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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 March 2020

Determined St Mungo's homelessness workers strike for three days

St Mungo's workers on strike - at a safe distance, photo by Paul Kershaw

St Mungo's workers on strike - at a safe distance, photo by Paul Kershaw   (Click to enlarge)

Paul Kershaw, Unite union housing workers' branch

Last minute emails to staff calling on them to suspend strike action because of the coronavirus crisis provoked anger. Of course, workers are concerned about the crisis and the lack of a strategy from management for dealing with it, but they are not impressed with the attempt to weaponise the issue.

Senior managers were deployed to watch picket lines, and workers have been threatened about the consequences for them if they strike. Would it not have been better to concentrate on working with the union to ensure safety? Staff complain about a lack of basics, such as sanitisers and washing facilities, well within management's control, as well as inability to get coronavirus tests for themselves and homeless clients.

Workers are striking because of their boss's decision to go back on an agreement limiting the number of lower-paid (and less well-trained) staff on duty in projects, as well as in opposition to a draconian approach to staff sickness and disciplinaries.

St Mungo's management spent huge sums of the charity's money on legal challenges and a questionable PR firm with which they discussed "eroding" the union. Strikers were pleased to welcome leading councillors from local authorities with big St Mungo's contracts to speak at strike meetings. They expressed support for the strikers and shock at management's brutal tactics.

Unite the Union housing workers' branch works with a number of user groups, and strikers had support from 'Streets Kitchen', a campaign group offering solidarity and practical support for rough sleepers.

Along with Unite housing workers, they are campaigning for proper access to health facilities and shelter for all rough sleepers, including those with no access to public funds.

They call for full funding for the Mildmay hospital which needs an extra 5 million to run at full capacity for a year using its brand new facilities, and use of empty hotel and office space.

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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.

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In The Socialist 18 March 2020:


Workplace news and analysis

Stop Press: postal workers deliver massive strike vote and offer to become additional 'emergency service'

East London bin workers strike to get back unpaid holiday pay

Determined St Mungo's homelessness workers strike for three days


International socialist news and analysis

French local elections: CWI candidate elected

New pamphlet: constituent assemblies and the revolutionary programme


Socialist history

South Africa: 60 years marking the Sharpeville Massacre


Coronavirus

Coronavirus: workers must not pay the price!

Capitalist crisis and corona: Johnson's budget for the bosses

Coronavirus - a workers charter 2020

Coronavirus: socialist planning, not capitalist chaos!

Coronavirus housing emergency - suspend rent and mortgage payments, seize empty homes

PCS union demands better deal for benefits claimants

Councils must break austerity rules

Action needed to protect shop workers and access to essential goods

Coronavirus hospital worker: amazing response from staff - but worst still to come

'Health not profit' strike wave sweeps Italy

United States: private healthcare exposed as Trump throws money at markets

Workers at Lewisham coronavirus hospital walk out after not being paid

Coronavirus - waste processing employers putting us at risk

Bexley bin workers strike over lack of hand sanitiser

Going viral: socialist letters and comments on the coronavirus crisis

Under the microscope: socialist coronavirus news in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Help us fund the Socialist

Stop gentrification of Lea Bridge

Tory student plot defeated at Cardiff uni

Nottingham uni occupation ends

Socialist Students speaking tour

Selling the Socialist


Readers' opinion

TV: Noughts and Crosses


 

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