Manchester SolFed is the local of the Solidarity Federation covering Greater Manchester.

Support Striking Bus Drivers Boycott First Manchester Buses

Bus drivers employed by First Manchester have announced fresh strike action in their dispute over pay. The new dates for industrial action are a direct consequence of the company’s failure to make an improved offer to resolve the dispute. The new days for strike action are January 31, February 1, 4, 7, 8, 9, 15, 17, 18, 21, 23 and 25. In effect, the 300+ Unite members will be striking for three days a week next month.

The dispute is in regards to pay and First Manchester’s refusal to honour the anniversary date of August 1 (when the pay increase for 2021 was due to come into effect) and to backdate the pay increase from this date. Bus drivers are also unhappy about a new roster system the company is attempting to impose.

Partygate: Shock Horror Boris Johnson Tells Lies

As the ‘partygate’ row reaches fever pitch, it’s worth putting things into context. Politicians and their various hangers on in the media may be getting a touch overexcited but, in the end, what does it really matter? If Johnson goes or stays, in a few months’ time it will be all be forgotten and the whole circus will have moved on to the next big issue.

The whole point is that the Westminster bubble is totally detached from the day to day lives of ordinary people. Sure, issues like ‘partygate’ do, to use the phrase so beloved of political commentators, “cut through” to ordinary voters because they expose just how obnoxious and arrogant the current Tory Westminster elite truly are. This may cause people to engage with the political process briefly, but once the circus has moved on, they will be back to worrying about day to day issues that affect them directly.

COVID: World’s 10 richest men see their wealth double during Covid pandemic

The 10 richest men in the world have seen their global wealth double to $1.5tn (£1.01tn) since the start of the global pandemic following a surge in share and property prices that has widened the gap between rich and poor, according to a report from Oxfam

The charity said the incomes of 99% of the world’s population had reduced from March 2020 to October 2021, when Elon Musk, the founder of the electric car company Tesla, and the other nine richest billionaires had been collectively growing wealthier by $1.3bn a day.

It is estimated  that by 2030, 3.3 billion people will be living on less than $5.50 per day

 

TUC study finds that more than 250,000 workers self-isolating without adequate or no sick pay

A TUC study found that in December more than 267,800 workers in private firms were self-isolating with minimal sick pay or no sick pay at all. 

The reason for this is not hard to discern, given that the UK has the least generous statutory sick pay in Europe, worth just £96.35 a week. And even this poultry amount is only available to employees earning £120 a week meaning 2 million workers, mostly women, do not qualify. These appalling findings in the TUC study do not include the ever expanding army of casualised workers classed as “workers” or “self-employed” who are also not entitled to statutory sick pay. 

The study highlights the fact that two years into the pandemic, we still face a situation where millions of workers, have to choose between breaking the law in regards to isolation and risk spreading Covid or going without any form of income. 

HOW TO FIGHT REDUNDANCIES AT YOUR WORKPLACE

Get organised

If you are facing redundancy it is important you get organised. You should talk to your co-workers and organise a meeting as soon as possible. If necessary meet outside to ensure social distancing. If your workplace is unionised you should contact your union branch. You should also collect phone numbers and other contact details of your co-workers. It is important that everyone keeps in touch throughout the dispute, so consider setting up a WhatsApp group or something similar. Remember, your employer will try to divide you by getting you to compete for any jobs that may be available. Be positive from the outset, stress the need for unity constantly and focus on the failing of the employer.

Get to know your rights

Manchster SolFed at demo called in support of migrants yesterday

Manchester Solfed supporting the demo against the hostile environment and detention of migrants, organised by Queer Support for Migrants, outside the detention centre at Manchester Airport Yesterday. The action was part of a series of decentralised, local actions taking place last weekend around the country, coordinated around the slogan ‘Solidarity Knows No Borders’

Fifty-one years after the Stonewall riots LBGTQ+ people still face discrimination and violence in all aspects of their lives

LGBTQ+ people in the UK and across Europe still face discrimination in all aspects of everyday life, according to a survey conducted last month by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). The survey, the largest of its kind ever conducted, focused on the social experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people in 30 European countries, and found that little progress has been made over the past few years.

Compared with a similar FRA survey from 2012 the number of LGBTQ+ people in the UK who say they have been harassed in the past five years has risen from 55% to 62% - six points higher than the European average. The number of people in the UK who say they have been violently attacked at least once has gone up by nine points.

New Social Distancing Measures and How to Stay Safe at Work

The government has announced that social distancing can be reduced from two to one metre but only if measures are in place to mitigate the risk. Examples of measures that can be used to mitigate the risk include, consider if the activity needs to continue, working back to back or side to side, screens being fitted to protect workers, only working together at less than two metres apart for short periods and reducing the number of people each person has contact with.

If your employer is making you work within two metres of another person, with no mitigating measures in place, they are breaking the government guidelines.

The government has produced guidelines on what measures employers should be taking to protect workers for the following sectors

Your Rights And Working Part-time Under The Goverment's Furlough Job Scheme

From 1 July onwards the government will be introducing a flexible furlough scheme which will apply to all those who were placed on the existing scheme on or before June 10th.

Under the scheme, employers will be able to bring in workers already on furlough on a part-time basis. It will be up to the employer to decide the hours and shift patterns they want people to work to suit the needs of their business. Your employer will pay your full wages for the time you are in work and the government will pay 80% of your wages for the hours where you are not needed.

U.S. Port Workers Stop Work in Protest of George Floyd Killing

Dockworkers across the USA stopped work on the 9th June in a show of support for George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Workers with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) stopped work and lay down their tools for an 8 minute and 46 second moment of silence in honour of George Floyd and all victims of police brutality.The 8 minutes and 46 seconds is representative of the amount of time George Floyd was pinned to the ground by Minneapolis police officers on May 25, 2020.

The International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL/CIO (ILA) and United States Maritime Alliance, Ltd. (USMX), representing employers of the East and Gulf Coast longshore industry, also stopped work for a “peaceful protest hour” at all ports from Maine to Texas.

Black Live Matter: Learning From the Past

The Black Lives Matter movement across the world has certainly created a space for resistance against racism, white supremacy and the dynamics of colonialism. Colonialism in the past but also the remains of colonial ideas in the present. The idea that black people and People of Colour, should be "grateful" to the society that offers individuals work and, sometimes, offers asylum and refugee status, is a product of that old colonial mentality that we have to destroy at its roots. The uprooting of the Edward Colston statue that seems to have caused so much uproar is a sign of this on-going and all-pervading colonialist mentality. Surely, it is argued, Colston has brought benefits to the city (of Bristol) and supported in his time a wide range of philanthropic initiatives. The other aspects, the fact that he was a slave trader, can be conveniently put aside as "not relevant" to today.

Returning to work after the lockdown and staying safe

Working from home

The government guidelines are clear, your employer should  take all reasonable steps to allow you to work from home. You should only be asked to return to work if it is not possible to work from home. If your employer is demanding you return to work when it is possible to work from home, write to them making it clear that they are breaking government guidelines.
If you are working from home your employer still has a duty of care. They should protect your mental and physical wellbeing, including providing you with all the equipment and information you need to work  from home safely. 

Returning to work

Some 54% of staff in higher education are on insecure contracts, it is time for an alternative.

The “marketisation” of universities in the past decade has led to the increased use of insecure and precarious contracts. A report by the UCU found that  54% of all academic staff and 49% of all academic teaching staff are on insecure contracts.

If this was not bad enough, as a result of the Corvid-19, many universities are making temporary staff redundant rather than putting staff on furlough. With universities now facing an £8 billion deficit as a result of Covid-19, there can be little doubt that this is part of an overall strategy that will lead to cuts to jobs and pay in the future.

Free market failings in the coronavirus crisis

Whatever happened to free market solutions? Since the dark days of Thatcherism, we have been told that the state is inefficient and things should be left to the free market. Yet here we are in the middle of the coronavirus crisis and free market solutions are nowhere to be seen. Instead, it has been the state that has been forced to step in and prevent the economy and society from collapsing amid the chaos of an out of control pandemic.

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