Third Camp Marxism

Make Uber pay up!

In a case brought by taxi drivers including Yaseen Aslam and James Farrar of the App Drivers and Couriers Union, the UK Supreme Court has ruled that drivers working for Uber are not independent contractors, but workers. Specifically, they are “dependent contractors” or “limb b) workers”.

China's first gay film

News of the Chinese Education Ministry’s ludicrous concern over the “feminisation” of Chinese boys brings to mind China’s first explicitly gay film, East Palace, West Palace, directed by Zhang Yuan in 1996. Homosexuality was legalised in the following year, but gays are still regularly harassed for supposed “hooliganism”.

Diary of a paramedic: When does your shift end?

I’m working with a newly qualified paramedic today. As we check our equipment we chat about how pissed off he is that, although he’s been doing the full role and not getting any extra support during the pandemic, he’s still on the probationary wage. He says his girlfriend is a student nurse covering wards on no pay at all.

Our first job is helping transfer a Covid-positive patient to hospital using specialist equipment. We’re all in highest level PPE. It still feels very odd to be outside on a suburban street in that gear.

Fee strikes and solidarity

Talk of fee strikes is starting to spread through the UK student movement. There are fee strikes ongoing at SOAS University of London and Royal College of Art (RCA); they started in January primarily due to students feeling they have not received “value for money”.

Fee strikes are particularly feasible at those universities because of the high proportion of international and postgraduate students, who pay fees from their own accounts, and can therefore withhold them. Home undergraduates’ fees are paid directly by UK student finance, and so they cannot “fee-strike”.

Heathrow workers strike again

Workers at Heathrow Airport struck again on Sunday 21 February, in their dispute against a “fire and rehire” threat by their employer, Heathrow Airport Limited (HAL).

Strikes planned on 13 and 16 February were called off, in what the workers’ union, Unite, called “an act of good faith”, as negotiations between Unite and HAL continued. A Unite statement said that HAL had provided “an initial positive response” to the union’s proposals, and they would therefore call off the strikes “to increase the prospects of securing a negotiated settlement.”

UEL strikes 22-23 February

University of East London UCU (University and College Union) held a 230-strong solidarity strike rally on Monday 22 February, the first day of a two day strike, with staff, students and other union activists speaking.

The strike is over four compulsory redundancies, including the UCU branch chair (a clear example of victimisation). UCU is also fighting rising workload, drastically increased since September 2020, when 82 jobs were cut.

School cleaners to strike for 40 days

Cleaners in the United Voices of the World union at La Retraite Catholic girls’ school in south west London will strike for 40 days from 16 March, in what the union describes as “the longest school cleaners’ strike in history”.

The cleaners, who are employed by outsourced contractor Ecocleen, have faced cuts to their hours, as well as being low-paid, and denied contractual sick pay. Several cleaners have also recently been docked wages, after they exercised their right to refuse unsafe work under Section 44 of the 1996 Employment Rights Act.

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