Sunak’s windfall tax barely touches energy bosses’ billion pound profits

Posted on: May 26th, 2022 by TTE No Comments
A picture of a petrol station sign showing high prices to illustrate a story about Sunak's windfall tax

Oil and gas companies have made billions. Sunak’s windfall tax isn’t a huge threat to them

Fear of losing votes, collapsing energy firms and anger in society has forced Rishi Sunak to promise some action on the soaring costs of gas and electricity. But the one-off payments are far less than are needed. They won’t stop a rise in poverty, cold, malnutrition and deaths later this year.

Chancellor Sunak told the House of Commons on Thursday that more than eight million households will receive a one-off payment of £650. This includes those on universal credit and tax credits. The first part will come in July and the second in the autumn. 

Separately, to those pensioners who receive winter fuel payments, the government will provide a £300 one-off payment. The six million people who receive disability benefits will receive a one-off payment of £150 from September.

The move is a shift from standing aside and saying that nothing can be done, as Sunak claimed when inflation rose to 11 percent a week earlier. It’s surely no coincidence that the announcement came 24 hours after Boris Johnson’s empty apology over partygate. 

But the package does no more than partly offset—for some—a coming further surge in bills. Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of regulator Ofgem, told MPs this week he was on course to raise the cap on household energy bills by over £800 in October. 

It will mean that energy prices this year are rising 23 times faster than wages, and 38 times faster than benefits. Ofgem already increased the cap on average bills by £693 in April to £1,971. Such an increase will more than wipe out Sunak’s announcement today for millions of people. If your bills go up £800 and you have £650 to help pay it, you are still much worse off. 

It’s not just fuel that’s going up. So are food, rents, transport and much more. There’s no payment to cover those. And then there are the people who earn too much to be on benefits. It doesn’t mean they are well off. 

They will be left only with a £400 payment that’s promised to all households. This is actually an additional £200 as it’s a doubling of the previously announced energy bill rebate, although it won’t have to be repaid.

Just £400 is nowhere near enough to stop the pain of price rises. Behind all the figures is a simple truth. These payments are always reported as supporting “vulnerable people”. In reality, they are designed to maintain the profits of the privatised energy firms that would otherwise face an epidemic of forced non-payment. That would mean some of the companies would collapse.

Sunak’s package is actually a profits support package.bHe said part of the cost would be covered by a Temporary Targeted Energy Profits Levy. The convoluted name is a desperate effort to avoid saying the words windfall tax that he had repeatedly rejected.

Sunak said the windfall tax “will be charged on oil and gas company profits at a rate of 25 percent and is expected to raise around £5 billion in its first 12 months”. That might sound a lot, but it’s loose change to the fossil fuel giants.

Shell made £7.3 billion just in the first three months of the year. It immediately handed £4.3 billion to shareholders. BP recorded almost £5 billion profit in the same time period. Together Shell and BP are on track to grab nearly £50 billion profit this year. The windfall tax is a tenth of that.

To ensure the figure is low, Sunak said that oil and gas companies that invest will get tax relief on 80 percent of that spending. That will be a bonanza for accountants to work out ways to protect companies’ loot. And why isn’t there a tax on all the other firms making massive profits such as the supermarkets?

In any case a one-off tax leaves in place the profit-delivering machine of the privatised energy market. Any genuine move to deliver affordable fuel and a sustainable future has to be based on democratic public ownership, not leaving the fat cats in charge. 

The Labour Party is revelling in the Tories’ embarrassment of adopting big elements of a policy that Keir Starmer put forward weeks ago. The Scottish National Party has also dropped its previous boss-coddling opposition to the North Sea windfall tax.

But Labour has such a limited vision of change. In fact, Sunak’s proposals go far beyond what Labour put forward in January. Back then shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves revealed a plan which would have delivered £600 to low-income households and £200 to everyone else. This would have been partly funded by a £2 billion windfall tax.By contrast the Sunak scheme will deliver £1,200 to the poorest households and £400 to everyone else, part-funded by a windfall tax of £5 billion. We need more strikes and mass protests to defend and improve working class lives.  

  • TUC union federation’s national demonstration: We Demand Better: march and rally, Sat 18 June, Portland Place, London. Assemble from 10.30am. Details and transport at bit.ly/TUC1806 

Delivery riders protest to stop police raids in Hackney

Posted on: May 26th, 2022 by TTE No Comments
Delivery riders in Hackney protest outside the town hall, a crowd lets off red, green and yellow flares

Delivery riders protest outside Hackney town hall

Delivery riders and their supporters rallied outside Hackney town hall, east London, on Wednesday to demand improved working conditions and an end to police intimidation. Riders gathered at Ashwin street in Dalston and momentarily shut down the streets of Hackney as they rode to the town hall. 

The protest came after the cops harassed riders—and tried to arrest one for “immigration offences”—on Ashwin Street on 14 May. That night hundreds of angry protesters confronted the police and chased them away.

Outside the town hall, riders were greeted by council workers who are striking for a 10 percent pay. Alex, an IWGB union member and delivery rider, said police intimidation is a daily reality. “When the police do random checks, they ask for everything,” he told Socialist Worker. “They ask for your licence and immigration status—it’s scary.

“They think we’re all criminals. They see a Deliveroo bag. They see a target.” 

Rider Michael added, “I was checked yesterday. I was waiting for my order, and the police officer said I couldn’t wait there. They do this constantly. I feel sorry for all the riders that have to endure this. It makes me depressed and angry.” 

In January workers rallied outside the town hall to demand the right to park outside a local McDonald’s and to have access to toilets and a place of shelter. After this protest, Alex said cops began to ramp up intimidation. “We feel the police intimidation is a response from the council to our protest,” he said. 

“I also think the police themselves have gained a lot of confidence from the passing of the policing bill and the Nationalities and Borders Bill. In my rider’s WhatsApp groups, I can see that the intimidation of riders is happening everywhere. Unfortunately I think it’s only going to get worse.”

Alex was clear that Deliveroo doing a sweetheart deal with the GMB union won’t deliver for workers. “In all the years I’ve been a delivery driver, I’ve never met anyone in the GMB,” he said. “In fact I’d never even heard of the GMB before they struck a deal with Deliveroo. It seems more of a business interaction than something that will help any of us.” 

At the rally protesters chanted, “Keep riders on our streets, safe from police,” and, “Whose streets, our streets.” Speakers at the protest were clear that ordinary people must be ready to fight back against repressive Tory laws and immigration raids. 

John from the IWGB told the crowd, “On that Saturday the police tried to arrest our brothers, but we stopped them. We need to replicate that success and build anti-racist networks that can stop raids across the country.” More protests and action is needed to beat back the delivery bosses—and take on the Tories’ hostile environment. 

Remembering George Floyd, demanding justice for Sheku Bayoh

Posted on: May 26th, 2022 by Charlie No Comments
Protesters take the knee remembering George Floyd. Includes black women in Unison T-shirt

Remembering George Floyd at the US embassy on Wednesday (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Anti-racists in several parts of Britain held events on Wednesday to mark two years since the police murder of George Floyd in the United States. Around 50 people took the knee outside the US embassy in south London.

Stand Up To Racism, which organised the protest, said, “The Black Lives Matter movement exposed the violent institutional racism at the heart of society. The treatment of Child Q shows that in Britain —just like in the US—that brutal reality continues.”

Other protests included in Nottingham where around 40 people took part, and in Haringey, Lewisham, and Hackney in London.

In Edinburgh anti-racists gathered outside the inquiry into the death of Sheku Bayoh on Tuesday as the present phase of the hearings came towards an end (see below). Their banners included “From Minnesota to Kirkcaldy, black lives matter”.

Civil service workers held a protest in support of refugees, outside their PCS union conference in Brighton on Wednesday morning.

The protest was organised by Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and backed by the union. It came as conference delegates looked set to vote to campaign against Tory plans to deport refugees to Rwanda, and against the Nationality and Borders Act.

One PCS member who joined the protest, Mr Dacunha, told Socialist Worker he joined the protest to “support refugees who are trying to come to this country.” He added, “We’re one of the unions that fights racism and for refugees.”

Delegates at the PCS union conference were set to discuss two motions taking on both pieces of racist Tory policy.

One motion committed the union to supporting PCS members who refuse to work on the Rwanda deportation scheme. Another said the union should continue supporting protests against the Nationality and Borders Act.

Many speakers and PCS members at an SUTR fringe meeting said the two policies were part of the Tory government’s strategy of using racism to prop itself up.

One PCS member, who works for the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs noted the government’s plans to cut 90,000 civil service jobs. “What can happen is it’s quite easy for politicians to try and divide communities. We have to make sure that doesn’t happen,” she said.

Another member, Joseph, from MoJ Northamptonshire branch, also warned against government attacks on the rights of Roma and Travellers. “As soon as we let one group get thrown down it gives them the opportunity to do it to others,” he said.

Labour MP Diane Abbott told the meeting that the Tories’ Rwanda deportation plan was “simply being used as a racist way to bolster failing Tory support.

Weyman Bennett from SUTR said the Tories’ attempts to use racism were why trade unions had to “make resisting racism a central demand” on the TUC’s demonstration on 18 June.


Protesters take the knee in Edinburgh at the inquiry for Sheku Bayoh

Gathering outside the Sheku Bayoh inquiry (Pic: SUTR Scotland)

Claims of ‘superhuman strength’ black man at Sheku Bayoh inquiry

by Stephen Ramsay

A retired police officer claimed that Sheku Bayoh lifted three male police officers off the ground. The statement came in testimony this week to the inquiry into Bayoh’s death after contact with the cops.

Retired PC Nicola Short appeared before the inquiry in Edinburgh on Tuesday, as around 50 anti-racists chanted “black lives matter” and took the knee outside the building.

Short was one of the four initial officers to deal with Bayoh during the incident on 3 May 2015. She previously described him as being “deranged with superhuman strength”. She denied this was due to racial stereotyping of black men.

When asked by the counsel how often she had dealt with incidents involving a black man prior to her interactions with Bayoh, Short replied, “I don’t think I had.”

Short claimed that Bayoh was completely unaffected by CS spray to his eyes and that he “skipped” towards her like a “boxer” as she fled, before hitting her in the back of the head, at which point she collapsed.

From there, she claimed to see Bayoh lift “three of the biggest guys on the shift” off the ground simultaneously. She demonstrated physically for the hearing the “push-up” movement she claimed Bayoh managed while on the ground and covered by her three colleagues.

Bayoh was 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 12 stones and 10 pounds. PC Walker and Retired PC Paton, two of the initial responding officers, were both 6 feet 4 inches, with PC Walker weighing 25 stones at the time of the incident.

PC Walker claimed in a hearing last week that Bayoh had stamped on Short’s head while she was on the ground.

“It’s never been my position that my head was stamped on, because that’s not information I was told,” Short said at Tuesday’s hearing, adding she may have been unconscious at some point during the incident.

In a statement made ten days after Bayoh’s death, Short wrote, “I have no idea how he died but in my opinion his death was unavoidable.” 

Internal police reports around the time of his death claimed that Bayoh was wielding a machete. However, Bayoh was unarmed at the time of his arrest, and at no point during his interactions with the police displayed a blade.

Bayoh’s family argue his death was the result of positional asphyxiation. This is a form of asphyxia that occurs when someone’s position prevents them from breathing adequately. The family says this occurred while he was being restrained and pressed down upon by six officers, weighing a combined total of 100 stones and 2 pounds.

Bayoh’s family have expressed gratitude for the continued solidarity of protesters outside the inquiry. Aamer Anwar, the family lawyer, has estimated the inquiry could continue for another two to three years.

Oxford Mini strike shows appetite to fight over pay

Posted on: May 25th, 2022 by TTE No Comments
BMW Mini workers on the picket line, one wears a high vis vest, two others wave red Unite union flags

Oxford Mini workers on the picket line (Picture: Shaun Doherty)

The recent strike by Rudolph & Hellman workers at the Oxford Mini plant has shown how some sections of workers want to see a real fight over pay and other issues.

A single strike day forced the company grudgingly into a new and much more serious pay offer. Bosses put forward an increase of 19 percent over two years plus a 2 percent bonus. Unite union general secretary Sharon Graham said it was “a brilliant win”.

Certainly that figure is far more than most people are getting at the moment. It almost matches the present RPI rate of inflation. When workers started the pay campaign, day shift workers were on £10.30 per hour, equating to £20,888 a year. This will increase to £24,336 immediately and then to £24,944 from 1 January 2023.

But the account on the national Unite website doesn’t tell you that the deal was only very narrowly accepted—by 111 votes to 102. Nearly half of the workers thought they could have won more and wanted to keep striking.

The local union newsletter to members does include the ballot figures. It says, “This result is enough to settle some of the pay issues. But Unite recognises this result leaves a large number of members feeling that the company could have done better.”

Why was it close? Like many deals, the headline figure did not apply to everyone. One department where there is no union rep is less organised, and bosses offered them less. But the issues that sparked most anger were the lack of sick pay and probationary pay rates which mean that workers are paid £1 an hour less than the usual rate.

The local union says, “Workers must now continue the fight for an improvement to probationary rates, as this practice creates a two-tier workforce that divides workers whilst providing the company with cheap labour and bigger profits.”

The pay campaign was hard fought. One leading union rep told Socialist Worker, “From day one the company pleaded poverty and gave no less than four ‘final’ offers—five if you include the final settlement.

“At every turn the company used anti-union tactics like trying to discredit the union subscription rates, telling workers they don’t need a third party to speak for them and using an overtime blacklist for those workers who struck.

“On top of this the company regularly circulated internal communications to workers stating the union had agreed to terms or offers made. The reality was the union and its reps hadn’t agreed anything and was steadfast in the position of delivering on an inflation-busting pay rise to keep up with the cost of living crisis.”

Unite officer Scott Kemp and organiser Lewis Norton engaged in an 18-month campaign at the Oxford Cowley Mini plant. It focused on Rudolph & Hellmann to stem the race to the bottom and re-establish a trade union culture within the contracted workforce.

Membership grew by 130 percent and the shop stewards have doubled following the dispute. Action is the way to fight to defend working class living conditions. And the battle has to continue until there are genuine gains.

Exclusive: police payout to nurse Karen Reissmann, fined for lockdown protest

Posted on: May 25th, 2022 by Charlie No Comments
Karen Reissmann speaking at NHS pay protest in March 2021 wearing a mask.

Karen Reissmann speaking at an NHS pay protest in March 2021. Police fined her £10,000 (Pic: Mike Killian)

Police have admitted they were wrong to fine Manchester nurse Karen Reissmann for organising a protest against low pay during a Covid lockdown. Karen thinks that with Tory lockdown parties on the front pages, Greater Manchester Police were reluctant to let the case go before a court.

Karen never paid the fine, which has now been cancelled. Karen organised a small, socially distanced rally in the city centre in March 2021. However, as she closed the event cops approached her to say they would be fining her £10,000 for breaching lockdown rules.

At the time, officers said that the union-backed gathering was illegal under Covid-19 legislation. That was despite organisers ensuring everyone who came was wearing a mask and standing in marked positions well away from others.

Greater Manchester Police agreed two days ago that the fine was unlawful and will pay a four-figure sum to Karen in compensation. They have also admitted that they were wrong to penalise fellow nurse Pat Gallagher. She was arrested on the protest and subsequently fined £200.

Karen told Socialist Worker that she was happy at the police decision but still angry that they tried to stop people protesting.

“It was outrageous that we were fined in the first place,” she said. “But to know that my fine, which was for fighting in defence of the NHS, was 200 times the amount that Boris Johnson was fined for attending parties is absolutely shocking.”

Karen says that the police tried to use publicity surrounding her case to put others off from protesting. “The price of that decision is that things in the health service have got worse. We went into the pandemic with 100,000 unfilled vacancies.

“During the height of Covid, the government first offered us just a 1 percent pay rise. Now look at the situation—we’ve got 110,000 unfilled vacancies, and millions of people on waiting lists for care.”

The period after the protest were traumatic for Karen as she faced the possibility of being struck-off the nurses’ register.

A smiling Karen Reissmann

Karen Reissmann

 “For eight months my livelihood was under threat as the Nursing and Midwifery Council investigated me,” she said.

“What stopped me being demolished by the situation was the support that I received from ordinary people across Britain – mostly people I’d never met before. They wanted people to stand up for the health service. The £10,000 fine, and extra for legal costs, was raised within hours of my arrest.”

Karen says that the money raised, together with the compensation, will go to a campaign being run by the Hazards Centre in Manchester which encourages people to fight for their right to work without the stresses that make so many workers mentally distressed and unwell.

And, she says, the best way to defend the right to protest is to go on a protest. Look at what is happening to working class people during the cost of living crisis,” she said. “If we don’t protest things are just going to keep getting worse.

“We need to be on the streets of London on 18 June to join the union protest against low pay – and we need lots of local demonstrations too. More than that, we need strikes”

Law firm Bindmans, which represented Karen and Pat, insist that Covid regulations did not introduce a blanket ban on protest. “Protest is an important right in a functioning democracy and constituted a ‘reasonable excuse’ for gatherings,” its statement says.

“Greater Manchester Police got it wrong in imposing criminal sanctions on Ms Reissmann and Ms Gallagher. The gathering that Ms Reissman organised was not frivolous—it was an important public statement about how NHS workers were being treated. It was a privilege to work with these NHS stalwarts as they stood up for the NHS and the right to protest.”

Socialist Worker has approached Greater Manchester Police for comment.

PCS union conference opposes ‘competing powers’ intervening in Ukraine

Posted on: May 25th, 2022 by TTE No Comments
A crowd shot of PCS union conference

Delegates debate at the PCS union conference

Civil service workers at the PCS union conference voted on Tuesday to oppose “the involvement of competing powers in Ukraine.” The motion—proposed by the union’s leadership—also condemned Britain and the US’s war aims as “escalating interventions by the UK and US governments.” 

Yet delegates at the conference also rejected a motion—backed by Socialist Worker supporters—that went further and explicitly criticised the West’s military alliance Nato.  

It branded the war “a proxy conflict between Nato and Russia,” adding, “Nato is not a ‘defensive’ alliance, as it claims, but a vehicle for securing US and Western interests.” Its resolutions included calling for Russia’s immediate withdrawal from Ukraine, to campaign against Nato expansion, and to support protests by the Stop the War Coalition.

The votes came after a debate on three motions, where the main argument focussed on whether it’s right to criticise and campaign against Nato. Introducing the anti-Nato motion to conference, Pete Jackson from DWP Birmingham South branch said, “For our government this is a proxy war.

“Nato leaders see the chance to wear down the Russian military machine, to wear down the Russian economy and to really score a major victory here in their battle to control the world’s resources. That’s part of the agenda when our government says that it’s decided it’s going to support the Ukrainian people.”

The union’s assistant general secretary John Moloney said the leadership’s decision to include condemnation of the US and Britain in its motion reflected a shift. He said the motion addresses the concern that “for reasons of their own Western powers, in particular the US, will seek to pressurise the Ukrainian government and people”. And the pressure on Ukraine would be to “adopt war aims that are not of their choice”. 

But general secretary Mark Serwotka argued it was still wrong to target Nato. He argued that the union’s focus should be on solidarity with Ukrainian people and opposing Russia’s invasion.

Union leaders across the trade union movement have recoiled from criticism of Nato after Labour leader Keir Starmer threatened left wing MPs for doing so.

Serwotka said, “If we call for people to protest in our country against the role of Nato it is not sending the unequivocal message we need to send.” He said it was “that we stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine.”

“There’s plenty of time for people to discuss the role of Nato including whether Britain should be a member of it,” he said. “But now is the time to stand with those people who occupied, being murdered and being besieged.”

His argument echoed that from left wing MP John McDonnell. After Starmer’s threat, he backed out of a Stop the War Coalition meeting claiming that it would “distract” from support for Ukraine.

In the debate from the floor, Chris Marks from DWPLondon headquarters went further and criticised the anti-Nato motion because it opposed sending arms to Ukraine. Mohammed Shafiq seemed to reflect the view of more delegates when he said the leadership’s motion was a “balanced position”.

Pete replied, “Our ruling class very enthusiastically wants to send arms to Ukraine. You have to ask yourself, is there a reason for that? Do they have another agenda? The agenda is the way the world is partitioned and continues to be partitioned. I don’t think it’s the case that as a trade union we can’t take a position on that.

“Nato is not a defensive body. Nato is an aggressive, imperialist body just as much as Putin’s Russia is. We need to support protests that oppose the war, but we need to be prepared to support protests that oppose the war and Nato’s attempt to shape that war.”

He added that delegates could support all the motions if they wanted to be balanced. But “only one of them talks about Nato, and only one of them therefore really puts the finger on our ruling class.”


Delegates back strike vote over pay 

Delegates at the conference also voted to have a national strike ballot over pay, pensions and redundancy payments, starting in September this year. Government bosses have offered civil service workers pay rises of only 2 percent for 2022. Moving the motion, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka called on union activists to “get back to your branches, organise, mobilise, and send Boris Johnson a message.”

But Serwotka also warned that activists had to do a lot of campaigning to ensure a ballot beats the 50 percent turnout threshold in Tory anti-union laws. PCS members voted by 97 percent to support strikes on a 45 percent turnout in a survey earlier this year. They also backed strikes in two previous national ballots, which fell agonisingly short of the 50 percent turnout threshold.

Another motion, which was defeated, called on the union to hold the ballot no later than 1 July. It also said the union should “draw up plans for disaggregated ballots.”

But Serwotka and some delegates from the floor argued this wouldn’t be enough time to campaign for a ballot that beats the turnout threshold. Serwotka also said the decision on whether to hold disaggregated ballots should be made at a later date.

One delegate, Julian Sharp, said, “We need the time to organise to make sure we get the turnout in a legal ballot.” He added, “Coming from a small branch, I want to see as much unity as possible in any industrial action we take. And therefore I’m instinctively in favour of aggregated ballots. But I think this is a tactical question that needs to be debated and decided at length.

“We need to explain our strategy to every member and every person who participates in the ballot. Action wins. If we want to win a proper pay rise, if we want to oppose the job cuts, if we want to oppose the cuts in our pension, we need to take industrial action.

“It needs to be hard hitting industrial action, not token action, but action that really hits this government.”

Get behind the rail workers as they vote for national strikes

Posted on: May 24th, 2022 by TTE No Comments
A picture of Network Rail bosses and Rishi Sunak in orange attire illustrating a story about the national rail strike ballot

Tory chancellor Rishi Sunk (right) and other ministers are scared of a national rail strike (Picture: HM Treasury/Flickr)

Railway workers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strikes across Network Rail and the train operating companies. This could become a major focus in the battle to defend working class people in the middle of a social emergency. It comes as prices are soaring and the value of pay, pensions and benefits is collapsing. 

The RMT union balloted 40,000 workers and overall they voted 89 percent in favour of strikes on a 71 percent turnout. It’s the biggest backing for industrial action by railway workers since privatisation in the 1990s. 

RMT workers at Network Rail, which covers the whole of Britain, and 13 train companies voted for strikes. These were Chiltern Railways, Cross Country Trains, Greater Anglia, LNER, East Midlands Railway, c2c and Great Western Railway. And Northern Trains, South Eastern Railway, South Western Railway, TransPennine Express, Avanti West Coast and West Midlands Trains.

At GTR—including Gatwick Express—and Island line on the Isle of Wight workers backed action but did not achieve one of the thresholds under the anti-union laws.

Workers are fighting over pay, no compulsory redundancies, and a guarantee there will be no detrimental changes to working practices.

Daniel Kennedy, an RMT workplace rep in Birmingham, told Socialist Worker, “This result is a testament to the strength of feeling among railway staff. We were hailed during the dark days of the pandemic for continuing to keep the country going. But we are now demonised by the right wing press and politicians for daring to challenge the notion that workers ought to pay for the challenges it brought. 

“Huge credit is due to the union, its officers and activists for galvanising the vote, despite overwhelmingly unfavourable anti-union laws. 

“Network Rail and train companies have already been training managers to try to break potential strikes. But, as I’ve said to colleagues, I will do everything in my power to prevent any train from running on the network on any day of strikes.” 

Right wing newspapers reacted with a mix of rage and fear to the strike vote. The Telegraph warned its readers, “The decision of train signallers to strike was critical. There are about 5,000 train signallers employed by Network Rail and they play a key role in allowing trains to depart from and arrive into stations.

“It takes between six and eight months to train up a signaller and the contingency workforce only runs into the high hundreds.”

The Daily Mail feared “power blackouts, petrol shortages and empty shelves”. The Tories, who have been blustering about new anti-strike laws, suddenly don’t look so strong. The RMT says it hopes for a deal, but will schedule strikes from mid-June. These should be hard-hitting from the start and escalating, not token action.

This strike could link up with action on London Underground. Around 4,000 tube station workers are set to strike on Monday 6 June. And they will ban overtime from 3 June to 10 July, which will significantly reduce services.

The strike could force the closure of almost all stations in zone one, on what will be the first day back to work after the four-day Platinum Jubilee days off.

Rail strikes can be a focus for everyone who is desperate for a fightback against the Tories and the bosses. If workers use their power, they can humble the bosses and show that working class people don’t have to pay for the crisis.

The myths about monkeypox 

Posted on: May 24th, 2022 by Sophie No Comments
monkey pox

The monkeypox virus under a microscope

Mainstream media panic over monkeypox is risking a new epidemic of racism and homophobia. Lurid myths of a disease that in many editors’ minds spreads mostly among gay and bisexual African men are making the outbreak harder to tackle. Some news outlets have even asked whether its spread is a “new Covid” that will sweep the world.

That is nonsense. For a start there are already highly effective vaccinations and treatments for monkeypox. And, it is far more difficult than Covid to spread because it does not infect through aerosol transmission—it is not caught by breathing tiny virus droplets in contaminated air.

The World Health Organisation says most of those infected will recover without treatment. But it can be more severe, especially in young children, pregnant women, and individuals who are immunocompromised. The monkeypox virus originates in tropical rainforest areas of west and central African where it is relatively common. 

Most people that catch the virus do so after contact with infected animals or their faeces. In part, that reflects the way humans are increasingly encroaching into wild areas.  The virus is not primarily transmitted between humans through sex.

It spreads mostly through close physical contact, and by contaminated clothes and bedding. Suggesting that the virus primarily affects African men that have sex with men stigmatises them, making the disease harder to stop. It also creates a false sense of security for others.