Privatisation

School cleaners to strike for 40 days

Cleaners in the United Voices of the World union at La Retraite Catholic girls’ school in south west London will strike for 40 days from 16 March, in what the union describes as “the longest school cleaners’ strike in history”. The cleaners, who are employed by outsourced contractor Ecocleen, have faced cuts to their hours, as well as being low-paid, and denied contractual sick pay. Several cleaners have also recently been docked wages, after they exercised their right to refuse unsafe work under Section 44 of the 1996 Employment Rights Act. The union estimates that 25% of cleaners at the...

Social care: only a fully public system will do

Recent Covid data has underlined the alarming state of social care in the UK. Yet the biggest union of social care workers, Unison, has responded by allying with the very people overseeing this dire situation. Not that far off a quarter of the UK’s virus-connected deaths so far, over 26,000, have been in care homes. That includes over 7,000 this year. Meanwhile between March and December there were 79 deaths per 100,000 social care workers, as opposed to 31.4 among workers in general (among women, 35.9 vs 16.8). Among frontline care home and home care workers, the figures were 109.9 for men...

School cleaners docked pay

The United Voices of the World union is asking supporters to email the headteacher of La Retraite Roman Catholic Girls’ School in south west London, and the boss of the company to which it outsources cleaning, to protest at the withdrawal of pay from 13 cleaners at the school. The cleaners exercised their rights under Section 44 of the 1996 Employment Rights Act to refuse unsafe work. UVW says that after weeks of pressure, cleaners resumed work on 8 February. Ecocleen, the outsourced cleaning contractor, had agreed to implement “improved supply of PPE and hand gel, staggered start and finish...

DVLA ballot starts 18 February (John Moloney's column)

On 18 February, PCS will begin balloting our members at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) complex in Swansea for strikes over health and safety concerns. Bosses there have forced workers to work in unsafe conditions, with more than 2,000 workers coming into work. There have been over 500 positive Covid cases at the site since September 2020. The ballot will close on 11 March. In the meantime, we have written to every member to remind them of their Section 44 rights to refuse unsafe work. We’re continuing to press the Department for Transport, the UK government, the Welsh...

NHS reshaped under cover of pandemic

For many, Covid-19 has exposed the need for urgent restoration of a public health system and an expanded publicly provided NHS. But, while applauding the work of “key workers”, the Government is steaming ahead with the plans to restructure the NHS. NHS England (NHSE) is currently consulting on their latest plans for “integrating care”, including changes to legislation. The summary below of the key changes, and an explanation of where the current trajectory of privatisation and restructuring may end, is taken from a presentation made by the Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital campaign. In 2012 the...

Pay guarantees needed with "one job" rule

A study on the impact of coronavirus in care homes in England has indicated that care homes often had higher levels of coronavirus infection among staff when they employed staff who worked across multiple sites. The government has consulted on new regulations to limit staff movement between care homes, and between care homes and other health and care settings. The regulations would mean residential and nursing care home providers in England must restrict the movement of staff providing personal care or nursing care in their services. Minimising work in multiple locations is sensible to control...

Calling out Compass

Images of free-school-meal-substitute “hampers” flooded across social media in mid-January, and very quickly the story was picked up by the mainstream media. Tweeter @RoadsideMum had received her “hamper” as the parent of two children. Supposedly enough to last ten days, it wouldn’t have sustained a hungry teenager for more than about fifteen minutes. Other families started to photograph their “hampers”. Half a tomato wrapped in cellophane. Half a tin of tuna in a money bag. Chartwells bill the government £30 per hamper. A quick trip to Asda online priced the contents at slightly under £5.50...

Towards telecoms strike in BT?

In December, BT Group workers in the Communication Workers Union (CWU) voted by a 97.9% majority for industrial action to defend job security and conditions, in a consultative ballot. A BT Group worker and CWU activist explains the background to the dispute and other struggles in BT. The national consultative ballot against job cuts and compulsory redundancies across BT is the logical result of the failure of industrial leadership by the CWU Telecoms Executive for over a decade, and also of the disastrous outcome of the 2019 general election for communication workers. The current faction in...

Withdraw "conditionality"! (John Moloney's column)

The vast majority of directly-employed civil servants continue to work from home, but despite the worsening situation with the pandemic, bosses in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) still want to keep job centres open for face-to-face meetings with benefit claimants. We support limited opening for vulnerable claimants who need additional support, but as a general rule we want contact to be remote. Forcing claimants into job centres puts both the claimants themselves and DWP workers at risk. We’re also fighting for the withdrawal of “conditionality”, under which claimants are sanctioned...

Win isolation pay, win social solidarity

Over 60% of those applying for the Government’s meagre and ill-advertised £500-per-fortnight isolation pay are being refused in some areas, like Yorkshire and Humber, so the Guardian reported on 1 December. Back in August, research found that fewer than 20% of those with confirmed Covid symptoms were self-isolating properly, and scarcely 10% of those who knew they were contacts of infected people. No-one knows about those due to self-isolate after travelling, or those who should stay home to look after self-isolating young children. Isolation pay isn’t the only factor here, but it’s an...

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