Tuesday, 28 April 2020


Wednesday 29th April 2020 is National Postal Workers DayThis event is held annually to create an opportunity to promote the fantastic work our members do all year round, but it is particularly pertinent this year during this crisis. Postal Workers in the London, East and South East Region are working around the clock to make sure the customers  get their mail delivered.
This event will mark the ninth annual National Postal Workers Day, when the nation celebrates the hard work and dedication of hundreds of thousands of postal workers, who collect, sort and deliver letters, parcels and packets to 29 million addresses, 6 days a week in every village, Town and City in the UK. 
We are living in unprecedented times, but one thing always remains constant – the significant role our members play in every community in the UK – let’s celebrate this on 29th April.
This year we are calling on the public, media and politicians to give a greater level of recognition to postal workers than ever before. Despite hugely challenging times, CWU members are keeping the country connected. From delivering essential items, to checking on the elderly and taking shopping to the most vulnerable in society, we have seen thousands of examples of local postal workers stepping up. You can thank your postie when you see them or by using #PostalWorkersDay on social media.
During the crisis, Royal Mail have still forced them to deliver advertising mail, refuse to meet regularly with the CWU at the highest level and the CEO and COO are running the company from outside of the UK – when you acknowledge your local postal workers on Wednesday know they are serving you despite senior management and not because of them.
Commenting on the event CWU official Ian Murphy said Postal Workers here in the CWU London Region as well as across the Country are doing a fantastic job. It is sad that senior management have not recognised the efforts of our members, but the public have. The sight of posters in windows, drinks left on doorsteps or even a simple ‘thank you’ mean the world to our members. On National Postal Workers Day this Wednesday please let your postie know how appreciated they are by thanking them or posting on social media using #PostalWorkersDay – thank you for your support”

Friday, 17 April 2020

ETUC-FERPA letter signed by Luca Visentini and Agostino Siciliano sent to the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Parliament

Dear Colleagues,
Please find attached a copy of the joint ETUC-FERPA letter signed by Luca Visentini and Agostino Siciliano which was sent this morning to the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Parliament in order to draw their attention to the particularly difficult situation currently experienced by the elderly and retired people.
Fraternal greetings.


Jessica Montiel
Project Coordinator
PA to the General Secretary of FERPA
European Federation of Retired and Elderly People
Fédération Européenne des Retraités et des Personnes Agées
Boulevard du Roi Albert II, 5,
B-1210 Bruxelles
Tel: +32 2 224 0442 Fax: +32 2 224 0567
Visit our website : www.ferpa.online

From: General Secretary <generalsecretary@etuc.org>
Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2020 1:52 PM
Cc: Siciliano, Agostino <
asiciliano@etuc.org>; MONTIEL, Jessica <JMONTIEL@ETUC.ORG>;
Subject: ETUC-FERPA Joint Letter

Dear President von der Leyen,
Dear President Sassoli,

We welcome the emergency measures that the European Commission has recently adopted.  The economic resources allocated to ensure the appropriate functioning of health systems in the fight against Covid-19 and to support businesses, protect workers from unemployment and loss of income in this delicate period, are clearly needed.  Trade Unions are now putting pressure on their governments to avail of such emergency measures without delay.

However, more specific and targeted health and economic measures are urgently needed to contain and stop the spread of the virus and to better manage the health, economic and employment effects of this unprecedented pandemic.

Covid-19 is infecting thousands of people across Europe and throughout the world.  However, the ones paying the highest price, often with their life, are citizens over the age of 70.  They are more prone to be infected and to die as a result of contracting this virus.  The more vulnerable being  the over-80s who are already affected by other diseases.

We recognise the severity of this health emergency and acknowledge the great commitment of doctors, nurses and all health personnel who are in the front line to treat and save lives.  However, at this stage we believe it is essential that you intervene with the governments of individual countries so that the elderly, especially those with disabilities, in fragile conditions and those living alone, are given special attention and targeted health care.

In particular we would like to bring to your attention the delicate circumstances in which the elderly people residing in old people's homes and long-term care facilities are finding themselves in.  The situation is becoming dramatic in many European countries due to several outbreaks of the virus in such facilities, the staff of which are often not adequately protected.
Additionally, social assistance is needed to prevent older people from feeling lonelier, discriminated and abandoned as a result of the restrictive mobility and social relations measures implemented by governments to prevent the spread of this contagious virus.

We hope that solidarity between European countries and between generations will be strengthened because it is only by standing together that we can defeat this terrible coronavirus.  We are counting on your intervention to defend of the health of all European citizens and in particular of the elderly, who are the most vulnerable people.  They are the generation that contributed to build the European Union and they are the ones that are now paying too high price with too many deaths.

Yours sincerely,

Luca Visentini                                               Agostino Siciliano
ETUC General Secretary                             FERPA General Secretary

Luca Visentini - General Secretary
Image removed by sender.
European Trade Union Confederation
Confédération Européenne des Syndicats
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We are demanding a 'right to stay' ,


While migrants working in our NHS, shops and farms are risking their lives to feed us and fight the virus, their rights are being undermined and targeted by the Hostile Environment. Brexit means that 3.5 million Europeans are being forced to go through an applications process to get status in the UK.

We are demanding a 'right to stay' , so that EU citizens are given an automatic right to remain here, without an application. But without being able to march or rally, what can we do under lockdown? Well, you can now get posters for your window delivered to your door. 
Get your 'right to stay' window poster here
The posters should arrive with you within a few days. If you've got time on your hands, you could also make a banner (like these), and if you send us photos over social media and we'll share them. Next week, we'll also be releasing a tool to allow you to write to your MP about the Right to Stay with a single click.

Getting posters sent out all over the country isn't free, so if you can spare some cash, why not chip in to cover some costs. 
Chip in for 5 posters
Chip in for 10 posters
Chip in for 30 posters
Chip in for 100 posters
Thanks, and hope you're well.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Help Cuba fight COVID-19 and the US blockade

Cuba Solidarity Campaign
Cuba Update 28 March 2020

Help Cuba fight COVID-19 and the US blockade

Dear friend,
Please sign our open letter asking for the US blockade to be lifted to help Cuba fight the coronavirus at home and abroad.
Cuba has shown international solidarity to Britain and other countries during this global pandemic. Now is our chance to show our appreciation.
Join the call on the British government to make urgent representations to the Trump administration to lift the blockade today.
Add your name to the open letter below:
As the world fights an international battle against the coronavirus pandemic, Cuba has once again proved itself a paragon of internationalism and solidarity.
In recent days the island has sent highly skilled medical brigades to many countries including Italy, Grenada, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Venezuela to support foreign health services overwhelmed by the scale of the crisis.
On 18 March the Cuban government offered safe haven to passengers of the stricken British cruise ship MS Braemar allowing it to dock in Havana when many other countries had refused. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab publicly thanked Cuba for this assistance in a statement to the UK parliament.
It has also made its anti-viral drug Interferon Alpha B available to nations around the world to help in the treatment of patients infected with COVID-19.
The island’s altruistic response to the global emergency continues a long history of Cuban humanitarianism. In the last 56 years 400,000 Cuban health workers have responded to natural disasters and helped build health services in 164 nations. This includes sending medical brigades to Pakistan in the aftermath of the Kashmiri earthquake (2005), to Haiti to assist with the devastating cholera outbreak following the earthquake (2010), and to West Africa in the region’s fight against Ebola (2015). Cuba has also trained 35,613 health professionals from 138 countries at its Latin American Medical School since 1998.
At the same time the island has suffered the effects of the 58-year old criminal United States blockade which causes daily shortages of food, fuel and other basic necessities. Last year the cost to the Cuban health sector alone amounted to more than $104 million.
As we write, Cuba is itself combating the spread of coronavirus within its own population and needs access of medical equipment and resources to safeguard the well-being of its most vulnerable citizens. Cuba has always put the humanitarian needs of people first, regardless or borders or politics. At this time of international crisis, the US blockade is criminal, not only for its impact on the Cuban people, but also for hindering their ability to assist in the worldwide battle against the virus.
The Cuba Solidarity Campaign sends its eternal gratitude to the Cuban medical teams for their inspirational example of global solidarity. At the same time we call on the British government to make an urgent representation to the US to end its blockade immediately, or at the very least to temporarily suspend it to allow vital supplies of food, fuel and medical equipment to the Cuban people. The Cuban people supported the British people in a time of need. This is a chance to demonstrate our appreciation.
Help Cuba fight COVID-19 and the US
Coronavirus update
Stories on Cuba’s international response to coronavirus
At the time of writing Cuba itself has had 67 cases of coronavirus, resulting in one death, and more than 1,000 people in quarantine. Doctors and medical students throughout the country are taking place in door to door health check ups and reminding people of what symptoms to look for and the importance of social distancing. On 20 March, when the island had less than twenty cases, the government took the decision to close its borders, except for residents and foreign nationals wishing to return. Tourists in the country at the time were quarantined in hotels for fourteen days or until their flight home.
At the same time the island provided inspirational international solidarity around the world.
Cuban medical brigades were sent to help beleaguered health services in several countries including Italy and Jamaica, the island allowed a British cruise ship to dock so that infected passengers could be flown home. And Cuban anti viral Interferon Alpha 2B was made available to help with treatment.
Cuba’s response was mentioned in the British parliament both by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, and by Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn who said: “The internationalism of the doctors from Cuba who have gone to fight the virus in Italy is inspirational."
International praise also came from former president of Brazil, Ignacio Lula da Silva, who said “the Cuban people showed the world an example of solidarity.” In an embarrassing U-turn, Brazil’s health minister, begged for Cuban doctors to come back, less than eighteen months after they were expelled by President Jair Bolsonaro in 2018.
Cuba’s inspirational humanitarian response to COVID-19 came despite the country facing shortages and difficulties at home as a result of the tightening of the US blockade by President Trump.
On 26 March, the Cuban Foreign Ministry was forced to issue a strongly worded protest in response to “particularly offensive statements” and “lies” against Cuba’s international medical cooperation from the US Department of State which unbelieveably attempts to pressure countries to reject Cuban aid during the coronavirus pandemic.
CSC joins the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights, and other international organisations and groups, in calling for an immediate end to the US blockade in the light of the current global emergency.
Further reading
We hope you and your loved ones stay safe and well during this difficult time.
In solidarity
The Cuba Solidarity Campaign team

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Friday Fun at Five from Finchley with Diane and Noel

Friday Fun at Five from Finchley with Diane and Noel
Doing our bit to entertain everyone during lock down.
We’re a husband and wife team from Finchley broadcasting live from my facebook page every Friday at 5pm and posting on this page for all to see. Fun quizzes, “guess the object”, Irish/English anecdotes and much more. Watch and enjoy!!

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

London bus drivers must be provided protection against COVID-19

Join the Fight for a CoronaContract and Solidarity with Bus Drivers

Please find below a mailing from the #CoronaContract campaign. Please share this widely and join their webinar this Thursday 9 April at 7pm.
Dear colleagues and comrades,
Apologies for this mass email. My name is Jordan, I’m a fixed-term postdoctoral researcher at Birkbeck, UCU member and one of the organisers of the #CoronaContract campaign to secure the livelihoods of precarious university staff during this crisis.
Will you please consider sharing this email with your members and relevant lists?
Our open letter has gathered over 1000 signatures and counting, and we were recently featured in a Guardian article calling out universities’ shameful treatment of casualised workers.
This Thursday at 7pm we will be hosting a #CoronaContract webinar, featuring UCU President Elect Vicky Blake and a host of inspiring anti-casualisation organisers. We’ll discuss the background to our campaign and the practical ways we’re going to exert pressure on our universities, unions, and the wider public in order to secure our livelihoods during this crisis and beyond. Please join us by registering here...
In order for our campaign to succeed we need to get the word out as much as possible. Please join us on the webinar, follow and RT us on Twitter @CoronaContract, and sign our open letter.
In solidarity,

London bus drivers must be provided protection against COVID-19 

In light of recent disheartening news in relation to  the death of 8 London bus drivers during the COVID-19 pandemic, I strongly believe measures need to be taken to protect our essential bus drivers, who are responsible for allowing key workers to complete their daily journeys. Bus drivers are not being provided with basic personal protective equipment such as gloves, hand sanitisers or face masks. This puts our essential workers at risk of contracting the virus and spreading it to everyone they interact with, including key workers travelling on the buses and their families when they return home. Please help our essential workers to stay safe and healthy while providing essential services. There is no doubt that leaving their houses is putting them at risk primarily but providing that extra protection may be the difference between life and death. They are doing their jobs to help you and your families. Please place yourself in the shoes of our essential workers and help them to stay safe during this pandemic.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

The older generation and computers - an unresolved challenge

The older generation and computers - an unresolved challenge
Following events about virtual reality and tech accessibility at the North London branch, committee member Maureen Childs MBCS and Erwin Schaefer MBCS explore how older people may feel excluded from benefits of technology and how a few small changes could make a big difference to IT use by seniors.

Imagine the past… primitive computers, the size of a room, used exclusively by top companies, universities or government agencies. No internet exists and nobody knows what ‘social media’ is supposed to be. To call somebody, you use a rotary-dial telephone attached to a socket in the wall. You have three or four TV stations but they shut around midnight. To get your news, you purchase your favourite newspaper in print. To buy anything, you pay by cash or perhaps by cheque. If you are young and love music you might carry a cassette Walkman around with you. And nobody can contact you if they don’t know where you are.

The state of the nation
Fast forward  a few decades to arrive in a world where computers have become ubiquitous and where their use has changed the world beyond recognition – at least if you’re part of a generation that has known life and work without them.

So, are today’s seniors just annoying relics of a bygone era? People who should just adapt to all that exciting new technology and accept the realities of this Brave New World? That isn’t a fair assessment.

Making the change
In the last decade there have been numerous reports produced by many responsible organisations including the World Health Organization and UK government, to highlight the potential problems with senior IT use, or lack of use. The reports gave a stark reminder of how the lack of use of technology, for whatever reason, has caused desperate isolation and the knock-on effects of this on a large proportion of the UK population.

To explore the many accessibility problems as well as the new capabilities of technology, BCS North London branch held two informative and interactive events. The first event was in early February, held in conjunction with Cassette, a company that specialises in ‘virtual reality, augmented reality and immersive technology’? for use in health and social welfare. Virtual reality was chosen as the event topic to address inclusion, entertain and dispel fears of the unknown.
In the second event, entitled digital inclusion, the North London branch invited a number of London seniors to discuss the problems they had with accessing the internet - there were as many problems as people. They involved logistical problems like not having the dexterity to use touch screens, the print of websites being too small, not remembering passwords, incompatibility issues between platforms, not to mention security problems, confusing upgrades and contact with criminal intent.
There are plenty of people in their 70s and older who have taken enthusiastically to new technology. There are many more people who confidently grew into the computer-age during their careers, but might be baffled and annoyed by the constant introduction of new apps and ever more prolific communication formats. And then there are those who have sidestepped technology, who are unaware of even the basic aspects of the digital age. There might be health reasons or a disability making it difficult for them to use computers unaided, there might have been a lack of opportunities to gain exposure to computers during their lives, there might well be an element of apprehension involved as well.

Doing our duty
As members of a compassionate society, we should encourage an inclusive attitude toward more vulnerable people by assisting those that are struggling to achieve a dignified level of digital access. There are still too many occasions where older people are simply excluded from social activities or even a meaningful and useful work experience because they do not receive the comparatively modest assistance and encouragement that would enable them to fully participate in society.

While suggestions for a more age-friendly society are being made by the World Health Organization and filtering through to countries adopting the concept of Age Friendly Cities, there still needs to be more work at a grassroots level. Leaving digital inclusion and training to unqualified overworked librarians, care staff or community volunteers, is simply no longer an option. More and more services, such as basic healthcare, benefits and payments are all moving from a paper-based system to access online.

What needs to be done?
Looking to the future, there needs to be a national programme of IT inclusion. This needs to address everything from the physical design of hardware to software right through to relevance and usability, with a good level of professional training. There needs to be, not only a plan of change but a culture of accountability to ensure that everyone - seniors, returning parents, people with disabilities, new citizens, young people - are not disadvantaged and can make the same digital journey as those who are a little more tech-savvy.

Are we heading in the right direction?
We also need to ask: ‘where is digital technology leading us?’ There are many useful aspects that we would not want to lose again - not everyone is a passionate gamer but many of us enjoy having access to web links about science, culture, literature and a democratic level of political involvement that is enabled by digital media. Almost everyone has an email address, these days, to communicate. And what about those amazing miniature computers we carry around with us - calling them a ‘phone’, or even a ‘smart phone’ almost does not do them justice. 
But, are we sure we know all the potential consequences of the digitalisation of our lives? Can we be confident with the structures in place that are supposedly safeguarding our digital activities? Can we be assured that our data is not being misused? Have we not had ample evidence recently about manipulative advertising on social media to influence voters’ attitudes? Can we honestly say that this enormous phenomenon called ‘social media’ is automatically a force for good?

A digital transformation of life
The Fourth Industrial Revolution will inevitably bring change - sometimes welcome, sometimes not. It is up to society to make sure that if we make sweeping changes, in the name of efficiency and cost saving, will they be suitable for everyone? If we move the entire payment structure onto digital platforms, removing our access to cash at the same time, would we really be comfortable with the potential for abusive control of our digital visibility? Similar questions can be asked about any of the other digital information pieces about us, floating around in cyberspace, be they of a medical, professional or political nature.

We are at a point where questioning our almost total reliance, or perhaps even obsession, with computers and digital media should be part of a civic debate in which today’s seniors should have a voice. They carry the memories and wisdom of a life without any of that technology; they can tell us how to have a human-to-human relationship not involving screens, keyboards, passwords, apps, Facebook or Twitter. For the modest assistance needed by some elderly computer users, that generation can more than pay back all of society, if only we start taking them seriously as mature and insightful members of an inclusive society.
Further reading
·         BT - Skills for tomorrow
·         OpenLearn - Free courses
Our sincerest thanks to the North London branch of BCS for their continued support and contribution to the Content Hub and ITNOW. We welcome the submission of good quality articles from all IT professionals, so please get in touch.

acknowledgements to 

BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT,