Mayday 2020 in Dorset.

Why we celebrate May Day

Careworkers: Cannon fodder to the coronavirus?

From Manchester SolFed

It is well known by anyone who has ever worked in, or been around the social care system, how much employers in that sector try to exploit their staff and just how badly they treat them. Care workers have long felt they are viewed in low regard by both local authorities and the government, until recently being described by both local and national politicians as being ‘low skilled’. This has started to make headlines in the national press and get into the public consciousness and never has it been more apparent than during the current Coronavirus crisis, where employers have shown a complete disregard for the safety of not only their workers, but also for the people who use their services.

Careworkers have shown an unwavering commitment and compassion to the people they support by continuing to travel to work to support them every day despite the risks, with some workers going so far as to move into their places of work, leaving their families behind at home, in order to help shield the people they care for from the virus.

Meanwhile care employers have shown their usual commitment and compassion to their employees by treating them as badly as they possibly can in order to protect profit margins. Most care workers have never been eligible for sick pay and receive only Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and this has continued during the current crisis.

Workers have said they have been pressured to go into work and do shifts even though they are isolating at home either because they themselves have become sick or due to a sick or shielding family member and some of those that live in a household with a high risk family member and who want to self isolate to protect them have been told that they will not even be eligible for SSP and will go unpaid, as it is not they themselves who are sick.

Care staff have also been pressured to provide sick notes for all time spent off self isolating due to having Cornavirus symptoms, despite the government advice being that you only need to provide an isolation note, which can be applied for online to help ease pressure on GP surgeries, and of course the fact that all absences 7 days or less can be self-certified.

The government’s mixed messaging on pay for workers who are shielding due to health issues has led to complete confusion as to whether care staff who are shielding at home for 12 weeks are entitled to be furloughed as per the government’s program and receive at least 80% of their regular wage.

Some workers are saying that their employer has agreed to place them on furlough while others have said that they have been told they will only receive SSP for 12 weeks. Some staff have even been told they will be placed on furlough only to be told later that their employer will not be doing so.

For low paid staff who are on Minimum Wage and often have no savings, the prospect of being on SSP, which is currently only £94.25 a week, for at least 12 weeks with no idea of when this will be over,  is a pretty daunting one and one that may not be affordable for many.

The lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks and aprons as well as hand sanitizer and cleaning equipment for care workers is a national scandal and is leaving both care workers and the people they care for at massive risk of contracting, or spreading through no fault of their own, the Coronavirus.

So desperate has the situation become that companies have tried to source PPE from local nail bars and vet’s practices with up to 80% of providers saying they do not have adequate PPE. One worrying report emerged from the GMB union in Scotland of a care home locking PPE in a cupboard away from staff.

Care staff have been receiving varying, if any,  advice on how and when to use PPE with some being told by their employers that some PPE will only be provided if a service user is showing symptoms of Coronavirus and they have to perform personal care, despite the fact that the virus seems to be extremely contagious, easily transmissable and spreading at a rapid rate and by the time the company has got around to deciding to provide PPE, it may be too late.

The lack of Coronavirus testing also means that care staff are having to isolate for up to 14 days without knowing if they, or someone they live with. has the virus and also leaves them open to being pressured by management to return to work, not knowing if they still have, or have had, the illness.

The very human cost of the lack of resources from government and the negligent practices of care companies is being tragically demonstrated across the country as the death toll grows higher and the virus spreads. One care home in Glasgow has lost 16 residents after Coronavirus spread through the service and another in Liverpool has also been hit badly where 9 residents have died with the home manager saying two thirds of her staff were off ill. Several care workers across the country have now sadly died from the virus.

Care workers have described the current situation as feeling like they are ‘cannon fodder’, the phrase coming from armed conflict where soldiers, historically from poor and working class backgrounds, would be sent to the front lines and were seen as disposable. The similarity here is that once again the working class is seen as expendable and little thought is given to their welfare by the bosses and politicians as long as work is being done and services being provided or profit being made.

For too long care workers have been described as low skilled and they remain some of the lowest paid workers in the country, yet recently we have seen their dedication and bravery in working through the Coronavirus. A workforce that is overwhelmingly made up of female and migrant workers, which has a lot do with the exploitation they have been subjected to,  has shown just how essential they are whilst the bosses and those in positions of authority have demonstrated once again just how incompetent and cowardly they are with care company CEOs, directors and senior managers safely working from home but expecting frontline staff to take huge risks.

When we hopefully, eventually get through this crisis it is obvious the care sector needs to be completely transformed to work for the people who need its care and the people who provide it, rather than in the interests of profit. The way the system is now just cannot continue. If you want to organise your workplace and improve your conditions please get in touch with Solidarity Federation and we can help.

Pub Invest Group workers fight back: No redundancies for COVID-19!

Liverpool Solidarity Federation

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, they were not able to give any hours to their workers as they don’t have the resources to cover their staff wages. They did, however, wish best luck to all their workforce and to see them back soon when they open again.

Pub Invest Groups owns some of the most popular night pubs in the central area of Liverpool such as Einsteins, Moloko or McCooley’s. As it is common in the hospitality industry, they show their appreciation for their staff with low-pay and job insecurity.

More

RADICAL WORKERS’ BLOC AT TOLPUDDLE 2019

Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival and rally 2019 Friday, 19th to Sunday, 21st July 2019. View map No stall this year, apparently they were “oversubscribed”. Nah we don’t either, more time to get drunk then.

On the plus side the IWW are back, with a new improved stall run by Dorset branch.

Wob kitchen will run from Friday evening to Sunday lunch, next to the Big Tent; you’ll hardly notice the difference. Wessex Solidarity will make some of our literature catalogue available on the day. We’ve lots of new stuff that isn’t in the reference library as we’re running out of storage space – it hasn’t been updated for years. Why not get in touch now if there’s a subject you’re particularly interested in.

Catering Cadre: Comrade Les, our Wob kitchen chef is offering free training on outside and event catering for Radical Workers and groups who want to feed their members, homeless or unemployed workers in a safe and cost-effective way. Topics including:

  • Basic Health safety and hygiene.
  • Basic budget and Menu planning.
  • Basic dietary requirements.
  • Basic safe use of LPG and Butane gas cookers.

Let us know if you’re interested or come and see us about it at the festival.

Safe Space Policy: “don’t be a dick”.

This year we ask Radical Workers to be especially kind to members of the Prison Officers Association, as they are ever so sensitive, and easily upset by loud noises and rude words.

Bloody hell it was hot! Tolpuddle R.W.B. 2018

Anti-fascist callout, Swindon 9th February 2019

A fascist infestation is anticipated this saturday in Swindon.

https://www.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/17415220.swindon-yellow-vest-protesters-to-to-hold-demo-on-saturday

The event is being promoted by Martin Costello and Luke Nash Jones, who got chucked out of UKIP last year for abusing staff in a socialist bookshop while wearing Donald Trump masks.

The weirdoes will now put on yellow vests in imitation of French anarchists to express their disdain for foreigners and their enthusiasm for WTO rules.

Swindon Trade Union Council are inviting humans to gather at the cenotaph, regent circus, at 13:00 hrs to oppose them. facebook event

What’s happened to Norwich Solfed farcebook page?

Someone’s been dicking about.

From Bristol SolFed:

“Our last contact with Norwich SF was at a federal conference a year ago, where the Norwich delegate informed us they were now the only member of Norwich Solfed. Norwich’s facebook page hadn’t been active for several months, so we assumed that the group had disbanded. We were aware of some bad blood between the current member and ex-members of Norwich SF. We don’t honestly know who is running their facebook page at the moment; whether it’s a troll, a former member with an axe to grind or a lingering bigot who simply hasn’t understood the organisation which they are part of.”

Most of the hot air appears to be emanating from this character, Walter Kovacks, seen here posing with an Israeli prick-enhancer, minus the magazine which is just as well, we wouldn’t trust them with a water pistol. We don’t know if they are/were ever a member of SolFed, but it seems unlikely. If you’re on it, please give them an ‘unlike’ from us.

Walter Kovacks and Israeli prick-enhancer.

Statement from Bristol Solidarity Federation regarding ‘norwich SF’ facebook page.

Spoons strike solid.

From Bristol SolFed on twitter

Help Bristol Care Workers Network!

Hello comrades!

We are Bristol Care Workers Network. We an autonomous collective of healthcare and social care workers. We are contacting other organisations in Bristol to ask for help.

The charity Mencap have gone to court to demand that the government overturns its recent ruling on sleeping shifts counting as work for the purposes of calculating workers’ entitlement to the minimum wage. Because of Mencap, millions of low-paid workers will now be denied the minimum wage for their sleep shifts.

This has come at a time when non-payment of the minimum wage is at its worst ever level. The care sector is already one of the worst affected. Even for workers who are paid legally, studies have shown that it is almost impossible to make a living on the minimum wage. And now, Mencap want to make it even harder for workers to get the minimum wage.

The social care sector is a precarious sector where workers are routinely denied their rights and where union presence is very low. Although the situation for care workers is dire, this makes it an ideal sector for grassroots organising. We’ve found our campaigns around home care workers pay to be very successful and popular, and we’ve generated a lot of support by fighting this issue.

Precarious workers in other sectors are getting organised in an unprecedented way recently but at the moment the care sector has not caught up with what’s been happening among couriers, hospitality workers and other precarious sectors of the economy. The law around home care is changing rapidly and the TUC unions can’t keep up, so there is a real need for grassroots and DIY organising in the care sector. The home care sector is reaching crisis point due to austerity and Brexit will make this worse, so now is the time to start focusing on this sector. This is also an intersectional issue, as home care workers are overwhelmingly women, and a high proportion of care workers are people of colour and/or migrants, so as well as being an issue of class struggle, this is also a feminist issue and an anti-racist issue. This is why we think it’s important to start fighitng this.

We are a small organisation with limited capacity and influence, so we need other organisations to help make this event a success. You can help us by attending on the day, bringing your banners, and making a lot of noise, and/or publicising and sharing our event on your social media.

Thanks,

BCWN

Useful links:

BCWN website: bristolcareworkersnetwork.org

Stand up to Mencap event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1974568829267337/

BCWN’s critique of Unison and the TUC, and our arguments for grassroots organising in the care sector: https://bristolcareworkersnetwork.org/2018/08/26/unison-social-care-seminar-report-and-actions-the-workers-respond/

Background info on the Mencap court case: https://www.unison.org.uk/news/press-release/2018/07/sleep-shifts-judgment-huge-mistake/

Article about non-payment of NMW: https://www.bbc.com/news/business-45608993

Win for Manchester Solidarity Federation in dispute with Fortis Student Lettings.

Manchester Solidarity Federation concluded its dispute with Fortis Student Lettings in July. The dispute ended positively with the four tenants involved receiving a total of £832.00 in compensation. We have delayed issuing this statement until after confirmation of the compensation payments.

Before our involvement, the four tenants’ complaints had been ignored; they found themselves being passed from pillar to post; their efforts to speak directly to Fortis managers were invariably met with claims that the person was not available; in some cases, these overseas students were met with what could most kindly be described as insulting claims by Fortis staff that they cannot could not understand them.

We became involved when one of the tenants was put in contact with us in May. In conjunction with the tenants, Manchester SF sent Fortis a letter demanding compensation for the poorly maintained accommodation. After Fortis responded by denying they had any case to answer we, along with the tenants, arranged a number of pickets and phone blockades during June and July. These had the effect of forcing Fortis to recognise the tenants’ complaints and to shift their position, upping their first compensation offer twice, after initially offering nothing.

Bloody hell it was hot! Tolpuddle R.W.B. 2018

A rather laid back Tolpuddle with everyone seemingly subdued by the temperature. It was good to see Brighton SolFed take up a stall, and a pity the IWW didn’t manage to book one as we had loads of local Wobs on hand to crew it and plenty of IWW-related literature, which made our table a bit cramped. Les did us proud as ever, Theresa’s innovative engineering solution with the sacktruck made the Wob Kitchen table more strong and stable than her gormless namesake. Misty in Roots was sublime as I remember them from the 70s and I Destroy from Bristol is a band to watch.

We’re definitely past peak J.C., I only heard three desultory chants of “Ooh Jeremy Corbyn” Some geezer in a ‘wake up Labour’ T shirt came by the stall, seemed normal enough then handed over a leaflet – I can’t remember what it was about – full of anti-Semitic conspiracy bollocks. “What is this rubbish? Who cares if George Soros is Jewish or not?” Bloke shrugged and I gave him a pamphlet about anti-Semitism. Later on the march, the crank was spotted wearing a Guy Fawkes mask carrying a portrait of Vladimir Putin with the caption ‘peacemaker’. At the end of the village, the ‘friends of Israel’ we oiked off the site a couple of years ago stood brandishing vast British and Israeli flags, shouting something about Hamas.

Meanwhile the Labour party squabbles over two ‘examples of anti-Semitism’ from the I.H.R.A. code:

 g. Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.

j. Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis

Now usually in anti-oppression politics, the hegemonic group doesn’t get to define what constitutes oppressive behaviour, but this is more complicated. Religion is a species of ideology, and ideology is an excuse for doing what you like and/or a palliative for those you’re doing it to. Worse, it’s a cross-class alliance. Caution should be exercised over cultural identity for the same reason; both these things often have implicit hierarchies embedded within them.

Racism is anything that materially or socially disadvantages members of a racialised group, or makes it more likely they will be targets for violence and oppressive behaviour. It’s a methodology for maintaining a power relation so it only works where such a relation exists. Anti-Semitic oppression falls on Working Class Jews who don’t have the protection of the state of Israel or the U.S. government, it doesn’t fall on Netanyahu and co. They are part of the hegemonic group, not because there is a conspiracy, or because Judaism exerts undue influence, but because they are the ultra-nationalist leadership of a state engaged in military-industrial capitalism. States are cross-class alliances; they don’t represent any people, just a mode of production.

I would say the state of Israel is a racist endeavour, so is the European Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Russian Federation. Almost all states were founded on racism; they began with a cultural majority carving out a piece of territory, imposing their language and customs and excluding outsiders; they invaded and robbed their neighbours. The economic and political dominance of North-Western Europe and North America was achieved through the pillage of Latin America, Africa, and the Indian sub-continent. That is the context in which the state of Israel was founded.

So what do you think, if a state grants an absolute right of citizenship to Jews and only Jews, is it racist?

Allowing displaced Palestinians to return to Israel-Palestine would deny the Israeli state a Jewish voting majority, without which it could not guarantee such rights in perpetuity. Is it racist to give Jewish people a greater right to self-determination than Palestinian people?

Is it racist to contend that all Jewish people must make this moral compromise?

Is it racist to take sixty to a hundred Palestinian lives for every Israeli one lost?

Is it racist to claim that a body of privileged individuals speaks for an entire Diaspora, or even that anybody needs to? A Diaspora that comprises a range of ethnicities, religious and secular traditions, proletarians and bourgeois alike – including anarchist comrades – especially when clearly, it doesn’t, as many Jews on this island profoundly disagree with it?

Would it have been anti-Semitic for J.C. to refuse an invitation to a cultural event from a group of young Working Class Jews in his constituency on his night off?

Is it racist to conflate anti-capitalism with anti-Semitism, implying that all Jews are supporters of capitalism?

Is it anti-Semitic to call Jonathan Arkush an arrogant prick?

There is a noble tradition of Jewish anti-capitalist movements, anarchist, socialist and atheist in Britain, Europe and the U.S. and Jews have been active in antifascism as long as there have been fascists. The board of deputies is a deeply reactionary clique that opposed every grassroots Jewish antifascist initiative of the 20th century. It opposed the action at Cable Street, and the work of the 43 and 62 groups, which effectively confounded three waves of British fascism, and if you take these things as seriously as we do, undoubtedly saved many lives. There’s a reason for this, self-organised Working Class Jews kicking their persecutors around threaten the vicarious victimhood of their self-appointed representatives. Wouldn’t the board of deputies be buggered if people stopped being anti-Semitic? These wankers are literally playing politics with Working Class lives.

In practice, nobody represents anyone but themselves, communities do not need states or leaders, and many Jewish people agree. We disdain bourgeois Jews because they’re bourgeois not because they’re Jewish. Just as we have no time for black cops, gay fascists or female prime ministers. Where is the clamour about anti-Palestinianism?

I don’t know if it’s actually anti-Semitic to accuse a Jewish person of acting like a Nazi, but it’s pretty fucking tactless, just as I wouldn’t describe an African-American employer as a slave-driver, use your noggin, Ken. You shouldn’t say stupid things like “Hitler supported Zionism” in the sense that “Hitler supported Arsenal”, because he didn’t. The Nazi state cut a deal with one section of the Zionist movement in August 1933 because they shared part of an agenda – getting European Jews to move to Palestine rather than be comfortably settled in Europe. It meant breaking an embargo on German exports. Other Zionists were violently opposed to the idea and fought valiantly against the Nazis. Haim Arlosoroff, one of the architects of the Haavara settlement was subsequently assassinated.

Anti-Semitism certainly lurked below the surface of anti-capitalism, for example in the Occupy movement; it’s faulty politics and bad history. Using ‘Zionist’ as a pejorative is unhelpful and I wouldn’t recommend it. Historically Zionism was diverse, including utopian socialists, religious groups and of course the right-wing nationalists that eventually took it over.

These aren’t problems capitalism can solve. Jews will be free when everyone is free, when identities don’t have to compete on the market and we’ve done away with the bourgeoisie and their toxic state idea.