Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1077/30421
From The Socialist newspaper, 11 March 2020
News in brief
Amazon warehouse jungle
photos reynermedia, Steve Jurvetson, Scott Lewis, all CC, photo reynermedia, Steve Jurvetson, Scott Lewis, all CC (Click to enlarge)
Hundreds of injuries have taken place at Amazon warehouses in Britain in the past three years. The GMB union says that one worker at a London site was left unconscious after a head injury and stopped breathing. And figures show it's getting worse.
Amazon employs over 27,000 workers in the UK. Between 2016 and 2019, 622 serious injuries were reported, including five 'near misses'. Serious injuries are those severe enough to stop someone doing their normal job for seven days.
Workers at Amazon are paid £9.50 an hour. It would take them around 203 hours to match the £1,925 Amazon boss Jeff Bezos earns every second - safely sat in his plush office, lounging around in his mansion or sunning himself on a yacht, away from his company's dangerous warehouses.
Boris's 'golden age'
Boris Johnson's Queen's Speech in December bragged of a "golden age for the UK." The prime minister also pledged to upgrade workers' rights as part of a Tory Brexit.
The reality is a million miles away from this nonsense. After a decade of Tory-led governments, job security has never been more precarious.
The latest official figures from the Office for National Statistics show almost one million workers are now on zero-hour contracts - the highest on record. This figure represents a year-on-year increase of 130,000, or 15.4%.
And who benefits from this burgeoning business model? Not zero-hour workers - who worry about whether they'll have enough hours work to earn sufficient wages to pay the rent and household bills.
No, the only beneficiaries are the bosses, who can 'hire and fire' at will without the overhead of workers' rights. This is the "golden age" Boris hails - a golden age of Dickensian capitalism!
Zero-hour contracts with associated low pay, and the absence of other employment rights, must be fought. The best way to do that is through the trade unions.
In fact, late last year, members of the PCS union working for a private employer at government offices in central London secured the London Living Wage, increased sick leave, and paid holidays, as well as union recognition, by taking indefinite strike action over many weeks.
Currently, members of the University and College Union are striking to end casualisation, among other demands (see page 8). End zero-hour contracts - support the UCU strikers!
Floody stupid planning
Following the disastrous floods in Britain, 11,410 new homes are to be built in areas at high risk of flooding. One-tenth of all new homes in England since 2013 were built in the highest-risk areas, Guardian analysis has found.
Callous course cuts
The Tories are removing funding for 5,000 education courses. Their justification is that very few people have enrolled in the qualifications to be cut.
But many are specialist certificates for people with physical or learning disabilities. One course for the chop is for people with visual impairment to work in therapeutic and spa industries. It's never going to have big numbers enrolling, but it's crucial for those who do.
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Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal
The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.
The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.
The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.
- The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
- Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.
In The Socialist 11 March 2020:
Coronavirus: Full NHS funding now
Coronavirus infects the world economy
Flybe collapse: nationalise to save jobs threatened by Covid-19 and downturn
Coronavirus: international cooperation needed, not capitalist competition
Supermarkets are ruled by profit - unions should control supply limits
For full pay during isolation: for public health as well as workers' wallets
Self-isolation patients speak: NHS facilities and advice not up to it
Italy on lockdown: lack of resources and democracy causes panic
South Korea shows capitalism has money to respond to coronavirus
Coronavirus news in brief
Domestic Violence bill: We still need to fight to save our services
News in brief
Postal workers mobilise to win strike reballot
Homerton Hospital workers fight for sick pay
Fighting to transform the union in my warehouse
Argos workers in Sainsbury's stores threatened with losing collective bargaining
Homeless charity workers to strike against intransigent management
Southampton trade unionists say "defend the right to strike!"
Strong support for PCS Broad Left Network
East London uni and bin worker strikes
How can Trump be ousted from the White House?
Campaigns and party news
Salford 'no-cuts' budget includes cuts and tax rises
Stoke council unions beat pay cuts - now let's stop all cuts
Is there an anti-cuts rebellion in Scotland?
Socialist Party joins International Women's Day protests
Housing workers explain reality to idiot Boris Johnson
Swansea: Ask anyone about state of services, you will hear the real story
Camarthenshire: Councillors' 'walk of shame'
Student occupation in support of striking workers
Selling the Socialist
Socialist Party executive committee positions
Greece-Turkey border refugee crisis
Women's and trans rights
Women's rights, trans rights and the labour movement
Film: Greed directed by Michael Winterbottom
Childcare - costly, inadequate and hard work
Book: Why you should be a trade unionist by Unite general secretary Len McCluskey
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