Radical roundup: 9 stories you may have missed this week

The progressive news that got buried.

In no particular order…

9. Medical couriers transporting Covid-19 samples on behalf of NHS pathology contractor The Doctors Laboratory (TDL) are to vote on strike action.

It comes in response to the company’s decision to make redundancies during the pandemic, and what the union say is TDL’s failure to address health and safety concerns.

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) issued a notice of strike ballot to TDL on Wednesday. This follows the company’s announcement on 1 May that it would start a 30-day consultation with a view to make ten bicycle couriers and “walkers” redundant.

8. Responding to reports that the government may soon start to lift the lockdown, Green Party co-leader Sian Berry said:

“Easing this lockdown too soon could have really serious consequences, and it is still too soon. Government policy is not yet in line with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines on tracing and tracking…

“It just isn’t fair on the public to give the impression this crisis is over when it’s not…We’d much rather see the Government standing firm on its lockdown decision until there is certainty a second peak is not being risked, one of the government’s own five tests, and that there is a trace and track system in place that actually works.”

7. The Welsh Government announced a three-week extension of the lockdown, with minor adjustments.

The changes include: 1. Allowing people to exercise more than once a day, but people should stay local. This means any exercise should start and end at home and not involve going a significant distance from home. 2. Enabling local authorities to begin the process of planning how to safely reopen libraries and municipal recycling centres. 3. Allowing garden centres to open provided they comply with the physical distancing duty.

6. The Green Party has called for an emergency fuel duty rise on petrol and diesel to allow local authorities to improve walking and cycling routes, as well as investing in public transport, in response to the coronavirus crisis.

The Greens have warned that a crash in oil prices could undermine moves in towns and cities across the country to enable more people to walk and cycle, if it means the price at the pump continues to fall and encourages people to drive more.

Since 2010, successive governments have frozen fuel duty rises year on year. Fuel duty stands at 57.95p/litre, earning the treasury some £28bn a year in revenue. On this basis an extra 25p/litre could raise in the region of £12bn for public transport and active travel.

5. A survey by the British Beer & Pub Association suggests that 40 per cent of Britain’s 47,000 pubs won’t survive beyond September.

The Association are calling for more support from Government to get them through the COVID-19 lockdown.

Lucy Powell MP, Labour’s Shadow Minister for Business and Consumers, said: “The hospitality sector will be decimated unless a second wave of support is provided by Ministers. These businesses, and the supply chains which serve them are suffering through no fault of their own, having faithfully followed government instructions to close to keep us safe.

4. Apsana Begum, Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse, has tabled a Parliamentary motion highlighting growing evidence that BAME people are disproportionately affected by Covid-19.

Ms Begum MP said: “Systemic economic inequalities that mean that ethnic minority communities are unfairly disadvantaged by such a health crisis. This comes after years of austerity which has had a devastating impact on ethnic minorities.

“There must be no more delays or half measures. The Government must urgently ensure the safety of BAME workers, particularly NHS and care staff, on the frontline and take immediate and robust action to address the unequal health and economic impacts of covid-19 on black, Asian and ethnic minority groups.”

This comes as figures published today indicate that black people are more than four times more likely to die from Covid-19 than white people.

3. Plaid Cymru has called for a cross-party Coronavirus Select Committee to be set-up to scrutinise the UK Government’s response to the crisis.

The party’s Chief Whip, Jonathan Edwards MP has said that a Coronavirus Committee could “allow us to learn lessons quickly to avoid future failures”.

Highlighting the precedent of the Brexit Select Committee during the 2017-19 Parliament, which had a membership of 21 MPs with at least one seat for every party represented in the House of Commons.

In New Zealand, where they have begun to lift the lockdown, the parliament acted swiftly by establishing an Epidemic Response Committee to conduct coherent, overarching scrutiny of the Government’s response to Coronavirus at every step. This Committee is chaired by the by the leader of the opposition and made up of at least one representative from each party.

2. A poll by Survation for the Open Knowledge Foundation found that 55 per cent of people in the UK believe the Government should ‘impose compulsory action on social media sites to prevent the spread of disinformation on their sites’.

Catherine Stihler, chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said: “The spread of fake news and disinformation on internet platforms has been ignored for too long, and now it is causing major concern during a global health emergency.

“It is sadly not surprising, and yet deeply worrying, that a majority of people in the UK have seen COVID-19 related information they believe to be false.

“The best way to tackle disinformation is to make information open, allowing journalists, scientists and researchers to provide facts to the public.

1. The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has published the findings of a survey into the progress of remediation work to improve fire safety in residential buildings.

The survey found that:

  • 70% of respondents had different forms of combustible cladding and many had other fire safety issues including missing or inadequate fire breaks (34%), combustible or missing insulation (30%), timber balconies or walkways (14%) and inadequate fire doors (5%).
  • Residents are sceptical about whether the government’s £1bn building safety fund is enough to make homes safe and are already incurring huge costs for measures such as waking watches.
  • Many residents are also angry that it is the government, not building owners, who are footing the bill for remediation work.

Responding, Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “The government, big business and wealthy building owners have had three years since Grenfell to fix the dangerous homes still trapping thousands of residents. The accounts in this report should make them feel utterly ashamed.

“Both residents and firefighters have warned the government and building owners countless times that this crisis goes far beyond the ACM cladding that was on Grenfell Tower but, just as with Grenfell residents, they were ignored.

“£1bn is not enough to address the building safety crisis we are facing. The government needs to urgently conduct an open and accountable national audit of unsafe buildings, properly cost the work and set out ways to recover the cost from building owners.”

Josiah Mortimer is co-editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.

As you’re here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to chip in to help us survive. We deliver progressive, independent media, that challenges the right’s hateful rhetoric. Together we can find the stories that get lost.

We’re not bankrolled by billionaire donors, but rely on readers chipping in whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do isn’t free, and we run on a shoestring. Can you help by chipping in as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can donate, we’re so grateful - and we will ensure your money goes as far as possible to deliver hard-hitting news.

One Response to “Radical roundup: 9 stories you may have missed this week”

Comments are closed.