NHS workers gathering in St James's Park, London, ahead of their demonstration as part of a national protest over pay.

No return to work without full safety measures

Against the economic crisis

The ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic have laid bare the fault lines that run through British society. Over 4 million people have tested positive, and over 120,000 people have died with the highest death rates amongst frontline workers, black, elderly and disabled people, precarious workers and the poor.

International Socialist League (ISL) – Britain

COVID-19 paralysed Johnson and the rest of the Government. When faced with a crisis so deep that only the most far-reaching social measure could contain the virus, they were unable to respond. Their main focus was on how to guarantee the profits of the banks and multi-nationals. Instead of developing quick and assertive action to provide the necessary tools to combat the pandemic’s spread, they were busy negotiating contracts with cronies looking at the crisis as yet another place to make a quick profit.

New strains will continue to emerge as coronavirus continues to spread through the population, thus decisive action is vital.

Initially, Johnson abhorred the idea of closing down the economy and allowed the virus to run wild and having been forced to put the country under lockdown, he then lifted it too early allowing the virus once again to run amok. The UK has had a very high death rate for Europe and one of the highest in the world. But as soon as death rates began to drop to what the government considered an acceptable level (hundreds per day), plans were made to lift the lockdown again.

Johnson has sought containment – the idea of living with COVID-19 as if it was flu. However, this virus has shown to be far more devastating than flu, and with emerging mutations, the only sensible policy is one that aims for elimination, that is ‘zero-COVID-19’. Some countries aiming for zero-COVID-19 are producing more positive results than trying to “live with the virus’.i

But the Johnson Government, and capitalism in general, cannot consider this idea. How to “get the economy going” dominates their strategy and capitalism is now focusing plans into a mass vaccine roll-out with the aim of returning to ‘normal’ as quickly as possible. COVID-19 does not respect borders, and it is ravaging the world. As there is not a worldwide vaccination programme, the increasing levels of COVID-19 and death rates in poor countries will result in the circulation of more variants. Variants that will eventually result in vaccines being ineffective.

The infection and death rates are now falling from very high levels in the UK, but we have been here before. Great dangers persist from the pandemic and economic crisis threatens catastrophe – unless we build a mass struggle against Johnson’s neo-liberal policies.

What we have seen is government business cronies profiting from contracts for PPE, Test & Trace and other urgently needed provisions. A more correct and decisive response would have been to take control of factories and direct them to produce the high-quality medical-grade PPE that was needed, thus guaranteeing jobs and guaranteeing safety. Instead, what we have seen is warehouses full of PPE that was not fit for purpose from privateers like Serco and Deloitte.

Suppression does not offer a clear endpoint, leaving countries vulnerable to rapid resurgences. By the summer, perhaps 20 to 30 million in the UK will be vaccinated, but that means 30 to 40 million will not be. While the government want a full return to schools on 8 March, there is no vaccine available for children and school workers are still awaiting vaccination.

There is inadequate funding for the numbers of health workers urgently needed to fight the virus, and NHS workers still do not have the PPE they need. And despite working round the clock through the pandemic their next pay rise is being capped at 1%. This says everything about this government.

This is a question for the entire working class; we cannot fight sector by sector to defeat this government. We must prepare for a national and a general strike. In the past, miners, dockworkers and engineering workers struck work for the NHS and nurses. We need now a movement of workers and the dispossessed to unite and fight.

Science vs profit

The pandemic created the perfect storm for the bourgeoisie to manipulate a mass market for private health care from the backlog of operations. Doctors and nurses are overwhelmed and are now facing long-term exhaustion. The NHS has been weakened and is ripe for dismantling then replacement by a private system such as in the USA.

Johnson’s policy of using private business to test, trace and isolate has exposed the fact that “the private sector is not up to the job – and nor can it be”.ii Throughout the pandemic, the government failed to implement an effective strategy to trace and isolate contacts quickly. The approach to international travel was equally ineffective and failed to prevent its spread in and out of the UK.

According to the British Medical Journal, “as is now clear from many countries, as long as this virus continues to circulate in substantial quantities, any lifting of restrictions will allow infections to spread, unless there is a robust system to find, test, trace, isolate, and support. The historical evidence from (the) 1918 (Spanish flu pandemic) is clear—places that imposed the strictest limitations and retained them longest saw a faster economic recovery.”iii

On 5 February studies, released by Sage [the government’s scientific advisory group], suggest that we could be back to 750 COVID-19 deaths a day and 20,000 in hospital, in England by November 2021. Furthermore, Professor Neil Ferguson [who resigned from Sage last year] at Imperial College London warns that easing restrictions too rapidly from March to July could lead to an additional 130,800 fatalities between now and June next year. This would take UK COVID-19 deaths up to around a quarter of a million.

This means that people living in deprived areas are at significant risk of dying in higher numbers and scientific advisers are arguing that cases must fall sharply before there is any re-opening.

Unemployment and furlough

COVID-19 has plunged Britain into one of the deepest recessions on record, and jobs in retail, hospitality, airlines, have disappeared including thousands of jobs disappearing from British Airways. The bank of England claims that unemployment could rise to 7.75% in 2021, by December 2020, it had reached 5.1%, according to the ONC affecting mainly young people.

A record number of redundancies, 395,000, were recorded in the period from September to November 2020 with nearly 10 million people furloughed between the start of the scheme and 13 December. The government’s scheme currently runs until the end of September, paying a maximum of 80% of wages but it is predicted that millions of furloughed workers will ultimately lose their jobs.

However, many workplaces have stayed open, and precarious workers have been forced to work.

In the UK, black and ethnic minorities, women, disabled people, LGBT+ people, and the poor are at the highest risk of getting COVID-19 and dying. The pandemic has highlighted that long-standing economic, racial and gender divides have deepened and widened the gap between rich and poor and that that gap is as deadly as the pandemic.

Poverty, oppression and death

The inequality between rich and poor, which rose sharply after the 2008 banking crisis, is much broader than previously thought. The richest 1% own 23% of the wealth. In 2020, when many were plunged into a health and economic catastrophe, the richest continued to amass wealth.

In Britain, 14.3 million people lived in poverty in 2019. In 2021 it is predicted that almost 40% of children in the UK will be in poverty.

Two major groups of occupations were found to have similarly high rates of death involving COVID-19. The first was elementary workers with 39.7 deaths per 100,000 men (421 deaths)”, such as construction workers and cleaners. “The second was caring, leisure and other service occupations (39.6 deaths per 100,000 men, or 160 deaths), which include occupations such as nursing assistants, care workers and ambulance drivers.”iv

There is no national unity nor are we “all in this together”.

Attacks against women

In 2010 George Osborne unleashed a £40bn cuts programme that hit vital social services. It meant forcing people into foodbanks and hit the most marginalised, including women and children. Local authorities have had central government funding cut by 60%, with adult social care cut by £8bn. Funding to refuges for women fleeing domestic violence has been drastically cut with many forced closures.

Almost two-thirds of refuge referrals in England were denied in 2018-19 according to a recent report by Women’s Aid and the number of refuge spaces in England is 30% below that recommended by the Council of Europe. Service providers cite ongoing funding crises as the biggest issue facing the sector, particularly those run by and for BAME women.”v

Last year Refuge (a national domestic abuse charity) reported that calls to their hotline saw an average increase of 50%vi and over 400% increase to its website during the lockdown. Local authority cuts since 2010 have devastated refuge capacity. During the confinement, many women have been trapped at home with their aggressors or abusers facing increased riskvii, while shelters and services have been cut or closed, and at the same time more difficult to reach friends and support networks.

The government published in 2016 the most recent information from the Violence against Women and Girls Strategy Factsheet. It reported that “1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse and 1 in 5 sexual assault during her lifetime.” Further statistics show that two women are killed by their partner every week in England and Wales. UK police receive a call every minute about domestic abuse and only 24% of domestic violence cases are reported. These are pre-lockdown figures.viii

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on gender equality in the workplace. Working-class women have borne the brunt of the cuts to working hours during the pandemic. Key-working is highest among working-class women with 60% of women in semi-routine and routine jobs as keyworkers, mainly in face-to-face roles such as health and social care, childcare and education. These roles demand high levels of social interaction and virus exposure.ix

The pandemic has also increased the burdens of family life on women. Women take the majority of household work, childcare, cleaning, cooking and home-schooling. At the same time, women face greater job insecurity. Women face enormous burdens especially women on low pay, in precarious work and from BAME communities.

Domestic labour must be socialised and paid for by the state and precarious employment ended. Greater state resources are needed for all children and those with responsibilities for home-schooling including free computers and internet and payments to overcome financial hardships and for home-schooling.

Racism and inequality

COVID-19 mortality rates for people of Black African or Black Caribbean ethnicity in the first half of this year were more than twice as high as people of White ethnicity, and alarmingly the mortality rate for South Asian people is five times higher.

Overcrowded accommodation, poor housing conditions, working in precarious front line and high-risk jobs, poverty and health-care discrimination are commonly experienced in BAME communities. These factors have tragically contributed to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 in some communities. Inequalities have been exposed and have continued to grow.

There has been concern raised about a lack of taking up of COVID-19 vaccination in some BAME communities without addressing systemic racism and hostile policies that target Black and immigrant populations. Hostile and discriminatory policies create fear within targeted communities of government and state institutions, including fear of deportation and detention as exposed by the Windrush scandal which saw people of Caribbean heritage being brutally deported.

COVID-19 has further exposed the inequalities and everyday racism that exists in the NHS for BAME healthcare professions and patients. So, despite being founded on the principle of equality the NHS has a poor record on outcomes for BAME people.

A British Medical Council (November 2020) report shows that “ethnic inequalities in education, work, health and criminal justice remain,”x in patients with both physical and mental health conditions. They also say that “Overall, there is a dearth of prospective evidence on the link between racial discrimination and health in UK samples, particularly in relation to physical health outcomes.” Structural and institutional change is essential to address the culture of racism that is blighting the experiences of so many.

Experiences of the healthcare system in BAME communities include higher mortality rates from COVID-19, higher mortality rates in pregnancy or childbirth,xi higher child mortality rates, higher levels of psychiatric detention. The NHS has to set mandatory targets to deal with these appalling outcomes.

Disabled people suffer

Disabled people are an oppressed minority; they make up 17.2% of England’s population and are more than 25% of the Welsh people.

In November 2020 disabled people disproportionately accounted for 59.5% of Coronavirus deaths in England. According to figures from the ONS, there were 50,888 deaths from January to November 2020. And the death rate for severely disabled people was three times greater than non-disabled peoplexii and people with a learning disability six times higher.

No trust in Johnson or Starmer over health

Johnson’s government has seriously mishandled the pandemic from the start and through its darkest moments. They embraced British exceptionalism, were blindly optimistic and only reacted and were forced into U-turns at the last moment. Pushed by their big business buddies to prioritise profits and the survival of the capitalist economy over the population’s health and well-being. They have done nothing to support and protect precarious and other workers’ ability to self-isolate, workers especially young workers are driven into wage slavery.

It is nothing new because the government has been warned many times that new viruses would arise yet have refused to prepare for this inevitable pandemic. Policies to run down and privatise the NHS was their priority which has led to overcrowded ICU wards, 80,000 nursing posts unfulfilled, an increasing number of precarious health workers and PPE shortages.

Running alongside the privatisation plans for all public services is the continuing austerity agenda to which COVID-19 costs are added.

Homelessness was responded to with repression, adult social care cut, alongside a major housing crisis. Labour councils have already agreed to make further cuts this year deepening the crises that many communities are already facing.

Now the situation is worse and huge cuts to council funding plus COVID-19 costs means at least another billion cut from council budgets creating another national emergency.

Cuts that will continue for years and the local council taxes will rise to above inflation rates unless a mass movement is built on the street. Brutal cuts have already endangered the health of the population especially the poor and this will worsen. It also means COVID-19 cases and deaths will continue to devastate the poorest communities.

The Tory government is also driving yet another reorganisation of the NHS under the slogan, “integrated care system”. The aim is to ease the path for private companies to rip off even more sections of the NHS, making it less accountable as central government will have much greater control and decision-making powers – all to help their big business friends not the healthcare of the nation.

The NHS cuts and cuts to public services and jobs have to be reversed to seriously fight COVID-19 infections and deaths, however, the Labour Party is unable and unwilling to take on this urgent battle as they are also more wedded to survival of capitalism than the people.

Neither Johnson nor Starmer question the destruction of local and public services by Tory policy also implementation by Labour and the contribution of those policies to vulnerability to the virus.

That is why we need an emergency programme. This crisis will not be over anytime soon. that’s why we call for an Emergency Zero COVID-19 and economic programme to protect workers and oppressed communities.

The rich grow richer

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the UK economy will be among the hardest hit by the pandemic, which predicts that by the end of 2021, it will be more than 6% smaller than before COVID-19 health crisis.

At the same time, economists expect the UK economic recovery in 2021 to be slower than in peer countries because of a lower starting point, a larger services sector, low business investment and the impact of Brexit. It is the working class who will pay the price.

However, while many people have suffered and struggled under COVID-19 restrictions – furlough, working from home, unpaid home-schooling and child-care, poverty and unemployment, the rich have continued to be enriched.

Many contracts were awarded as the need to respond to the pandemic deepened however the National Audit Office reported, 26 November 2020, that more than 8,600 contracts valued at £18 billion had been awarded by 31 July, including £10.5 billion without any competition process. This included the outsourcing of contracts such as Track and Trace to private giants such as Serco and Sitel who failed to perform the essential role expected of them. No details of payments to them have yet been published.

A ‘high-priority lane’ was established for companies referred by their connections to the Tory party and around one in ten going through this route were awarded a contract, compared to one in a hundred for those in the ‘ordinary lane’.

There was ‘inadequate documentation’ in a number of cases on how risks were managed – including potential conflicts of interest. Contracts were even awarded retrospectively after work was carried out. Some of the companies named in the report have links with individuals within the Tory Party, including Michael Gove and Lord Agnew. xiii

Union leaderships dampen the struggle

Trade union leaderships are also culpable and have refused to build national campaigns. Strikes take place only when forced by the rank and file.

The TUC leadership aims to kill struggles, and where they cannot they will try to contain them as they did in the 2011 one day national pension strike.

Nor have they ever called for action to end the anti-trade union laws, merely organised conferences without planned actions.

Trade Unions should be independent and free from state interference: all legal shackles should be removed. These are used as an excuse by the bureaucracy but there is no real union democracy in what the establishment propaganda calls a ‘free democracy’. The anti-trade union laws curtail the ability of the membership to make decisions! It is time to take control of our unions, fight these laws and realise our collective power.

Build the fightback, unite the struggles

In many industrial workplaces and building sites, at many colleges, schools and universities there has been a total disregard for workers’ lives.

Workers and unions must halt the government’s plan to force a return to ‘normality’ this month (March 2021) while infection rates remain high and without fully ensuring the safety and well-being of all workers and the general public.

There are many examples of heroic workers fighting back such as the massive stay away by the teachers in January which forced Johnson into another U-turn cancelling the mass return to school. DVLA workers (PCS) near Swansea are threatening strike action over a forced return to the site where hundreds of cases of COVID-19 have been reported and a colleague has died of the virus.

Wider struggles are ongoing in the face of the pandemic with strikes having taken place against ‘fire and rehire’ policies at many workplaces such as with British gas workers (GMB) in January and February, Manchester bus drivers, and Unite members at Heathrow airport in February. Other workers such as the energetic pickets of Sage Car workers (UVW) have shown that they have had enough and the security staff at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, who won their demands by taking strike action. The UCU at two universities have also won their fight but more strike action is planned against sacking and conditions and students have been occupying and taking action at many institutions, against fees and rent.

To build the fight, we have to link our strikes. We can prepare through mass online meetings and fight for the union democracy of members. During this public health crisis, many unions have failed to organise mass meetings using COVID-19 as an excuse because their leaderships fear workers’ anger and demands. Many unions have not yet planned national conferences, and where they have done, they are curtailing internal union democracy. Despite the new communication technology that is available, the union bureaucracy is cutting the time allowed, reducing the size of delegations and the number of motions to be debated. At a time when the working class faces an unprecedented crisis!

The question facing us is how to build a fightback that can take us to the streets safely. In Brazil, where there is no mass vaccination programme, but on 23 January, social movements, political parties and working-class organisations promoted mobilisations of cars to take place across the country. From the capitals to the cities of the interior, streets and avenues were taken over by cars, motorcycles and bicycles denouncing the genocidal policies of a government of militiamen and their accomplices in the states and municipalities. With the urgency needed to arrive at Zero COVID-19, mass action must be discussed and planned now.

The virus cannot be under control anywhere unless it is under control everywhere

It is necessary to construct an emergency programme that is international and not focused only on the UK.

Rich countries have hoarded enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations nearly three times over. Nearly 70 poor countries will only be able to vaccinate one in ten people against COVID-19 next year unless urgent action is taken by governments and the pharmaceutical industry to make sure enough doses are produced, a group of campaigning organisations warned today.”xiv

COVID-19 will not be defeated in any one country. The big laboratories have prioritised countries where profits are higher instead of allocating doses to the World Health Organisation.

This policy will kill many people in poor countries. The People’s Vaccine Alliance is calling on all pharmaceutical corporations working on COVID-19 vaccines to openly share their technology and intellectual property through the World Health Organization COVID-19 Technology Access Pool.

Even the in-house journal of the ruling class, The Financial Times (FT), added its voice to these concerns in an article 9 February, “The world economy is recovering from the depths of the COVID-19 crisis. But that crisis will not depart for good until the pandemic is under control. Since the virus knows no frontiers, it cannot be under control anywhere unless it is under control everywhere.

… … The more widespread the virus, the greater is the likelihood of harmful mutations.”xv

This article points out that the Covax Advance Market Commitment (who buy vaccines for poor countries) at the end of 2020 had $2.4bn, but the total vaccination cost needed will be $35bn.

The vaccine race has become a huge and profitable business. Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca saw its net profit rise from $299mn to $648mn and financial analysts estimate that only Pfizer and American Modern will rake up profits of at least US $32bn in 2021. BioNTech’s founder, German Uğur Şahin, saw his personal fortune exceed US$5bn, joining the list of Bloomberg’s top 500 billionaires.

In October 2020, India and South Africa proposed to the World Trade Organisation that there should be no trade sanctions on countries that break patents on medicines and vaccines against COVID-19. However, the imperialist countries were against the proposal as their priority is not to curb the ravages of the pandemic but to continue to make an outrageous profit for their cronies.

The FT argue that we are in a global war against COVID-19, and we agree, but we argue that the global war is not only against COVID-19 but against the greed of the drug companies and the capitalist economies. That is why we say: break the patents! This will need mass pressure from workers in every country. Production of the vaccine must be internationalised and taken out of profit-making in the interests of vaccinating the world to arrive at Zero COVID-19.

No return without workers’ committees and union control

The government feign their concern for the welfare of the nation’s children. They tried to force a mass return in early January, then again in February, but mass opposition from parents and teachers defeated those attempts. Now are looking for a mass return on 8 March.

Contradicting the message for a mass return to schools and colleges, on 10 February, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps’ message was not to book summer holidays in the UK as they did not know when it would be safe to travel “outside of your area”!

Workers and their unions and social organisations have to take control of health and safety. It must be a determined strategy to achieve zero COVID-19. An emergency programme and call to action for workers, unions and all the oppressed is needed to address and oppose the irresponsibility of the government.

Build the revolutionary party

Trotsky noted, as far back as 1926, that Britain’s economy suffered from a “… gouty growth stemming from weak metabolism”. Today it is far worse. There was such a decline in UK production in 2020 that the economy saw the biggest percentage drop for 300 years.

What is needed today? We need a workers’ government that will nationalise production and factories to produce what is needed to fight the virus and treat victims of the virus. A workers’ government and economy are based on planning for need.

Whilst some companies changed as with the production of hand sanitiser, far more was needed. The government should have taken over factories to produce essential items like PPE, paediatric face masks, hazmat suits, ventilators, oxygen tanks.

Still today, PPE needs to be improved. Nurses United, state that, “our PPE guidance has never made sense, with a simple apron and mask that does not form a seal around our mouth and nose, leaving us exposed. With the new UK strain displaying increased transmissibility, it is even more important that we take action.”xvi

So, what appears to be something that must be urgently resolved and can be easily addressed, governments find it impossible to deal with and remain paralysed. Nurses United call for standardised national guidance. But this government is driving healthcare into the private profit-making hands of its cronies while at the same time crying crocodile tears over the death of over 120,000 citizens.

We need a government that will create nationalised food production and distribution that will end the need for food banks and eliminate the stigma and embarrassment that poverty brings. This would create jobs and will tackle both COVID-19 and the devastation of the economic crisis.

We need a mass house-building programme to solve the problem of overcrowding and homelessness. This would also create many jobs an address one of the serious factors contributing to high rates of COVID-19 in poor communities.

A workers’ government created out of the mass action and struggle of workers and oppressed communities will be able to develop a plan of mass production and distribution based on the needs of the majority not for the profit of the minority.

This question will arise again and again as capitalist governments, Tory and Labour, continue with always seeking to maintain a capitalist, profit-making economy.

Only a working-class, socialist and international solution can defeat COVID-19. That is, workers, the poor and oppressed, must take whatever action is necessary into their own hands to safeguard their lives and fight for en-mass against looming disasters.

The Labour Party has tail-ended the Tories – just as they have always done. As far back as in the run-up to the First World War in 1914, Labour propped up the government siding with capitalism against striking workers. They will never allow or support workers to create a socialist society themselves.

Both the Labour Party, the TUC and its unions have sat on their hands throughout the last year of pandemic and lockdown. At the very beginning of the government reaction to the emerging crisis, the TUC General Secretary stood side by side in support of Tory chancellor Rishi Sunak and Labour and union reformist leaderships have refused to lead any struggle against the capitalist class.

It is necessary to develop new working class-oriented and independent leaderships in the unions on the basis of full workers’ democracy.

While the country has been in and out of lockdown many workers have continued to work throughout – construction workers, factory, warehouse and transport workers have all put their lives at risk. Care workers, health workers, shop workers and many other front line staff have continued, and many have tragically lost their lives to coronavirus.

History has shown that workers can mobilise to defeat a pandemic, this happened in Russia when the workers’ state combatted the flu, typhoid and other epidemics in 1919.

Neither the Tories, nor employers, nor Labour or union leadership can be trusted to safeguard our lives.

That is why we need to build a revolutionary party based on class independence and internationalism that is opposed to all forms of oppression wherever they emerge – uniting struggles in the UK, throughout Europe and across the world.

Here we propose an Emergency Program for Britain:

  1. No return to work without guaranteed safety: a zero COVID-19 strategy.
  2. Increased monitoring of workplaces to ensure they are COVID-19 secure and workers lives are not put at risk. Local trade union control of health and safety or the closure of workplaces with full pay. Full PPE and adequate equipment for all emergency and front-line services.
  3. Workers must be able to isolate on full pay and benefits if they are or have been in contact with a person/persons testing COVID-19 positive.
  4. Invest in local test and trace and cancel the contracts with private profiteers like Serco.
  5. End austerity. All councils must construct a needs budget – “it is better to break the law than break the poor”.
  6. For a free public health NHS run by health workers and users.
  7. All schools under Local Authority control and stop and reverse the privatisation of education.
  8. End the marketisation of public universities, end private universities. Universities are for education not for profit.
  9. End tuition fees and high rent costs for student accommodation. Full support for student rent strikes.
  10. For a national free internet service for all. Free laptops to all children and students who need them.
  11. For a fully-funded public education.
  12. Bring all pharmaceutical companies under workers’ control and make all vaccines free of patents so that the world can benefit – vaccinate the world.
  13. Appropriate all large companies. Bring production under workers’ control. This is specifically relevant to food processing companies.
  14. Save the NHS, stop the Tory planned NHS reorganisation and reverse the privatisation of health care – increase the NHS budget. Bring all private hospitals into the NHS. Private health insurers like BUPA were created to undermine the NHS at its inception.
  15. Nationalise all banks and financial institutions under workers’ control. Create one national bank so that all the financial resources of the nation can be utilised to create a fairer Britain. Cancel all debts, including to the countries dominated by imperialism.
  16. End racism and all discrimination and support Black Lives Matter.
  17. A mass building programme of public housing with low rents to end the poor housing conditions that have exposed the working class to the worst ravages of the pandemic. Housing to be allocated on the basis of need and not ability to pay, with rent controls and no evictions. Invest in sustainable housing with healthy neighbourhoods and low energy costs. Bring all social housing under the control of local authorities and workers’ control.
  18. Tax the rich with a progressive taxation system. Britain is one of the wealthiest countries in the world but also very unequal. Close all “tax exile” loopholes, companies and individuals.
  19. Create full employment. Reduce the working week without loss of wage; lower the retirement age with a pension that is adequate and linked to inflation. Unemployment and other benefits to be sufficient and similar to the level of average wages.
  20. Independence and freedom of trade unions from state interference. Smash the anti-trade union laws. Fight for a rank and file based leadership,
  21. For the building of revolutionary parties as sections of the IV International.

We are in a new historical moment, marked by the pandemic, the economic crisis, and new confrontations between revolution and counter-revolution in the world.

There is no more important task than the building of parties to unite revolutionaries around a Bolshevik programme and party conception. The building of such parties is inseparable from the reconstruction of the Fourth International, a revolutionary international, based on the Third International led by Lenin and Trotsky.

We call activists of the struggles to build with us the embryo of a revolutionary party – the International Socialist League and build with us our International – the International Workers League Fourth International to forge a socialist future, the only way to face the catastrophe and end barbarism that threatens us all.

Notes

i https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2021/jan/28/all-countries-should-pursue-a-COVID-19-elimination-strategy-here-are-16-reasons-why

ii https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/dec/28/COVID-19-vaccine-uk-restrictions-independent-sage

iii https://www.bmj.com/content/371/bmj.m3859

ivhttps://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/causesofdeath/bulletins/coronavirusCOVID-1919relateddeathsbyoccupationenglandandwales/deathsregisteredbetween9marchand25may2020

v https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/jun/22/i-wept-after-hearing-womens-stories-a-decade-of-austerity-has-wrecked-lives-coronavirus

vi https://www.refuge.org.uk/?s=COVID-19

vii https://www.refuge.org.uk/?s=COVID-19

viii https://www.amnesty.org.uk/violence-against-women

ix https://wbg.org.uk/media/press-releases/first-results-from-new-study-examining-the-impact-of-COVID-19-on-working-class-women-in-the-uk-published-today/

x https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-020-09792-1

xi https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/jan/15/black-women-in-the-uk-four-times-more-likely-to-die-in-pregnancy-or-childbirth

xii https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/COVID-19-deaths-disabled-people-england-b1800823.html

xiii https://www.nao.org.uk/press-release/investigation-into-government-procurement-during-the-COVID-19-pandemic/

xiv https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/12/campaigners-warn-that-9-out-of-10-people-in-poor-countries-are-set-to-miss-out-on-COVID-19-vaccine-next-year/

xv Ibid

xvi https://www.nursesunited.org.uk/stories/frontline-nhs-workers-demand-better-ppe/