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LETTERS – Don’t be demoralised, get organised at work instead

This article is over 3 years, 4 months old
Issue 2734
When unions organise and take action, they recruit new members
When unions organise and take action, they recruit new members (Pic: Socialist Worker)

It is easy to get demoralised with politics in Britain given the strength of the populist right and the weakness of the Labour Party.

However there is no evidence that, as a result, there is hostility to trade unionism.

From my own experience in the GMB union, I have noticed increasing support.

Recently the GMB has won trade union recognition at Paccor, a large packaging manufacturing company in County Durham.

This is despite the difficulties organising as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

In the summer the company tried to cut overtime working and introduce a system of banked hours, which would have resulted in big pay cuts for many workers.

The GMB only had three or four members in the factory at the time.

Our trade union branch was approached and asked if we could help.

We acted quickly and considerable effort was put into recruitment both inside and outside the factory gates, using both leaflets and one to one discussion.

Whilst one of the full-time organisers played a very effective role, it was rank and file members who really got the ball rolling.

Within a few weeks more than two thirds of the shop floor workforce had signed up to the GMB. The company then agreed to recognition.

So what lessons are there for trade unionists and socialists?

Despite a hostile political climate, workers will join trade unions if asked and they feel that it will make a difference.

Furthermore, wasting your time and energy on trying to pass resolutions in the Labour Party or jockeying for positions in Constituency Labour Parties is fruitless.

By contrast building trade union organisation can bring real benefits to the working class.

John Gilmore, County Durham

Supermarkets have a way to go on anti-racism

The impact of Black Lives Matter (BLM) is all over our TV screens.

If you watch broadcast TV you won’t have missed the supermarket Xmas adverts featuring black families.

This is to be welcomed after the backlash from the racist corners of social media.

However, a quick look at the board of Sainsbury’s shows there aren’t quite so many black faces—I counted one.

So the supermarkets have a long way to go.

But ultimately black faces in high places—or on our TV screens—is not going to eradicate racism.

The same street power that fuelled BLM is the force that will really make lasting change.

We have to get rid of the unequal society that supermarkets and other corporates represent—the capitalist system that birthed racism in the first place.

Gary McFarlane, North London

Engels showed oppression isn’t natural

I would like to add to Sarah Bates’ excellent article about Frederick Engels (Socialist Worker, 2 December).

Engels’ short book, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, provided an indispensable approach for Marxists.

It rejects a form of biological reductionism about women’s oppression and the view that women have always been in an inferior position to men.

Although much of the data Engels relied on is outdated, his key propositions remain valid.

Crucially he argues that human beings lived in egalitarian pre-class societies. And that “the world historic defeat of the female sex” occurred as a consequence of changes in the way humans produced their living.

These changes led to the monogamous family, the rise of classes and the state.

This view, once widely accepted amongst Marxists, is now being rejected.

This opens up the door to explanations that rely on women’s reproductive capacity as the key determinant of women’s oppression. 

Sheila McGregor, East London

Jingoistic vaccine lie

Tory hypocritical bullshit plumbs new depths.

Having delivered us never-ending helpings of Eton Viral Mess at a cost of 75,000 lives, Tory ministers are now proclaiming that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine represents a major British triumph.

The reality is that the science was pioneered and developed by two dedicated oncologists, Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci.

Their families migrated from Turkey to Germany 50 years ago in pursuit of a better life.

Ugur’s father was a “gastarbeiter” at the Ford plant in Cologne.

If Matt Hancock and Gavin Williamson had anything to do with it, neither of these brilliant scientists would have been allowed to cross the Turkish border.

John Murphy, Stockport

Put at risk for profit

I am very worried about the news from the US.

It’s expected that there will be a “surge” of Covid-19 cases following Thanksgiving.

Meanwhile our government thinks it’s a good idea for us to mix over Christmas.

They just want to make sure that Christmas spending goes ahead, regardless of how many more of us will die as a result.

Linda Barrett, Sheffield

Unacceptable face of system

We’re seeing what used to be known as “The unacceptable face of capitalism” (We’re made to pay the price of an ugly system, 2 December).

Thanks to Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and others all the restraints, protection and checks have been removed.

Government has forgotten its role is to care for the population it’s supposed to serve, and has allowed, and encouraged, greed and asset stripping.

Alan Kingston, On Facebook

Is Starmer the new Stalin?

Apparently the general secretary of the Labour Party has written to all local parties telling them they are banned from discussing Jeremy Corbyn’s loss of the party whip in parliament.

Readers may recall that Stalin tried to ensure that Leon Trotsky was a non-person.

It is marvellous to see where the Labour leadership draws its inspiration from.

Terry Ward, Essex

Should cops be defunded?

We need to defund the police (Troublemaker, 2 December).

Andres Viveros, On Facebook

Yes and then people will be afraid to go out for fear of violence.

Defunding won’t solve any problems they’ll only make it worse.

Walter Nicholson, On Facebook

Defunding doesn’t mean abolition.

It’s the channelling of funds to other important community support organisations, better suited to dealing with certain issues than the police are.

Jo Hudson, On Facebook

Don’t forget the prisoners

The government says vulnerable people will be first in line for a Covid-19 vaccine.

But there is no mention of prisoners—a highly vulnerable group.

Maggie Elliott, North Yorkshire

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