The need to help the people of Ukraine should not blind us to the fact that there is no such thing as a just war. There are only wars in which ruling elites use ordinary people like pawns to be sacrificed to meet their immediate interests.
Manchester SolFed is the local of the Solidarity Federation covering Greater Manchester.
WHAT IS GOING ON?
The University and College Union (UCU) is on strike at your institution from Monday the 28th to Wednesday the 2nd. The National Union of Students (NUS) has also called a student strike on the 2nd.
The strikes need your support. The best way to help us win is to stay out of university today.
WHY SHOULD I SUPPORT THE STRIKE?
Teachers’ working conditions are your learning conditions. Many of us will go on to work in education too, so this is directly in our interests.
Lecturers’ pay has fallen by 20%.
One third of academic staff are on precarious, short-term contracts.
Women university workers are still paid less than men, and more likely to be on these precarious contracts.
Non-white staff are also paid less than their white counterparts, and face similar issues.
Yesterday there were two demonstrations in Manchester. Firstly an anti-war Demo and a save the NHS demo
Unite has suspended today’s strike by First Manchester bus drivers after the company made an improved offer in the dispute over pay.
Action planned for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday have also been suspended while Unite ballots its 300+ members on the new offer. If it is accepted the dispute will have ended. If members reject the offer then strikes already scheduled for February 15, 17, 18, 21 and 25 will go ahead as planned.
Strike action began last month in the dispute over low rates of pay. The strike action was highly effective causing considerable disruption to bus services across Greater Manchester.
While bumbling Boris continues to lie through his teeth in a desperate attempt to cling to his job, the reality behind all his triumphalist talk has yet again been exposed in a new report by the Resolution Foundation.
Over the last few weeks, Johnson has repeatedly claimed that, thanks to his efforts, unemployment is now lower than before the start of the pandemic. The study by the Resolution Foundation did support Johnson's claim that unemployment levels were slightly lower but as ever with Johnson it is only half the story. The report also found that many young workers were made unemployed during the lockdown and once lockdown rules were relaxed, they could only find work in insecure jobs.
Bus drivers employed by First Manchester have announced fresh strike action in their dispute over pay. The new dates for industrial action are a direct consequence of the company’s failure to make an improved offer to resolve the dispute. The new days for strike action are January 31, February 1, 4, 7, 8, 9, 15, 17, 18, 21, 23 and 25. In effect, the 300+ Unite members will be striking for three days a week next month.
The dispute is in regards to pay and First Manchester’s refusal to honour the anniversary date of August 1 (when the pay increase for 2021 was due to come into effect) and to backdate the pay increase from this date. Bus drivers are also unhappy about a new roster system the company is attempting to impose.
As the ‘partygate’ row reaches fever pitch, it’s worth putting things into context. Politicians and their various hangers on in the media may be getting a touch overexcited but, in the end, what does it really matter? If Johnson goes or stays, in a few months’ time it will be all be forgotten and the whole circus will have moved on to the next big issue.
The whole point is that the Westminster bubble is totally detached from the day to day lives of ordinary people. Sure, issues like ‘partygate’ do, to use the phrase so beloved of political commentators, “cut through” to ordinary voters because they expose just how obnoxious and arrogant the current Tory Westminster elite truly are. This may cause people to engage with the political process briefly, but once the circus has moved on, they will be back to worrying about day to day issues that affect them directly.
Around two thousand people attended the Kill the Bill demo in Manchester. Though in past demos attempts have been made to block the metro this time it was not possible due to the heavy police presence.
The 10 richest men in the world have seen their global wealth double to $1.5tn (£1.01tn) since the start of the global pandemic following a surge in share and property prices that has widened the gap between rich and poor, according to a report from Oxfam
The charity said the incomes of 99% of the world’s population had reduced from March 2020 to October 2021, when Elon Musk, the founder of the electric car company Tesla, and the other nine richest billionaires had been collectively growing wealthier by $1.3bn a day.
It is estimated that by 2030, 3.3 billion people will be living on less than $5.50 per day
A TUC study found that in December more than 267,800 workers in private firms were self-isolating with minimal sick pay or no sick pay at all.
The reason for this is not hard to discern, given that the UK has the least generous statutory sick pay in Europe, worth just £96.35 a week. And even this poultry amount is only available to employees earning £120 a week meaning 2 million workers, mostly women, do not qualify. These appalling findings in the TUC study do not include the ever expanding army of casualised workers classed as “workers” or “self-employed” who are also not entitled to statutory sick pay.
The study highlights the fact that two years into the pandemic, we still face a situation where millions of workers, have to choose between breaking the law in regards to isolation and risk spreading Covid or going without any form of income.
If you are facing redundancy it is important you get organised. You should talk to your co-workers and organise a meeting as soon as possible. If necessary meet outside to ensure social distancing. If your workplace is unionised you should contact your union branch. You should also collect phone numbers and other contact details of your co-workers. It is important that everyone keeps in touch throughout the dispute, so consider setting up a WhatsApp group or something similar. Remember, your employer will try to divide you by getting you to compete for any jobs that may be available. Be positive from the outset, stress the need for unity constantly and focus on the failing of the employer.
Get to know your rights
Manchester Solfed supporting the demo against the hostile environment and detention of migrants, organised by Queer Support for Migrants, outside the detention centre at Manchester Airport Yesterday. The action was part of a series of decentralised, local actions taking place last weekend around the country, coordinated around the slogan ‘Solidarity Knows No Borders’
LGBTQ+ people in the UK and across Europe still face discrimination in all aspects of everyday life, according to a survey conducted last month by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA). The survey, the largest of its kind ever conducted, focused on the social experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people in 30 European countries, and found that little progress has been made over the past few years.
Compared with a similar FRA survey from 2012 the number of LGBTQ+ people in the UK who say they have been harassed in the past five years has risen from 55% to 62% - six points higher than the European average. The number of people in the UK who say they have been violently attacked at least once has gone up by nine points.
The government has announced that social distancing can be reduced from two to one metre but only if measures are in place to mitigate the risk. Examples of measures that can be used to mitigate the risk include, consider if the activity needs to continue, working back to back or side to side, screens being fitted to protect workers, only working together at less than two metres apart for short periods and reducing the number of people each person has contact with.
If your employer is making you work within two metres of another person, with no mitigating measures in place, they are breaking the government guidelines.
The government has produced guidelines on what measures employers should be taking to protect workers for the following sectors
From 1 July onwards the government will be introducing a flexible furlough scheme which will apply to all those who were placed on the existing scheme on or before June 10th.
Under the scheme, employers will be able to bring in workers already on furlough on a part-time basis. It will be up to the employer to decide the hours and shift patterns they want people to work to suit the needs of their business. Your employer will pay your full wages for the time you are in work and the government will pay 80% of your wages for the hours where you are not needed.