Socialist Worker

Letters: we teaching assistants will fight on after a divisive deal

Issue No. 2577

Some of the Durham teaching assistants on strike last November

Some of the Durham teaching assistants on strike last November (Pic: TAsDurham(Official) on Twitter)

There’s a lot of hurt among Durham teaching assistants (TAs) after the latest pay deal was accepted.

I’d like to have a massive party and say, “Victory”. But if 472 TAs are still losing pay, I can’t see it as a victory—and many others can’t either.

This latest proposal is the same as the previous one, which we rejected in July. We came into it together and we should leave it together.

A lot of people felt they had to accept the deal. In every union meeting this year we were told that there were no grounds for striking.

But the ballot papers asked if we wanted to accept the deal or reject it and be balloted for “sustained strike action”.

Being on strike last December was one of the best things I’ve done—in terms of being together and getting your point across.

But it was also one of the hardest and none of us took the decision lightly.

TAs were inundated with emails that said the majority of the TA stewards accepted the proposals, but that was decided without all of the stewards in the room.

I just wanted to shout, “Not all stewards did recommend”.

I didn’t think that was fair and I have tendered my resignation as a steward.

Some say it’s the best that we’re going to get, but my mam said never settle for second best.

The deal is divisive and lots feel they have nowhere to go.

Our strength has always been collective, so we are hoping to hold a solidarity stall in Durham this Thursday.

If some TAs turn up and take strength away from it, then that’s good.

We were a load of desperate women. If we can do it, anyone can do it.

Once you’re thrown into it, you can’t complain if you don’t speak up and fight.

Lisa Turnbull


Shame on Frankfurt book fair

I work for a London-based book distributor and have been attending the Frankfurt Book Fair as an exhibitor for the last 17 years.

I was at my stand at the 2017 fair when I discovered that the organisers had given a platform to the far right publisher Antaios.

They had facilitated a reading by Bjorn Hocke—a leading member of the far right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Hocke is notorious for arguing that Germany should be “more positive” about its Nazi past.

So I am deeply grateful to those decent people who braved heavy police protection of Hocke to demand “Nazis Out”.

Another session with two members of the Islamophobic Identitarian Movement was cancelled because of anti-fascist protesters.

The organisers of the fair defended giving a platform to the far right on the grounds they were promoting dialogue.

What sort of dialogue do they believe can be undertaken with Nazis?

Do they think Holocaust denial is a legitimate position to hold?

It is a disgrace that the Frankfurt Book Fair has helped normalise Nazi politics.

I would like to remind the organisers of the Frankfurt Book Fair that Nazis burn books—then they burn people.

Sasha Simic

East London

South African miners’ leader murdered

South African mineworker Tholakele Dlunga was murdered on Tuesday night of last week.

Tholakele featured in the Marikana massacre documentary Miners Shot Down.

He was a member of the Amcu union and a strike leader in the 2012 and 2014 mineworkers’ strikes.

His murder is the latest in a string of murders of union stewards in South Africa’s mines in the last two months.

This is part of an ongoing campaign to silence and eliminate radical workers in the area.

Mineworkers are not the only ones to experience this.

Communities in Durban and a proposed coastal mining area also face violence and death.

The working class community of Marikana has lost dozens of workers since 2012 to bloodshed and violence.

This has come about as a result of the actions of the government-aligned trade union in the area.

Tragically the leaders of the unions not aligned to government, whose stewards are being targeted, are not providing leadership to end the spiral of violence.

Ashley Fataar

South Africa

Blade Runner reflects misogyny in Hollywood

Blade Runner 2049 (Reviews, 11 October) is a science fiction film that appears to tackle whether replicants—androids built as slaves—can have agency and consciousness.

But to fully understand this film, we have to look beyond the superficial.

It is set in a dystopian future where corporate rule has destroyed the environment and created a vastly unequal society.

On one level the film can be read as a comment on the excesses of capitalism.

However, I’d argue that Blade Runner 2049 tells us more about Hollywood and attitudes in our society than the possibilities of artificial intelligence making a revolution.

It is a deeply sexist film in how it depicts women as objects throughout.

Place this film in context of Hollywood mired in allegations of sexual assault and you can understand how it can portray women in the way that it does.

Jon Hughes

Address provided

Where are my NHS records?

It is not only a scandal that we were given tainted blood and not told when they found out (Socialist Worker, 18 October).

The real scandal is that they got rid of all records. I have no records of my heart operation or blood transfusion in the 1970s.

I was told they were destroyed under the 25 year rule.

The rule does not exist and most records are kept on microfilm. So if your records go missing start asking questions.

Tracey Davies

South London

Young Marx—a must see

I want to urge people to try to see the new play Young Marx at the Bridge Theatre in London.

It’s a gritty comedy which puts the fight against exploitation and oppression centre stage.

Through Karl Marx’s family life in London, it addresses so many topics relevant to today.

They range from the oppression of women to whether violence is necessary for a revolution.

Terry McGrath

North London

Crackdown on anti-frackers

Laws used against Ricky Tomlinson and the other Shrewsbury pickets in 1972 are similar to those used against

anti-fracking protesters at the Preston New Road site today.

Since the partially successful Balcombe protests and camp, the Tory government has become even more

pro-fracking. And the police are acting as a private force for the fracking companies.

Anna Potrykus

By email

Corbyn is not one man army

Jeremy Corbyn isn’t a one man army—we need grassroots struggle (Socialist Worker,

18 October 2017).

It starts at school, the work place on the street leafleting.

Breaking through state propaganda by social media is another way.

Cahit Cetinkaya

On Facebook

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.