Bute shows how anti-refugee racism can be pushed back
Despite the daily diet of migrant-bashing that has dominated the media in recent months, not everybody has been taken in by this mean, racist narrative.
People have set up refugee support groups and collected food and clothing for the camps. A very small number of councils have agreed to provide accommodation for refugee families.
One of these is on the Isle of Bute, not far from Glasgow.
About 15 Syrian families who fled the bombing and have been living in refugee camps in Lebanon will arrive in a few weeks’ time.
Bute is an economically depressed area which is being hammered by Tory austerity.
But the response of most islanders to the refugee crisis has been positive.
A couple of speakers from Syria addressed an audience in the Rothesay Library recently as part of the Scottish International Storytelling Festival.
They had been scheduled to talk about the storytelling traditions of Syria. But, in answers to questions, they described the horrors of living in a country ravaged by war and the plight of refugees.
It was an uplifting meeting and has been followed up by an excellent comment piece in the local paper, The Buteman.
The editor noted, ‘There have, predictably but depressingly, been grumbles about how we should look after our own first’. He rightly said this amounts to saying, “I don’t want them in my backyard”.
His response was, ‘Well I do. I want Bute to be a place where people who come here with little more than the clothes they are standing in can feel safe and at home.”
Library staff took the Syrian speakers around all three schools on the island where they conducted lively question and answer sessions with the kids.
Jack Robertson, Port Bannatyne, Isle of Bute
The speakers mentioned here have a website called talkingsyria.com
United we can defend tax credits
Several of my work colleagues are affected by brutal Tory plans to slash tax credits.
One, a young mother, uses tax credits to top her wages up and pay for childcare while she is at work.
She told me that she’s angry at the attack because without tax credits she couldn’t work.
She said the Tories are lying when they say they want to “make work pay” and said she would support action to stop this cut.
The Norwich People’s Assembly monthly forum meeting discussed the cut and what to do about it.
We agreed to work out how much different workers would lose and for unions to conduct a survey of their members.
We hope that resistance will really kick off as the cut is fully implemented next year.
Since the meeting the Tories have been defeated in the House of Lords on the tax credit changes.
But there will be future attempts to push this through.
We can’t look to parliament or the Lords to protect us—we must act from below.
Some 3.3 million workers in public and private workplaces, unionised and non-unionised, young and old, will be affected by the cut.
Resistance could easily unite different groups of workers in a generalised fightback.
Tim Knight-Hughes, Unite union member and call centre worker
College cuts will leave us with fewer options
The scale of cuts the Tories want to make in further and adult education is becoming clearer.
They don’t value colleges because they don’t use them, and they don’t send their children to them.
Colleges are mainly for working class people to get an education, and often to get a second chance in life.
One report last week said that the cuts could mean four out of ten colleges would close or be merged.
This is a massive attack on working class people.
Like lots of my friends I went to college because it seemed the only way to get a half decent job.
We have been put off university because tuition fees would leave us with debt for life.
If the Tories get their way, working class people will have even fewer options in life.
I was glad to see the lecturers strike last week. We have to fight to stop these cuts.
Lizzie Ross, Sheffield
Cuts give bullying bosses the green light
I work in children services in a local authority in one of the most deprived areas of England.
Myself and my colleagues are the first point of contact for people reporting concerns about the safety and welfare of children.
The media at the moment is obsessed with child abuse scandals and often focus on the local authorities where they are exposed.
But it never focuses on the staff who work hard to protect children but live with a constant threat of losing their jobs.
Budget cuts have created a climate where managers can openly bully staff and pretty much get away with it.
I have experienced management bullying and I’m sure the same pressures and tactics are used in children’s services in other areas too.
Staff have been verbally abused.
Managers have also threatened to derecognise our Unite union.
We should all stand together with those who suffer bullying and harassment—from a manager or anyone else.
Name and address provided
Can’t live on ‘living wage’
Can we start referring to the so-called “Living Wage” as the “subsistence wage”.
It’s a more accurate term.
Mathew Flynn, Bradford
Protectionism to save steel?
The steel cuts demonstrate the need for renationalisation.
The government’s industrial strategy should look at protectionism.
Public infrastructure projects could use British steel and bring much needed demand into the sector.
Oliver Steward on Twitter
Don’t glorify bloody wars
Our rulers call the uniformed victims of war “heroes”.
That implies there was a good purpose for their deaths—and encourages others to sign up for more slaughter.
Juliet Richardson, Swansea
Tory boost for fossil fuels
The government is increasing fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks.
How fitting that the report that pointed this out was called “Empty Promises”.
Hannah Cooper, Bristol
Cameron says no to the cuts
David Cameron’s letter to Oxfordshire County Council is beyond belief.
Cameron was angry about the savage cuts imposed on councils by Cameron’s government.
If only Cameron was in a position to do something about them.
Sasha Simic, East London
Learn from US students
After recent student protests in South Africa and Crete, I was delighted to see students kicking off on campuses in the US last week.
If it can happen in Missouri, perhaps it can happen here too.
Sam Dyson, Peterborough