John’s Monthly Newsletter May 2020
Below is a brief summary of just some of my activities locally and nationally in the last month. Currently during the pandemic lockdown I also email out a regular briefing letter to local community groups and party members.
This newsletter covers more of the constituency and political activities I have undertaken.
Harlington Hospice Zoom Meeting
As a trustee I attended a meeting of Harlington Hospice to discuss the superb role that the hospice plays in our community and is especially playing supporting local residents in the pandemic.
Harrow East Zoom meeting
I spoke at the members meeting organised by our neighbouring Harrow constituency Labour Party talking through the issues facing the country’s economy and public services as a result of both Tory austerity and the pandemic.
What post pandemic economy do we need 1st May
I joined Anne Pettifor, Michael Jacobs, Andrew Fisher, Apsana Begum MP, Rory McQueen, Prem Sikka and John Hilary which was hosted by Richard Burgon MP for a discussion on the type of economy we need to build in the aftermath of the Coronavirus crisis. The pandemic makes this May Day extremely poignant as we celebrate the essential role workers play in our society not just as the creators of wealth but also as the carers that sacrifice so much to keep us keep us from harm.
I met with representatives from the pilots’ union BALPA in support of their calls for a compete moratorium on job losses in the airline industry following recent announcements from BA. I was joined by Seema Malhotra, Ruth Cadbury, Virendra Sharma and Rupa Huq.
People Before profit Health Worker Covid 19 Activists Group 6th
I participated in the ‘No return to unsafe workplaces – No return to business as usual’ discussion organised by People before profit. My focus was mainly on our exit strategy from this crisis. It is important because some people still haven’t learnt the lesson about the last 10 years of austerity and what the Tories have done in making us so ill prepared for any crisis. Not only were our public services not resilient but individuals were unresilient in terms of insecure precariat pay. If the inevitable recession is not handled properly, we could be facing a depression. Some are arguing for a return to austerity. However, a more subtle argument is some form of Keynesian fiscal stimulus, whereby levels of support is maintained for corporations and big business rather than tackling the problems ordinary working people and their families are facing. We must ensure any investments are not paid for on the backs of austerity but on the basis of a fair taxation system. The first lesson of austerity is that you can’t underfund public services or allow them to be privatised or removed from democratic public control and we can’t have people living on low incomes. The second lesson is the need for collective action and the state called upon to give us the protection we need during this crisis.
Chief Superintendent Gardner 7th
I participated in our regular meeting with Chief Supt Gardner updated on the local policing response to Covid-19.
Homes for All Zoom Call 9th
I joined Housing Activist from the Bronx, USA, Barcelona and the UK in an online public meeting to discuss tenants, COVID and the fight to keep our homes.
The discussion centred around how we are organising to protect the most vulnerable during this pandemic. We compared our experiences, which were very similar and have heightened the social inequality that already existed. Jordi Gonzalez spoke about how the rent strike evolved in Barcelona. Caitlan…. highlighted the plight of renters in the UK. Fitzroy Christianson talked about the decades of underfunding of health services and closure of hospitals culminating in twice as many of the Black and Latino communities dying of the virus than white community in the Bronx. Michael Kane from the National Alliance of HUD (social Housing) tenants USA spoke about how low-income workers are losing their jobs and can’t afford to pay their rent. He said many groups are calling for a rent strike which is freaking out the real estate industry because that could collapse the industry. He went on to say that a bill had been filed in Collaboration with Peoples Action to cancel all rents and mortgage repayments and the Government to bail out the owners but is wasn’t getting any support in Washington. However, the democrats have proposed a bill that would provide financial assistance to low income people who can’t pay their rent.
The common theme running through each contribution was we entered this pandemic from the basis of an existing housing crisis in our own countries in terms of a lack of decent quality supply of housing- high cost – the overcrowding it created, substandard accommodation and insecurity of tenure for many people which results in homelessness. Despite all the pressure brought by action groups all that is being offered by the UK Government is a monitorium on rents which will come to an end on June 25th and if not extended we could be faced with a suname of evictions which will only postpone the evictions unless something is done about the rent debt that people are incurring. The level of stress that has been placed on people is so significant that coming out of this crisis we will be faced with a serious mental health challenge.
We need not just protection against evictions on a temporary basis. We need permanent legislation to protect renters, removing some of the anomalies of current legislation which has given relative freedom to landlords to evict. In addition, we need permanent protection on rent levels in the future – rent controls and a rent jubilee in that people will not be forced to repay rent debt incurred in this period. The resources are there. The Government finds the money to prop up big business and corporations rapidly. This has to be managed because it’s a social crisis that we have to face involving immense human suffering if we are not careful. The video can be seen here
Safe and Equal 12th
This Zoom public meeting brought together a large number of trade union members across a range of unions to discuss how we keep people safe during the pandemic but also the sort of society and economy we need to secure after the lockdown. The focus for my contribution to this discussion was around the way in which we rebuild our society after the pandemic. However, we need to look back to where we were before we went into this pandemic because it’s important to remind ourselves what has contributed to the pandemic. It’s the result of 10 years of austerity and the impact this has had on the health service and social care. It’s based on low pay and very exploited workers in extremely insecure employment. The support mechanisms that the Government have put in place are more about supporting business rather that supporting workers. It is now time to start recruiting into Trade Unions and we should argue for restoration of basic trade union rights particularly around Health and Safety enforcement and adequate restoration of the Health and Safety Executive. Our immediate task is to focus on protecting people in terms of their health and their living standards and preventing them being forced into hardship. We must look at the society we want to create after the pandemic so we can give people hope and a vision of that society. One in which people are secure but also having control over our lives and making sure we have democratic rights at work to make sure it is safe but also so that we reap the proper rewards from the wealth that’s created by working people. My full contribution can be viewed here
I joined an interview discussion Novara media where we discussed the future of our economy and the need for socialists to be arguing for policies that will address the levels of inequality in our society.
Stay at Home for Labour – Stand up for Labour?
In this discussion we focused on renters under threat of eviction – Who should pay for lockdown? Featuring renters under threat of eviction.
Launch of HE Covid Activists campaign 14th
I contributed to this discussion along with Kath Owen (Unison) and Stefan Simms (NEU). On the evidence that has been presented and in absence of lead from government I believe Labour councils across the country should follow the example of Liverpool & support local schools in not reopening on 1st June & only maintaining current lockdown provision
Forward Momentum 15th
I joined the online rally discussing uniting the left of the Labour Party after Jeremy Corbyn, which was hosted by FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack. We explored big issues for the left post-COVID-19 including workplace democracy, the role of public services, the transition to a socialist green economy, political education and democratic reforms within the Labour Party, as well as socialist and internationalist foreign policy.
This is a great and much needed initiative. It’s time for some serious discussion about how the Left comes together to face the future. A big thank you to the FBU for coming up with this event.
Panjab Radio Interview 16th
I took part in an interview to advise local people on what assistance and support was available to help them through the pandemic.
“Fighting for Safety at Work, resisting job cuts and austerity” 17th
I spoke in this national online rally in support of the trade union campaigning ensure that their members would be safe in any return to work. This included support for the teachers union in its struggle to ensure that the schools only opened further when all the provisions had been put in place to ensure safety. I was joined by Emma Mort, National Education Union NEC • Karen Reissmann, NHS nurse • Alison Treacher, Social Care worker • Dan Dobson, electrician, Shut The Sites campaign • Phil Rowan, London Underground RMT.
I attended this roundtable meeting of unions to plan joint campaigning to protect jobs and secure safe working in the coming period.
How Organised Labour Is Rebuilding the Red Wall: Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise 18th
We had an excellent discussion about how worker-led community organising is key to rebuilding our movement. Participants included Ian Lavery MP, Olivia Blake MP as well as Sheffield workers and organisers. Sheffield Needs A Pay Rise is a movement of low wage workers coming together to demand a real living wage of £15ph, a choice of guaranteed hours and union rights. The campaign was launched by Sheffield Trades Council in 2016 after research found that Sheffield is the low pay capital of England, with 25% of workers on minimum wage. The recording can be seen here
Throughout this period I have been liaising and meeting with both UNITE and BALPA to support their work and campaign to protect jobs, wages and terms of employment at British Airways. The company’s behaviour has been appalling in its threat to make 12,000 workers redundant and to dismiss and rehire on worse wages and conditions the remainder of its workforce. Working with the other West London Labour MPs I have been doing all I can to put pressure on BA to work with the unions to agree a reasonable way forward.
Chief Supt Gardner 19th
Update meeting with local police.
I held further discussions with the teachers union on the risks and problems facing teachers and pupils if the schools open more widely.
Global Green New Deal
I joined Arundhati Roy and Naomi Klein to discuss how we can begin the transformation for a Global Green New Deal – an initiative led by The Leap and War on Want, into a collaborative, radical process to re-imagine and transform our world. We believe we can move from crisis to justice, while leaving no one behind.
We knew our system was broken. The Covid-19 pandemic confirms everything we know about the cruelty of the global economy, and the visceral injustices of our societies. Before this crisis struck, millions were already suffering from the effects of climate breakdown and obscene inequality. Now, as the pandemic takes and disrupts lives, it is those who are most vulnerable, unable to access healthcare, and all those who live in precarity who continue to bear the heaviest burden. In times of disaster and crisis, it is always the poorest, the oppressed, and those under occupation, who are most affected. The call for justice is ringing louder than ever, from every corner of the globe.
In the coming weeks, alongside our partners, we will launch a Global Green New Deal call to action. Together, we will create a people’s plan to build a resilient global economy, based on the principles of a just transition and recovery, which guarantees the right to a dignified life for all.
Save our Seafarers’ 19th
I joined Local MPs Karl Turner and Emma Hardy as well as Labour Councilors and the RMT Union to discuss the fight-back against P&O’s job cuts in Hull. The April 2020 official unemployment statistics for East Hull were very worrying for the local community. We need to do all that we can to protect jobs in East Hull now and in the future. We must fight back against further announced job cuts by P&O locally in Hull.
Unite Aviation Blueprint Virtual Parliamentary Launch 20th
At this launch we discussed the challenges facing the aviation industry, the experiences of unite members in light of current uncertainty and their recommendations for measures to be implemented to secure the short-term, post-lockdown and long-term future of the sector.
The Rise and Fall of 1%
I attended his seminar on the future of our economy.
I met with the firefighters union to discuss the role the fire service is playing in the pandemic and the need for further investment in the service.
Unite local MPs meeting 21st
I took part in the union meeting focussing on how we can protect jobs at BA and Heathrow.
Climate justice and jobs after the corona crisis. 25th
I participated in this discussion along with Sharan Burrow, General Secretary of the International, Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Asad Rehman, Executive Director, War on Want and Sean Vernell, UCU Further Education Vice Chair. The coronavirus pandemic is not just a public health crisis but one of inequality. The fatal flaws it reveals in our system are the same ones driving the climate and ecological crisis. During this public health crisis, we have seen governments suddenly find the financial and political resources to bail out sectors of the economy – on a scale previously derided as impossible to deal with the climate crisis. The choices made now could push us deeper into crisis, worsening inequality globally, creating huge job losses and worsening the climate and ecological crisis through bailing out climate polluters in aviation and fossil fuel industries. Or we could seize this opportunity. In this webinar speakers discussed how we can mobilise for a just transformation of society, which has never been more urgent.
IPPR Webinar New Corporatism 27th
I attended this seminar on the need for a fairer distribution of rewards in our society and how this can be achieved.
Heywood and Middleton CLP
I spoke at a meeting online of this constituency party.
I spoke at a meeting of this student group at the University of East Anglia.
Pcs Ealing Tax Office 29th
I spoke at an online meeting for CS trade union members whose jobs are at risk as a result of the closure of the local tax office.