Turn TUC general strike motion into reality
This year was my first time at the TUC congress and I really didn’t know what to expect. But I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed the experience.
There were union bureaucrats who didn’t raise their hand to vote for the motion to consider a general strike. But their sense of disapproval was overwhelmed by a sense of “at last” from the floor.
Ed Balls didn’t do himself or Labour any favours with his disastrous speech. Fancy telling a room full of trade unionists that he would not repeal any anti-union laws! He then responded with non-answers to questions over public sector pay from Unison’s Liz Cameron.
The problem for us is “Who can represent the workers now?” and the heckling reflected that. I’ve had several emails from fellow union members overjoyed at the prospect of more coordinated action.
The 20 October demonstration offers us a huge opportunity. The fact that 80,000 people booed George Osborne at the Paralympics tells us that people want their voices heard. Our members must be given the confidence to strike back against austerity. The fight is on!
Suzy Franklin, Unison health worker (pc)
Flood the streets of London on 20 October
For more than two days at TUC congress we discussed the horrors of what the government was doing and was planning to do ordinary people. I attended for the first time this year as a delegate from the National Union of Teachers.
But it was not until the motion calling on the TUC to consider a general strike, that the mood shifted to optimism. Delegates cheered as it was passed.
It is not enough to just to pass a motion. If we are to defeat this rotten millionaire government, we have to turn it into a reality.
This will be much easier if we flood the streets of London on 20 October. Our slogan remains, “If we march together, if we strike together, we can bring this government down.”
Sally Kincaid, Leeds
Mining companies ignore worker concerns
I used to work for one of the biggest platinum producers in the world in South Africa. Incidents such as the Marikana massacre happen because owners of these big mining companies do not want to address workers concerns.
I know this from experience. I was a spokesperson for workers and we were always willing to engage in dialogue with the employer.
We wanted to promote equality and human rights as well as improve the general conditions of employment with regard to health and safety, production, salaries and benefits and fighting racism.
But people like myself are regarded as threats to the industry simply because we believe in standing up for the truth. I was sacked after I followed company protocol to expose a senior member of staff for racism and gross violations of workers’ rights.
I did everything I could to raise workers’ concerns and even went as far as informing a senior company official based in London but all my efforts proved futile.
In the hope of getting justice I have submitted hard evidence of the abuses mine workers face to the human rights commission here in South Africa.
Until the mining bosses are willing to seriously address workers’ concerns, black mine workers will continue to be defiant against their oppressor—and we are bound to have more Marikanas in South Africa.
Letheo Elliot Mogwazeni, Rustenburg, South Africa
A hundred years on, Woody is still relevant
This year marks the centenary of Woody Guthrie’s birth. Born in Oklahoma in 1912, Woody remains one of the most influential figures in popular music.
When 300,000 impoverished agricultural workers and their families were forced to migrate west to California, Guthrie lent his voice to the dustbowl refugees.
His song about the popular outlaw Pretty Boy Floyd rails against the bankers. “Some rob you with a six-gun and some with a fountain pen,” the song runs.
Guthrie became an union organiser and a supporter of the Communist Party. His guitar carried the slogan “This machine kills fascists”. If you’re not familiar with it, check out Woody’s music.
Dave Sherry, Glasgow
Struggle in Scotland
Jim Harte argues against Scottish independence on the basis of working people’s interests. This represents the best face of the campaign to maintain the union.
He recognises working class interests but glosses over class struggle and the kind of movement we need to achieve a fairer society.
The case that Neil Davidson makes for the break up of the UK is not abstract or historical. The actions of the British state and its military adventures have played a significant role in shaping how working people view the world, including over the last decade.
This includes politics and politicians, attitudes to racism and arguments over the economy. This is why the debate over Nato and nuclear weapons is such an important part of the case for independence.
Fighting to keep these once firm Scottish National Party (SNP) commitments at the centre of the debate is the role of a radical movement from below. This is a central part of the movement required to break the coalition and stop the SNP cuts.
Pete Cannell, Edinburgh
How Thatcher hated the fans
I wasn’t at Hillsborough but as a young football fan was used to being herded into overcrowded fenced enclosures. I felt it could have been me.
Margaret Thatcher was partly responsible for the disaster. Her government saw anyone who went to football as part of the “enemy within” that needed to be corralled for the sake of “law and order”.
Hugh Parsons, Swansea
Reality goes beyond satire
The Thick of It marks a shift from Yes Minister in the 1980s, which showed how senior civil servants could obstruct policies millions had voted for.
Now these new unelected princes are shown calling the shots. Both shows are entirely credible. But how will Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci parody George Osborne getting booed at the Paralympics?
Pat Carmody, east London
Salma’s brave decision
Following her resignation from the Respect party, I think Salma Yaqoob should be congratulated for the clarity of her position on the allegations against Julian Assange.
Regardless of whether he is guilty, trivialising rape allegations sets back the fight for rape to be taken seriously.
George Galloway’s claim that the accusations don’t constitute rape implies a woman can be assumed to have given consent to sex. It’s damaging that other left wingers haven’t echoed Salma’s principled position.
Helen Salmon, Birmingham
EDL foolish to come back
What’s the point in the EDL saying they’ll come back to Walthamstow? The good people will just turn out in mass numbers, get a new stock of flower pots from B&Q and give the buggers more of the same.
Warren Lloyd on Facebook