Socialist Worker

Voices for the Charter

Issue No. 2110


‘Stand up for workers’ rights’

‘I support any campaign along this line. Workers in the Bfawu bakers’ and food workers’ union, just like everyone else, are facing tough times.

Employers are free to do whatever they want at the expense of workers’ wages, pensions and jobs. We have a situation where a company can restructure to improve profits and 700 workers are thrown on the dole.

Lyndale Foods went into administration and brought in the receivers. A security firm then walked into all its shops in Liverpool at 11am one day and told workers, who are mostly women, to go.

They then did the same in their shops in Bolton. The company then reconstituted itself under the name Sayers the Bakers.

Employers can get away with this as the protection for workers is still so weak after 11 years of a Labour government.

John McDonnell, the left wing Labour MP, raised this affair in parliament and a minister just said that “the company has done nothing illegal so what can we do?”

This kind of thing shouldn’t have happened in the first place and it should definitely never happen again.

The Bfawu will be mounting a campaign over this to keep this case in the forefront. We are also campaigning to repeal the anti-union laws.’

Joe Marino, general secretary of Bfawu


'Privatisation has been a disaster'

‘The People Before Profit Charter is important because it allows us to debate the economic crisis facing ordinary people outside the boundaries fixed by the mainstream media and the political class it represents.

Everyone knows privatisation has been a disaster, that Gordon Brown’s PFI has been theft by another name, that the City of London’s games and power are unaccountable, that the priorities of public expenditure are distorted – £4 billion for two aircraft carriers, peanuts for public sector workers – and yet orthodox discussion remains stuck in a sterile world of party fortunes and personalities (If only they had personalities!).

Every opinion poll shows a clear public majority in favour of the principle of public services before profit. That should be the starting point.”

John Pilger, Writer and journalist


‘There’s plenty of food for all’

‘They say there is a food crisis, but there’s plenty of food for those that can afford it.

I work at Tesco and know how much food it throws away.

One store in Stockport throws out £80,000 worth of food a month. It is making billions but wasting millions of pounds worth of food.

Tesco has monopolised the food market, and is now trying to do the same in every other sector. It is growing and its going to make money no matter how bad the crisis gets.

Staff morale is down the pan at the moment. People are working at all hours just to make ends meet.’

Keiron Burke, Usdaw union rep in Manchester


‘Build council houses to end crisis’

‘Construction workers are threatened with lay-offs because there isn’t enough profit to be made from house building and the banks won’t lend so easily as they used to.

There should be massive investment in council housing. But the government refuses to do this as it goes against its belief in the free market, even though it knows there isn’t enough housing to meet the demand.

It will take massive pressure from housing campaigners and the trade unions to reverse the government’s housing policies.

We will also have to defend people facing eviction because they have to choose between paying their rent or mortgage and feeding their children.

We are fighting to improve the council housing on our estate in Hackney, east London, which is why we will be protesting outside Hackney town hall on 23 July.

But we also need initiatives like the Charter to help us, and other tenants’ groups, to do this.’

Gary Armstrong, Chair of Gascoyne II estate tenants and residents association, east London


‘Put more money into health’

‘I work in the NHS and find it outrageous that immigrants are often blamed for the lack of services. The truth is there would be no NHS without the huge contribution that migrant workers have made.

I’m really pleased that the Charter takes up this issue as well as the defence of public services.

My Unison union voted at its recent conference to campaign in support of migrant and agency workers to win them better rights.

Strong unions can win improved rights for all workers, and reduce divisions inside the working class.

The real problems the NHS faces the creeping privatisation and lack of funding that all the major parties support.

The money to provide better services should come from the profits of the multinationals and ending the “war on terror”.

The Charter points to a way forward for working people – I think lots of health workers will want to put their name to it.’

Sarah Creagh, nurse in Bristol


‘Join forces’

‘In every town and city, union activists can join forces to fight the drive to sell off our public services.

The latest report for Gordon Brown by US economist DeAnne Julius suggests that the government should ride roughshod over any criteria in the drive to outsource, and should even offer to help flog off public services abroad.

That’s even more reason to join together, fight together and win together. Central government is united on this, and so should we be.’

Sue Bond, Vice president, PCS union (pc)


‘Unite all our struggles’

‘To protect the profits of the rich and the multinationals, workers’ pay, pensions and jobs are under attack.

The loss of public services, such as the post office, shouldn’t be the price of Gordon Brown’s crisis.

The Charter can help unite the different struggles in the workplace and society as whole.’

Jane Loftus, National vice president of the CWU union (pc)


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