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From The Socialist newspaper, 1 June 2011

The Socialist: reader's comment

Shoesmith sacking - social work under growing pressure

Sharon Shoesmith, former Director of Children's Services in Haringey, north London, was removed by Ed Balls when he was children's minister after the Baby P scandal. She recently won her appeal over the sacking. Shoesmith was sacked without a chance to defend herself but Balls wanted a scapegoat.

Predictably the yellow press - Sun, Express and Mail - howled about the compensation she would be due, including back pay from the time of her sacking in December 2008.

Where should socialists stand? The death of a child is a scandal, on any level. In this case there were foul-ups with every agency - social services, police and health. All these agencies we know to be under-resourced and hard-pressed.

Shoesmith pointed out that it could take three to four months even to get the police to allocate an officer to a case. But will these problems go away if cuts deepen, jobs disappear and privatisation is extended - all of which the Sun, Express and Mail support?

I'm very glad that I never worked as a social worker in Haringey. I can't imagine what it is like to be covering for colleagues off with stress, seeing your caseload swell as colleagues leave and are not replaced, answering the phone at 3am when you're on call, wondering if it's one of 'your' registered children who's in hospital or worse.

Of course these pressures are infinitely worse on frontline workers than on senior managers, and harder to bear when you're on £26,000 a year than when you are (as Shoesmith reportedly was) on £133,000. It's also true that most workers on the receiving end of an arbitrary sacking can't afford to take their employer to the High Court.

But natural justice and trade union principles dictate that we support the right to a proper defence procedure for anyone sacked from their post summarily.

For once, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis (who has done a bit of witch-hunting of his own in his time) was right to welcome the verdict.

Paul Gerrard

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In The Socialist 1 June 2011:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Rage against bankers

Fifa scandal

Glencore - Profiting from global hunger

New attacks on women's sexual and reproductive rights

Disabled protester - "inadvertently struck with a police baton"

Shoesmith sacking - social work under growing pressure

Gil Scott-Heron

News in brief


International socialist news and analysis

Egypt and Tunisia: Revolutions at the crossroads

Greece: unite the struggles and bring down the government


National Shop Stewards Network

Strike - to defend jobs and pensions


Socialist Party NHS campaigning

Government plans for the NHS: Privatisation and world class profits!

"Frontline first" a dangerous tactic - unity is the key

Cardiff NHS protest against Topshop tax dodger

Demonstration against closure of day centre in Llandeilo


Socialist Party workplace news

Southampton - council workers' strike spreads

Saltend construction workers' struggle ends

TUC disability conference

Lewisham teachers - Action threat spells victory

Newcastle East Coast rail call centre - Save jobs!

Workplace news in brief


Socialist history

18 years since Stephen Lawrence murder


Youth fight for jobs and education

Coventry action against academies grows

Yorkshire meetings make Jarrow plans


Socialist Party feature

Lib Dems - a party rooted in capitalism


 

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