Manchester SolFed is the local of the Solidarity Federation covering Greater Manchester.

Latest Update 80% wages Governments Job Retention Scheme

There has been some confusion as to which groups of workers can be placed on furlough under the government’s 80% of wages JoB Retention Scheme. For example, we have had reports of workers who have been instructed to isolate themselves for 12 weeks, due to underlying health conditions, being told that they are only entitled to SSP rather than being placed on furlough.  The government has now made clear who can be placed on furlough under the job retention scheme.

As well as those who have been laid off, the following groups of workers can be furloughed and receive 80% of their pay under the scheme:

Shielding Employees

employees who are shielding themselves for 12 weeks in line with public health guidance.

Caring for someone who is shielding

If you need to stay at home with someone who is shielding you can claim under the scheme.

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

A week after the closure of all hospitality business, the workers of Pub Invest Group from Liverpool got bad news.

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 the 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.
During the Coronavirus crisis, we are having the chance of seeing this in many places. Although the Government is offering the coverage of wages through the Job Retention Scheme, some employers just prefer to get rid of people.

The New Rates for the National Minimum Wage from April 2020

All the details of the new national minimum wage, who is covered and how it should be
applied, is set out below. The National Minimum Wage remains pathetically low. The only
thing the National Minimum Wage actually guarantees is that those forced to live off them will
be trapped in a life of permanent poverty. The current coronavirus crisis has shown just how
critical minimum wage workers are to the economy and keeping people safe.

Millions of workers on poverty pay, in the likes care homes, supermarkets and the NHS, are risking their
health to keep society functioning. Once the crisis is passed gross inequality must come to an
end. But that will only come about by people getting organised and fighting back.

Close Down All Non-Essential Industries Now

It is clear that the government is trying to protect the UK economy even if this results in more people dying as a result of coronavirus. At the time of writing, whole swathes of the economy are still operating, putting lives at risk. It is now obvious that, in order to stop the spread of the virus, only those sectors of the economy essential to maintaining the health and wellbeing of society should remain open. Yet the government is refusing to shut down large sections of the economy such as online shopping.

Coronavirus Crisis: The Government has produced more information in regards to the 80% of wages Jobs Retention Scheme including how pay will be calculated. Here are some of the details:

HOW THE SCHEME WORKS

If you and your employer both agree, your employer might be able to keep you on the payroll if they’re unable to operate or have no work for you to do because of coronavirus (COVID-19). This is known as being ‘on furlough’.

Your employer could pay 80% of your wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, up to a monthly cap of £2,500.

You’ll still be paid by your employer and pay taxes from your income. You cannot undertake work for your employer while on furlough. We expect the scheme to be up and running by the end of April.

ARE YOU ELIGIBLE

Any UK employer with a UK bank account will be able to claim, but you must have been on your employer’s PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020. You can be on any type of contract, including a zero-hour contract or a temporary contract. The scheme does not apply to the self-employed.

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.

THE VIRUS OF CAPITALISM

Over the last few days, a post has been circulating on social media identifying capitalism as the virus that needs to be extinguished as dangerous for our health. Of course, it would be untrue to suggest that the coronavirus has somehow been produced by capitalism but we can say that the effects that the virus entails have been exacerbated by the capitalist mode of social organization. The first concerns of the Tories were for the economy, not for people. The economy and profit are what drives them and people’s welfare is only relevant in so far as they can produce for this economy. The very fact that in the UK the last ten years have seen excruciating cuts to social services, the NHS and anything public, including youth clubs and the like, has made it all the harder to respond adequately and quickly to the crisis caused by the virus.

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.

FOR A DECENT PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM

The lamentable state of public transport in the North of the country, not to speak of elsewhere, has even reached the tables of ministerial discussion in the government in London. The fact that Northern Rail has been taken from Arriva and given to the Operator of Last Resort (OLR), as the jargon goes, that is, the state, is a reflection of the decline of our public transport system and the need for a proper solution. Northern Rail was plagued by late and cancelled trains and over-crowding on a scale that if it had been in London would have seen a rapid solution. While privatisation has evidently failed the British public, it cannot be guaranteed that a process of nationalisation will be better – what we can be sure of is that it couldn’t be worse.

THE BIGGEST EDUCATION STRIKE IN HISTORY AND HOW WE CAN WIN IT.

We are in the midst of the country’s biggest university strike ever in a dispute over pensions and the “four fights” of equality, pay, workload and casualization. On the last front, in some universities, there are up to 70% of lecturers who are on hourly paid or fixed term contracts. These are convenient for universities in what has grown to be a highly casualized sector but provide no security for workers who have often trained for up to ten years in their chosen subject. The representation of women and BME workers is also a key issue that the University and College Union is seeking action on. If we consider those in the higher positions of what is a heavily hierarchical university world, most are white and most are male.

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.

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