Daily briefing 15/5/20

News

Yesterday the government was hailing a “game-changing” antibody immunity test approved today by Public Health England, although—plus ça change—this does not mean that any tests have actually been acquired yet, with the government forced to admit that it was still in discussions with the manufacturer.

The London Renters Union has launched a new campaign #CantPayWontPay with a series of demands to suspend rent, cancel rent debt, ban evictions permanently, introduce rent controls, and end migration status checks, as well as collective action to not pay rent so that renters can instead pay for food and other essentials.

Acorn and Living Rent have issued a joint open letter demanding that the government suspend rent, cancel rent debt, and protect renters from eviction. Christine Berry and Laurie MacFarlane, looking at the plight of struggling private renters, argue that the government must not bail out an unreformed rentier economy but should address the roots of unbalanced growth by democratising asset ownership.

Following the tragic death of Emanuel Gomes who worked as a cleaner at the Ministry of Justice, Voices of the World (UVW) and the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union have joined forces to fight for workers at at the MoJ who are facing unsafe conditions without occupational sick pay.

MP Mary Kelly Foy decries the government’s plans to reopen schools as “reckless” as the the National Association of Headteachers says that plans are “unrealistic.”

Events

At 4pm the NEU Councillors network is hosting a virtual hand-in of its letter of Gavin Williamson.

At 7pm tonight, join the Fire Brigades’ Union and special guests, including Joh McDonnell, Zarah Sultana, Laura Pidcock, Ian Murray, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Ali Milani, Sophie Wilson, Ian Hodson, Lauren Townsend, Lara McNeill, for an online rally with speeches and live music.

New articles, podcast episodes, and resources

On Novara, economist James Meadway, exploring the “Pandemic Labour and The Politics of Job Guarantees,” argues that COVID-19 has precipitated “the sudden reappearance of labour and work as a political question.”

In Tribune, economist Christine Berry calls for “Finance for the People” with a state-owned bank working in the national interest.

Shona Walne, a support worker and creative facilitator for an NGO, reports on the increasingly perilous situation for the home migrant population in Calais.

As other countries close detention centres, Lois JC in RS21 asks if the same could happen in the UK.

In the Guardian Long Read, Naomi Klein looks at how big tech plans to profit from the pandemic.

At the Virtual Social Centre

If you have a suggestions for resources we should post, especially about health and safety in workplaces, or for questions you want answered, please let us know. Also get in touch if you have ideas for political education events you’d like to host or stories you’d like to tell about workplace or social struggles.