Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/401/4558

From The Socialist newspaper, 14 July 2005

Horror on our doorstep

CAMDEN COUNCIL worker HUGO PIERRE works close to Kings Cross station. He reports:

WHEN I got off the tube at Mornington Crescent just before 9 on Thursday, they were closing the station saying a power surge had caused the network to shut. By 9.30 the news reported that two trains had been damaged. A workmate said when she got out at Kings Cross, she saw people coming out of trains covered in soot or with blackened faces.

People were ringing absent workmates to find out where they were. Camden includes Kings Cross as well as two other major rail termini. By 10, some staff started to consider what had happened to their friends and family members travelling on tube and buses. Once it was announced that bombs had exploded, staff started to receive international calls from relatives.

Some people had come into the office and gone back out to visit schools in the borough. When they returned, they didn't understand why there was panic on the streets outside. Some became upset and needed consoling.

I contacted shop stewards in the Town Hall, opposite Kings Cross station. It had been evacuated because of further bomb threats and staff were moved to a neighbouring building. Everyone was told to stay in their workplace and not to travel until they were given further advice. Eventually a message was sent to tell people that buses and tubes were shut down and they could walk home.

Many were still shocked when they returned to work on Monday that this happened on our 'doorstep'. Some were also angry at the response some mosques have received over the weekend. Some are also thinking about how the council could have responded better to the emergency.


A London bus driver's view

A BIG modern city like London can only function with trust between bus drivers and passengers. As drivers we have to work on the assumption passengers aren't going to shoot us or blow us up.

A London bus driver

One Muslim driver at my garage told me he'd got abuse from some passengers after the bombings. Working-class Muslims in Iraq are victims of both the invading armies and the terrorists. In London they face the anger of a mindless minority.

When Blair supported Bush's invasion of Iraq, he said it would make Britain a safer place. Millions disagreed. Now we see who was right.

I don't see how Blair can ever stop the threat of terrorism. He's the one who's fanned the flames. He can't eliminate the causes. Capitalism cannot provide safety and security for working people in the cities. Even if there was a policeman on every bus - and that's impossible - how is that going to stop a suicide bomber?

Bus workers were horrified at what happened to the Stagecoach bus in central London. But there was cynicism about the bosses' concern for their low-paid staff.

If a driver in our garage had lost his/her life in such an explosion and had less than one year's service with the company, his partner/ children/ parents would not have received a penny from the company.

As with most London bus operators, but unlike London underground workers, bus workers' dependants would not have even got a week in hand or holiday pay after training costs had been deducted.


Stop fire service cuts

ONLY A month before the bombings, one of the two fire engines based at Bethnal Green Fire Station was removed, as part of a "reorganisation" by London Fire Authority. Altogether 10 fire engines were taken from fire stations in inner London and transferred to outer London stations along with a number of firefighters.

Bethnal Green Fire Station is only a mile from the site of the first bomb attack between Liverpool Street and Aldgate. It covers one of the country's most heavily populated areas, with a lot of high-rise blocks (which need two engines attending before firefighters can begin dealing with any fires).

This reduction in fire cover in central London was only carried through after bitter opposition from the Fire Brigades Union and local communities, who argued that it would put lives at risk. Most of the outer London stations that gained fire engines as a result were the ones that had had engines taken away in the last round of cuts several years ago.


EMERGENCY SERVICE workers were rightly praised for their professionalism while rescuing survivors from the tube trains on 7 July. These workers' skill and commitment is beyond question but doubts are emerging about how London Underground (LU) deals with such serious incidents.

By an RMT member, and LU worker

Tube workers say that once bomb blasts had disabled the train radio system there was no way for train operators to report how serious the situation was.

It is now known that all three bombs exploded at 08.50 but according to reports the emergency services did not reach the trains until a further 30 minutes had elapsed.

Rail union RMT has been warning London Underground for years that, without guards on trains, responses to this kind of incident will be hampered. Typically LU has refused to restore guards on grounds of cost.

Many stations and train operators were not told to evacuate the tube system until a full hour after the explosions. Frontline tube staff, like the emergency services, worked heroically in horrific conditions to give first aid and lead those able to walk along the tunnels to safety.

But questions must be asked of LU management about an apparent lack of planning for such an awful scenario. During recent firefighters' strikes many tube drivers refused to take trains through tunnels while there was no proper fire service cover.

LU argued then that serious incidents underground were rare. In fact they raised proposals with tube unions to cut station staff jobs on the tube system in order to save more money.

After the attack on London's transport system LU say that the procedure for dealing with unattended bags will remain unchanged. Under this policy - the HOT procedure - a bag is only considered a threat if it is deliberately hidden, in some way obviously suspicious or untypical of lost property.

Many tube workers have been unhappy with this policy for some time as a holdall or rucksack full of concealed explosives would not be considered a threat under the HOT procedure. An immediate review and more robust policy for dealing with suspect packages are needed without delay.

Bob Crow, leader of rail union RMT, rightly avoided any knee-jerk reactions when interviewed on the day of the bombings but RMT and Aslef will want answers to their members' concerns.

If answers cannot be given, the unions must back any members who don't feel it safe to operate their trains or stations under present policies.

No-one, including tube workers, wants to let terror attacks bring London to a halt but LU management cannot expect workers to accept inadequate planning to deal with a threat that is tragically all too real and immediate.


'Full alert' hospital at risk

LIKE MANY hospitals in central and West London, Charing Cross hospital in Hammersmith was on full alert to take any patients who needed help.

But according to press reports, Charing Cross hospital is to be sold off to private health insurer BUPA. Plans are already advanced. The authorities can then say that there will be still a hospital there - what they don't say is that it will only be for those who can afford to pay!

The result will be fewer services for patients in the area, and much more strain on other already hard-pressed hospitals. The bombing incident brings home how much ordinary people rely on such NHS facilities. Socialist Party members are helping to organise a massive campaign to save Charing Cross hospital.

Donate to the Socialist Party

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.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 14 July 2005:

No to terrorism, No to war

Horror on our doorstep

London bombings and Iraq

Fight racism and Islamophobia

No to terrorism No to war

ISR -  getting our message across

A new challenge from the left in Germany

Mao - the story is known

Save our education

Defend Saudi workers

Distribution staff fight for pay and conditions


 

Home   |   The Socialist 14 July 2005   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Camden:

triangleWhat will we do if they cut Camden nurseries?

triangleSave Hampden Nursery in Camden

triangleWorkplace and union news in brief

triangleTraffic wardens' strike is just the ticket

triangleWorkplace news in brief

London:

triangleLondon Socialist Party: Workers' safety before bosses' profits

triangleGoing viral - Socialist comments and letters

triangleEast London Socialist Party: Why are coronavirus deaths higher in working-class areas?

triangleHackney, Waltham Forest & East London Socialist Party branches: Johnson's 'back to school' plan is not safe

Hospital:

triangleDispatches from the front: bosses prepare fresh attacks on NHS

triangleAdding demands to the weekly claps

triangleISS workers' pay victory

Council:

triangleHull Trades Council debates workers' political representation

triangleCrisis in council services: Labour must fight or stand aside

RMT:

triangleFight P&O's billionaire bosses' jobs cut plan

Firefighters:

triangleSurrey firefighters to ballot on Christmas industrial action

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

27/5/20

Fighting Fund

We need readers' support to fight capitalist crisis

27/5/20

Ferries

Fight P&O's billionaire bosses' jobs cut plan

27/5/20

Schools

Schools aren't safe

27/5/20

Energy

Energy firm plans to make 2,600 redundant

27/5/20

Hull

Hull Trades Council debates workers' political representation

27/5/20

Covid

Eerily quiet before second wave - don't reopen schools!

25/5/20

Coronavirus

No return to unsafe construction sites

22/5/20

Obituary

Mick Cotter 21-9-57 to 20-5-20

22/5/20

Rolls Royce

Strong union response needed against job cuts

20/5/20

CWU

Postal workers' action results in double victory for union

20/5/20

NSSN

Organising to fight for workplace safety

20/5/20

Peterborough

Posties walk out in Peterborough after manager tests positive

20/5/20

Covid

Johnson claims workplaces safe but HSE cancels inspections

20/5/20

Protest

Safe protests against Tory corona chaos continue

19/5/20

Hull

Trades council debates workers' political representation

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999