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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 June 2010

Fast news

General strike

A GENERAL strike involving 2.5 million public sector workers hit Spain on 8 June. The trade unions involved in the mass walkout are opposed to the Zapatero government imposing a 5% cut in salaries, starting this month, followed by a pay freeze, ie a further cut, in 2011. Pensions and public investment programmes will also be adversely affected.

The cuts are part of a 15 billion euro austerity package designed to satisfy Spain's capitalist class and international finance capital. But like fellow workers in Greece, Portugal and other European countries, Spain's workers are not prepared to pay for the banking failures and the crisis of capitalism.

Good for business

HAVING WRITTEN to 20,000 school head teachers in England encouraging them to opt out of local authority control and set up academies and 'free schools', education minister Michael Gove spelt out the motivation behind his privatisation plans.

"I am a Conservative, I do not have an ideological objection to businesses being involved but the professionals should make that decision," Gove told teachers at the recent Hay literary festival.

Gove continues to peddle the switch to academies despite the absence of evidence that the opt-out road leads to the improvement of education standards.

Using current laws, academies' governing bodies can contract out the running of their school to a company that can charge a management fee. While the school governing body remains 'not-for-profit', services such as teaching can be run by private companies.

As pointed out in last week's Socialist, Gove's Academies Bill will result in more privatised, selective schools against a background of spending cuts.

Beijing massacre vigil

150,000 PEOPLE attended a candlelight vigil in Victoria Park, Hong Kong, to commemorate the 21st anniversary of the 1989 Beijing massacre on 4 June.

The huge turnout follows last year's record-breaking 20th anniversary vigil. It also follows a year of struggle in Hong Kong itself, demanding the end of the undemocratic election system, alongside fear and anger over a growing crackdown on dissent in mainland China.

Hong Kong is the only place on Chinese soil where the 1989 army invasion of Beijing and subsequent massacre of youthful protesters is publicly commemorated.

Thousands may have been killed in 1989, with workers and pioneers of independent trade unions - feared most by the Chinese dictatorship - bearing the brunt of the repression.

Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) participated in both the vigil and a subsequent university demonstration. CWI material stressed the need to draw out the lessons from 1989 for today's developing mass struggles in China and Hong Kong. A vital lesson from 1989 was the role of the working class - this scared the so-called 'communist' dictatorship even more than the movement of students.

Full report here on

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In The Socialist 9 June 2010:

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