Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1084/30697

From The Socialist newspaper, 28 April 2020

Workers fighting to defend safety and livelihoods - NSSN national meeting a huge success

‘Remember the dead and fight for the living’ - protest for International Workers’ Memorial Day in Southampton hospital

‘Remember the dead and fight for the living’ - protest for International Workers’ Memorial Day in Southampton hospital   (Click to enlarge)

Over 200 members and reps from many different trade unions came together on Zoom on Sunday 26 April to discuss the impact of the coronavirus crisis on workers. Organised by the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN), the meeting highlighted how workers are organising to defend safety and livelihoods during the corona crisis.

Rob Williams, NSSN national chair, opened by stating: "Our attitude is that workers should have no dilution of their pay and conditions, they should have full pay if they are unable to work. Workers cannot pay the price for this pandemic further down the road." "Workers must have control of workplace safety."

Lack of PPE

The lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was consistently raised in the meeting. Over 120 health and social care workers have died since this crisis began, and also many transport workers. Health worker Roger Davey, a member of Unison union, described how the fragmentation of the NHS had resulted in an inability to plan.

Shaun from Reel News reported that to mark International Workers' Memorial Day on 28 April, health workers at St. Thomas and Guy's Hospital had agreed to go beyond the one-minute silence called by unions and stay out for 30 minutes in a socially distanced rally, calling for PPE for all key workers, and for all non-essential work to be shut down for the day.

Moe, a London bus driver and member of the Unite union, highlighted that bus driver deaths were completely avoidable. Thanks to a rank-and-file campaign, which Moe was instrumental in organising, workers won measures to seal off the front doors and cut the risk of infection to bus drivers. As a result, travel on London buses is now largely free.

Many reported that workers were organising walkouts using section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. A shop steward in the engineering industry said: "We stood our guys down for two days, and on the third day we had our company come crying to us and say 'you're right it is unsafe.' It emboldened our members having the company come to us." "We have a lot of engineers furloughed and they're on 100% pay."

He explained how workers had drawn up a seven-point safety assessment plan to put to management, starting from when workers' left home to go to work. If workers are in work, there should be daily reports on safety to the health and management team.

Martin Powell-Davies of the National Education Union (NEU) stated that there must be no return to work in schools unless there is a national agreement. Working-class communities are under pressure, but most parents, including key workers, know it's not safe. 200,000 have signed the NEU's petition to open schools only when it is safe.

Onay Kasab, a Unite organiser in London, gave inspiring reports of victories that had been won: 100% pay at Woolwich ferries; Hackney parking attendants winning a four-day week with five days' pay and concessions on safety; workers at Newham waste services obtaining £24-a-day hazard pay. The union didn't just quote section 44 and leave it up to members, said Kas, but made the union position clear.

Bea, a University and College Union (UCU) activist in Southampton, described how, as a zero-hour contract worker, she had to fight "tooth and nail" for herself and other precarious university staff to be guaranteed payment of their wages until the end of the academic year.

Capitalists profit

Members of Usdaw, the retail and distribution union, reported that retail bosses were disregarding social-distancing measures to maximise sales which had cost members' lives. Supermarkets saw an extra £2 billion in sales in March alone. Tesco saved £585 million due to business rates relief. The money is there to pay supermarket workers a wage that reflects their status as key workers, which can be won if fought for by the membership.

This May Day the NSSN will be supporting the campaign to wave red flags and wear red to celebrate International Workers' Day. Patrick Mulholland from the Nipsa public service union in Northern Ireland explained how the campaign was initiated there after the Irish Trade Union Congress cancelled the normal May Day celebrations. He also spoke about how the Gardaí (Irish police) were used against Debenhams' workers protesting, observing social distancing, against redundancies in the south of Ireland.

Closing the meeting Rob Williams emphasised the need for collective action, concluding that "the time to fight is now."

Donate to the Socialist Party

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.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation £

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 28 April 2020:


Coronavirus news

Workers' safety before bosses' profits

Dispatches from the front: PPE chaos goes on

Private firm causes weeks of delay to free school meal vouchers: bring it back in-house!


Lessons from history

No return to the 1930s: World War Two and 'a land fit for heroes'


May Day

May Day 2020: join the protests - wear red, bring flags and banners

130 Years of May Day in Britain: Fight for workers' rights more relevant than ever

May Day greetings pull out 2020


Workplace news

Workers fighting to defend safety and livelihoods - NSSN national meeting a huge success

Civil servants in Paisley protest after Covid outbreak

Irish police use Covid-19 emergency powers to disperse Dublin shop workers' protest

B&M Bargains management puts profit before safety

Schools: No return without a national union agreement that guarantees safety!

Unions must organise throughout crisis

Waltham Forest trade unions discuss the fight for PPE and workplace safety

Woolwich ferry - workers secure 100% furlough agreement

ISS workers' pay victory


Organising during coronavirus

Should the Socialist still be produced during the Corona crisis? An exchange with Mark Serwotka about sales of the Socialist

Coronavirus crisis finance appeal

Adding demands to the weekly claps


Readers' opinion

Going viral: Socialist comments and letters


 

Home   |   The Socialist 28 April 2020   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Coronavirus:

triangleWe need union action, not platitudes!

triangleTories' school meals outrage

triangleLockdown: suspicion and anger

triangle'Firebreak' lockdown fails to protect workers

triangleHealth before profit - Work or full pay

Workers:

triangleConflict in Ethiopia: ethnic-linguistic divisions are the historical product of capitalist inequality

triangleFast fashion, big profits, low pay

triangleSocialist Inbox

triangleHackney: Stop plan to halve school support staff!

NSSN:

triangleLobbying for a lead from the TUC

triangleNSSN rally: Workers must not pay the price of Covid

triangleDemand a fightback from the TUC and unions

Union:

triangleDon't let the festive season be one of misery for retail workers

triangleEast London teachers strike in support of victimised union rep

Pay:

triangleNHS: Underfunded, understaffed, underpaid

Health:

triangleReview: Friedrich Engels - Condition of the working class in England

Unite:

triangle

Heathrow workers strike against 'fire and rehire' plans

May Day:

triangleA CWI May Day 2020 statement

NEU:

triangleLittle Ilford school strike stands firm - council must use reserves!

Rob Williams:

triangleTate strike: "Coronavirus - no reason to fire us!"

Onay Kasab:

triangleAnger as London local authorities bulldoze through powers to discipline workers

National Shop Stewards Network:

triangleIkea day of action

Martin Powell-Davies:

triangleAction on Covid transmission in schools now

National Education Union:

triangleCampaign for school Covid safety must continue

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

2/12/20

Retail

Arcadia and Debenhams closures: Nationalise to save jobs and pensions

2/12/20

Wales

Wales TUSC plans to mount an electoral challenge

2/12/20

Manchester

Rent strikers' victory in student halls

2/12/20

Austerity

Unions must resist return to austerity

2/12/20

Covid

Better for billionaires. Worse for workers

2/12/20

Carbon

'Building back greener' - yet more Tory greenwash

2/12/20

Poverty

Scotland: Campaign wins end to period poverty

2/12/20

NHS

NHS: Underfunded, understaffed, underpaid

2/12/20

Engels

Review: Friedrich Engels - Condition of the working class in England

2/12/20

Ethiopia

Conflict in Ethiopia: ethnic-linguistic divisions are the historical product of capitalist inequality

2/12/20

Low pay

Fast fashion, big profits, low pay

2/12/20

TV

TV: The Social Dilemma

2/12/20

Football

Diego Maradona - Working-class rebel, football genius

2/12/20

Socialist

Socialist Inbox

2/12/20

Labour

Labour meeting lets MP get away with 'Spycops' abstention

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


December 2020

November 2020

October 2020

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999