Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2343

NHS – the real problem is the Tories, not uncaring workers

Never was I more glad of the national health service than earlier this month.

I needed an ambulance to take me to hospital for what turned out to be a rare and unusual procedure.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt lambasts health workers for not caring enough.

Yet the level of care I received was exemplary.

Each and every one of the staff involved contributed towards my recovery.

That includes the cleaners who were set to do 15 shifts in a row to cover for absences.

The workers’ stress was made worse by the fact that they were trying to find cover for ill colleagues. Several came in despite being unwell.

All the staff involved in my treatment cared for me. But staffing levels are dangerously low.

I was told that there were times when a good shift was one when no one died.

Well I was that good shift, I didn’t die.

I don’t want others to face a bad shift because of this government’s disastrous health and social care policy.

Cleaners, porters, catering assistants, nursing assistants, staff nurses and physiotherapists are all far fewer in number than they were a few years ago.

Many of them also have more responsibilities for less money. It’s a toxic combination.

Jo Rust, King’s Lynn

You are absolutely right about the NHS (Socialist Worker, 2 March).

Multinationals will find it easier to win health contracts than the NHS because they can see what the NHS bids and propose cheaper ones.

Everything is weighted in their favour. And they will no doubt be able to undercut because they will pay their workers lower wages too.

Emma Nixon, Brighton

Defend activists in Brazil

Two leading activists in Brazil’s landless workers’ movement (MST), Cícero Guedes and Dona Regina, have been assassinated since the start of this year.

The MST has fought to get land for workers and peasants to farm, to help end rural unemployment and poverty.

Cícero had been a settler on occupied land since 2002 and a leading figure in the MST’s struggle for agrarian reform.

Dona had worked on agro-ecological projects.

The MST is demanding an end to the culture of “impunity” that means those guilty of these crimes are never bought to trial.

Sign their petition at

Martin Empson, Manchester

Grillo is not on the left

There was an excellent analysis of the Italian elections in last week’s Socialist Worker.

However it referred to Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement as “left wing”. It certainly isn’t.

Grillo has an alliance with Casa Pound, an openly neo-Nazi group that a couple of weeks ago attacked a meeting of the left reformist Rivoluzione Civile.

He’s a populist demagogue and enemy of the left.

Ollie Vargas, Colchester

Councils can resist the Tories’ bedroom tax

Just received my weekly copy of Socialist Worker, always a good read.

I saw a number of articles about the bedroom tax in the last few issues.

My local council in Lancaster and Morecambe is resisting many of the impositions coming from government.

The Green group proposed a request to re-classify council properties in terms of the number of bedrooms they have and how they are used. This was accepted.

They have refused to support a proposed increase of 23 percent that the Labour group originally intended to place on means tested council tax.

Instead they proposed a zero percent rise which the Labour group ended up supporting. They proposed and got passed a living wage for all council staff.

Many of these measures were backed up by information provided in Socialist Worker.

Chris Hart, by email

The family wage was an ideological tool

Terry Wrigley is right to say there was no policy by Victorian bosses to raise men’s wages so their wives could stay at home (Letters, 2 March).

But he is wrong to suggest that Laura Miles was arguing this.

The “family wage” helped to push the idea that women should stay at home. Some workers who wanted to alleviate atrocious conditions took it up.

Until the 1840s men, women and children worked long shifts. Their health suffered and pregnancy was put at risk.

But it was hard to shorten hours for one group of workers and not others, as factory production demands standardisation.

The 1844 Act restricting women’s hours to 12 also tended to cut men’s hours. But crucially it strengthened the idea that women shouldn’t work.

Only in mining were women specifically excluded from work, and mine owners expected to consider the needs of whole families.

This fed into bosses’ desire to discipline the working class.

They understood that the family could provide a healthier, more productive workforce at little cost to capitalism.

Sally Campbell, East London

Expensive art not accessible

I read your review of the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition.

How can an exhibition with a £14 admission charge be described as “accessible”?

Derek Lee, by email

Let’s not pay council tax

Councils think that more than 80 percent of poor people won’t pay council tax.

They also say they can’t do much about it—so let’s not pay!

Cat Deplacido, by email

Little change since the 60s

In a radio tribute I just heard to the late Kevin Ayres, the psychedelic music pioneer from the 1960s.

He described his “hippy” generation as not having wanted “wars or bad food”.

How little we moved forward as a society since then.

Hugh Parsons, Swansea

Act today to stop Trident

Thank you for your wonderful article on Trident (Socialist Worker, 23 February).

I hope everyone will ask their MP to sign EDM96: Trident.

Go to

David Rolfe, Shropshire

You are right on migrants

It’s right to say that immigrants aren’t to blame for things like unemployment (Letters, 2 March).

Net immigration is now falling.

But this hasn’t led to more jobs.

Anne Laycock, Bolton

There aren’t enough jobs

We keep being told that the job market is improving.

But I recently applied for a job and was told more than 300 others did too.

Nicky Brown, Birmingham

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Article information

Tue 5 Mar 2013, 15:46 GMT
Issue No. 2343
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