Solidarity 322, 30 April 2014

683 sentenced to death in Egypt

Published on: Wed, 30/04/2014 - 12:47

On Monday 28 April, 683 people were sentenced to death in the city of Minya, Egypt. The same judge then upheld the death sentences of 37 others, with life sentences for 491 more.

Amnesty International say "This is the largest single batch of simultaneous death sentences we’ve seen in recent years, not just in Egypt but anywhere in the world.”

Most of those sentenced are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, including the head of the organisation, Mohammed Badie. They were accused of killing two police officers last year, during violence following the military coup against the Muslim

Against Jobbik and anti-semitism

Published on: Wed, 30/04/2014 - 12:39

On 27 April, 25,000 people protested against anti-semitism in Hungary.

Every year, a march takes place in Budapest to commemorate the Hungarian Jews killed in the Holocaust.

This year, a record number joined the march, with many marchers protesting against the rise of anti-semitism in Hungary. Just three weeks earlier, elections had seen the far-right, anti-semitic Jobbik party win 21 per cent of the national vote.

600,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered in the Holocaust. Hungarians constituted the largest nationality amongst the victims of the notorious Auschwitz death camp. Sadly, anti

The rich rake it in

Published on: Wed, 30/04/2014 - 12:28

On 24 April, Scott London, the former head of the southern California audit practice for KPMG, one of the world’s “Big Four” audit companies, was jailed for 14 months.

He had pleaded guilty to leaking information to cronies so that they could profit in share trading. He got bribes in return, including packs of money wrapped in paper bags and handed to him in car-park rendezvous.

The “Big Four” used to be the “Big Five”. The other giant audit company, Arthur Andersen, collapsed in 2002 after being found guilty of criminal charges about its auditing of the energy company Enron.

Auditors are

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 30/04/2014 - 12:24

On 1 May, UCU members at Lambeth College in South London will begin indefinite strike action to block attacks on their conditions.

These attacks include increased working and contact hours, cuts to annual leave, additional duties for no extra pay, reduced redundancy notice and drastically reduced sick pay.

Management are attempting to impose the new contracts on new workers, current staff who are promoted, and hourly-paid staff. They have also said that these new conditions may be rolled out to cover all staff.

Unison members, part of the Lambeth Council branch, are also balloting, but are not

An alternative for teachers

Published on: Wed, 30/04/2014 - 12:11

Two out of every five teachers leave the profession within their first five years of teaching - a shocking indictment of what we are up against.

Most teachers cite excessive workload and the oppressive culture at work as the main reason for quitting, though having to work longer and pay more for a worse pension, and having a real term pay cut hardly helps.

With performance pay coming in big-time in September, more rocky times lie ahead. So we need to call a spade a spade.

The Stand Up For Education campaign has failed to galvanise our staffrooms in such a way as to give teachers the confidence

Council workers prepare for strike ballot

Published on: Wed, 30/04/2014 - 11:58

Unison members who work in local government have voted by 70% in a consultative ballot to reject the employers’ meagre 1% pay offer. As reported in previous issues of Solidarity, workers have faced a real-terms pay cut of 20% in the last four years.

A formal strike ballot will take place from 23 May to 23 June. Strikes could begin on 10 July.

The union leadership’s plan appears to be for a one-day strike in July, potentially followed by a further two days of strikes in September, where it could be possible to link up with our Health section, whose conference recently voted for action over

A whole new ball game?

Published on: Wed, 30/04/2014 - 11:50

After three years of negotiations secular nationalist Fatah and political-Islamist Hamas have announced a deal in which they say they will soon form a unity government for the Palestinian Authority.

Israel’s right-wing Likud government has accused Fatah of seeking to destroy the possibility of peace through the current US-sponsored negotiations. As this abridged article by Adam Keller points out, that accusation is hypocritical. The deal also points to a mood of despair among Fatah leaders at the possibility of a meaningful two-state solution.

Last year, Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) entered with

Construction death traps in the Gulf

Published on: Wed, 30/04/2014 - 11:45

M worked as an architect on construction sites in Dubai. He told Solidarity what daily working life is like on those sites.

The major difference between a construction site in Dubai and one in Europe is the number of hours that they work. The workers are present on site from 7am to 7pm — twelve hours a day for six days a week, sometimes seven.

They usually only have short breaks. The formal site regulations are all normal by international standards, but the hours are not. And the wages are completely sub-standard. The workers get £600 or £700 a month for 70 or 80 hours a week.

The workers are

Self-determination for Ukraine!

Published on: Wed, 30/04/2014 - 11:35

As Solidarity goes to press on 29 April, the conflict in Ukraine is deadlocked. The Ukrainian government has said it will re-take city halls in east Ukraine seized by pro-Russian groups, but has made few moves so far.

Evidently the Ukrainian government is worried that any armed clash will give the Russian army an excuse to invade and claim it is only keeping the peace.

The US and the EU have announced new sanctions aimed at making Russia back down and use its influence to unwind the city hall coups in east Ukraine. But they have been unable to reach agreement. The US and the EU are targeting

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