Black Lives Matter: Solidarity statement

Content warning - racism, racist violence, police brutality, state violence, anti blackness, transphobia, misgendering, misogynoir, colonialism, transmisogyny

We offer our solidarity and compassion to the people in the US and UK bravely resisting the structures of white supremacy and systemic anti-blackness which are endemic in our societies. The murder of George Floyd has furthered a global movement which is provoking tangible change in many countries. Resist the media narratives of chaos and brutality; these protests are courageous, well-organised actions by communities seeking to abolish the structure of racist state violence.

U.S. Port Workers Stop Work in Protest of George Floyd Killing

Dockworkers across the USA stopped work on the 9th June in a show of support for George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Workers with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) stopped work and lay down their tools for an 8 minute and 46 second moment of silence in honour of George Floyd and all victims of police brutality.The 8 minutes and 46 seconds is representative of the amount of time George Floyd was pinned to the ground by Minneapolis police officers on May 25, 2020.

The International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL/CIO (ILA) and United States Maritime Alliance, Ltd. (USMX), representing employers of the East and Gulf Coast longshore industry, also stopped work for a “peaceful protest hour” at all ports from Maine to Texas.

Black Live Matter: Learning From the Past

The Black Lives Matter movement across the world has certainly created a space for resistance against racism, white supremacy and the dynamics of colonialism. Colonialism in the past but also the remains of colonial ideas in the present. The idea that black people and People of Colour, should be "grateful" to the society that offers individuals work and, sometimes, offers asylum and refugee status, is a product of that old colonial mentality that we have to destroy at its roots. The uprooting of the Edward Colston statue that seems to have caused so much uproar is a sign of this on-going and all-pervading colonialist mentality. Surely, it is argued, Colston has brought benefits to the city (of Bristol) and supported in his time a wide range of philanthropic initiatives. The other aspects, the fact that he was a slave trader, can be conveniently put aside as "not relevant" to today.

Returning to work after the lockdown and staying safe

Working from home

The government guidelines are clear, your employer should  take all reasonable steps to allow you to work from home. You should only be asked to return to work if it is not possible to work from home. If your employer is demanding you return to work when it is possible to work from home, write to them making it clear that they are breaking government guidelines.
If you are working from home your employer still has a duty of care. They should protect your mental and physical wellbeing, including providing you with all the equipment and information you need to work  from home safely. 

Returning to work

Reduced Life = Reduced Work (The Work/Life Balance)

Applause is lauded at NHS workers; ideas for re-compensation; a daily service supplement; an increased hourly rate; even a medal for working during the pandemic. Many of us in the NHS work shifts - day and night - throughout the year. It is not just a virus that killing us, our shift work is too. The World Health Organisation declared in 2007 that shift work is probably carcinogenic (Straif et al 2007 #1). Studies such as Gu et al (2015 #2) have shown us that shift work, especially nights increases our risks of cardio vascular disease, mental health issues, lower immunity, cancer and ultimately our mortality.

Rather than working our life away for minimal financial compensation would we not rather have our life given back? Striking a better work / life balance: a reduced working week without being financially penalised.

Worker’s rights rely on our own strength and power

There has been a lot said since yesterday about health and safety at work, and workers' S.44 right to refuse unsafe work. The right to refuse dangerous work is vital and the fact that more people are being made aware of this right is great to see.
However, the law only goes so far. Bosses regularly break all kinds of laws. The only legal way to enforce these rules in the workplace is through an employment tribunal which is an expensive, complicated and time-consuming process.

Some 54% of staff in higher education are on insecure contracts, it is time for an alternative.

The “marketisation” of universities in the past decade has led to the increased use of insecure and precarious contracts. A report by the UCU found that  54% of all academic staff and 49% of all academic teaching staff are on insecure contracts.

If this was not bad enough, as a result of the Corvid-19, many universities are making temporary staff redundant rather than putting staff on furlough. With universities now facing an £8 billion deficit as a result of Covid-19, there can be little doubt that this is part of an overall strategy that will lead to cuts to jobs and pay in the future.

Free market failings in the coronavirus crisis

Whatever happened to free market solutions? Since the dark days of Thatcherism, we have been told that the state is inefficient and things should be left to the free market. Yet here we are in the middle of the coronavirus crisis and free market solutions are nowhere to be seen. Instead, it has been the state that has been forced to step in and prevent the economy and society from collapsing amid the chaos of an out of control pandemic.

Dispute against YPP lettings closed

Our dispute against YPP Lettings has been closed after the tenant accepted an improved offer, a reduction in rent of 22% (or £660). The letting agency made an offer before any direct action was needed, although we had declared our intent to undertake such action.

Liverpool Solidarity Federation was contacted by a tenant of Gravity Residence. Due to the pandemic she had to move back to her family home, leaving behind all her belongings in the apartment. Since then, she had tried to reach a sensible agreement with YPP to finish her tenancy earlier. The YPP position was unreasonable, they offered a shameful 5% deduction from her total amount if she paid all the amount by the beginning of April.