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From: The Socialist issue 1084, 27 April 2020: Workers’ safety before bosses’ profits

Search site for keywords: Coronavirus - Letters - Socialist - Workers - Trans - NHS - Government

Going viral: Socialist comments and letters on the corona crisis

The Covid-19 pandemic is a world social crisis which touches every aspect of life. The iniquities and failings of the capitalist system are being exposed, and workers and communities are organising in response.

Send us your comments, reports, anecdotes and thoughts, in not more than 200 words (we reserve the right to shorten letters), to [email protected]


Tory propaganda has consequences

  (Click to enlarge)

This morning (27 April) there's much more traffic than there has been during the lockdown.

The media has been full of stories about how we are getting on top of the virus. I think they want workers to individually decide to go back to work.

Not having any money, they are desperate to earn again. It gets the government off the hook.

The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) had many great examples at its meeting of how workers have fought for and won better health and safety conditions.

Heather Rawling, Leicester

I don't believe the lies

I'm fed up with the slick speeches on TV every night from callous government members and their toady advisors.

On Newsnight, carers visiting elderly people said disposable masks are used for two weeks. Two weeks!

Tory MP Tobias Elmwood arrogantly says he would continue to work under these circumstances - I don't believe him.

And I don't believe any of this rotten Tory government. If capitalism cannot provide a safe environment for carers and other frontline workers, then we can't afford capitalism.

Elaine Brunskill, Newcastle

Charities and NHS

Charities affiliated to hospitals and other NHS bodies have renewed appeals for donations during the corona crisis. Efforts made by ordinary workers, such as World War Two veteran Tom Moore, to raise sponsorship should be applauded.

Extra money to fund healthcare is welcome. Even before the epidemic, many hospitals were already running at or close to capacity.

However, why, when most of us pay tax and national insurance, is it necessary for workers to dip into their pockets further to give the NHS a fighting chance of coping with the virus? The 1% are hoarding obscene wealth.

It's estimated that big business and wealthy individuals in the UK dodge 112 billion in tax annually - just 3 billion less than the budget for NHS services in England last year.

A good number of these 'tax shirkers' are the same companies and shareholders charging the NHS through the nose. The interest payments on debts owed by NHS trusts from the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) totalled 2.2 billion in the lastfinancial year - nearly five times the amount raised by NHS charities in the same period.

For providing universal healthcare and the dedication of its staff, the NHS generates huge amounts of goodwill among the working class. But we can't rely on goodwill and charity to keep our hospitals running.

Nick Hart, Black Country

Price hikes

The Times reports prices at online supermarket Ocado have jumped 16% during the lockdown. Although Ocado may be the worst offender, it is not the only one.

The Times revealed Sainsbury's and Asda are 3% dearer. Millions of workers have suffered a fall in wages or no income.

Profiteering is nothing more than helping the customers according to Ocado: "Like all supermarkets, we removed a number of promotions [price discounts] to encourage customers to shop in a responsible way."

The Times concludes that the Competition and Markets Authority has "received 21,000 complaints about unfair price rises", but only "written to 187 companies about their prices."

John Merrell, Leicester

Richard Branson's advice

"Loss-making and inefficient airlines should go to the wall... the government should not intervene to stop companies going bust" - Richard Branson on British Airways in 2009.

He now suggests that we should bail out his company, with the 'quid pro quo' that he pays the taxes he owes. What errant rubbish! Ordinary people don't get to choose when to pay or avoid taxes.

Instead of taking Branson's advice from 2009, or the weak approach of allowing him to buy his way out of the crisis (he has the money to, he put up an island as collateral), we should take the company into democratic public ownership.

Save the jobs and allow committees of workers, trade unions, environmental campaigners and service users to make the necessary changes to the company to improve terms and conditions for workers and help tackle the catastrophic climate crisis.

Carl Harper, Peterborough

It's never the right time

A divisional (regional full-time) officer spoke at our union branch about the extra billions supermarkets had made due to panic buying. The officer mocked the British Retail Consortium for saying that now was "not the right time" to be arguing for a wage increase.

A union member working in Morrison's raised that something needed to be done about Morrison's flouting Sunday trading laws using the cover of coronavirus. The response by the divisional officer, and I kid you not, was that "now was not the right time to make a stand."

As laughable as this response is, workers know that they cannot wait for "the right time" to organise, because there never will be a "right time" for the bosses.

An Usdaw shop workers' union member

Kier Starmer

Sir Kier doing a great job on his socialist distancing.

Harry Smith, Liverpool

Get some fire in your belly. Thousands have died and thousands more will perish due to Tory covid policies. Evoking the 'national effort' and lightly rapping the government over the knuckles for being "too slow" isn't opposition.

Niall Mulholland, Newham, London

Let them drink bleach

Marie Antoinette is supposed to have told workers on the eve of the French Revolution to "let them eat cake". 200 years later, Trump is telling workers to "go and drink Domestos".

It demonstrates the absolute bankruptcy and desperation of capitalism. It shows only two class interests are at stake - the ruling class and their lust for profits, and the working class, the rest of us.

Covid-19 has revealed every failing and misery of a system dedicated to profit. From this disaster the ideas of democratic socialism will grow.

Future generations will tell the incredible story of a guy called Trump who used to tell his workers to drink bleach!

Dave Bartlett, Cardiff

Tories attack trans rights

Equalities Minister Liz Truss has hinted that some rights could be stripped from trans people, especially youth. The Socialist Party submitted a response to the online consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act - calling for the right to gender self-identity and an end to austerity, so the needs of all can be met.

Since the consultation, the Tories have been silent on the issue while continuing to starve the NHS of vital resources to deliver healthcare for trans people alongside everyone else.

Now Truss has stated her three priorities are: protecting single-sex spaces, making sure trans adults can live their lives 'whilst maintaining the proper checks and balances', and protecting under-18s from 'irreversible' decisions. These 'priorities' are utterly hypocritical.

Women's refuges need protection from the Tories, rather than trans people in need of services. Refuges have lost a quarter of their funding since 2010, forcing an estimated 44% of domestic violence victims to sofa-surf.

Many trans adults are on waiting lists of several years for just their first appointment at underfunded gender identity clinics. Trans people face discrimination and abuse, with severe effects on mental health.

The Tories have an appalling record on LGBT+ rights - or at least the rights that cost the Treasury anything. These 'priorities' confirm they will do nothing serious to support trans people.

Three priorities that trans people need are self-identity, an end to austerity, and high quality healthcare under workers' control.

Adam Harmsworth, Coventry

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

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.

Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.

We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to click here to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

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Article dated 27 April 2020

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Leicester picket on the 21st strike day (22nd Feb) of around 7,000 British Gas engineers.  They are fighting against

Leicester picket on the 21st strike day (22nd Feb) of around 7,000 British Gas engineers. They are fighting against 'fire and rehire' - designed to worsen terms and conditions. Photo by Steve Score, Leicester Socialist Party

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