by Labour MPs Rachel Maskell and Margaret Greenwood. The bill would restore the NHS as an accountable public service by reversing 25 years of privatisation and marketisation.

The bill would: abolish the purchaser-provider split; reinstate the

Stumbling to the left

Published on: Thu, 10/11/2016 - 12:32

Martin Thomas

I was broken from the instinctive middle-class Toryism handed down from my parents by reading Marx — Capital, and two paperback books of selections — when I was 14.

My family was well-off — dad a GP, mum a dentist. There were few books in the house other than my dad’s medical textbooks, but I became a bookish child (my sister and my brother, not so much). My favourites were Kasner and Newman’s four-volume The World of Mathematics and the collected works of Dickens, both given to me by the only even quarter-bookish person in my parents’ social circle, the head teacher of a secondary modern

Democracy is more than clicks online

Published on: Thu, 10/11/2016 - 12:26

Gerry Bates

There’s an argument about decision-making procedures going on in the Labour left group Momentum. What is it about?

Whether decisions, on policy or on who gets on committees, should be taken by votes in meetings, following discussion — or online.

What does Solidarity prefer?

Votes in meetings, following discussion.

What’s the advantage of that?

As the American historian Howard Zinn put it: “Democracy is not just a counting up of votes, it is a counting up of actions. Without those on the bottom acting out their desires for justice, as the government acts out its needs, and those with

Residents plan Heathrow campaign

Published on: Thu, 10/11/2016 - 11:31

Simon Nelson

Four Tory Councils are set to take legal action against the expansion of Heathrow Airport. Hillingdon, Richmond, Wandsworth and Windsor and Maidenhead will be joined by Greenpeace in seeking a judicial review of the decision to go ahead with a third runway.

Court action is likely to delay any final decision actually being implemented. For the residents of the area and those who will be most directly affected the words of David Cameron, “No ifs, No buts. No third runway” now ring very hollow.

The anger felt by local people as Heathrow Ltd throw their weight around has not dimmed in the years

A vicious circle in schools

Published on: Thu, 10/11/2016 - 11:22

Gerry Bates

Between half-term of summer 2016 and Xmas 2016, over half the maths teachers in the London secondary school where I teach will have quit.

The maths department is more stable than most. Our science department, for example, went through almost a Year Zero in 2015, with almost a complete turnover of staff. And our school is probably more stable than most in low-income areas of London.

The Guardian has reported that the Harris Academies in and around London — “one of England’s largest and most successful academy chains” — had “465 teachers leaving in 2014-15, 422 in 2013-14 and 375 in 2012-13”,

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