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17 February 2021

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News in brief

Novel coronavirus Covid-19, photo NIH/CC

Novel coronavirus Covid-19, photo NIH/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Never had it so good

Last year was dubbed 'the year from hell' as a result of two million deaths from Covid and the pandemic's huge hit on working-class living standards and livelihoods.

But for some, it wasn't all bad news. The world's top 15 hedge fund managers scooped 16.9 billion in total - the equivalent of the total economic output of Zambia with its population of 18million.

Less than minimum wage

One group of important workers during lockdown have been parcel couriers. But unlike hedge fund managers, they haven't fared as well. Some self-employed drivers contracted to Amazon claim that after deductions, including van hire charges and fuel costs, they can end up earning as little as 1.83 an hour - far less than the minimum wage of 8.91 an hour from 1 April.

Meanwhile, anti-union Amazon, whose global sales soared past $100 billion in the last three months, enjoyed a 35% increase in UK profits in 2020.

Stop evictions

According to homelessness charity Shelter, nearly 445,000 private renters in England have fallen into arrears or been served with some kind of eviction notice in the last month.

Housing minister Robert Jenrick is keen to highlight the government's 'compassion' by extending the ban on bailiff-enforced evictions to the end of March. However, this is just kicking the can down the road as it doesn't address the huge increase in Covid-related household debt. Moreover, 'no reason' landlord evictions are still being granted by the courts.

Cuts cost disabled lives

Shockingly, 60% of Covid-deaths last year were disabled people, according to the Office for National Statistics.

But this awful fact is not solely attributable to disabled people's physical vulnerabilities. Social class was also an underlying cause, eg poor housing, low income, and so forth.

Campaign groups point to the lack of infrastructure to allow those shielding to access food and medicine during the first lockdown, as well as cuts in social care support.

Benefit injustice

Many bereaved families continue to be denied access to Bereavement Support Payment despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently admitting in parliament that it is an injustice. The contributory benefit allows for a 3,500 lump sum payment and then up to 350 a month for the first 18 months following the death of a partner.

But the Department for Work and Pensions will only make payments to married couples or those in a civil partnership despite a Supreme Court ruling in 2018 that this was discriminatory and therefore unlawful.

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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.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

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In The Socialist 17 February 2021:


News

Tory consultation on home-use abortion pills

Tory cladding money will not make us safe

Sham inquiry into 'progressive extremism' will not stop movements against capitalism

Cumbria mine: How can we fight for jobs and stop climate change?

Cryptocurrency bubble: Insanity of capitalism

News in brief


NSSN meeting

Online workers' rally: Taking fight to the bosses


Scotland

SNP's independence referendum 2 'roadmap'


NHS

NHS white paper: no solution to failed Tory policies

Boot private companies out of our NHS


Workplace safety

Covid workplace safety

Derby Toyota plant Covid crisis


Workplace News

Hackney teaching assistants strike against cruel and unnecessary job cuts

PCS: Reject the HMRC pay deal

Manchester Go North West bus drivers in all-out strike over fire and rehire dispute

London bus drivers set to strike over pay and conditions

Scaffolders' strike continues


Socialist Students

Strike back for free education

Socialist Students conference - Sunday 28 February


Campaigns

Socialist Party Black and Asian caucus

Remembering Mohamud Hassan - continuing the fight against police brutality

How you can amplify the Socialist's voice - Help us build subscriptions to the Socialist

Swarming the London Mayor's question time

Southern new members meeting - a vivid illustration of the appetite for socialist ideas

Doing all we can to fund the anti-cuts stand at the ballot box


Readers' Opinion

Film Review: Dear Comrades!

The Socialist Inbox


 

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Related links:

Covid:

triangleGarment workers and Covid: Dying for less than minimum wage

triangleWhere's the road map to jobs and wages Boris?

triangleDerby Toyota plant Covid crisis

triangleOnline workers' rally: Taking fight to the bosses

triangleCovid workplace safety

Evictions:

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: How to stop mass evictions

triangleExtend eviction ban! Cap rents! Build council homes!

triangleNo-fault evictions ban, but cuts leave tenants vulnerable

triangleTory on homeless: "tear down these tents"

Disabled:

triangleTV review: The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain

triangleCripTales: A painful reflection of a system that pits us against each other

triangleDisabled students let down by "rotten education system"

Amazon:

triangleNews in brief

Minimum wage:

triangleUnion fight to save musicians' livelihoods

Article dated 17 February 2021

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