WHY WAGES MATTER

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by Edward Grierson

It goes without saying that the current wage situation in the UK is not good. Following the disastrous speculation on the banks’ behalf that led to the recession, real wages for UK workers fell by 10.4% from 2007-2015, a decline only matched by Greece. Even worse has been the combination of this wage drop with the continued pay gap between employees and the people who employ them: as of 2015, the salary of a UK CEO was nearly 130 times that of the average UK worker’s salary.

The reason why this is a concern, why we should be worried about falling wages, surely is obvious.Continue Reading

AN OPEN LETTER TO VICE CHANCELLOR DAVID RICHARDSON AND THE UEA EXECUTIVE

We the undersigned are writing to complain about the mistreatment of the university’s staff, and the fact that their mistreatment has led to such a major impact on our education. We wholeheartedly believe that the staff are the greatest asset to the university. The fact that they have been forced to take strike action shines a harsh light on the lack of care UEA’s executive and you, our Vice Chancellor, have for university staff.Continue Reading

DON’T JUST VOTE

by Will Durant

There is a particular and widespread attitude to voting that is well meaning but ultimately futile. It goes something like this: “I don’t care how you vote, just vote!” We find a typical example of this attitude from a 2015 Mirror article. What are these reasons? (1) It helps your credit rating, (2) young people vote far less than older people, (3) people fought and died to win for you to vote and (4) non-voters can change the outcome of an election. These reasons do indeed hold true for our election in 2017. In fact, as I write, the YouGov polls giving Labour a vote surge rely heavily on a big turnout from the young.

There is, however, something very strange about this attitude to voting. Although it tells you that it is possible, it gives no reason for why you would want to change the outcome of the election, it is simply something to do. Without advocating any particular outcome, this rationale for voting manages to make it apolitical.Continue Reading

OUR GREENS IN THE NORTH

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by Martie Warin

I was born and raised in the pit village of Easington, close to the North East coast in County Durham. The Colliery was thriving and a great place to live when I was a growing up. There were plenty of jobs at the pit and everyone looked out for each other. It was (and still is in a lot of ways) a safe and caring community. Sadly, our way of life was turned on its head in 1993 when the wheel stopped turning, and despite a community rending period of strike action, the pits were closed. People suffered then, and continue to suffer the effects now. The cuts of recent years continue to rub salt into the wounds of these once proud people. Now I know coal mining is certainly not Green, but compassion and justice are!Continue Reading

‘DEVOLUTION’ AND THE TRIUMPH OF TORY DOUBLESPEAK

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by Olivia Hanks

“Let local people decide!” urged George Osborne in his budget speech last summer, as he announced details of his plans for English devolution. What an excellent idea, as, on the face of it, almost everyone across the political spectrum agreed. Unfortunately, local people did not ask for devolution, had no say in deciding its form or content, were kept entirely in the dark about negotiations, and, in the case of East Anglia, are now to be ‘consulted’ on a deal of whose existence they are probably unaware and which, the Treasury has confirmed, there will be no opportunity to amend.

Report after report, from councils, public sector bodies and journalists, has enthused about the ‘golden opportunity’ to give local people a say in the decisions that affect them. Even those expressing serious reservations have praised the ‘principle’ of devolution — ignoring the glaring fact that when you examine the detail of the Cities and Local Government Devolution Act, or of individual ‘deals’, this principle is conspicuous by its absence.Continue Reading

ROBOTS WON’T BUILD OUR FUTURE — WE HAVE TO DO IT OURSELVES

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by Olivia Hanks

The Labour Party’s deputy leader Tom Watson wrote in The Guardian last week about the challenges posed to society by automation. Rapid developments in artificial intelligence over the last few years have brought this issue to prominence once again, and spawned a proliferation of articles saying, effectively, “We know we said this in the 60s, but this time we mean it — robots are going to take over the world!

The fact that fears of mass unemployment caused by machines proved largely unfounded in the 19th century and again 50 years ago doesn’t mean that we should ignore this issue. Far from it — it presents us with an opportunity to rethink our entire approach to work.Continue Reading

INTERNATIONAL WORKING WOMEN’S DAY — ERASING CLASS STRUGGLE FROM FEMINISM

by Robyn Banks

The United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day on the 8th March in 1975, but the day actually has its roots in a variety of strikes and class struggles across industrialised nations long before.

On March 8th in 1857 there was a strike at a New York City garment factory. Here women and girls between the ages of 13 and 25, mostly Jewish, Russian and Italian immigrants, worked 81 hours a week for three dollars, of which one and a quarter went for room and board. The strike was sparked when factory foremen, noticing that the women were less ‘energetic’ if they were allowed to eat before working, changed the factory opening time to 5AM. For a day the factory workers marched and picketed, demanding improved working conditions, a ten hour day and equal rights for women. Their ranks were broken up by police. Fifty one years later, on March 8th 1908, their sisters in the needle trades in New York marched again in honour of the 1867 March, this time demanding the vote, an end to sweatshops and child labour. And then, in November 1909, came the uprising of the 20,000.

Continue Reading