Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2358

Workers standing together can beat the scapegoating

The Tories’ are trying to divide workers by scapegoating migrants—something that Socialist Worker is right to highlight.

I had an experience at work recently that shows that they are not getting everything their way.

I’m part of the Unison union at the London Fire Brigade, so other workers come to me with their problems.

An FBU union rep at a north London fire station contacted me to say that their station’s cleaner, a member of Unison, had been suspended from work.

Carmen—not her real name—is from Colombia. She can’t speak English and was facing the sack as result. 

This was despite the fact that she had worked at the station for nine years with no problem.

There are Spanish-speaking firefighters on three of the station’s four watches.

When I spoke to London Fire Brigade management, they blamed the contractor Knighton Cleaning Services and the station manager. 

They claimed Carmen was a health and safety risk!

Knighton management claimed that the brigade had told them that they did not want Carmen at the station.

At this point firefighters circulated a petition stating that they were happy with Carmen’s work.

The station manager told me that he had no problem with her. 

I wrote to brigade management on behalf of Unison. I raised the issue of potential racial discrimination against Carmen.

I told them about the support she had from her fellow workers at the station. 

Within days Knighton had told Carmen that she could return to work and apologised for the “misunderstanding”.

This small victory shows the potential for workers to stand together against the racism of the politicians and the bosses who want to divide us.

Tony PhillipsEast London

State control won’t stop media bigotry

Transgender teacher Lucy Meadows committed suicide earlier this year.

At her inquest last month the coroner explicitly condemned vile transphobic articles about her. The Daily Mail’s Richard Littlejohn had called for Lucy’s sacking.

Many of the people who are outraged by these attacks call for tighter press controls. This is understandable.

But socialists can’t support such calls. They always end up being used against radical publications like Socialist Worker rather than powerful firms with armies of slick lawyers.

The police are just as corrupt and compromised as the press they would be regulating.

The best answer is mass action from below through petitions and protests. That won an apology and removal of a transphobic article by Julie Burchill in The Observer last year.

Most effective are strikes by workers in the press—like when the Sun printers walked out in defence of miners’ union leader Arthur Scargill.

Laura MilesWakefield

The Turkish elites are bigoted against Islam

Muslims are the majority in Turkey. But wearing a headscarf is banned in universities, hospitals and public services. The AKP government hasn’t resolved this, even though the AKP is an “Islamic” party.

Islamophobia in Turkey isn’t the same as in the West (Letters, 15 June).

But the secular state has implemented Islamophobia ever since its creation, influenced by the Western Enlightment. The state became militant against Islam and demonised it as a political ideology. 

Nationalists still defend a coup against the Islamist Welfare Party in 1997.

The elites are afraid of religiosity. Seeing women in headscarves makes them uncomfortable. Women in headscarves are attacked in extremist nationalist areas.

This is Islamophobia, even in a Muslim country. 

Irem AksuEast London

We are suffering in silence

I and thousands of others belong to a forgotten generation. I’m in my early 20s and suffer from severe depression.

I have worked damn hard since the day I walked out of my state-funded education. This is because capitalist society dictates that we are healthy enough to work for venomous corporations on a pitiful minimum wage.

We are not happy. We need a wage which actually covers the horrific living costs of this society. We need a welfare system which supports the one in three people who will suffer from mental illness.

How can the government justify interrogating people who can’t even face waking up in the morning? How can they justify just leaving people to die?

Name withheldStoke-on-Trent

The brain does matter

I was disappointed by John Parrington’s review of psychologist Adrian Raine’s research into the possible biological causes of crime (Socialist Worker, 15 June).

He’s right to point out the enormous dangers of reducing criminality to biological differences. 

But while we should reject Raine’s reductionism, we shouldn’t dismiss the scientific tools he uses.

The interplay between biological, behavioural and environmental factors has been shown to be important in shaping human behaviour.

Viv SmithEast London

Get ministers out of schools

As Michael Gove thinks up yet another master plan, I’ve concluded that education must be removed from the clutches of all politicians.

It should be handed to non-political professionals, and set for the long term.

The constant meddling by whoever is in charge of the ministry at that time undermines both teachers and pupils.

Graham ManleyLiverpool

Fire cuts are a burning issue

I support firefighters’ protests against cuts. How can we possibly need less firefighters when the population is increasing?

I’m waiting for the insurance companies to ask for bailouts like the banks did, due to all the houses burning down.

Benjamin Hallon Facebook

Islamophobia is not godly

I’m appalled at the calls for Muslim women to be banned from wearing the burqa.

Some say they should not wear Islamic items in a Christian country. But Britain is more atheist than ever.

These people don’t believe in god—they just suddenly find religion when it suits.

Now the EDL, Ukip and the fascist BNP are wallowing in it.

Aaron NadelmanLiverpool

I’m glad people of different faiths joined the vigil to oppose hatred after the burning of the Islamic centre. We need to oppose hate whoever it comes from.

Lucy Pirelli on Facebook

Violence is never right

I agree with 99 percent of your articles—but I disagreed with your defence of the Muslim men who planned to attack the EDL (Socialist Worker, 15 June).

Their long sentences were ridiculous. But we shouldn’t lower ourselves to the EDL’s level.

Socialists should oppose all violence. Better to show solidarity in peace and harmony.

Dave HurstBristol

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Article information

Tue 18 Jun 2013, 17:37 BST
Issue No. 2358
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