Socialist Worker

Letters: My story shows why all of us should back Southern strike

Issue No. 2537

Losing guards on Southern trains will threaten passengers saftey

Losing guards on Southern trains will threaten passengers' saftey (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Recently while travelling by train from Glasgow to London I became ill.

A friend contacted the train guard who made an announcement over the PA system requesting help from any doctors on board.

While I was being treated by a doctor, the guard contacted Cumbria emergency services for an ambulance.

When the train arrived at Carlisle, the paramedics were waiting and took me to Carlisle Hospital for treatment.

Later I wondered what would happen if someone fell seriously ill on a driver-only operated train—the kind that Southern rail are so desperate to introduce.

What happened to me illustrates perfectly one of the issues at the heart of the dispute with Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR)—Southern’s owner—and the Aslef and RMT unions.

Guards on trains are essential for health and safety, and put passenger safety and well being at the core of what they do.

By contrast, GTR’s shameless pursuit of profits puts passengers at risk.

GTR management and Department for Transport director of passenger services, Peter Wilkinson, not only don’t care about passengers but have contempt for the unions and their members.

Disgracefully, Wilkinson has said that he wants a “punch-up” with the unions and has called train drivers “muppets”.

GTR, Wilkinson and the Tory government want to break the unions.

This must not happen. Faced with a Tory-inspired bullying and vindictive management, the unions have no alternative but to escalate the strikes planned to take place this week.

Every trade unionist, activist and rail passenger should send messages of support and solidarity to the rail unions as well and donate to the strike fund.

Their fight is our fight. Together we can win.

Alex Muir, Glasgow

Recipe for good chefs

A restaurant comprises several sections. My chefs work upwards of 50 hours a week.

It isn’t the hours worked or the intensity of a busy and pressured service, nor even working Saturdays, that constitute the sacrifice at this end of the restaurant business.

It is ambition and commitment to a successful career at the top end that drives the crew toward the extra effort called for, a clear and focussed desire to see and learn from the best.

The comparisons with the theatre are apt.

Shaun Hill, Head chef, the Walnut Tree, Monmouthshire

It’s not a bad Prospect

I broadly agree with your article raising concerns about the merger of the Bectu and Prospect unions.

But it’s worth noting that the Prospect executive has to my knowledge never rejected any requests for industrial action ballots.

Moreover socialist activists within Prospect have won the union over to a position where it now describes itself as “politically independent” rather than “politically neutral”.

This is an important shift and it is hoped by many activists that the merger will strengthen that and other shifts to the left.

Tom Machell, Prospect CMD Sector Executive (personal capacity)

The councils and refugees

Hackney Stand Up To Racism supporters delivered aid to Calais

Hackney Stand Up To Racism supporters delivered aid to Calais

Hackney Stand Up to Racism is putting pressure on Hackney council to take more Syrian refugees and unaccompanied children.

Only three families were given sanctuary in the borough by last Christmas. This is pitifully low.

At a meeting with two councillors last week, refugee support groups and Hackney Stand Up To Racism discussed what the council could do.

There was frustration at the council’s slow pace, but also practical suggestions for improvements.

The councillors expressed a willingness to put across a pro-refugee message.

There needs to be real pressure from councils across London on the Home Office to cough up more funds—pressure backed by lobbies and protests.

Gareth Jenkins, east London

Let’s have a real fight to save our theatre

Tory Scarborough borough council has disgracefully voted to demolish the unique Futurist Theatre.

It could have given us back our building at no cost, but prefers to spend £4 million on demolition.

It will then hand the land to multi-millionaire, Tory-donating, anti-union Flamingoland owner Gordon Gibb.

The people of Scarborough put up a spirited defence of the building, culminating in a 200-strong march last week.

So I was disappointed at a recent public meeting when the Labour group leader simply said “Vote Labour” to avoid more of the same.

Limiting action to the ballot box in two years time will see another cherished building demolished.

Let’s create the fighting opposition our town needs.

Kim Hunter, Scarborough

Yassar wasn’t “neutralised”

After the shooting of Yassar Yaqub a spokesman for armed police officers was asked on Radio 4 about all the killings by police.

He said he thought “killing” was too strong a word and gladly provided his own euphemism—“neutralised.”

Yassar Yaqub was not “neutralised”. He was murdered by West Yorkshire Police.

Dave Ramsden, Bradford

  • The Police claim Yassar Yaqub was a drug dealer with a gun in his car.

It’s funny how you never hear of white drug dealers being shot dead by police.

Tegs Parry, on Facebook

  • The killing of Yassar Yaqub is shocking.

This is what happens when police are armed.

Sheila Benson, on Twitter

Revolution is an inspiration

I liked your introductory article on the Russian Revolution.

The revolution is an inspiration to us in times when it feels like we can’t change anything.

It shows what ordinary people can achieve in overthrowing their rulers and creating a new society.

Alice Greenlees, Swansea

Don’t vote for Labour racism

The Labour MPs calling for English language tests and regional visas have no shame.

They give left cover to racism—but Socialist Worker still calls for a vote for Labour.

Anthony Dooley, on Twitter

I support the Tube strike

Over 800 London Underground jobs providing vital safety cover have been cut.

When I travel on the Tube I want to be able to do so safely.

That’s why I support the Tube strike.

James Eaden, on Facebook

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