Socialist Worker

Climate issue hots up

Issue No. 1929

COMMENTING ON “Can We Stop Global Warming?” (Socialist Worker, 20 November), there is an aspect seldom touched upon when discussing global warming and climate change—are humans as a species too clever by half and so incompatible with their continuance on earth?

Humans upset the earth’s equilibrium (for all life forms) and perhaps must perish because of this.

Perhaps we are already too far gone down that road. The oxygen-generating, carbon dioxide absorbing rain forests disappear, while the combustion of fossil fuels absorbs precious oxygen and liberates carbon dioxide in the process.

But human greed is too deeply entrenched to correct this behaviour. So called socialist societies have been as bad as any other in helping to destroy the balance of nature in trying to satisfy the insatiable greed of humans. My own feeling is that “mother earth” will not be denied and “an end” will come eventually. Evolution can then set about restoring more sustainable life forms.
David Kennedy, Stonehaven

ANDY STONE’S article “Can We Stop Global Warming?” was brilliant, for unless we stop global warming, global warming will stop us.

I am sure a lot of people will come up with other suggestions. My experience is that people are aware of history and how we are following our extinct predecessors, but they do not associate that with the lies from the likes of Tony Blair.

I have printed quite a lot of copies of the article, which I will give my friends who still vote Labour but complain about environmental issues.
Florence Durrant, By e-mail

A MEMENTO of the Florence European Social Forum in 2002 I have pinned up by my desk is a postcard which reads “Only when the last tree has died, and the last river been poisoned, and the last fish been caught, will we realise that we cannot eat money.” It’s a 19th century Cree Indian saying. Smart guys those Cree!
Nick Grant, West London

Bosses’ agenda

AS A member of the health service, I see no light at the end of the tunnel within my workplace. In fact there’s not even a way out (“We See Through Their Deals”, Socialist Worker, 20 November).

Agenda for Change is a slight improvement on my pay, and I mean only slight, but nowhere near being a real change in my working life.

I am currently working in a hospital department that can only be seen as a sweatshop. The first problem was the misleading vacancy ad. When you look at a job advert, you look for certain things—job title, place of work, hours and, most importantly, pay.

The “pro rata” scheme is an excellent way for bad managers to advertise badly paid jobs without them looking so awful.

I work 30 hours a week, getting £672 a month, but interviewed for a job that advertised that I would receive nearly £12,000 a year.

I cover 14 shifts with six other people. I have two days off a week, but not set days. I may even cover ten days straight without a day off.

I can’t get a second job to gain extra money, as I am trapped within a rolling rosta.

If I do work extra hours, it can only be for the hospital’s flexi-bank, but this would involve giving up my days off or working all day.

The “Improving Working Lives” scheme is a sham and is only another means of getting the three-star status.

Three stars then allow the hospital and its money-obsessed management the chance of becoming a foundation hospital.

Who do you think will pay the price for that? The already badly paid, badly treated underclass within the NHS.
Phil Reilly, Wirral

The plight of Sudanese refugees

THANK YOU for the article “Don’t Come Here—Die In Darfur” (Socialist Worker, 13 November).

It made me sickeningly angry to read of the hypocrisy of the government, which speaks so strongly of the crimes of the Sudanese government but does not throw open the doors to those who flee this oppression.

It reminds me of how the US and British refused to allow German Jews into their countries after the Nazis took over.

A group of us work in a supermarket. I printed off the article from the paper and took it into the canteen. We have done a collection, which we are sharing equally between Save the Children and your fund. You will get £15 soon. Perhaps you do not approve of giving money to charity, but I think this is a good compromise.

As working people we have far more sympathy for Africans than the high-ups in Downing Street.

I hope one day that there will be no need for people to leave Sudan, but when they have to we should welcome them.

Thank god me and my kids have never suffered like that. What a disgrace that there is so much money for war but so little for the real needs of people.
Margaret Moore, Liverpool

Could new laws stop adults hitting children?

ALTHOUGH I agree with some of the points in Cathy O’Leary’s letter, I think that a call for laws against smacking miss the point.

Evidence shows that most parents disagree with smacking even when they do it.

This shows that such behaviour is a stress reaction rather than planned, so laws would not be effective.

It’s not surprising that most parents are under extreme stress in a society where they are considered the only one responsible for another human being—their child—with no breaks, no pay, and having to maintain a job or find one.

Smacking is a result of a failure of society, in particular capitalist society, rather than of parents.

Parents are forced to use coercive methods against their own children under New Labour, which threatens them with fines or even prison if their child does not conform.

Children are expected to sit exams at the age of seven, and they become targets for advertising much earlier.

There is huge pressure on parents of active children to either physically force or medicate them into socially acceptable silence.

In providing free childcare, free facilities such as leisure centres, libraries and playgrounds, shorter but equally paid working hours and decent housing for all, the use of smacking would be eliminated without legislation.
Gaynor Barrett, Exeter

Cruel reality of Tesco’s sick policy

I HAVE read your recent articles on working for Tesco. I also work for them, and I want to tell you what happened to me recently.

While at work my friend had his hand crushed. It became very painful and swollen.The supervisor told him it was nothing, and said he would get over it.

The next day my friend came into work, even though his doctor had told him that his hand needed to be rested.

He came in because he could not afford to lose the three days pay that Tesco have stopped paying in sick pay.

His hand got worse and worse, and eventually he had to take the time off anyway.

There are many other people at work with similar stories to tell.

I know of people in the same position—with bad backs and bad colds—who daren’t take time off.

I can’t believe Tesco can just get away with treating us like this.

Our trade union leaders should do something about this.

If they don’t, the bosses will make not paying sick pay the norm across all industries, inflicting more pain and misery on people trying to earn a living.
Name and address withheld

Defend this protester

THE GOVERNMENT is planning to evict Brian Haw, the peace protester, from Parliament Square, where he has been for three years.

I believe he deserves our support. Before the European Social Forum I took Brian some posters for the event and for the “Bush out” demo, and he put them up facing parliament.

Brian shouts all day through his megaphone, and his knowledge of history is very impressive.

Go to the website for information about what you can do to help Brian and for other news.
Hazel Sabey, West London

Vietnam on the Tigris?

THE BARBARIC attack on Fallujah will give rise to many more Fallujahs resisting the US-led occupation.

It is only a matter of time before the resistance overwhelms the occupying force and makes them flee, as happened in Vietnam.

No justice-minded person supports the beheading of innocent hostages as a means to liberate a country from foreign occupation.

This is a consequence of the anarchy and chaos caused by the occupation of Iraq. These acts play into the hands of the US to justify attacks on Iraqi people.

The majority of Iraqi people trying to free their country do not support such activities.

The real terrorists are the US and British forces slaughtering innocent Iraqi civilians.

The US and Britain must take their troops out of Iraq.

The fate of Iraq should be decided by the Iraqi people without foreign interference.
Salvinder Singh Dillon, People’s Empowerment Alliance

Raise funds for Iraq

DON’T YOU think it would be appropriate to set up some kind of financial appeal to help the Iraqi people suffering under the US/British occupation?

There must be some way of getting food and medical supplies, etc, to them. We must let them know that we have not forgotten them.
Tom Gallacher, Paisley

Protest, Italian style

ON THE weekend of 13 November a NATO conference was held in Venice. As a pictured in last week’s Socialist Worker, this was met with opposition from many groups, including Rifondazione Comunista.

As Venice is a city of canals and narrow streets, the usual type of demonstration was not feasible. On Saturday a flotilla of boats sailed around Venice waving flags and banners—rainbow flags with “Pace” (peace) written on them.

This was followed by a picket outside the La Fenice theatre, where a gala for the conference delegates was to have taken place.

The picket was so successful that the gala was cancelled.

On Sunday a group occupied the jetty at the hotel where the Italian delegates were staying.

At 11am the Italian delegates were still unable to leave.

A group of school students lay down in Campo San Stefano to spell out “No NATO”.
John Spink, Italy

I say off with his head

So Prince Charles thinks today’s young are too ambitious, and people think they can become head of state without putting in the necessary work or having natural ability.

I think what he meant to say was anyone can become head of state —so long as, by an accident of birth, they are born into a life of privilege and idleness.

In that case he fits the bill perfectly, never having done any work and possessing no natural ability apart from being able to sponge off the real workers in this country for the last 56 years.
Wendy Curtis, Kent

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Sat 27 Nov 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1929
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