Socialist Worker

LETTERS: Trade unions must fight back now or perish under Tory attack

Issue No. 2495

Doncaster Care UK workers on strike in 2014

Doncaster Care UK workers on strike in 2014 (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The Tories’ trade union bill was debated in the House of Lords again on Wednesday. This is an attack on the last bastion of resistance to the Tories’ destruction of public services.

The Tories want to decimate all opposition. As Unite union leader Len McCluskey said, they want us “to bend our knees” and know our place. It is time to stand up united and say we bend our knee to none.

So why aren’t unions fighting back?

I was involved from day one in the historic 90-day strike at privatised Care UK in Doncaster in 2014. We fought defiantly against terrible cuts to our livelihoods. We also had to fight internal politics from within our own union Unison before we got the support needed.

At the height of our dispute we got widespread backing from the rank and file. It showed me what solidarity can achieve. Our fight resonated across the country.

But local MP and then Labour leader Ed Miliband never showed his face on our picket line. He feared it would damage his chance of becoming prime minister.

The union hierarchy could have upped its game. It could have called action in other regions. To our immense disappointment, this was never forthcoming.

At Unison’s conference I warned that our union pioneers would turn in their graves at the lack of resistance today. I’ve seen apathy and indifference from some in the unions—and even “gravy trainers” who’ve no place in our movement.

The Tory attack on unions is premeditated. It comes at a time when the number of strikes is a fraction of what it once was.

Yet almost 70 percent of the public support the junior doctors’ dispute. Again we have an opportunity to seize the moment and push back Tory legislation.

For the TUC the day of reckoning is now. If it doesn’t make a stand, the days of unions as a voice of the working class will be over. That would be a tragedy.

Roger Hutt, Doncaster

What are EU on about?

Alex Callinicos writes, “the EU’s ‘internationalism’ is a liberal myth” (Socialist Worker, 3 March). Does he seriously imagine socialists are voting to Remain because they have illusions in the EU?

@jpepin, on Twitter

The struggles we face in Britain against austerity and low wages are exactly the same as those faced by workers across Europe.

These struggles need to be united by socialists putting forward a European wide programme. We need common plans for work rights, welfare, pensions and production.

Arguing for Britain to Leave the EU takes us away from such an approach.

Leaving would be a victory for the right and endanger the substantial work rights won via the EU.

We should counterpose the idea of a United Socialist States of Europe to the present corporate EU.

Derek Cattell, Durham

I would be the last to say the European Union (EU) is perfect, and among the first to denounce the problems within it. But I will vote to Remain in the EU.

Not because of David Cameron’s false promises but because I believe the EU can be made better. This will not happen if we make a swift exit.

We’ll still be part of the World Trade Organisation.We’ll still have a useless government with a right wing boosted by a Leave vote.

The EU has many detrimental policies but without it Britain would have little voice in the wider world.

An official in China has reminded us, “Britain is a very small country”.

Corruption will not simply vanish and may get worse. Politicians will use British nationalism to manipulate the masses. Many of our human rights are tied up with EU law.

The EU may just be symbolic. But at a time when people are running out of organisations to trust a little symbolism might be just what we need.

Katie Morris, Glasgow

Proof that Iain Duncan Smith reads @socialistworker!<br />@wylie_alan, on Twitter<br />

Our newest reader?

Proof that Iain Duncan Smith reads @socialistworker!
@wylie_alan, on Twitter
(Pic: Paula Peters)

Equal pay law fails low paid women

The Equality Act regulations for 2016 come into force this October.

They will compel private and voluntary sector employers who employ more than 250 workers in Britain to publish details of wage differentials between men and women.

Presumably this is meant to shame employers into taking action to close the gap. But the legislation carries no penalties to force employers to pay women the same wage as their male counterparts.

It will be absolutely no help to thousands of women who find themselves at the bottom of the wage league tables.

Yet again the law has abjectly failed to protect women’s rights.

Jackie Lewis, Leicester

Who’s afraid of Tories’ fake ban on boycotts?

Labour’s London mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has changed his mind about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

He supported this non-violent activity against the Israeli state as it rained bombs on Gaza. Now his electoral calculations have led him to believe it doesn’t “help us achieve peace” and that “we must not turn our face against Israel”.

Turning his face against Palestinian victims of Israeli ethnic cleansing, illegal settlement building, endless war, occupation and blockade is apparently fine.

He can’t use the excuse of boycott being illegal.

The government is trying to intimidate councils out of stopping tenders going to companies that violate human rights, as in Israel.

But the law allows for firms to be excluded from public procurement if they commit “gross misconduct”.

BDS will continue—without Khan’s support.

Miriam Scharf, East London

Don’t make a nuclear error

The deluded Tories are obsessed with nuclear weapons and reactors.

Mesmerised by the nuclear illusion, they made a catastrophic deal with the increasingly rickety French firm EDF to build new reactors.

The grubby Tories do not like renewables such as wind and solar.

But without these innovations we cannot avoid the tragedy of the global warming and toxic nuclear waste. Nuclear capitalism is an abyss.

Zekria Ibrahimi, by email

New politics vs. austerity

You ask “What would anti-austerity economics look like?” (Socialist Worker, 3 March).

Austerity sucks for millions. Bankers make us bankrupt and the poor suffer for their greed.

I hope a new politics is beginning to emerge that isn’t based on crumbs fallen from the rich man’s table.

Andrew Medlicott, on Facebook

We support the junior doctors

Solidarity comrades keep fighting

@bobcrowscousin, on Twitter

Across the spectrum we are all with you

@publicelder, on Twitter

Socialism in Ireland next?

I read your report on “Ireland’s political revolution” (Socialist Worker, 3 March). I only hope that socialism can take off now.

@Bedzy991, on Twitter

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Article information

Tue 15 Mar 2016, 16:26 GMT
Issue No. 2495
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