Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2146

We beat the incinerator

Campaigners are elated that Cornwall County Council has turned down a planning application for an incinerator to burn the county’s rubbish.

If it had gone ahead, the incinerator would have been in a greenfield site only a few hundred metres from a deprived industrial village.

Local residents have united with environmental groups, concerned individuals and political activists from all over Cornwall to fight the proposals since they were first mooted over three years ago.

Waste services in Cornwall were privatised and outsourced to waste disposal firm Sita three years ago.

At the council’s planning meeting, activists explained that the incinerator was wrong for a number of reasons.

The council wanted to put it in the middle of farmland and carve a three mile access road across popular footpaths and sites of special scientific interest.

There are far better ways of dealing with rubbish on a much more localised basis than having one facility to cover a large area with a dispersed population.

Fortunately, as well as opposing the incinerator, we were able to come up with some practical solutions to Cornwall’s waste.

It was amazing to see what ordinary people can do.

Many were very skeptical that we would be able to stop the incinerator, and reckoned it was a done deal.

But our victory shows what can be achieved through hard work and sustained pressure.

Joanie Willet, Fraddon, Cornwall

I earn £6 an hour for vital NHS job

I am an NHS porter and earn just over £6 per hour.

I am on band 1, yet I do all the tasks and many more that other porters in my hospital do, and they are on the higher paid band 2. They don’t even have to work night shifts.

It is ridiculous – why should I be valued less than somebody fitting the same job title as me, especially as my job contains more challenges?

The porters who are on band 2 work in X-ray.

I am a general porter and have many tasks to provide for the entire hospital.

And to top it all off when I am on a night shift I have to do the X-ray work as well as my own.

I do band 2 work for band 1 pay! Surely we should all be on the same band – and on higher pay for the important job we do.

Kris Franklin, Plymouth

Safety on the buses

I was interested to read Rob Macey’s article about the campaign for protective screens for drivers on Brighton buses (» Protect bus drivers from assaults, 4 April).

I work for a neighbouring bus company that serves communities orbiting Brighton and runs two routes into the city.

We have no security screens and as yet no assaults. We mostly carry health workers for free and concession ticket daytrippers.

Privatisation means almost no ticket interchange between the companies. This is one issue at the hub of the assault problem.

Another issue is the nature of modern Brighton – a crumbling stagnant economy with rock bottom wage levels, no housing, riot van policing and at every sea front artery the slosh of the super rich in your face. The result – disaffection with a scaffold high “D” and escape via alcohol, drugs, violence, macho posturing.

This bumps into the drivers’ situation – excessive hours, unrealistic timetable demands, tiredness and crap wages.

Drivers are angry. There’s no time for friendly interchange with the travelling public. The sharp point of this is assaults.

Security screens are needed. But there are other solutions to consider, including staff training on how to conciliate – as opposed to confront – difficult passengers.

And remove the cash nexus – offer free buses. Pavements, street lighting, doctors’ surgeries are all paid for through taxes but free at the point of use.

This means public ownership and moving towards a society where there is collective control of all resources.

We’d all be on the same side, helping each other. Hoisting the flag of Karl Marx’s famous dictum, “From each according to ability, to each according to need.”

In the meantime, yes, fight for security screens – ones that could be lifted to give open and friendly help and assistance to 99 percent of passengers.

Who are this murderous mob? The passengers? Bus drivers without uniforms. Ordinary, working class folk just like the shrivelled, exploited version in the eye-popping, bus driver job scorching the impoverished back alleys of Brighton and Hove.

Colin Frost-Herbert, Croydon

The fight against Sats is picking up speed

We must not underestimate the importance of the renewed fightback against Sats tests in schools (» Unions unite against Sats, 4 April).

Sats are a weapon our rulers use to discriminate against children who come from homes where the adults don’t read and write regularly.

Reading whole books and talking about them is the most pleasurable way to get hold of complex ideas.

At the moment, the education system is blocking off the route to this kind of learning with Sats-based education – filling schooltime with worksheets and short passages to read and be tested on.

Children from homes where they read and write often tend to grasp complex ideas through their own reading.

The rest won’t get it from Sats-based education. That’s how schools reinforce the class system.

We must fight to abolish Sats and make schools places where whole books are shared and talked about by every single child.

Michael Rosen, East London

The announcement that the NUT teachers’ union and the NAHT head teachers’ union will boycott SATs tests if they are not abolished by 2010 is welcome.

We must fight to abolish SATs for children of all ages.

Sarah Montague, Bishop Auckland

Casualties as BBC moves key drama

The BBC is planning to move production of its successful Casualty hospital drama from Bristol to Wales.

I have some simple questions to ask BBC director-general Mark Thompson and others in the BBC hierarchy.

In this current harsh economic climate I want to know exactly what the cost of moving will be – including for hours already spent costing the transfer.

How can the BBC justify spending licencepayers’ fees in this manner?

It would be very interesting to read how many millions the BBC will waste in this pointless move.

As a licencepayer myself, I feel I have the right to know.

Barry Fry, Cromer, Norfolk

I wonder if the BBC would like to explain how taking a longrunning drama series from its home for the past 23 years and moving it to Wales is about getting value for money – and not just about saving it.

Has any calculation been done as to how many jobs will be, or indeed have already been, lost as a result of this decision?

Jack Oliver, Bristol

Sexism at the G20 summit

If anybody believed we have banished sexism from our society, they should simply look at how the wives of the G20 leaders were treated last week when they visited London.

While their husbands were “saving the world”, the wives attended a coffee morning and visited a cancer centre and some schools.

They had been pushed into doing things women are supposedly good at – being caring and chatty.

There was little questioning of why the men get to talk about the big issues, while the women are sidelined.

The husbands of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Cristina Kirchner, the Argentinian president, didn’t even attend the event – presumably because they are men and therefore individuals in their own right.

Simone Murray, Carlisle

Fight to stop greed is global

A friend of mine was inspired by hearing South African activist Trevor Ngwane speak about the fantastic campaigns in his country against electricity and water privatisation.

We were talking about whether a similar grassroots movement could be set up in Britain.

She hit upon the injustice of pre-payment electricity meters, which generally mean that poorer people pay a higher rate for their fuel.

With the current problems of fuel poverty, a campaign for pre-payment customers to pay the same rate as other people would surely win great support.

Are any organisations already campaigning on this issue?

Cath Senker, Brighton

Crazy thing called humour

Mona Clark raises an interesting topic for debate with her letter calling for a lighter side of Socialist Worker (» Letters, 28 March).

On a personal level I would suggest a visit to see the stage musical We Will Rock You, based on the music of Queen.

Three centuries into the future, music is dominated by corporate power.

All you hear is Radio Ga Ga.

Underground revolutionaries the Bohemians fight for the “free” music of the past. They triumph!

Transfer the obvious comparisons to the current world crisis of capitalism and growing resistance to it, and you have the recipe for a grand night out.

Let’s rock ‘n’ roll, comrades!

Graham Anthony Richards, Manchester

Slavery is alive and well

It is good news that Madonna was prevented from adopting a second child from Malawi.

While we are told that people shouldn’t come to Britain if they are poor it seems that it is OK for the rich to traffick children.

The idea that rich people can go to the developing work and buy children is sick.

Using poverty as a fashion accessory might be cheering for the wealthy.

But it smacks more of the ideas of slavery than of concern for the children of Malawi.

Melanie Howard, South London

Keeping it in the family?

The row over Jacqui Smith’s expenses claim (» MPs have their snouts in the expenses trough, 4 April) shows just how shameless our politicians have become.

The media focused on the fact that she included claims for pornographic films watched by her husband.

But the most shocking thing is the way that it is acceptable for politicians to “employ” family members as a way of grabbing more cash out of the system.

Lucy Simons, Bradford

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Article information

Tue 7 Apr 2009, 19:04 BST
Issue No. 2146
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