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Voice From The Back

A young worker speaks

“To Prime Minister Tony Blair, My name is Maxine Gentle and I am 14 years old. I am the sister of Fusilier Gordon Gentle who died in the war in Iraq on the 28th June 2004. I want my thoughts and feelings to be heard and known. My feelings are that I think you are rubbish at your job. You don’t care about the British public, armed forces or anybody in fact. My big brother died at the age of 19 and what for? A war over oil and money, that’s what I think the war is all about . . . It is okay for you sitting there with all your money and power, ruining people’s lives by the decisions YOU make . . . All you and your new best friend care about is Iraq’s oil . . .” (Independent, 20 August). Maxine is a young worker who has seen through a lot of capitalism’s propaganda, but she is wrong about Tony Blair. He is not rubbish at his job, he is very good at it. His job is to support capitalism and to convince wage slaves that it is in their interests to support it too. Gordon and his family are victims of this deception.

The dignity of labour (1)

The recent British Airways industrial dispute about sick leave highlighted how some firms interviewed staff who had been on sick leave to discover if they were genuine or not. The worst example of this degrading practice we have come across was reported in the City Diary column in the Times (25 August). “A reader tells me that Sainsbury’s has put his 60 year old mother-in-law through a return-to-work interview three times in the past year, after her absence for a hip replacement, cancer tests and the removal of part of a breast. The lady in question is understandably perturbed, especially as she has worked at the checkout for 20 years with an unblemished record.”  This could be your mother, are you happy with this set up?

The dignity of labour (2)

The journalist Sarah Ryle reports on another charming practice that our master’s have dreamed up for us. “Lidl, the German discount retailer with UK stores, ordered its Czech female workers to wear arm bands during menstruation (there’s no nice way of putting that). According to an August edition of German trade retail magazine Lebensmittelzeitung, local managers decided it was the only way to be sure that women were not taking unnecessary loo breaks. Women with arm bands could go as often as they liked, instead of waiting for the official breaks . . .” (Observer, 5 September).  The capitalist class, who rule our lives, now want to regulate our bladders. Wake up, fellow workers. 

Back in the USA

There is no doubt that the USA is the most developed capitalist country in the world today, but that doesn’t stop many of its citizens living miserable, poverty stricken lives, as the following figures from official US government sources show. “The Census Bureau announced that the number of people living in poverty – individuals earning $9,573 or families of four living on $18,660 or less – had risen to 35.8 million, or 12.5 percent, up from 34.5 million or 12.1 percent in 2002” (Times, 27 August).

Water scandal

It says much for the insanity of capitalism that at the same time as a bottle of water in a St. Tropez club can sell for £16 a bottle (see August Socialist Standard) a charity called WaterAID can launch a TV ad appealing for £2 a month to deal with the problem of children dying from lack of clean water According to them: “Every 15 seconds a child dies from lack of clean water . . . by the time this ad is over another 6 children will have died” (ITV Advertisement, 3 September). Inside world socialism such obscenities will be impossible.