The latest news and analysis from SF locals

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. 

Baker supported by Brighton SolFed gets pay out after grievance procedure

The last 18 months have been quiet for Solfed as a lot of our activity consists of using direct action to challenge employers and landlords. Lockdowns, “social distancing” and online meetings and activities all work against the physical solidarity that this needs. As a local we continued to meet in the virtual world, checking in on each other, having discussions and offering support.

We also continued to be contacted by workers and tenants with issues related to their work or housing. People were invited to meetings to discuss it but online meetings can be exhausting and strange. We discovered how different it is to meet someone for the first time in a little box on a screen compared to being in a room with all the social cues that come with it. For many it was too much and the consequence of sharing difficult issues with strangers on screen meant that they didn’t return. We all shared the frustration of that.

One of the successes we had during this period however was supporting a worker through a grievance process with their employer. This was a baker who we’ll call Peter (not his real name). One of our members acted as his union official in meetings and negotiations. They relate their experience of the process here.

CEXPLOITATION

We posted recently about the IWA’s campaign against exploitation at CEX. Afterwards, a former CEX employee contacted us and told us their story. While working at CEX they witnessed illegal age discrimination, unequal pay, abuse of zero-hour contracts and punitive demotions.

If you work for CEX and you’ve experienced anything like this, then get in touch with us. We can help you fight back.

 This is the worker’s story:

Solidarity Federation Education Union

The Solidarity Federation Education Union (SFEU) is a new initiative, which grows out of the desire for connected struggle and defence of education workers across the board. In our small but growing Union we welcome all workers within the sector, from primary to higher education, and all roles within the industry, from caretakers, classroom assistants, through to teachers. While some of the existing unions can be fairly effective, many workplaces have no real union presence and workers are left to either defend themselves or have "agreements" imposed upon them. Furthermore, traditional British trade unionism tends to replicate rather than challenge divisions of workers along lines of grade, function, degree of precarity, and workplace by prioritising the interests of specific categories at the direct expenses of others. 

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