Solidarity 547, 12 May 2020

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Demand councils follow Salford

Salford City Unison has won what looks like strong policy for the right of all care workers in their borough to self-isolate on full pay. The policy agreed between the union and the council says: “All providers will be expected to ensure staff who are absent as a result of Government guidance will be paid full pay for the first 14 days, and then at 80% for a maximum total of 12 weeks period of absence. Providers are able to claim back the difference between what they would normally pay and what they are required to pay, from the NHS. “Payments should be made on the basis of typical hours...

Jeff Bezos: superspreader

Amazon have done well out of the pandemic. Very well. Over the last few weeks Amazon’s share price has rise by 50%; the personal wealth of its CEO Jeff Bezos (richest man in the world) has risen by $41 billion to $146 billion. Anti-corporate greed blog sumofus.org have calculated that just 1% of Bezos’ fortune would cover two weeks’ sick pay for Amazon’s global workforce of over 798,000. A US Amazon employee earns on average $16.26 per hour. Not only do Amazon not provide sick pay, on 1 May Amazon ended a policy allowing unlimited unpaid time off. According to the Guardian (7 May), in...

"You can't have socialism in one country"

Julie Ward, former Labour MEP for the North West, spoke to Sacha Ismail. *** What demands should the left and labour movement be raising in the Covid-19 crisis? The crisis is not just a health crisis, but an economic one, and a crisis about Britain’s place in the world. We will be judged in the history books by how we protect the health and wellbeing of our citizens compared to other countries. Calling for sufficient PPE for all health and care workers must be a constant. But Labour should also be making the argument for PPE for other key workers, including retail, delivery and public...

Support Momentum Internationalists!

Forward Momentum — the organisation set up recently to democratise Momentum — will run its “primaries” between 12 and 16 May: a selection contest for the Forward Momentum slate for the elections to the National Coordinating Group of the big Labour left network Momentum. The Momentum election will have nominations open between 28 May and 11 June, and voting 16 to 30 June. It is a whole year overdue. The Forward Momentum primaries are being held in all five Momentum “regions” and the Labour Public Office Holders category. There will be a hustings via Zoom on Thursday 14 May between 6pm and 9pm...

The Morning Star and "patriotism"

On 7 May, the Morning Star carried an article with the snazzy headline “Patriotism is good for you.” A better headline would have been “Stalinism turns you into a useless nationalist who can’t pick the right side in an industrial dispute”. Before examining what this Comrade Blimp has to say about the fusion of nationalism and socialism, it’s worth saying something about the piece’s author. Doug Nicholls is chair of the board of Ruskin College. Last year college management victimised workplace activists in the UCU. Nicholls refused to back the workers, and then invited the college principal to...

Not the kitchen, but a teaspoon?

Labour right-winger Bridget Phillipson, installed by Keir Starmer as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, denounced the 2017 Labour manifesto as “all must have prizes” and “vote Labour and get not the microwave, but the whole kitchen”. Not the 2019 manifesto, even, but the 2017 one. In a leaked letter to her front-bench colleagues, Phillipson has now argued that there is a problem about “policy costings” not looking credible to the public and in the media. She calls for an “achievable road map” — suggesting the policies in Labour’s last manifesto (let alone the more radical policies...

The job battles to come

Government figures say 27% of workers went on the official furlough scheme in late March and early April. The government is to cover 80% of their wages, and employer may or may not make up the other 20%. The scheme is due to end on 30 June. The government says it will be “tapered off”, not ended suddenly. The chief driver of Boris Johnson’s “back to work tomorrow” announcement on 10 May looks to have been the government’s wish to reduce its furlough bills, and avoid further bills for its (lavish) aid to big business and (now increased) aid to small business. The government also wants to...

Diary of a Tubeworker: "You saw the email about supplies"

The streets are fairly clear at 0410 when I leave the house. I don’t meet anyone else until I get on my first of two night buses. I could get the staff taxis. They’ve changed it to only take one passenger at a time now. But I would be walking in the rain for 15 minutes to pick it up. The bus is not busy, but it’s hard to socially distance as another set of orange overalls or Royal Mail hi-vis jackets climbs up the stairs. I exchange a solemn nod with the other tube worker on here as I get off. No one is in the mood for talking. Everyone looks tired and ready for the bed they’ve only just left....

India: pandemic used to scrap workers' rights

Three Indian states with a combined population of over 300 million have used the Covid-19 crisis to radically weaken workers’ rights. Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have all legislated to allow a major lengthening of shifts with no increase in pay. Madhya Pradesh is allowing employers to hire and fire at will, has removed the need for contractors to have a licence to employ up to 49 people, changed factory licence renewals from annual to every ten years, and given employers the right to bar workplace inspections. Uttar Pradesh, whose chief minister is a radical fundamentalist Hindu...

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