Covid and economic crisis: the launch of the People before Profit Emergency Programme for Jobs, Services and Safety.
Francis O’Grady of the TUC today warned against a “tsunami of job losses”. BBC figures last week showed how companies filed plans for 300,000 redundancies during June and July. So plans for a massive level of job cuts even when the furlough scheme in place. Already 1,000s jobs cuts – from Debenhams to Pret, BA to BMW. This will get even worse when the furlough scheme closes at the end of October.
We don’t know if there will be a fight over job losses or not. So far the message from the national TU leaders has not given rise to much optimism here. It’s likely that many will feel angry and frustrated with the lack of a response from labour and union leaders. We want to provide a pole of attraction to those who do want a fightback and offer a fighting way forward.
Therefore the Emergency Action Programme for Jobs, Services and Safety being launched by People Before Profit is very important. Activists in the People Before Profit network nationally have agreed a series of demands that offer a fighting response to the economic crisis. This is part of trying to encourage actual struggle by putting forward alternatives to try and give people the confidence to fight.
It is also part of the ideological battle in the trade union and Labour movement about the sort of response required. There will be an argument inside the labour movement about whether workers have to accept job losses, cuts and attacks to stop firms collapsing or whether we can organise a serious fightback – we have to intervene in this argument and pull those who want to fight together to act. See below for more details on local and national events around the launch of the emergency action programme.
The continued centrality of the issue of racism and building SUTR as an anti racist response
On the one hand the scale of the BLM movement was amazing. In Britain the Guardian estimated protests took place in some 260 towns and cities involving some 210 thousand people. However the crisis polarises politics. A unifying thread is the continuing efforts of the right to try and polarize politics in their favour.
Trump himself in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd has continued to stoke up division and pursue of strategy of the deliberate creation of disorder. It is likely this will continue in the run up to the US Presidential election on Tues 3 Nov, with wider ramifications beyond the US.
We are now seeing a return of the far right, after a few months of initial disorientation, attempting to find a space to grow. In such a situation of uncertainty, anger and bitterness there can be opportunities for the far right to try and grow and a space for them to exploit. We have to watch and assess these developments.
The issue of racism remains at the heart of the Covid-19 crisis - both with the disproportionate deaths amongst black communities and frontline workers, the targeting by police of black people and the scapegoating of refugees and migrants.
The #BlackLivesMatter movement has been targeted by the government and the press – as it has laid bare the institutional racism at the heart of our society. There continue to be discussions about how the movement can sustain and deepen.
Last Friday SUTR held a day of action for George Floyd as the ex police officers accused of his murder were due back in court on the day. Over 20 different Take the Knee events happened across Britain. SUTR also had a presence at another outside New Scotland Yard on Saturday.
#RefugeesWelcome solidarity day 19 Sept: New issues have also reemerged such as that of the refugee crisis. With the humanitarian disaster following the fires at the Moria camp on Lesvos the UK government is still refusing to take even unaccompanied child refugees. Priti Patel and the Tories have targeted those few refugees using boats to cross the channel to escape the misery of the camps in Calais, giving confidence to the far right to intimidate refugees in hotel accommodation in the UK.
On Saturday 19 September Stand Up To Racism and Care4Calais have called a refugee solidarity day of action. The call is for broad based solidarity events everywhere - of course strictly socially distanced to maintain safety https://fb.me/e/1rkrH3yL5 Oxford SWP is urging supporters to join in the Oxford Stand Up To Racism mobilisaton (details below).
The new restrictions DO ALLOW “protests and political activities organized in compliance with Covid 19 secure guidance and subject to strict risk assessments”. The left needs to take safety seriously but we should not relinquish our right to protest .
Next Oxford SWP online discussion - all welcome.
Zoom meeting “You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time."
Angela Davis has inspired generations of activists, and you often see her quotes adorning homemade placards at #BlackLivesMatter protests. Angela Davis is an African American political thinker and activist that was once on the FBI's most wanted list. She has been a leading anti-racist as well as a leading anti-capitalist during a time in the USA when any semblance of radical thought could get you fired from your job, thrown in prison or worse. What can be learned from the ideas and the experiences of this important revolutionary. Come and join the discussion.Future Oxford SWP meetings:
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Live online meeting with:
• John McDonnell MP
• Mark Serwotka, PCS Union General Secretary
• Jane Loftus, President of CWU
• Ian Hodson, National President of Bakers Food and Allied Workers’ Union
• Karen Reissmann, NHS nurse
• More tbc
People Before Profit will be hosting a meeting with speakers from across the trade union movement and launching an emergency programme of demands. These demands are centred around protecting jobs, workplace safety, public ownership of our services and green investment in the economy. Join the conversation online!
This week the Trades Union Congress (TUC) representing more than 6 million people meets online.
It will discuss the huge crisis facing ordinary people as a second Covid-19 wave develops and the government moves to withdraw the furlough that has kept millions in work. Covid-19 has hit black communities massively disproportionately. Meanwhile the #BlackLivesMatter movement has exposed the deep institutional racism at the heart of our society – where policing targets black communities and refugees and migrants are scapegoated.
Under the new Covid rules political protest is allowed as long as it is safe. We want to keep this protest Covid safe. Please wear masks, respect a minimum of 2 metres physical distance, and follow all safety instructions from stewards.
11 AM Saturday 19th September. Assemble: Bonn Square, central Oxford
Stand Up To Racism has called a national day of action across England, Wales and Scotland to say that refugees are welcome here, and to stand in solidarity with refugees and migrants who are viciously demonised and dehumanised by politicians, the mainstream media and establishment.
The horror of news breaking in recent weeks, of more lives lost needlessly as people seek in desperation to survive by crossing the sea, was devastating and enraging. It comes as a result of racist border policies. The fire at the Moria refugee camps on Lesvos and its humanitarian aftermath are a further sign of the terrible situation refugees fleeing poverty and war face.
Five years on from the heartbreaking death of three year old Alan Kurdi, 16 year old Abdulfatah Hamdallah, a Sudanese refugee, drowned trying to cross the Channel with another boy in an inflatable dinghy, using shovels for oars. He died because the Tories’ border controls are constructed to keep desperate people out, preferring them to drown trying to reach safety than welcome them.
We say Refugees Welcome Here - Stop the Scapegoating! #RefugeeLivesMatter.
Join the Oxford solidarity protest. Can you help us - we need a dinghy, some body shapes (the old Guy Fawkes style stuffed t-shirt and trousers), and sheets.
Responding to reports of racism in Rose Hill
6pm Wednesday 16th September.
We have been alerted to several incidents of racism, including abusing an Asian man as a "terrorist" and the ongoing intimidation a Nepalese family, and others, including threats of violence. Reports are that this has gone on for months and police continue to fail to act. The incidents have been carried out by the same group of young people. We want to show solidarity with those effected and mobilise a community response. We are looking for volunteers to help leaflet the effected area to invite people to a meeting to plan a response, and send out a message that racism will not go unchallenged. Email if you can help.
7 PM Monday 28th September
Open organising forum for anyone in Oxfordshire who wants to help Stand Up To Racism build a mass movement against racism and fascism. Zoom Meeting ID: 811 4982 4549 Passcode: 229459
11AM - 5 PM Saturday 17th October
More details, speakers & themes to follow
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