Solidarity in the face of redundancy: a message from EF staff to St. Giles staff

IWW (Wales, Ireland, Scotland & England Regional Administration)

To the teachers at St. Giles Language School,

Covid-19 has negatively impacted the global economy significantly. The TEFL profession is no exception. In this challenging situation teachers and TEFL workers are supporting each other to make sure that the financial losses caused by the pandemic don’t fall solely on our shoulders.

As language school staff, we’re all in this together and we need to stick together. Let’s be resolute and determined and use all of our collective skills to get through this difficult period.

It is important to remember that, although you face redundancy, none of you are redundant because the talent of teaching in a style unique to each of you is enshrined in you that cannot be taken away.

All of us at EF and St. Giles shall stand together in solidarity with each other to get through these difficult times keeping in mind the maxim “united we stand – divided we fall”.

Casual workers demand pandemic pay from UWE. IWW-WISERA

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England

Bristol IWW is today publishing this statement on behalf of our members at University of the West of England (UWE) who have been facing hardship and distress due to the Executive Team’s decision not to furlough or provide direct financial assistance to all casual staff during the universities Covid-19 closure.

One hospitality worker described to the union how this situation was causing them concern, as “no furlough means that I will not be able to pay rent next month (or beyond) and that I’m at risk of homelessness. The only communications I have received told me HR is ‘looking into it’ and I haven’t heard anything back since”.

Another student ambassador explained that “many casual staff are reliant on their university income to get by financially, and we are worried that finding alternative work elsewhere in frontline industries would place us and those close to us at greater risk of infection by coronavirus”.

The IWW has written to UWE’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Steve West, on behalf of our members and their colleagues at UWE to highlight the detriments that they are currently facing and asked that these issues be addressed. Sadly Professor West has responded by refusing to discuss these issues with our union. Therefore, we have been left with no other option but to make this situation known publicly and to ask for the support of the wider Bristol community and to encourage our fellow workers at UWE to join in our struggle to reach a fair and amicable resolution.

We ask that:

  • Professor West meets with casual staff and representatives from the IWW so that our concerns can be heard.
  • All casual workers who are not furloughed under the job retention scheme should receive at least the equivalent pay through direct financial support from the university.
  • UWE informs all casual workers of the steps being taken to provide them financial assistance and explains clearly any criteria for pay.
  • All casual workers should be fully back-paid for the time since the universities closure on 24th March.

The Secretary of Bristol IWW, states that “While many workplaces have been affected by Covid-19, the actions (or lack of) taken by UWE has highlighted the precarious situation that many casual workers find themselves in. There is no good reason why the Executive Team should treat these workers any different to the permanent staff when they are so essential to the reputation and daily operation of the university”.

The IWW would like to appeal to readers that if you are a casual worker at UWE and would like to help your colleagues who are organising, so that ALL workers at UWE receive fair financial support during the pandemic, please Email bristol@iww.org.uk to get in touch and join the struggle!

Working in Social Care during the Covid-19 pandemic

IWW: Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England

The 2 metre social distancing instructions are clearly not appropriate in social care setting and there is no way that workers can adhere to them. Social care is an essential service and there is exemption for workers in social care who need to carry out personal care or in any other way get closer to service users than is being advised as safe by health professionals.

This is causing a lot of stress and anxiety for social care workers who are clearly concerned not only for their own safety and for the safety of their families, but also for the vulnerable service users who they may be infecting during the course of their work.

It’s important to note that while it is not possible

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Home News Brutal cuts to fire and rescue services being rushed through during the pandemic, union says

Fire Brigades Union (FBU)

  • Plans include major cuts to fire engines and staffing levels
  • FBU says it amounts to a ‘betrayal’ of firefighters and the public

Firefighters have warned of a major threat to public safety as politicians and fire chiefs try to sneak through cuts to the fire and rescue services while firefighters respond to the coronavirus crisis.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) made the comments after a consultation on sweeping fire and rescue cuts was launched mid-pandemic.

The union has called out the Prime Minister and other government ministers for clapping key workers on a Thursday while turning a blind eye to brutal cuts to a frontline emergency service.

Firefighters have agreed to take on sweeping new duties to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, including moving dead bodies, driving ambulances, and producing PPE, at the request of the government and the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).

But East Sussex’s Conservative-controlled fire authority has decided to

Full post (FBU)

Workplace Notes

The Anarchist Communist Group (ACG)

London Bus Drivers Act to Protect Themselves (and Get Free Transport for All!)

After the death of at least 26 London bus drivers from coronavirus, their colleagues had had enough. They forced Transport for London (TfL) and the London bus companies to ensure that front doors on buses stayed shut, so that passengers could enter by middle and back doors and avoid contact with drivers. For this to happen, it was necessary to stop paying fares. TfL was reluctant to do this, because of loss of revenue, but they had to back down under pressure.

However, some 2,000 buses in London have entry by front door only and bus workers want these routes to be suspended unless multiple door buses can replace them.

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Essential workers of the world unite!

Roarmag

The “heroes” who sustain our lives during this crisis, are barely able to sustain theirs. A heterogeneous working class movement of frontline workers can change this.

Authors: Santiago Leyva del Río, Kaveri Medappa

Ironically, the global pandemic which threatens our lives has put a spotlight on the infrastructures that sustain them. The workers who have always been saving lives, caring for the ill, cleaning and sorting waste, producing goods and providing services essential for the uninterrupted running of lives have been made “heroes.” The same capitalist actors who considered these workers easily replaceable and often dismissed their work as “unskilled” are now cynically hailing them as “warriors.”

The classification of certain workers as “essential” has created conditions which allow for disparate groups of workers to think about themselves as part of a collective. The nature of this crisis has made the infrastructural labor that sustains everyday life evident. On the one hand, this conjuncture has revealed, and will exacerbate the shared vulnerabilities of “essential workers.” On the other, it has altered the public perception of this work, paving the way for its social and economic valorization. These new circumstances open up possibilities for the articulation of a heterogeneous working-class movement.

The sudden glorification of essential workers can be considered an epiphanic moment in which the ideology that shapes our world views, notions of ourselves, our aspirations and desires can no longer obscure what is really essential. Neoliberal ideology has loudly denied the vulnerability and the interdependence which sustain our lives, sedating us into an alienating, individualistic sense of normality. However, our slumber has been disturbed and we have been abruptly awakened from our complacent fictions to collectively confront a reality that is more crude than usual, yet more real than what we call normality.

Our two-faced governments encourage us to clap for essential workers from our homes, while insisting that we need to get the same economy which has been ostracizing these very same workers back on its feet: a return to “normality.” In so doing, they turn our former precarious lives into an aspiration. We are witnessing an iteration of what Mark Fisher called capitalist realism — the idea that it is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. In this interregnum, the only thinkable alternative to what is perceived as a literal confrontation with the end of the world seems to be the longing for a nostalgic return to a crappy past. Will essential workers continue to be clapped for and worshiped as heroes once we go back to the new, old “normal”?

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How bad is global inequality, really?

Local Futures

Most everyone who’s interested in global inequality has come across the famous elephant graph, originally developed by Branko Milanovic and Christoph Lakner using World Bank data (see below). The graph charts the change in income that the world’s population have experienced over time, from the very poorest to the richest 1%.

We can update the elephant graph using the latest data from the World Inequality Database, which covers the whole period from 1980 to 2016 using a method called “distributive national accounts”. Here’s what it looks like in real dollars (MER), developed in collaboration with Huzaifa Zoomkawala:

The elephant graph has been used by some to argue that neoliberal globalization has caused inequality to decline since 1980. After all, it would appear that the biggest gains have gone to the poorest 60% of the world’s population, whose incomes have grown two or three times more than those of the richest 40%.

But this impression can be misleading. It’s important to recognize that the elephant graph shows relative gains, with respect to each group’s baseline in 1980. So the poorest 10-20th percentile gained 82% over this period. That sounds like a lot, on the face of it. But remember that they started from a very low base. For people earning $2.40 per day in 1980, their incomes grew to no more than $4.36 per day… over a period of 36 years. So, about 5 cents per year. [ … 433 more words]

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‘Welcome to hell’

scottish unemployed workers’ network

Jim was far from happy when we met him. Rules governing UC claimants who are in irregular employment were making his life a misery, and making him question the whole point of working. Jim, however, is no ‘skiver’, that largely mythical creature, so beloved of Tory ministers and their willing little mouthpieces in the main stream media. As he himself put it, ‘I hae to work, it’s noa jist the money, but it’s getting harder and harder.’ In the last few months his UC claim has been repeatedly shut down.

In the past, someone who got short-term work could make a rapid reclaim when it ended to get back onto JSA, and any way there was no long initial wait to get payments. Now, with the supposedly simplified system of UC, which was meant to make it easier to go in and out of work, your claim can get shut down if even a short term job takes you over the monthly threshold, and how long it takes to start up again is a lottery, depending on when in your assessment cycle your job ends. As we explained in a previous blog, you may be plunged into deep economic insecurity for as long as nine weeks before getting back on UC payments.

In the last year alone, Jim has had five separate jobs, and has had his UC claim shut down on two occasions. As a manual worker who is employed on zero hour and short term contracts, he is keenly aware of the difference between Tory rhetoric regarding life on UC and the sometimes brutal reality of working at the front line of ‘the gig economy’ that neo-liberal ‘voodoo economics’ have brought into being.

And, having worked for a wide range of employers, Jim is also well aware of the ‘tricks’ employers use to deceive and pressurise workers: of employers who take you on but then ‘punt you when their order is completed’; of managers at the Amazon warehouse in Dunfermline who take on new workers and then ‘beast them until they go faster, or get rid of them altogether’; of workers who receive verbal warnings (‘three strikes and you’re out’) for spending five minutes in the toilet rather than the two minutes they are allowed. As we talked, he turned to the buroo, and, pointing to its entrance, exclaimed, ‘There should be sign up ower that door, saying “Welcome to Hell”’.

Weymouth and Portland – Action on Wages (WeyPAW)

WeyPAW is a community action group who want to give the people of Weymouth and Portland a pay rise. We take action on the streets, in the media and online to help people understand the various problems they have in getting paid properly, as well as the various legally required payments they are entitled to as employees of businesses in and around Weymouth and Portland. These include Statutory Sick Pay and Holiday Pay, but at the very simple, to ascertain whether they are receiving the UK legally mandated Minimum Wage.

Policy Proposals – Discussion

We need:

  • an integrated strategy to tackle poverty wages and failing services in W&P, using public resources in key areas;
  • a commitment by local councils to pay the real Living Wage, as set by the Living Wage Foundation;
  • a commitment by local councils to equal pay for women, full in-work benefits, and rights at work – and an undertaking to allocate contracts on this basis;
  • a commitment by local councils to end to zero-hours contracts;
  • a commitment by local councils to publish and pursue active strategies to tackle food, fuel and funeral poverty;
  • a commitment by local councils to ban payday loan companies from council advertising spaces;
  • an audit of jobs in W&P, with the participation of local councils, to identify delinquent (“rogue”) employers who evade full payment of wages and in-work benefits, and/or who impose unnecessary charges on employees;
  • trade union organisation to protect rights at work, especially in low-paid sectors including catering, retail and leisure (holiday camps, hotels, tourism);
  • a new agenda for housing that focuses on unoccupied units, a programme of refurbishment and co-operative ownership and/or rental;
  • an urgent review of health provision with direct involvement of the public;
  • an active, high-profile public campaign for improved public transport by road and rail;
  • a collaborative strategy for public “anchor” institutions that provide full-time jobs, rights at work and a continuing contribution to local communities;
  • a working group to advance plans for a University of Dorset based on campuses at Weymouth and Dorchester.
  • Revised policy proposals will be put to MPs, councillors, and all candidates for office in the Unitary Authority and in the next general election. WeyPAW will ask all candidates for their views and intentions.

See WeyPAW policies at www.weypaw.org and on Facebook. Contact WeyPAW at weypaw@gmail.com

Medical support for migrant workers

Some migrant workers can’t access NHS services. Doctors of the World has a national helpline and a clinic in London, and some limited popup clinics elsewhere.

 

“If you’re having problems getting healthcare our team can give you free and confidential support – whatever your immigration status and wherever you live in the UK.”

Find a clinic