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

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.

THE CORONAVIRUS LOCKDOWN SEES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN SURGE

Abusive men are using coronavirus as an excuse for domestic violence, campaigners have warned, as horrifying new figures reveal men are killing women and girls at a rate of almost one a day since the lockdown began. This represents a doubling of the average rate of deaths and highlights the extreme danger faced by women and girls trapped in the same house as violent partners and other male relatives.

PPE AND AGENCY WORKERS

We have received enquires from agency workers asking whose responsibility is it to provide them with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), is it the employment agency or the end-user? Under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, the employment agency is responsible for ensuring any necessary PPE is provided to agency workers.

Battling Boris Defeats the Coronavirus

Great news that Boris is now out of hospital and resting at Chequers after defeating the coronavirus. Where others have succumbed to the virus through lack of willpower, our brave Boris took on the virus, and showing true Dunkirk spirit, single-handedly beat the virus through pure strength of character. It was great to see the press exercising their right to criticise and hold to account, in the world’s greatest democracy, by falling over themselves to heap praise on our truly courageous leader. Totally disregarding the acute suffering of the thousands who have died in hospital, the media was able to lift the spirits of the nation by focusing on the high spirits of our leader from is ICU bed and his whiling away the hours in hospital by reading the comic book Tintin. 

Care worker organising in a pandemic

Care workers right now are facing a huge challenge. We were overworked, at risk and underpaid before Covid-19 came along. A lot of us are facing massive upheaval in our work and personal lives. Lockdown is stopping us from seeing our friends, family and colleagues, and the demands nowaced on the NHS, care homes and other workplaces have increased and changed rapidly. So now more than ever we are asking, what can we do?

What are we facing?

Some of the issues we are facing are new, and some are old problems exacerbated by the current crisis. The first one we are going to look at is the most common and well known right now.

PPE

Careworkers: Cannon fodder to the coronavirus?

It is well known by anyone who has ever worked in, or been around the social care system, how much employers in that sector try to exploit their staff and just how badly they treat them. Care workers have long felt they are viewed in low regard by both local authorities and the government, until recently being described by both local and national politicians as being ‘low skilled’. This has started to make headlines in the national press and get into the public consciousness and never has it been more apparent than during the current coronavirus crisis, where employers have shown a complete disregard for the safety of not only their workers, but also for the people who use their services.

Latest Update 80% wages Governments Job Retention Scheme

There has been some confusion as to which groups of workers can be placed on furlough under the government’s 80% of wages JoB Retention Scheme. For example, we have had reports of workers who have been instructed to isolate themselves for 12 weeks, due to underlying health conditions, being told that they are only entitled to SSP rather than being placed on furlough.  The government has now made clear who can be placed on furlough under the job retention scheme.

As well as those who have been laid off, the following groups of workers can be furloughed and receive 80% of their pay under the scheme:

Shielding Employees

employees who are shielding themselves for 12 weeks in line with public health guidance.

Caring for someone who is shielding

If you need to stay at home with someone who is shielding you can claim under the scheme.

Pub Invest Group workers fight back: No redundancies for COVID-19!

A week after the closure of all hospitality business, the workers of Pub Invest Group from Liverpool got bad news.

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, they were not able to give any hours to their workers as they don’t have the resources to cover their staff wages. They did, however, wish the best luck to all their workforce and to see them back soon when they open again.

Pub Invest Groups owns some of the most popular night pubs in the central area of Liverpool such as Einsteins, Moloko or McCooley’s. As it is common in the hospitality industry, they show their appreciation for their staff with low-pay and job insecurity.
During the Coronavirus crisis, we are having the chance of seeing this in many places. Although the Government is offering the coverage of wages through the Job Retention Scheme, some employers just prefer to get rid of people.

The New Rates for the National Minimum Wage from April 2020

All the details of the new national minimum wage, who is covered and how it should be
applied, is set out below. The National Minimum Wage remains pathetically low. The only
thing the National Minimum Wage actually guarantees is that those forced to live off them will
be trapped in a life of permanent poverty. The current coronavirus crisis has shown just how
critical minimum wage workers are to the economy and keeping people safe.

Millions of workers on poverty pay, in the likes care homes, supermarkets and the NHS, are risking their
health to keep society functioning. Once the crisis is passed gross inequality must come to an
end. But that will only come about by people getting organised and fighting back.

Close Down All Non-Essential Industries Now

It is clear that the government is trying to protect the UK economy even if this results in more people dying as a result of coronavirus. At the time of writing, whole swathes of the economy are still operating, putting lives at risk. It is now obvious that, in order to stop the spread of the virus, only those sectors of the economy essential to maintaining the health and wellbeing of society should remain open. Yet the government is refusing to shut down large sections of the economy such as online shopping.

Coronavirus Crisis: The Government has produced more information in regards to the 80% of wages Jobs Retention Scheme including how pay will be calculated. Here are some of the details:

HOW THE SCHEME WORKS

If you and your employer both agree, your employer might be able to keep you on the payroll if they’re unable to operate or have no work for you to do because of coronavirus (COVID-19). This is known as being ‘on furlough’.

Your employer could pay 80% of your wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, up to a monthly cap of £2,500.

You’ll still be paid by your employer and pay taxes from your income. You cannot undertake work for your employer while on furlough. We expect the scheme to be up and running by the end of April.

ARE YOU ELIGIBLE

Any UK employer with a UK bank account will be able to claim, but you must have been on your employer’s PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020. You can be on any type of contract, including a zero-hour contract or a temporary contract. The scheme does not apply to the self-employed.

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