We are fighting attacks on our right to jobs and homes
The government’s workfare bill is shocking and disturbing on many levels. The workfare programme crushes individuals.
It gives free labour to firms on the pretence of supporting job seekers. At the same time it puts those people in a position where they have no time or energy to actually apply for jobs.
The programme is a violation of the right to a minimum wage and to the values of dignity and respect to people as human beings.
The Tories rushed through a bill to avoid benefit repayments to some of the people who’d been exploited by the programme.
This is against the rule of law, in that it is attempting to rewrite the law retrospectively.
The Tories say that if they didn’t pass the law, further benefit cuts would be necessary to make up for what they’d spent on repayments.
They hope to turn all claimants against those workfare claimants owed money.
It’s a cruel, vicious action.
The only people deserving of workfare are Iain Duncan Smith and his like who are pushing this through.
They should be on it to get experience of the inhumanity their government imposes.
There is a petition that puts across good arguments against workfare. People can sign it at bit.ly/14fkMzF
Name and address supplied
It’s very inspiring to see coverage of the recent protests against the Tory bedroom tax.
But those of us claiming housing benefit in the privately-rented sector have been affected by something similar since 2008.
The last Labour government introduced the idea of reduced benefit for “under-occupancy”. Few people seemed to notice at the time.
It’s important to show in the campaigns that Labour do not have clean hands.
If we win in the social housing sector, it must become a stepping stone to launching a fight over private housing benefit cuts too.
Geoff Collier, Keighley
We’re right to boycott Israel
The charge of anti-semitism against the lecturers’ UCU union because of its policy for boycott of Israeli institutions was comprehensively rejected last week by an Employment Tribunal.
The tribunal judged that the case had squandered public resources, and the resources of the union.
It deemed the case “manifestly unmeritorious”, and concluded that “attachment to Israel…cannot amount to a protected characteristic. It is not an intrinsic part of Jewishness…”
Institutional racism was alleged because of the union’s consistent criticism of Israel. This was based on the claim that the identification of most Jews with Israel meant an attack on the latter constituted an attack on the “protected characteristics” of Jewishness in law.
The judgement is important not just for trade unions but for universities and local authorities.
Had the complainant succeeded, the right to debate contentious political issues, free from the threat of litigation, would have been lost.
This would not simply have affected debates about Zionism and Israeli policy.
In future, it will be more difficult to argue that those opposed to Zionism or Israeli policy are motivated by a hatred of Jews.
Tom Hickey, UCU national executive, pc
United against the bosses, not migrants
Socialist Worker is right about immigration.Migrants are not to blame for poor services or for a shortage of school places.
In fact most services couldn’t function without them. Immigrants put more into society than they get out.
Just imagine if every person who was born or whose parents were born overseas went on strike for a week. The NHS would fall apart, public transport would grind to a halt, London airports would be dark and silent, streets wouldn’t be cleaned, nor would hotels or offices.
Wherever we’re born and whatever language we speak, we are all under attack from the bosses, the bankers and the Bullingdon boys.
But if we unite we are far stronger than they are—we can fight together and win.
Sarah Cox, West London
Let’s treat the banks like they treat us
Savers’ bank accounts in Cyprus being raided in a bailout levy should prompt interesting ideas.
As “we are all in this together” let’s start with a legal windfall tax on bank profits and seize bankers bonuses.
As the banks closed in Cyprus to prevent people withdrawing their own money, let’s do the same to stop banks and bankers squirrelling their money away in offshore accounts.
If they don’t like it, they are welcome to go and work elsewhere.
As there aren’t enough jobs around for them all, they’d end up having to reapply at lower wages.
If you borrow money, you should be morally and legally bound to pay it back.
To pay us back what they owe so far, the banks could simply issue the equivalent amount in shares.
They should reimburse every man, woman and child in Britain for the trillions they have so far paid.
This should effectively give the public share ownership and control of the banking system.
Kevin Allen, by email
The right to gay marriage
The gay marriage debate is back in the headlines in the US.
Millions of people have spoken of their support, from celebrities to trade unions. Equal marriage isn’t the answer to discrimination, but it’s one less thing to worry about!
Esther Cooker, Bolton
How to send off the racists
I went to a football match between Steaua Bucharest and Chelsea last week.
Members of the crowd gave Nazi salutes, and singled out Chelsea’s Israeli player Yossi Benayoun for whistling.
There were banners in red, black and white—not colours of either team.
This is not an isolated instance, but nothing is being done. Any advice on how I could organise?
Bob Mercer, Bucharest
Mind your language
Simon Assaf’s article on Syria (30 March, Socialist Worker) was illuminating.
However his use of the phrase “unmanned drones” is problematic.
Changing how we speak will not get rid of oppression. But that’s not an excuse not to avoid gendered language.
Hanif Leylabi, Newcastle
Ukip’s Farage is a hypocrite
Ukip’s leader Nigel Farage is scapegoating migrants for allegedly “putting pressure on public services”.
The same Farage was dismayed that the Tories didn’t deliver a “shock and awe” budget to “really, seriously cut back” public services.
Sasha Simic, East London
Media don’t cover protest
you never see protests against the government in the media, not even the local news.
There is a blackout to stop us building solidarity or gaining heart in our struggle.
Linda de Villiers, on Facebook