Solidarity 180, 9 September 2010

South Africa: one million strike against austerity

Published on: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 16:47

Darren Beresford

A public sector strike that mobilised over a million workers over 20 days has been suspended, with unions winning gains but many workers thinking they could win more.

The strike is the biggest in the history of South Africa, which is the largest and most significant economy in the continent. Action began in August after workers rejected bosses’ pay offer of 7% and its offer to increase the housing allowance to 700 Rand per month.

The scope of the strike soon expanded to take in other issues, such as medical allowances.

Teachers’ leader Thobile Ntola said “This strike is not only about the

The origin of the Plebs League: "The Burning Question of Education"

Published on: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 16:18

Colin Waugh

Achieving control of Ruskin College was central to the WEA/extension project. From the summer of 1907 onwards, its supporters threw themselves into open propaganda, behind-the-scenes lobbying and bureaucratic manoeuvring — all aimed at purging the college of whatever stood in their way.

As well as setting up the committee to oversee the writing of Oxford and Working-Class Education, setting out the structure and to some degree the content of study at Ruskin College, the August 1907 Oxford Delegacy/WEA conference also set up an Oxford Tutorial Classes Committee, with Oxford tutor William Temple

'Danton's Death': learning from their mistakes

Published on: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 15:40

Molly Kirwin

Georg Buchner wrote Danton’s Death in the Vormarz (“before March”) period of German literature and politics leading up to the failed March 1848 revolution. Set in the last spring of the French revolution (1794), Buchner’s play examines the split in the Jacobin party between the moderates led by Danton (Toby Stephens) and Desmoulins (Barnaby Kay) and Robespierre’s radical group.

That split in some ways foreshadowed the divisions which have occurred in future revolutions as the desire for rapid change meets the paranoia of opposition.

Danton’s group were not “moderates” in the normal definition

Our unions should challenge sexism

Published on: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 15:24

A woman RMT member

Have you ever experienced sexism at work? Have you ever witnessed it? Sexism can be very prevalent in male-dominated industries and often goes unchallenged. But women should not have to go through it, and the unions should do something about it.

What is sexism?

Sexism is discriminatory and demeaning behaviour towards members of the opposite sex. In the vast majority of cases it is men behaving like this towards women.

Sexism reinforces the inferior and constricted position in society that women have occupied for centuries. When working-class women have to come up against this in their

How to fight for trade union democracy

Published on: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 15:01

Daniel Randall

The TUC responded to the arrival of a government determined to squeeze the working class even more than the Thatcher regime did, by deciding that the times are not now eventful enough to warrant the TUC holding annual congresses as it has done since 1869. Once every two years will now do.

The post and telecoms union CWU rejected moves from its leadership to hold its conferences only once every two years, but agreed to elect its Executive members only every two years instead of yearly. It did that despite CWU Assistant General Secretary Dave Ward having blurted out the thinking behind the

Anti-fascist convicted on police say-so

Published on: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 14:19

UAF activist and SWP leader Martin Smith has been found guilty of assaulting a police officer at the protest against Nick Griffin’s “Question Time” appearance in October 2009.

Smith had pleaded his innocence and no evidence was brought in court against him: it was the police officer’s word against Smith’s.

Smith has been sentenced to a 12-month community order, with 80 hours’ unpaid work, and fined £450.

This is a malicious charge. It comes alongside a prosecution against Weyman Bennett, UAF and SWP activist, charged with conspiracy to organise violent disorder at a protest against the EDL in

Chasing the ENA around Brighton

Published on: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 14:15


Around 40 members of the English Nationalist Alliance marched in Brighton on 29 August. More than 200 anti-fascists held a counter demonstration.

The counter demo was in some respects positive, but mainly ineffective. The ENA, displaying mostly EDL flags, wandered between Brighton station and the nearest pub. Anti-fascists stood chanting inside a soft police kettle, without really troubling the ENA.

Once the counter demo had gathered around 250 people, the police marched us away from the ENA. The majority of anti-fascists wanted to stay put and shout at the ENA. Some, SWP included, seemed

Workers of the world

Published on: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 13:58

Workers at the Viva Global garment factory, Gurgaon, India have been brutally attacked and beaten up with hockey sticks and lathis by goons called in by the factory bosses.

The incident happened on 23 August when workers were entering the factory, as part of a tripartite agreement between the management of Viva Global, the Indian Labour Department, and the Garment and Allied Workers Union (GAWU).

Viva Global is a major supplier of clothes to well-known multinational brands such as Marks and Spencer. There have been serious violations of labour laws and human rights at the Viva Global Factory.

Alan Milburn joins Government as "social mobility" advisor

Published on: Thu, 09/09/2010 - 12:40

David Cameron’s “big tent” is beginning to look like the Millenium Dome. It’s hard to keep up with those disaffected New Labour ministers and MPs and advisors who have agreed to serve the coalition as a “tsar” or an “advisor” for state initiatives.

Latest to join up was Alan Milburn. This former member of the International Marxist Group has become an adviser on “social mobility”. Well “mobility” is something political invertebrates know all about.

Milburn joins Frank Field who is a poverty tsar (specialising in 100 ways to chuck people off benefits), and John Hutton is looking at public

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