In April, Health Minister Robin Swann admitted that it could take 10 years to address the waiting list crisis in Northern Ireland. With the suspension and curtailment of many services, the Covid-19 pandemic had a massive impact on waiting lists. Even before this, however, Northern Ireland’s health waiting lists were amongst the longest in Europe, and the longest of any NHS region.
The Living Wage Foundation says that an hourly rate of £9.50 is the minimum required to have a basic standard of living (based on stable, full-time hours). Meanwhile, millions of workers on the so-called ‘National Living Wage’ of £8.72/hour increasingly live in poverty.
84 years ago today, on 4th October 1936, Communists and socialists came together with Jewish and Irish workers in an historic stand to stop Oswald Mosley and several thousand of his fascist Blackshirts from marching through the East End of London. In what became known as The Battle of Cable Street, Mosley and his thugs, with police protection, were blocked by an estimated 300,000 counter-protesters across east London.
We’re seeing a lot of talk about the trade unions; in the news, on social media, maybe from the mouths of your workmates. But what are they? What’s the big deal about the unions? What role do they play in society and in the socialist movement?
The Tory Government’s failure to convincingly meet their own five tests increases both the likelihood and severity of a second wave of the pandemic.
Workers face many problems in 2019 – from the ongoing effects of the cuts, years of below-inflation pay rises, and the ever present threat of sectarianism. In 1919, 1944 and 1969 the working class were given a powerful lead by militant workplace activists. In each period they also had trade union-linked political representation. We need to learn from these struggles, rebuild fighting trade unions, and recreate a socialist political alternative. We need to reclaim our past.