Socialist Worker

Letters—We hope our strike at Beis encourages others to fight

Issue No. 2678


'Walking out indefinitely made a big difference' (Pic: Guy Smallman)

After being on indefinite strike since the middle of July, I and the other cleaners at the department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) finally have our victory.

We’ve made our employer—outsourcing company ISS—pay us the London Living Wage as well as much improved overtime, holiday and sick pay.

Our colleagues—caterers who work for the outsourcer Aramark—won the same battle at the start of the month. Now we’re happy we’ve got our deal too.

When the company messed up our pay dates earlier this year, it felt as if we had no choice. People were crying—they couldn’t pay for childcare, couldn’t pay the bills.The PCS union saw there was a big problem and the word got out that the union was helping us.

The union really helped keeping us together. Walking out indefinitely made a big difference. The fact that the company was doing the same thing to workers in other workplaces meant we felt entitled to walk out.

As the strike went on, people from security, post room and reception joined us. There were so many of us—and we had so much support from the civil servants in the building.

The fact that we all stuck together and carried on meant that we won the strike. We hope we’ve encouraged other people in the future—people who are outsourced, or people on zero hours contracts.

These days there are outsourcing companies everywhere. And there’s a disparity between these companies and the workers. Usually people are low paid and have to work all the hours they can.

But at some point people get fed up with these companies that take them for granted.

We’ve shown that you can do something about it. And we’re going to keep going until we get rid of outsourcing.


Cleaner at Beis

Rebellion isn’t over

Taking part in the International Rebellion was an inspirational experience.

People couldn’t wait to hear about it at work, especially the dozen or so who had joined the 20 September global climate strike just a few weeks before.

It has raised much discussion about the politics and tactics that are now needed to take the climate movement forward.

Let’s keep exploring ways to bring the energy and inventiveness of the new environment movement into our unions and workplaces.

Mike Killian


  • We’re proposing a raft of measures that Camden Council should undertake to address the climate emergency.

We want to set up a staff assembly on the climate emergency and get services to promise to reduce their carbon footprint.

And we’re calling on the council to divest pension funds from the fossil fuel industry.

Other demands include the integration of climate change reduction targets into all job roles and a car free week every month across the borough.

Our presentation to the council was really well received from the public gallery and has generated a serious discussion about what can be done in the borough.

Initiatives like this can help to build the next student strike on 29 November.

Liz Wheatley

Camden Unison union (pc)

Stop the rise of LGBT+ attacks and violence

It is hard to ignore the weekly reports of hate crime against LGBT+ people. The growing rise of animosity and hatred towards us is almost tangible.

And as an LGBT+ person, it begins to consume you with anxiety and fear.

The recent report by Galop, the LGBT+

anti-violence charity, revealed that one in ten people think LGBT+ people are “dangerous”.

On the surface the legal victories and rise in popularity of events such as Pride creates the illusion that Britain is safe for LGBT+ people.

What is yet to be addressed is how world leaders such as Donald Trump and Boris Johnson inspire a confidence in the far right and those who seek to erase marginalised groups.

We must fight back and make all streets safe spaces for all LGBT+ people.

Elizabeth Adofo

South London

More emphasis on ‘Kurdish revolution’

Socialist Worker highlights well the historic fight of the Kurdish people against oppression in Kurds —a history of agony (Socialist Worker, 23 October).

However, I think the role of the Kurdish revolution could have been emphasised more.

Ordinary workers in Rojava have created an autonomous region based on direct democracy, environmental protection, and gender and ethnic equality.

Cooperatives have been established. This needs to be more widely known.Their revolution has seen Kurds start to create a new kind of society.

The Kurds have fought with success against Isis fascism. Women fight alongside men as equals. Turkey needs to get out of the region. We need to condemn the treachery of the US, as well.

Graeme Kent


Which Trump is which?

Trump keeps saying he’s under assault by “witch hunts”. One thing for sure, he doesn’t know which witch is which.

Nigel Coward

West London

Was it right to disrupt tube?

What about the nurses, firefighters and such going or coming from work? They’re stuck there if Extinction Rebellion hold up the tube, the whole line is—all 27 stops.

Kevin Attwood

On Facebook

  • Protest, to have any significant impact, invariably involves conflict. That’s what makes it memorable.

It’s interesting that people who quote the Suffragettes decry any direct or violent action. Solidarity with Extinction Rebellion.

Philip Woodfield

On Facebook

Break from middle class

I read your column on the middle class with interest.

You can have a big organisation of working class people led by middle class people or with working class people full of middle class ideas. The question for socialists is how you break working class people from middle class ideas or leaders.

Tony Horne

On Facebook

Look at fight outside EU

The choice for socialists isn’t between Donald Trump or the European Union.

We should look to the struggles that are taking place and the demands for change expressed in the massive response to Jeremy Corbyn’s election campaign in 2017.

Tony Tingle

On Facebook

Unite the fight to win

Let’s combine the Chigaco teachers going on strike and the postal workers’ strike. We will defeat the capitalists—we have the power.

Julio Rodriguez

On Facebook

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