Comment & opinion

Crisis in care - Sam, Sheffield

I work as a support worker for a private company that provides social care for people in Sheffield for people with learning disabilities and mental health issues. The company I work operates across the city. According to government officials, cuts to public spending will not harm front line services, workers, or service users. The reality of the situation is that working conditions are getting worse, day services are closing down, and those paying for the support services are being excluded from any of the decisions relating to care they supposedly direct and influence.

In short: Floplast, casualisation, Scottish Power, cheap labour, women's strike, equal pay

Floplast bosses show their true colours

Management at Floplast in Bobbing, Kent responded to moves by the workforce to get recognition under the 50% rule by promptly sacking 6 people. Since the new legislation came into force, employers in Britain have been employing law firms to get advice on union busting and intimidating workers. If Floplast get away with it, other bosses will follow suit.

So, send support/solidarity and get action details;
Floplast Workers C/O GPMU Kent Branch, 155 London Rd, Sittingbourne, Kent ME10 1PA
Telephone: 01795 423 993 Fax: 01795 471 791
Also, let Floplast Operations manager Derek Bartrip know what you think - Fax him on 01795 431 188

Casualisation Kills

Steaming turd award

National Temporary Workers' Week was thought up by the ‘Recruitment and Employment Confederation' bosses' club, supposedly ‘to recognise the value of the UK's temporary and flexible workforce', but actually to get their faces in the paper and some free advertising.

Well, here's some free advertising. Workers in Bristol marked the end of National Temporary Workers' Week by presenting corporate giant Manpower with a pile of shit. Bristol Against Casualisation Campaign (BACC) entered the company's plush city centre office to hand over the prestigious ‘golden turd' award, presented to capitalists for crimes against the working class. Arch scumbags Manpower made £1500 million in profits off the back of our labour last year, and with job insecurity and poverty pay spreading like a bad case of impetigo, they were well overdue a visit.

Kasual Killing

Nothing demonstrates the both the inequity rife in Blair's Britain and the true blight of “asylum” seekers than the death of a 47-year-old man in a basement rubbish room of the Café Royal in London. For two years, while the rich dined in opulent splendour upstairs the man lived in the bowels of the hotel behind the rubbish bins.

When his naked and badly bruised body was discovered, police first though he had been murdered, before it was established that he lived naked due to the heat generated by the basement boilers and a post-mortem found that his injuries were consistent with a fall. The man had been an immigrant worker employed by an agency – one of thousands without papers who are forced to work for a pittance in hotels across London.

Temp workers campaign

The Solidarity Federation have been at the forefront of campaigns to support temporary and casual workers. We would like to see these workers better organised and able to resist attacks on, and improve, their pay and conditions. We urge all temporary workers, and those in full time employment to support initiatives such as the Bristol Against Casualisation Campaign.

There are some 1.7 million temporary workers in the UK who make up 7% of the workforce. Capitalism uses temporary workers for their flexibility, in other words they can be exploited easier. Some are employed directly but many are employed through agencies. While the government and employers promote the illusion of choice with temporary working the reality is far different for the vast majority of the temporary workforce.

Service not included

Following our piece on tips in the last issue, The Independent launched a campaign on the same issue. They didn’t credit either us or the trades unions, which have been campaigning on the issue much longer.

This newspaper campaign seems to have had some effect, however. “Government insiders” now claim they will address the issue in the autumn. More significantly, a prominent “Old” Labour figure has admitted delivering restaurant workers into the hands of their exploiters when drafting minimum wage legislation in 1997.

Ian McCartney, ex-trades union official and token ex-prole in the government, admitted that he sold out workers to ensure the agreement of bosses to the minimum wage. While this ex-waiter banned the use of cash tips to top up the minimum wage, he agreed to a legal loophole allowing catering bosses to use “service charges” for the same purpose.

Agency Exploitation

The unions hailed the agreement on equal pay for agency workers “as a victory for union campaigning”. They must be joking. The agreement excludes sick pay and pensions and only guarantees the same pay as permanent staff after twelve week

Dirty dealings at the LSE

At the London School of Economics the cleaning contract is held by ISS, a multinational with lots of privatised cleaning contracts, including the London Underground. The cleaners are mainly Latin American with poor English and a fear of joining a union or speaking out about their lousy pay and conditions.

As a result of a campaign by Justice for Cleaners, the LSE has adopted the London Living Wage which is higher than the National Minimum Wage. However, it was phased in over three years of the new cleaning contract.

Worse, the workers are paying for it. They are currently paid £6 per hour but staffing has been cut and they have to work harder. This has affected standards of cleaning - management blame the new contract for mice in the Library.

Report back from IWA conference in León, Spain

Three delegates from the Solidarity Federation attended the conference mainly dealing with 'precarity', self-management and co-operatives. The conference was hosted at the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo's IX anarchist camp near León in northern Spain.

There were about 100 people at the camp and 60 participants in the conference. Ten sections were represented: CNT-F (France), FAU (Germany), Priama Akcia (Slovakia), ZSP (Poland), SolFed (Britain), SP (Portugal), USI (Italy), KRAS (Russia), NSF (Norway) and of course the CNT-E (Spain). There were also two guest organisations: MASA from Croatia and two delegates from the Peruvian newspaper La Humanidad, who however arrived several hours after closure of the conference due to immigration/visa problems.