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20 January 2021

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Covid: Bosses chase profit and put workers in danger

School workers are having to carry out extra duties without support, photo Peyman Hamidipoor/snn.ir/CC

School workers are having to carry out extra duties without support, photo Peyman Hamidipoor/snn.ir/CC   (Click to enlarge)

Clive Walder, Birmingham South West Socialist Party

Any lingering illusion that the government's strategy for handling the Covid pandemic was aimed at protecting the entire population, without fear or favour, has been well and truly shattered.

Workers are forced to attend unsafe workplaces, there's pitiful financial provision for those self-isolating, and a complete failure to bring to book employers flagrantly breaching the law. The government has been busy blaming ordinary people for spreading the virus to cover up its failure to take timely decisive action and its protection of employers.

A survey revealed that one in ten insecure workers had gone to work within ten days of a positive Covid test, compared to one in 25 for workers generally. This fact alone justifies banning gig economy practices. One in nine workers have been forced to go to their workplace when they could have worked from home.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) received 2,945 complaints of Covid-unsafe workplaces between 6 and 14 January, but has yet to issue a single enforcement notice during this lockdown. Of the 97,000 reports of workplace breaches of Covid precautions the HSE has dealt with, only 0.1% have resulted in any enforcement action.

Unsurprisingly, many low-income workers are avoiding the whole testing regime, because they can't afford to self-isolate, and may not be offered work in the future.

Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has rightly called for the law to be enforced against employers, but we need to go further. The Tories have proved that they have no intention of protecting workers or standing in the way of the bosses' profits.

We need a 12-an-hour minimum wage, and workers on furlough should get 100% of their pay. We need an end to the gig economy and its replacement by secure jobs with guaranteed hours.

The HSE has shown that it is in the pockets of the bosses and should be replaced by an enforcement body under the control of the trade union movement. That body could inspect the financial books of these companies. Any that can't afford these basic demands should be nationalised, under the democratic control of workers.

The Tories' policies - turning a blind eye to employers that place the lives of workers and their families in danger - will never properly cure this virus. The Tories have no right to rule and the labour movement should be campaigning for their resignation, and a new mass workers' party.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 20 January 2021:


Make the super-rich pay, not the poorest

Bosses profit out of 'starvation' food parcels

Teachers: On the front line, in their own words

Peace and Justice Project - no way forward for socialism

Millionaire tendency regains control of Scottish Labour

News in Brief


The Tory blame game: scapegoating the working class - 100% pay for all now

Covid: Bosses chase profit and put workers in danger

Vaccine confidence - a worker's response

Life in lockdown - being home from school when you're poor is hard


On the NHS front line

Black Lives Matter

Justice for Mohamud Hassan!

Police use Covid laws to intimidate BLM protesters

New Cross Gate fire 40 years ago

International News

USA in crisis - the need for a socialist alternative

Trump Twitter ban: only independent workers' voice can defeat right


PCS Broad Left Network conference

Rolls-Royce Barnoldswick factory future secured following strike action

Morrisons - 10/hr headline hides divisive pay offer

A day in the life of an agency worker

British Gas strike continues


Refund student rent and fees

Plymouth rent strike continues

Scrap fees, refund rents and pay a living grant


London's May elections: Tories and Labour's Khan both vying to slash public services

Socialist Party national women's meeting

Why I joined the Socialist Party

Christmas Crossword Competition

Readers' Opinion

Books that inspired me: The Road to Wigan Pier


Obituary - Jeff Edwards


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Article dated 20 January 2021

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