Solidarity 588, 14 April 2021

As lockdown eases, fight for workers' control

With the new stage of lockdown-easing, from 12 April, comes more agitation from the Tory right to lift restrictions more speedily. The question is: who will decide? And on what terms? Scientist Ian Mackay, author of the “Swiss cheese model” of virus control, writes that in the recurrence of Covid waves across the world: “A driving pressure was to get back to making profits and to restore individual freedoms at the expense of societal safety... Wherever restrictions were dropped while lots of cases still circulated... a surge was sure to follow. It usually only took a holiday or a seasonal...

"Public ownership is just as necessary for banking as health and education"

Marxist economist Michael Roberts (thenextrecession.wordpress.com) has long argued and campaigned to take the banking and financial system into public ownership. He spoke to us about why. Why is public ownership of banking and finance an important demand for the working class and labour movement? What are the key arguments? Banking is an important service for ordinary workers, households and businesses, particularly small businesses. When we get our wage packets, they’re normally paid into bank accounts, and when we conduct most of our transactions they’re conducted with bank cards or credit...

Civil liberties or the Chinese model?

Back in the early days of the pandemic (24 March 2020, to be precise), theMorning Star carried two articles, side by side: “Instead of chauvinism towards China, we must learn from China. All anti-racists have a duty to campaign for the government to drop any racist inhibitions and adopt the Chinese approach that saves the maximum number of lives”, began an article by Sabby Dhalu. Alongside, another writer had a piece about the emergency powers being enacted in the UK: “Concern as state control tightens — As the government races emergency powers through parliament to tackle the Covid-19...

Ferry workers demand full sick and isolation pay

The National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport workers (RMT) plans to ballot members working for Stena Ferries, demanding the reinstatement of a company sick pay scheme.

Sage care workers ballot again

Workers at the Sage care home in north London are gearing up for a new industrial action ballot, as they continue their fight to win living wages, full sick pay, and parity with NHS terms and conditions. The care workers, who are members of the United Voices of the World union (UVW) previously struck in January and February. Workers in the privatised care sectors, many of whom are migrants, are typically low-paid, without access to contractual sick pay, and with a much worse annual leave entitlement than healthcare workers employed by the NHS. UVW has added its voice to calls for a free...

Brexit rows boost divides in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has been rocked by over a week of rioting, predominantly in loyalist working-class areas in several towns and cities including Belfast, Carrickfergus, Ballymena and Newtownabbey.

Activist agenda: Free Osime Brown

Labour Campaign for Free Movement activists will support a new Justice for Osime Brown protest, demanding the threat of deportation be lifted, on Friday 16 April from 1 pm at the Home Office, 2 Marsham St, London SW1P 4DF. Previous campaigning headed off the danger of Osime being deported as soon as he was released from jail, but he is still not safe. The Uyghur Solidarity Campaign re-started its regular 5th-of-the-month 6 pm protest at the Chinese Embassy in Portland Place, London, on 5 April. The next one is Wednesday 5 May. Info on those campaigns and on others (Safe & Equal, Free Our...

Women's Fightback: Russian woman faces jail for feminist sketches

A Russian woman is on trial for “production and dissemination of pornographic materials” for sharing her drawings of the female body online. Activist Yulia Tsvetkova was arrested on 20 November 2019 and put on house arrest two days later after being charged. The charges relate to body-positive pictures including sketches of a woman’s vulva, which she posted on social media as part of her women’s empowerment campaign. When she was arrested, police raided her house and her previous work. She says that the officers verbally abused her, saying she was a “lesbian, sex trainer and propagandist...

Issues with vaccine passports

On Monday 5 April, after several weeks of speculation, the government announced that it would begin trialling vaccine (or “Covid status”) passports for certain events in mid-April, deepening its authoritarian reach into people’s lives under the guise of public health. Perhaps surprisingly, we’ve also seen left wing commentators liken it to showing a driver’s licence to get into a club. It isn’t yet clear what Labour will do, despite glaring issues with the move. A bloated bureaucratic nightmare One of the most obvious objections is the bureaucratic nightmare expected to ensue. The government’s...

Amazon: organising after a defeat

For the union to succeed in the historic drive to get recognition at Amazon’s facility in Bessemer, Alabama, USA, fifty-per cent plus one would have had to vote “yes”. Out of the 3,215 workers who voted over seven weeks up to 29 March, 1,798 “no” votes and 738 “yes” votes were recorded before voided and challenged ballots were counted. If the workers had won, they would have been the largest number of workers to certify a union in the private sector in three decades. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) is challenging the company for a variety of illegal intimidation...

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