Solidarity 313, 12 February 2014

New law whips up anti-migrant racism

The Tory’s nasty new Immigration Bill is expected to pass into law this spring.

The Coalition has said that it wishes to reduce yearly net migration to the “tens of thousands”. And Home Secretary Theresa May admits that the Immigration Bill is about “making it harder for people who are here illegally to stay here”.

The new law will turn landlords and GPs into border guards.

Landlords will be required to check the immigration status of potential tenants or face a £3,000 fine. Many landlords will simply refuse to rent to anyone who looks or sounds “foreign”.

Sochi games: gay rights protestors arrested

On Friday 7 February, the Russian authorities arrested at least 61 people in the run-up to the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony in Sochi.

The arrests spanned from the Caucuses to the capital St Petersburg. The government is seemingly tolerating no dissent, even far away from the location of the games in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Ineos sacks union convenor

Unite convenor Mark Lyon was sacked by Ineos at Grangemouth last week.

His dismissal follows the resignation three months ago of another Unite convenor, Stevie Deans, after a witch-hunt based on collusion between Ineos, the police, the media and the Tories (with some assistance from people in Labour).

According to a statement issued by Unite:

“Mr Lyon’s sacking comes in the face of significant medical evidence that he is suffering from a serious stress-related illness as a result of the treatment he has endured at the hands of the company.”

Where next for the universities dispute?

After three one-day strikes — and three two-hour strikes by UCU members — the universities’ pay dispute looks no closer to resolution.

The employers are refusing to talk, and say they regard the 2013/14 round as settled with the imposition of a 1% rise.

The UCU leadership has not delivered the escalation strategy proposed back in September — which would have seen a marking boycott begin in time to hit first semester exams in a significant proportion of institutions.

Labour councils and bedroom tax

On 10 February, Channel 4 screened a ‘Dispatches’ documentary on “bedroom tax”.

Many Labour councillors appeared on the programme denouncing the Government’s measures. Some of them even detailed how they were doing the bare minimum required of them by law to implement them. Our main priority is to protect our tenants, they said.

The Labour Party has pledged to scrap the tax on coming to power.

China: new realities and old dogmas

This book contains many good things — an assessment of the nature of capitalism that has developed in China over the last two decades; analysis of the burgeoning Chinese working class; and avid descriptions of recent workers’ struggles. However these fine efforts are spoiled by its treatment of the Maoist period which is falsely characterised as some kind of workers’ state.

End sweatshops! Support Bangladeshi workers!

When Rana Plaza, a multistorey building housing garment factories, collapsed in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka in April 2013 the focus of the world media was on the conditions of Bangladeshi workers.

It seemed that a turning point might be reached in their fight for rights. But a new investigation by ITV journalists, featuring the campaigning NGO Labour Behind the Label, has shown that little has changed for the better.

Tube strike stalls cuts plans

Tube unions RMT and TSSA suspended a strike planned for 11-13 February, after London Underground bosses agreed some concessions in talks.

The Daily Mail reported the suspension of the action as London Underground “caving in to militants” and retreating from their plan to close all ticket offices. That the right-wing, anti-union press sees the deal as a win for the unions is certainly a positive sign!

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