Issue no.1 – Against the global trauma ward! Against the bosses’ wars!

Not one man, woman, penny, or paramedic for the bosses’ wars!

British troops are on the ground in Ukraine, directly participating in a war that seems to be grinding on without much of a chance of an end in sight. The RAF is dropping bombs on Yemen. It’s not much of a revelation to say that war is bad, but why do we think it’s important to talk about it here? Do we really need more bad news about war? The truth is that, against the general narrative, war isn’t something that just affects those people miles away. Instead, the impact is felt across the whole of our society and involves all of us. Over the next 10 years, the Government has committed to spending an extra £230 billion on weapons and military equipment, while the NHS is told to tighten its belt and more and more of it are auctioned to the highest bidder.

Periods of crisis, economic or otherwise, have historically been a precursor to war. The competition over markets and territory when things get tough creates tensions between countries that inevitably boil over into conflict in a search for domination over land and labour. These conflicts are justified by calls for “patriotism” in service of the “national interest”, always only a thin veil over the call for a working class massacre. After all, it’s never the politicians who fight the wars. They leave that to us, our brothers and our sisters, the working class.

In 2022, after the Covid pandemic, the impacts of the war on supply chains and government finances contributed heavily to the inflation crisis that was felt across the world. In a direct way, the war was used as an excuse by governments and employers to attack the pay and conditions of workers across the world. During the strikes in the NHS, when we were pushing back against these attacks, we were accused of “serving the interests of Putin” by politicians. When faced with crises such as war, national governments double down on simplistic stories about ‘us vs them’ and ‘good vs evil’, to lean into nationalist feelings. They do this to disguise the fact that in wars between nations, the interests of workers are not the same as ‘our’ governments and corporations. They paint an imaginary picture which falls apart at the first interaction with reality. This ideology of nationalism is just a blatant attempt to create false divisions within the working class, pushing us to line up behind one group of rulers or another. This puts us in a weaker position as a class, as we give passive support to the governments to dictate to an even greater extent what happens with the resources that our class, the working class, creates.

The outbreak of a hot phase of the war in Palestine has added to the general push towards war. Every day there is another warning about how this or that attack is threatening to turn the war there into a regional war. The tension between the countries reliant on Chinese dominated markets and finance on the one hand, and the US sphere of influence on the other is creating cracks in the global order. Ukraine was the first link in the chain to break, but the war in Palestine needs to be seen as another step in the same journey to barbarism and not as an isolated abnormality.

Over the next few years, there will be more calls for war. Politicians and talking heads have been lining up to babble on about the need to bring back national service in the UK, how the UK military isn’t prepared for a war with Russia and that more money needs to be spent on buying weapons and military equipment. This might seem like a contradiction; at the same time that they are telling us that they don’t have the ability to offer us anything beyond another pay cut, they are dusting off billions to pay for missiles and warplanes. In the end though it makes more sense for them to pump money into inhuman and destructive goals. There is a deep underlying economic crisis in slow motion across the world that is creating instability across the world economy, and war is a tried and tested method for governments and bosses to direct people’s anger away from the system that keeps them powerful, and toward some other group of governments and bosses.

Against the bosses’ logic of patriotism and industrial slaughter, workers in Italy have shown what international solidarity amongst the working class can look like. Dockers in Genoa refused to load cargo to ships that they suspected to be weapons. Recently, workers in India have refused to handle any materials that they believe are bound for the Israeli state’s war with Hamas, where over 30,000 people have been slaughtered in Gaza. Historically, workers’ refusal to participate brought an end to the first world war, with massive waves of strikes in Germany and a revolution in Russia brought down the imperial war machines on both sides. We need to create the kind of organisations that resist this pull toward militarisation locally and internationally.

It might seem like we’re removed from these wars; there are no bombs falling in Bristol, but they are being made in Bristol. We’re encouraged to sit quietly while our national government allows and even encourages this slide towards global war. At the same time, workers are beginning to resist this. Health workers in the UK have formed groups in solidarity with health workers in Gaza, highlighting the connections between us and our brothers and sisters elsewhere and demonstrating that our interests are not aligned with those of the bosses and the government but in our common struggle against this inhuman system that throws the bodies of thousands of workers into the meat grinder to ensure that the profit keeps flowing.

The NHS is made up of workers from all over the world with common problems and issues. We need to continue to fight against the attempts to create barriers between us, whether those are religious, ethnic or national, by job role, band, profession or union. We need to do this to create an example for the wider working class that our interests are not those of the national governments or the bosses who push them, but are in fighting for a new society without exploitation of our lives and work.

Share this article:

Read Next:


Nothing to lose in Toulouse – Reports from struggling health workers in France

We document two recent struggles of health workers in Toulouse, France


Speech by an apprentice health worker at the ‘Walk of Care’ in Berlin

We document a speech by an apprentice care worker held at a recent ‘Walk of Care’ in Berlin


Learning from health workers in Argentina – On the current rebellion in Neuquén

What started as a health workers’ dispute has turned into a regional uprising