Weekly Links 18/01/2009
News this week that Ireland has nationalised the Anglo Irish Bank.
At a press conference held at Government Buildings, the finance minister Brian Lenihan said that the admission last month by former chairman Sean FitzPatrick that he had taken secret loans of over €87 million over a period of eight years had caused "serious reputational damage" to the bank.
The Irish economy is in serious trouble - we will see whether the obvious culpability of Ireland's politicians and capitalists for the severity of the difficulties to be faced by Irish workers results in good left conclusions being drawn.
Meanwhile, in Britain, all the signs are that unemployment will continue to grow rapidly for some time.
NASA scientist Jim Hansen has warned Barack Obama ahead of his inauguration as President later this week that there are as little as four years left to make the major changes in economic, energy and transport policies necessary to have a chance of averting catastrophic climate change - i.e dramatic action needs to take place during Obama's first term.
As a result of his fears about sea-level rise, Hansen said he had pressed both Britain's Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences to carry out an urgent investigation of the state of the planet's ice-caps. However, nothing had come of his proposals. The first task of Obama's new climate office should therefore be to order such a probe "as a matter of urgency", Hansen added.
IWW IU 530 emergency appeal
EMERGENCY APPEAL – FUNDS NEEDED IMMEDIATELY
The IWW has been organizing Truck Drivers in Eastern North Carolina and Virginia for much of the past year. In response to our growing power and planned founding convention this upcoming weekend, the bosses have begun firing the union's leadership.
Two log drivers and five container haulers have lost their job over the past two days. The union is already discussing legal and direct action means to fight these unjust firing, but right now we need funds to support our fired drivers.
These drivers have families to support and this is a part of the country where economic opportunities are very limited. Please offer whatever you can, drivers are counting on you.
Checks can be sent to the Freight Truckers Organizing Committee at PO Box 274, Waukegan, IL 60079. Please include "emergency relief" in the memo line.
We are in the process of setting a PayPal Acct for online donations.
Thank you and please be generous.
In Britain, organised teachers and campaigners have scored a victory in the fight against the government's attempts to break up and part-privatise more of the education system - this is form the Anti Academies Alliance :
UNIONS at WORK ! from the Anti Academies Alliance
Derby Council cabinet voted to abandon their plans for an Academy to replace Sinfin Community school last night (Tuesday 13th January). This is a significant victory for the determined campaign run by teachers and parents.
The campaign has involved 7 days of strike action by NASUWT members, one of those a joint strike day with the NUT.
It involved a public meeting of 100 parents and teacher.
883 people returned the consultation document, including 150 pupils, 793 rejecting the proposal.
The campaign managed to shift the Headteacher from supporting the academy proposal to opposing it.
The campaign persuaded the governors that the academy would not be good for local children.
At the cabinet meeting councillor Allen said "There is an overwhelming objection to Sinfin school becoming an academy. We have an obligation to listen to the people of Sinfin".
Dave Wilkinson, NASUWT secretary sent us this comment:
"The decision by Derby City Council to abandon its academy plans really is a historic victory in the battle against the privatisation of our schools brought about by the Government's academy programme. Eighteen months ago, opposition to academies in Derby was confined to a handful of trade union officials from the Education unions. Last night was the culmination of a campaign where literally thousands of Derby residents have shown their opposition to the closure of a school which has served working people in Derby since it was established. A coalition of organisations and trade unions has brought about this victory, but I do want to pay particular tribute to the two teacher unions in the school, NASUWT and NUT, who took eight days of strike action against the academy plans. NASUWT members have also maintained action short of strike action from May 2008 onwards."
Meanwhile, following the craven apologetics for government and big business from the TUC and some Labour-affiliated unions over the Heathrow expansion announcement it was good to see that the main rail and civil service unions in Britain proposed a more progressive and environmentally sensitive option.
High-speed rail would create tens of thousands of jobs – including at Heathrow – and would provide a cleaner option than airport expansion, say RMT, ASLEF and PCS.
Welcoming positive government statements on the benefits of high-speed rail and electrification and the accelerated provision of new passenger rolling stock, the unions point out that the emphasis should be on modal shift that will help meet the carbon challenge
I can also report on success for left candidates, including Green Left's James Caspell in Unison elections in Lambeth, London. They showed that united, and fighting on a radical programme, the left can win union elections against Labour timeservers and those on the left who adopt a more sectarian approach.
An interesting contribution to the discussion on individual versus social solutions to the ongoing ecological crisis by Don Fitz, the editor of Synthesis/Regeneration has been published on the excellent Climate and Capitalism blog.