Socialist Worker

LETTERS: Blacklisting bosses are only sorry that they were caught

Issue No. 2506

Workers from Reinforced Steel Services join hospital strikers in Greenwich

Workers from Reinforced Steel Services join hospital strikers in Greenwich (Pic: Socialist Worker archive)

Simon Basketter’s article (Socialist Worker, 18 May) sums up how the forces of the state colluded with giant construction firms to attack the rights of workers.

Robert McAlpine’s firm played a leading role in vetting workers. We got documentary evidence that McAlpine was involved in vetting workers as long ago as 1974.

We occupied a Reinforced Steel Services factory in Greenwich, south London, in May 1977. The immediate cause of the occupation was the management sacking of our steel workers’ union (ISTF).

We had refused to call off a strike in support of National Union of Public Employees’ (NUPE) call for solidarity against the closure of St Nicolas’s hospital. We got tremendous support from hospital staff, steel workers and comrades.

The occupation lasted over three months. In the offices we found a vast amount of information for bosses on how to deal with troublemakers.

A letter dated 2 August 1974 from our boss to a Mr Keenan from Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons Ltd said, “I would like to take you up on your kind offer of vetting a small number of personnel for me.

“I attach a short list of names and hope you will let me have the outcome as soon as possible.”

We found an answer in a letter to our manager dated 23 August 1974 from the McAlpine address, written on behalf of Mr Keenan. It said, “The five people enumerated are ‘clean’ as far as they are aware”.

This proves that McAlpine’s firm was deeply involved in offering vetting services to any firm who requested it.

The long struggle for justice by the Blacklist Support Group forced the bosses to admit they did wrong.

Dave Smith, secretary of the Blacklist Support Group, was right when he said, “The only thing firms are sorry for is getting caught. This is not the end of the matter—this is unfinished business.”

Let’s hope that the struggle for the truth is soon won, as it was by the Justice for Hillsborough fighters.

Morgan O’Brien, South London

BHS bosses are all over the shop

Phillip Green is so greedy and selfish he epitomises everything that is wrong with capitalism and big business.

For years he has been stuffing his own pockets with profits while refusing to add more money to a pension fund for his workers.

As a result he has piled up hundreds of millions of pounds in debt for the business and lied to workers in the process.

All of this just reinforces how little bosses value workers.

I’m a retail worker. I stand for seven hours a day serving rude customers, for minimum wage with unpaid breaks in a uniform I had to pay for.

Yet people like Phillip Green do absolutely nothing and end up with all the money that me and thousands of others worked hard to make.

The fact that Green is getting away with what he is doing shows us how disorganised, chaotic, impractical and unfair capitalism is—and who it really benefits.

If ordinary people tried to steal millions while promising others money we would be locked up. But when the rich and powerful do it the “rule of law” is on their side.

For far too long the bosses have been demanding the maximum from workers while giving us the minimum in return. It’s time for workers to take control and show the ruling class who really runs society.

Saba, West London

Fight for housing goes on to axe the new act

The Kill the Housing Bill campaign is building towards its national demonstration on 18 June.

The Daily Mirror newspaper reported that “campaigners were forced to admit defeat”.

But they didn’t ask us and we have not given up.

The Lords delayed the government’s plans but they are unelected post holders.

And the Tory government was elected by less than 25 percent of the electorate. Neither can claim to be representative.

The campaign has been reborn as Axe the Housing Act, a decision made by a meeting in central London last Saturday.

The meeting reaffirmed our commitment to campaign for secure homes for all—and for rent controls. The next organising meeting will be on Saturday 4 June central London.

Graham, West London

Issues for the left around EU debate

I'm betting that most readers of Socialist Worker breathed a big sigh of relief when the fascist Freedom Party lost by a whisker in the presidential election in Austria.

The election was fought by the right on "No immigrants, No EU." Even so the result was a tremendous boost to the European racist right.

But consider how much more confident the European right would be if "No Immigrants, No EU" had won.

Without doubt they would have celebrated, buoyed up, with demonstrators strutting down the European high streets. Many of the best socialist and trades unionists would be demoralised.

Now consider a victory for leave in the UK. More and more about strengthening Fortress Britain. "No immigrants, No EU".

Make no mistake a leave victory will be celebrated by the right throughout Europe. Many of the best socialists and trade unionists will be demoralised.

I agree with much that Socialist Worker says about Europe and in different circumstances I would not hesitate to vote to leave. I am not going to vote leave knowing that it will strengthen the right in the UK and give confidence to European racists. It is not too late for Socialist Worker to do likewise.

Jim Nichol, North London

The Left Leave (Lexit) campaign is an extremely positive development. It has separated the socialist arguments against the EU from right wing assaults on migrants and refugees.

It is therefore disappointing that in South Wales George Galloway is speaking at Left Leave rallies.

It is right to have a broad range of speakers at such meetings. But Galloway has appeared on a platform with Ukip’s Nigel Farage, and made concessions to right wing arguments against the EU.

The Socialist Workers Party was right to remove its speaker from meetings featuring Galloway. We hope Left Leave will continue to push back against the racism on both sides of the debate.

Joe Redmond, Cardiff

Don’t EU like having rights?

I do not feel leaving the European Union (EU) now would do anything other than hand the Tories more power.

The deal they tried to negotiate with the EU on workers’ rights was shocking. Leaving the EU will only enable them to enact these laws.

It says a lot about our government that staying in the EU will help prevent bad policy.

Martin Phipps, on Facebook

The title of Utopia is Greek

A minor point about your article on Thomas More’s book Utopia (Socialist Worker, 11 May). The book was written in Latin, that is true. But the phrase used for the title, not a place, is in fact Greek.

John McPartlin, by email

Scottish left needs to unite

Most of the left groups in Scotland called for a Scottish National Party vote as a first vote. This resulted in a very poor showing for the radical left at the Scottish parliamentary elections.

The real division in Scottish politics is support for austerity policies. To say that it’s support for independence, as many on the left do, lets the SNP off the hook.

Duncan Brown, Glasgow

French workers show the way

Nice to see workers in France fighting effectively against right wing Labour policies.

Paulus, on Twitter

Boris Johnson the hypocrite

Boris Johnson has described the latest immigration figures as “scandalous”.

On becoming mayor of London in 2008, he celebrated “the greatest, most cosmopolitan, multi-racial, generous-hearted city on Earth”.

Now he is whipping up anti-immigrant racism on behalf of the Brexit campaign.

Sasha Simic, East London

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.