Solidarity 226, 23 November 2011

Egypt: revolt against the army

Published on: Wed, 23/11/2011 - 14:23

By Clive Bradley

Protests in Egypt left at least 28 dead and hundreds of injured.

On Friday 18 November, Tahrir Square filled with demonstrators, frustrated with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which has held power since Mubarak’s removal in February.

Parliamentary elections are due to start on 28 November — though several parties have declared a boycott in light of this weekend’s events. The army, initially reluctant to give up power, is promising a new President by June 2012 and has accepted the resignation of the current cabinet.

When the army intervened during the

Putin's assault on LGBT rights

Published on: Wed, 23/11/2011 - 14:16

Vladimir Putin’s ruling party is pushing a bill which would severely curtail freedom of speech and assembly for LGBT people in Russia.

The bill was proposed by the dominant United Russia party and passed a first reading on Wednesday 16 November. It will impose a maximum fine of $1,600 for “public actions aimed at propaganda for pederasty, lesbianism, bisexuality, and transgenderism among minors.”

Although homosexuality was decriminalised in Russia in 1993, the Russian state has a recent history of shocking violence and repression against LGBT activists who campaign against homophobia and

Eurozone crisis big chance to attack workers' rights

Published on: Wed, 23/11/2011 - 14:11

David Cameron has suggested to German chancellor Angela Merkel that he would support a quick change in European treaties, to increase economic integration and help tackle the eurozone crisis, if only he gets a payback with the scrapping of European Union labour laws.

Especially mentioned is the European Working Time Directive, which imposes limits on working hours. The Tories would surely also like to scrap the Agency Workers’ Directive.

Merkel has agreed to discuss the deal “constructively”. There are a dozen large obstacles in the way of treaty change, but the labour movement should take

Teacher's reinstatement fight goes on

Published on: Wed, 23/11/2011 - 14:05

The campaign to defend victimised teacher trade unionist Pat Markey will discuss a possible resolution.

The disciplinary hearing at which Pat faced dismissal (scheduled for Monday 21 November) was postponed.

A spokesperson from Northampton National Union of Teachers said “It’s clear that the school is negotiating seriously because of the threat of strike action.”

Threat to union politics

Published on: Wed, 23/11/2011 - 14:00

The Committee for Standards in Public Life (CSPL), a quango set up in 1994, on 22 November published its long-delayed recommendations for change in political party funding.

It demands that unions require members to opt in to the political levy (as between 1927 and 1945) rather than giving them the chance to opt out. And it would ban union donations to Labour (or any party) bigger than £10,000 in addition to affiliation fees.

The recommendations are dangerous. It looks unlikely that they will be implemented fast. Lib-Dem leader Nick Clegg has said: “It would not be right to ask our hard-pressed

Liverpool Airport workers to strike

Published on: Wed, 23/11/2011 - 13:56

Aviation workers at Liverpool John Lennon Airport will strike on Wednesday 23 November as part of a rolling programme of action which will continue into December.

Ground service provider Servisair, which serves airlines including Ryanair and EasyJet, had initially threatened to axe 75 jobs. Although negotiation reduced the figure to 47, the workers’ union – the GMB – has maintained its opposition to any compulsory redundancies whatsoever and will now strike in an attempt to save the jobs. Union members working for Servisair vote 85% in favour of taking strike action and 95% in favour of taking

Job losses at British Gas?

Published on: Wed, 23/11/2011 - 13:53

Centrica, the company which owns British Gas, has announced plans to cut 850 jobs as part of a cost-savings drive that could see further attacks for its 34,000 employees.

Reduced energy use by homes and business during an unusually hot autumn is being blamed by Centrica for the cuts, but although its takings fell its operating profit for 2011 was still nearly £2.5 billion. Its North Sea oil and gas operation could be next in line for the chop after the initial 850 redundancies.

Mike Jeram, head of Business and Environment at the trade union Unison, said:

“This is seriously bad news on the day

Leeds teachers strike against Academy plan

Published on: Wed, 23/11/2011 - 13:49

By Patrick Murphy, Leeds NUT and NUT National Executive (pc)

Over 60 teachers at Prince Henry’s Grammar School in Otley, Leeds, are involved in an intensive programme of strike action against plans to turn their school into an academy.

Members of the NUT and NASUWT started the action with a one day strike on 10 November but their unions announced plans to increase this to two days the following week (16 and 17 November) and three days the week after that. After talks to resolve the dispute broke down on Friday 18 November, a large meeting of union members voted overwhelmingly to stick to

Europe: death to the rentier!

Published on: Wed, 23/11/2011 - 13:21

By Barry Finger

The immediate crisis demonstrates, if there were any lingering doubts, that the architecture of the European Monetary Union is incompatible with countercyclical intervention.

It was designed solely to contain inflation at 2%. There is no central fiscal authority and no mandate to either maintain acceptable levels of employment or to sustain working class living standards against the ravages of the business cycle. As it stands, not one proposal emanating from Europe’s ruling classes attends to anything beyond saving its banks to forestall further private sector contagion, while

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