Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2325

Stop these attacks on civil service reps

I am horrified by the government proposal to cut union time for reps in the civil service. As a rep I deal with members who have problems with pay, unfair disciplinary action and bullying from managers who are trying to get more work out of fewer staff.

Management daily try to introduce some ridiculous new practice into the workplace. This is an attack on the unions when we are fighting against cuts to our employment rights, incomes and the whole welfare state.

If a member could not access a union rep at an early stage then many more cases would end up in employment tribunals. And union health and safety reps ensure that workplace accidents are less frequent than they otherwise would be.

Tory minister Francis Maude says it’s about “efficiency”. But this doesn’t seem to apply to MPs. I’d rather have 1,000 health and safety reps than one idiot who tells people to store petrol in their garages.

Kate Douglas, PCS union rep, Oxford (pc)

The attacks on civil service union reps come hot on the heels of a letter to civil service departmental heads attacking our terms and conditions.

After years of a drip-drip-drip erosion they’re opening the floodgates and washing away what’s left. This is a race to make the civil service as attractive as possible to the profiteering bosses in the private sector.

We’ve recently seen private sector workers take action in Argos, Eddie Stobart, even John Lewis. The supposed divide between public and private sector workers is being proved to be the myth we always knew it was.

We can unite our fight in the civil service with these workers’ fights. Waiting for the TUC to call a general strike will get us nowhere. We need to build now. A Labour government would be little better. We need to smash the neoliberal hegemony.

Dave Plummer, PCS Revenue & Customs, London Euston Tower branch (pc)

Remploy workers betrayed by union leaders

Socialist Worker has given unparalleled support to Remploy workers, arguing for a strategy to save jobs and stop the Tories’ factory closures. But I don’t think you have been critical enough of the union leaders, whose conduct over the issue has frankly been criminal.

Remploy workers are well-unionised. Most are members of the GMB or Unite. The latter is led by left winger Len McCluskey, who often says we need strikes to stop Tory attacks.

The nationwide Remploy strikes in July were so successful that some workers seriouslyconsidered occupying their factories. But then Unite and GMB leaders abruptly called off the next national strike. Individual factories were left to fight on their own.

Here are thousands of disabled trade unionists challenging not just Tory hypocrisy over the Paralympics, but also the stereotypes of disabled people as either workshy or passive victims.

Remploy workers could have been touring Britain at TUC-sponsored public meetings, building solidarity for a campaign of coordinated strike action.

But McCluskey & Co worried that a successful campaign over Remploy would embarrass Labour. After all, Gordon Brown’s government sacked 3,000 Remploy workers in 2008.

It helps our side when leaders like McCluskey call for action. But we need to criticise them loud and clear when their actions betray thousands of Remploy workers.

Roddy Slorach, east London

Experience tells me we can’t change Labour

When I first became active in politics I joined the Labour Party. So I know something about the arguments in your Can we reclaim Labour? debate.

I joined because Clause 4 was in my eyes the definition of socialism. I left when Labour abolished Clause 4 and joined the Socialist Workers Party. I haven’t looked back since.

Labour changes you more than you can change it. Being a member is all about listening to right wingers telling you that we can’t move to the left as we’d never get elected.

I pay the political levy in my union. But I don’t support funding people like Liam Byrne, who is a member of the Unite MPs group. He implemented cuts in government and refuses to properly oppose Tory cuts now.

The extra money we donate to Labour should be spent in the strike fund to beat the Tories industrially.

Andrew Osborne, Unite union rep, Cambridge

I’ve no idea why unions fund this lot

In response to your debate on Labour, there is plenty of dissent within Unite about the massive amount we donate to the Labour Party—and the little we receive in return.

I struggle to understand it myself. We know the Labour Party’s policy and politics. They are clear they won’t reverse Tory cuts, or repeal the anti-union laws.

Rank and file members need to take more control within their branch and workplaces. Union members’ own industrial strength is the alternative—and it’s free of charge.

Jimmy Thornton, Unite rep, Manchester

Tories give us no credit

The Tories’ universal credit, due to be rolled out next year, contains nasty, punitive measures. A “three strikes and you’re out” system will remove benefits for three years for people who don’t follow their rules.

That’s on top of their plan to cap benefits to a weekly maximum. Labour should be kicking up a stink—not agreeing with it.

Paul Murphy, east London

Turkish march says no to war

Great article on Turkey. Don’t forget the 100,000 people who marched in Istanbul opposing war with Syria last week under the slogan “Not My War”.

Yan, Leicester

Victory for Pussy Riot?

One member of Pussy Riot freed… victory or a stunt to please the rest of the world?

Ben Williams on Twitter

Get rid of his smug grin

I hope 20 October wipes the smug look off David Cameron’s face.

Jess, Manchester

We need more than one day

Given how things are going this week we are going to need a bit more than one day in London. We need mass civil disobedience.

Steve Ryan on Facebook

There needs to be a general strike to make a point!

Mary Dixon on Facebook

Tories’ facts weren’t right

At the Tory conference, David Cameron said that Conservative Benjamin Disraeli was the first Jewish prime minister. But by the time he became prime minister, Disraeli’s family had converted to Christianity.

Mitch Mitchell, Cambridgeshire

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Article information

Tue 16 Oct 2012, 16:05 BST
Issue No. 2325
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