Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2282

30 November saw impressive protests across Britain—this is Cardiff (Pic: Gareth Jones)

30 November saw impressive protests across Britain—this is Cardiff (Pic: Gareth Jones)

Why I backed the strike

I retired from local government in April of this year but that doesn’t mean I’m inactive.

On 30 November I attended a march and rally in Huddersfield, west Yorkshire, to express my solidarity with striking public sector workers.

Two things happened on that day. First, the multi-millionaire chancellor George Osborne spent the day in Brussels.

Hardly anyone noticed he’d gone, no one cared and no one wanted him back.

Second, 2.6 million public sector workers struck. Everyone noticed, everyone cared—and everyone was pleased to see them back at work the following day because people know what a valuable job they do.

On the day of the strike I also expressed my solidarity with 200 workers at Unilever in Leeds. They have voted by five to one for strikes against plans to scrap their pension scheme.

How many government ministers, who keep telling us what good pensions public sector workers have compared to private sector ones, will join their picket lines?

Don’t let this government divide and rule us. They don’t give a damn about workers in the private or public sector.

The latest government budget will see unemployment heading for the three million mark. Ministers are cutting health and safety at work and making it easier for employers to sack staff.

It’s important now that the action escalates.

John Appleyard, West Yorkshire

Jeremy Clarkson and his ‘jokes’

Two young men were sentenced to four years imprisonment after the August riots for typing messages on Facebook that allegedly encouraged the rioters.

David Cameron and the Tories actively encouraged such severe and disproportionate custodial sentences for young working class people.

Yet when multi-millionaire Jeremy Clarkson says on national television that striking public sector workers should be executed in front of their families, Cameron simply responds that the comments were “silly”.

Meanwhile other right wing politicians have condemned the Unison union for seeking legal action against Clarkson.

I’m glad Unison are calling for Clarkson’s sacking. It’s people like him—public sector scabs who earn millions—that we can do without.

Rachel Harger, East London

Thank you for giving me hope

I am a worker with a chronic health condition and have just returned to the depressing grind of regular box‑ticking trips to the laughably misnamed “jobcentre”.

I live in fear of a government that wants to slash benefits and privatise the NHS, which has on more than one occasion literally saved my life.

I want to thank everyone who joined a picket line for the 30 November strikes.

You have given me hope that together we can beat back this government of Bullingdon Club bullies who want us to pay for their crisis.

Mark Dunk, south east London

Together we will be heard

30 November was the first strike I’ve ever been on, and for lots of my colleagues it was their first time too. It was really exciting for everyone to come together.

One woman told me it was a really liberating experience.

She’d never done anything political before and hadn’t known how, even if she disagreed with what politicians were doing.

It was great to have a place we could really get angry and have a voice.

As individuals it’s hard to make a difference or to feel you have a say. But as a collective you can really make yourselves heard.

I take a lot of inspiration from the Occupy movement. We really need an alternative, to do away with the type of politics we have today.

Our rally was excellent—we heard from real people talking, not just politicians for once. They told it how it is, and that really resonated with people.

Elizabeth Allen, Worthing

Latin American groups salute N30 struggle

Workers around the world were watching the 30 November public sector strikes in Britain. Several Latin American organisations sent solidarity messages to strikers.

The international seminar of Brazil’s Party of Socialism and Liberation (PSOL) passed a motion sending “greetings and solidarity to British public sector workers” taking on the Tories.

“Best of luck in your struggles—your victory is our victory,” the motion added.

Bolivia’s COB union federation issued a statement “saluting the struggle” of strikers in Britain.

“It is time for the workers of the world to unite our forces and lay the foundations of a dignified future for our families,” the Bolivians added.

Lawas is an association for Latin American workers in Britain.

It asked its supporters to back the 30 November strikes.

“This struggle is part of a bigger, more fundamental one,” it wrote.

“We call on the community to support this mobilisation by joining picket lines and the march if you can.

“As Latin Americans, we learned that the only way to get governments to respect our right to fair wages, decent work and decent pensions is by taking to the streets in protest.”

Roger Cox, north London

How dare they say we’re gold-plated

I have to admit to a hollow laugh every time I hear some Tory talk about “gold-plated” public sector pensions.

My late wife was a primary school teacher and member of Inner London NUT. She gave up in 1996 due to contracting breast cancer.

Her “gold-plated” pension started at about £240 per month, rising to about £300 per month just before she died last year.

Because of a “technicality” she was done out of her added years bonus.

A few years ago, I worked for the comedian Mark Thomas. One of his stunts involved going to Laings, the builders, to look at the pay and benefits directors there got.

I discovered that their petrol allowance was more than my wife was receiving.

Gold-plated? Don’t make me laugh!

Mitch Mitchell, March, Cambridgeshire

They say we’re all living longer. But life expectancy for people in working class jobs is hardly increasing at all.

My dad was a manual worker. He paid all his pension contributions, all his life.

But he died before he picked up any of his pension.

Dave Hughes, Birmingham

Usdaw joins strike protest

During the build-up to 30 November, I popped into a Norwich supermarket for lunch.

I decided to find out if they had a union rep at customer services. They did and I talked to the rep about the strikes.

I gave her some leaflets about the local demonstration and a copy of Socialist Worker.

The next day we received a message of solidarity from the Usdaw union branch.

On the day of the strikes they sent a delegation to the demonstration.

They were overwhelmed by the day and went away talking about how they could spread support for the next strike.

Tim Knight-Hughes, Norwich

Scale of the Dundee strike

In Dundee the demo must have had around 10,000 on it, possibly more.

Given it would be unlikely that more than one in four who struck came to the demo there must have been around 40,000 on strike yesterday in Dundee.

That is probably half or more of the working population. Bloody hell!

Carlo Morelli, Dundee

Why give cash to Labour?

Why do affiliated unions continue to give money to Labour?

The recent strikes, despite being largely solid and commanding widespread support, were not supported by the Labour Party.

The three main Labour affiliated unions took part.

This shows just how far out of sync Labour is with workers.

The only way for workers to defeat the Tories is to unite and resist.

Chris Stallard, Telford

Healthy picket visits the City

On the picket line at my mental health workplace things were very quiet, with hardly anyone going in.

The psychiatrists are in the BMA, so they weren’t on strike, but every single one of them who passed gave us money.

Rachel Eborall, East London

No room in Aylesbury

Some 500 people came on the demonstration in Aylesbury organised by Buckinghamshire Save Our Services.

The hall for the rally was overflowing—there wasn’t enough room for everyone, including me!

Richard Dunn, Aylesbury

A patient in solidarity

Gill George, a Unite NHS activist in west London, spoke at a picket line rally at the Homerton Hospital in east London on N30.

Gill was admitted to the hospital as a patient the day before from A&E with heart problems. Her doctor reluctantly allowed her a few minutes on the picket line.

She spoke dressed in pyjamas, dressing gown, and slippers.

She phoned her manager at her NHS trust to tell her to make sure she was recorded as being on strike—not sick.

Pete Gillard, East London

On the ferry from Fareham

NUT members from Fareham and Gosport in Hampshire were joined by PCS, Unite and Unison members on 30 November.

Around 80 of us boarded the ferry to Portsmouth, waving our flags to passing ships.

Penny Foskett, Gosport & Fareham NUT

Look east to Lowestoft

The most easterly town in Britain, Lowestoft, saw its biggest ever demonstration on N30.

Some 200 people rallied. We need more strikes—and union leaders should ballot private sector workers.

Mary Littlefield, Lowestoft NUT

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Article information

Tue 6 Dec 2011, 17:55 GMT
Issue No. 2282
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