Covid-19

Covid-19 and socialist organising: update 2 April 2020

Published on: Fri, 03/04/2020 - 16:52
Author

Martin Thomas

Expanded write-up from the introduction to our regular Thursday "Covid-19 and socialist organising" Zoom meeting of 2 April 2020.


In the Thursday 8pm "clapping for the NHS" on 2 April 2020, many people chanted "Test! Test! Test! PPE!"

Health workers are pressing the government on its failure to meet its promises to expand testing hugely, to make PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] available to all, and to agree adequate PPE guidelines for health workers.

So, even, are NHS bosses. NHS Providers, a confederation of NHS hospital, mental health, community, and ambulance trusts, said on 3 April:

Rogue managers risk lives

Published on: Thu, 02/04/2020 - 12:07

We've previously reported on rogue managers putting pressure on staff to attend work rather than following public health guidance to remain at home. Although union reps have done well at responding to and pushing back that pressure in many areas, some managers are continuing to be a problem.

Whether its managers demanding verification of underlying conditions that the company already knows about, or telling workers in vulnerable groups that travelling to and from work isn't a risk, managers are breaching both public health guidance and LU's own policy, which says that it's the member of staff's decision whether to self-isolate.

We all know that pretending to have medical expertise and pressuring staff back to work is a favourite pastime of LU managers, but one would hope that in the midst of a global pandemic, they might wise up and just follow the guidance. But old habits die hard.

Wherever such problems occur, we must stand our ground, and report the issues to our reps.

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"Our union is an essential service": statement from members of RMT

Published on: Tue, 31/03/2020 - 11:44

The following statement has been put out by members of rail union RMT

During the Covid-19 crisis, workers need strong unions more than ever. Many employers are placing workers in danger, with unsafe working practices and refusing to pay wages to people who stay away from work under government guidance. Workforces need collective action, workers need reps, reps need union support.

RMT reps have been working hard on workplace issues throughout the crisis, and have won important victories and concessions in many companies, for example full pay for outsourced cleaners on London Underground who

Covid-19: fight for workers' control

Published on: Tue, 31/03/2020 - 07:17

1. Requisition (in other words, take into emergency public ownership)
• private hospitals, as Ireland and Spain have done
• the pharmaceutical and medical-supplies industries, so that production can be ramped up in a coordinated way to meet the crisis
• high finance, so that the epidemic is not compounded by a snowballing economic slump resulting from an implosion of credit
• and other sectors where coordinated mobilisation is necessary.

2. Fight for workers’ control
The workers ourselves, taking expert advice, should have a decisive voice in identifying and running what is essential, and how

Councils: essential local services, full isolation pay for all

Published on: Tue, 31/03/2020 - 07:11
Author

A local government worker

My union branch, Lambeth Unison, organises three main groups of workers — workers for Lambeth council, support staff in schools in Lambeth, and workers in Elis Laundry. We also have some members in smaller private sector workplaces.

Our first step, and early on, was to win full pay for all workers in the council following public health advice, or staying home for childcare because of school and nursery closures, early on. For absolutely all workers in council workplaces, including agency workers and zero-hours workers.

The next battle was in the libraries. On 20 March the library workers

Defend migrants, defend us all

Published on: Mon, 30/03/2020 - 22:04
Author

Labour Campaign for Free Movement

Migrant communities are largely being overlooked during this pandemic, even though migrant NHS workers, migrant supply-chain workers, and migrant carers are doing the most essential work.

Immigration rules like No Recourse to Public Funds leave migrants especially vulnerable to economic hardship and incentivise them to disregard public health advice and continue working.

Migrants seeking to self-isolate to protect their own health, or the health of others, face destitution and potential homelessness without access to the social security net currently being ramped up to support British

NHS: full isolation pay, PPE, carers

Published on: Mon, 30/03/2020 - 21:57

By an NHS worker at ELFT

At my workplace, the East London NHS Foundation Trust, we’ve been putting together information on pay for workers following public health advice.

There are many zero-hours and contract workers in NHS buildings, and it wasn’t clear what they would get. We did a couple of weeks’ agitation among all the workers in my workplace — of all grades — and had a prolonged to-and-fro with senior management.

At the end of that we discovered that the Trust already had a policy of full pay if following public health advice for all workers in the building, and then that NHS England

Running the Tube safely for essential workers

Published on: Mon, 30/03/2020 - 21:49

As of 29 March, these are the issues being worked on by the RMT union on London Underground, with the aim of keeping the service running for essential workers while also keeping it as safe as possible for those workers, for London Underground staff, and for everyone around them.

• Full pay for any ABM [cleaning contractor] staff who have to self-isolate — Agreed
• No detriment, including loss of pay, for anyone who stays home due to being in a vulnerable category (e.g., with an underlying health condition), but not identified by the NHS for “shielding”; or who stays home due to having a family

The politics of "war"

Published on: Mon, 30/03/2020 - 21:41
Author

Martin Thomas

Since 12 March, so for two and a half weeks now as we write on 30 March, the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths has been increasing exponentially both worldwide and in the UK.

Worldwide the numbers of cases and deaths are both doubling about every week. In the UK, the number of cases is doubling about every three and a half days, the number of deaths about every three days.

The neatness of the pattern is probably coincidental. Country case-counts vary widely with the width of testing, and if the figures were accurate the death graph would lag behind the cases graph rather than tracking it.

Bu

Government U-turn on abortions

Published on: Mon, 30/03/2020 - 21:35
Author

Katy Dollar

The British Pregnancy Advisory Service has warned abortion services are “buckling” under the pressure of the coronavirus chaos, and some women have been unable to access abortions.

Many clinics have already had to close due to staff isolation. Those wishing to access abortion who have been advised to self-isolate have been left with the choice of exposing themselves to greater risk of infection or continuing with unwanted pregnancies.

On Monday 23 March, the Department of Health announced temporary changes to abortion regulations. During the Covid-19 crisis abortion pills could prescribed

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