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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 March 2017

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The Socialist inbox: letters to the editors, photo Suzanne Beishon

The Socialist inbox: letters to the editors, photo Suzanne Beishon   (Click to enlarge)

Health cuts kill

Yet another tragic death happened on 3 March - an eight-year-old boy. Callum Cartlidge suffered a cardiac arrest at home, and an ambulance arrived within five minutes. They immediately began treatment.

The Alexandra Hospital in Redditch was a two-minute drive from the boy's home. When the crew phoned through to announce their arrival, they were told that due to the fact there is no facility to treat seriously ill children - it was closed in September 2016 - they had to drive an additional 17 miles to the Worcestershire Royal Hospital, arriving 23 minutes after the ambulance left the home.

He died, and the investigation of the tragic event revealed the ambulance crew did everything humanly possible to save the boy.

It came to light that the day before, Callum was admitted to the Royal with low blood pressure, but was discharged at 11pm the same day. Why wasn't he kept in overnight for observation?

It is terrible how our NHS staff are overworked and underpaid, yet the Telegraph recently reported that more than 600 health chiefs are on six-figure salaries.

We need to organise a day of protest nationwide on May Day. Enough is enough. It's our NHS, let's fight for it!

Calvin Fowler, Worcester

'Jam' man. White van man.

A friend of mine, sick of the dole, went self-employed.

Got bank loan and bought van.

Bought some advertising and went into light removal business.

The score is he is now bankrupt.

Some weeks he paid himself less than minimum wage.

There will be many more following him.

Unemployment will rocket.

The Tory dream.

Crucify the needy.

Stan Herschel, Newcastle

Getting rid of 'green crap'

In his budget, Tory chancellor Philip Hammond ignored a 200,000-signature petition to rescind the government's huge 800% tax hike on properties - including schools and hospitals - that utilise solar panels to generate renewable energy. Currently 44,000 'microgenerators' are exempt from business rates.

The tax rise, which starts in April, means schools are likely to be hit with almost 2 million in annual payments. However, reflecting his class bias, Hammond won't impose these charges on private schools!

At the same as clobbering renewable energy - the industry already lost 12,000 jobs last year - Hammond will ensure profitable North Sea oil producers continue to receive tax breaks.

But Hammond and May are simply continuing the same environmentally damaging policies of the ousted Tory prime minister David Cameron. In 2013, Cameron notoriously told his aides: "We have got to get rid of all this green crap."

Simon Carter, Newham, east London

Fighting cuts is no 'failure'

Tony Mulhearn in front of one of the house built by Liverpool City Council in the 1980s, photo Harry Smith

Tony Mulhearn in front of one of the house built by Liverpool City Council in the 1980s, photo Harry Smith   (Click to enlarge)

Councillor Alan Walker describes the 47 socialist Liverpool councillors' 1983-7 defence of the city from the ravages of Thatcher as a "spectacular failure" (Liverpool Echo, 13 March).

His only weapon is the now-discredited 'redundancy notice' distortion, so beloved of Lord Kinnock. He fails to mention in his myopic rewriting of history that the 47 never made a single worker redundant.

He seems blind to the 330 million slashed from social provision since 2010, and the further 90 million of cuts, that he and his 'Labour' colleagues voted for in the last budget.

When the Liverpool 47 were removed from office, not via the ballot box but by Thatcher's district auditor, 30,000 worked for the council. That number is now less than 6,000.

In contrast to our record of building 5,000 affordable council houses, his council has built zero.

In contrast to his supine collaboration with the Tories in, for instance, slashing thousands of care packages for the elderly and admitting that services will virtually disappear from the city, we mounted a campaign of opposition to Thatcher and succeeded in winning resources worth 60 million to the city.

Far from it being the "spectacular failure" claimed by Cllr Walker, our campaign, by any measure, was a spectacular success.

Tony Mulhearn, Former 'Liverpool 47' councillor

Feminist film

I would strongly recommend Anna Biller's fantastic new film 'The Love Witch' to anyone who considers themselves a feminist.

Not only is it one of the most beautifully shot films I have ever seen, it carries a strong and unique feminist message.

A perfect continuation of the International Women's Day celebrations.

Jordan Lee Smith, Manchester

Phone-y baloney

Telecoms giant BT was rocked by an accounting scandal in its Italian business recently, which discovered improper accounting practices and a complex of 'improper' transactions, which meant earnings in the Italian part of the business had been overstated for a number of years.

The scandal has cost the company 530 million and profits have dropped by 37% this quarter.

What is so disturbing is that the malpractices were not picked up by either BT's own audit committee or the company's auditor, PwC. While BT's European head has been the ritual scapegoat, PwC is not being fired - and BT Italia and its workers face an uncertain future.

It is hardly surprising that PwC failed to spot the problems, despite the scale being totally disproportionate to the size of the business, because they give carte blanche to any and every money-making scam suggested.

This isn't the first scandal in BT's overseas business. In 2008 a scandal in BT Global Services (in which BT Italia sits) led to the axing of 15,000 jobs and BT's only trading loss since the 1970s.

The CWU union should ensure, by industrial action if necessary, that the cost of this executive swindling isn't passed on to BT workers.

Nationalisation of BT - and taking away the obscene salaries of the likes of chief executive Gavin Patterson, who earned 5.3 million last year - could help sort it out.

Clive Walder, Former BT worker

Bosses' Brexit?

Anthony Bamford, owner of construction machinery firm JCB, is a Tory lord and has donated millions of pounds to the party. Bamford - unusually for a capitalist - was a Brexit supporter, and prior to the referendum sent a letter to all JCB workers encouraging them to vote to leave the EU.

JCB employs many agency workers in its factories in the UK. In 2011, the 'Agency Workers Regulations' were introduced, based on a 2008 EU directive. They included the potential for some improvements in conditions for agency workers.

Under these rules, temporary workers are entitled to the same pay and conditions as permanent staff after 12 weeks of continuous employment. But Bamford and many other big employers in the UK used a loophole built into the directive - the 'Swedish derogation' - which excludes the right to equal pay if some other conditions are met.

At JCB many agency workers have been moved from site to site and have effectively worked for JCB for many years without securing permanent contracts. They work alongside full-time permanent workers doing exactly the same work, but can be earning up to 4 an hour less.

No doubt JCB will announce another bumper year for profits, partly as a result of this discrimination on pay.

It is clear the bosses will only use laws and directives - no matter where they originate - to further exploit workers, while ignoring any that actually benefit workers. The unions have to campaign for full employment rights from day one of employment with no pay discrimination for the same work.

A JCB worker

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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 22 March 2017:


What we think

Tory splits brought to the surface - Corbyn must go on the attack


Socialist Party news and analysis

Tories scrap housing benefit for under-21s

Fight Tory attacks on women and children

Socialists demand reply to Livingstone's smear of Militant

Them & Us


International socialist news and analysis

Northern Ireland: divisive election a warning

Jobstown Not Guilty: defend the right to protest

Netherlands: Heavy defeat for austerity government

Yemen: families left to starve by multinationals


Workplace news and analysis

Merseyrail guard found not guilty of "endangering safety"

End the seven-year public sector pay cap!

Aslef offer: unity needed with the RMT

Battle steps up in Unite general secretary election

Derby TAs' strike suspended after new offer

Workplace news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

March against racism: Refugee Rights has lively bloc

We'll fight to save our NHS!

Biggest ever protest by Orgreave campaigners

Join the march against NHS cuts and privatisation in Cumbria

Battle for Wallsend walk-in NHS service

East London demonstration against A&E closure

Salford: International Women's Day meeting


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

"After seeing the branch's effect in the community, I decided to join"

'I'm writing this to tell you about the plight of disabled people'

Precise, visceral account of working class heroism

The Socialist inbox


 

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