Organising with other unions during the lockdown

The impact of coronavirus and the lockdown on the way we had become accustomed to organising was incredibly sudden and brought most planned activity to a halt.

A couple of weeks in our Town Committee met on Zoom to discuss how things were going in the different groups and workplaces and to see how we could support each other. At the meeting we agreed to work with other West Midlands unions to find ways to organise and campaign in these new circumstances.

The first meeting had nearly 40 people involved from across the major unions and the following week had 45 people in a public meeting with Fran Heathcote, PCS President, UNISON assistant secretary Roger Mackenzie and others speaking. Now called the West Midlands Coronavirus Action Group – People Before Profit it is one of many similar initiatives that have sprung up across the country. The People Before Profit Health Worker Covid Activists group has helped raise the confidence of health workers to demand and campaign for the PPE they need.

The West Midlands Action Group has been sharing news, raising arguments for PPE and Testing and is now campaigning against an early return to work. We have organised for a small group of socially distanced members to show solidarity with the weekly clap at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Around the country similar initiatives are being taken. We are organising virtual meetings, filming interviews and producing propaganda.

Whatever circumstances we find ourselves in we know that our rulers and the Tories will be looking to continue to run society in the interests of profit, and our class will always have to find ways to fight back. We are all probably tired of online meetings, but they have provided a way to continue to organise and build in these restricted times.

Pete Jackson

Birmingham PCS Town Committee convenor

The People Before Profit Health Worker Covid Activists group is holding a “No return to unsafe workplaces” public meeting on Wednesday 6th May at 6pm – click here for details