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Letters – Debenhams workers show fighting back is possible

This article is over 3 years, 9 months old
Issue 2720
Workers and supporters at a protest to say no to job losses at Debenhams
Workers and supporters at a protest to say no to job losses at Debenhams (Pic: Laila Hasan)

On 11 August, I along with thousands of other workers at Debenhams, was made redundant. The primary emotion that all of us are feeling is shock, but we are also angry. 

We were sacked during a conference call that we were told to go on, knowing nothing about what it would be about. 

Bosses read out a script to us and told us we would be paid for three days and then we were out. 

What they did to us was against the law—we were allowed no consultation. 

Now they have made people already on minimum wage redundant. 

They have made black people and disabled people jobless and so many of my colleagues are terrified about what this means. 

One of my colleagues is now having to count pennies to see if they can go into town on the bus. 

We are now faced with a difficult and cruel jobs market and many of us will probably have to take jobs on temporary contracts.  

At the end of the day, employers are taking advantage of the pandemic to cut workers and boost their profits. 

And Boris Johnson and the Tories are letting this happen. They have shown that they are firmly on the side of businesses, not workers. 

The situation may seem bleak but we are determined to fight back. 

As soon as the redundancies were announced there were protests. And these protests are now being supported by councillors and union leaders. 

We held a very successful demonstration last week in which we were able to draw parallels between our struggle in Britain, those in Ireland as well as garment workers in Bangladesh that make the clothes for Debenhams. 

It is vital unions get behind any struggle against the coming jobs onslaught. Hopefully, with our protests, we are saying that fighting back during this period is possible, and not only is it possible it is absolutely necessary. 

Laila Hasan 


Tories’ push to open pubs is bad news

Since pubs have been allowed open Wetherspoon pubs have been heaving. 

On Saturday nights we’d usually see queues for the bar stretching across buildings. Now with the new Eat Out to Help Out scheme, this has become a daily reality for employees. 

The initial promises of safety have collapsed, with no staff wearing PPE, and constant close contact with customers.

Pubs are one of the most contaminating places, and we have to clear glasses and serve hundreds of customers. But at the same time the government is requesting we withhold from meeting groups of friends and family. 

The business has received £48.3 million of taxpayers’ money during the lockdown. And with Wetherspoon owner Tim Martin’s close relationship with the Tory government, it is no surprise that they will fight to make sure Spoons cover their loses.

With the economic strain that workers are under, it is understandable why punters are flocking to Spoons for a pint and burger for less than £4.

But the safety of workers in the service industry and customers is the government’s responsibility, and a second spike will be only their fault.



Pushed back into offices 

On the Sunday before Britain officially went into lockdown, I received a text message from the bosses at the law firm where I work. It was strongly encouraging all employees to work from home. 

I received a second message from my line manager stating that my colleagues—we are administrative support staff—were exempt from the previous message. We were expected to come into the office as we were deemed “essential”.

The “essential” work we were doing was delivering documents and arranging couriers. As the government guidelines became stricter, it was decided that our team would be allowed to work from home.

Over the last six months, we have been able to demonstrate that we can adapt our processes and work productively from home, something previously not thought possible.

The company is now beginning our return to the office.  

We have adapted to the challenges of remote working and demonstrated that we can still provide support from home.

But we are still expected to go into the office and put our lives at risk, all to arrange couriers and deliver documents.

The feeling among the team was that our lives were less important than everyone else in the business.

And some people thought we could be sacrificing to keep the business running.


East London

Fight the destruction of Russian green spaces 

For several weeks, residents of Nizhny Novgorod in western Russia have stood in a human chain along the green zone of the Switzerland park. This is located near the bank of the Oka river. 

They began to protest at the beginning of work on the “improvement” of the park.

Now access to “Switzerland” is closed. The city authorities hide the project documentation and limit the possibility of public control over the work. It  became known that the planned developments will also cause huge damage to the ecosystem of the park and many plants and animals will die.

But the Ministry of ecology refuses to take it into account.

Protesting residents of the city demand reasonable spending of the budget. Concerned residents of Nizhny Novgorod do not want to allow nature to be mutilated. 

Socialist Tendency

Russian Federation

Golf gate shows hypocrisy

MPs, ministers, including the EU trade commissioner Phil Hogan, and a high court judge are in trouble in Ireland. It was found that over 80 of them—who are part of the Irish parliamentary golf society—gathered for a meal at a fancy hotel in County Galway.

This came as the government made restrictions on gatherings of more than six people. Guests were at tables of ten meaning each table was breaking restrictions.

Daire Cumiskey

east London

Rage at asylum seeker’s death

Mercy Baguma should not have been denied work and then allowed to die in Glasgow.

If anything, the system should support people to work, not kick them out of a job that in this case was Mercy’s lifeline. Truly upsetting.

Nathalie Awudu

On Facebook

Irrespective of your immediate rights to stay, if you worked here, you paid into the system. You have a legal right to access benefits.

As far as I am concerned it exposes a gaping loophole that asylum seekers are being exploited by the immigration policies of the Tories.

Mark Giblin

On Facebook

Exam scandal to keep us down

It’s not just Gavin Williamson and Boris Johnson to blame for the exams scandal.

It’s the whole Tory idea to keep the proletariat “where they belong”.

This is the same fight against the establishment we’ve always had.

Richard Edward Poole

On Facebook

NHS pay demos have lifted me

Taking part in the rallies for a decent pay rise for health workers has been such a boost.

It feels like at last we’re doing something rather than just sitting at a keyboard.

Alice Jameson

West London

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