How to take on your boss without getting the sack
Miss Robinson asked how to fight for decent water facilities at work without losing her job.
Lots of workers face a similar question. For Miss Robinson the issue is clean water. For others it is having to put your hand up to go to the toilet or having to work in sweltering conditions. But what to do?
You could go to your boss and quote section 22 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. This states that your employer has a duty to provide drinking water that is “readily accessible at suitable places”.
But if you go alone your boss would probably try and victimise you. The most important thing is safety in numbers.The first thing to do is join a union. Second talk to your colleagues, including those who don’t work on your site.
Do this as far away from the bosses as possible—a cafe or a pub they don’t use. Ask workers how they feel about the issue.
You will probably find that there are a number of different issues that need addressing. Take up the one that is most deeply felt by all of you.
Then work out collectively how you are going to campaign to win your demands, such as starting with a petition.
Find out what people are prepared to do and make sure that as many workers as possible are involved. Use the union’s resources—they can print leaflets and petitions, and provide meeting rooms.
It might not be easy. But win on this and watch the power dynamic change. You and your colleagues’ confidence will rise and the bosses may face more demands.
Whatever the outcome talk to others about it. We all have to learn how to fight these kind of battles. That way we can rebuild our unions and, more importantly, rank and file organisation.
Pat Carmody, Unite union member
Organised workers are key to winning struggle
Some say socialists should focus on social movements as they can give confidence to organised workers.
But there is no solid wall between the struggle against exploitation and the struggle against oppression.
Black workers who had experienced the power of organised labour in the north of the US in the 1960s brought that to the civil rights movement.
The struggles in 1968 came at the end of decades where workers had struck and won better pay and conditions, and so were confident.
Today Britain’s working class has had many years of being let down by union leaders.
It’s easy to look for alternatives such as social movements. But movements can’t survive without the strength of organised workers.
Name withheld, Swansea
You should talk about sport more
Socialist Worker is an excellent paper but I feel that sport is too often overlooked.
The working class is heavily engaged in sport and discussions take place in great detail in workplaces all around Britain every day.
I feel that the paper would be more warmly received if it covered sport a lot more.
Socialists do have something to say about the subject. There are so many topics of interest—ticket prices, Brazil and the protests against the World Cup, doping in athletics, etc.
Dave Fagan, Liverpool
Resources belong to us, not rich
I had a wonderful weekend at Marxism 2013.
I met some inspiring people and I am more and more convinced that genuine socialism is the way forward.
Resources cannot be controlled by a few. They should be held in common ownership because that’s fair.
You’re duped into thinking that the resources in the world naturally belong to the rich.
But that’s rubbish! Resources such as water belong not to the few, but to us all.
Anne O’Neil, Manchester
Stop Gove’s curriculum
That dreadful elitist duo Michael Gove and David Laws have announced their “final” school curriculum draft.
There are mind-stifling implications of this in my own subject, history, alone.
All GCSE coursework is being wiped out.
College and university students’ first year in history or politics will be wasted.
Teachers will have to train them in basic research techniques that they could previously have picked up in GCSE.
Also, we are instructed to teach old fashioned chronology and what is falsely called political history.
Please Socialist Worker readers—protest at Gove and Laws’ attacks on us.
Larry Iles, Eastbourne
March against neoliberalism
I read your article about strikes in Brazil and Chile.
There is only one thing that links Chile to Sao Paolo and Rio—neoliberal, pro-US governments.
People in Chile plan to march on 30 July against its neoliberal government.
Catia, by email
Hypocrisy of MPs’ holidays
Teachers get attacked for having long summer holidays.
But MPs started their “summer recess” this week!
Cleo Stevens, Plymouth
We can’t work if we are sick
The Tories are trying to “help” disabled people into work.
The media says they are taking advantage of “changing attitudes” following the Paralympics.
But disabled people like me find it harder to work because of our illnesses, not attitudes.
If people can work and they want to, that’s fine.
But we shouldn’t be forced to work if it would make our health worse.
Francesca Ban, Lincolnshire
Capitalists target Syria
The initial uprisings against the Syrian government have become an imperialist war waged on Syria by religious cynics and capitalist warmongers.
We should stand up to this rather than confuse a revolution with the capitalist concept of world domination (Reply to Letters, 13 July).
Gundolf Hambrock, Frankfurt
Bloodsuckers in our NHS
US private equity firm Bain Capital has bought an 80 percent stake in state owned NHS plasma supplier Plasma Resources UK.
Doesn’t that make them literally Capitalist Bloodsuckers?
Sasha Simic, East London