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Letters—NHS workers say the Tories are lying to us and laughing at us

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Issue 2785

NHS health workers protesting for a pay rise last yeat (Guy Smallman)

We remember 18 December 2020, but not because we were at a party.

It was the day that one of our co-workers became very ill from Covid-19. She now has symptoms of long Covid and has never returned to work.

All of us in the NHS have been though nearly two years of hell.

We have faced the lack of protective PPE, the inadequate masks, the crushing workloads and the everyday fear that we would be infected and pass Covid on to our loved ones.

We have fought over some things, and accepted others because we wanted to keep giving a service to our patients.

And the public clapping wasn’t followed by the pay rise we had been hoping for as the most basic compensation. But there was plenty of cash for the Tory donors and ministers’ friends who made money by grabbing public contracts.

As if that wasn’t enough of an insult, we now know that the measures we all had to observe were just ignored at a series of Tory parties.

As others have said, the Tories are not just lying to us, they are laughing at us as well.

Boris Johnson pretended he was grateful to the health workers who had saved his life. It was all a front, he never thought about NHS workers at all.

Perhaps Johnson will not survive this. He certainly deserves to go, and to go quickly.

But that won’t sweep clean the whole way that government acts. It’s time for much more far‑reaching change, and to keep fighting for our NHS.

Three NHS workers


  • A student paramedic last week posted a video of 22 ambulances queuing outside my local hospital in Devon.

He said he waited at the back of the queue at Torbay hospital where the ambulances did not move for six hours.

He added, “Staff are broken, the hospital is full. This is not sustainable. Patients are being affected and so are staff. The NHS in south Devon just broke. There was time to fix this, I don’t think so anymore.”

I am genuinely scared.

Mark Willard


Stand with the Durham students

It’s important everyone stands in solidarity with Durham university students and staff who recently faced a transphobic, racist and misogynist speech by Rod Liddle at Durham University’s South College Christmas dinner.

Liddle claimed the left railed against “science or pure facts”, saying “a person with an X and a Y chromosome, that has a long, dangling penis, is scientifically a man, and that is pretty much, scientifically, the end of the story”.

He went on to say, “It is fairly easily proven that colonialism is not remotely the major cause of Africa’s problems, just as it is very easy to prove that the educational underachievement of British people of Caribbean descent or African Americans is nothing to do with institutional or structural racism”.

Students who chose to leave in protest before or during the dinner were then verbally attacked by the principal and his wife.

After the speech, a few students shouted “disgusting” and “racist” at Liddle as he walked out of the venue.

That evening, a Stonewall “Some people are trans. Get over it” poster was stuck to the door of the principal’s office.

The right to object to and protest against invited speakers and the positions they represent is itself an exercise of free speech.

Laurel Forrest


Precarious workers need the same laws as the EU

Sometimes the European Union (EU) delivers gains.

Companies that operate in the EU such as Uber, Gorillas and Deliveroo are soon to face new laws.

They will have to give workers the minimum wage, access to sick pay, holidays and other employment rights.

The European Commission said the burden of proof on employment status would shift to companies, rather than the individuals that work for them.

Maybe the laws will be watered down in the process of discussion. But if they’re not I hope they can be won in Britain too.

Of course this would jot have happened without a level of workers’ action such as the Gorrillas strike in Berlin.

The strikes and protests we have seen in Britain at Bolt, Deliveroo, Uber and other firms are the way to win similar rights.

It will be a big win to know that there is a law to stop the corporations’ attempts to impose fake self-employment.

Laura Wight


Kellogg bosses want mass scabbing

There’s a crucial working class battle taking place in the United States.

The Kellogg cereal company has said it is reacting to workers rejecting a deal to end a strike by saying it will permanently replace 1,400 workers who have been on strike since October.

It’s ruthless union busting. If they get away with it, the bosses hope it will be a brake on the growing strike movement in the country.

Kellogg workers at four plants have bravely said they don’t want a deal that will clear the way to mass employment of workers on worse terms and conditions than most of the present workforce.

Since 2015 there has been a two-tier system in which new workers receive lower wages and benefits than more established workers. Under the previous contract, the lower tier could include up to 30 percent of workers.

Now the company wants to take off that limit.

There’s a new spirit in the US. We’ve seen good strikes and last month the teamsters’ union elected a president who challenged the candidate backed by the union’s departing president, James P Hoffa.

Teamsters felt the union had been too willing to accept concessions under Hoffa’s leadership.

If you work for Kellogg in Britain, get behind the US workers.

Joe Hazelhurst

Chicago, via Facebook

Starmer’s one of the elite

Keir Starmer on 9 December—“Congratulations to Carrie and Boris Johnson on the birth of their daughter.

“Wishing your family health and happiness.”

Couldn’t he just keep quiet? Does he have to betray quite so clearly that for Labour, although there are differences with the Tories, it’s all one big friendly club?

Janet Baines

On Facebook

Royals invited a paedophile

Could the royals go any lower?

A court in the US last week saw a picture of paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell relaxing at the queen’s Balmoral residence.

The image is thought to have been taken in 1999, when prince Andrew reportedly invited the couple to stay at the Scottish estate.

What a foul world this reveals.

Simon Fisher

On Facebook

MPs wanted Johnson win

One important thing to remember as Boris Johnson crashes and burns is that probably a majority of Labour MPs actually preferred him becoming prime minister rather than Jeremy Corbyn.

They preferred an incompetent, corrupt Tory government to a left wing government even though its domestic programme was at best “moderate”.

The same is true of the Guardian newspaper.

This must not be forgotten.

John Newsinger


Take heart from Serbia

Thousands of demonstrators blocked major roads across Serbia recently over a government-backed plan to allow mining company Rio Tinto to extract lithium.

Who says we can’t win workers to fight over the environment?

Louise Westwood

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