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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 April 2017

The Socialist Inbox

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

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

Do you have something to say?

Send your news, views and criticism in not more than 150 words to Socialist Postbox, PO Box 24697, London E11 1YD, phone 020 8988 8771 or email editors@socialistparty.org.uk.

We reserve the right to shorten and edit letters. Don't forget to give your name, address and phone number. Confidentiality will be respected if requested.

Views of letter writers do not necessarily match those of the Socialist Party.


Unite election

Jobs demo in Birmingham called by the Unite trade union , photo Paul Mattsson

Jobs demo in Birmingham called by the Unite trade union , photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

I read a letter in the Socialist ('Bosses' Brexit?' issue 941) from a JCB worker regarding agency workers. I work in the JCB supply chain where exploitation of agency workers is just as bad.

Many of these workers are skilled, but find themselves out of work and unable to find employment in their trade, on near minimum wage - £7.50 an hour for 12 hour nightshifts. There is no shift rate or the same conditions as those of us employed by the company.

The union fought a bitter strike at our workplace three years ago to try to improve wages and conditions in the factory. Although we won a resounding victory in that dispute, one thing we failed to achieve was an agreement on agency labour.

We need political change to rid us of unjust laws in the workplace. We need political involvement in the workplaces, on the streets and in parliament. In fact anywhere we can effect change we need political involvement.

I call on Unite members everywhere to reject the Blairite lies of Unite leadership challenger Gerard Coyne and support the fighting trade unionism of the left by backing Len McCluskey in the general secretary election.

Mark Robertson, Unite shop steward, Gateshead

In good health

I am utterly amazed at how simple healthcare is in the UK. Recently I hit my foot pretty badly on my bed frame. I thought I'd broken a toe.

I called 111 (the non-emergency medical line), and was told to go to A&E. I went, filled out a very basic form, and waited ten to 15 minutes before my name was called.

My toe was looked at and I was sent to get an x-ray. I waited maybe two minutes for this.

I was told it's not broken, just badly bruised. I also said I've been ill the last couple days, and I was asked some questions about that as well.

At the end, I was prescribed some medication to help reduce the pain, and sent on my way. I paid a whopping £8 for the pills.

I paid absolutely nothing for going to the A&E, or for the x-ray. Absolutely astounding.

Had this happened in the US where I'm from, I would have paid an emergency room $100 to $300, and Lord knows how much for the x-ray - and this in addition to the ridiculous monthly health insurance payments. Painkillers likely would have been significantly more expensive as well.

Also, there isn't a standard non-emergency medical help line in the US. I've used a similar service before, but I had to call my insurance company and go through several steps and be transferred before speaking to a registered nurse.

America, please learn from the NHS. It's incredible.

Peter Marinov

Shots fired

Just two months ago, former prime minister David Cameron revealed that he named the pheasants he shoots Boris or Michael.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in January, Cameron said he was spending life after number ten rediscovering his love of game shooting: "I find that when I shoot a few Borises and Michaels I feel a whole lot better", he said.

Who said the Tory party isn't divided down the middle. Now we need generalised strike action to get shot of all of them.

David Maples, Lambeth, south London

Live longer and prosper

I have been a science fiction fan since about the age of eight or nine, my favourite being Star Trek. As I grew up I started to understand more about the world Star Trek creator Gene Rodenberry had created through his show.

It is a show that argued for equality, saw the first interracial kiss in the 1960s, the first female captain in the 1990s, as well as many episodes of social commentary on LGBT+, gender and political issues.

The Star Trek universe showed what the world could be like with equality, no poverty, no capitalism and a planet united globally. It is only now I am older I associate this type of lifestyle as a socialist vision.

Matthew Charleston, Salford

Mother's Day mayhem

Arriva Trains Wales has been in the news a lot recently, and not for good reasons. In October 2016, a busy passenger train caught fire at Caerphilly railway station.

Valleys lines trains are routinely overcrowded. The company, a subsidiary of the German firm Deutsche Bahn, made £22 million profit in 2014, and £18 million in 2015, with a cash pile of £70 million, according to their most recent figures.

I'm used to overcrowded trains running late to take me to work. But on Mother's day, I'd arranged to take my mum out for lunch.

It's an important occasion in my family - mum was widowed (and I lost my father) over 20 years ago, and she lives alone in the village of Rhoose in the Vale of Glamorgan, which is normally accessible directly from my local station in Cathays, Cardiff.

Well, I'd checked on the internet the day before, and the 10.30am from Cathays was running as normal. On arriving at the station, however, no trains were running in that direction.

So, I ran as fast as I could to the nearest big station, Cardiff Queen Street, and was advised there was a fault on the line between Queen Street and Cardiff Central, and I needed to get a replacement bus from Cardiff Central! So I ran to Cardiff Central, and, out of breath and dripping with sweat, got there in time for the bus.

I was half an hour late getting to Rhoose. And to rub salt in the wounds, the 8.25pm replacement bus back to Cardiff didn't turn up at all, leaving me stuck in Rhoose with work the following morning.

Looking on the National Rail Enquiries website, I can see the line closure was due to 'planned engineering works'. Fair enough, except why did the same website tell me the day before that the service was running as normal? It can't have been 'planned' very far in advance!

If anyone isn't convinced by the need to renationalise the railways and put passengers over profits, there you have it, in black and white from a regular rail user.

Joe Fathallah, Cardiff

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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.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

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In The Socialist 5 April 2017:


NHS SOS

Communities and health workers unite to...resist cruel NHS cuts

NHS SOS round-up


What we think

Fight for a socialist Brexit


Socialist Party news and analysis

Fight Tories' callous cuts pushing 200,000 more kids into poverty

Labour group to discipline councillors for resisting Haringey gentrification scheme

Gagged Jobstown defendants defiantly expose the Irish state

Help fund your paper!

Them & Us


Anti-racism

Horrific attack on Croydon asylum seeker

Far right humiliated in London - but trade unions must organise against racism and austerity


Food

What would a socialist food industry look like?


Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

TUSC to challenge for the Merseyside 'metro-mayor'

NHS worker to stand for mayor of Doncaster


Socialist Party workplace news

Walkout on three rail networks against driver-only operated trains

Ferrybridge workers protest against 'race to bottom'

Solid Picturehouse picket and protest

Bromley library workers strike against privatisation

Hackney children's inclusion unit forced to strike

Support Len McCluskey and United Left candidates before ballot closes

PCS payday protests


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Homeless due to the housing crisis

Rents up 40% - can't pay, will stay!

Name and shame the worst behaviour by housing associations


International socialist news and analysis

Turkey: Erdogan seeks sweeping dictatorial powers in referendum

Fukushima nuclear disaster - a terrifying legacy

Justice for Yemen workers


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Financial hardship facing millions of cancer sufferers

The Socialist Inbox

Courageous Ebola nurse Salomé Karwah dies


 

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