News

What chance a fight over pay this year?

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The cost of living is higher and the squeeze on earnings is back with a vengeance, but pay in the public sector and most parts of the private sector is still being held at below-inflation levels, as it has been for the best part of a decade. The Tories reacted to near-defeat in the general election in June by shifting their position slightly — increases of just 1 percent became 2 percent for some groups.

News in brief

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Fat cats grab the most

The richest 0.1 percent of the world’s population have increased their combined wealth by the same amount as the poorest 50 percent since 1980, says the World Inequality Report, published in December. Around 76,000 people — the 0.001 percent — grabbed 4 percent of the all new wealth created over the past four decades. The richest 5 percent in the UK have an average wealth of £3.7 million, compared with £68,000 for the bottom 90 percent.

Preparing for Trump

Tories Brexit Blues: A European crisis

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The dominant narrative of the political establishment and its various media echo chambers is that the European Union has Britain over a barrel as the Brexit negotiations stumble towards the end of their first phase.

The reality is more complex. The Tory crisis is real enough, but it is to some extent mirrored by the situation of Europe as a whole, if not in its economic manifestations then certainly in its political ruptures.

Britain First retweeted

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Donald Trump gave a boost to the Nazi group Britain First by sharing a series of Islamophobic videos that were collated by its deputy leader, Jayda Fransen.

One of the posts claimed that a Dutch boy on crutches was being beaten by a Muslim immigrant. Dutch authorities were quick to say that he was actually born and raised in the Netherlands.

Fransen has been charged with “using threatening or abusive behaviour” at a far-right rally in Belfast this summer.

Refugees need our support this winter

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The refugee crisis has not gone away and the need for solidarity and aid is as great as ever. The destruction of the the “Jungle” last autumn, however, has meant that the issue has drifted down the news agenda. Now as winter approaches thousands of refugees face the prospect of sleeping in the woods around Calais and Dunkirk, under the motorways of Paris and in the parks of Brussels.

We visited these sites with Care4Calais in August and September. This is what we found:

Build on crucial anti-racist conference

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There have been growing signs that forces on the far right are reorganising and making gains of late.

The idea you could go to protest racism and be killed by a Nazi in a vehicle reverberated around the world after Charlottesville in August. At the end of September the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) had 94 MPs elected in Germany. In October the fascist Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) came third, winning just one seat fewer than the Social Democratic Party.

US-North Korea standoff adds to instability

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North Korea’s latest ballistic missile tests prompted US president Donald Trump to respond with threats of “fire and fury”. The heightened state of tension in the Korean peninsula is unlikely to lead to an immediate war. However, it is certain to add to the instability in the region, at the root of which lies growing rivalry and bickering among imperialist powers.

Wishy-washy review won't fix gig economy

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What has happened to employment in the modern era of the “gig economy” and “zero hour contracts”? And what should be done about it?

The Taylor Review, or “Good Work: The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices” to give it its full title, was supposed to answer these questions. However, its arrival on 11 July was something of a damp squib.

After Grenfell: joining the dots

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Grenfell Tower was a disaster waiting to happen. I’ve been responsible for looking after council tower blocks in the past, including some with cladding. I shudder to think about it now.

Grenfell could have happened anywhere. The lack of adequate fire safety is a deadly symptom of how council housing has been neglected for decades. Its mismanaged decline is the result of deliberate government policies of underinvestment and denigration.

Middle East spins deeper into crisis

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Foreign intervention is pushing the Middle East into a series of wars with no end in sight.

The war in Syria and Iraq is threatening to spill into a war between the Saudis and Iran, Turkey is preparing to crush the restive Kurdish regions, while the prospect of a defeat for ISIS threatens a deeper and bloodier struggle over its old strongholds.

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