Solidarity 564, 23 September 2020

The nature of the Lukashenko regime

While Belarusian and Russian troops have been staging joint military exercises ("Slavic Brotherhood 2020"), Belarus President Lukashenko's story about the events reveals the undemocratic nature of his regime. The current wave of protests, claims Lukashenko, is the product of ten years of preparations by the USA and its "satellites" — Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Ukraine — each of which "has had their own role to play". "Just as in Syria and Venezuela" attempts were made to undermine the electoral base of the country's leader. Tactics "borrowed from the Arab, Armenian, Polish and...

Universities: no classes? No rent!

By Workers' Liberty students Most first year uni students will have planned to stay in university accommodation this year. Most will already be locked into contracts or will have paid for the first month or term. This year, as in all recent years, rents may be so expensive they drain most, even all, of a student loan. But this year we are also living with Covid-19. Now students are stuck in high-density barely-affordable accommodation where there is a high risk of getting the virus. If say 1 in 500 among students (an age-group with a higher infection rate) has the virus, then, statistically...

Care workers fight for rights

On 18 September are workers at Sage Nursing Home in north London, primarily migrant workers, organising through the United Voices of World union, threatened to strike for a pay claim of £12 an hour to give equality with NHS terms and conditions. Another important struggle for care workers lies in a successful legal case, taken by Unison against three domiciliary care companies, over time for travel counting as working time under the minimum wage legislation. A victory for this group of women zero-hours workers opens the door for action on this issue across the home care sector. Workers in the...

Responses to the pandemic: equality or insanity?

Agitation for increased funding for mental health services continues, with various research papers highlighting or predicting high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Mental health services are in desperate need of resources. It remains unclear whether this coronavirus pandemic and lockdown restrictions, specifically, really have made a difference to the mental illness pandemic that was already blighting the lives of billions globally long before Covid-19 came into being. For instance, a survey from UCL headlined that 18% of...

Uyghurs suppressed? But the US has racist cops!

During the Cold War the cry "but America lynches blacks" was a favourite Stalinist riposte to any criticism of the USSR's human rights record. This is known as a Tu Quoque — a form of debating trick based upon the perceived hypocrisy of the opponent rather than the merits of their argument. Last weekend's Morning Star (19-20 Sep) carried a classic example of this with an article by Fiona Edwards entitled "The left must oppose the US cold war on China and not sit on the fence". Ms Edwards examines "the reality of the contrasting approaches of the US and China on the major issues facing humanity...

Ukraine miners' protest goes underground

Hundreds of mine workers have spent weeks underground in a desperate attempt to win concessions from their employers in Ukraine. The protests began on 3 September at the Oktyabrskaya mine, where 29 miners started the action. There was no response from management, so the strike began to spread. Within a few days, 214 miners at the Rodina mine, 90 miners at the Gvardeyskaya mine and 60 miners at the Ternovskaya mine joined the protest underground. By mid-September, nearly 400 workers at four mines belonging to the Kryvyi Rih Iron Ore Plant were participating in the protests. Above ground, the...

Letters: US election; Exams and algorithms; Ballot school workers?

Help defeat Trump Socialists in the US should be trying to build a working-class campaign to throw Trump out of power. In the last six months the Trump Administration has moved decisively in the direction of open fascism. Violent racist, transphobic and anti-left rhetoric was always part of his repertory. Since the start of the pandemic and the resurgence of Black Lives Matter protests that has stepped up decisively. Trump has effectively celebrated far right shootings of anti-fascists and Black Lives Matter protesters. He encourages followers to take up arms against BLM and Antifa. He is...

Making streets good for walking and bikes

Over 200 emergency low-traffic neighbourhood (LTN) schemes have been proposed or implemented across the country since May, when the government introduced new guidance and small amounts of funding to "promote active travel". These are proposed in at least 54 boroughs, particularly in large cities, with the majority in London. The schemes introduce car barriers, preventing cars from using streets as "rat runs" as a way of bypassing main road traffic, and so reducing net traffic. That makes the back streets more pleasant for walking, cycling, for mobility and electric scooters, and the like...

How I got 100 people out to back the Uyghurs

Sade Sawyers, who organised a protest for the Uyghurs at the Chinese embassy in London on 11 September, spoke to Sacha Ismail from Solidarity. I watch a lot of political videos on YouTube, and about a month ago I came across one about the Uyghurs. Before that I hadn't actually heard about the issue, even though I'm pretty up to date with current events. I was shocked — I actually ended up crying, which I wouldn't normally. I started tweeting about it and got into discussion with a friend, decided to organise a protest and it went from there. I didn't expect such a good response — I thought it...

A socialist voice in difficult times

Workers' Liberty backs the Green Party US campaign of Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker, as the only campaign in the US presidential election to raise explicit socialist demands and have a labour movement orientation. There are other socialists of some stripes running, but on a purely sect-building basis. Hawkins is a member of the revolutionary socialist group Solidarity, and has been a long term activist in the third camp socialist tradition. In some ways, his is the best socialist Presidential campaign for many years. But it also faces great difficulties. His choice to run as a Green Party...

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