Socialist Worker

Disgusted at how Labour government is treating us

Issue No. 1886

I AM speaking on behalf of a large group of women who have suffered an injustice in our fight for equal pay.

We used to work in the pit canteens or as cleaners. I worked at Treeton pit near Rotherham for 13 years. Others worked for 20 or 23 years. We were almost all NUM union members, and many of us played an active role in the 1984-5 strike.

Many of the more than 2,000 of us affected by this have now retired and are pensioners, but we are still fighting for our rights.

A test case established the principle of equal pay with men working in the canteens or doing similar jobs in the mining industry. We filled in forms, and around 1,300 of the women got paid a few years ago, at the rate of £1,000 for every year's service.

But a lot of us have been told that there is now no record of our forms, even though we have evidence we did, and so our claims cannot be met because we didn't make them in time. Others weren't advised that they might have to fill in a second claim.

We have recently been told that the government is washing its hands of us.

It is all wrong, what has happened to us, and it just makes me so angry. The injustice of it all makes my blood boil. We have written, lobbied politicians and been down to London to parliament and to Labour's conference, but nobody will listen.

I am disgusted that a Labour government is treating us like this. We expected better. The majority of us are from staunch Labour backgrounds.

I have a plaque recording my grandfather's 63 years in the mines. My dad did 51 years, was at Orgreave during the 1984-5 strike and remembered the 1926 strike. You didn't think of not voting Labour. But now this government treats us like this.

We will keep fighting for our rights and equal pay as we are morally justified. I hope someone can help us win.

  • Edith Britland, Treeton, near Rotherham

    I want my dad

    ANAS EL-BANNA is the son of Jamil El-Banna, one of the three British residents held at the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Seven year old Anas has sent this letter to Tony Blair:

    I AM a boy called Anas Jamil El-Banna. I am seven years old. Me and my four brothers are writing to you this letter from my heart because I miss my father. I am wishing that you can help me and my father.

    I am always asking mother, where is my father, when will he come back? And my mother says I don't know. Now I have started to know that my father is in prison in a place called Cuba and I don't know the reason why and I don't know where is Cuba.

    I hope that you can help me because I miss my father. Every night I think of my dad and I cry in a very low voice so that my mother doesn't hear, and I dream that he is coming home and gives me a big, big hug.

    Every Eid I wait for my father to come back. I hope to God that you can help me to bring my daddy back to me. I don't want anything, I just want my daddy please.

  • Anas (7), Mohammed (6), Abdulrahman (4), Badeah (3), Marian (9 months)

    Proud of union over housing

    AS A housing workers' shop stewards' committee we want to express our delight and relief that our jobs and our homes are safe from privatisation. The 77 percent no vote by tenants and leaseholders was a clear rejection of an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) two-stage privatisation for Camden's council homes.

    The council spent £500,000 on their campaign. But tenants demanded to know why money was available from the government for an ALMO but not for a council that wished to remain in public hands.

    This is the first time an ALMO has been rejected, and this will give hope to other council tenants and workers who face the prospect of an ALMO.

    Camden tenants and leaseholders have made their "choice", and they want the money-£283 million-that the government earmarked for an ALMO.

    The unity of Camden tenants and Unison has proved that we can win. We produced newspapers and several leaflets which were distributed.

    Unison members refused to obey instructions from management, under threat of suspension, to put pro-ALMO leaflets in every letterbox, and all this work paid off.

  • Mandy Berger (convenor) on behalf of Camden Unison housing stewards' committee

    Your view...

    Please help save this life

    I AM writing to ask for your support in the campaign to save the life of an innocent US death row inmate named Kevin Cooper.

    Kevin, an African-American, is set to be executed on 10 February by the state of California. His 20-year ordeal is a prime example of what's wrong with the criminal injustice system in America.

    In 1983, the Ryen family was murdered in southern California. Only one person survived-a small boy who told police three white or Latino men committed the crime.

    Yet soon Kevin will be made to pay the ultimate price. Activists in California are mobilising to stop his execution, and I ask for support from our British brothers and sisters. Please visit for more info on his case and what action can be done.

  • John Green, California

    A strike that needs support

    CAN I enlist your help please in re-publicising a strike in the US-the UFCW strike of supermarket workers in California. If this strike goes down it will give a major boost to US employers to cut wages across the board.

    We cannot afford to let the bosses grind this union down. I have started a collection at my school (in south London).

    Messages of support and more details can be got by e-mailing

    Send money to John Grant/UFCW Local 770 Strike Fund, 630 Shatto Place, Los Angeles, CA 90005.

  • Paul Jakubovic, London

    Socialist unity in France

    SOCIALISME PAR en Bas (Socialism from Below, Socialist Worker's small French sister organisation) has just joined the LCR-the Revolutionary Communist League- one of the two biggest far left parties in France.

    The last year has been an incredible one for struggle-the biggest strikes since 1968, the anti-war movement and three massive anti-capitalist mobilisations.

    The government and bosses are mounting the biggest offensive on social rights and welfare since the end of the Second World War. They are using racism and are preparing to send troops to the Middle East.

    For the potential for resistance not to be dissipated a political alternative to the system is crucial. The joint electoral campaign of the LCR and Lutte Ouvriere (the other main far left group in France) this year could help organise anti-war activists, anti-fascists, trade union militants and anti-capitalists, and begin to show that another left is possible.

    That process also demands that we bind together the biggest possible grouping of revolutionary socialists in order to win that left towards revolutionary perspectives. In that spirit we will be building the LCR.

  • Antoine Boulangé, Socialism from Below, Paris

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    Article information

    Sat 31 Jan 2004, 00:00 GMT
    Issue No. 1886
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