Thursday, 20 May 2010
It wasn't just unison members in attendence but members of UCU, GMB and plenty of students as well. The turn out of students was particuarly impressive as it was not annouced publicly on the Student Union website until the afternoon before (though I may be mistaken) I certainly didn't find out until the afternoon and that was by chance from a brief discussion with a unison member.
The 40 jobs cuts which have been mentioned is just those threatened amongst unison members but there will also be job cuts coming in other areas of university staff as well and these are just the cuts which have already been announced. The fact that at short notice over 200 attended a demonstration during the exam period shows not only a definate need to fight back against the cuts but also that there are alot of people willing to be a part of such a campaign. There needs to be a co-ordinated campaign from all four unions on campus. Unison, UCU, GMB and the SU.
A united struggle of all staff unions and students is the only way in which we will be able to stop the cuts at uni glam and demand that management open up the books and show us where the money is going.
More to come shortly at the moment I am having difficulties uploading pictures of the demonstration
Monday, 17 May 2010
Once again the scheduled BA cabin crew strike has been ruled out as illegal. The story is reported by the BBC here. The ruling of this strike as illegal comes after the scheduled strike at Christmas time had previously been ruled out by the High Court as illegal and since then another strike this time of RMT members had also be ruled out by the high court once again on a technical basis.
This all comes out even with Britain having already got the most restrictive trade union legislation in western Europe. The high court has ruled the strike out on this occasion as Unite had failed to inform every member of the result of the ballot. This of course seems to be an absurd notion for several reasons. There was no mention of any problem with the election process or with any member of the union being unable to vote or any problem with the result. The only problem is that not every member had been informed of the result! Unite had stated that due to the international nature of the industry they did the best they could have done, posting results on key notice boards, on the union website and via the use of e-mails and text messages. The only conclusion that any sane person can come to is that this has been a blatant attack on the democratic right to strike.
So we have the situation where three scheduled strikes have gone through a democratic procedure and voted for strike action only to be ruled illegal by a completely unelected High Court judge! A Unite official said it was "an affront to democracy in this country". And Steve Turner, Unite’s national officer said that "decent citizens had voted in an open ballot which had then been ruled out by the judiciary”. And went on to say “the union would hope to be in the Court of Appeal as early as possible, possibly on Tuesday”
But all this does beg the question should a legal challenge be the only route? It is not simply a case of High Court judges acting out of turn but the problem is systematic and the Court of Appeal is part of the same system. It is clear that this is a class war at this stage initiated by the ruling class against the organised working class and there is no indication that the Court of Appeal will be any different.
The situation trade unionists now face on top of the already restrictive laws on the right to strike are several recent precedents set in law now which further curtail or could even be said to make strike action virtually impossible, furthermore this attack comes in the most blatant and class biased of ways and therefore the time to defy the anti-trade union laws and these recent court rulings and launch wildcat strike action is now.
It is only by the trade unions defying these laws with the help and support of the rest of the labour movement that we can show these laws to be worth less than the paper they are written on and enter the coming struggles for jobs and public services in a position of strength. If the anti-trade union laws are not defied then it seems clear that this will continue to happen and possibly even worsen under a tory government and will mean that at the most critical time the entire trade union movement could remain stagnant and paralysed.
For further updates on the BA cabin crew strikes check out the AirStrike blog.
Sunday, 16 May 2010
A few months ago after lengthy debates with a lecturer which dominated seminars about the nature of the Human race,centred around whether humans are inherently selfish with particular reference to the prospects of a classless society. Eventually the lecturer in question offered to lend a book to me called "The Life and Death of St. Kilda - The moving story of a vanished island community"
I have since read the book and although there was nothing within the book that surprised me about human nature, being a marxist I obviously firmly believe there is nothing inherent human nature to prevent a classless society from existing. However I was struck by the existence of a classless society which had existed for centuries still in existence in 20th Century Britain.
The book by Tom Steel outlines the history of the people on the small island group of the coast of Scotland, its the furthest out island group in the region, after the islands there is nothing again until the Americas. The islands are very inaccessible and therefore remained largely isolated from the outside world though some communication and movement of people were possible.
The book begins by delving into the history of the St. Kildan people and the island itself but very little seems to e known about its origins. It goes on to outline the state of life in St.Kilda which due to the harsh climatic nature of the Island was not easy, nevertheless although technically having a feudal overlord they never visited and the community lived in peace never having seen war.
When the St. Kildans had to took they worked hard those capable all chipped in those incapable due to age illness or temporary illness did not go without and every abled bodied person covered there share of the work in essence St Kildan society lived by the motto "From each according to his ability to each according to their need" Men and woman in St Kildan society performed different roles, it wasn't simply that woman stayed at home to rear children and cook and clean but that men and woman were geniunely given different roles within society. This is where i can find the only criticism that where men met every day to divide up the work for the day between themselves this would also be where any decisions would be made for the community in general, whilst not neccessarilly of major importance it did mean that woman were prevented from participating.
However this society did not end because of internal factors but due to external factors from outside from the capitalist world on its doors steps. During the world wars St Kilda was taken over by the armed forces as a strategic outpost and in exchange, not that the St Kildan's had much choice they were employed by the military to help install installations etc. Although the St Kildans had for centuries traded with the outside world this was the first instance in which currency had been introduced into daily use in their society. With wages being paid to them by the military and purchases being made for stores built for the use of military personell or even a tavern which had been built. It was in this period in which many of the younger males and females decided to venture out into the world and this began the demise of St Kilda.
With many of the able bodied deciding to venture out to explore the world or even just Scotland in some cases it became increasingly difficult for the remaining St Kildans to continue to provide for those still there. Despite the government having caused much of the problems for the islanders after using it as a military base and subsequently as a research base they became increasingly reluctant to provide support for them.
Eventually a plan was hatched to relocate them to the mainland with employment in the forestry commission, an odd choice as there were no trees to be found on St Kilda. Many of the St. Kildans did not want to leave and it took a number of years for them to eventually agree. However what happened next enbittened the majority of the St Kildans whose livestock was all sold at auction and they received very little for it. They were split up into different areas some of which were completely isolated and very soon became very aware of the nature of capitalism and the difficulties of surviving on the poverty wages.
The St. Kildans soon came to realise that life on St. Kilda was much better and found difficulties in adjusting to wage-slavery. More and more the dominant idea amongst the St. Kildans was that after all there life was much better of back on St. Kilda and many of them lobbied the government to allow them to return. Some were allowed to return but only on a temporary basis as and none were allowed to return permanently even though they were simply asking to go home!
The story will live on of a classless society who's land was taken by a capitalist government on the promise of a better life in the modern world, but soon the reality of the modern world hit them and they began to realise that life before had always been better and they would have been better of if they had.
Saturday, 15 May 2010
Last Thursday Cardiff Communities Against Racism to co-ordinate events on the 5th of June. The racist English Defence League or as they are calling themselves around these parts the Welsh Defence League (WDL) plan to bring their racist ideas to Cardiff on the 5th of June.
Cardiff Communities Against Racism (CCAR) an ubrella group which had various anti-racist organisations attending and participating in the meeting of between 60-70 people included members of Searchlight Cymru, Unite Against Fascism, Youth Against Racism Newport Communities Against Racism and a whole host of other organisations as well as trade unionists and Students. The campaign has also recieved the official backing on both the University of Glamorgan and Cardiff Students' Unions'.
The meeting was there to thrash out ideas to show everyone in Cardiff and in particular the racist thugs that their ideas are not welcome in our city. Several ideas were mentioned throughout the discussion including producing stickers to give to rugby fans (as the protest coincides with the Wales vs South Africa rugby match. But most importantantly of looking back at the recent success that anti-fascist protesters had in both Newport and Swansea towards the end of last year in which neither of the planned WDL protest were able to go ahead to due the fantastic response of anti-fascists to mobolise into the area and force the police to remove the WDL from the vicinity in Swansea and in the case of Newport where the WDL were to embarressed to even turn up. Many of those in attendence had been at either one or both of the demonstrations and could of their experiences in a favourable light.
Due to the fantastic turn out at the meeting and the passion for action within the room it was impossible to come to a concrete proposal for the demonstration on the day but there will be a follow up meeting of CCAR this time held in Cardiff University Students Union this Thursday which will hopefully allow the campaign against racism to continue with some solid proposals.All anti-facists welcome to attend more information to follow shortly
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
And what blog topics to cover? Well there is a tory government but I will imagine within the next week a will have several blog posts about the election covering different aspects of it.
I fought the presidential elections for Uni Glam Students Union and lost but a month later won the position of Chair of the Treforest (the main campus) so there will be some stuff on student politics touching on the NUS, cut backs in education, student radicalism and also the damage the liberals have done amongst thier student base.
On a personal note several things have been happening much of which will not appear on the blog, but I have recently become an uncle, my sister had a baby boy a couple of weeks ago and that may be blogged on as well.
More to come shortly.
Everyones Favourite Comrade.