Socialist Worker

LETTERS - Parents value the Durham TAs - even if bosses don't

Issue No. 2533

Durham teaching assistants protesting against the councils attack

Durham teaching assistants protesting against the council's attack (Pic: Durham Teaching Assistants Value Us campaign/Facebook)

Durham County Council has left itself open to the “threat of equal pay claim” from other employees—but our teaching assistants (TAs) are paying the price.

These TAs have been hired on certain contracts and have taken up employment based on the content in them.

Now the council wants to change the contracts and expects the TAs to accept them. This is ludicrous.

TAs are a unique bunch. They have a range of duties from paint pot washing to looking after children with complex medical needs.

They can be called upon to carry out life-saving procedures. Who else’s job has such a wide range of responsibility?

Shouldn’t we be embracing these people rather than demeaning them?

Please be assured that parents value the job they do even if their employers don’t.

The TAs have struck against the changes and are now working to rule.

While schools remain open, whole classes are being excluded as the work TAs do as a goodwill gesture is rightfully withdrawn.

For example, TAs would normally cover whole classes so that teachers are free to do planning.

This current situation is having a huge impact on our children’s education. It clearly demonstrates that we rely on the TAs to run schools efficiently.

But if these wage-cutting proposals go ahead it is going to have a massive impact on children's education in the long term.

The TAs—who have a wealth of knowledge, experience and passion—will be forced to leave the profession that they love.

As parents we need to back the TAs. We should put pressure on the council before we lose this group of people forever.

Beverley Affleck, Consett

'People's cabinet' is stuffed with super-rich

People often say that the British government has a “cabinet of millionaires”.

But that description does not really fit with Donald Trump’s new cabinet.

So far it includes several multi-millionaires, and several billionaires.

The billionaires are Trump himself, possible commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, and Betsy DeVos, the nominee for education secretary.

Then there are the multi-millionaires Steven Mnuchin, Tom Price, Ben Carson and Jeff Sessions—each “worth” between £6 million and £40 million.

The rest of the potential cabinet are all mere millionaires.

Such extraordinary wealth makes a mockery of the idea that Trump’s administration will in any way represent ordinary people.

Far from “anti-elitist”, the Trump team will be firmly wired into corporate interests.

Alun Williams, Cardiff

Use Tory weakness on housing to stop their attacks

I welcome the public meeting called by the GMB union and Islington council urging Islington tenants to oppose the Housing and Planning Act.

This follows the national Axe the Housing Act campaign which has seen the growth of local groups including Islington Axe the Housing Act (IATHA).

Last year IATHA initiated a 600-strong public meeting in Islington town hall. We have also been active in the campaign to redevelop the site of Holloway prison.

Last month a public meeting discussed the future for the site. Eileen Short from the national campaign spoke of the significant gains that the movement has made.

These include scrapping “pay to stay” and delaying the right to buy of housing association tenants.

She warned of the risk of thousands of social rented homes being lost.

Also on the platform was Jeremy Corbyn. Imagine any other mainstream political party leader attending and supporting these campaigns—no, me neither.

We have a serious fight on our hands to ensure that piece of land is used to build social housing and local services. Many of those women coming out of prison need the security of a home for their family.

The backtracking on the act is a sign of the deep splits in the Tory party and is also testament to campaigners’ resistance.

Morag Gillie, North London

Castro helped fight colonialism in Africa

Socialists across the globe mourn the death of communist leader and former Cuban president Fidel Castro.

Fidel played an important role to set free the African continent and Caribbean.

We will always admire him for taking over power in the 1959 revolution and putting together a cabinet of moderates.

But it did not last long.

As the first waves of Cuban exiles arrived in Miami and northern New Jersey after the revolution many were intent on overthrowing the man they had once supported.

The Central Intelligence Agency helped train an exile army to take Cuba back to an autocratic leader by force.

Although Fidel pursued ideologically communist policies, he never established a purely Communist state in Cuba.

He centralised the economy and flattened out much of the traditional hierarchy of Cuban society, improving education and healthcare for many Cubans.

He exported thousands of Cuban soldiers to Africa to fight against the colonialists of Angola, Mozambique and Ethiopia in support of Communist insurgents.

Thabang Maseko, EC Young Communist League SA

I’m still the enemy within

Some comrades will know I’ve been through a difficult time. I’m currently in hospital after having brain surgery.

I want to send a message of solidarity and thanks to everyone who’s given me support over the past weeks.

I’m still here—still fighting—still the enemy within.

Steve Hammill, ex miner, Crewe

Real reason for sanctions

The Department for Work and Pensions admitted last week it does not track the costs and benefits of benefit sanctions.

The real reason for them is to intimidate claimants—and warn workers of the fate that awaits them if they lose their job.

Paul Birney, West London

Stop the big rail racket

Train fares are going to go up yet again next year, this time by an average of 2.3 percent.

But this must be one of the worst times ever for quality of service.

It’s time the government nationalised the railways and got rid of the fat cats.

Siobhan Miller, Swansea

Should drink cost us more?

Would Socialist Worker support minimum pricing for alcohol?

On the one hand, it would of course affect poor people more than rich ones.

But it also might stop poor people drinking themselves to death.

Gail Swinnow, Derby

It’s not all gloomy in US

It’s been depressing seeing Donald Trump’s election in the US.

But other things—such as the Fight for $15 campaign—show the other side.

It might not get as much publicity as Trump, but there is still a workers’ fightback going on.

Linda Wren, East London

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Article information

Tue 6 Dec 2016, 17:32 GMT
Issue No. 2533
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