Solidarity 556, 15 July 2020

Isolation pay for all!

To suppress Covid-19, and avoid or minimise a resurgence, we need to win decent isolation pay and sick pay for all workers. Protect your workmates; public health test-and-tracing; work or full pay for all! Editorial article and video. In the Ministry of Justice, the United Voices of the World union has won an agreement with the contractor OCS for full sick pay for workers covering time taken off since April, for a period of up to 14 days. In care homes, after months of campaigning, some 40% now give isolation pay; the government has set up a fund explicitly designed to allow isolation pay for all workers; and a government report has recognised officially that absence of isolation pay increases the Covid-19 death toll.

The UK has the lowest sick pay of all rich countries

On average, across all the 34 OECD (richer) countries, workers receive about 70% of their last wage as statutory (or mandatory) sick pay (SSP). It is as high as 100% in a significant number of countries. This sick pay has to be paid by employers for a period of time. In the UK it is up to 28 weeks. But the UK’s £95.85 per week statutory level is now the lowest, as a percentage of earnings, of all OECD countries. In the UK as elsewhere some workers are covered by agreements with employers which provide much better sick pay, but the low level of statutory sick pay is a scandal. Since the...

Labour's NEC election: what does the left stand for?

The “Centre-Left Grassroots Alliance” is actually a collection of organisations on the Labour left, dominated by Momentum and the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy. It has just agreed a single slate of six candidates for the nine CLP reps on Labour’s National Executive Committee. Only six, because this will be first NEC election run under Single Transferrable Vote, and it is now inconceivable the left could win all nine. In the two-place CLP rep by-election and BAME rep election earlier this year, the left was split and the right won all three places. This time there was pressure for a...

Momentum's social media output

Update on 15 July: Interestingly, on the first day of renewed strike action by the Tower Hamlets council workers, Momentum's Twitter was full of stuff about the strike, but there was nothing on its Facebook. This seems worth noting, but we don't know what it represents. Last week we published an article about the first changes socialists should push for in Momentum, following victory for a reform slate in the Labour left group’s internal elections. It’s clearly early to judge the new regime. All we have to go on for now is Momentum’s social media output — a very large part of what it does...

57% of women support trans self-ID

Arguments against strengthening the rights of transgender people, on both right and left, are often posed through a false counterposition with women’s rights. Those making them frequently accuse trans rights advocates of ignoring “women’s views”, “women’s concerns” and so on. New polling by YouGov, commissioned by PinkNews, undermines these arguments even further. (See here for the full results.) Men in the UK agree that “a person should... be able to self-identify as a gender different to the one they were born in” 43% to 33% (the rest say they don’t know). Women agree 57-21. As you’d expect...

Protests mount in Israel

The Israeli government’s plan to annex Palestinian territories remains stalled, with Israel coming under increasing pressure from other countries to change course. Egypt, France, Germany, and Jordan have all told Israel that pushing ahead with annexation would have “consequences” for diplomatic relations between the countries. Opposition from within the far-right settler movement, parts of which feel the annexation plan doesn’t go far enough, is also holding back government efforts. Meanwhile, public opposition to the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis is mounting. Tens of...

Cuba suppresses Black Lives Matter protest

A crackdown by the Cuban state on 30 June prevented planned demonstrations against the killing of an unarmed black man by Cuban police a week earlier. Hansel Ernesto Hernández Galiano, a 27 year-old Afro-Caribbean man, was shot dead by police on the 24 June. On 25 June his aunt denounced the murder on social media, which was widely shared. Following this criticism, the Cuban authorities acknowledged that he had been killed, and was not armed, although they attempted to partially justify it. They have not disclosed identities of the police responsible or whether any disciplinary action was...

The BLM protests after six weeks

In London, Black Lives Matter protests continue every weekend, six weeks after the protests sparked by George Floyd’s killing on 25 May first spread to the UK. Although smaller than the first June protests, they are still getting from 500 to 2000 people. In Brighton on Saturday 11 July, 5000 joined the protest after a video circulated of a man shouting “I can’t breathe” while being restrained by Sussex Police. Initial demonstrations were very heavily young, Black, and working class, though with significant representation from all ethnic backgrounds. Now the protests have larger white...

Starmer: Campbell-Bannerman or Blair?

A Tory government, re-elected last time on a wave of nationalism, is ousted after many years in office. Under it new legal shackles were imposed on trade unions. A soft left government comes to power: what will it do about the right to strike? That could be the situation in a few years’ time. It was the situation in 1906, when a Liberal government led by Henry Campbell-Bannerman replaced the Tories in office. Trade unions and the new Labour Party demanded legislation to overturn the Taff Vale judgement, which made trade unions liable for costs incurred by employers during strikes. Liberal MPs...

Can public transport be safe?

With lower levels of virus in circulation, can risk be reduced enough to make busier trains and buses workable? International evidence suggests yes. South Korea has kept its daily confirmed Covid cases below 100 since the end of March, but in February had a higher rate of cases than the UK has now. On public transport in its capital, Seoul, safety precautions include public guidelines, daily cleaning and disinfecting of the vehicles, hand sanitiser stations, and measuring temperatures of employees before and after shifts. (This is different from measuring temperature using infrared scanning...

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.