Manchester SolFed is the local of the Solidarity Federation covering Greater Manchester.

Care Workers and the Sleep-in Crisis at Tipping Point

Care workers employed by care provider Alternative Futures Group (AFG) have recently voted on industrial action in a Unison organised ballot over the long-running, sleep-in dispute. Ballots have now been counted, and 87.4% voted to strike on a 51.5% turnout.

Unison has also recently sent out consultative ballots to members of another large care provider, Lifeways Group. The long running exploitation and financial abuse of workers in the care sector by their employers is finally starting to get attention, and care workers are saying “enough is enough”.

The sleep-in dispute has been going on for some years and revolves around sleep-in shifts, where a care worker will stay overnight at work in a person’s home or in a care home, in case they are needed in the night. Typically, they will sleep in an office or spare room, and be available to work whenever called on.

Solidarity Federation: Women Oriented Workplace Training

Last Saturday, the Solidarity Federation organised its first women oriented workplace organiser training course. The training is based on the SolFed’s general workplace organiser training course, but adapted to concentrate on the issues and problems faced by women in the workplace.

The training focuses on direct action, rather than offering a legalistic approach to workplace organising, the aim being to set out how women can come together and organise their own action to improve their lives. Particular attention is paid in the course to the impact the women's role within the home has on their working lives, an area largely ignored by the traditional unions.

Manchester SolFed organised our fourth picket in support of six Brighton tenants

On Saturday 19th January Manchester SolFed organised our fourth picket in support of six Brighton tenants. We picketed the Skipton Building society branch on Market Street in the centre of Manchester. Brighton SolFed’s public campaign against Fox & Sons has now been extended to their parent company, Skipton Building Society. With Fox & Sons still refusing to compensate the six tenants whose tenancy they cancelled five days after it was supposed to start, leaving them with nowhere to live, Brighton SF contacted David Cutter, the chief executive of Skipton, and Gary Morton of their lettings branch Connells, to demand that they resolve the issue. Both Mr Cutter and Mr Morton refused to do so, meaning that Brighton SF on  Saturday 19th January extended the campaign to pickets of Skipton branches across the country. 

As far as capitalism goes greed is still very much good!

After the collapse of Carillion, anyone with a modicum of common sense could see that the policy of outsourcing is, shall we say, just slightly problematic. But not the free market crazies currently running the country. It has now emerged that the lifetime value of outsourcing contracts awarded in 2017-18 rocketed by 53%, from £62bn to £95bn, with nearly £2bn in contracts being awarded to Capita and Interservice, despite both recently issuing profit warnings.

Manchester SolFed Organises a Further Picket in Support of 6 Brighton Tenants

On Saturday 12th Jan Manchester SolFed picketed Skipton Building Society in support of 6 Brighton tenants. The tenants have been organising with Brighton SolFed after being treated appallingly by the Brighton letting agency, Fox and Sons. The company,  Fox and Sons, is owned by the Connells group,  one of the largest estate agency and property services providers in the UK, which last year made £104.2m in profits. In turn, the Connells group is owned by the ever so friendly - we do not have shareholders - Skipton Building Society. Saturday's picket was part of an escalation of the dispute with pickets taking place in Bristol, Manchester and Brighton in support of the 6 tenants
For more information on the dispute see our previous post or go to http://www.brightonsolfed.org.uk/

Household debt growing at an alarming rate as incomes fall

Britain’s household debt mountain has reached a new peak, with UK homes now owing an average of £15,385 to credit card firms, banks and other lenders, according to the TUC.

The study found that household debt rose sharply in 2018 as years of austerity and wage stagnation forced households to increase their borrowing.

The TUC said in its annual report on the nation’s finances that the amounts owed by British households rose to a combined £428bn in the third quarter of 2018. Each household owed £886 more than it did 12 months previously, it said. The figures do not include outstanding mortgage debts but do include student loans.

More bad news from the World Bank

Following on from our recent post on the World Bank and climate change comes more bad news from the Bank. In the World Bank’s flagship 2019 World Development Report, entitled the Changing Nature of Work, the  Bank argues for wide-ranging deregulation of labour; deemed necessary to prepare countries for the changing nature of work. The report sets out a nice cosy capitalist future under which firms will be relieved of the burden of contributing to social security, have the flexibility to pay wages as low as they think fit and have the power to fire people at will.

Top executives earn more in 3 days than most of us earn in a year!

Calculations by the High Pay Centre thinktank and the professional HR body the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) show top executives are earning 133 times more than the average worker, at a rate of around £1,020 per hour or £3.9m annually. That’s up 11% compared to a year earlier.

It means CEOs working average 12-hour days would only have to clock in for 29 hours in 2019 to earn the median £29,574 of British staff.

Manchester SF Support Brighton Tenants

Last weekend, Manchester and Liverpool Solidarity Federation organised pickets in support of  6 Brighton student tenants. The tenants have been organising with Brighton SolFed after being treated appallingly by the Brighton letting agency, Fox and Sons. Treatment which led to the 6 students being made temporarily homeless. 


Manchester SF picketed Gascoigne Halmon estate agents, while Liverpool picket Jones & Chapman, both are sister companies of Fox and sons. All three companies are owned by  Connells group,  one of the largest estate agency and property services providers in the UK, which last year made £104.2m in profits. In turn, the Connells group is owned by the ever so friendly - we do not have shareholders - Skipton Building Society.

Why the World Banks announcement that they are making $200 billion available to help fight climate change may not be such good news after all!

The World Bank announced this week that it is to make about $200bn available to fund action on climate change. In making the announcement,  Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank, stated: “This is about putting countries and communities in charge of building a safer, more climate-resilient future.” The announcement has been greeted with universal approval with many arguing that the Bank is taking a strong lead and sending a strong signal to private sector financiers.

Kick The Fascists Off Our Streets!

 

The EDL are now planning to march in the centre of Manchester on Sat 20th October. After growing and widespread opposition across the city the EDL were forced to abandon their planned national march to 'shut down' Didsbury mosque. Instead, they now intend to march in the centre of Manchester.

Join the protest, stop the march meet at 12.30 Piccadilly Gardens on 20th Oct.

STAND UP TO MENCAP! STOP THEM DRIVING DOWN PAY!

The  Bristol Care Workers Network will be organising a protest against Mencap in Bristol at 12:00 on October 27th. Manchester SolFed will be organising a picket in support.

Mencap have gone to court to demand that the government overturns it’s recent ruling on pay for sleeping shifts. Because of Mencap, millions of low-paid workers will now be denied the minimum wage for their sleep shifts.

This has come at a time when non-payment of the minimum wage is at it’s worst ever level. The care sector is already one of the worst affected. Even for workers who are paid legally, studies have shown that it is almost impossible to make a living on the minimum wage. And now, Mencap want to make it even harder for workers to get the minimum wage.

SMASH IPP FUNDRAISER


The Smash IPP Benefit is only a few days away. The fun starts at 7.30pm in Manchester city centre, please call 07857 945846 on the day to find out the location.

Acts confirmed include:

Pasta Hull - psychedelic funk hip hop rock concoction and the most exciting up and coming band in Wales (https://pastahull.bandcamp.com)

Buff – anarcho space punk from Manchester (buff.bandcamp.com)

Ruff Trade – reggae straight outta Gorton (rufftradereggae.com)

Afshan D'souza-Lodhi - writer and activist (afshanlodhi.com)
Madz - beatbox street performer (https://youtu.be/-IYTTrIRv7E)

Plus bar, DJs, short films and a raffle with the chance to win some special prizes. Entry is by donation.

Workplace Organiser Training Day

The Solidarity Federation will be holding a workplace organiser training day in Manchester on November 24th. The training is based on a direct action approach to organising rather than looking to use employment laws to resolve workplace issues. No experience of workplace organising is necessary and the training takes place in a fun and friendly atmosphere. So if you are interested in organising your workplace, or just want to learn about the organising process, this course is a great way to make a start.

For more information, or if you have any questions or queries, please get in touch at training@solfed.org.uk
 

Manchester Solidarity Federation Concluded Its Dispute With Fortis Student Lettings

Manchester Solidarity Federation concluded its dispute with Fortis Student Lettings in July. The dispute ended positively with the four tenants involved receiving a total of £832.00 in compensation. We have delayed issuing this statement until after confirmation of the compensation payments.

Before our involvement, the four tenants' complaints had been ignored; they found themselves being passed from pillar to post; their efforts to speak directly to Fortis managers were invariably met with claims that the person was not available; in some cases, these overseas students were met with what could most kindly be described as insulting claims by Fortis staff that they cannot could not understand them.

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