Jarrow march shows anger at NHS cuts, now let’s strike
I’m a health worker in Sheffield and am glad to see all the publicity that the Jarrow march for the NHS has been getting.
The march arrived in Sheffield on Monday of this week. It was great that workers from Care UK joined us on the march—on the first day of their three-week strike.
That changes the whole shape of the march because seeing Care UK strikers makes people more inspired. It gives them a concrete example of how people can fight back.
The Jarrow march is a good initiative and an important way to raise the profile of the threat of cuts and privatisation.
But there’s a danger that the march can be seen as a safe, “fluffy” thing and that’s probably why a lot of the media likes it.
It can also be a nice photo opportunity for some Labour politicians. They can use it to look like they are taking action to defend the NHS.
But whenever health workers go on strike, these same politicians attack us.
Everything is so shit for NHS workers at the moment. It’s the same as everywhere in the public sector—we face a long slog of cuts and end up with more work being done by fewer people.
But we are balloting for strikes and should be out in October.
Some people have suffered from what happened to the pensions dispute in 2011. Then union leaders gave up the fight after a huge, successful strike.
We might not win if we strike. But if we don’t go for strikes, we definitely won’t get a better pay deal.
And it will get worse next year, and the year after that.
We aren’t only angry about pay. In our Trust a new electronic patient records system could end up with admin staff being made redundant.
It’s good that people are marching to highlight the attacks on the NHS and that people want to stop the assault.
But strikes by health workers would really rattle the Tories.
Prison is a weapon for our rulers
I disagree with last week’s letter on prison (Letters, 23 August). It argued that people who “hurt or steal from fellow citizens” should be locked up.
This ignores the fundamental causes of crime and how the justice system is used against ordinary people.
It’s no surprise that the US has the largest prison population in the world.One in four black men there will spend time in jail.
A vast number of inmates in England and Wales have mental health problems.Cuts to these services are leaving vulnerable people at risk, contributing heavily to the inmate population.
And tens of thousands are jailed for breaking parole conditions.
The vast majority of crime is caused by economic deprivation. Capitalism teaches people to be consumers—and when they can’t afford to consume is it a wonder that some resort to illegality?
A socialist society would strive to eliminate the economic basis for crime.With time, theft would become unnecessary as everyone would have access to the things they need.
But it would be romantic to suggest all crime would be eliminated. There would still be a need to rehabilitate people who broke laws created by and for the working class through truly democratic bodies.
Prison doesn’t stop crime. It maintains the class system, protecting those that have and punishing those that have not.
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Law in Ireland forces women to suffer or die
The story of a migrant rape victim who was denied an abortion in Ireland is horrendous (Socialist Worker, 23 August).
What’s worse is that this situation was inevitable.
The eighth amendment to the Irish constitution states that a woman’s life is equal to a foetus. Without its removal, women will continue to suffer or die.
This is a class issue.
A rich Irish citizen can easily travel to England for an abortion—not that she should have to—but this poor migrant woman was unable to.
Now a pregnant 16 year old girl has been forcibly taken into care by the Health Service Executive.
The sign in Dublin Airport reads, “Fáilte go hÉireann”—or “Welcome to Ireland”. It should read, “Women beware—your human rights end here”.
Workers can organise to back Gaza
I work for a call centre company. We’re all on self employed contracts and the minimum wage, but we are building a union.
People were angry at Israel’s attacks on Gaza so myself and a colleague took a collection for Palestinian medical aid.
We asked people to give 50p or £1 because we are all on low wages. We raised £24 and nearly all our workmates signed the petition and gave a donation. It sparked political conversations.
The workers’ movement needs to cripple the arms and money that fund Israel.
Collecting to ensure Palestinians have basic medical aid is a step in that direction.
Just a thought...
Tory cuts risk women’s lives
The Tories say they might make “domestic abuse” an offence.
This would cover women who face psychological or emotional abuse at the hands of their partners.
But it’s a bit rich for Tory ministers to pose as protectors of women.
They’ve cut funds to lots of women’s refuges since they came to office.
Weak Tories take on FBU
This government is wrong headed. Forcing a deal on the FBU firefighters’ union without compromise in negotiation is weak not strong.
Don’t attack young people
My daughter was pleased with her GCSE results—but less pleased with the media telling her that her exams were too easy.
What does it say about our society that young people succeeding in life has just become another reason to attack them?
No torture for George Bush
It’s good people are raising money for charity by chucking ice water over themselves.
But when I saw George Bush do it I wanted someone to hold him down and not stop, like the US did to Iraqi prisoners.
That’s not torture, apparently.
Nationalise to stop rail rises
Rail fares are up nearly a quarter since the Tories got in in 2010.
The latest inflation figures mean they will rise by 3.5 percent in January—or 2.5 percent if George Osborne takes pity on us.
Yet again we are paying for privatisation. It shows why we need to nationalise the railways.