Covid-19

Videos: Socialist commentary on the Covid-19 crisis

Watch videos giving socialist commentary on the Covid-19 crisis below. Many are subtitled. Click in the top right of the video, for the contents of the playlist, and to watch other ones. See Workers' Liberty's channel for other playlists and videos.

Against poverty, against the virus: social support

At last, Labour has begun to speak out against the Tories on the pandemic, though only to demand free school meals in school holidays and to back the scientists’ idea of a new brief “circuit-breaker” lockdown. On 21 October the Labour left began, mildly also, to speak out against the leadership on the issue. An appeal coordinated by the big trade union Unite demanded: • an extension of the job retention scheme with 80% wage support • action to support incomes • helping people to self-isolate by increasing the level for statutory sick pay and enabling all to claim it, and • equipping our public...

Sick pay for outsourced workers (John Moloney's column)

PCS's “Dying for Sick Pay” campaign, demanding full sickness and isolation pay for all workers, is continuing. We’ve been applying political pressure, and have written to the government demanding that the right of all workers, regardless of contractual status, to full sick pay is written into agreements across the civil service on a permanent basis. MPs who work with the union have also raised this issue in Parliament. Crucially we’re also contacting every outsourced worker member to discuss the campaign with them and encourage them to get active in the union. Our reps working in Department...

Work or full pay for all

The government has scaled back the weakening of its job support schemes — without significant labour movement pressure. If the labour movement fights, we can win more. The original, pre-October furlough and self-employment schemes were stingy enough, and they are still being cut. But the latest changes for after 31 October (increasing the state contribution to employers to keep jobs from 22 to 49%, and reducing the number of hours workers must work; doubling the payment to self-employed people from 20 to 40% of normal income) are real concessions. Neither trade unions nor the Labour Party have...

Biggest rent strike for years

At the start of this week (26 October) around 1,300 students at Bristol University withheld their rent for uni accommodation, amounting to around £2 million. This is the biggest student rent strike for many years. Bristol students, who pay up to £8,000 a year, were promised the “full university experience” only to be locked down for weeks without adequate support. The Bristol strike is more advanced than others that are being planned around the UK. Strikers are demanding the right to end accommodation contracts early and a 30% rebate if they chose to stay. At Durham University 7.5% of students...

Priorities to curb the virus

Because the Tories bungled and wasted the summer virus-lull, Britain is heading for new lockdowns. Solidarity defers to majority scientific opinion that some sort of new lockdowns will be needed. We insist, too, that sustainable control of virus-spread, and escape from having both infections and lockdowns hit the worst-off hardest, requires social measures to underpin greater social solidarity. It’s not impossible. Some countries, and not just those with the advantage of being remote islands, have kept fairly low death rates (Finland, Norway, Denmark, Germany). If we develop measures to keep...

Letters: Marsha de Cordova and the Equalities Act; On-the-spot strikes

My article last week referred to a tweeted comment by Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities Marsha de Cordova, and her failure to respond to calls to apologise. It’s worth spelling out the detail. The Law Society had published some good guidance on how to support gender-transitioning employees. A transphobic response was published by a blog called “Roll on Friday”. It criticised the Law Society for saying transitioning employees should be able to use the toilet that they are comfortable using, saying that it meant abolishing “single sex spaces” and implying that it went against the Equality...

Women's Fightback: Pandemic hits women's mental health

New studies indicate that the pandemic has caused a crisis in mental health in women and girls.  CARE spoke to 6,200 women and 4,000 men in nearly 40 countries around the world. They found 27% of women had reported increased mental health challenges. This compared to 10% of men. They identified increased unpaid work in the home and worries about food, work and health care. Women were almost twice as likely to report that accessing quality healthcare services that they needed had been harder during the pandemic. CARE identified three key areas of difference between the genders during the...

John Moloney's column: Strike ballot in DWP

Around 800 workers in Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) job centres in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Merseyside, Sunderland, and Washington will be balloted for action over health and safety concerns. We’re also empowering members to take immediate action to refuse unsafe work using Section 44 of the 1996 Employment Rights Act, issuing members with pro forma letters they can use with their bosses. The ballot will likely begin on or around Tuesday 27 October, which will set up the possibility of industrial action in early November. Union pressure and the threat of a national ballot already secured...

Couriers hit Wagamama again

Deliveroo workers in the IWGB union in Sheffield struck on 14-15 October against Wagamama over pay and terminations. From 4pm to 10pm on those two days, deliveries were boycotted at Wagamama, which is a major and exclusive client of the Deliveroo food delivery company. Couriers are fighting against a sustained drop in fees and a threatened mass-hiring drive by Deliveroo; and demanding basic due process be applied to the way that the app handles complaints and terminations. Presently drivers can find themselves dismissed arbitrarily from the app following a single anonymous complaint, with no...

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