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Reduced Life = Reduced Work (The Work/Life Balance)

Applause is lauded at NHS workers; ideas for re-compensation; a daily service supplement; an increased hourly rate; even a medal for working during the pandemic. Many of us in the NHS work shifts - day and night - throughout the year. It is not just a virus that killing us, our shift work is too. The World Health Organisation declared in 2007 that shift work is probably carcinogenic (Straif et al 2007 #1). Studies such as Gu et al (2015 #2) have shown us that shift work, especially nights increases our risks of cardio vascular disease, mental health issues, lower immunity, cancer and ultimately our mortality.

Rather than working our life away for minimal financial compensation would we not rather have our life given back? Striking a better work / life balance: a reduced working week without being financially penalised.

Donning and Doffing - on the front lines

Mask on, seal over the nose to stop glasses misting up so much. Apron on (always easier with gloves on), feels flimsy especially in the wind, doesn’t feel like it will protect much. Visor on or is the patient low risk? How many more times am I going to put this all on?The beginning of shift routine is to check if we have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This involves checking stores, asking managers, raiding dormant ambulances. As relief staff (not on a fixed shift pattern) you go to different stations. Each station has differing policies; some have personal issue PPE, some are ambulance specific. As relief you end up pilfering PPE to protect yourself as you might end up without.

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.

Women who clean at home or at work face the same risk as smoking 20 cigarettes a day

New research has again highlighted the dangers posed to health from the use of chemicals used in cleaning. Disturbingly, the research has found that the use of cleaning products has an impact on lung health comparable with smoking a pack of cigarettes every day. This latest evidence adds to the urgent need for a fundamental review of how, as a society, we carry out cleaning, not just in the workplace but also in the home. The research has also again highlighted the dangers faced by women in particular from the use of chemicals used in cleaning.

Is Your Cleaning Job Killing You?

Cleaners have a vital role in society, yet their job is poorly paid and routinely dismissed as a job carried out mainly by women to earn a bit of extra cash; cleaning is not generally seen as a particularly physically hard or dangerous job, many people see it as involving a bit of dusting, mopping and hoovering.

Train strike: It’s Not Just About Pushing Buttons

The recent strikes by conductors and train drivers - members of the RMT and ASLEF unions - have been the biggest railway strikes in decades.

As a local, Brighton SolFed has been supporting the local striking members. Our support has been through the attendance of pickets, and organising a benefit gig; to raise money for the local strike fund, and, most importantly, to show solidarity and get workers across industries together.

If you only read media reports, this would seem to be a simple dispute regarding who merely pushes a button to open the train doors.

Really, this is about our safety.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is the company that owns the privatised Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern, and Thameslink railway operators.

How we win, not just what we win

I've not got much experience of organising, and I work in an industry where it's rare for people to be unionised (IT). But I did win some small victories at my last workplace (mostly thanks to SolFed's workplace organiser training) and like they say, the best way to learn is by trying! This is a report on two of those victories - blocking an attempt to give us unpaid overtime, and improving health and safety. Things were easier because we were all on permanent contracts and couldn't be replaced quickly, but harder because no-one else had much knowledge of unions or organising and because we worked in a small open-plan office where it was hard to talk without the boss overhearing.

In memory of Cameron Minshull

Greater Manchester Hazards Centre and Families Against Corporate Killers statement on the death of Cameron Minshull, 16, at an engineering company in Bury, Thursday 10th January 2013.

WE are so very sad for Cameron Minshull, who was only 16 years old when he was killed at an engineering company in Bury, where he had worked as an apprentice for only a matter of weeks. We would like to send our condolences to his family who are naturally devastated.

Blacklist Support Group statement on Crossrail

It is a disgrace that public funds are being spent on blacklisting trade unionists on the Crossrail project. 

Workers have been dismissed from the largest construction project in Europe for raising safety concerns about high voltage cables and for joining the UNITE union. For nearly 3 months there have been daily protests about blacklisting on Crossrail and the firms involved have constantly denied that it is taking place.

On Tuesday Ian Kerr, chief officer of the Consulting Association blacklisting organisation told MPs that his members had talked at length about Crossrail during meetings to discuss the list: "An awful lot of discussion took place at Consulting Association meetings about the Crossrail project.'

Workers Memorial Day in Waltham Forest

Members of SolFed who live and work in Waltham Forest attended the Workers Memorial Day rally at Walthamstow Town Hall, the council's administration centre of a borough that saw two deaths last year.

Workers Memorial Day is a day of global action held every April 28th to remember those killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work. Waltham Forest Trades Council and Unison Waltham Forest organised two events to mark Workers Memorial Day this year.

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