Counterfire is a socialist organisation dedicated to building the biggest possible movements against a system of growing crisis and misery...
Learn more. Get involved. Join.

empty
Opinion

Is there life outside Labour?

In our continuing series on left strategy, Chris Nineham from Counterfire responds to Laura Smith and John...

Get involved

Real change depends on mass movements, popular protests and on workers taking action

Counterfire groups, events...

What is Counterfire?

Counterfire is a socialist organisation committed to building the biggest possible movements against a system that is creating more and more crisis and misery.

Whether or not we get real change depends on wider struggles in society, it depends on mass movements, popular protests and on workers taking action.

We believe that this kind of popular opposition requires a dynamic extra-parliamentary left, rooted in workplaces, communities and colleges.

We also believe that these struggles are connected. Racism, sexism and all oppressions are a product of a society based on the exploitation of workpeople by a tiny minority of capitalists.

War, climate change and inequality are all symptoms of a chaotic system based on competition for profits.

In the process of helping to build resistance, Counterfire puts the case for a revolutionary socialism that ultimately seeks popular control of society and genuine liberation for all.

What we do

Our members are actively involved in the protest movements and workers struggles around the country, and we are organising local Counterfire groups - currently online - to help build solidarity with struggles and popularise socialist ideas and analysis.

As well as putting on a wide range of debates, public meetings and other events around the country, we run one of the best read websites on the left which has scores of contributors and tens of thousands of readers every month and - in normal times - we distribute thousands of copies of the left's first free paper. 

Publications

Trotsky in the Bronze Age

Join Counterfire

Counterfire is a socialist organisation building the biggest possible movements against austerity, war and racism. We believe that change happens when working people get organised and fight for it. Politics is not only or mainly about what happens in parliament.

We have one of the best-read websites on the left with cutting edge news, analysis and socialist theory and we distribute thousands of copies of the left's first free paper.

Most importantly we are organising a dynamic extra-parliamentary left in every area of the country. We have local groups which meet (on Zoom for the time being) to discuss the political situation and organise and support local campaigns, strikes and protests.

If you want to be part of a campaigning, revolutionary left that will fight for fundamental change then join us now.

Socialist Explainers

The sacking of four Trade Unionists at Halesowen College in highly controversial circumstances sets a dangerous precedent argues Adam Tomes

'The fact that management think they can just sack at will means causes fear amongst workers who fear they could be next at risk'
David Muritu

This month has seen the sacking of four Trade Unionists at Halesowen College in highly controversial circumstances. Saturday 26th January saw over 250 people marched through the streets of Halesowen in protest. The Maths Lecturer, in the eye of the storm, David Muritu stated this was a “moment that struck a chord with many public sector workers across the country”.

The College released a statement that explains their reason for the dismissal of David. It states that 'David Muritu was dismissed for his consistent failure to carry out the fundamental part of the job as a lecturer in the Maths Department, which is to ensure that students fulfill their potential and achieve their expected levels of attainment'. Yet David and the other three Lecturers did not have issues related to competence, had no issues about conduct raised and had no individual classroom capability issues. Indeed their recent internal lesson observations had marked their classroom performance as good.

They were dismissed for the stated reason that their students did not reach expected attainment levels in one single, particular set of results. This sets a dangerous precedent that staff can be removed without any misconduct, despite their hard work and popularity based on a single set of results. Worse, these results cannot be understood in isolation as they are not statistics but real students with real issues inside and outside College that cannot be measured. Further there is no recognition of the job done by management to ensure that staff have the right infrastructure in which to deliver the best teaching. In this case the focus was on the AS results being below College and National averages. Yet David’s A2 results stood at a 100% pass rate with 50% A and B grades. Further to that, there are 49% or all results across the country or within Halesowen College which are below the average. Are all the staff in this 49% to be sacked?

In this case, David and his Union state that the failure to reach attainment levels was due to a series of management mistakes which had been constantly raised by staff attempting to protect their students and ensure that they achieved. The litany of management errors include not paying for specialist cover for long term sickness, expecting staff to cover lessons taking them way above the agreed working hours, cover being provided by non-specialist staff, groups studying different materials being merged to deal with staff shortages and Lecturers being expected to teach two classes in two different rooms at the same time. Essentially, the College hoped to use staff as a scapegoat for all their own failings.

In a period of increasing marketisation of education and cuts to spending, teachers are being placed under growing pressure to meet spurious and inflated targets that are used to define the position of that school or college in the education market. Students are being turned from individuals into commodities and teachers are being increasingly overworked and threatened to make up for the failings of the education system and its funding. Students who won’t achieve a grade that helps a school improve its market standing, will be cast out ensuring that our education system is modeled on increasingly elitist lines.

There is a will to fight back for the Halesowen Four and to fight back to defend our public services. Over 250 people took to the streets in Halesowen on Saturday and over 12,000 people have signed the petition to reinstate David. All these individual fight backs need to be won and they all need to be linked together to build a wider understanding of the threats to our public services and education system. This type of behaviour will only increase as Austerity continues to bite and the Coalition ploughs ahead with its proposals to use performance related pay to further marketise our welfare state. The Peoples’ Assembly called for June 22 needs to resonate with the injustice David Muritu and his colleagues are facing.