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LETTERS – Action in workplaces helps build a climate for strikes

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Issue 2674
Tony Phillips (left) speaking to Unison members at the London Fire Brigade headquarters during a rally on 20 September
Tony Phillips (left) speaking to Unison members at the London Fire Brigade headquarters during a rally on 20 September

People at work have been talking about the global climate strike on Friday 20 September all week.

At the London Fire Brigade headquarters, we organised a lunch time protest on the day.

People who took part felt they had really stood up over climate change. And even those who couldn’t make it were talking about it in the lift.

I organised a Unison union branch committee meeting at the beginning of September, knowing it was in the lead up to the climate strike.

We won a motion calling for action, and people had been talking about it beforehand.

I was worried about how it would go, but that meeting made me feel more confident.

It was helped that the TUC union federation supported workplace campaigning on the day and that Unison nationally called a “green week”.

They didn’t call for strikes, but it made me feel that weren’t totally out on a limb.

What was really important was the union members’ meeting that we had next.

We’re only really supposed to talk about industrial relations issues relating to the fire brigade.

But, because climate change is such a massive issue, there was no opposition at all and others were making contributions about climate change in the meeting.

Stewards were giving out leaflets for 20 September protests. The London Fire Brigade put it on their intranet site, which meant a wide layer of people got to see it.

I thought our protest would be much bigger on the day. The plan was to have a lunchtime protest—and then decide what next based on numbers.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough people to stay out for longer than the lunchtime.

But now, more people want to be part of it next time.

Tony Phillips, Unison union branch secretary, London fire brigade (pc)

Giving more ground will spell bad news for the left

Waterstones bookshop cancelled a launch of “Bad News for Labour—antisemitism, the party and public belief” during the Labour Party conference last week.

It is shocking that a major bookshop chain dropped the launch after a wave of threats, abuse and intimidation.

And it’s becoming increasingly evident that the witchhunt around the flawed IHRA definition of antisemitism is fuelling a climate of censorship, bans, intimidation and threats.

The book is authored by serious academics, it is rigorous, and principled in method and content.

I urge people to buy it, because it will help arm and equip the left in the battles ahead and as an urgent act of solidarity.

Those who have conceded ground over Labour, antisemitism and Palestine, out of whatever motive, should give pause.

It won’t stop here.

Rob Ferguson, East London

Health care should be free for everyone

The Guardian newspaper recently reported that some GPs were asking patients for photographic ID, which saw migrants denied treatment.

There is no requirement for people to prove anything, although some doctors will ask for a proof of address so they know you live in their catchment area.

But there is certainly no requirement to provide photographic ID.

Many people would not feel robust enough to challenge being asked for it, but I would advise them to do it. The ID checks and charges for care are part of the “hostile environment” for migrants in the NHS.

A lot of hospitals are quite forthright about asking for ID and chasing people for money for treatment, and some doctors feel frightened to raise it. But I would say the best response is to challenge it collectively.

Jackie Applebee, Doctor, east London

Don’t trust the courts

Right wing cries of “constitutional coup” and “political intervention” met the Supreme Court ruling that Boris Johnson shutting down parliament was unlawful last week.

The hypocrisy is self-evident.

The courts have always been used to restrain the collective power of organised workers.

So why the uproar from the right?

The truth is that the official party of the British establishment, the Tory party, has utterly failed.

They have themselves created an unprecedented crisis for the British establishment—and the establishment are fully aware of it.

Rajith Perera, Hatfield

Egypt at the crossroads

The situation in Egypt could lead to disaster if people only demand that president Abdel Fatah el-Sisi leaves power, not the whole of the military regime.

Mohamed Ali, the businessman who called for the protests, was a contractor for the military. He is one of the regime and cannot be an icon for the revolution.

Already in my city, in the north, police have arrested a lot of people.

We hope the movement will continue and rise like the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 before is too late.

Mohamed Saadd, On Facebook

French fight neoliberal EU

Hats off to those who are fighting against French president Emmanuel Macron and his henchmen (Socialist Worker, 25 September).

In France, the Yellow Vests movement and striking workers are fighting for their lives and communities against rabid neoliberalism of Macron and the European Union (EU).

British politicians want more EU neoliberalism.

Melanie Powell, On Twitter

Nuclear war is bigger threat

I’ve read your coverage of the global climate strike on 20 September.

I think thermal nuclear war with Russia or China is a bigger threat to humans than climate change.

Andres Viveros, On Facebook

Johnson is a corrupt liar

Boris Johnson is not fit for office.

He is corrupt, a thief and a liar and you never get the truth from a liar.

Frank Mulholland, On Facebook

Monbiot’s meltdown

Fukushima nuclear plant bosses in Japanese bosses walked free last week (Socialist Worker, 19 September).

To think that environmentalist George “The Glowing Green” Monbiot said Japan should build more nuclear plants after the meltdown in 2011.

Phil Knight, On Facebook

Take a look in a mirror posho

I see the Countryside Alliance’s press officer, Mo Metcalf-Fisher, hounded Socialist Worker on Twitter over discarded placards after the global climate strike on 20 September.

Metcalf-Fisher is barking up the wrong tree.

He should tell his aristocratic friends to drop the petrol-guzzling 4x4s instead.

Julia Ryder, Worcestershire

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