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The latest news and analysis from SF locals

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.

Manchester & Salford Anarchist Book Fare

Manchester SolFed out leafleting for the Manchester and Salford Anarchist Book Fair this Saturday 7th December at the People's History Museum 10.00 to 1600

Sorry, the program of the Labour Party is just not that radical!

Given all the hype emanating from much of the left about the wonders of the Labour Manifesto, it is hard not to get carried away. After watching the latest uplifting interview with Labor’s John Mcdonnell you can suddenly find yourself unconsciously humming “oh Jeramy Corbyn” as you set about washing the dishes. Given all this hype, it is perhaps then worth having a bit of a reality check and assessing what the Labour Party is actually promising should they get elected.

Labour is promising to increase overall public spending from the current level of 38% of national income to 43.3%. Though billed as almost revolutionary, this increase is fairly moderate when compared with much of Europe, for example, in Sweden public spending amounts to 48.4%  of national income, Italy 48.8% and France a wapping 55.7%.

Company Targeted Low Income Elderly People to Mis-sell Funeral Plans

Staff at a call centre where customers were described as “gazelles” to be hunted have been subjecting, low income, elderly people, to dozens of calls a week to sell them expensive funeral packages. The company, Prosperous Life,  based in Stockport, Greater Manchester, sells more than 1,000 pre-paid funeral plans every month. Staff at the company report that they are put under pressure to push people to sign up for schemes with little regard for their income.

Prosperous Life runs a workplace culture inspired by The Wolf of Wall Street movie, as a means to pressurise staff into mis-selling funeral plans to vulnerable people. Staff were encouraged to refer to themselves as “lions” and potential customers as “gazelles”. A life-sized cardboard cutout of Leonardo DiCaprio as the disgraced fraudster Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street movie was placed in the office.

G4Lets rent strike: tenants successfully regain their deposits

This summer, over a dozen G4Lets tenants successfully withheld their final month’s rent payment to claim back their tenancy deposit. G4Lets are notorious deposit thieves, usually taking most or all of a deposit for dubious and inflated charges that take months to challenge through their chosen deposit protection scheme, MyDeposits.

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