Labour bites


Supermarket shelves are finding themselves cleared of non-perishables, hand sanitiser and, most infamously, toilet paper. This is due to shoppers beginning to stockpile what they perceive to be necessities in the face of the unfolding global COVID-19, or Novel Coronavirus, situation. This panicked stockpiling is being driven in part by a herd mentality driven by both traditional and social media reporting, in preparation for potential social distancing measures and imposed quarantines.

Government and community sources have reminded people that these precautionary measures are excessive, and instead reinforce the importance of hygiene and cleanliness measures in preventing the spread of COVID-19, but to little avail. An unforeseen victim of this frenzied dash to the shops, report social and community groups and advocates, are those on low incomes, pensions, with reduced mobility or disability, and other vulnerable groups.

People living in poverty don’t have the disposable income to afford to stockpile or bulk buy everyday essentials and are very often the ones to directly suffer the impacts of barren supermarket shelves. Shoppers are encouraged to consider the means, ability and needs of others before they needlessly stockpile everyday essentials.

Source: Victoria Council of Social Services et al

Casual workers vulnerable to virus

There are 3.3 million Australian workers with no access to paid leave. These are the people who face the greatest health and economic risks from the spread of the Coronavirus.

These workers are in many of the industries most exposed to the health and economic effects of Coronavirus.

The grim reality is that if these workers become ill they will either attend work sick, be stood down by their employer without pay or potentially be subject to self-isolation regimes, imposed by the Morrison government, again without means to pay their bills.

Without a proper, detailed economic support package for the 3.3 million people who have no access to paid leave there is not only an economic impact on those workers but also a significant health risk to the broader community.

Workers without access to paid leave will be placed in the impossible position of choosing whether to attend work while suffering symptoms, possibly infecting others, or self-isolating without any means to pay their bills.

The ACTU and entire Australian trade union movement urges the Morrison government to ensure that their economic package in response to the Coronavirus situation places the needs of the 3.3 million workers with no access to paid leave at the centre of our nation’s response.

Source: ACTU

Stop ‘red tagging’

Australian trade unions stand in solidary with Filipino unionists, struggling against the oppressive Duterte regime. ‘Red tagging’ is the process in the Philippines where union leaders and members are spied on, profiled, portrayed as terrorists, arrested and even killed by police and paramilitary groups.

Forty-six union members and officials have been killed by extrajudicial violence in the Philippines.

We stand in solidarity with our Filipino comrades living and working to improve workers' lives under the murderous Duterte regime. Australia must act to stop the killing of union members.

Source: Vic Trades Hall news

#UnDiaSinNosotras - Mexican women strike against femicide

On 9 March, hundreds of thousands of Mexican women and girls stayed home from work and school, and refrained from purchasing any nonessential goods or services, in an action to protest and draw attention to an epidemic of femicide and gendered violence. The national women’s strike, organised under the banner ‘Un Dia Sin Nosotras’, or ‘A day without us’, seeks to challenge government inaction and social apathy. Organisers of the strike have said “Instead of going out into the streets and shouting and occupying spaces, which all has been done before, we’re going to remove ourselves from those spaces. With our absence, we’re going to make our presence felt.”

They also are seeking recognition of work inside the home as unpaid work, and for urgent action to address the dangerous and precarious conditions many women in Mexico are working under, including the gender wage gap and sexual assault in the workplace.

According to the El Economista, the strike could cost the economy 37 billion pesos — or $A2.86 billion — as a result of the absence of 40% of Mexico’s labour force including work conducted in the informal economy and unpaid domestic work.

Source: TeenVogue