Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2038

Flooding in Senegal in 2005 - do bosses have any solutions to the problem of global warming?  (Pic: Irin News)

Flooding in Senegal in 2005 - do bosses have any solutions to the problem of global warming? (Pic: Irin News)

Beware as ‘green’ bosses jump on the bandwagon

Hardly a day passes when we are not bombarded by newspaper reports of new research on climate change. We are informed about how drastically the planet is going to change if we don’t do anything about it.

But the way the issues are reported often has the effect of panicking people into thinking that anything we try to do about the climate change is going to be completely ineffective.

Big business and politicians have recently begun swooping in to save the world with promises of green business strategies, green technology and green taxes. Barclays Bank has announced an “energy revolution” – and according to it, climate change will actually boost the global economy over the next 25 years.

At the same time, the European Union has begun discussing the prosecution of “green crimes” in reaction to the upsurge of interest in the state of our planet.

What is not mentioned in any newspaper reports, is that climate change is not an issue that can be solved by big business or politicians paying lip service to flimsy, half-baked policies which may or may not be implemented.

Business will always strive for maximum profit before regard for the environment or people. And politicians are merely using increasing concern for our planet as PR fodder.

The media attention given to climate change can never be too much. But it does seem to be conveniently helping some politicians to push the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan further out of the public eye.

The solutions that we are being offered are an attempt at diluting the anger felt by millions across the world, and the radicalism born from it. The big business “green” agendas being pushed forward are about taking power out of the hands of activists who are fighting for serious change.

Instead of allowing the movement to be blunted, we must build a strong left opposition to these neoliberal ideas, and work together for a collective solution to climate change.

Harri Kay, Plymouth University

I was surprised to find no mention in Socialist Worker of the intergovernmental report on climate change, which is a damning and total refutation of the lies that corporate-friendly scientists have spread for decades.

Of course the report’s authors are too polite to put it in these terms, but their insistence that the symptoms are man-made, rather than part of some natural cycle is good enough for me.

Karl Marx insisted that only the working class could act decisively on behalf of all humankind. Here’s our chance to prove how right he was. Trade unionists in particular need to take up this issue.

I look forward to more detailed coverage of how we can do this in forth coming editions.

Nick Grant, West London

No single status debate in Unison

The attempt by the Coventry Unison union branch to hold a nationwide activists meeting for workers fighting over the single status pay deals was a great idea.

Under the single status pay agreement local councils everywhere are cutting pay and services under the banner of introducing equal pay.

Unfortunately there is no forum for union activists to share their experiences about fighting back against the cuts, and there seems to be no national strategy coming from the union.

Here in Staffordshire we forced the council to scrap its original attempt to force through job evaluation, but the battle is far from over. This week we protested again over the council’s attempt to close care homes.

As far as I’m concerned Unison’s order to close down the activists meeting stinks and is an example of how our head office is failing its own members.

The national leadership clearly doesn’t want its part in this disaster to be discussed. I wonder if we couldn’t arrange another meeting for activists, but not under the auspices of Unison?

I would be interested to know what other local government workers thought about this.

Staffordshire council worker

My union branch, Coventry Unison, has been fighting the imposition of cuts due to the single status pay agreement for over a year.

Yet when we tried to link up with other council workers who are facing the same issues as us, we were told by our union leadership that we can’t meet “for legal reasons”.

The single status deal that was supposed to bring about equal pay is instead cutting people’s wages. Personally I’m not losing out financially but I am furious at the lack of commitment from the top of the union to fight for the rights of those who are.

I expect them to bar any motions on single status from being heard at the national Unison conference this year, just as they did last year. I would like to know if Unison rules allow a motion of no confidence in our union leaders?

Coventry council worker

Our children are not part of an underclass

Media coverage of the three murders that took place in Peckham, south London, recently has been depressingly familiar.

Crime experts, commentators and local leaders are wheeled on to explain that the source of the violence lies in the black community itself – particularly, our apparent lack of black male role models.

To this we can add our children’s supposed love of gangs, violent hip-hop lyrics and video games. Things have got so bad, that, according to Diane Abbott MP, black youngsters are an underclass cut off from the rest of society.

But the majority of our young are not part of a permanent pool of the unemployed. They do work and they do aspire to a better life.

But no one seems to want to talk about the way in which young people from poor areas – black youngsters in particular – are given very few chances to progress in our society.

There are jobs, but they are low paid. There are training schemes but they don’t lead to anything and there is the criminal justice system, which does lead to something – our kids being singled out and getting the harshest treatment.

Of course everyone is scared for their children’s futures in such dangerous times. But the solutions to our problems do not lie in blaming ourselves.

Lisa Young, South London

We need unity across the buses

I read Matt Perry’s article on Busman’s Punch (10 February) with interest.

Last November, I was among the 2,500 London bus workers who went on strike over pay.

By taking strike action, we demonstrated the need for rank and file union organisation and the importance of solidarity among the drivers.

The article stressed the importance of rank and file magazines like Busman’s Punch as a means to connect activists in different garages.

We learned from our strike that rank and file organisation needs to be built before, during and after a strike – and preferably not just within one bus company. After all bus drivers across London are facing similar issues.

Without this kind of organisation, and the demonstrations of solidarity among bus workers, management will feel that they have carte blanche to treat us however they choose.

I think that having a rank and file newspaper that connects bus workers and their shared issues is something we should consider again today.

Amanda, London bus driver

Sign of the NHS’s crisis

Admitted to UCH hospital on 6 February at 7am for an operation, by 8am I had seen the nurses, surgeons and anaesthetists and was in bed.

I was left on my own until 11.45am. Somebody then told me that there might be a problem with a bed.

He came back at 1.45pm and told me to go home. They were very apologetic, but that’s not much good to me.

I’ve been waiting for a bowel operation for 16 months. The first cancellation was in March last year, the second last November.

I have now been given a date for the end of February.

Theresa Elligott, Central London

Blair’s legacy of deaths in custody

I write in support of Pauline Campbell whose daughter died in prison (Letters, 10 February). She is quite right to say prison deaths will be Tony Blair’s legacy.

Some 29 children have died in custody as a result of this government’s contempt for working class people.

People in custody are treated so badly that it encourages depression, fear and suicidal thoughts. No one in the criminal justice system seems to understand this.

George Coombs, East Sussex

Hypocrisy on the police

The constant whingeing from Downing Street about the police’s cash for honours investigation is both pathetic and utterly hypocritical.

On the day that nine terror suspects were rounded up in Birmingham and the media was full of lurid intelligence leaks, Tony Blair and his friends were again complaining about their own unfair treatment at the hands of the police.

But when 250 armed police raided the house of two innocent Muslim brothers last summer, shooting one in the process, Blair’s response was to say that he supported the police “110 percent”.

And when the police killed Jean Charles de Menezes, Blair had nothing but praise for them.

This government is obsessed with giving the police powers to harass and attack working class people and minorities with complete impunity.

The police’s appetite for unchecked powers is exceeded only by Blair’s willingness to grant them.

Neil Roberts, Bristol

First, but not last visit to website

This is the first time I have read Socialist Worker online and I am amazed at some of the things I have read.

For example, I knew that conditions in Iraqi health service must be bad but I did not appreciate just how terrible they were until I read your article on the deteriorating mental health of Iraqis (Unseen wounds of Iraq war, 10 February).

I was also shocked by your report of Hilary Benn refusing to meet with a delegation of British and Iraqi doctors who wanted to talk to him about the situation.

Benn should be deeply ashamed. Has he no conscience?

Ken Rogers, Essex

Anger at leaks, not police

As the local vicar who called the Birmingham meeting after the recent terror raids (Anger at Birmingham terror raids, 10 February), I disagree with the way you described the meeting.

While there was anger expressed at the way the raids were handled, I would not say that this was the overwhelming feeling of the meeting.

There was more anger at the leaking of information than directed at the police or even the media themselves.

I think it’s important that we are able to express our views. But let’s be careful about how we represent other people’s views.

Toby Howarth, Birmingham

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Article information

Sat 17 Feb 2007, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2038
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