Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2386

Whipps Cross NHS bosses are trying to silence workers

Charlotte Monro, Unison branch chair at Whipps Cross Hospital, east London, has been sacked after defending workers and patients’ rights. 

She’s been a health professional for 25 years and in 2009 won an award for outstanding service. That dedication is now a threat to the NHS privatisers. 

Charlotte spoke out about the risks as a result of cuts to the stroke unit. The trust claimed she had brought them into “disrepute”.

She discussed proposals with her union members. The trust claimed she had breached confidentiality.

Because she was an activist, the trust claimed there was a “conflict of interest”.

As the victimisation was exposed bosses resorted to digging up a conviction from a demonstration 35 years ago. They misrepresented Charlotte’s past political activities, presenting her as a violent criminal.

Barts Health has been put to shame. They are trying to silence those who speak out, break our union and make people fearful.

Hundreds of nursing staff are being forced to reapply for their jobs. Some have worked on wards for over 20 years. Experienced nurses are being downbanded.

Nurses are leaving. Some wards now depend on agency staff.

Workers at Whipps Cross veer between despondency and rage. We want our unions to give us full support, and to ballot for strikes. 

We had a 300 plus yes vote in our indicative ballot. We have had campaigns, cross union meetings and a demonstration.

We have to build our unions from below, and put pressure on our leaderships to give the lead that can build confidence and translate anger into action. 

This government is determined to privatise the NHS. We need to strengthen our position for the future battles we face. 

At Barts, we will not be scared into silence. We will speak out and continue to fight.

Sam Strudwick

Interim chair, Unison Waltham Forest health branch (pc)

Cuts mean workers are priced out of fitness

As a council worker facing a pay freeze, I’m finding it almost impossible to access local services.

The library hours are shortening, closed two days a week. And now I can’t use my subscription to council leisure facilities when I’m not on flexible working hours.

There are fewer public swimming sessions left when the pool isn’t booked up or closed due to staff shortages. I’d have to spend considerable time and money to travel across the city to find somewhere. 

That’s an evening gone—and now even the buses are cutting evening services.

The poor are priced out of swimming. Our free sessions are so oversubscribed I can’t even swing my arms without banging into someone.

People who have spare money have a choice of facilities. But for us on low pay it’s a whole different ball game trying to take part and live healthier lives.

Esther Ball


Don't let them beat the drums of war

John Newsinger’s article on the British Empire (Socialist Worker, 11 January) demonstrated how the ruling classes were prepared to sacrifice millions of workers in the interests of their profits. 

One of the generals most responsible for drumming up support for the British Army was Field Marshal Earl Kitchener. 

Hundreds of thousands of people answered his “Your King and Country need you” demand. Many died in the coming years.

So I was disappointed to see “Kitchener’s Army” badges on sale in the Imperial War Museum (IWM) North last week. 

Normally they do not glorify war conflict, but try to understand war and its effect on those involved. 

I was pleasantly surprised that my complaint to the IWM led them to immediately withdraw the badges from all their sites, for fear they might glorify the conflict to those children who bought them. 

A small victory, but one that proves it’s always worth speaking out.

Martin Empson


A new mint of £2 coins features Kitchener. It must be resisted. 

There is a petition online you can sign:

Andy Coles


Overdrawn food banks

It has been reported in the Daily Mirror newspaper that food banks around Britain are struggling as demand increases.

The Halesowen food bank near to where I work had to cut the amount given out in parcels over the Christmas period to try and meet need.

Here in the West Midlands, food bank inquiries have increased at more than three times the national rate.

Support workers in Birmingham have reported pregnant women skipping meals as they struggle with poverty.

The National Institute for Economic and Social Research identified the combination of high unemployment and the government’s drive to sanction benefit claimants as the key reason for demand in the area.

The drive to push through punishing changes to welfare, low wages and spending cuts leave a devastating situation for the Black Country and many other parts of Britain.

It was shocking to see the laughter and poor attendance of Tory MPs in the recent parliamentary debate on food banks.

Food banks are not a solution. 

They are a sticking plaster for the wider problem of social inequality. 

We need to think about how our unions can strengthen the position of workers to create a society where there is no need for them.

Rhiannon Lockley

Halesowen, West Midlands

Let’s hunt the Lib Dem liars

Coalition nonentity, North Devon Lib Dem MP Sir Nick Harvey, railed against the ban on fox hunting in a Guardian newspaper article.

He seems to have forgotten Nick Clegg’s 2010 election promise that they would “always” support the ban.

Dare we hope that they be reminded that 80 percent of us oppose this barbaric cruelty.

Larry Iles


Fight Israel’s apartheid too

More than 10,000 African people protested outside the Israeli parliament this month.

They are at risk of detention or deportation at any time.

Israel is an apartheid state built on the brutal repression of the Palestinians. The silence is deafening from politicians who celebrated the life of Nelson Mandela—but who rely on Israel as a strategic partner.

When it comes to apartheid, they support it when it suits them and if they are able to.

Alistair Farrow

West London

Londoners need homes

Tory Hammersmith and Fulham council has signed a 15-year deal with property developer Stanhope. It could see thousands of council houses demolished.

The council has sold off 209 council houses in four years. House prices here have more than doubled in a decade.

The solution is to invest in council housing—not give lucrative land to private developers.

Karen Raynor

West London

Why not film Banker Street?

Corporate tax avoiders and greedy bankers cost us far more than anyone on benefits.

So instead of harrassing the poor on “Benefits Street” surely the TV cameras should follow the caviar munching, champagne guzzling, coke snorting superyacht owners on “Banker Street”.

Dave Thompson


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Article information

Tue 14 Jan 2014, 18:22 GMT
Issue No. 2386
Share this article

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.