The latest news and analysis from SF locals

Support the Higher Education Workers Strike - Refuse to Cross Picket Lines!

The University and College Union (UCU) is continuing its action in defence of fair pensions and fair working conditions. Staff will be on strike in February and March in relation to both the pension dispute and the “Four Fights” (pay,  workload, casualization, structural inequality). 

The Solidarity Federation Education Union (SFEU) supports this action because… 

● University 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. 

● BAME and staff who are People of Colour are also often paid less than their white counterparts. 

● Pensions are under threat. 

Unemployment: The Reality Behind Boris Johnsons Lies

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.

Student SolFed Members Support the UCU strikes

Starting on Wednesday 1st December, 58 branches of UCU (University and College Union) went on strike for 3 days over issues surrounding pensions, pay, working conditions and pay gaps. A group of SolFed members who are students at Sussex University attended the picket line and took part in direct action in support of all staff who were on strike.

The strike began with a big demonstration and march around the campus, ending at Sussex House - the university’s management building. We attended and waved our red and black flag, asserting an anarcho-syndicalist presence among the students.

Support Striking Bus Drivers Boycott First Manchester Buses

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.

Partygate: Shock Horror Boris Johnson Tells Lies

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.

COVID: World’s 10 richest men see their wealth double during Covid pandemic

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

 

TUC study finds that more than 250,000 workers self-isolating without adequate or no sick pay

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.