Readers may recall that at my last appointment with the breast surgeon (2 December), I was told that I was being referred to the oncologist to determine what treatment I need to have next. I'd hear from them within two weeks, and I should feel free to chase this up. So, naturally I did - repeatedly - and was told - repeatedly - that said appointment would be today or tomorrow.
Defending public services
Battles against privatisation and cuts
The NHS is not another country
Going to clinic's not a trip abroad
Its purpose is for treating not for hunting
No frontiers from reception to the ward
I have to cross the town not cross the oceans
A hospital's no tourist trap now, is it?
Rather than the needles, stitches, lotions
So many other sites I'd rather visit
Not smuggling drugs nor medicines nor pills in
The staff are healers, they're not border guards
I've nothing to declare except my illness
I don't send postcards, I get Get Well cards
- They treat my sickness not my shade of skin
- Why should I need a passport to get in?
Written on the occasion of the Labour Party's campaign day for the NHS.
It isn't my humour
That sees off my tumour
Or my banter and mocking derision
It isn't my laugh
But the medical staff
And their caring, their skills, their precision
I’d like to get out but the lift doesn’t work
And my knees are too weak for the stairs
I meant to get out but the telly keeps telling me
People like me should be scared
I was going to get out but the place that I’d go to
Has signs saying 'closed' on the door
I’d still have got out but the lady who went with me
Doesn’t come round any more
- France - Women trade unionists have been concentrating on increasing women's involvement in the unions, and on campaigning against violence against women. At Gare du Nord railway station, African women cleaners are often sexually assaulted by male bosses. Some men say that it does not matter, that women are making it up, or that they 'have a chip on their shoulder'.
- Italy - There is very good legislation on women's rights - for example on maternity - but the economic and cultural situation means that women are still disadvantaged. Italy has the lowest rate of women's employment in Europe, and needs investment in public services and industries to create jobs for women. As the government cuts welfare services, it relies on women to act as unpaid carers.
- Belgium - In the Port of Antwerp, an agreement has been signed by the union and the employer regarding women's employment on the docks. this emphasises equal recruitment policies rather than quotas. But the employers need challenging to ensure that they abide by the agreement.
- Netherlands - Some men - even some union men - say that women who work on the docks are taking men's jobs. And they say that if you do a 'man's job' then you must go along with 'men's humour' ie. sexist banter. As a minority, women are abused, whether through 'jokes' or touching. The solution is not new laws but the enforcement of existing laws, but the Inspectorate is understaffed. Migrant women workers are taken on in jobs with only a few hours work, and then told that they must give sexual favours to get more work. Women are not confident to complain about abuse, so the union is using organisers from other countries to speak to women in their own language.
- UK - I reported on the ScotRail victory and ongoing fight to defend guards' jobs; the abuse of women cleaners; the impact of ticket office clsures and de-staffing of stations.
- Many countries - A recurring theme in reports from the various countries is that European Union legislation is useful, but that it needs to be monitored and implemented, with sanctions against companies that do not abdie by gender equality policies. Employers find ways around legislation, so legislation is not enough.
Jean-Louis Colson (on the right of the photo) from DG-MOVE - the European Commission's Directorate General on transport - outlined the Commission's work on women and transport, and the consultation it is currently running.
For the Commission, the main 'challenge' is that not enough women work in transport. Only 22% of transport workers are women, across all 28 EU member stations (the Commission's document states that "22% of women work in the transport sector" but this is incorrect; the statistic is as I give it here). It is even more unbalanced in certain transport sectors: road and rail workforces are only 14% women; air transport is a bit better, with 38% women. Jobs within transport are also unbalanced: in the rail industry, 60% of human resources staff are women, but only 3% of drivers.
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1. Disabled People Against Cuts held a week of action to coincide with the Paralympic Games. During the week, DPAC attended our Southern Rail picket line. Disabled campaigners have compiled a report alleging that Southern's plans to remove guards breach the Equality Act in making its services less accessible to disabled passengers.
A tale to tell along the track
The corner of a byroad
A box in the paper edged in black
For the dame of Chiswick High Road
With operatic majesty
Her leading man and she
Played out romantic tragedy
In harmony, in key
... with a nod to W.H.Auden's The Night Train ...