Solidarity 559, 12 August 2020

Resonances from the 70s

Mrs America is a mini-series charting the battles in the 1970s between the rising feminist movement in the United States and its enemies over the Equal Rights Amendment (an amendment to the Constitution which still hasn’t been ratified by enough states to become law). It shows us well-known figures from the American women’s movement at that time, like Gloria Steinem (played by Rose Byrne) and Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman), but focuses also on the woman who set out to defeat them, Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett). Steinem herself, and others, have criticised the series for overstating this...

Some see 45%, others 3%

As workers were furloughed and schools closed, confining families to the home, housework and childcare increased. Articles and blog posts told of pressure on women to take on more and more. Research coming out of USA, Canada, Germany, Turkey and the Netherlands has found men doing more domestic work during the pandemic than they did before it. But they haven’t closed the gap with women, “Across the board, whether it’s dishwashing, laundry, childcare, reading to kids, physical care, we’re seeing a universal movement toward more egalitarian sharing,” says Dan Carlson, a sociologist at the...

From e-campaigns to street campaigns

Article and video. “You’ve got to give all employees in the country the ability to self-isolate on full pay and it’s only that approach, in my view, that will really get this Test and Trace system working properly”, said Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham on 10 August. With Liverpool mayor Steve Rotheram and the TUC, and with the backing of the unions Unison, GMB, Usdaw, Unite and CWU, he has launched a new website calling for all workers to get full pay, guaranteed by the government, when they self-isolate because they have Covid-19 or are identified as contacts of someone who has it. Since early in lockdown, Solidarity has been promoting the Safe and Equal campaign, whose leading demand is exactly that: full isolation pay for all. It’s great to have another website spreading the message.

Test? Only if you have a car

After developing a cough, my housemate self-isolated, and tried to get tested. When self-referring in Bristol you are offered an on-the day test only if you say you have a car or van to travel in. The testing centre is ten miles from the city centre. My housemate made up a car registration plate number, booked a test, drew the number on cardboard in marker pen, and cycled there. He was refused as not “in” his vehicle, so had to ask for the slower, less reliable, postal home-testing kit. The official reason for refusing is to reduce levels of infection to staff, but the policy makes people take...

Grades? Let the students into uni!

By a London Teacher

Scottish school students received grades for Nationals, Highers and Advanced Higher courses on Tuesday 4 August.

Grades had been estimated by schools after exams were cancelled due the Covid pandemic. 125,000 grades, or a quarter of the total, were lowered by the Scottish...

A 15% pay rise for all NHS workers!

Above: the protest in Brighton Mark Boothroyd, Unite branch secretary at Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals in London, and an organiser of the NHS pay protests on 8 August, talked with Sacha Ismail from Solidarity. Please donate to the campaign here and share. The movement grew organically out of NHS workers’ anger at being excluded from a public-sector pay rise, after all the sacrifices made during Covid. Some workers set up a Facebook group called “NHS Workers Say No to Pay Inequality”; it hit 50,000 in a few days, it’s now 78,000, overwhelmingly NHS staff. The people who set it up called for...

Healthier and less polluting

A study led by Oxford University academics and published on 15 May has highlighted the successive gaps between most people’s diets and national or WHO [World Health Organisation] dietary guidelines; and between these guidelines and multiple international targets which governments have signed up to. Across the 85 countries considered, with national guidelines, if those guides or WHO ones were followed, then (the study reckons) “premature mortality” would fall by almost one sixth and food-related greenhouse gas emissions by almost a seventh. More ambitious “EAT-Lancet recommendations” would give...

Arts under threat

Workers at the Tate galleries in London and at the South Bank Centre have organised union-backed protests against big job cuts. 200 jobs in the cafés, shops, etc. at the Tate galleries are threatened (these jobs are in Tate Enterprises, the profit arm of Tate, which passes its profits to the charitable arm of Tate), and 400 (two-thirds of the total) at the South Bank Centre. There is more to it than the lower ticket sales for exhibitions or shows, or even than café revenue being down. Since the 1990s such venues have been pushed into a “model” where a lot of their income comes from hiring out...

Labour's internal elections

Above: Lara McNeill, second from right at front, giving the "vigilance salute". That "salute" has been widely shared on social media by sections around Young Labour, including sometimes with captions such as "celebrates the 89th anniversary of the expulsion of Trotsky from the Soviet Union". More here. Nominations for the elections for 18 places on Labour's National Executive (NEC), and for the Young Labour national committee, remain open until 27 September. There are over 170 candidates in the NEC contest. Two slates (or two-and-two-halves) lead the contest for the nine CLP [Constituency...

Tower Hamlets workers out again

On 13, 14 and 17 August Tower Hamlets council workers will strike again to defeat the “Tower Rewards” attack on their terms and conditions. 17 August will be their ninth strike day since the start of July. According to Tower Hamlets Unison, two thirds of the workforce have refused to sign the new, inferior contracts, despite all kinds of management lies and bullying, including threats of sacking. The Tower Hamlets workers have run an energetic, determined campaign, generating enthusiastic support from their community and from bottom to top of the labour movement. The notable exception has been...

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