Solidarity builds strikes and transforms the mood in work
I work as a teaching assistant in a primary school and am a Unison union steward.
Having had two successful collections for the Doncaster Care UK strikers at my workplace it seemed logical that we should support striking health workers.
I designed a solidarity card saying, “Defend the NHS, Britain needs a pay rise!”
Colleagues at work were very keen to sign it, particularly as our local government strike had been called off.
It gave people a chance to vent their anger while showing solidarity with health workers.
On the morning of the strike a group of us met up to go to the picket lines. We took Unite and PCS union banners, the card and food donated by Unison members.
We received a very friendly welcome.
We are all facing the same battle against austerity and the same increases in workload, rising costs of living and cuts in pay.
Unity is the only way that we can win, so anything that builds that in our workplaces is part of the way forward.
Julie Forgan, York
Teachers in Hackney schools from the Socialist Workers Party collected over £500 for striking health workers.
We delivered it to the picket lines at Homerton and St Ann’s hospitals.
We were warmly received in the rain by pickets and local officials.
We have built relationships with them since Unison school workers and teachers in the NUT union struck together on 10 July.
Some Unison officials tried to stop Socialist Worker being sold at one picket line.
But the shop steward told them to back off as we had delivered almost £200 of solidarity there.
Unison members in our schools were angry that the local government strike had been called off, and contributed to our collections.
Both NUT and Unison members are proud of the support they have delivered, but confused by our union leaders’ strategy. I get asked every week, “Why aren’t we striking?”
We need to pressure our union leaders to call joint strikes and build the Unite the Resistance conference on 15 November.
Des Barrow, East London
The donations for strikers at Whipps Cross hospital in east London included more than £30 collected after Friday prayers at the nearby Queens Road mosque.
Other acts of solidarity included breakfast provided by local health campaigners.
The strike last week was the most militant since the 1980s.
Picketing midwives, nurses and therapists were joined by large delegations of ambulance workers and community health visitors.
They were united in anger about the insulting pay offer and cuts to the NHS.
This kind of action provides an alternative to the main parties’ austerity and the racism of Ukip.
Jim Fagan, retired nurse, East London
I spoke to a midwife who works at Queen Elizabeth hospital in Lewisham, south east London, recently. I said, “You look shattered.”
She said, “I was run off my feet until 2am this morning. Most days it’s a 12-hour shift, during which I don’t get a break.
“I delivered eight babies yesterday, answered 70 phone calls and had a lot of paperwork to catch up on.
“I am stressed beyond belief. I am not the most active of people, but Jeremy Hunt is making me an activist.”
These people are heroes. Solidarity to everyone who struck this week.
Paula Peters, South London
Something to vote for
I first voted Labour in the 1960s and have been let down by it ever since.
Following the Ukip victory in Clacton this month, the hard right party says Labour backbenchers might defect.
This makes it even harder to accept that where there is no “left” candidate, we should vote Labour.
But there’s more to politics than voting.
Just because someone votes Ukip, it doesn’t mean that they won’t have to fight back against cuts.
This can begin to counter Nigel Farage’s destructive nonsense.
However, the left needs to get its act together.
We are experiencing the most right wing attacks for decades, but there is nothing of any size on the left that can oppose it.
Such an organisation wouldn’t be a revolutionary group.
But it would give disillusioned voters something to focus on other than racism and Ed Miliband acting like a Tory.
Ged Peck, Luton
The SNP is not radical
A vote for a neoliberal Labour Party is bad but a vote for a neoliberal Scottish National Party (SNP) is worse.
Labour’s roots lie in the trade union leadership.
The SNP’s roots lie in a section of the ruling class that sees an independent Scotland as a better vehicle for exploiting the working class.
SNP leader Alex Salmond has positioned the SNP to the left of Labour by adopting some social democratic Labour policies.
And the mass social movement that the independence referendum generated gave the illusion that the SNP is radical. Yet it remains a bosses’ party.
The Hope Over Fear rally last week of up to 15,000 people was not built by the SNP but by socialists in the unions and radical grassroots campaigns.
That movement can be the basis for a party that can give voice to those who campaigned for a better society.
Duncan Brown, Glasgow
NHS exploited migrant staff
As a retired Irish nurse who trained in London in the 1960s, I welcomed your spread Migrants Who Saved the NHS (Socialist Worker, 11 October).
We must talk about the history of low pay, poor conditions and inequality in the NHS, and the exploitation of foreign health and auxiliary workers.
We must not forget the role played by governments and the higher ranks of the nursing and medical professions in maintaining class hierarchies.
Ann O’Brien, South London
More support for walkouts
People have to go on strike to show how important the work they do is.
But still the bosses are doing all they can to minimise their wages, which is totally unacceptable.
I am with the strikers.
Isabel Becker, by email
How is Labour any better?
I do not entirely agree that Labour is the lesser of two evils (Socialist Worker, 11 October). Labour and the Conservatives have a lot in common.
Both are responsible for imperialist wars. Both have privatised public services.
Both have introduced immigration controls.
We need to disintegrate all these political parties globally as the basis for the socialist society that we on the left cry out for.
Charlie Dowthwaite, Barrow-in-Furness
Don’t fall for Ukip rhetoric
Ukip won the by?election in Clacton because it shafted a millionaire Tory MP with a large majority into parliament under its party name.
It adopted pseudo anti-establishment rhetoric to dupe many apathetic voters into believing it will work in their interests.
We need a radical left alternative.
Nick Vinehill, Norfolk