Local Councils

Make the schools safe!

The government’s aspiration to partially open schools on 1 June is likely to be largely unrealised. While we all want children back in schools, as soon as safe enough, that is good. Success in resisting unsafe reopening is dependent on union strength on the ground. We must fight for rank-and-file school worker control over the strategy, locally and nationally.

Fight coming council cuts

Without an urgent cash injection, sweeping cuts of 20% could be seen in local authorities right across England. So the Local Government Association has reported. In real terms, the net funding shortfall from the pandemic emergency is estimated at £10 billion. Labour-held Stevenage Borough Council has been one of the first to break cover, reporting a £4.5 million black hole, expanding to £8 million by the end of year: see here . The council’s whole annual budget is £9 million. Without a bail-out this deficit could force the council to declare bankruptcy and issue a Section 114 notice, allowing...

Call for action on social care

Late May has seen significant developments in the fight around social care. After months of refusing to even address the issue of sick pay and isolation pay for care workers, the Tories have announced a £600m “infection control fund”. Guidance for the fund states that part of its purpose is to “maintain the normal wages of staff who, in order to reduce the spread of infection need to reduce the number of establishments in which they work, reduce the number of hours they work, or self-isolate”. This is potentially an enormous victory. But the announcement has been very quiet, no doubt because...

It's your right to refuse unsafe work

Watch the video of the article on this page: As workers are encouraged to return to the workplace, as part of the government’s botched and reckless easing of lockdown measures, an urgent discussion is taking place across workplaces and through unions about resisting a lurch back to work in unsafe conditions. School workers’ unions are organising to resist a planned reopening from 1 June of schools (beyond the vulnerable and key workers’ children for whom they have remained open throughout. Joe Anderson, the Labour mayor of Liverpool, and some other Labour councils have said they support the...

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...

Care blighted by profit

A specialist nurse who has worked with patients in both hospitals and care homes responds to our briefing on social care in Solidarity 544. What’s happening at the moment in care homes has thrown a spotlight on how they operate. A lot of the problems now running wild were already problems, but with the pandemic everything is obviously more acute. The thing I thought when I read the number of deaths is that staff must have been working very hard to keep people in care homes rather than sending them off to hospital. I think it’s generally the right thing, because most people living in care homes...

Organising in the care sector

During the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the more heartening signs has been how people are demanding that care workers get far more recognition and reward. The labour movement needs to fight for full public ownership and proper funding of the care sector and for care workers to win radically better pay, conditions, and respect. On the moral level it is one of the most eye-watering injustices of our system that most care workers are paid the ÂŁ8.74 per hour minimum wage or little more for risking their lives in this pandemic, and often the reward to them and their families is ÂŁ95.85p per week...

Slump after the slump?

57% of US university chiefs say they will be cutting jobs in the coming months. Many US universities are expected to shut down altogether. In Britain, councils say they will face an unpayable ÂŁ5 billion debt as they move out of the lockdown. Some are already planning cuts, and some are threatening to declare themselves bankrupt. Workers in some elderly care homes have been told that their jobs may disappear as the lockdown eases, since the homes will have fewer old people to look after. In Britain already, one and a half million people have claimed Universal Credit. Those who have lost jobs,...

Child care cut

At the same time that schools are generally closed, and few of the children registered as “vulnerable” are turning up to the limited school provision which continues, the government has (on 23 April) published a decree suspending many of the social care obligations of local councils. For example, the duty to arrange social worker visits to children in care at least every six weeks has been removed. The requirement for six-monthly independent reviews of a child’s care has been removed. And much more.

Social care: rise to the challenge!

“Me and my colleagues in care work are risking our lives for just over £8 an hour… Whether it’s PPE shortages, faulty tests, or low sick pay, key workers are treated like collateral” Nadia Whittome MP (who has returned to her old job during the crisis) “The big challenge is not to go for the lowest common denominator but be far more ambitious … It’s obvious what the problems are, but the question is can the labour movement take the initiative with radical solutions? ... The care sector highlights the problems we face, unable to deliver decent standards for the people it looks after or for the...

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