Distancing on stations

Published on: Mon, 06/04/2020 - 09:12

When it comes to social distancing in the workplace, there’s a lot of good practise on LU stations right now. Whether due to local management actually having some common sense, or frontline staff simply taking action and implementing distancing measures, we’ve seen such actions taken as:

  • The use of tensa barriers and tape to mark our distancing zones around gatelines and POMs

  • Staff rotation and redeployment around the station to ensure maximum distancing

  • Repurposing of rooms around the station so staff don’t have to crowd into small mess rooms

  • But a frankly dangerous lack of common sense still reigns in some locations. Perhaps the worst offender is a station where the Area Manager has said, in writing, that they believe “business as usual” should prevail as much as possible. We don’t want to name that station just yet, as both local and Functional union reps are on the case, and we hope their efforts will be successful without the matter having to be turned into a public scandal.

    But if the AM refuses to back down and implement the necessary measures, LU may well find itself with a public outcry on its hands over the fact that one of its managers seems intent on putting public and staff safety at risk by trying to maintain “business as usual” during a virus pandemic.

    We also need more action from the company centrally. Although an employee bulletin recommending that station staff “avoid” touching the POMs was issued, LU has held back from a directive that they simply be switched off. Clearly, the company is concerned about its revenue. But a few extra pounds is far less important than safety. The machines should be switched off, and gates left open.

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    LFI and Covid-19

    Published on: Mon, 06/04/2020 - 07:29

    Igor Tahm-Kench

    After agreeing with the government to "leave the controversies for later", Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the MPs of La France Insoumise have spoken. On a live LCI broadcast on Monday 30 March, the head of LFI opined that "the time has come to ban posted worker contracts, to repatriate posted workers by putting in the papers, or to keep them here and treat them properly", because "in France lorries are still coming in from a series of countries where there is no containment and which can therefore these lorries and be vectors for disseminating the virus".

    LFI's answer to the virus: foreign workers go

    Two communiques from France

    Published on: Mon, 06/04/2020 - 07:15

    Ed Maltby

    We reproduce the Ile-de-France union regions (URIF) communiqué of March 23, 2020 and the declaration issued by the National coordination of strikers this Saturday.

    Document 1: a common position along these lines should be taken at the national level. Cross-union unity shouldn't be dissolved in the state of emergency

    Document 1

    Communiqué of URIFS CGT, FO, FSU, Solidaires, UNEF, UNL, of 23 March 2020

    The trade union regional bodies of Ile-de-France (URIF) of the unions CGT, FO, Solidaires, FSU, with [student unons] UNEF and UNL, reject the law declaring a "state of health emergency" adopted

    Coronavirus, China, and the blame game

    Published on: Sun, 05/04/2020 - 18:39

    Statement from the Uyghur Solidarity Campaign

    Anti-Chinese xenophobia has tainted some responses to the pandemic

    Amidst the pandemic crisis, we have seen propaganda efforts by states, politicians and press to promote their own image and scapegoat others. The Chinese government and its press and supporters boast that they are leading the world against the virus. Other governments, especially in the UK and US, are deflecting blame for their own shortcomings onto China.

    The Chinese state’s censorship and brittle authoritarianism do appear to have obstructed good handling of the outbreak, especially in the crucial early stages - for instance,

    Blacklist Support Group statement on coronavirus

    Published on: Sun, 05/04/2020 - 15:49

    Blacklist Support Group

    We have been sent the following statement by the Blacklist Support Group, which organises among construction workers.

    See also the reports sent to socialist film-makers Reel News, who work with Blacklist Support, by construction workers from across the country here.

    Reel News also say to check out their Twitter @reelnewslondon and @shutthesites, as well as the hashtag #shutthesites, for updates.



    Blacklist Support Group supports two linked demands for the construction sector:
    #ShutTheSites - Close all non-essential building sites to keep

    Covid-19 and socialist organising: update 2 April 2020

    Published on: Fri, 03/04/2020 - 16:52

    Martin Thomas

    Expanded write-up from the introduction to our regular Thursday "Covid-19 and socialist organising" Zoom meeting of 2 April 2020.

    In the Thursday 8pm "clapping for the NHS" on 2 April 2020, many people chanted "Test! Test! Test! PPE!"

    Health workers are pressing the government on its failure to meet its promises to expand testing hugely, to make PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] available to all, and to agree adequate PPE guidelines for health workers.

    So, even, are NHS bosses. NHS Providers, a confederation of NHS hospital, mental health, community, and ambulance trusts, said on 3 April:

    Rogue managers risk lives

    Published on: Thu, 02/04/2020 - 12:07

    We've previously reported on rogue managers putting pressure on staff to attend work rather than following public health guidance to remain at home. Although union reps have done well at responding to and pushing back that pressure in many areas, some managers are continuing to be a problem.

    Whether its managers demanding verification of underlying conditions that the company already knows about, or telling workers in vulnerable groups that travelling to and from work isn't a risk, managers are breaching both public health guidance and LU's own policy, which says that it's the member of staff's decision whether to self-isolate.

    We all know that pretending to have medical expertise and pressuring staff back to work is a favourite pastime of LU managers, but one would hope that in the midst of a global pandemic, they might wise up and just follow the guidance. But old habits die hard.

    Wherever such problems occur, we must stand our ground, and report the issues to our reps.

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    Covid-19: fight for workers' control

    Published on: Tue, 31/03/2020 - 07:17

    1. Requisition (in other words, take into emergency public ownership)
    • private hospitals, as Ireland and Spain have done
    • the pharmaceutical and medical-supplies industries, so that production can be ramped up in a coordinated way to meet the crisis
    • high finance, so that the epidemic is not compounded by a snowballing economic slump resulting from an implosion of credit
    • and other sectors where coordinated mobilisation is necessary.

    2. Fight for workers’ control
    The workers ourselves, taking expert advice, should have a decisive voice in identifying and running what is essential, and how

    Councils: essential local services, full isolation pay for all

    Published on: Tue, 31/03/2020 - 07:11

    A local government worker

    My union branch, Lambeth Unison, organises three main groups of workers — workers for Lambeth council, support staff in schools in Lambeth, and workers in Elis Laundry. We also have some members in smaller private sector workplaces.

    Our first step, and early on, was to win full pay for all workers in the council following public health advice, or staying home for childcare because of school and nursery closures, early on. For absolutely all workers in council workplaces, including agency workers and zero-hours workers.

    The next battle was in the libraries. On 20 March the library workers

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