Coronavirus: Your rights at home and at work

Information for workers and tenants to deal with the Covid-19 crisis

News

The latest news and analysis from SF locals

Under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme you will receive 80% of wages up to £2,500 per month. Below is the latest update on how the scheme will work.

The situation is changing all the time but as far as we are aware the following is correct as we understand it as of Wednesday 23rd March.

Which companies are eligible under the scheme? All UK businesses are eligible, including charitable, non-profit, public sector, local authorities and so on.

Which workers are eligible? All workers on P.A.Y.E will qualify for 80% of their earnings. This is likely to include most workers, apart from the self-employed who have yet to receive any real support from the government.

Coronavirus and the collapse of neo-liberalism

The differences between the various national and governmental responses to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak aside, what they hold is common is a crumbling defence of ultra-neo-liberal policies. By this we mean, as the UK government has shifted from its primary concern to shore up the economy to showing concern about the health of the population, the idea that the state should not intervene in the financial sphere has practically been thrown out of the window. Even the most ideologically-led and fervent advocates of the “minimum state” have had to cave in to a looming disaster that would spell even the end of market capitalism. While anarchosyndicalists are not in favour of a minimum state – we want to abolish the state – we have constantly criticised the politics that sustain this approach.

CORONAVIRUS: YOUR RIGHTS TO SICK PAY AND WAGES

The government is full of talk about “supporting each other” but is doing little to compensate workers who are forced to take time off work due to the coronavirus. The message seems to be “do the right thing” and self-isolate but do not expect any financial support from us. Below we set out your rights to sick pay and wages when having to take time off work due to the coronavirus epidemic.
The information below is based on things as they currently stand on the 15th March 2020.

LAY-OFFS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS

As in other countries, the government may at some point begin to close workplaces, such as bars and restaurants, as the virus spreads. In which case they may announce special arrangements but as things stand at the moment if you are temporarily laid off due to the coronavirus the following applies:

Higher Education talks enter crucial stage

The University and College Union (UCU) is now in its third week of strike action over pensions, pay, equality issues, workload and casualization of the sector. Although developments are being kept pretty much in secret, branches have pressed the Union leadership for an open discussion and ratification of any agreements that we may collectively come to. Some branches have also been discussing what the next step could entail if there is insufficient progress. While the sector does not have a huge amount of power in some senses, unless railway unions or NHS workers, universities are increasingly concerned about their reputations in a competitive education “market”, especially when it comes to high fee payment international students and loss of income due to a lack of grant applications from governments, agencies and trusts.

WORKING CLASS WOMEN BEAR THE BRUNT OF AUSTERITY AND ARE PAYING THE PRICE WITH POOR HEALTH AND EARLY DEATHS

A new report into health inequality by the UCL Institute of Health Equality clearly shows that the health gap between the rich and poor is growing. The report highlights the fact that life expectancy has stalled for the first time in a hundred years, with life expectancy actually falling among the poorest 10% of women. The report also found that those living in the most deprived areas of Britain can now expect to spend more of their lives in poor health.

THOUSANDS OF UK COMPANIES STEALING WORKERS WAGES

Last week, the government announced it would resume naming and shaming employers who fail to pay the National Minimum Wage. While welcome, this will do little to deter companies from paying workers poverty wages and getting away with it.

Currently, rule-breakers are allowed to simply repay the wage arrears and fines issued by HMRC can be discounted for early repayment, meaning the average penalty in 2017-18 was only worth about 90% of the wage arrears owed. The availability of self-correction, in effect, means that, in many cases, employers can underpay wages with no financial consequences, even if they are caught. Research shows that, currently, only one in eight companies not paying the minimum wage are caught by government inspectors.

What Next After Labours Defeat?

Some optimism in a dark time…

This isn’t about saying “I told you so!” We have close friends and solid comrades who put their faith and energy into Corbyn and the Labour party. We have nothing but sympathy and condolences for them. The loss of hope must feel like a bereavement. We’re sorry, collectively, for the anguish that millions of people are feeling today.

Guides for getting organised

The Stuff Your Boss doesn't want you to know Knowing about the main workplace rights is the first step to getting organised. Find out about your righs at work from here.
The Stuff Your Sexist Boss doesn't want you to know Sexism is present in most workplaces - find out how we can organise to fight back against it!
SF workplace training The Solidarity Federation workplace organiser training programme is designed to give workers the tools and confidence to organise in their workplaces. You may find the direct action based approach we adopt offers a fresh perspective.

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