The reports of job cuts in Socialist Worker (19 January) raise the question of how to resist the bosses’ offensive.
My own recent experience gives some useful lessons in how to fight back effectively.
I work in a further education college and was threatened with compulsory redundancy.
College management refused all opportunities for redeployment. It became clear that they were determined to force through the redundancy of a union branch officer in order to weaken the UCU union.
Our UCU branch took this seriously and voted to strike for five days if I lost my job.
The result was that I was offered another job in the college just days before the strike was due to begin.
The lesson is that strikes can defend jobs when other means have failed. Hopefully those threatened with job losses, such as the lecturers at Halesowen College, will be able to win support for successful strikes to stop job cuts.
Graham Mustin, Barnsley College
It’s great to see that HMV workers in Ireland have occupied their stores in protest at the way their jobs have been cut.
It shows that all workers—whatever workplace they are in or what wage they earn—have power to take action. Let’s hope their example spreads!
Louise Hilton, Leeds
The latest MPs’ pay rise demand is an obvious wind up in the economic climate.
It will deliberately irritate working and unemployed people.
But it is also a reflection of how the whole structure of electoral parliamentary politics is degenerating into an arm of business.
Politics shouldn’t pander to the interests of big business.
Nick Vinehill, Norfolk
Socialist Worker should cover more widely the recent suicide of software developer and internet activist Aaron Swartz.
He was awaiting trial in the US for hacking into the protected JSTOR database and sharing millions of academic articles for free.
Aaron tried to lower the price of knowledge and information in the world.
This case should be of interest to a revolutionary newspaper given the criticism it rightly makes of the US justice system.
Attorney Carmen Ortiz handled the case. She prosecuted Swartz with tenacity despite the fact that he suffered depression.
More than 35,000 people in the US have signed a petition demanding that she is removed from office.
Amar Desai, South London
You are right that many people won’t pay enough national insurance to claim their full pension under the government’s changes (Socialist Worker, 19?January).
I worked for years as a cleaner. Despite the low pay I planned my future around how much money I’d have.
But I developed back problems and had to stop work. Now I exist on benefits.
Many people will experience similar things that will stop them from working. Why shouldn’t they be entitled to a decent pension?
Diane Baines, Birmingham
I was at a job centre in Norwich last week and saw a mother break down in tears because she had no money. She had been laid off a year ago and had children to feed.
The management were doing their usual trick of treating anyone who is upset as though they’ve got a deadly virus.
Me and a couple of claimants, plus some of the staff, put about £40 together and gave it to her so she could live for the next week.
This act of solidarity debunks the right wing rubbish that we are all selfish.
I gave her a note to explain where to get food vouchers.
I also wrote, “I’m a socialist and we shouldn’t have to do this. There’s enough wealth for everyone to not go without.”
The incident made me angry. The system is so rubbish—surely we can do better than this!
Tim Knight-Hughes, Norwich
Opposition to government attacks on benefits is beginning to get organised as people realise how bad things are going to get.
This month’s vote on cutting benefits is a taste of the vicious cuts to be unleashed on millions of us in April this year.
Local campaigns and a bit of opposition in parliament are exposing the government.
If people can’t pay, they won’t pay. Councils are already coming under pressure not to evict anyone in arrears due to benefit cuts.
Cuts in council tax benefit, the abolition of Disability Living Allowance and the total benefit cap are hitting people hard.
The charity Shelter estimates that 670,000 households, one in three with children, will lose an average £15 a week through the “bedroom tax” from April.
The fight for benefit justice is one for us all.
Eileen Short, Chair, Defend Council Housing
The Office for Fair Access has come up with a solution for helping poor people get an education.
It wants “disadvantaged” children as young as seven to be taught about universities and go on trips to campuses.
This would be funny if it wasn’t so offensive.
The problem isn’t that poorer people don’t know universities are there. It’s that we know we can’t afford to go to them.
Siobhan Stevens, South London
Thanks for your article on life in prison (Socialist Worker, 19 January).
Prisoners are often invisible people—except when they fight back or riot.
And they’re often assumed to be violent and aggressive towards each other.
So it was good to see that it’s not all dog eat dog and that prisoners can stick together against the guards.
Stephen White, Newcastle
I don’t know if Socialist Worker readers have read about plans to bury nuclear waste in the Lake District.
The government is apparently looking for places to put the toxic waste and wants research into whether it can be put there.
Councillors will make a decision about this on 30 January.
I think it’s the kind of thing that socialists should be campaigning against.
Lindsay Challenger, North Yorkshire
What do socialists think about the case of the Christian woman who won her case against British Airways last week?
She’d been sacked for wearing a cross.
It seems we should stand by workers and defend their right to religious expression.
Alan Thomas, Lincolnshire